News Column

The Sacramento Bee Edward Ortiz column

September 11, 2013


Sept. 11--This fall season will see notable events in the classical, opera and performance arts. One of the most unusual is pianist Stewart Goodyear performing all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas in one day -- a herculean task that moves a classical music concert into the realm of performance art.

The season will also see master puppeteer Basil Twist performing a work that was created as a meditation on ancient Japanese art. The standout male choir New York Polyphony will make a rare appearance in the region to put a newfound spin on the choral mass. And for fans of Russian music, pianist Dmitry Rachmanov will undertake the work of .

Below are 10 highlights of the fall concert season:

San Francisco Opera

Dolores Claiborne

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 and 25; 2 p.m. Sept. 22; 8 p.m., Sept. 28, Oct. 1 and 4.

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Tickets: $26-$285

Information: (415) 864-3330;

What: It was only a matter of time before someone brought a Stephen King novel to the opera stage. That time has come with composer Tobias Picker adapting King's 1992 novel "Dolores Claiborne." Picker, well known for the highly regarded operas "Emmeline and "An American Tragedy," has written a two-act opera that stays faithful to King's story. Soprano Patricia Racette, in a last-minute replacement for Dolora Zajick, sings the title role. With soprano Elizabeth Futral. George Manahan conducts this James Robinson production. Libretto by J.D. McClathcy.

Stewart Goodyear, piano

Complete Beethoven Sonatas

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (program 1); 3-6:30 p.m. (program 2); 8:30-11:30 p.m. (program 3), Oct. 5

Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Arts, UC Davis

Tickets: $75

Information: (530) 754-2787;

What: Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas take the composer from the musical tautness and levity of his youth to the weighty eloquence of middle age. This will give audiences the chance to listen to Beethoven's "Pathetique," "Appassionata" and "Hammerklavier" and other piano sonatas -- all in one day, with luinch and dinner breaks. For some pianists, performing two of the sonatas in one concert is an undertaking. For Goodyear, a Juilliard grad, the challenge will be performing all 32 in one day -- and all from memory.

Matt Krejci, flute & Thomas Nugent, oboe

Chamber Music Society of Sacramento

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and 13

Where: Bet Haverim Synagogue, Davis (Oct. 12); California State University, Sacramento, Music Building (Oct. 13)

Tickets: $28

What: This excellent chamber ensemble is joined by Sacramento Philharmonic flutist Matt Krejci and that orchestra's oboist Thomas Nugent. This concert offers an interesting and well-balanced concert program that includes Philippe Gaubert's Tarantella for Flute, Oboe & Piano, Jean-Michel Damase's Trio for Flute, Oboe & Piano, and George Crumb's "Voice of the Whale."

Dmitri Rachmanov

Sacramento State Piano Series

When: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 19

Where: Capistrano Hall, Music Recital Hall, California State University, Sacramento

Tickets: $15-20


What: Rachmanov is an elegant example of the kind of musician the Sacramento State piano series likes to front: largely unknown, but always worthy of the price of admission. Rachmanov, an avid proponent of the Russian repertoire, will perform works by Scriabin. A must for lovers of the Russian piano repertoire.

2013 Festival of New American Music

When: Nov. 1-10

Where: Capistrano Hall, Music Hall, California State Universtiy, Sacramento

Tickets: Free

Information: (916) 278-5191;

What: This new-music festival, in its 36th year, has stayed true to its commitment of fronting contemporary works with stellar musicians performing them. The festival flies under the radar, which is a shame because it gave the world the first performance by the Kronos Quartet. Does the idea of catching the next version of a Kronos Quartet or John Adams interest you? If so, this festival should be on your calendar. This year's keynote address will be given by noted opera composer Christopher Theofanidis. The lineup of musicians includes Yarn/Wire Vox 'n Plux the McAllister & Keller Guitar Duo and local chamber ensemble Citywater.

New York Polyphony

"Faith and Reason"

When: 8 p.m. Nov 2; 2 p.m. Nov. 3

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center, UC Davis

Tickets: $10-$30

Information: (530) 754-2787;

What: This male classical vocal quartet, based in New York City, loves to perform works from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. It makes its Mondavi Center debut with "Faith and Reason," a program of ancient and modern a capella works. The centerpiece is the "Missa Charles Darwin" an adventurous new work composed by Gregory Brown in cooperation with New York Polyphony. Ostensibly, Brown's work is a modern mass that replaces standard sacred texts with excerpts from Darwin's late 19th-century works "On the Origin of Species" and "Descent of Man".

Basil Twist


When: Various times Nov. 6-10

Where: Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley

Tickets: $76

Information: (510)642-9988;

What: Puppeteer Basil Twist is known for creating compelling works that connect classic stories with profound music against a backdrop of mesmerizing visuals. "Dogugaeshi" is Twist's meditation on ancient Japanese art. Unseen puppeteers deftly manipulate hand-painted screens to reveal characters and landscapes. Twist's highly imaginative world will be ushered into being with the help of Yumiko Tanaka on shamisen.

The Intergalactic Nemesis

Live-Action Graphic Novel, Book One: Target Earth

When: 8 p.m., Nov. 15

Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center, UC Davis

Tickets: $15-$35

Information: (530) 754-2787;

What: A mash-up of radio drama and comic book, this theatrical performance uses three actors to voice dozens of characters. The tale takes place in 1933 and unfolds with the use of a Foley artist creating hundreds of sound effects, a keyboardist performing a score of thousands of notes and a two-story-high screen showing more than 1,250 individual, full-color, hand-drawn, high-resolution comic book images. The work is inspired by the films "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Star Wars," as well as the pulp serials of the 1930s.

International Stars of Opera Recital

Sacramento Opera

When: 8 p.m., Nov. 22

Where: Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street, Sacramento

Tickets: $30-$70

Information: (916) 808-2000;

What: This is the first offering from the Sacramento Opera since it merged with the Sacramento Philharmonic. To start off its season, it is bringing soprano Ruth Ann Swenson to the Crest for an evening of arias and duets that will also include tenor Frank Lopardo and pianist Mark Robson. The trio will perform works by Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini, Gounodand Massenet.

Empyrean Ensemble

"American Voices"

When: 7 p.m. Nov 22

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center

Tickets: $8-$20

Information: (530) 754-2787;

What: A must-see to get a wel-delivered taste of what American composers are writing. Empyrean ensemble co-diretors Mika Pelo and Kurt Rohde, have curated a daring program offering works such as Rand Steiger's "Elusive Peace for Amplified Cello and Drum Set," Michael Theodore's "Woolgathering for Flute and Viola" and Christopher Theofanidis' "Piano Quintet."



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