Author Archives: Leslie

JASMINE JIMISON: Lovely Person, Fabulous Dancer

Talking with Jasmine Jimison was a treat. I have seen her dance with the San Francisco Ballet in roles in The Nutcracker (Helgi Tomasson: choreographer) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Balanchine: choreographer). Her onstage presence is a delight as she is able to embody roles as different as The Snow Queen and a wandering, love lorn lady lost in an enchanted forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Jasmine Jimison: Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet

She selected her life’s direction, stuck with it, worked hard, and now has arrived at the top of the top. Ms Jimison told me that she started out as a figure skater and began to study dance to help with her skating. Her skating teacher advised her to add the ballet movements, especially the arms, for her work on the ice. That was when she was “around 10 or 12.” The dancing gradually took over the skating. At 12 years old, she entered the SF Ballet School. She had started taking summer intensive programs at San Francisco Ballet and School of American Ballet, in New York, and others, but she stayed with the SFB school. A native of Palo Alto, she was happy to be near home.

Her family had no other dancers or artists of other kinds, but they were supportive in her training and career. I asked if her family was surprised by her dedication. The answer was no; they were “very supportive.”

Jasmine Jimison being promoted to Principal Dancer on stage after a performance of Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand // © San Francisco Ballet, photo by Lindsey Rallo

She loved figure skating and was very good at it, but even at the young age of making big decisions, her decision was practical. Jasmine said that figure skating is a short career, skaters stop at 15 or, if lucky, maybe 20. Compared to that, ballet, notorious for the brevity of a dancer’s career, seems like a long, life time career.

Ms Jamison has helpful suggestions for young dancers and not so young dancers. She said that “Everyone has a unique time line for training and dancing. The old rules that a person cannot start to dance seriously after 12 years old are no longer in place. So much depends on the individual’s efforts and the quality of training.” In addition to studying at the SFB, Jasmine studied privately with Kristine Elliot – a beautiful dancer, soloist in the American Ballet Theater. Ms Elliot gave Jasmine significant training. Jasmine feels certain that being in one on one classes with Ms. Elliot gave her a significant boost in learning.

A recent thrill for SF audiences and for Ms Jamison was her role as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Jasmine said being cast in the double role is usually set on “veteran” ballerinas with great experience. However, the new Principal Dancer was given the role. Odette, the good princess, was turned into a swan by the evil wizard, Von Rothbart. Odile, the bad “princess,” daughter of Von Rothbart, puts a spell on Prince Siegfried. The Prince had fallen in love with Odette by the romantic Swan Lake. In the picture below, she is Odette.

Jasmine Jimison in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © San Francisco Ballet, photo by Lindsey Rallo

I asked Jasmine if she preferred one of the parts. She thought that Odette’s personality was closer to hers, it felt more natural, but it is exciting to delve into characteristics that are completely different.

She has appeared in many different roles but she said that Juliet is her favorite, so far. She likes knowing that the audience understands the feelings of the characters. That means that they are with Juliet as she goes through so many challenges. Also, the music is wonderful. It is the “most important in shaping the quality of the movement.”

Jasmine Jimison and Mingxuan Wang in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Reneff-Olson Productions

She will not know what ballets or roles she will be in until much closer to the season. She is now learning Grosse Fugue and will learn Clemence in Raymonda. The San Francisco Ballet will go on tour to Madrid, October 1st. Ms Jasmine Jimison, Principal Dancer, is excited about the company’s first international tour with her. I asked her what it is about dance that drew her in to make it the center of her life. She answered that she loves the physical aspect of it, but it also gives her a way of expressing herself and the feelings from the music and characters. She said that these were things she could not express verbally. However, she expressed herself clearly and articulately in our conversation just like the clarity and meaning she puts into her dance.

Photographs compliments of the San Francisco Ballet. 




Mahler Symphony No. 3: A Whole World

June 28, Davies Symphony: The San Francisco Symphony performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in D Minor. It was a stunning presentation. Each movement was full of surprises, emotions, music that inspired our imaginations. San Francisco has been Mahler territory from the beginning of Michael Tilson Thomas’ tenure as Music Director. The Muni had Mahler painted on the sides of buses. MTT brought us great performances. Now, it is Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen’s time to make the audience marvel at the music and the brilliance of conductor and musicians. This concert was the last of the regular season. It was another great musical experience from the SF Symphony.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, Music Director, San Francisco Symphony.

Before Gustav Mahler began to compose his Symphony No. 3 in D minor, he wrote a scenario in five parts, like sketching the story behind a play. He gave a title to each part. At first, the titles were following this theme: What the Forest Tells Me, What the Trees Tell Me, What Twilight Tells Me, but he changed the titles five times during his summer retreat. He removed the trees, the twilight, and the rest. He switched to Summer entering the symphony, and he wanted to add something Dionysiac, possibly scary. The various images that came to him worked. In less than three weeks he had written the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th movements. When Symphony No. 3 premiered in 1902, none of the titles were on the program. Mahler wrote to conductor, Josef Krug-Waldsee the reason why he removed them.

“Those titles were an attempt on my part to provide non-musicians with something to hold on to and with a signpost for the intellectual, or better, the expressive content of the various movements and for their relationships to each other and to the whole. That didn’t work (as, in fact it could never work) and that it led only to misinterpretations of the most horrendous sort became painfully clear all too quickly.”*

I was glad to read another quotation from Mahler in a conversation with Sibelius about what a symphony is because I have often thought that Mahler’s symphonies encompassed the world. He said, “a symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.”* Symphony No. 3 surely demonstrated that.

The first movement is nearly a half hour on its own. That is because Mahler sees so much. The beginning is joyful but a change comes immediately, something sad, more than sad has been released. We hear what might be funeral music, wailing, anger at the undoing of the human. Then, there are marches which are followed by what could be popular music that plays with a gentle hand that turns to enthusiasm. Yes, it is the whole world. Each of us lives all of the turns of experience which Mahler recalls for the listener and for the listener to re-live right now right here whether in a concert hall or hiking past a small town. This first movement, Part I, Kraftig, entschieden (Powerful, determined) is the full first part giving us moments of danger and loss as well. He does not abandon us to loss but reminds us of love.

