Renée Fleming at Cal Performances

The always lovely Renée Fleming gave a recital filled with her personal beauty at Zellerbach Auditorium this past weekend. Accompanied by pianist Richard Bado, a sensitive accompanist and skilled musician, she gave Cal Peformances’ adoring audience a remarkable tour through the history of European and American song. The recital began with four songs by Schubert, described by Fleming as the “foundation of classical recitals.” The songs were filled with the composer’s heated intensity...

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Mapplethorpe and the question of beauty

Since the mid 20th-century and perhaps earlier, depending on the art form and how radical the practitioners, beauty as a feature of high art has been suspect. Beauty, it’s claimed and with reason, soothes and distracts, makes us accept the unfair and corrupt in our society and revel in the gorgeousness of art before all things. Beauty is easily duplicitous. Certainly Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), which played at CalPerformances’ Zellerbach Auditorium this past weekend,...

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Welcoming the summer in the Garden of Memory

Held each year on the summer solstice, the Garden of Memory at the Chapel of the Chimes is an experience that no Oakland resident should miss. As the sun sets, over fifty experimental musical performances congregate in the columbarium’s many magnificent rooms to commemorate the longest day of the year. This annual event, which began in 1996 and held into one of the Bay Area’s most exquisite places, has exploded in popularity over the last few years. This year, big names in the world of...

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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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