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Sound Advice: Classical Music Concert Preview With Arts Reporter Jeff Hudson

American Bach Soloists / Courtesy

American Bach Soloists / Courtesy

CapRadio's contributing arts reporter Jeff Hudson previews upcoming classical music concerts, including several anniversary specials.

American Bach Soloists - Davis
Monday, May 14, Davis Community Church

The American Bach Soloists, which is a fabulous period instrument group, are getting ready to record and release the four Orchestral Suites by Bach. They will be performing them on Monday at Davis Community Church, and then they will be recording them later that week, with the album coming out in the fall, just in time for the start of the American Bach Soloists 30th Anniversary in 2019. Monday’s concert is the first time I can recall a period instrument ensemble performing all four of the Bach Orchestral Suites together in a single evening anywhere in the Sacramento area, and it promises to be a special evening.

Since the Bach Soloists haven’t recorded this music yet, here’s a bit of the Orchestral Suite No. 2 from a recording by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra under Ton Koopman.

Mellon Music Festival - Davis
May 25-27, Various Venues

Cellist Eunghee Cho, a Davis native who is working on a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, is launching a new venture called the Mellon Music Festival, to be held in various Davis venues from May 25 through May 27.

Eunghee has been an Insight guest, he’s been a soloist with the Sacramento Philharmonic, and he’s earned awards at international music competitions.

For this new festival, Eunghee is bringing in several young musicians who are training at the nation’s top conservatories, including his friend Daniel Hsu, a 20-year-old pianist who grew up in the Bay Area. Hsu won the Bronze Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition last year, and as a result, he has quite a busy touring schedule this summer – we are fortunate to get to see him locally.

Incidentally, the name of the Mellon Music Festival does not come from Carnegie Mellon University or anything like that. Mellon comes from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “mellon” – which means “friend” – is the password that Gandalf speaks to open an ancient stone door.

Camellia Symphony Orchestra - Sacramento
May 19-20, The Sofia

In Sacramento, conductor Christian Baldini will be leading the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in the first orchestra concerts on May 19 and 20 at a brand new venue, The Sofia, 2700 Capitol Ave. in Sacramento (which is also the new home of the B Street Theater). The concerts will feature the famous “Pastoral” Symphony by Beethoven, which depicts the countryside around Vienna.

To celebrate these concerts in a new hall, composer Pablo Ortiz of UC Davis has written a piece called “Jubilant Burbs,” which opens with a playful quotation of the first notes of the Beethoven Sixth, and pays tribute to the leafy streets and fertile fields around Sacramento. And soprano Carrie Hennessey will join the orchestra to sing several operatic arias by Puccini and Verdi.

Modesto Symphony - Modesto
June 1-2, Gallo Center

The Modesto Symphony will likewise be doing a program featuring a Beethoven symphony and some new music with a local connection on Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at the Gallo Center in Modesto.

A long time ago – June 1972 –  a young filmmaker from Modesto named George Lucas began filming his first hit movie, “American Graffiti,” about young men and their cars, cruising Modesto’s 10th Street in the early 1960s. The film’s success eventually led to the formation of the American Graffiti Festival in Modesto, which brings elaborately restored classic cars to Modesto in early summer. This year happens to be the 20th anniversary of the American Graffiti Festival, and it also happens to be conductor David Lockington’s 10th anniversary with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. So the Modesto Symphony Orchestra commissioned three brand new pieces inspired by “American Graffiti.”

Composer John Hillebrandt, who taught for many years at Stanislaus State and plays keyboards with the Modesto Symphony, has composed a piece with the intriguing title “Valley Fever.”

Composer Dale Trumbore, who lives in the Los Angeles area, has written a piece called “Same Traffic, New Dance,” inspired by her visit to Modesto’s American Graffiti Festival last year.

And composer Alejandro Sabre, who teaches at Modesto Junior College, has written a piece called “Graffiti Jive,” inspired by the energy of teenagers coming of age and cruising in their cars.

Then after intermission, Lockington will lead the orchestra in a performance what is probably the happiest and most contented of the Beethoven symphonies – the eighth – written late in the composer’s life, and something of a tribute to composers like Haydn who made Vienna Europe’s musical capital during the years when Beethoven was a young man.

Davis Chorale - Davis and Sacramento
May 19, Davis High School
May 26, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

The Davis Chorale, founded in 1978 by Rachel Kessler, has 40th anniversary concerts in Davis and Sacramento in May. On May 19, they will be doing the John Rutter Requiem. The Davis Chorale premiered four movements of the Rutter Requiem – movements that Rutter composed with Rachel Kessler’s voice specifically in mind – in a 1985 concert at Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, so the association between the Rutter Requiem and the Davis Chorale goes back more than 30 years. Rachel Kessler is now semi-retired, the Chorale is now led by Alison Skininer.

Chanticleer - Sacramento
June 10, St. John’s Lutheran Church

Chanticleer, the highly professional male choral group from San Francisco, is likewise marking their 40th anniversary this year. Chanticleer performs in Sacramento three times a year, and they are coming on June 10, singing at St. John’s Lutheran Church on L Street, in a concert featuring a musical overview of the group’s first four decades. Included will be sacred music composed by Palestrina in the 1500s.

 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 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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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