Tuesday, January 3

16-year-old local pianist Hugo Kitano had a chance to take part in the NPR radio show “From the Top” with a concert in November that just aired nationally this past week. He played Chopin, and made an impressively acrobatic arrival onto the stage, showing off his ‘parkour’ skills as well as his musical talent.

Wednesday, January 4

Day one of the Classical All-Stars countdown turns up a pair of works by Ravel, trips to Mars and Paris, and a chance for a bit of a mashup of some of the first dozen pieces, selected by listeners as their favorites.  You can find the full listings in order so far here!

Thursday, January 5

The duo of cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley will be bringing the genre-bending repertoire from their latest CD (“Shuffle.Play.Listen”) to Yoshi’s tonight. Bernard Herrmann and Igor Stravinsky will be sharing the spotlight with Arcade Fire and Radiohead.

Friday, January 6

Ensemble Vermillian is performing tonight in Albany, and tomorrow night in Santa Rosa. Recorder player and founding member Frances Blaker says she’s been able to find a lot of great Baroque music for the group to play – with the help of the internet.

Monday, January 9

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will be playing music from her new CD Something Almost Being Said this Saturday, at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. It pairs the music of J.S. Bach with Franz Schubert, in works that she says sound as though they’re “about to break out into words at any moment.”

And the concert is one of Dianne’s Top 5 this week…

To buy the CD, click here. Or click here for iTunes!

Tuesday, January 10

Members of the Kitchner Waterloo Symphony played their instruments and followed their scores… but also listened to their breathing and heartbeats with stethoscopes to determine how fast they should play. It’s a work by Richard Reed Parry, called “For Heart, Breath and Orchestra”, that they premiered on a CD from the Canadian label Analekta.

Wednesday, January 11

The piano trio called Trio con Brio Copenhagen is made up of Danish pianist Jens Elvekjaer, his wife, cellist Soo-Kyung Hong, and her sister, Soo-Jin Hong. Their close ties have helped them develop a critically praised sound. The trio will play as part of the “Music at Kohl Mansion” series in Burlingame this weekend.

Thursday, January 12

An ambitious “semi-staging” of Claude Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien has soloists singing high above the San Francisco Symphony and choir, and video and photo projections above them all. Michael Tilson Thomas told director and designer Anne Patterson to stress the magic in the work.

There’s more information at Dianne’s Top Five. And a time-lapse video of the construction of the set here, on the Symphony’s website.

Friday, January 13

The Bay Area Youth Orchestra Festival takes place this weekend at Davies Symphony Hall; talented young players will have the opportunity to meet their peers, perform separately, and then selected musicians will finish the concert as a combined festival orchestra. The concert benefits underserved and homeless children in the communities represented by the six orchestras.

There’s more information at Dianne’s Top 5

Tuesday, January 17

Recently a New York Philharmonic concert was rudely (if unintentionally) interrupted by an audience member’s cellphone alarm going off during a quiet passage of Mahler’s ninth symphony. Cellphones and the concert hall tend not to mix, but on rare occasion, they do…

Wednesday, January 18

This Sunday evening, Music Director Joana Carneiro and the Berkeley Symphony will present an “Under Construction” reading concert, with works-in-progress by three young composers. The orchestra will rehearse the pieces, and audience members will be able to ask questions of composers Noah Luna, Evelyn Ficcara and Nils Bultmann.

You can find out more about the concert/rehearsal here.

Thursday, January 19

The last big hit of Gilbert & Sullivan was The Gondoliers, a comic opera set in Venice, and the mysterious land of Barataria. The Lamplighters Music Theatre production starts its run at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this weekend, and continues the following weekend in Walnut Creek.

Find out more about the performances at Dianne’s Top 5!

Friday, January 20

The Santa Rosa Symphony‘s Conductor Laureate Jeffrey Kahane returns for a series of concerts on the podium and at the keyboard this weekend. They’ll play Rachmaninoff’s Third Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto #25 – works that Kahane says complement eachother in texture and approach.

You can find out more about the concerts at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s website.

Tuesday, January 24

The combined forces of several ensembles known collectively as “East Bay Performing Arts” will perform Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana this Friday in Oakland. Michael Morgan, Musical Director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony says it’s a perfect vehicle for a large group… since you can’t have too many people on stage.

There’s more information about the concert at the OEBS website.

Wednesday, January 25

The Oscar-nominated films in the “Best Original Score” category are “The Adventures of Tintin”, “The Artist”, “Hugo”, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, and “War Horse” – with the first and last by John Williams, who for the eighth time is competing against himself in the category… along with Ludovic Bource, Howard Shore, and Alberto Iglesias. The films are decidedly retro: the most recent time period depicted is the Cold War Era in John LeCarre’s story of the world of British espionage.

Thursday, January 26

The first San Francisco production of Onegin, the John Cranko-choreographed ballet of the Pushkin tale of lost love opens at San Francisco Ballet tomorrow night. Courtney Elizabeth is a soloist with the company who will be dancing the role of Olga – a character who inadvertently sets off a string of tragic events, after introducing Onegin to her sister Tatiana.

There’s more information about the performances at SF Ballet’s website.

Friday, January 27

Mozart would have been 256 years old on January 27. Out of curiosity, I gave a listen to the work to which musicologist Ludwig von Kochel assigned the “K number” of 256. It’s a lightning fast patter-aria that Mozart wrote to be inserted into a comic opera by another composer, marked to be sung in “a tempo suitable for a big chatterbox”.

In the mood for more Mozart? The San Francisco Symphony has birthday-appropriate concerts this weekend. Find out more on their website.

Monday, January 30

The “Mozart Effect” – has been used to describe a link between listening to classical music and being “smarter” – even though the original studies were much more specifically focused on spatial relation tasks, and the boost in ability was only temporary. But a more recent study says there’s a longer term benefit to those who actually play or practice music, since it improves the listening skills involved in learning foreign languages and reading.

Tuesday, January 31

Today is the 75th Birthday of composer Philip Glass, who’s still going strong, with the U.S. premiere of his Ninth Symphony at a special Carnegie Hall Birthday concert. There are other big events planned for the year, including a tour of his groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach, with a stop in Berkeley.