Part II includes four briefer movements, each with its own identity. The first one is a minuet: Tempo di menuetto. Sher massig (Moderate). Then, the music is placed out doors with a song by Mahler, Ablusung im Sommer. He awaits “Lady Nightingale’s” song once the cuckoo stops. The trumpet becomes a post-horn with a beautiful tune which is carried by the flutes. Arnold Schoenberg observed, “at first with the divided high violins, then, even more beautiful if possible, with the horns.”* The symphony continues to a song by Nietzsche. It is the Midnight Song from also sprach Zarathustra. This song begins by warning humanity. Then, it explains the depth of eternity. “The world is deep–/deeper than the day had thought!/Deep is the pain!/Joy deeper still than heart’s sorrow!/Pain says: Vanish!/ Yet all joy aspires to eternity,/ to deep, deep eternity.” Soloist Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano, sang the first. Her voice fit well with both songs. Her presence communicates authority and, even as a sinner, attracts empathy.

Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano

Next the sopranos and altos of the SF Symphony Chorus plus young boys of the Pacific Boychoir Academy sang the text of The Boy’s Magic Horn (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) with added text by Mahler: “But you mustn’t weep.” The SF Chorus sounded wonderful. O’Connor joined in this song as the sinner. The children made bell sounds and joined the SF Symphony Chorus in “Liebe nur Gott!” Love only God.

Mahler did a daring thing – when did he not do a daring thing? – and ended his symphony with an adagio. The music runs into the terrible, nameless event of the first movement. The interruption of his forward motion leads his music to spiritual directions. The duet of kettle drums was astonishing. The percussionists used drumsticks with large heads of something looking like cotton on the striking end. Side by side the percussionists, each with two drums sticks, struck the drums simultaneously, loudly, and powerfully. Side to side over and over. It created chills, questions, a mystery. The composer instructed the drums should be played “not with brute strength (but) with rich, noble tone” and that “the last measure not be cut off sharply”* in order to produce softness and a silence in the hall and in each listener. Mahler’s No. 3 has the fullness of life. This was Mahler’s world.

*quotations are quoted from the SF Symphony article by Michael Steinberg.

A Romantic Program: Schumann & Bruckner

June 21, 2024:  Do not be upset. I know that Bruckner is not labelled a Romantic composer, but he gave his Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, Romantic. the name “the Romantic” after he completed it. Schumann, was a Romantic in his music and his life.  His Piano Concerto in A minor, Opus 54 was his only piano concerto, but it is a perfect one. Why are these two composers on the same program? Each one created a change in the art. Schumann’s significant change is a new way to make a concerto. Bruckner made lasting changes in the development of symphonic movements. There are stories behind each innovation.

Robert Schumann, composer (1810 -1856)


He looks so troubled in this picture. For a long time I have felt that Schumann did not get enough attention in our modern and/or post-modern era. Very unfair. As you see in his dates, he lived only 46 years. Mozart and Mendelssohn both died before they reached 40. Sadly, that is one of the facts people will note. Surely, Mozart and Mendelssohn deserve every possible praise, but the brevity of their lives, and of Schumann’s, should be on some kind of celestial list. And Schumann spent the last part of his life in an asylum. He fell in love with Clara Wieck, widely recognized as the great concert pianist of Europe. To complete the romantic story, her father would not allow them to marry. However, they married anyway. She continued to perform, to teach, and to compose. Her work supported the family. She had eight children. She performed her husband’s music and would listen to the new works. Schumann was very intelligent in other arenas, too. He founded a journal, the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, in 1834, and wrote for it and edited it for ten years. He had studied law at Leipzig and Heidelberg, but he was a musician. Music and Clara were his life.

His Piano Concerto in A minor, Opus 54 was something new. He began a work he called Phantasie, in 1827. In 1839, he published an essay about piano concertos in the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik. He did not like the existing concerto form of the orchestra and soloist being separated mainly to show off the virtuoso piano performance. He imagined more interaction of the orchestra and soloist making the music together.

Clara Schumann, pianist, composer, wife of Robert Schumann (1819 – 1896).


Schumann wrote that “the orchestra, no longer a mere spectator, may interweave its manifold facets into the scene.”  He wrote four more attempts at the new concerto, but they were only attempts. Clara played the piece and declared the Phantasie good. “The piano is most skillfully interwoven with the orchestra; it is impossible to think of one without the other.” Schumann was not there yet. It did not get published; Schumann felt something was missing. Schumann revised the Phantasie in 1845, making it a three  movement concerto. It may not be the most challenging concerto, but he brought together orchestra and soloist together to make music. It is an act of beauty. The “interwoven” sources of the music also weave a spell for the listener.

Yefim Bronfman, Pianist

The San Francisco Symphony, led by Music Director, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and the soloist, Yefim Bronfman, made the music play above merely wonderful. Schumann would be happy to know how seamlessly the music came through the team work of all. When the piano introduces itself at the beginning, the oboe and bassoon present the theme. Schumann made the work without the usual orchestra and soloist’s separate excitement. The idea of connecting the roles of soloist and orchestra is present throughout. Schumann himself wrote the piano’s cadenza, and it is  glorious. None of the orchestra’s instruments is lost. The first violins swell as the piano presents a second theme. A solo clarinet is heard clearly over the quiet playing of the strings. This concerto shows what is created when every instrument’s character plays itself and is part of the company as well as having its own, individual, musical life. There is little one might write about Yefim Bronfman. His performance was beyond extravagant superlatives. He plays the soul of the music. There are places in the Concerto when the piano is delicate, almost quiet, small. Those moments were some of the biggest experiences of the Concerto. The audience could not let him go. There were, maybe, six encores. After the first two or three, Bronfman played a Rachmaninoff piece, Prelude in G minor (op. 23  no. 5), it had unique rhythms and a changing pattern. Fascinating and strange. The audience carried on applauding and shouting bravos until a few at a time gradually trickled to the exits.

