Aria’s “Divagain”

On June 9 and 10, Aria Women’s Choir, led by Dr. Sean Boulware, presented the second concert in their “Diva” series, “Divagain,” at the New Wharf Theatre in Monterey. The show consisted of heart-felt and entertaining renditions of songs from musicals such as Hello Dolly, Funny Girl, Into The Woods, Annie, Rent, Mame, Waitress, West Side Story, The Fantastiks, A Chorus Line, and 9 to 5 The Musical, among others. Many of the numbers were lightly choreographed, and the singers were bedecked in eye-catching sparkle and/or sequin dresses. In a contrast other choral concerts, the highly orchestrated accompaniment was canned. Throughout the concert, some of the singers used sheet music while others used iPads, though some had their music memorized. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Choral, Opera


Hartnell Community Choir at Church of the Wayfarer

On June 10, Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel was the acoustically lovely setting for the Hartnell Community Choir’s ambitious program under the direction of Robin McKee Williams. This small but mighty vocal ensemble continues to prove its vocal chops with challenging music more often programmed with larger groups. The richness of sound and blend with string instruments, piano and flute was more than evident. Four guest vocalists began the program featuring arias and art songs from a variety of composers. Gabriel Faure’s En Sourdine, featuring Kirl Havezov, baritone, set a peaceful feeling that evolved into “the nightingale” singing as the “voice of our despair.” Anna Yelizarova, mezzo-soprano, followed with a most confident, and wide vocal range, Amour from the second act of Camille Saint-Saens “Sampson and Delila.” What may appear as a love song and enticement for Sampson to go to Delila, is actually a song of vengeance with a wish for the god of love to “pour poison in his heart.” Veronica Jensen, mezzo-soprano, displayed a very flirty and strong Carmen from the moment she walked on. There was no doubt as to what was on Carmen’s mind. In Nemico della patria, from Umberto Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier”, Krassen Karagiozov, baritone, sang of being the “Enemy of the Fatherland.” Strength of conviction and emotion was consistent throughout the aria finishing with “the only truth is passion.” The piano mastery of Marina Thomas underpinning these strong soloists goes without saying. It was as if Thomas was an orchestra unto herself. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Choral, Romantic Era


Carmel Music Society’s 2018 Piano Competition Awards Concert

1st Prize Winner Kevin Sun, 2nd Prize Winner Xiao Chen, 3rd Prize Winner Christopher Richardson

It was a grand occasion for local piano buffs yesterday when the Carmel Music Society held its 40th Piano Competition at Sunset Center. Six finalists competed from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, each playing a half-hour solo program. At 3:30 Dr. Anne Thorp, Co-President of the Carmel Music Society announced that the judges had selected 24-year-old Kevin Lee Sun from Sacramento as the Grand Prize Winner, who, in addition to his cash award, will be returning to Sunset Center at 3:00 pm on Sunday, January 13, 2019 to perform a full recital on the CMS regular subscription series. Dr. Thorp then announced that 29-year-old Xiao Chen, who holds a Master of Music degree from Juilliard and a DMA from UCLA, was awarded Second Prize, and 19-year-old Christopher Richardson, a much lauded competition winner who is currently a pre-med student at UC Berkeley, was awarded Third Prize. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Carmel Music Society, Piano


A Penchant for Percussion: Alexander Gavrylyuk in Recital

Closing his singular and exhausting recital at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, Monday, May 18, with the Horowitz transcription of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Russian virtuoso Alexander Gavrylyuk demonstrated the fiery and often stentorian arsenal of keyboard technique he brandishes with a singular aplomb, raising both the roof and the exhilarated sensibilities of his appreciative audience. In virtually dire contrast to his second encore, “Of Foreign Lands and Peoples” from Schumann’s Kinderszenen, which enjoyed a serenity of spirit that a grateful soul feels after the passing of either a windy tempest or a volcanic eruption: the last work on the official program had been the Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36 (1913; rev. 1931). The last movement of this work had Gavrylyuk’s urging brilliant, chromatic runs and chords in furious motion, with one of Rachmaninov’s patented lyrical themes in D. The shifting affects of Rachmaninov’s work seemed to encapsulate the virtues — and issues — with Gavrylyuk’s especial style and flair. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano, Romantic Era


Monterey Symphony Ends Season with a Bang!

Pianist Philippe Bianconi

The Monterey Symphony ended its 2017-2018 season last night at Sunset Center in a blaze of glory. The ending work on the program, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, sent us on our way with its famous themes resonating in our heads and reminding us how great a piece it is, no matter how many times we may have heard it in the past. The Monterey Symphony, under the direction of Max Bragado-Darman never sounded better, and it is with shock and surprise that we learned in the printed program that Maestro Max will be leaving us at the end of the 2019-2020 season. We will miss him, but he has accomplished a lot during his tenure and will be leaving a much stronger orchestra than the one he inherited. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Monterey Symphony, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era