Wednesday, February 1

After decades of persistent research, UC Berkeley musicologist Davitt Moroney found a manuscript in the National Library in Paris that had been presumed lost forever: a choral mass for 40 (and in the last movement, 60) totally independent voices by Alessandro Striggio. The massive work, along with others for similarly gigantic forces will have a performance with Moroney conducting this Friday and Saturday in Berkeley.

There’s more information about the concert on the Cal Performances website. Here’s a video with more background about the Mass:

Thursday, February 2

Herbert Blomstedt, Conductor Emeritus of the San Francisco Symphony will be returning to the podium at Davies Symphony Hall for the first of several concerts, with the music of Tchaikovsky and Mozart. Garrick Ohlsson will be soloist in Mozart’s 9th Piano Concerto (“Jeunehomme”), and the orchestra will dig into the ‘fate’ filled Fifth Symphony of Tchaikovsky.

There’s more information about the concerts on Dianne’s Top Five!

Friday, February 3

The Alexander Quartet, the ensemble in residence at San Francisco Performances, is celebrating their 30th-anniversary season with a special concert this weekend. Included on the program is the world premiere of a song cycle written for them and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato by Jake Heggie and lyricist Gene Scheer, telling the events of the life of French sculptor Camille Claudel.

There’s more information about the concert at Dianne’s Top 5!

Monday, February 6

The Super Bowl’s commercials are once again dipping into the well of classical music’s greatest hits to sell their products. There don’t seem to be quite as many this year as last, but Beethoven and Richard Strauss both feature prominently…

(Left off the list: a couple of Doritos commercials with the Barber of Seville Overture, and “La Donna e Mobile” – and a great NFL commercial featuring the oboe-playing Chester Pitts)

Tuesday, February 7

Among the Grammy nominees in the “Best Small Ensemble Performance” classical music category is a disc showing the trans-Atlantic influence of Spanish culture in the 17th and 18th Centuries. It’s called The Kingdoms of Castille, performed by the early music ensemble El Mundo, led by its founder, guitarist Richard Savino.

You can find acomplete listing of the Grammy nominees here.

Wednesday, February 8

This weekend Andrew Mogrelia will be conducting his final two concerts as Music Director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra. During his seven years in that position, he’s brought in an impressive roster of guest conductors and helped to expand the role of the orchestra at the SFCM.

There’s more information about the concert here.

Thursday, February 9

The San Francisco Symphony‘s celebration of the Chinese New Year with a special community concert is this Saturday. Guest conductor Carolyn Kuan will lead the orchestra in a program of works including the “Yellow River Piano Concerto” – a Chinese favorite that weaves together folk tunes with a lush orchestration reminiscent of Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff.

There’s more information about the concert at Dianne’s Top 5!

Friday, February 10

A new, slimmer production of John Harbison’s opera “The Great Gatsby” opens tonight at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Conductor Nicole Paiement explains the pit orchestra forces were more than halved, but because of Jacques Desjardins’ re-orchestration, it sounds as lush and powerful as the original.

There’s more information about the production at Ensemble Parallele’s website. Even with fewer musicians, the pit was still quite full at a rehearsal earlier this week.

Nicole Paiement with Ensemble Parallele musicians in the

Monday, February 13

It’s been 50 years since Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” – and he’ll be returning to the city on Valentine’s Day, to be honored by the city, and sing a benefit concert at the Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel, where he launched his signature tune.

KDFC will be among those San Francisco radio stations participating in playing Bennett’s iconic version of the song at noon on Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 14

For Valentine’s Day, a day of romance, a look at one composer’s wide interpretation of what a “Romance” should sound like: Ralph Vaughan Williams covered the high, (very) low, familiar, and off the beaten track in four works with that name or description.

Actress Anna Deavere Smith has made a career of taking the words of people she’s interviewed, and creating works that try to capture the essence of America. Her newest work, “On Grace” looks at that topic, and will get its first performances at Grace Cathedral this Friday and Saturday, accompanied by cellist Joshua Roman.

There’s more information at Dianne’s Top 5!

