Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Orchestra Fantasy Camp

Here's a fun event, coming up in June. Note that you must apply by February 17, 2020, and that there are fees: $25 to apply, $500 (urk) to attend. There are "limited financial aid awards available."

That's a lot of money for a weekend of coaching and playing. SF Early Music Society's summer workshops are a week long and last year ran around $700 or so for the tuition only. I was thinking of suggesting something for choristers involving a difficult work - Les Noces, for example - but I would not participate in a two-day workshop for $500.

Anyway, details:

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music Launches Its First-Ever Orchestra Fantasy Camp-An Immersive Weekend of Symphonic Music-Making for Adult Amateur Musicians-in Partnership with Amateur Music Network and the San Francisco Symphony
Orchestra Fantasy Camp at SFCM gives 100 adult amateur musicians an opportunity to participate in rehearsals and coaching sessions with Conductor Edwin Outwater and musician mentors from the San Francisco Symphony and SFCM's faculty

Orchestra Fantasy Camp takes place June 13 & 14, 2020, culminating in a concert performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade led by Edwin Outwater at SFCM's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall.

Amateur musicians can apply now at this link;
all applications are due by February 17, 2020

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, in partnership with Amateur Musicians Networkand the San Francisco Symphony, launches its first-ever Orchestra Fantasy Camp in 2020, a new immersive performance opportunity for adult amateur musicians. The Orchestra Fantasy Camp at SFCM-Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14, 2020-brings together 100 adult amateur musicians for an intensive weekend of symphonic music-making, culminating in a free public performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, led by Edwin Outwater, on Sunday, June 14, at 3:00 PM in Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at SFCM. 

In addition to rehearsing with Mr. Outwater, the participants will work closely throughout the weekend with a team of coaches from the San Francisco Symphony and SFCM's faculty, giving amateur musicians an opportunity to engage one-on-one and in small group settings with some of the country's top professional classical musicians. The professional coaches will also perform alongside the amateur musicians during the Sunday concert. 

"I can't wait to coach the first Orchestra Fantasy Camp at SFCM," said Jerome Simas, a faculty member at SFCM and bass clarinetist for the San Francisco Symphony who will be one of 13 Orchestra Fantasy Camp mentors next June. "It is really exciting to see the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Amateur Music Network come together to give amateur musicians this extraordinary opportunity. As an artist-coach, I am looking forward to bringing my experience as a music educator and passion as a performer to the Bay Area's community of adult amateur musicians."

The Orchestra Fantasy Camp is a new initiative of SFCM's Continuing Education division, which provides lifelong learning experiences for adults seeking community, personal enrichment, and professional development in music. Michael Roest, Associate Dean and Executive Director of SFCM's Continuing Education division, said, "Continuing Education at SFCM is expanding beyond the traditional classroom setting and offering larger, more immersive learning experiences for amateur musicians. Few opportunities exist out there for amateurs to come together."

"Music-making inspires joy, creativity, and connection to each other and to the world we share," said Mark Hanson, CEO of the San Francisco Symphony. "We are excited to partner with our colleagues at AMN and SFCM to offer more opportunities for Bay Area musicians to create and share their love for music."

Lolly Lewis, Founder and Director of Amateur Music Network said, "I've been dreaming about an Orchestra Fantasy Camp for years. A weekend retreat for concentrated symphonic music-making with other dedicated amateurs, and a chance to connect with San Francisco Symphony players and SFCM faculty is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I know the musicians won't forget." 

How to Apply
Musicians 18 and over from all locations and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. All applicants must complete an online application and submit a four- to six-minute video demonstrating their current level of proficiency. The video should include a portion of one solo work (etude, sonata, concerto, etc.) and an excerpt from Scheherazade available here. There's a non-refundable $25 fee to apply. 

The deadline for applications is February 17, 2020. All musicians who are selected to participate will be invited to sign up online and pay the $500 registration fee. A limited number of financial aid awards are available, including special grants for SFUSD music teachers. Click here for further information.