Anton Bruckner, composer, organist 1824-1996


The SF Symphony led by Music Director, Esa-Pekka Salonen, gave a powerful and insightful performance of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, Romantic. The orchestra represented Bruckner’s unique approach to every note. This is a great symphony in every sense of the word; the music is marvelous and the symphony is a long one. Bruckner gives the listener new sounds and new roles for particular instruments. There are dissonant notes and momentary rests. They are surprising. Then, the listener realizes that these novel aspects are part of Bruckner’s mystery. Here is a master of orchestration and counterpoint who knows the use of an out of the way path wins the music lover’s attention. The Symphony No. 4 has musical references to hunting in its Scherzo and other movements. The horns are the stars of this Symphony. One can picture the “nobility” riding through a forest. This is part of the Romanticism that was sweeping across Europe. Movements develop slowly; there  will be a change to lively dance music; then a wistful encounter of characters. Bruckner must have surprised himself so much as his audiences were surprised when, long after the Symphony’s debut, he wrote a note of what images could float before one’s eyes:

“Medieval city- dawn-morning calls sound from the towers-the gates open-on proud steeds the knights ride into the open-woodland magic embraces them-forest murmurs-bird songs-and thuse the Romantic picture unfolds.”*

There are more wind instruments playing music that does suggest the natural world awakening, and, through the grandeur of the Symphony, there are suggestions of folk music. Bruckner’s view is broad as though he looks across all directions for the vast earth, brooks, and trees and stretches his musical vision to encompass the living world and even beyond. He takes our breaths away in a dazzling finale that draws together darkness and distant light.


Bruckner’s life could have followed his father’s and grandfather’s paths as a schoolmaster and organist in the Austrian village of Ansfelden When his father died, his mother took him to St. Florian’s, a monastery-school. Bruckner’s attachment to St. Florian’s lasted throughout his life. He began teaching music at St. Florian’s soon after his education there ended. Before St. Florian’s he had music education through his father and, when his father was ill, Anton played the organ in the church. He spent ten years on St. Florian’s music faculty. He left to live in Linz, 1856, and began to write seriously. There was a popular song for male-voice chorus, “Germanenzug,” 1863; Psalm LX11, for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, 1863; Symphony in F minor, his first symphony, 1863; a great Mass in D major, his first mass, 1864. Beginning in 1855, he studied counterpoint and harmony with Simon Sechter. Bruckner felt he was not sufficiently prepared for composing. Sechter was considered the best teacher, and Bruckner spent six years studying with him although Sechter was in Vienna and Bruckner in Linz. Then, he took up the study of orchestration and musical form from Otto Kitzler, also considered the best teacher in these areas. Assigning himself to these studies reveals Bruckner’s hunger for learning and perfectionist tendencies.

Life in Linz was obviously more stimulating for Bruckner than his previous home. In Linz, he wrote two more symphonies; one in D minor -called Zero Symphony – and Symphony #1 in C minor. He wrote two great Masses: one in E minor, 1866; and one in F minor, 1867-1868. The E minor mass kept to strict polyphonic style for an 8 part chorus and brass instruments. The F minor established a new kind of “symphonic mass,” for orchestra and chorus.

If Linz was a helpful atmosphere for him, when Bruckner moved to Vienna, 1868, he began a period of creative production. He had been studying his music theory lessons and still taught music and played the organ. It was a hard working life. When he arrived in Vienna, he was able to succeed Sechter’s position as professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Vienna Conservatory and had private students. The University of Vienna gave him a position in their faculty, too. Before Vienna, he had had a nervous breakdown. Overwork or something physical? There is no answer, except that Vienna gave him so much more. All his training and work opened the door to important positions. Starting in 1868, he was the court chapel organist, and from 1875 onward he was Vice Librarian and Second Singing Master for the choristers. These positions lack lofty names, but they added to his financial security and visibility.

Bruckner saw Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser, in Linz, and traveled to Munich to see Tristan and Isolde. He met Wagner in 1865 and became a Wagnerian. This placed him in the midst of battles between followers of Wagner and those who preferred Brahms. Some leading critics, especially Eduard Hanslick, made it difficult for Bruckner’s work to get the approval and attention needed to move his work forward.HNe toured as an organist. He performed in Paris and Nancy, 1869, and London, 1871, performing at the Crystal Palace  exhibiton five times. His virtuoso organ playing and his improvisation on the organ fascinated audiences. It is said that his improvisations were spectacular. Later he made journeys within Germany: Leipzig, Munich, and Berlin were frequent venues. There were also conductors who were enthusiastic about his music. These were Nikisch, Levi, Mottl, Mahler, and Ochs. His symphonies and masses were greeted with admiration or dislike, again because of the politics of Wagner vs. Brahms. Mahler especially supported Bruckner’s work. He made the first pianoforte arrangement of Symphony No. 3 and conducted the first performance of Symphony No. 6, in 1899.

Anton Bruckner’s made changes that contributed to the development of symphonies. As he was a dedicated student of orchestration, harmony, counterpoint, the changes will mean the most to musicians and students, but the changes affect what an audience hears. (A) he introduced a third subject in the exposition. (B) A tendency to telescope development and recapitulation which make the movement split into 2 main parts. This is most noticeable in the first and fourth movements of his Symphony No. 9. (C) shifting the power center to a finale which can end with repetition of the main themes of early movements (D) linking movements by shared themes as in Adagio and Scherzo in Symphony No. 5 and Scherzo and Finale of Symphony No. 4.

These innovations stepped away from the classical forms of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Bruckner broadened the possibilities of great symphonies.

*Quotation taken from SFS program note by james M. Keller.

San Francisco Symphony Explores New Music from 1861-2023

May 16, San Francisco Symphony presented a concert that showed delight in the new and even in the older new music. Each excursion into a different world of sound let the audience enter surprising terrain. The program itself was innovative as its mixture of instruments and completely different ways of composing allowed all of us to realize there are countless approaches to music.

Conductor Ryan Bancroft led the SFS through centuries of music with care and enthusiasm for his program and fellow artists. He grew up in Los Angeles and gained international attention when he won the first prize and audience prize at the Malko Competition in Copenhagen, 2018.

