Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Ojai Festival in Berkeley with Kaija Saariaho's 'La Passion de Simone' (Joana Carneiro conducting) & Tyshawn Sorey's 'Josephine Baker: A Portrait'

Ken Bullock
Friday June 10, 2016 - 01:07:00 PM

The Ojai Festival, with music director Peter Sellars, celebrating its 70th year of musical performances in the famous valley town southeast of Santa Barbara, will be hosted by Cal Performances in three Berkeley shows on the UCcampus next week: -more-

Kristian Bezuidenhout Plays Fortepiano

James Roy MacBean
Friday June 10, 2016 - 12:16:00 PM

Early keyboard specialist Kristian Bezuidenhout returned to Berkeley for a fortepiano recital on June 9 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church as part of the biannual Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, a showcase for early music. Bezuidenhout’s most recent appearance in Berkeley was in February performing Mozart’s 23rd piano concerto on fortepiano with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Then as in the present recital, Bezuidenhout’s playing displayed fantastic technique and a flair for subtle, refined interpretation. In his program for this recital, Bezuidenhout again featured the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He began the recital with an early Mozart work, the Klavierstück in F Major, K. 33b. This was a bouncy, bumptious piece, brief in length but full of youthful high spirits. Next came Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, K. 309, a work the composer wrote out and completed while in Mannheim on the ill-fated trip to Paris with his mother. In three movements, this C Major Sonata has a middle movement that is reputed to be a pensive musical portrait of Mademoiselle Cannabich, the daughter of Mozart’s new friend, Mannheim’s Kappelmeister Cannabich. The two outer movements are marked by bright, long runs, here performed with great finesse by Kristian Bezuidenhout. -more-

Violinist Rachel Podger Performs with Voices of Music

James Roy MacBean
Friday June 10, 2016 - 12:13:00 PM

Rachel Podger has recently been described by England’s Sunday Times as “the queen of the baroque violin,” and on Thursday evening, June 9, in Berkeley’s First Congregational Church Ms. Podger demonstrated why she has earned this moniker. In a program entirely devoted to Baroque Violin Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi, Ms. Podger was joined by Voices of Music, a group of outstanding Bay Area Baroque specialists. Voices of Music, founded by Hanneke van Proosdij and her husband David Tayler, has been called the most popular early music ensemble in the USA. -more-

Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra Celebrate Their 50th Anniversary with Benjamin Britten’s WAR REQUIEM

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday June 10, 2016 - 12:12:00 PM

It’s hard to believe the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra has been around for 50 years, and with only three music directors in all that time. Yet it’s true; and they celebrated their 50th anniversary on the weekend of June 3-5 with three inspired performances at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Composed by Britten in the early 1960s, his War Requiem was commissioned by England’s Coventry Cathedral Festival to consecrate the new cathedral that replaced the old medieval one bombed to rubble by the Nazis in mid-November 1940. Britten, an ardent anti-war pacifist, had long admired the terse, moving poems written from the battlefield during World War I by Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action one week before the armistice was signed that ended World War I. Thus, when asked in 1960 to compose a work for Coventry, Britten opted to weave together some of Wilfred Owen’s texts and the old Latin Mass, thereby combining old and new, ancient and modern, just as the new Coventry Cathedral combined architectural elements of the old medieval cathedral now in ruins and the strikingly new cathedral which one enters through the ruins of the old. -more-

Clarification: On Nudity in SF Opera’s CARMEN

James Roy MacBean
Friday June 10, 2016 - 12:11:00 PM

In my review last week of SF Opera’s Carmen, I wrote that “there was no nudity I detected on opening night.” This was inaccurate, though true in a larger sense. Nudity did occur, but it was so extraneous to the ongoing story-line that it seemed to occur outside the opera as a gratuitous ploy of sheer sensationalism. On a bare, darkly lit stage, during the instrumental prelude to Act II, a nude man strode forward, paused, stared out at the audience, then ran off into the wings. “What in the world was that about?” I thought at the time, and promptly dismissed it as eminently forgettable. Indeed, it was so forgettable that when I sat down to write my review, I totally forgot it. Which was probably the best thing to do in regard to this off-the-wall, utterly meaningless sensationalism. -more-

Berkeley Civic Events, Week June 12 to June 19, 2016

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday June 12, 2016 - 08:16:00 AM

City Council returns to Council Chambers 2134 MLK Jr. Way. The week starts with minimum wage up again at Berkeley City Council on Tuesday. Thursday response to public records requests and the April 5 City Council meeting are heard at the Open Government Commission. Sunday June 19 is Juneteenth celebration in South Berkeley -more-