Orchestra Fantasy Camp Dates & Schedule
Saturday, June 13, 2020 from 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
Sunday, June 14, 2020 from 9:00 AM-4:30 PM
The camp schedule will include full orchestra rehearsals, small and large group sectionals with orchestra mentors, all leading up to a public performance with members of the San Francisco Symphony in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at SFCM.
For a detailed schedule, please visit the Orchestra Fantasy Camp resource page.

Ojai 2020

The preliminary schedule for the Ojai Music Festival has been published. This is the 74th edition; it'll be held June 11 to 14, 2020, in Ojai. Chad Smith is the Artistic Director (though we know he is moving on from this post) and Matthias Pintscher is Music Director.

The schedule is fantastic, and maybe this will be the year I get there, although June, 2020, will be a bear, between SF Opera's summer season, MTT's last weeks as music director of SFS, and, as usual, Pride Weekend making Civic Center all but impassable at the end of June. That is, I will have to reschedule some performances and it won't be easy.

Ojai Preview Concert at Noon to Midnight
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Ensemble intercontemporain
Olga NEUWIRTH  Le Encantadas o le avventure nel mare delle meraviglie


Ojai Presbyterian Church

Ara Guzelimian, Ojai Talks
Matthias Pintscher and guests

Libbey Bowl

Matthias Pintscher, conductor

Ensemble intercontemporain
Della Miles, vocalist

Unsuk CHIN  Gougalon (Scenes from a Street Theater)
Matthias PINTSCHER  BereshitOlga NEUWIRTH  Eleanor Suite (US Premiere)


Zalk Theatre
Calder Quartet
Olga NEUWIRTH  In the realms of the unreal
SCHUBERT  String Quartet in G major, D.887

Libbey Bowl
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Ensemble intercontemporain
Day 1 Chaya 
CZERNOWIN  on the Face of the DeepDay 2 Marko NIKODIJEVIC  Dies secundus
Day 3 Franck BEDROSSIAN  Vayehi erev vayehi bokerDay 4 Anna THORVALDSDOTTIR  Illumine, pour octuor àDay 5 Joan MAGRANÉ FIGUERA  Marines i boscatges i
Day 6 Stefano GERVASONI  Eufaunique
Day 7 Mark ANDRE  riss 1
Day 8 Toshio HOSAKAWA  The Flood (EIC/Ojai co-commission)/(World Premiere)

Libbey Bowl
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Ensemble intercontemporainDimitri Vassilakis, piano
LA Phil New Music Group
Calder Quartet

MENDELSSOHN  String Octet, Op. 20
Matthias PINTSCHER  Nur (West Coast Premiere)
Steve REICH  Tehillim


Zalk Theatre
Calder Quartet
Members of Ensemble intercontemporain
CAGE  String Quartet in Four Parts
Matthias PINTSCHER  UrielIVES  String Quartet No. 2

Libbey Bowl
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Ensemble intercontemporain
Hidéki Nagano, piano 

LIGETI  Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
BACH  Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049
Olga NEUWIRTH  Aello – ballet mécanomorphe
Libbey Bowl

Matthias Pintscher, conductor

Ensemble intercontemporain
Members of the LA Phil
MOZART  Gran Partita
BOULEZ  sur Incises


Libbey Bowl 
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Ensemble intercontemporain
Calder Quartet
Matthias PINTSCHER  4° quartetto darchi Ritratto di Gesualdo
GESUALDO  Arrangement by Sciarrino
BACH  Selection from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080
BOULEZ  Mémoriale       
Libbey Bowl

Matthias Pintscher
Ensemble intercontemporain
Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano
Andrew Staples, tenor

OctandreZAPPA  The Perfect StrangerMAHLER  Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Glenn Cortese)
Libbey Bowl
Calder Quartet and other guest artists

Free Community Concert for Ojai with the music of Angélica Negrón, Gabriela Ortiz, Copland,
and Stravinsky

Programs and artists are subject to change. For updated schedule, visit OjaiFestval.org

Monday, November 18, 2019

Opera at SF Conservatory - This Weekend!

