Friday, December 02, 2016

Pauline Oliveros

Radical composer Pauline Oliveros, fierce feminist, died last week at 84. The Times obituary is by Steve Smith, who also discussed her on NPR.

Russell Oberlin

The great countertenor Russell Oberlin has died, age 88. He was one of the two most important figures in the countertenor renaissance of the mid-20th century, the other being the English countertenor Alfred Deller.

Of local interest: Oberlin sang the role of Oberon in the US premiere of Britten's marvelous A Midsummer Night's Dream at San Francisco Opera.

Margalit Fox wrote the Times obituary; here's an article from a few years ago about how homebound patients dealt with Hurricane Sandy, in which Oberlin featured prominently.

Joana Carneiro & the Berkeley Symphony

Just noting that Berkeley Symphony music director Joana Carneiro withdrew from the orchestra's October program, which Edwin Outwater conducted, and has now withdrawn from the December program, which Elim Chan will conduct. The public announcement for the December program just said "We proudly present Elim Chan, guest conductor for REVERENCE!", with no mention of the reason for Carneiro's withdrawal. Earlier this fall, she withdrew from a European engagement as well.

I hope she is well and will return soon. She is scheduled to conduct SFS in 2017 in John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a work I am greatly looking forward to hearing.

Germany Friday Photo

Office Machines in a Window
Munich, Germany
August 2015

Thursday, December 01, 2016

San Francisco: Want to Perform a Work by Yves Klein?

Andrew Kachel is organizing a performance of Yves Klein's Monotone-Silence Symphony, and he is seeking musicians for the work. The performance is scheduled for January 12, with a rehearsal that morning and performance in the evening.

Andrew writes:

The piece is complex in a way but also fairly straightforward. The conductor leads 30+ vocalists and approximately 30 musicians (mostly strings, some wind) in maintaining a single note for 20 minutes, followed by a 20-minute period of silence. The Klein Archives has a description of the piece on their website, including an audio excerpt from a 1998 staging. 

The performance will be at Grace Cathedral. Andrew is looking for an ensemble of 10 violins, 10 cellos
, 3 contrabasses, 3 flutes, 3 oboes, and 3 horns, plus at least 30 singers.  

You are not required to wear International Klein Blue for the concert, though you can if you want to. The performers will receive a small honorarium.

For further details, contact Andrew at

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

West Edge Opera Snapshot

West Edge Opera has a new program called Snapshot. Its mission is to "introduce work by both emerging and established Northern California composers."

Here's a good chunk of the press release announcing this:

Conceived and curated by composer Brian M. RosenSnapshot presents excerpts from eight previously unproduced operas over two programs performed in intimate concert settings in venues in Berkeley and San Francisco: the Goldman Theater at the David Brower Center at 2150 Allston Way in Berkeley and the historic and newly renovated Bayview Opera House at 4705 3rd Street in San FranciscoConductorsMary Chun and Jonathan Khuner lead an instrumental chamber group featuring members of San Francisco-based new music ensemble Earplay

On January 21st at 8:00 p.m. at the David Brower Center and January 22nd at 3:00 p.m. at the Bayview Opera House, Snapshot presents the work of David Conte, Stephen Eddins, William David Cooper and Alden Jenks: 
      ·      David Conte, Composition Chair at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and librettist John Stirling Walker’s Famous opens the first     Snapshot program. Famous is an exploration of the life of Ultra               Violet (Isabelle Collin Dufresne), one of Andy Warhol’s “superstars.”        ·      Stephen Eddins’s big band, gospel and jazz-inspired music and Michael O’Brien’s libretto bring 20th-century Southern novelist Eudora Welty’s story to life in Why I Live at the P.O.        ·      William David Cooper, a recent graduate of the PhD program at UC Davis, has received awards from ASCAP and the Academy of Arts and Letters. Snapshot presents a sample of Cooper and librettist Will Dunlap’s grand opera Hagar and Ishmael       ·      Alden Jenks helped found and served as Director of the Electronic Music Studio at San Francisco Conservatory. Jenks wrote both the music and libretto for Afterworld, a “serious comedy” loosely inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Works by Carla Lucero, Allen Shearer, Linda Bouchard and Liam Wade comprise the second program of Snapshot, presented on February 25th at 8:00 p.m. at the David Brower Center and February 26th at 3:00 p.m. at the Bayview Opera House: 
         ·      Carla Lucero’s One O’Clock, an excerpt from her opera in  progress about Helen Keller, opens the second Snapshot program. Lucero has received awards for her previous operas from Creative Work Fund, San Francisco Arts Commission, Meet the Composer and OUT Magazine, among other organizations.          ·      Longtime collaborators Allen Shearer and librettist Claudia Stevens, whose Middlemarch in Spring was produced last year in the Bay Area to critical acclaim, present an excerpt from Howards End Again, based on the eponymous novel by E. M. Forster.          ·      Linda Bouchard’s The House of Words was composed in 2003. Snapshot presents excerpts from the opera which includes a libretto constructed of excerpts from The Book of Embraces by celebrated Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist Eduardo Galeano.          ·      Liam Wade and librettist Vynnie Meli’s The Stranger the Better closes the second Snapshotprogram. A farcical riff on A Streetcar Named Desire, the opera is Wade and Meli’s 2016 prize-winning submission to The Atlanta Opera’s 24-Hour Opera Project, where an entire opera is composed, designed and staged within twenty-four hours. 
Interesting range of works and composers; wish more than 2 of the 8 composers were women! I am sure it's all worth hearing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's a Wonderful Life Comes to San Francisco

