Music@Menlo ushers in ambitious new season

Last Friday Music@Menlo opened their 15th season on the Peninsula with a lecture by Michael Parloff that linked the cities of London, Paris and St. Petersburg. That was an introduction to this year’s theme, “Creative Capitals,” a glimpse into how place fosters musical lineage and of how composers inspire and influence each other. Following that was Saturday’s first concert, a look at composers in London, and that was the first of an astounding seven programs. The four lectures, seven...

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Garden of Memory Solstice Celebration

A musical party for young and old The longest day of the year, June 21, has been celebrated by avant garde and experimental musicians at Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes since 1996. This past Thursday there were 48 separate events that shared the chapels and rooms of this unusual space, some of them solo composer/performers, many duos and several large groups. Titled, “Garden of Memory,” this acknowledgment of the summer solstice was created by Sarah Cahill, a remarkable...

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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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