Santa Cruz Symphony — Pianist Yuja Wang Returns


Faithful supporters of the Santa Cruz Symphony under the direction of Music Director Daniel Stewart were treated to rare, innovative programming, in a special sixth concert of its 2016-2017 season featuring Yuja Wang — certainly one of the most sought after pianists in the world. In her first performance with the Santa Cruz Symphony in February at Civic Center and Mello Center Wang created a sensation performing the Concerto No. 5 by Prokofiev and Concerto No. 2 by Johannes Brahms. Subsequently. it was Yuja Wang who having enjoyed her first Santa Cruz appearances who suggested this special return engagement.  Read full story

Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era, String quartet

Monterey Symphony Ends it 2016-2017 Season

Soloist Michael Noble & Max Bragado-Darman

What a way to end a season! Max Bragado-Darman and the Monterey Symphony pleased us with exciting performances of two works so rarely heard that most of us in the audience were hearing them for the first time, and then ended the program with a knockout performance of César Franck’s Symphony in D Minor — a work that was at one time more popular than it is today, but which sounded fresh to our ears for all the loving detail lavished on its performance.

The evening’s soloist, 28-year-old pianist Michael Noble, the Grand Prize winner of the Carmel Music Society’s 2013 Piano Competition, is a DMA candidate at the Yale School of Music who balances his doctoral studies with concerts and advanced study throughout the world. That the Monterey Symphony has invited him to perform as soloist is a lovely example of synergy — an acknowledgement and endorsement of a talented competition winner unearthed by the Carmel Music Society, whose biennial Piano Competition is one the most eagerly anticipated events on the Monterey Peninsula. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Concerto, Monterey Symphony, Orchestral, Romantic Era

Tight-Lipped Optimism: Master Sinfonia Season Finale

Alex Zhou

A devoted few celebrated Mother’s Day with the music of Sibelius and Brahms, just two composers whom conductor David Ramanadoff chose to conclude the 2016-17 season of Master Sinfonia. The Sunday, May 14 concert at Los Altos Methodist Church featured gifted young violinist Alex Zhou in the Sibelius Violin Concerto, while the one work that occupied the second half, the Brahms D Major Symphony, added a bit of sunshine to an otherwise grudging, sometimes sullen exhibition of epic power. If the Sibelius Concerto expresses a Northern grandeur, the Brahms symphony mixes a pastoral sensibility with thunderheads, what the composer called “the black wings of my personal melancholy.” Read full story

Archived in these categories: Concerto, Orchestral, Romantic Era, Violin

Santa Cruz Symphony — Verdi’s Requiem

Arguably, an excellent performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s (1813-1901) Requiem Mass is as familiar and popular as his world-renowned operas, and a superb performance can be profoundly moving. Eloquently attired Maestro Danny Stewart with Santa Cruz Symphony in conjunction with the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus, well prepared by Director Cheryl Anderson, provided just such an experience to close the 2016-17 Santa Cruz Symphony season. It was monumental and compelling throughout the 90-minute performance! The May concert coincides with the premiere performance composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, Italian poet whom Verdi admired. The first performance took place on May 22, 1874 in the San Marco Cathedral, Milan. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Choral, Orchestral, Santa Cruz Symphony

Ensemble Monterey’s Splendid Season Finale

John Anderson, Ēriks Ešenvalds, & Cheryl Anderson

Last night at Cypress Community Church on Highway 68, we heard a concert that was as impressive as it was satisfying. There were moments when there appeared to be “a cast of thousands” (as Hollywood impresarios used to boast) for the musicians included Ensemble Monterey’s Chamber Orchestra in combination with Cantiamo Cabrillo and the Cabrillo Youth Chorus — in between the works on the program it often took five minutes just to get people on and off. The significance of the evening’s concert, the World Premiere of Ēriks Ešenvalds new work, “Sunset in My Hand,” commissioned by Ensemble Monterey, was heightened by the presence of the composer himself, whose warm and congenial personality was observed at intermission as he strolled around the lobby enjoying conversation with anyone who approached him. Read full story

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