Piedmont East Bay Choirs: youthful voices, new music

The Piedmont Choirs were joined by the St Catharine’s College Girls’ Choir of Cambridge, England, for their spring concert last Friday in Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. Led by founding choral director Robert Geary, this concert was also a coming-out party for composer and new Piedmont Chorus Artistic Director Eric Tuan, whose own composition was featured on the program. The variety and abilities of the several choruses featured here were simply staggering, and it is no...

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Oakland Symphony – creating a future

On Friday, Feb. 8, the Paramount Theater was heavily attended for one of the top pianists of our age, Emanuel Ax, as he performed with the Oakland Symphony in an all-Beethoven program. There was a second draw that helped to fill the three thousand seats: the students of Oakland’s MUSE Vivo program, performing with the regular orchestra members in the second half of the program. The many parents and relatives in the audience were a welcome sight amidst the classical fans, and a show of...

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Berkeley Symphony – bold and satisfying

With a scant one week’s notice, guest conductor Joseph Young stepped in on January 31 for an ailing Jonathon Heyward, who was himself about to guest conduct the Berkeley Symphony during their year-long search for a new Musical Director. That one week was a very short time to learn the music, but Young stepped up to the plate (or podium, rather) and conducted with clarity and passion, leading the Berkeley Symphony musicians in a top-notch performance. [caption id="attachment_2233"...

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2018—Music to brighten a year

Bay Area music made a strong showing in 2018. The arts are subtle but solid, a rock we can cling to despite a year when divisive voices and dire predictions roiled our society.  Pointing the way through political differences, music is an art form of discourse, a place where every voice matters, where each of us tries to speak our truth in beauty and in harmony. That strong showing is not so surprising when one recalls that small lights burn...

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Sonic Harvest celebrates this October 14 in Berkeley

On October 14, Sonic Harvest will host its 18th annual concert of music, poetry, original compositions, and more. The concert, From Troubador to Tango, brings together the premiere of guest composer D’Arcy Reynolds’ Tangria, songs by Ann Callaway, the premiere of a work by Peter Josheff for spoken voice and piano as well as his violin solo September. It will also include a song cycle by Allen Shearer and Claudia Stevens’ solo performance referencing...

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Berkeley Symphony opens the season with virtuosity

Ming Luke nails an “audition” A sophisticated Berkeley audience stood to applaud conductor Ming Luke, violinist Benjamin Beilman and the Berkeley Symphony last Thursday, Oct. 4, in a work that was as severely modern as it was technically jaw-dropping. That work, Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. Crafted of harmonics and fierce call-and-responses, the concerto’s architecture and virtuosity were as unexpected as they were challenging....

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