Unsuk Chin wrote Alaraph ‘Ritus des Herzschlags’ (Alaraph: Rite of the Heartbeat) in 2022. She was fascinated to learn about “heartbeat stars.” They have regular pulsations. Alaraph is a “heartbeat star” “in a binary star systems in eccentric orbits with vibrations caused by tidal forces.” The composer has said that she “cannot and I do not need to describe my music..You have to listen to it and everybody has to understand it in their own way.” Despite that desire, it is a big help to have a couple of her hints. Curiously, the “star’s light curve is similar to what a heartbeat looks like through an electrocardiogram when its brightness is mapped over time.” The heartbeat stars therefore have both the pulsating force and their light curve to match the heartbeat concept. While there are traditional orchestral instruments – flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, contrabassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, contrabass tuba, and timpani, the percussion list is long. In fact, the list of the instruments is nearly two inches tall. Some of these are familiar: the cowbell, the tam tam, piano strings, for example. There are a lot of drums: wood drum, bongos, snare drum, tom toms, tenor drum, bass drum, but there are also stranger percussion resources, like bamboo tree and binzasara. This was not meant to be something one would hum on the way to the garage. It is sound for the stars, planets, and space. Ms Chin also notes that traditional Korean music is knit into this universe. Having heard Korean music for traditional dance, it is a powerful presence. I was told that one must be careful when such things are playing as the sounds bring out spirits which could rock the chair one had assumed was not going to move or jump, and it might.

As the program had opened with a composition of 2022, the next performance was Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor, Opus 37, by Henri Vieuxtemps, written in 1861. Vieuxtemps was Belgian and performed his first concert at age six. Throughout his life he was celebrated by the elite of violinists and music critics. This Concerto shows why. In addition to his extraordinary greatness as a violinist, he was also a remarkable composer. Fortunately for the San Francisco audience, Joshua Bell was the soloist. The performance was astounding. One could not compare this performance with any other; it was only played by the SFS  once before, in 1932. The virtuosity required by the soloist is not easy to describe; everything about the piece was designed to keep the mind and fingers moving more and more quickly with more and more brilliance. Berlioz reviewed Vieuxtemps’ Concerto No. 5 in A minor and found it “grand and new;” the “whole is admirably combined to let the solo instrument shine, without its domination ever becoming oppressive.” There was nothing oppressive about it. Seeing and hearing Bell with the SFS lifted us up. Being a witness to the best can do that and also can expand one’s life in the best way.

Thanks go to Joshua Bell for the third selection. He had commissioned a group of new works called the Elements project. “They all have something in common, said Bell: “They all have a tendency toward tonality and melody, which I like.” He wanted to commission “something about the natural world.” On this program, the element was Earth, a ten minute performance with Joshua Bell’s solo violin and flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, and strings. The composer, Kevin Puts, wrote Earth in 2023. The music had a natural sound though did not imitate the sounds of nature. It was calming and steady. This was Earth without volcanoes or tsunami or hurricanes. This earth endures. While experiencing the music, I thought about our earth. Toward the closing minute, I felt closer to earth but, suddenly, also afraid for Earth.

Claude Debussy composed La Mer from 1903-1905. It sounded like new music, musical, imagistic, gorgeous, and also understated music. The wonderful writer, Michael Steinberg, called La Mer “this not-quite-symphony.” There are three movements or one might call them pictures:  De l’Aube a midi sur la mer (From Dawn Till Noon on the Sea); Jeux de vagues (Play of the Waves); Dialogue du vent et de la mer (Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea). Actually, calling them pictures cannot work. While the visual world of the sea comes forward, the rhythm and movement which Debussy creates feels like the real movement of the sea and the wind. Debussy contributed so much to music; a listener now hears his music as a natural phenomenon. It is entirely his own originality like an element of nature that has lasted and always will. It is different from any other work. Michael Steinberg mentions “the swell and retreat” of the cellos’ theme “echoed” quietly in the timpani and horns. All of us breathe in swell and retreat. Being near the sea, one’s breath synchronizes with the waves and then yearns to be in the water to float on the surface which will lift one and let one down while moving forward. La Mer does present tempestuous conditions, but Debussy loves all of the sea’s movement and rhythm. This is new music.

#Quotations from artists are quoted from SF Symphony program.



June 1 is a great day to purchase books by Leslie Friedman. The Dancer’s Garden and The Story of Our Butterflies will be available at big discounts. JUNE 1st is The Day.

The Dancer’s Garden can be purchased for $30.

The Story of Our Butterflies: Mourning Cloaks in Mountain View can be purchased for $20.

If you purchase these books, on June 1st, AND if there are books on hand, you will not pay postage and handling. It’s $5 for postage & handling. Purchase by cash or check or – if you want to use a credit card, please go to the landing page of this blog, scroll down the page to see the PaypPal logo, click on it and follow directions. Add $1.50 to the total.

Gemma New Conducts SF Symphony Brilliantly

Conductor Gemma New brought her musical brilliance and personable presence to Davies Symphony Hall, May 10 & 12. On May 11th, she led the SFS in the same program at UC, Davis. It was a program of music with distant origins. Overture, was created in Poland by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz while Poland was occupied by Germany, 1943. Englishman Edward Elgar wrote his beautiful, tragic ‘Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85, in 1919. Where did that music come from? Elgar had suspended his composing from the beginning of World War I. The horrors of the war kept his writing to brief, minor pieces. This music came from England but also from the fields and trenches of Belgium. Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Opus 56, Scottish, 1842. While Mendelssohn’s music was inspired by his visit to Scotland, its history, impressions of its dramatic seascape, and dances, Mendelssohn’s music was about music. It is a great symphony.

Gemma New, Principal Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Gemma New was called to replace Conductor Marta Gardolinska who had to withdraw due to a serious family illness.