Thursday, February 16

It’s the tenth anniversary season of Company C Contemporary Ballet – and so Artistic Director Charles Anderson has brought back several works for 2 different programs this weekend, performances at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Anderson sees his company as filling an important role in the Bay Area dance world, bringing to town works that fall outside classical ballet that deserve a wider audience.

There’s more information about the shows on the Company C Contemporary Ballet website.

Friday, February 17

The ensemble Musica Pacifica presents a series of concerts they’re calling “Dancing in the Isles – The Sequel!” The repertoire is a blend of baroque music of the British Isles, from composers like Henry Purcell and Matthew Locke, as well as folk tunes from England, Scotland and Ireland.  Recorder player Judith Linsenberg, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, baroque cellist/gambist Shirley Hunt and harpsichordist Charles Sherman are joined by percussionist John Loose for the concerts.

There’s more information about the concerts at Musica Pacifica’s website!

Tuesday, February 21

A bit of a quiz today, to get in the mood for our “KDFC Goes to the Movies” countdown later this week. Can you identify all seventeen films represented here?

(To see the answers, click and drag below to make them visible)

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Bridge on the River Kwai
  3. Rocky
  4. Jaws
  5. High Noon
  6. Psycho
  7. Diva
  8. Out of Africa
  9. North by Northwest
  10. Star Wars
  11. Gone With the Wind
  12. Schindler’s List
  13. Cinema Paradiso
  14. Robin Hood
  15. The Great Escape
  16. Dances With Wolves
  17. The Magnificent Seven

Wednesday, February 22

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is trying an unorthodox approach for finding a concerto soloist for two concerts late in the Fall: they’re going to hold an audition via YouTube, and let visitors to their channel help winnow the selection down to 20 semi-finalists. It’s been done before (notably by the YouTube Symphony Orchestra) but not by a major US ensemble.

There’s more information at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s site.

Thursday, February 23

Music from the Classical Era, with a taste of the Baroque… Rinaldo Alessandrini, who’s best known for his interpretations of Vivaldi, and other Baroque and early music composers, guest conducts 3 concerts with the San Francisco Symphony this week. On the program is music by Haydn and Mozart, which he likes to approach with some of the techniques and sounds of the Baroque.

There’s more information about the concerts at Dianne’s Top 5!

Friday, February 24

Heroes and Giants” is the title of tonight’s concert by the Oakland East Bay Symphony, with one familiar landmark piece, Beethoven’s Eroica, paired with two less-well known works by composers who suffered at the hands of totalitarian regimes. It’s part of the programming strategy of music director Michael Morgan to balance the new with the old, and broaden their audience into a community.

The concert is on Dianne’s Top 5 – there’s more information here.

Monday, February 27

Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov is the 20-year-old Tchaikovsky Competition gold medalist – who has also won the Rubinstein Competition, and won bronze at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Chamber Music San Francisco presents Trifonov in recital at Herbst Theatre tomorrow night. He’s still a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, but his competition-winning performances have kept him busy with touring and recording.

There’s more information about the concert at Chamber Music San Francisco’s website.  Here’s the video of Trifonov playing (first a nocturne by Glinka, then his own composition) when he was eight years old:

And here’s Trifonov in action at the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv, in May 2011:

Tuesday, February 28

Ever wonder what a theorbo looks like? Or what the difference is between a harpsichord and a fortepiano? The website of the early music group “Voices of Music” keeps a growing archive of high-definition videos from their performances. Co-director, keyboard and recorder player Hanneke van Proosdij says it’s both a way to reach a broader (international) audience, and it might just inspire those who can to come see them live in concert. They’re presenting Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in four performances around the Bay Area, Thursday through Sunday.

There’s more information about the concerts (and the video collection) at the Voices of Music website.

Wednesday, February 29

Gioachino Rossini was at the height of his popularity when, halfway through his life, and with 39 operas behind him, he stopped composing for the stage. The remainder of his life he spent composing for smaller forces, his best known religious works, and pieces to amuse himself. His birthdate left him a victim of the calendar: February 29th, 1792.

There will be Rossini throughout the day, including with Rik for KDFC Tonight!