Adhering to its rich history of presenting cutting-edge music, Berkeley Symphony will honor the artists who write and perform the music—its composers and musicians—at its 2012 Gala, RESONATE! Celebrating Composers & Musicians. Hosted by Music Director Joana Carneiro, RESONATE! will be held on May 18 at the landmark Claremont Hotel Club & Spa. -more-
Arts & Events
Granted the month is only half over, it isn't too soon to look ahead to May--one of the loveliest months of the year. May Day is a traditional Spring holiday in many cultures, dating back to the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. In the Roman Catholic tradition May is observed as Blessed Mary Virgin's month. It's also recognized in the U.S. at Law Day. O.k., so much for history. Let's go now to the great April/May cultural events springing up all over the place. -more-
As an exciting last minute addition to the Berkeley Arts Festival’s spring season, composer/pianist Jed Distler will perform the complete works of the legendary jazz composer/pianist/icon Thelonious Monk—about 70 compositions— within a single concert (approximately 90 minutes of music plus intermission) at 7:30 PM. Wednesday, April 18 at the Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA. Suggested donation at the door is $10-$15. The year 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Monk’s death; Distler premiered his show February 17, the actual anniversary, at the Cornelia Street Café in Manhattan, then performed it at LightSoundSPace in Rahway, NJ and, most recently, at the Winchester Arts Center in Las Vegas, NV. Distler weaves the songs together into a seamless, uninterrupted and refreshingly varied canvass. -more-
PREVIEW: His Truth Goes Marching On: Musical Theater John Brown’s Truth at Berkeley's La Peña Cultural Center, April 15, 22, & 29
“I believe that to have interfered as I have done as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right!” John Brown, a white man, uttered these words in his speech to the court in 1859 after being convicted of treason, murder, and conspiracy as a result of his raid on the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry. A staunch abolitionist who believed that rebellion was the only way to end slavery and to prevent the Civil War, John Brown gathered a multiracial band of Americans in the hopes of dismantling the nation’s infernal institution by freeing enslaved Africans throughout the South. Although his plan failed and John Brown was sentenced to death for his actions, his commitment to justice for all was valorized by his abolitionist contemporaries, including Frederick Douglass, who wrote in 1881: “His zeal in the cause of my race was far greater than mine—it was as the burning sun to my taper light—mine was bounded by time, his stretched away to the boundless shores of eternity. I could live for the slave, but he could die for him.” -more-
AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: The Alexander String Quartet at Berkeley City Club for Berkeley Chamber Concerts
The Alexander String Quartet—Zakarias Grafilo & Frederick Lifsitz, violins; Paul Yarbrough, viola; and Sandy Wilson, cello, celebrating their 30th anniversary—will perform "Gems of the Classical Repertoire" (Beethoven, Janacek & Shostakovich), presented by Berkeley Chamber Performances, Tuesday, April 17, 8 p. m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2311 Durant (between Ellsworth & Dana). The program: Janacek: String Quartet no. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata;" Beethoven: String Quartet opus 95, "Serioso;" Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues, opus 87 (arranged Grafilo) and String Quartet no. 4. $25. (High school students, free; post-high school students, $12.50) 525-5211; berkeleychamberperform.org -more-
Hearing many favorable reports of the Di Rosa Art Museum in Napa, I happily signed up for the Emeryville Senior Center trip to that historic landmark last Saturday. What a lovely day it was! Just the drive along the Carneros vineyards was heaven itself. Our first stop was at the Oxbow Public Market where Frieda Pardo, our tour escort, passed out hearty box lunches. We then proceeded to the di Rosa Art Museum, where we were greeted by the Museum's guide who filled us in on the fascinating history of the Museum founded by Rene and Veronica di Rosa, whose personal passion for art fueled their support of arts and artists. The collection, which sits on over 2000 acres of vineyards and gardens, is a place that provokes the imagination and creative spirit of our time and place through celebration of the art and artists of Northern California in an unsurpassed landscape. -more-
Two Operas in Berkeley This Weekend: Otello Matinees Saturday and Sunday, John Brown's Truth on Sunday Night
This weekend you have not just one but two chances to see live operatic performances in Berkeley at bargain prices.
The first one, which you've seen advertised here for a week or so, is a Verdi classic special, Otello. It's full of passion, the quintessential love-and-death spectaculo. Both matinee performances feature Fred Winthrop, the dramatic tenor who's also the impresario who has produced Verismo Opera's string of Bay Area performances, which usually have at least one Berkeley date. The two sopranos who sing Desdemona, both Berkeley favorites, are double-cast. Eliza O'Malley appears at the 2 p.m. Saturday matinee, Gillian Kuhner on Sunday at 2, both at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street at Arch.
Then on Sunday night is the first performance this spring of John Brown's Truth, previewed below, an evolving piece of what's being called musically improvised musical theater. It uses a variety of musical styles (afro-caribbean/jazz/european-classical/spoken-word/dance} to tell the story of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Virginia 150 years ago in a quasi-operatic vein. -more-