Chamber Music Monterey Bay — Escher String Quartet

Escher String Quartet

We were an appreciative audience. I was concerned the damp, drippy weather might keep some from attending, but many still ventured out to enjoy an evening of excellent music performed by outstanding musicians. So, on Saturday, March 7, 2020 Sunset Center opened its doors and we settled into our seats to hear the Escher String Quartet. I recommend that you find a chance to see and hear them play in the future. The Escher String Quartet members are currently Adam Barnett-Hart, violin, Brendan Speltz, violin, Pierre Lapointe, viola, and Brook Speltz, cello. Each of these musicians performs as soloist, as chamber musicians, and teaches or mentors aspiring string players. We were introduced to a few of the young people they worked with earlier in the day. I found myself smiling in approval that Chamber Music will have such a bright future.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Romantic Era, String quartet


Aizuri String Quartet — Fabulous Artistry

Aizuri String Quartet

The Aizuri String Quartet presented a most impressive concert Thursday on March 5 at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz as part of the Distinguished Artists series. The quartet draws its name from the unique Japanese wood block prints usually in Prussian Blue color and quite valuable. Members of this superb quartet based in NYC are Miho Saegusa and Emma Frucht violins, Ayane Kozasa viola and Karen Ouzounian cello. 

The concert program consisted of Antonín Dvořák’s Cypresses; Lembit Beecher’s These Memories May Be TrueArmenian Folk Songs by Soghomon Soghomonian, an ordained Armenian priest commonly known as Komitas. These five works were based on Armenian folk songs and arranged by Sergei Aslamazian. At the Purchaser’s Option by Rhiannon Giddens and the String Quartet in D minor Op. 56, Voices Intimae, by Sibelius concluded the innovative program. 

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Chamber music, Romantic Era


YMMC March Concert – Migration

Soloist Lance Yang Bauer & Conductor Danko Druško

YMMC’s Winter Concert yesterday for a capacity audience at Sunset Center was a delight that just kept getting better as the afternoon progressed. Danko Druško, making his second appearance as Music Director and Conductor, was very much in command as he led the young musicians through ambitious repertoire performed by the YMMC Youth and Honors Orchestras. The Youth Orchestra bravely tackled challenging works by Verdi, Wagner and Sibelius, and managed to blow us away with a fun piece, Chamambo, by Manuel Artés. This piece, with YOSAL students joining the Youth Orchestra, charmed us with its Latino rhythms and infectious percussion effects.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Competition, Concerto, Orchestral


Ensemble Monterey’s Tribute to an Early Spring

Spring has come early to my yard. The pines are full of pollen, the roses and other shrubs are budding, morning walks include a swing by the seal pupping beach. I hadn’t thought about it being “early” until seeing the title for the concert on February 22, 2020. I suppose so though, there are places with snow still on the ground in February. For this early Spring evening, Ensemble Monterey under the leadership of Dr. John Anderson offered 3 pieces for our listening pleasure. I chose to attend the performance at First Presbyterian Church, Monterey. The ensemble for this concert is made up of 15 instrumentalists, all playing string instruments. This venue presents a wonderful opportunity to really experience a chamber orchestra. The seating is on a lower level than where the musicians sit on the wood platform. This gives us great acoustics for hearing the music and good viewpoint to watch the musicians at work. 

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Strings


Pianist Kevin Lee Sun in Aptos Keyboard Series

Pianist Kevin Lee Sun

Kevin Lee Sun made quite a splash when he won the Grand Prize in the Carmel Music Society’s 2018 Biennial Piano Competition, and he reinforced this positive impression when he appeared as a recitalist on the Music Society’s regular concert season in January 2019. It was, however, noted in 2019, that Sun’s programming for this recital was odd. The most dramatic works that should have ended the program were scheduled in the first half so that the more problematic selections ended the program with a whimper rather than a bang. It so puzzlied the audience that at the end of the program there was a weak standing ovation and no encore.

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