Yet another of the riches on offer this coming weekend: San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents two performances of Mozart's The Impressario and the Prolog to Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. Here are the details:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- SFCM Opera will present two performances of Mozart's The Impresario and Strauss' prologue to Ariadne auf Naxos at Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. The production will be directed by Heather Mathews and conducted by Curt Pajer.
The Impresario and Ariadne auf Naxos are both tongue-in-cheek musical comedies exploring the behind-the-scenes happenings at the opera. Mozart's playful one-act singspiel, The Impresario, deals with the rivalry between two prima donnas vying for top billing in at an opera company, while the prelude to Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos sees a comedy troupe and a high-brow opera company being reluctantly forced to perform simultaneously at a dinner party.

SFCM Opera Presents
Mozart's The Impresario and Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos (Prologue)

Heather Matthews, director
Curt Pajer, conductor

San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall

Free, reservations recommended

San Francisco Conservatory of Music
50 Oak Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

San Francisco Opera Chorus Concert

The San Francisco Opera Chorus is one of the company's glories, and this week they are giving a concert. It's unfortunately on a date when about 90 other good performances are happening (Ermelinda at Ars Minerva, for example!), and it's in the too-small-for-an-orchestra-and-chorus Taube Atrium Theater in the Veterans Building. The second performance, though, is at Old St. Mary's.

Still, they're doing some interesting music, and one might hope that it is indicative of what might be coming up for the company. 


Friday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., Taube Atrium Theater
Tuesday, December 3, noon, Old St. Mary's, 660 California Street, San Francisco (short version of the program below)


Act I Villagers’ Chorus (“Quel jour serein”) from Guillaume Tell
 Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868)

Act IV Prayer (“Des cieux où tu resides”) from Moïse et Pharaon
 Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868)

Act I Drinking Chorus (“Evviva! Beviam!”) from Ernani
 Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)

Act IV Chorus (“O come felici”) from Ernani
 Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)

Nuns’ Chorus (“Ave Maria”) from Suor Angelica
 Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)

Finale (“O gloriosa virginum”) from Suor Angelica
 Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)

Act I Chorus of Peasant Girls (“Dyevitsyi, krassavitsyi”) from Eugene Onegin
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)

Procession of the Nobles (“Slava, voisslavye knyazhnye!”) from Mlada
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908)

Roman Carnival Chorus from Benvenuto Cellini
 Hector Berlioz (1803–1869)

Final Scene from Dialogues des Carmélites
 Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)

Opening chorus from Erschallet, Ihr Lieder (Cantata 172)
 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

“Morning Hymn” and “Alleluia” from The Sound of Music
Richard Rodgers (1902–1979)

“Sure on This Shining Night”
 Samuel Barber (1910–1981)

“Northern Lights”
 Ola Gjeilo (born 1978)

Come unto These Yellow Sands
 Amy Beach (1867–1944)

“Alway Something Sings”
 Dan Forrest (born 1978)

“Gondoliera” from Drei Gemischte Chöre
 Clara Schumann (1819–1896)

Spiritual (“What Can That Shadow Be?”) from Colonel Jonathan the Saint
Dominick Argento (1927–2019)

“The Rose”
 Ola Gjeilo (born 1978)

“My Guardian Angel”
 Judith Weir (born 1954)

Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848–1918)

Museum Mondays

Knitted Socks, from central Egypt, 300-500 AD
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
November, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Monday, November 11, 2019

Museum Mondays

Hyman Bloom, Seascape II
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October, 2019

"Bloom deeply admired the work of J.M.W. Turner, particularly his turbulent Slave Ship, on view nearby. Here, fish heads and tails are just about recognizable as they squirm in unsettled waters."