A successful Polish conductor, Ms Gardolinska champions Polish composers. For that reason, Grazyna Bacewicz’s Overture opened the program. The music did not have its premiere until 1945. Bacewicz began as a violinist at the Warsaw Conservatory. In the 1930s she studied with the famous teacher, Nadia Boulanger, in Paris. This overture has so much great music in such a short time; it runs only 6 minutes. It is stunning to realize this and other works came forth from a terrible historic time. Warsaw began its rebellion to try to shake off the German hold, August 1, 1944. The Soviet Union’s Red Army did not bring the expected aide. The soldiers parked outside Warsaw, allowing the Germans to kill another quarter of a million Poles. As they left, the Germans set off the dynamite and wiring to explode and destroy all of Warsaw. In the midst of this, Bacewicz’s mind was active. The timpani opens and playful strings join in. She uses dissonance and some abrasive sounds, but it is always a musical language that one believes. There is a lovely and strong flute and then an exciting, delightful forward charge for the orchestra. I hope we may hear more of Grazyna Bacewicz

Sir Edward Elgar, 1857-1934

Pablo Ferrandez, ‘cellist

Elgar’s ‘Cello Concerto in E minor is one of my favorite pieces of music. I am a choreographer and chose the last two movements of this work to choreograph and perform as part of a dance concert on the program of Britain Meets the Bay, sponsored by the British Council. To choreograph this music, I listened to it maybe more often than the composer and also studied the war. On this program, the ‘cellist was Pablo Ferrandez. He has a unique approach to the music, playing it in his own interpretation. He occasionally bows very slowly across the ‘cello producing a disappearing sound. His touring this season includes major orchestras across the US: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Seattle. In Europe he will perform in London, Rotterdam, Dusseldorf and more. Conductor Gemma New led Ferrandez and the SFS engaging them in the strength and agony of the music.

Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847, composer and accomplished painter, linguist, poet. This is a watercolor of Lucerne by Mendelssohn.

Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony #3 was dedicated to Queen Victoria. Mendelssohn, the Queen, and Prince Albert would gather and play new pieces by Mendelssohn. They formed a true friendship. In his program note, Larry Rothe mentions that Mendelssohn dropped the “Scottish” part of the title. There are sounds that can remind one of the winds sweeping around the islands and the mist that clings to buildings and people walking. The opening of the Symphony may recall the murder of Mary, Queen of Scots’ probable lover. However, no story line appears. One may identify sounds that could be developed from the wind itself. This is also about relationships between disparate sounds, how they oppose other sounds, and demonstrate they are alive by the motion of the rhythms. The music travels through moments when one could imagine folk dancers out doors, but an adagio appears after that mode to a contemplative, mysterious movement beyond specific thoughts. Once more, the music leads ahead of any “ideas” to label it. The quiet of the symphony changes to a sense of victory leaving behind any mysteries or cold winds. It reassembles itself and carries on. This is a great symphony. Oh, I wrote that at the beginning. It bears repetition. Listen to Mendelssohn’s Symphony #3, again.

Please note: A post about conductors who are women will follow this tomorrow.








You still have time to get tickets. Swan Lake, as choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, will be performed at the SF War Memorial Opera House through May 5. This review of last night’s extraordinary performance is still playing in front of my eyes. There was gorgeous dancing by everyone on stage. The casts change night by night. I was thrilled by Principal Dancers Misa Kuranaga, as Odette/Odile, and Angelo Greco, as Prince Siegfried. Each danced with emotion and technique that took my breath away. Swan Lake IS ballet and ballet music. Thank you, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, where would ballet be without you? The SF Ballet Orchestra, led by Music Director & Principal Conductor Martin West, played the beautiful music flawlessly. The day before I went to this Swan Lake, I heard music in my head as soon as I got up. What was it? That amazing Swan Lake music. Apparently it has a special bunk in a corner of my brain. Without telling me what it was doing, it turned on these glorious sounds.

Jasmine Jimison and Isaac Hernández in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © San Francisco Ballet, photo by Lindsey Rallo

Helgi Tomasson’s choreography, premiered in 2009, for the Swan Lake story makes a difference. The ballet begins with the evil Von Rothbart trying to kidnap Princess Odette. They struggle, she runs away, but Von Rothbart does not like to lose. Odette is seen behind a curtain, Von Rothbart stretches out his arm pointing at Odette, and her shadow changes to the shadow of a swan. Her predicament is explained through the movement, a great way to go.

Julia Rowe and Cavan Conley in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © Reneff-Olson Productions

All the dancers were wonderful to watch. Helgi Tomasson, former Artistic Director of the SF Ballet for 37 seasons, 1985-2022, makes full use of his company. In the first act there are trios, duets, larger groups dancing. The princesses are there for Prince Siegfried to choose one to marry, but Prince Siegfried did not want to choose from this group. He had received a crossbow and took it to go swan hunting. As I recall now, past Swan Lakes that I have seen begin with the Prince and his friends going hunting together. i enjoyed Tomasson’s way of opening the story and demonstrating his dances.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © Lindsay Thomas *** Local Caption *** Swan: V. Wright

Act II is at The Lakeside. Odette and Siegfried meet. He has his crossbow ready to shoot a  swan, but one becomes a beautiful woman, the Queen of all of the swans. I appreciated the way Tomasson used the arms of the dancer-swans. They were in line formation and use just one arm up high on a slight diagonal. As they all did this together, the arms looked like wings. A great dancer himself, Tomasson knew how this one movement would capture the audience’s eyes.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © Reneff-Olson Productions

Ms Kuranaga is elegant, precise with perfectly shaped movements, and astonishing extensions. Her turns and leaps were brilliant. There is a detail that caught my eye: her hands. She was able to make her arms and hands so supple, so like flying wings, but there is something else. I confess I do not like the way the hands are used in much of current classical ballet. The fingers are parted and, to me, they appear stiff and pointy. Ms Kuranaga’s hands were gently curved with out sticking out the fingers. Thank you, Ms Kuranaga. Your technique is a wonder right down to your finger tips.  Furthermore, she was a very nasty Odile, the bad daughter of Von Rothbart. She is in total control, holding back from accepting the Prince’s desire to marry her. While that powerful dance between them goes on, the audience sees an Odette figure trying to warn Siegfried. That is another innovation in this classic ballet. Did Odile do the famous 32 fouettes? She did them all. I saw Ms Kuranaga do double turns in the midst of this pinnacle of strength and beauty. I wanted to jump up and cheer.

Nikisha Fogo in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © Lindsay Thomas

Mr. Angelo Greco certainly received the right name because he flies like an angel. I saw him leap and stay in the air. There were also unusual leaps.  For example, en face (facing the audience), one leg would take him in the air into second position. Second position: the dancer stands with legs apart, toes pointing to the sides. Mr. Greco’s leg would go high in the air and then the other leg would come up, too, just before the first leg began to come down. It was as though he were flying over a mountain top. In addition, Mr. Greco was the perfect partner to Ms Kuranaga. Always there for her, a true cavalier, gracious to Odette with exact timing.

