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


Rachmaninoff: Known and Unknown


A program of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s familiar and unfamiliar liturgical and concerted choral compositions provided the basis of a recital by the Slavyanka Chorus and assorted musicians, Saturday, June 9, at the First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, Irina Shachneva, conductor. Slavyanka embodies a 40-member chorus established in 2000, the name’s having been taken from the old Russian version of Northern California’s Russian River. In 2010, Irina Shachneva founded the International Rachmaninoff Music Festival in Boston. Ms. Shachneva has since led performances of the Rachmaninoff Vespers at various venues, including Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory and St. Petersburg’s Glinka Capella. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Choral, Orchestral


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


Modesty and Poise: A Recital by Seong-Jin Cho

The final Steinway Society recital of its 2017-18 season took place at the California Theatre in San Jose on Monday, May 28, featuring Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the First Prize at the 2015 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw. Cho performed works by Schumann, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin, a program that became notable not so much for expressive fireworks, but for an artistic sense of restraint and demure poise that had us listening to every note intensely. Even the impassioned Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 (1844) of Chopin displayed more poetry and compressed ardor than  bravura and flamboyant gestures. Perhaps only in his second encore, Chopin’s famed “Revolutionary” Etude, did Cho reveal his gifts for the outwardly demonstrative mode the large, blatantly jingoistic, audience had clamored for from the moment Cho stepped on stage. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era