Friday, November 08, 2019

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Counting Baritones

Received from the Met:

Etienne Dupuis will sing the Count in the February 5, 8, and 11 performances of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, replacing Mariusz Kwiecień. Mariusz Kwiecień sings the performances on February 14, 19 and 22mat as previously announced.
 Canadian baritone Etienne Dupuis made his Met debut last season as Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème and will sing with the company as Albert in Massenet’s Werther later this season. He has appeared in various roles for Deutsche Oper Berlin, including Posa in Verdi’s Don Carlo, Zurga in Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Renato in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, Silvio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Other recent performances include the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and Oreste in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride at Paris Opera; Figaro at Bavarian State Opera; Marcello at Teatro Real in Madrid, Pink in the world premiere of Roger Waters’s Another Brick in the Wall for Opéra de Montréal; and Claudio in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict for La Monnaie. This season, he also sings Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo in Paris and Athanaël in Massenet’s Thaïs in Berlin.
The cast for these performances of Le Nozze di Figaro also includes soprano Anita Hartig as the Countess, soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Susanna, mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa as Cherubino, mezzo-soprano MaryAnn McCormick as Marcellina, bass-baritone Adam Plachetka as Figaro, and bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro as Dr. Bartolo. Cornelius Meister conducts.
Interesting that Kwiecień is withdrawing from half the run more than two months in advance. I'm sure he's a terrific Count, given his looks and air of danger (as needed). He was a very memorable Don Giovanni in SF 12 years ago. 

Cornelius Meister conducting would get me in the door. His Abduction from the Seraglio was possibly the best-conducted Mozart opera performance I've ever heard.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

How Far Can You Get If You're a White Guy?

Pretty far, it turns out.

Over on Twitter, there's a lot of justifiable outrage over an interview by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who were the showrunners - basically, the guys in charge - of HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones for TV. The outrage is because Benioff and Weiss knew, and admit that they knew, nothing when they talked HBO into giving them an enormous budget to make GoT. I mean, they use phrasing like "the first year was an expensive course in TV" and "we didn't know anything about costuming."

That's right: they were given tens of millions of dollars because they made a good pitch and they were white guys. They had potential. And it's pretty typical for white guys to be hired for something on the basis of potential rather than existing, verifiable accomplishment.

If you don't believe me, please cite similarly-scaled TV shows where black men or black women or white women or Asian men or Asian women who had little or no experience got to be the showrunners.

It's worth noting that one of the most successful opera composers of the 21st century got his first commission on the basis of potential. That would be Jake Heggie, composer of Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, It's a Wonderful Life, and other operas.

When he got the commission for DMW, he was working at San Francisco Opera in the communications department. He'd written a bunch of good songs; he had the support of some well-known singers; he had musical training (of course); I'm pretty sure he was and is a good pianist. All of this is beyond what Benioff and Weiss had.

But first opera commissions typically go to composers who have experience with writing large-scale orchestral works, which I believe was not case with Heggie. He got that commission from a big-budget opera company because, on the basis of his songs, he was seen as having potential.

Dandy Dandini

From the Met, news of a cast change in next year's La Cenerentola:

Vito Priante will sing Dandini in all performances of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, replacing Davide Luciano. 
Italian baritone Vito Priante makes his Met debut as Dandini, a role he has previously sung at Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Recent performances include Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Rome, the Duke of Nottingham in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at Bavarian State Opera, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen at Teatro Fenice in Venice, and Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Other roles this season include Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Canadian Opera Company, and the Four Villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann at Stuttgart Opera.
The cast for La Cenerentola also includes mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught as Angelina, tenor Javier Camarena as Don Ramiro, bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro as Don Magnifico, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn as Alidoro. James Gaffigan conducts.
Performances of La Cenerentola begin on March 12, 2020, and run through April 3, 2020.

Monday, October 28, 2019

SFS Personnel Changes, Yet Again

Between my last and most recent SFS concerts, Nicole Cash's name disappeared from the French horn roster in the program, and, indeed, there's now an audition listing on the orchestra's web site.

SIGH. She is a terrific player and I'm sorry to see her go.