Nikisha Fogo and Aaron Robison in Tomasson’s Swan Lake // © Lindsay Thomas

What would happen at the end of the ballet? Will the lovers be killed by Von Rothbart? Would they fly into heaven as I have seen years ago?  Von Rothbart and Siegfried fight. Odette throws herself off the mountain that is back of the lake. Siegfried tries to kill Von Rothbart and then climbs the mountain, letting himself fall into the unseen lake. Then, we see the lovers standing at the top of the mountain, backs to the audience, looking at the enormous moon which always has been in the lakeside scenes. She has on a longer skirt or maybe it was a cape. Are they OK? Did they die together? Love conquered Von Rothbart, I am sure of that, but I cannot tell what their future would be.

Now, buy the tickets! I am thrilled that I was able to see these dancers and grateful for their performances. Hooray for the San Francisco Ballet dancers and a Swan Lake to embrace and keep.

Photos courtesy of the San Francisco Ballet. The performances had three different lead dancers. No photos of Misa Kuranaga and Mr. Greco were available. All the more reason to look for them in every season.

Shostakovich, Walton, Prokofiev: Gimeno Finds Treasures

The San Francisco Symphony has not run out of extraordinary programs led by stellar guest conductors. On April 25, SFS presented three jewel like performances of seldom played music. It was a thrilling night of musical discoveries and highest musicianship.

Gustavo Gimeno’s conducting was wonderful to watch. He is graceful in his gestures and kept a strong control of his musicians. I was impressed by the way he stopped the music. He held on to the silence that would come after the end of a movement or the whole piece. He was respectful of the music and let it fill the air around the last notes. That silence emphasized the last sounds still in our heads. His conducting is precise, and still he lets the emotion and wit of each piece capture the audience. Gustavo Gimeno is the music director of the Luxembourg Philharmonic and the Music Director of the Toronto Symphony. He is the Music Director Designate of Teatro Real Madrid

Gustavo Gimeno, conductor, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony

Maestro Gimeno opened the concert with Funeral March from The Great Citizen, Opus 55 (1939) by Dmitri Shostakovich. It was the first San Francisco Symphony performance of this music. When Gimeno spoke to the audience before the Prokofiev Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Opus 44 (1928), he noted that it was a great piece which he had wanted to perform for a long time.

Shostakovich wrote many scores for movies. The Great Citizen was a two part movie about Sergei Kirov, a Bolshevik revolutionary hero who was also a friend of Stalin. Being a friend of Stalin was a different kind of friendship; Kirov was assassinated in 1934. The Kirov Ballet was named for him. Shostakovich lived on Kirovsky Prospect in Moscow. Kirov was hugely popular which was his downfall. Shostakovich wrote about music for movies: “What a rewarding task the composer has in trying to catch the rhythm of the dynamic stream of film sequence…” He recognized that “no theatre or concert hall can  compete with the cinema with its audience of millions.” Of this music only the Overture, Funeral March, and Conclusion have survived. The Funeral March, just seven minutes long, was beautiful and moving. it has the character of a Funeral March, but the beauty of a work by Shostakovich.

William Walton, composer, 1902-1983


Jonathan Vinocour, Violist, Principal Violist of the SFS, and Gustavo Gimeno, Conductor

The San Francisco Symphony with Gustavo Gimeno, Conductor, and Jonathan Vinocour, Viola, perform Shostakovich’s “Funeral March from The Great Citizen, Opus 55,” William Walton’s “Viola Concerto,” and Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 3.” At Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday night, April 25, 2024.

Viola Concerto, by William Walton, has been performed before in Davies Symphony Hall, but not since 1997. Geraldine Walther was the soloist with David Robertson conducting. It was this listener’s first time to hear this great concerto, composed 1928-1929, and revised in 1962. Curiously, the work had influences from Prokofiev and from Hindemith, a composer and viola player. The concerto’s three movements have changeable, ear pleasing, and surprising rhythms. While it is fully a modernist piece, there is a Romantic, English essence. Somewhere Puck plays in the music. It is a challenging, virtuoso piece for the violist, Jonathan Vinocour, Principal Viola in the SF Symphony, since 2009. In an interview, Vinocour says that this is his favorite viola concerto. “…it’s an extremely expressive piece, which to our ears is simply beautiful and moving. It uses lots of clashing harmonies –very mild by today’s standards–but it gives a feeling of yearning.” Listening to this concerto, it seems to have that emotional message at the same time the audience is caught up in the stunning invention and demands upon the soloist. The full audience and the orchestra loudly cheered Vinocour’s triumphant performance.

Sergei Prokofiev, composer, 1891-1953

Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Opus 44 has an unusual history. It was written by using music Prokofiev had written for an opera, the Fiery Angel. Prokofiev worked at the Fiery Angel off and on from 1919-1927. He managed to have a concert performance in Paris of the opera’s second act. It is unbelievable that some audience members who considered themselves very avant garde thought the opera was “old hat.”

Having seen the Fiery Angel at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, I found that an impossible critique. It could be called a bit nutty, but as Prokofiev said, “Of orgies there is no end.”  The first issue of The Hedgehog, the international arts review, Vol. I, No. 1, November, 1996, included a picture of the apparently (but not truly?) naked Russian acrobats on the cover. The cover feature was “New Faces of Opera.” There were interviews and pictures with Pam Dillard, Zheng Cao, and Mika Shigematsu. The wild acrobats and The Fiery Angel were described in the article, “Moving on Stage,” by Camelita Ng, which included five operas of the season. The Fiery Angel was a co-production of Covent Garden and the Kirov. The men spent most of the opera “perched on scaffolding above the stage.” They were “a visualization of the demons tormenting the heroine.” When the demons come down from their scaffolding, it was fascinating and terrifying.

