If you follow Fresno’s classical music scene, then you’re sure to recognize Lianna Stuart’s last name. Her mother is the wonderful violinist Cynthia Stuart, a longtime member of the Fresno Philharmonic and many other local performing groups. And talk about coming from a musical family: Lianna’s aunt, Claudia Shiuh, plays viola in the Phil — she’s the one whose sheer joy at making music is evident from the back of the house — and is also well-known for her chamber music.
Lianna gets the nod tonight as the first musician featured in the Orpheus chamber ensemble’s new special series called “The Next Generation,” which will provide a showcase for young talented players in the community. Besides her musical pedigree, she has an interesting background. As the daughter of a violinist, she and her four older siblings learned to play violin. (And there was no dropping out of that school.) But for many years growing up, she swore she’d never pursue music as a career. Along with violin practice, she spent her adolescence listening to such artists as David Bowie, The Beatles, and Flaming Lips. Today she performs in an eclectic band called Before Perils.
Still, she finally caught the violin bug, and big time. After stints at Fresno City College and San Francisco State, where she studied with world-renowned soloist,Jassen Todorov, she’s returning to Fresno State as a violin performance major. She also teaches at the Gottschalk Music Center and as a student teacher at Edison Bethune Charter Academy as part of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno after-school program.
We caught up with Lianna to talk about her and tonight’s concert, which is 8 p.m. tonight at Wahlberg Recital Hall.
Once again, the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series delivers a much-talked-about pianist for a solo recital. Jeremy Denk, perhaps best known for his ongoing collaboration with the violinist Joshua Bell, will play a program tonight at the Fresno State Concert Hall that includes Bartok’s rarely played Sonata, a four-piece suite of Liszt’s piano music and Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B minor.
Denk is also an accomplished writer, and I encourage you to check out his witty and insightful blog.
Here’s my roundup on Denk from Tuesday’s Life section. And here’s a recent Boston Globe review of Denk playing the same program he’ll present in Fresno.
The Orpheus chamber music ensemble isn’t just Beethoven and Brahms. That much was evident at Sunday’s notable concert at Fresno State. The first part of the program paired up some fine young dancers from Clovis’ In the Spotlight Dance Center with music from Fresno area composers. The second half was a video presentation of a new version of “60×60,” an ongoing series that showcases contemporary composers in 60-second slices. Fresno State’s Brad Hufft introduced both parts of the program.
In the dance portion, two of the composers were in the audience: Jack Fortner and Benjamin Boone. In a sweet touch, Boone brought his sons Atticus and Asher, which had a special significance considering the title of Boone’s piece: “Atticus, Atticus.” The three of them are pictured (Atticus is seated, and his brother Asher is standing behind his father. Too cute.)
The program didn’t list the three dancers’ names. (If anyone from In the Spotlight can fill me in, I’d like to include them.) Their modern dance moves were keyed to the music in interesting and vigorous ways, from the emphatic looped-and-spliced recitations of text in Charles Amirkhanian’s piece to the charged aural disorder of Boone’s piece.
1. LISTEN TO CHAD HOOPES SHOOT AND SCORE ON VIOLIN
The Fresno Philharmonic welcomes young violin virtuoso Chad Hoopes back to Fresno. Don’t miss my interview with Hoopes in today’s 7 section. [Details]
UPDATE 10/25: Congratulations to our winners: Amy Querin, Nicolas Barajas, Kathy Juarez, Lee Garcia and Derek Fridolfs. Hope y’all enjoy the concert.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Wow. I get to give away FIVE pairs of tickets to the Fresno Philharmonic’s upcoming Saturday concert at the Saroyan Theatre featuring young violin sensation Chad Hoopes. I’m hoping to feature an interview with Hoopes later this week, but in the meantime you can read a little about the concert in my Sunday Spotlight column [first item].
These are all really nice tickets, with the pairs ranging from Rows A through N of the orchestra section.
