Simone Dinnerstein and NCCO in West Coast Premiere

At a revelatory concert Thursday night at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church, Simone Dinnerstein joined the New Century Chamber Orchestra for the premiere of Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 3. It was an illuminating evening in which several themes stood out. By cleverly interleaving seventeenth century and contemporary works, it was made clear to us that music is one long continuum. While that is often attempted in programming, this was the clearest that I can recall, and...

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Kitka stars in primal “Iron Shoes” at Ashby Stage

On a darkened stage spattered with stars, 15 courageous singers, dancers and actors taught us about the power of narrative. Kitka, America’s premiere Balkan women’s chorus, wove together three fairy tales with discordant drones, powerhouse harmonies and primal wails of sorrow to bespell a sold-out audience. Composed by 30-year Kitka veteran Janet Kutulas, this song cycle had depths made more accessible by the edgy story-telling and remarkably fluid movement. Kutulas brought together...

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Ken-David Masur leads Berkeley Symphony

Four world-class soloists, one hundred and seventy-five tightly knit choristers, and a remarkable young German conductor wowed a sold-out audience at Zellerbach Hall last Thursday, April 19. For their season finale the Berkeley Symphony performed one of the pillars of Western music, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, written three years before his death. That larger-than-life work was a game-changer, ushering in the Romantic era and inspiring Wagner and Mahler to their own out-sized works,...

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Other Minds speaks out

In his lecture on sound poetry, Italian poet and artist Enzo Minarelli briefly described his practice, saying all his sound poems began with words. That may seem obvious and not much help as a definition, but in the context of the Other Minds festival that ran last week at ODC Theater in San Francisco it made startling and concise sense. For the sound, rather than the meaning, of words was essential to the pieces performed. How each performer broke words into sound units and reassembled those...

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“Ode to California” – Ferrandis leads the Santa Rosa Symphony

Luminous and thoughtful. For the past eleven years Bruno Ferrandis has led the Santa Rosa Symphony with skill and balance. After this season he is stepping down to return to his home in France. I was able to see him last weekend in a program titled “Ode to California” in the lively acoustics of Weill Hall at Sonoma State, and enjoyed his genius for programming and the wordless way that he communicated his insights into the music. This has been a busy year for North...

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Classical and Hip-Hop Party at the Paramount

In some courageous genre bending, the Oakland Symphony teamed up with Hip-Hop artist Kev Choice at Oakland’s Paramount Theater last Friday, March 23. The results were mixed, with deep sentiments, sparkling runs, and sometimes bland arrangements, but the crowd lapped it up and demanded more. [caption id="attachment_1809" align="alignright" width="261"]...

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