Insight With Beth Ruyak

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Sound Advice: Jeff Hudson Previews Classical Concerts

Jeff Hudson's Sound Advice previews upcoming classical concerts across the region in January and February:

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CHAMBER MUSIC BY EMERGING PROFESSIONALS

Cellist Eunghee Cho – a recent Davis High School grad who has been an Insight guest and a soloist with the Sacramento Philharmonic – is now pursuing a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

Eunghee is currently home for the holidays, and he has organized chamber music performances 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thu. Jan. 4) at the Sudwerk Brewery in Davis (and yes, beer will be available), and 7:30 p.m. Friday (Fri. Jan. 5) at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin, both in Davis.

The six 20-something musicians who will be performing are all graduate students at music conservatories in various parts of the country, some were born in Korea and Japan. Cellist Joy Yanai comes from the city of Sendai in northern Honshu in Japan.

The compositions on these concerts will be music inspired by Spain, by the likes of Manuel de Falla, Maurice Ravel, and more. These concerts are a lead-in to the four-concert Mellon Music Festival in late May that Eunghee Cho is organizing. His new festival kind of reminds me a little bit of the Davis Shakespeare Festival, which is likewise organized by 20-somethings with conservatory training who have launched a new organization that is a platform for their artistic efforts.

The compositions on these concerts will be music inspired by Spain, by the likes of Manuel de Falla, Maurice Ravel, and more.

These concerts are a lead-in to a four-concert festival in late May that Eunghee Cho is organizing. His new festival kind of reminds me a little bit of the Davis Shakespeare Festival, which is likewise organized by 20-somethings with conservatory training who have launched a new organization that is a platform for their artistic efforts.

Also worth mention: the Rising Stars of Chamber Music at Harris Center on Sunday, Jan. 7.

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THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

Good things tend to come in bunches, and the concert calendar for January and February is thick with performances by many different orchestras – and most of these concerts feature at least one piece by a Russian composer. Russia, of course, produced a bumper crop of excellent composers during the 1800s and early 1900s.

Upcoming performances include:

  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Jan. 17, 8 p.m., Shostakovich, Symphony No. 1

  • Sacramento Philharmonic, Jan. 20, 8 p.m., Sacramento Community Center Theatre. All Russian Program with Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 , with pianist Andrew von Oeyen; Mussorgsky, Night on Bald Mountain; and Rachmaninoff, Symphonic Dances

  • Auburn Symphony, Jan. 21, 3 p.m., Mondavi Center. Shostakovich, Cello Concerto No. 1 with soloist Amit Peled. (Also Beethoven Symphony No. 5 and Copland, Four Dance Episodes from “Rodeo”.)

  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jan. 27, 8 p.m., Mondavi Center. Stravinsky, “Petrushka” (1911).

  • Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Friday Feb. 2 and Saturday Feb. 3, both at 8 p.m., Gallo Center. All Russian Program, Shostakovich, Festive Overture; Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Dylana Jenson; Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5

  • Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Saturday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., Fremont Presbyterian Church, Sacramento. Tchaikovsky, “Sleeping Beauty” Suite.

  • Folsom Lake Symphony, Saturday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m. Harris Center, Folsom. Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique.”

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LARA DOWNES HONORS LEONARD BERNSTEIN

The great American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein was born in 1918, so this year marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.

There will be many concerts all over the nation this year featuring Bernstein’s music, and one of them is a performance by pianist Lara Downes at the Mondavi Center on Saturday Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.

Downes, who lives in Davis, has been affiliated with the Mondavi Center for years, and this concert commemorates the Bernstein anniversary, and also celebrates the upcoming release on Feb. 9 of Lara Downes’ new album “For Lenny,” which is her new breakthrough recording, her first the very large and very well respected Sony Classical label.

Let’s hear a piano interpretation of the Bernstein song “The Story of My Life,” which was originally written for the 1953 Broadway musical “Wonderful Town.” This concert will be in the Mondavi Center's big venue, Jackson Hall.

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VIOLINIST AUGUSTIN HADELICH & PIANIST JOYCE YANG

I’ve seen violinist Augustin Hadelich performing as with several different orchestras, as well as pianist Joyce Yang performing with the Alexander String Quartet, as soloists on multiple separate occasions at the Mondavi Center. They are both fantastic performers and rising stars in the music firmament who are still in their early 30s and in the midst of important careers.

Last year Hadelich and Yang released an album of duos on the Avie label that has been nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award in the Best Chamber Music category – the award ceremony will be in late January. Let’s hear a sample of Hadelich and Yang from that album, performing a portion of the Franck Violin Sonata.

Both Hadelich and Yang are appearing in the Capital Public Radio listening area this month with different orchestras.

Augustin Hadelich will be at the Mondavi Center with the St. Louis Symphony on Jan. 17, performing the Benjamin Britten Violin Concerto. Hadelich also has a new album featuring the 24 Paganini Caprices coming out on Jan. 12.

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BAROQUE MUSIC ON PERIOD INSTRUMENTS

Concerts of Baroque-era music, performed on period instruments, can be a little hard to find in the Sacramento area. But there are two performances coming up that are noteworthy.

The Sacramento Baroque Soloists are doing a program titled “Voice of the Cello,” featuring instrumental works with prominent parts for one, two or three cellos, on:

  • Friday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m., St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sacramento
  • Saturday Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m., Harris Center, Folsom
  • Sunday Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. Harris Center, Folsom

The big event comes next month, when the American Bach Soloists – a highly regarded and highly professional Baroque group from the Bay Area, will be performing Bach’s Passion According to Saint John (1725), on Monday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., Davis Community Church.

This will probably be the only opportunity this year to hear a full-length performance of a major Bach masterpiece on period instruments anywhere in this area, and hearing this music on old-style instruments of the kind played in the 1700s is a very different experience than when the music is done on modern strings and winds.

These Davis Community Church concerts by the American Bach Soloists tend to sell out in advance, so it’s a good idea to reserve tickets if you want to go.

The American Bach Soloists haven’t recorded the St. John Passion, so for a sample I turned to recording by the Bach Collegium Japan under conductor Masaaki Suzuki.

Music: Opening of J.S. Bach, “Passion According to St. John,” Masaaki Suzuki conducting the Bach Collegium Japan.

 sound advice

Jeff Hudson

Contributing Arts Reporter and Theatre Critic

Jeff Hudson has been contributing arts-related stories to Capital Public Radio since 1995, with an emphasis on theater and classical music. He attends over 100 performances annually, ranging from modern musicals to medieval masses.   Read Full Bio 

Cody Drabble

Insight Producer and On-Air Director

Cody Drabble learned to love public radio growing up in San Francisco with KQED on every morning during breakfast. In addition to producing and directing the live broadcast of Insight each morning, he also fills in as guest host for Beth Ruyak.   Read Full Bio 

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