Camerata Singers – Considering Matthew Shepard

Craig Hella Johnson

Throughout history so many tragic consequences have been made into art forms – murals, drama, oratorios, requiems. The musical and sensitive brilliance of Craig Hella Johnson has turned a 21st century tragedy into the stunning Considering Matthew ShepardUnder the assured direction of John Koza, the sturdy thirty members of Camerata Singers premiered this stellar work on March 6, 7, 8. Being present on Sunday afternoon, I was particularly struck by the discipline of performing this emotionally wrought work three days in a row. As is a month-of-March-custom for this group, admission was what the audience felt like contributing to benefit a local group, in this case, Harmony At Home. This group’s mission is “to end the cycles of violence and abuses by empowering children and young adults with knowledge, skills and confidence to lead healthy and productive lives.”  Because of the subject matter of Hella Johnson’s work, this is a perfect beneficiary.

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Archived in these categories: 21st Century, Choral


Music at CSUMB – Meet a new Faculty Member

Jeff Jones

Meet Jeff Jones. He is a newcomer who arrived last August to join the faculty of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). If you want to know something about his background, here is his CV.

Jeffrey A. Jones holds a Ph.D. in musicology with an emphasis in ethnomusicology from Florida State University, an M.M. in percussion performance from Appalachian State University, and a B.M. in percussion performance and music education from Appalachian State University. He is currently Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Chair of Music and Performing Arts at California State University Monterey Bay. His research on music and community development through the arts, Afro-Caribbean music, applied ethnomusicology, and world music ensemble pedagogy has been published in a variety of media and he has presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences. Dr. Jones’s work as a composer and arranger has been featured in theatrical productions and concerts throughout the United States as well as Japan, Russia, Trinidad, and Australia. As a percussionist he has performed throughout the United States and internationally with a diverse group of artists and ensembles, including Skiffle Steel Orchestra, III MEF U.S. Marine Corps Field Band, and blues artists Thomas “Guitar” Gable, Dr. Dixon, and Charlie Bristol.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Jazz


Pianist Keiko Shichijo in Aptos

Keiko Shichijo

In the close and intimate space of The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Aptos, which handed out warm and delicious apple cider, a cozy afternoon audience was treated to a world-class piano performance from Keiko Shichijo. Her repertoire was far from conventional; most of the composers weren’t household names, but still carried a substantial torch among their own people. From the pianist we heard a performance of cultural exuberance: 6 Dances by Armenian composer Komitas, Feux d’artifice by French composer Claude Debussy, Charmes by Catalan composer Frederic Mompou, Meditations by Dutch composer Rosaline Hirs, and 6 Moments Musicaux by Austrian composer Franz Schubert.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Piano, Romantic Era


Chamber Music Monterey Bay — Inscape: A Mixed Ensemble

As the air turns crisp and the leaves rustle as they fall to the sidewalk, I tend to notice music around me more often. Hardly a minute goes by in public that music is not offered for your listening pleasure. Our ears are full. Modern music from the 20th and 21st Century is challenging at times. Modern life is challenging at times. This listener does not begrudge a Classical Music fan for taking a “bye” on a concert when life has just been too challenging. Life happens. Music happens. Sometimes one just wants the music to speak to one’s heart. No brain stretching harmonies, no new instruments, no clash of instrumental techniques; just music to stir the ear and the mind and of course, the heart. No in-depth conversations of differences, just the chance to hear old friends. When the promotional Press Release mentions that a group “is pushing the boundaries of classical music” one may need to pause and reframe your ears and mind before entering the concert hall. This listener has often been in that “just give me easy listening” frame of mind. Last night, I was ready for some new experiences; a concert of all modern stuff.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Chamber Music Monterey Bay


Santa Cruz Symphony — Horizons

Maestro Daniel Stewart

Esa-Pekka Salonen is certainly one of today’s finest and most adventuresome composers. In 2018 the Santa Cruz Symphony under Stewart’s imaginative programming, ventured out into the world of contemporary music by presenting Salonen’s Karawane, a work that incorporates a poem set in synthetic language by Dadaist poet Hugo Ball, by all consideration a huge success. Now the Maestro turned to yet another of Salonen’s musical creations, his eclectic 30-minute Violin Concerto, composed in 2009, in a performance featuring virtuoso Concert Master Nigel Armstrong.  

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Orchestral, Santa Cruz Symphony