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


San Francisco Symphony — Pictures & Percussion

Adam Schoenberg

It was the moment Adam Schoenberg had been anticipating since early 2018: the world premiere of ‘Losing Earth’, his first percussion concerto. Also in the spotlight was Jacob Nissly, the soloist for the piece and the SFS Principal Percussionist. Wondering how long we have left before our earth succumbs to global warming, Schoenberg wrote the piece as pondering on what is to come.

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


The Chagrins of Love — Ian Bostridge in Recital

Ian Bostridge

A small but highly appreciative audience attended the Wednesday, October 16 recital by tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist-composer Brad Mehldau at Stanford’s Bing Hall. The program rubric, “The Folly of Desire,” featured music by two composers, Mehldau and Robert Schumann. For the eleven songs by Mehldau, the self-immolating and often debased aspects of desire became subject matter for a series of jazzy treatments, more rhythmic and harmonic than conspicuously melodic. The poems Mehldau selects, from his “post MeToo” sensibility, derive from such diverse talents as Auden, Cummings, Shakespeare, Yeats, Blake, Brecht, and Goethe. Their content affirms, denies, mocks, and even salaciously depicts the more carnal implications of love – or rather, lust – in its attempt to achieve the spiritual resolution it might offer as agape. For Robert Schumann, whose music commanded the second half of the concert, his four independent songs and the 1840 cycle Dichterliebe, Op. 48, seek to reconcile love with Nature’s ineluctable tendency to make ephemeral our most exalted moments. 

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Archived in these categories: 21st Century, Piano, Vocal