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
Robert Walters, English Horn & Judith LeClair, bassoon
Does it gets any better? We enjoyed a warm balmy evening, an intimate audience and another opportunity to hear two fabulous principal players of the New York Philharmonic. English hornist Robert Walters and bassoonist Judith LeClair were back with us again to share the limelight at Hidden Valley’s Masters Festival — not only to present concerts, but also to attract gifted young woodwind players who come from long distances to spend a week receiving instruction and mentoring from the featured players, plus also an opportunity to participate in master classes. Read full story
Making her eleventh annual appearance at Hidden Valley on June 12th, 2017, Elaine Douvas, principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, led from the front in a celebration of the great tradition of American oboe playing. As Hidden Valley impresario Peter Meckel put it to the audience, we were in the presence of four generations of oboists – not only Ms. Douvas and her former students Christopher Gaudi (established) and Liam Boisset (freshly graduated), but also the late beloved John Mack, former principal of the Cleveland Orchestra, who both taught Elaine Douvas, and later persuaded her to continue his series of master classes at Hidden Valley. We could probably add a fifth generation peering down from the Hidden Valley rafters – the spirit of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Marcel Tabuteau, under whose spell John Mack had fallen when studying at the Curtis Institute. Read full story
On Sunday, June 11, at First Presbyterian Church in Monterey, Aria Women’s Chorus presented DIVA – a program of Broadway’s best with some classic light opera thrown in as sprinkles on the top. We heard many fine voices of all ages performing with featured soloists in most numbers. Under the direction of Dr. Sean Boulware these women present the true joy of singing in an ensemble. Overall on a scale of 1 – 10, this afternoon’s presentation was a 12! Handling twenty-three songs with their myriad musical personalities was no mean feat.
Michelle Galindo continues as the consummate pianist on all of the arrangements that were not prerecorded. Framing this delicious mélange was “Shine” from the musical Billy Elliot, and “And All That Jazz” from Chicago. Billy is the young son of a Welsh coal miner who winds up being a dancer – definitely unlikely under the circumstances. This number really set the stage for all the glitz that followed. “And All That Jazz” perfectly tied up the afternoon’s selections with a musical bang. Read full story
Pianist Elizabeth Schumann & Mezzo-Soprano Solmaaz Adeli
In a charming program called “Made in Vienna” the Aptos Keyboard Series yesterday afternoon in the Aptos home of Joseph and Maria Sekon presented a concert by mezzo-soprano Solmaaz Adeli and pianist Elizabeth Schumann. These two gifted musicians, based in the San Francisco area often perform together, as well as in larger ensembles.
Solmaaz Adeli has a strong connection to Austria, having studied at the Konservatorium für Musik und Dramatische Kunst in Vienna, the Operschule in Graz and attended classes at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She is a familiar presence to central California audiences, and her performance on this occasion showed precisely why. Her bold dramatic voice has an unusually broad range of three octaves, and her supple agility throughout her vocal range made even the most difficult vocal passages sound quite easy. Especially impressive was her dynamic range from the softest most intimate pianissimo to the fullest forte climaxes, where her voice was always under control and always served the music. Adeli has superb dramatic skills so that her facial expressions and physical gestures always tended to complement her musical presentation in an effective way. Read full story