Arts & Events

New: Packed Mendocino Music Festival Preview at Berkeley City Club

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday July 07, 2010 - 02:28:00 PM

Emphasizing the connections between Berkeley and Mendocino, Susan Waterfall and Allan Pollack, co-founders of the 24 year old Mendocino Music Festival, performed an unusual, rich concert as a free preview of Waterfall's narrated multimedia program, July 15 at the Festival, Hallelujah, America!, a celebration of how American music became American, to a packed, attentive audience in the members lounge at the Berkeley City Club last Tuesday. 

Pollack talked about the personal background of the Festival, his meeting Waterfall, an old schoolmate from Chicago, and their creation of the Festival with friends and supporters. 

The music from Waterfall's program showed its variety, from cellist Burke Schuchmann's playing, with Waterfall on piano, of George Gershwin's Preludes, from the 1920s, re-scored for violin by Jascha Heifetz, then to cello by Yo-Yo Ma, to soprano Erin Neff's "tightrope" recital of Aaron Copland's settings of Emily Dickinson poems from 1949-50, accompanied by Waterfall--to a mother-son duet: Waterfall and Julian Waterfall Pollack, on two pianos, playing John Adams' dynamic Hallelujah Junction. 

Waterfall's programs have been featured at the Festival the past decade. Innovative, reflecting deep research and consideration of the music, she endeavors to place it in context with a narration and projected artwork and photographs. "Like Proust's madeleine, music can transport us," Waterfall said, "We can conjure the era of the music, the sources of the composers' creativity." 

Her two previous shows from the Festival, Degenerate Music, about the Weimar era compositions and cabaret of Schoenberg, Weill and Hanns Eisler, and They Left A Light, on music in prisoner of war and concentration camps in World War Two, were both later staged at the Jewish Music Festival in Berkeley. 

The Festival, with the stunning backdrop of Mendocino's land-and-seascape, features classical music, opera (this year, Bizet's Carmen), jazz (a big band with vocalist, as well as Julian Pollack's trio, featuring his fellow Berkeley High Jazz Band alums), bluegrass and dance.  

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