Brief summary: A nun has visions of an angel. She believes the angel appears as a count. She follows him. As James M. Keller wrote, the nun becomes “a sort of obsessed stalker.” She convinces her convent that her visions are real, and all are possessed with wild sexual and religious craziness. Real or fantasy? The opera had its premiere in Venice, 1955, two years after Prokofiev’s death. The symphony is fantastic itself. Prokofiev selected pieces from the opera to use in his Symphony No. 3. Adjectives such as “intense,” “violent,” and especially “loud” are used by some music writers. The loudness is not continual; the music is brilliant and complicated in a brilliant way. Knowing the story behind the music certainly justifies the music, if one would ever need “to justify” Prokofiev. The composer wrote a description of how he borrowed from his opera to make this symphony. “The material for the Scherzo and for the Andante was also found without difficulty. The Finale took a little longer. I spent far more time whipping the thing into final shape, tying up all the loose ends and doing the orchestration. But the result—the Third Symphony-–I consider to be one of my best compositions.” Prokofiev was a genius. I will vote with him every time.





Brilliant Program, Incredible Conductor


Karina Canellakis, Conductor

The San Francisco Symphony demonstrated that making a program is an art in itself. On April 18, we saw and heard the SFS’ excellent sound conducted by the amazing Karina Canellakis. She is Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra which she leads at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg, She is also Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic. She comes on stage, promptly takes her place, and puts all her energy into conducting. She has a very physical style. One can remember that the sound is a real, physical thing when watching her bringing the orchestra forward with her arms upward, pulling them in. She has a great interaction with the musicians. Everyone levitates a bit off the stage floor; Ms Canellakis has an engaging, positive presence even during tragic music.

Richard Strauss, composer, 1864-1949

The opening piece, Richard Strauss’ Don Juan, Opus 20 (1889) sounded wonderful. Those of us who do not find Don Juan to be a hero, still find the music made to accompany his triumphs outstanding. The Don Juan music was one of the symphonic poems Strauss created in the 1880s. The music represents Don Juan as an adventurer like the jovial Three Musketeers, a swashbuckling, devil-may-care kind of a guy. The music provides expressive moments when one could imagine him with a beloved and then turning to another. Only for a moment did I think, “Gee, here’s this wonderful woman conductor making Don Juan attractive through the music.” Then, the music ends the way it had to end: a father avenges the death of one of the women. Terrific music about a cheerful serial rapist. True to the spirit of another era.

Maurice Ravel, composer, 1875-1937

The Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand, by Maurice Ravel, is an extraordinary achievement even for a master like Ravel. However, it is a great work and not an oddity. It challenges the pianist’s and orchestra’s technique. It is beautiful, wholly original, and, I think has depths that one cannot anticipate while being mesmerized by the pianist’s one hand. The story behind this work is touching although the pianist and composer did not create a great friendship to match the great music. An Austrian family, Paul Wittgenstein was the brother of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Paul had begun a successful career as a pianist. Then, in World War I, he lost his right hand. it took a very long time to rehabilitate his injuries. Major composers wrote music for him: Hindemith, Korngold, Prokofiev, Britten, Strauss. it is Ravel’s that has lasted.

Cedric Tiberghien, pianist

The pianist, Cedric Tiberghien, was brilliant and met every challenge without looking like he was climbing a mountain of difficult technique. Listen, but also see this music; it is very special, gorgeous, and moving.

Richard Strauss returned to the program with Death and Transfiguration, Opus 24. It was written 1888-1889. It was meant to be a symphonic poem, but there is no relation to a literary work. It is as though Strauss had a libretto running through his mind. He imagined a man who was very ill and in bed. While asleep he imagines or remembers moments of his life. He has a fever and pains. He was an artist. Strauss wrote,”the fruit of his path through life appears to him, the idea, the Ideal which he has tried to realize, to represent in his art, but which he has been unable to perfect because it was not for any human being to perfect it.” The moment of death comes, the music pictures his “soul leaves the body, in order to find perfected in the most glorious force in the eternal cosmos that which he could not fulfill here on earth.” This listener disliked the subject,fought it, the title, the music from its beginning. Then, without knowing why, this listener wept. A great composer can do that.

The program ended with La Valse, composed by Ravel, 1919-1920. it is a glamorous waltz at the beginning. Before the Great War, Ravel was fascinated by the Viennese waltz. He had plans for music saluting Johann Strauss II. The War changed everything including the waltz. It had been enjoyed in times of plenty; everyone in party dresses, the men smoking cigars, the women being elegantly flirty. Then, a generation of young men – French, English, German, all of Europe – were dead. They were missing legs, wearing terrible injuries, mentally different than before. La Valse presents all of this. Toward the end it goes faster and faster. I imagine an enormous chandelier suddenly crashing to the floor.

The SF Symphony met all the challenges of these great works with energy, precision, musicality. It was a brilliant evening we will be thinking about for a long time.



RAY CHEN: An Amazing Violin Recital

As  his audience continued to applaud after his second encore, Ray Chen shouted out “You make me feel like a rock star!” That is exactly right; the full to the rafters audience could not let him go. From Tartini to Chick Corea, this virtuoso violinist swept away his audience by his fantastic playing.

Violinist Ray Chen as pictured on his album, SOLACE, 2020, featuring selections from Bach’s Partitas and Sonatas.

Giuseppe Tartini composer-violinist (1692-1779)

His program began with Giuseppe Tartini’s Violin Sonata in G Major, Devil’s Trill (1713). There are four movements in this remarkable sonata. After each movement, there were moments for audience members to open their eyes very wide as though they realized they were hearing exceptionally difficult music as though it were easy. The piece, arranged by Fritz Kreisler, was an extraordinary accomplishment presenting four different moods. Starting with a Larghetto affettuoso, slowly emotional; an Allegro energico picked up the excitement; the third movement, Grave, checked the energetic happiness; and then closed with Allegro assai. The performer smiled. He had knocked our socks off and this was only the first selection.

Chen’s pianist partner is Julio Elizalde. He has played with Chen for a long time. He played his debut SF Symphony Great Performers Series with Chen, 2019. Elizalde has performed in great halls around the world. He performs as a soloist, collaborator, curator, and educator. He earned his BA degree with honors at the SF Conservatory and his master of music and doctor of musical arts from Juilliard. He wears many hats and receives many awards in the world of music.