Back in October, 2014, when David Gockley announced his retirement, the press release included the following:
In the near future, San Francisco Opera will see three additional new operas planned by Gockley including Marco Tutino and Fabio Ceresa’s La Ciociara (Two Women) in June 2015, Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang’s Dream of the Red Chamber for Fall 2016, and a soon-to-be-announced commission from Jake Heggie for Fall 2017.
But, in fact, the new opera for fall, 2017, is John [Coolidge] Adams' new opera, Girls of the Golden West.

Today came the press release for the Heggie opera, It's a Wonderful Life. It will be performed in the fall of 2018. It should not be a surprise that we got the information now, as the opera is about to open at Houston Grand Opera, one of the other co-commissioners. (The third commissioning organization is the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.) The opera is based on the famous Frank Capra film and on Philip Van Doren Stern's short story "The Greatest Gift."

Patrick Summers will conduct, with the cast to be announced at a later date. The production team is the same as for Moby-Dick, a previous Heggie opera, which has been quite a success:  director 
Leonard Foglia, set designer Robert Brill, costume designer David C. Woolard, lighting designer Brian Nason and projection/video designer Elaine J. McCarthy. The Houston cast is excellent and personally I hope that it comes here unchanged. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Concert Pile-Up Weekend

Yes, it's the weekend after Thanksgiving and there are too many concerts (and other events) to attend.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

California Bach Society Scandinavian Christmas

Cal Bach has a great-looking program coming up next weekend.

December 2-4, 2016
Jul, Jul—A Scandinavian Christmas
Music old and new, and traditional carols

Himlen mørkner stor og stum                                       Carl Nielsen (1865–1931)
Hjemlige jul
Ave maris stella                                                                       Edvard Grieg (1843–1907)
Hvad est du dog skjøn
Ave maris stella                                                                       Trond Kverno (b. 1945) 
Corpus Christi Carol
There is no rose of such vertu                                       Fredrik Sixten (b. 1962)

Se, julens stjärne strålar klar                                          Hugo Alfvén (1872–1960)
Gläns över sjö och strand                                                 Ivar Widéen (1871–1951)
På krubbans strå
Guds Son är född                                                                     Otto Olsson (1879–1964)
Jul, jul, strålande jul                                                               Gustaf Nordqvist (1886–1949)
Jordens oro viker                                                                   Ludvig Norman (1831–1885)
Bereden väg för Herran                                                      arr. Anders Bond (1888–1980)
Kimer, I klokker                                                                      tune by Henrik Rung (1807–1871)
Staffan var en stalledräng                                                  traditional Swedish
Himmelriket liknas vid tio jungfrur                           traditional Swedish

Friday, December 28pm, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church 
1111 O’Farrell at Franklin, San Francisco 94109
Saturday, December 38pm, at All Saints’ Episcopal Church 
555 Waverley at Hamilton, Palo Alto 94301
Sunday, December 44pm, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church 
2300 Bancroft at Ellsworth, Berkeley 94704
Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance. 
Tickets: $35 (discounts for advance purchase, seniors, students, and under 30)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Germany Friday Photo

Plaque in memory of homosexual victims of the Nazis
Dachau, Germany
August, 2015