Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Lots of classical music this weekend


Wow, what a weekend for classical music in Fresno.

For the first time in its history, the Fresno Philharmonic will play a piece by a Chinese composer — Tan Dun’s Concerto for String Orchestra and Pipa. And it will feature the world’s most foremost player of the instrument: Wu Man. Don’t miss my interview with her in Friday’s 7 section. This “East Meets West” concert also features two beloved Beethoven symphonies. The orchestra performs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Shaghoian Hall.

Keyboard Concerts brings yet another famed pianist to the Fresno State Concert Hall: the British musician Stephen Hough. He will play a program Friday night that includes rarely performed pieces by Schoenberg, Wagner, Richard Strauss and Bruckner, as well as works by Brahms and the monumental Sonata by Liszt. Fun fact: Hough will appear on “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor on April 12.

Fresno’s Michael Krikorian, pictured above, who at age 12 began studying with Fresno State piano professor Andreas Werz, is now a graduate student in piano performance at Manhattan School of Music studying with Arkady Aronov. He returns for a hometown concert Sunday at the Fresno State Concert Hall sponsored by the Orpheus chamber music ensemble.

 The choral ensembles of College of the Sequoias, Fresno City College and Porterville College and Reedley College perform 3 p.m. Sunday at the Fresno City College Old Administration Building Auditorium. More than 180 singers and a small orchestra will perform Vivaldi’s “Gloria.” Tickets are $5.

The Beehive Interview: Lianna Stuart

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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.

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Donald’s weekend picks


My favorite of the three new shows at Arte Americas — all under the umbrella theme of environmental sustainability — is the wonderful “Nothing Wasted,” a group show from local artists who recycled used materials into artistic gems. Francisco Vargas’ “Red Baby Grand,” which he repurposed from a piano burned in a house fire, is worth the trip alone. A statewide touring show titled “Ignite” offers a serious look at the environmental problems facing California. Read my cover story in Friday’s 7 about the Arte exhibitions. Plus: Here’s a video I made featuring artist Ann Savageau, a UC Davis professor who made a piece for “Ignite” about the Central Valley. A reception for “Nothing Wasted” will be held Sunday.  [Details]

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The Orpheus chamber ensemble had originally planned a Mother’s Day finale to its season, but members decided to turn the slot on the schedule over to Sharon Rogers, a junior Fresno State vocal major, in a program titled “Presenting Sharon Rogers: An Afternoon of Arias and Songs.” The performance is a benefit for the singer, who is raising money to attend a special summer program at the California Opera Academy in San Francisco. She performs 5 p.m. Sunday. [Details]

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Besides Jackie

The Lively Arts Foundation is bringing in Alonzo King LINES Ballet, the acclaimed San Francisco contemporary ballet company. Here’s my story from Thursday’s Life section about the company’s 7:30 p.m. Friday performance at the Saroyan Theatre, where the reimagined Arabian-Nights tale “Scheherezade” will be staged.


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For classical-music fans especially, it’s a rich weekend.

Natasha Kislenko and Bulgarian-born violinist Chavdar Parashkevov will perform from their recently released first CD, “Russian Sonotas,” in an 8 p.m. Saturday concert at the First Congregational Church. (Note the performance time. In Friday’s print edition of 7, the concert was incorrectly listed as 2 p.m. in my music roundup.) Also on the program: Ravel’s violin sonata, three solo piano preludes by Debussy and a number of short Spanish pieces for violin and piano.


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HEAR THE SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS: The chorus is in the middle of its 2010 California Freedom Tour, performing concerts in five heartland cities in which support was strong for Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. All proceeds from the Fresno concert will go to the Central California Alliance and PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbian and Gays).

The concert is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tower Theatre. May 22 is the first official statewide observance of Harvey Milk Day, honoring the slain San Francisco Supervisor and gay icon. Tickets are $24.50-$39.50.

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ITZHAK PERLMAN: This is the classical music event of the season. The violin virtuoso performs 8 p.m. Saturday with the Fresno Philharmonic. Remaining seats are available for $110-$210. You can read my interview with Perlman here. This is sure to be close to a sell-out, so arrive early for parking and Will Call. (Photo: Khaled Alkotob / Special to the Bee)


ORPHEUS CHAMBER MUSIC: In an Orpheus Chamber Music Ensemble performance, pianists Andreas Werz and Hatem Nadim will perform Olivier Messiaen’s Visions de l’amen, a deeply religious composition for two pianos. 8 p.m. Friday, April 23 / St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 5770 N. Maroa Ave. /, (559) 250-7653 / $12, $10 seniors, $5 students.

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