Museum Mondays

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October, 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sonic Harvest, Sunday, October 20, 2019

A fine program tomorrow evening:

Sunday, October 20, 8:00 pm
Berkeley Piano Club
2724 Haste Street, Berkeley
Admission $20 general, $15 students/seniors/disabled persons.
Tickets sold at the door only.
Wheelchair accessible.
Parking available in the Underhill fee lot (under the playing field). Enter from Haste or Channing.
For more information call (510) 654-8651 or email harvestsonic@gmail.com
Once again we bring you a stunning program of new compositions from within your community—vocal, instrumental and even operatic works, nearly all premiere performances:
Guest composer Mary Watkins’ Persuasion for cello and piano
Ann Callaway’s Cydonian Spring, a set of duets on poems of Ezra Pound; and her Elizabethan Lyrics, three songs for bass and piano
Peter Josheff’s Images from the Past and Warped Oracle: Images from the Past II for spoken voice and piano on the composer’s own texts
Allen Shearer’s Thinking Thoughts for violin and piano, and excerpts from his one-act opera Jackie at Vassar on a libretto by Claudia Stevens.
The performers include Nadya Tichman (violin; associate concertmaster, SFS), Keisuke Nakagoshi (fabulous pianist), Thalia Moore (associate principal cello, SF Opera orchestra), Karen Rosenak (piano), soprano Amy Foote and bass Richard Mix.

The World of Grażyna Bacewicz

Just a reminder, slightly late, that Bard Music West's annual festival is this weekend, and this year's featured composer is the Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz.

I went to the first concert last night despite having been up, more or less, since 2 a.m. California time and despite a cross-country flight. The music was splendid, and the performances electrifying.

Here's today's schedule:

3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. - Screening of The World Only Sees My Cheerful Face
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - Concert, From War to Warsaw Autumn
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Concert, Evolution and Persistence

Noe Valley Ministry
1021 Sanchez

Yesterday's composers were Bacewicz, Stravinsky, Szymanowski, Paderewski, N. Boulanger, Debussy, and Monteverdi. I'm not terribly happy about the spoken program notes (not my thing) and I was even less happy about the uncritical comments on Boulanger, who was anti-Semitic and a dictatorial teacher.

Today's composers are Bacewicz, Clapies, Baird, A. Panufnik, Zubel, Berg, Lutosławski, Ptaszyńska, Kulenty, and Zielinska.

Deepest thanks to Allegra Chapman and Laura Gaynon for this amazing programming, an in-depth look at a terrific composer, the sound-world in which she flourished, and the Polish composers who came after her.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Photo

NYC subway stop
American Museum of Natural History
June, 2006

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Changes at Ojai Festival

Earlier this month, the LA Philharmonic named Chad Smith as the orchestra's next CEO. At the time, I wondered, but did not write about, what this meant for his March, 2018 appointment as the festival's Artistic Director.

Now we know. Smith will hold that position through the 2020 festival, when Matthias Pintscher will be Music Director. After that, Ara Guzelimian, the outgoing Provost and Dean of Juilliard, will take over as Artistic Director at Ojai -- or, if you prefer, return to the post he held from 1992 to 1997. Guzelimian will be Artistic Director for an initial term of three years.

Here's the press release:

(October 17, 2019 – Ojai, CA) – Ojai Music Festival Board Chairman Jerrold Eberhardt announced today the appointment of Ara Guzelimian as Ojai’s next Artistic Director with the 75th Festival, June 10 to 13, 2021. Mr. Guzelimian begins his initial three-year tenure with Ojai following the 2020 Festival under the artistic direction of Chad Smith. Mr. Smith, who was named as the Festival’s Artistic Director in March 2018, announced his intention to step away from Ojai given his October 1, 2019 appointment as Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Ara Guzelimian’s remarkable artistic perspective, expertise, and relationships will be paramount as he guides the future direction of the Festival. Through his work with young musicians around the world, Ara truly has his finger on the pulse of music making today. My Board colleagues and I are absolutely thrilled that Ara has agreed to take the helm as Artistic Director,” said Jerrold Eberhardt. “When Tom Morris decided to conclude his defining 16-year tenure, the Board immediately approached Chad Smith 
with our full confidence that Chad was the right visionary to build on Tom’s artistic legacy. Two weeks ago, the LA Phil named Chad as their new CEO – a brilliant move for that organization and for the field of music. We accept and understand Chad’s desire to focus fully on the Philharmonic, and appreciate that he will remain Ojai’s Artistic Director through the June 2020 Festival.”