The concert is 8 p.m. Saturday. To enter our giveaway, leave a comment on this post. I’ll pick five winners at random who each will receive two tickets. Deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday. If you enter, please remember to check your email, because that’s how I’ll be notifying winners. These are paper tickets, so you’ll need to be able to come down to The Bee’s front lobby during business hours by 5 p.m. Friday to pick them up.
See complete rules on the jump.
The esteemed French pianist Jean-Philippe Collard has been to Fresno so many times to perform he could probably make his way blindfolded from the airport to Fresno State’s Concert Hall. Collard will play at 8 p.m. Wednesday as part of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series. You can read the pianist’s long and distinguished resumè here. As always, I remind readers that the general admission ticket price of $18 is a steal compared to what you’d pay to hear an artist of this caliber in a bigger city.
Artistic director Andreas Werz is dedicating the concert to the memory of former Bee arts writer David Hale, who died Oct. 12.
The Buchanan High School String Quartet gets its turn in the spotlight in Friday’s 7 section — and for good reason. This is the third year running that the talented members of the quartet will have performed with the touring Beatles show “In My Life: A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles” featuring renowned tribute band Abbey Road at the Tower Theatre. They’ll join the actors on stage 7:30 p.m. Saturday for three Beatles songs: “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday” and “Imagine.” Congrats to these young players for racking up some professional experience. [Details]
Here’s a don’t-miss concert for classical music fans: The world-renowned Alexander String Quartet performs 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) at Fresno State’s Concert Hall. The event is a special non-subscription offering of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series.
I’ve written about the concert twice in recent days: a roundup story in Friday’s 7 section; and an update in my Sunday Spotlight column (second item) about Andreas Werz, artistic director of Keyboard Concerts, who will join the quartet in a performance of Schumann’s Piano Quintet.
The Alexander String Quartet has lots of fans in Fresno because of the group’s repeated visits to the CSU Summer Arts festival when it was held at Fresno State. I’ve heard them twice, and they really are incredible. Consider them chamber-music gold.
I’ve already told you about “Master Class” at the Shaghoian Hall. And don’t forget it’s a big weekend for film fans with the Fresno Film Festival. With that said, I’m going to devote my picks this week exclusively to classical music opportunities, of which there are many!
1. SAN JOAQUIN CHORALE
The ensemble devotes a majority of pieces in its spring program to works written by late 20th-century composers. Among them: a lively original composition by local composer and accompanist Kevin Memley; and the world premiere of a popular Korean folk song arranged by Joungmin Sur, a Fresno State graduate student. Roy Klassen conducts. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, First Congregational Church.
UPDATE 3/13: Another passionate response has come in from a classical-musical fan in response to Gabriela Montero’s recent concert. Thomas Sawyer writes that “after sitting [through] the first half I had to get out!!!” You can read more on the jump.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Pianist Gabriela Montero packed the house Friday night for the latest installment of the Keyboard Concerts series at Fresno State. This accomplished musician — who recently gained fame as a member of the quartet that played a new adaptation of “Simple Gifts” at President Obama’s inauguration — scrapped her announced concert program and opted to play an entirely improvised concert. (She’s become quite well known for her strong improvisational abilities.) Here’s how it worked: Members of the audience volunteered musical themes by singing a tune for her. She then proceeded to play a five-minute-plus piece based upon that theme, totally impromptu.
Sound impressive? It was. (I was there working on a general feature story on Keyboard Concerts and its artistic director, Andreas Werz, and I thought it was remarkable how smooth and fluently Montero conjured her improvisations.) Not everyone was pleased at the change in program, however. Local classical pianist Shirley Kirsten offers this view:
After noting that Montero had originally programmed Baroque and Romantic period works from the mainstream piano repertoire as part one of her concert, I was disappointed that she served our audience only a portion of what was promised. It was an evening of only impromptu offerings and not a complete and satisfying sharing of the artist’s towering talent.