Ludwig Van Beethoven, Composer (1770-1827)

Beethoven’s Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Opus 30, no. 2 (1802) was so different from the Tartini Sonata one could imagine them from different planets. They are from different centuries. The world had changed and music changed; Beethoven’s influence made sure of that. The opening movement, Allegro con brio, is suspenseful, taut, and occasionally breaks into dramatic rests. There are moments that seem cheerful and other times that hold a simmering anger or anxiety. This sonata was written as Beethoven realized his deafness was taking away so much. The  second movement, Adagio cantabile, had a tenderness to it but it could not be sustained. The music set up its own protest at conditions that could not change. Beethoven’s Scherzo: Allegro was playful, a little jokey, with a new conversation between the piano and violin. There is irony that steels the wit. The Finale: Allegro-Presto recalls the explosive energy of the first movement. Beethoven will not let it explode. He knows how to ride the wind and thrills us with the Presto. 

During the intermission, thinking about this unsettling music led me to wonder what I could have expected. There is no reason to search for a musical pigeon hole. The Sonata was stirring and in its rough beauty could be dangerous, but a danger to keep.


Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer (1685-1750)

Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E major for Solo Violin, BWV 1006 changed the mood of the music as well as the look of the stage. Before the concert began, I saw the piano on the stage.  There was no one onstage and no thing other than the piano. My eyes were full of the piano, its shape and color. It is such a beautiful thing, sitting there on center stage, I felt that I could spend time just looking at it. A piano is powerful. It looked at ease, occupying its space. It shaped all the space around it. It also looked like it was waiting for the moment when it would spring like a beautiful beast jumping into action, letting its power take charge.

When Ray Chen entered that space with his violin, everything was different. Here was a man with a violin. Alone, he and his violin filled the entire hall with the visual art of the physical presence of the artist and violin and the movement he makes to release the music. The sound is physical and has a spiritual life as well. He recorded his album, SOLACE, as the world was changed by the COVID pandemic. We were at a standstill. Chen wrote that it “became a time of self-reflection, and a renewed appreciation of the power of music….Bach’s music, in particular, written so far ahead of its time, reminds us of an important message: that humanity struggles onward despite the odds.”

So often Bach’s great work is described as ordered, geometric, balanced. All of that is true, but Chen hears the character of the music. The parts of this partita express sadness, loneliness, joy. Two movements of the Partita No. 3 in E Major, are included in the collection of movements from Sonatas and Partitas in SOLACE. The first movement, Preludio, is a waterfall of music. There are endless fast 16th notes challenging the violinist to rise above the Niagra Falls of Bach’s thrills. Chen takes it on, dashing in and through the churning waves. The other part that is on SOLACE is the third movement, the joyful, though polite, Gavotte and Rondeau. Five of the six movements really are about movements. Bach knew he was following the ideas in the dances: minuets, bourres, gavottes. How wonderful that this great composer-musician indeed had room for the dances in his heart.

La Ronde des lutins, Opus 25, by Antonio Bazzini is a fantastic piece which Izthak Perlman often includes in his encores. It made me happy that Chen had it in his program. The title means Dance of the Goblins, though it also has a more formal name, Scherzo Fantastique. Even I, a non-violinist, can tell how difficult this piece is. Bazzini was successful as a touring virtuoso. He also spent five years as a soloist with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. He was president of the Concert Society in his home city, Brescia, and became the director of the Milan Conservatory, 1882. He wrote six string quartets and two quintets. Three of his students went on to compose operas: Pietro Mascagni (Cavalleria rusticana), Alfredo Catalani (La Wally), Giacomo Puccini, too, although Puccini moved to another professor, Amilcare Ponchielli (La gioconda). In short, Bazzini was successful, well known, and a significant personage in Europe in the 19thc., and still, La Ronde des lutins is his calling card, his home run in the bottom of the 9th inning. James M. Keller describes from the musician’s view what Bazzini did to make it available for performance only to the greatest technicians: “ricochet bowing, left-hand pizzicatos, alternate fingerings, runs of double-stopped thirds and tenths, double -stopped trills, and double harmonics.” Hats off to Bazzini and Alpha violinists. I credit the Goblins.

Antonin Dvorak, Composer (1841-1904)

There is more! Ray Chen let us hear him play music from different centuries and styles. Next up is Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 2 in E minor, Opus 72. Early in his career, 1877, a set of Slavonic dances brought positive notice and some cash to him. He wrote another set in 1886; this one was the second dance. It comes from delightful folk tradition that may have originated in Ukraine, probably in the 1500s. This music was arranged by Fritz Kreisler (as was Tartini’s Devil Trill). While Dvorak wrote it in Allegretto grazioso, Kreisler changed it to Andanate grazioso Quasi Allegretto. It gives the Slavonic Dance more weight and seriousness in addition to the dancers’ delight.

Chick Corea, musician-composer (1941-2021)

Chick Corea’s Spain (arranged by Julio Elizalde & Ray Chen), written in 1971, is one of his most popular compositions. It begins by quoting Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, a beautiful work that is nostalgic and innovative. Once that introduction is completed, Corea morphs into a samba, and the samba lives in its rhythm and controlled passion. It a major piece of contemporary music especially in Corea’s musical world of jazz, jazz fusion, and his collaborative work with Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, and classical music of Mozart and Bartok. Spain has been recorded by many musicians of many singular styles: Tito Puente, James Galway, Bela Fleck, ukelele artist Jake Shimabukaro, Blood Sweat & Tears, Manhattan Transfer. It has a life of its own; it is universal music. Chick Corea turned Spain into a piano concerto and performed it with the London Philharmonic in the 1990s.

This was an amazing, grand concert which brought the voices of six composers into the listeners’ heads and hearts. Ray Chen and Julio Elizalde knew that the audience was ready and greedy for encores. There were three encores: A Evaristo Carriego, by Eduardo Rovira (arr. Chen & Elizalde), Czardas, by Vittorio Monti (arr. Chen & Elizalde), and Estrellita, by Manuel Ponce ( Heifetz). The high energy of the concert continued into the encores. The lovely tune, Estrellita, was a calming choice when the musicians decided to say good-night.

RAY CHEN’S COMING TOURS include La Jolla, CA, tonight, March 28th; following that you can find this incredible artist in Storrs, CT, and Amherst, MA. Check the planes and train schedules. Do not miss an opportunity to hear and see this performance.