Ara Guzelimian commented, “The Ojai Festival represents an ideal of adventurous, open-minded, and open-hearted programming in the most beautiful and welcoming of settings with an audience to match its aspirations. To become Artistic Director at this moment, as the Festival approaches its 75th anniversary, is a deeply meaningful homecoming for me. I fell in love with Ojai in my teens - the place, the community, the spirit. I’ve enjoyed the warmest of friendships with my extraordinary predecessors - Lawrence Morton, Ernest Fleischmann, Tom Morris, and now, Chad Smith - and some of my most cherished musical experiences are rooted here. To return in this capacity brings me such joy. I look forward to working with the wonderful Board and staff to imagine a forward-facing festival very much true to the 2020s!”  

Chad Smith said, “For nearly 75 years, the Ojai Music Festival has been a major platform for the world’s most probing, adventurous, and visionary musicians. It is, therefore, bittersweet to step away from this incredible opportunity after the 2020 Festival, but Ojai deserves the full creative energies of its Artistic Director and the LA Phil requires the singular focus of its CEO. That Ara’s personal journey allows him to assume the role of Artistic Director at Ojai, just as mine requires me to step away, is fortuitous. Ara is, quite simply, one of the great artistic minds in our field, and I look forward to supporting him and the Festival in the years to come from my position with the Philharmonic.”
Currently Provost and Dean of The Juilliard School, Ara Guzelimian had previously announced his intention to step down from that position in June 2020. At Juilliard, he will continue in an advisory role, and will teach, during the 2020/21 academic year. Mr. Guzelimian was Ojai’s Artistic Director from 1992 to 1997, working closely with Festival Music Directors Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Kent Nagano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Emanuel Ax. Since 2004, he has served as the Festival’s Ojai Talks Director.

Next month, the Ojai Music Festival and Chad Smith will share details for the upcoming 2020 Festival – June 11 to 14, with Music Director Matthias Pintscher. 
Ara Guzelimian
Ara Guzelimian is Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School in New York City having been appointed to the post in August 2006. At
 Juilliard, he works closely with the President in overseeing the faculty, curriculum and artistic planning of the distinguished performing arts conservatory in all three of its divisions – dance, drama and music. 
Prior to the Juilliard appointment, he was Senior Director and Artistic Advisor of Carnegie Hall from 1998 to 2006; in that post, he oversaw the artistic planning and programming for the opening of Zankel Hall in 2003. He was also host and producer of the acclaimed Making Music” composer series at Carnegie Hall from 1999 to 2008. Mr. Guzelimian currently serves as Artistic Consultant for the Marlboro Music Festival and School in Vermont. He is also a member of the Music Visiting Committee of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Music Awards, and a Board member of the Amphion and Pacific Harmony Foundations.

He has given lectures and taught at the invitation of the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Easter Festival, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Chicago Symphony, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Taipei and the Jerusalem Music Center. Previously, Ara Guzelimian held the position of  Artistic Administrator of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado and he was long associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the beginning of his career, first as producer for the Orchestra’s national radio broadcasts and, subsequently, as Artistic Administrator. As a writer and music critic, he has contributed to such publications as Musical AmericaOpera Quarterly, Opera News, Symphony magazine, The New York Times, the Record Geijutsu magazine (Tokyo), the program books of the Salzburg and the Helsinki Festivals, and the journal for the IRCAM center in Paris.

Mr. Guzelimian is editor of Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (Pantheon Books, 2002), a collection of dialogues between Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said. The Chicago, Boston, and London Symphony orchestras, conducted by Bernard Haitink, have performed Mr. Guzelimian’s performing edition of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In September 2003, Mr. Guzelimian was awarded the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for his contributions to French music and culture.

