Insight With Beth Ruyak

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Sound Advice On Upcoming Classical Concerts With Jeff Hudson

Photo by Simon Fowler

Pianist George Li

Photo by Simon Fowler

For this week’s Sound Advice, Jeff Hudson previews classical concerts by young up and coming musicians and two old masters. Jeff Hudson’s picks this week:

North State Symphony performing the Marimba Concerto by Ney Rosauro

  • February 23 at CSU Chico, Laxson Auditorium
  • February 24 at the Cascade Theatre, Redding

Marimba player Eric Whitmer is a high school student who lives in Palo Cedro, a small town in the hill country to the east of Redding. Eric was the top prize winner in a recent youth competition organized by the North State Symphony, which performs in Chico and in Redding. Whitmer will be performing portions of a marimba concerto by Brazilian-born percussionist and composer Ney Rosauro.

Russian National Orchestra with pianist George Li performing Piano Concerto No. 2. By Sergei Rachmaninov

  • Saturday, March 2 at the Mondavi Center, Davis

Another young talent performing in the region during the next few weeks is pianist George Li, whose parents came from China. George was born in Boston, and at this point, he is a “grand old man” of 24, appearing with orchestras around the world.  For his appearance at the Mondavi Center with the Russian National Orchestra, George Li will be playing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2.

Reno Philharmonic with Thomas Hampson performing “Letters from Lincoln” by Michael Daugherty

  • March 9-10 at the Pioneer Center

Now it is time to talk about old pro’s, a category that most definitely includes baritone Thomas Hampson, who has been singing with opera companies and orchestras around the world for decades. Hampson will appear with the Reno Philharmonic performing concert piece from 2009 by composer Michael Daugherty, titled “Letters from Lincoln,” incorporating a number of texts written by Civil War Era president Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was observed earlier this month.

UC Davis Symphony Orchestra with Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen performing “The Six Realms” cello concerto by Peter Lieberson

  • March 15 at the Mondavi Center, Davis

Anssi Karttunen is a fabulous cellist from Finland who has commissioned and performed new cello concertos with major orchestras all over the world. Karttunen has long been associated with Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, who was for many years the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and will become the music director of the San Francisco Symphony in 2020. It is a fairly safe bet to speculate that Kartunnen will be appearing with that orchestra under Salonen’s baton at some point. Karttunen has also been a soloist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, etc., and he also appears with a renegade trio known as Tres Coyotes that also includes Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg (who has written cello concertos for Anssi Karttunen), and the artistically-adventuresome British musician John Paul Jones, who was for many years the bassist and keyboard player with the rock band Led Zeppelin.

Karttunen’s March 15 appearance with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra will be a rare opportunity to see him perform in this area. Karttunen will be featured in the late composer Peter Lieberson’s spooky cello concerto “The Six Realms,” which was completed in 2000.

American Bach Soloists performing St. Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach

  • March 25 at Davis Community Church, Davis

The American Bach Soloists, based in San Francisco, are one of the nation’s top early music groups, and this year they are marking their 30th anniversary. On March 25, they will be performing J.S. Bach’s monumental St. Matthew Passion at Davis Community Church, and this will probably be the only opportunity locally this year to hear this great Bach masterpiece performed by a period instrument ensemble.

The Bach Soloists have been performing the St. Matthew Passion on an almost annual basis for decades, and by now they literally know the piece inside-out, and when they are performing Bach’s music, they bring a depth of understanding and experience to the music that is really remarkable. Sharp will be reuniting with the American Bach Soloists for this March 25 performance of the St. Matthew Passion, and it promises to be a special occasion.

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