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Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, July 23, 2016
Elizabeth Blumenstock, viola; Sadie Glass, horn; Holly Piccoli, violin; Kyle Stegall, tenor; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Eric Zivian and Kyle Stegall at VOM Music Festival Concert (J.Hefti Photo)

SCHUBERT'S THEMES OF YOUTH AND DEATH AT VOM MUSIC FESTIVAL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 23, 2016

The beautiful new Hanna Boys Center auditorium in Sonoma Valley was the setting for the July 23 concert of the Valley of the Moon (VOM) Music Festival, now in it’s second year. Directors Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian have created a Festival of Classical and Romantic repertoire played on period instruments or copies of same, all string instruments using gut rather than steel. This is now recognized as "historically informed " performance practice.

Great music and professional musicians would provide exciting concerts, but there is much more to this Festival. There is an apprentice program for young artists who are coached and then perform, not only in their own groups, but included with their teachers in all concerts. This new/old tradition breathes a wonderful vitality into VOM Festival.
   
Titled Death and the Maiden, the all-Schubert program began with some of the composer’s Lieder (he wrote over three hundred) from which tenor Kyle Stegall and fortepianist Eric Zivian chose seven. The songs all explored themes of death and youth. Death is inevitable and wicked; youth and beauty are fragile. Mr. Stegall sang with great intensity of emotion in all ranges, and the audience and singer seemed completely engaged in the drama and beauty of the music and words.  Mr. Zivian accompanied with subtle touches and beautiful shadings of tone that are possible on the fortepiano. First on the program was Auf dem Strom which has a horn part as duet with the singer, one of only a handful of such compositions. Sadie Glass played the period horn with beautiful legato lines and exciting changes of color in this lyrical and dramatic piece. It was tender and moving. The balance of parts was exquisite. Mr. Stegall then continued with An Silvia (from Shakespeare) and then Verklarung (from Pope), ending with the line "Oh Death, where is thy sting?,“ and sung in anguished fortissimo following a dramatic recitative and an almost whispered "Beloved spirit, come and rest!".

The singer at times seemed transported to other worlds, expressing the texts with gestures of voice, face, eyes, hands and body. Knowing German was not necessary for understanding the emotional journeys in Der Jungling an der Quelle and Der Jungling und der Tod . An eery and unforgettable moment occurred at the end of the song Death and the Maiden, as Mr. Stegall very slowly raised his right hand out toward the audience and stared into the far distance.

After a short intermission the song Death and the Maiden returned as the beloved String Quartet in D minor, D. 810, in which the Lied is used in a theme and variations movement.  Ms. Thomkins (cello) and violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock joined apprentices Holly Piccoli (violin) and violist Liana Berube and produced a fine performance. The period instrument stringing and the style of playing that suits the music allowed for different shadings of musical lines. Sometimes the lines were quite intimate and even muted, with clear blended unisons and sometimes foggy effects, and provided fresh insights.

In the Allegro Ms. Tomkins was magnificent leading and supporting the Beethoven-like themes of passionate striving. Sweetly melting harmonies and dying dotted rhythms were effective. The Andante theme and variations traversed musical landscapes from tragic sadness to a beauty overcoming all. The variation featuring cello pizzicato and complex lively inner rhythms was outstanding. The Scherzo movement was played with effective harshness of tone and wild syncopations, and then the galloping Presto movement was energetic and compelling.
    
After a reception featuring Beltane Ranch wines, there was a round table discussion led by KDFC FM radio’s Rick Malone. Musicians spoke of the search for new forms of articulation on these instruments and the shift from gesture and dance in the Baroque to the psychological journeys, long lines and stories of Schubert and Schumann. Ms. Tomkins was eloquent in her description of her own journey to this area of historical performance and in describing the excitement of the apprentice program.