Ojai Music Festival 
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has become a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of new and rarely performed music, as well as refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles. The Festival, that takes place in June, is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape for seven decades.
Through its signature structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, David Robertson, Eighth Blackbird, George Benjamin, Dawn Upshaw, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mark Morris, Jeremy Denk, Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan. The Ojai Music Festival anticipates the 74th Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020, with conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher.

As it approaches its 75th anniversary, Ojai looks toward its future with Ara Guzelimian, whose tenure as Artistic Director will begin following the 2020 Festival.

74th Festival: June 11 to 14, 2020 
74th Festival - June 11 to 14, 2020 - with Music Director Matthias Pintscher will highlight progressive and forward-thinking composers of our generation while paying homage to early classical roots. Featuring a vast array of composers from the past six centuries, the program will connect the traditional with the contemporary. Joining Mr. Pintscher for this adventurous musical exploration will be the Ensemble Intercontemporain in its Ojai Music Festival debut. This Paris-based world-renowned ensemble of 31 full-time musicians is dedicated to performing and promoting contemporary chamber music, which was founded in 1972 by former Ojai Music Director Pierre Boulez, and is now led by Mr. Pintscher. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Upcoming: Nabucco in San Francisco

The Claude Heater Foundation, which last year sponsored a fine Tristan und Isolde performance in San Francisco, is back with a concert performance of Verdi's early hit, Nabucco. It's in just a few days, but if you have free time, check this out:

There's a full chorus and orchestra for the production; Jonathan Khuner conducts.

The lead singers are baritone Kenny Stavert (Nabucco), soprano Juyeon Song (Abigaille), bass-baritone Philip Skinner (Zaccaria), mezzo-soprano Tamara Gallo (Fenena), and tenor Alex Boyer (Ismaele). 

When: Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 3 p.m.

Where: Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California St, San Francisco

Tickets: Advance tickets $18-$58 (lowest price includes discount for seniors & students) are on sale at https://nabucco-sf.eventbrite.com 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sibelius, Elgar, and Nielsen at the Boston Symphony

I'm on the east coast for work (really - I work with an engineering team in Cambridge) and the BSO (the real BSO, never mind your Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or Bayerische Staatsoper) has a great program this week. Dima Slobodeniouk, a Russian, is conducting the following very un-Russian program even though Finland was part of Russia for a long time:

  • Sibelius, Pohjola’s Daughter
  • Elgar, Cello Concerto, with Turls Mørk
  • Nielsen, Fifth Symphony
So it was all great: wonderful music and terrific performances. The Sibelius made a good curtain-raiser. The Elgar is gorgeous and interesting and Mørk is a great player. I'd only heard him before in the Salonen Cello Concerto, and I would not dare express an opinion on him based on that; I'm not sure I liked the piece, and it was in the godawful Zellerbach Hall, which has such terrible acoustics that it makes Davies sound like Carnegie Hall. 

Anyway, Mørk was fabulous in this, giving a sensitive and gorgeously phrased performance in extremely beautiful sound. Slobodeniouk was great as well.

And the Nielsen! It is a fabulous and wonderfully quirky piece, which I do realize you can say about, well, anything by Nielsen. Such an individual composer, such energy and spirit. 

I was very impressed with Slobodeniouk's handling of phrasing and the orchestra's sound. That sound was both transparent and warm, which I realize is partly a function of Symphony Hall, but the way Slobodeniouk handled transitions and layers of sound was very, very impressive.

The orchestra sounded better than when I heard it during SFS's centennial year, conducted by Ludovic Morlot, filling in for James Levine, who was out for medical reasons. Their sound in SF was super-impressive, huge and overwhelming, but, as Joshua Kosman mentioned to me, showing real lack of discipline. That was not the case last night, where there were no out-of-place dynamics, but lots of nuance and delicacy. I'd say offhand that SFS has slightly better and more nuanced brass, of all things, for whatever that is worth.

Symphony Hall remains miraculous, with that warm, yet clear sound, its physical beautiful and warmth, and sense of intimacy. I don't remember what the color scheme was when I last was there, but now it's multiple shades of green and multiple shades of tan, with a lot of gold and some cream. I love it so much!