Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Letters, Music, and Beethoven's Deathmask!

We now have materials we will be displaying in the lobby before and during the April 3 concert from the Beethoven Center and Library of Congress finalized, and it is a really interesting list.

Here are some of the items to look for--you can read about these and the rest of the items we will display on our website in the Exhibit Guide before coming to see the exhibit!

By and about Mendelssohn from the Library of Congress:

  • The first page of a letter and a drawing from Mendelssoh to his collaborator/friend Edward Devrient
  • A portrait of Mendelssohn
  • The first page of the Octet manuscript

By and about Beethoven from the Beethoven Center at San Jose State University:

  • A replica of Beethoven's death mask
  • The first edition of the score of Beethoven's Quartet Opus 135 (which will be performed on April 3 by the Cypress)
  • Two original manuscript letters from Beethoven to his publishers
  • Ivory tokens used as tickets to the Beethoven Quartet Society, which was established in 1845

Make sure you buy your tickets early for the concert on April 3 at the Herbst Theatre, and see the exhibit before it or during the intermission!

C&R 2009 Outreach Begins!

Tuesday morning this week we enjoyed the first two of some 15 school outreach visits we will be making to Bay Area schools leading up to the April 3rd Call & Response performance at Herbst Theatre.

First off: Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, then after a short rehearsal between presentations at a nearby supporter's house, we drove into Mill Valley to play for the orchestra class at Mill Valley Middle School. In the last several years we have had the good fortune of having so many great outreach partners we have had to pick and choose very carefully to make our schedule work - somehow this year we managed to pick up this brand new (to us!) school in Mill Valley, though we have known the teacher there for many years and were happy to meet up with her again at her new location. And of course, great kids too, with surprisingly sophisticated comments about what they heard in the final movement of Beethoven's Quartet Op.135.

Next Monday kicks off one of our busiest at-home weeks of outreach we've had in a while: 3 outreach activities on Monday in San Jose; 1 on Tuesday in San Mateoplus the evening's Bubble Lounge event in downtown San Francisco; 2 in Marin County on Wednesday; 3 in San Francisco on Thursday; and the Community Music Center noontime presentation on Saturday in SF's Mission district.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I'm so excited for all of these upcoming events. As the "host" and "preconcert lecturer" I thought I'd share some insight to how I prepare for these things.
There are some things that I don't have to do, which one might start their prep work - and that's to get to know the ensemble and composer. Luckily I've heard the Cypress play quite a bit, both live and recordings. This is a major help, to sort of gauge their style and approach. If you don't know them or haven't heard them, that's okay, but I can really recommend that you pick up a recording of theirs if you come to the concert, or have been debating buying one of their cds off of the site or your local music store. One of my all time favorites is the Jennifer Higdon quartet called Impressions. I never get tired of hearing it!
They also have several other recordings which you would like, say Suk or Haydn? But again, you don't have to be an expert to come and enjoy Call and Response 2009...
As for the second part, I would normally go and find recordings/examples of the composer's music - but again, I really enjoy Kevin's music and have been listening to his stuff since 2004, so again, I sort of have his "style" in my ear.
I did ask for a reference copy of the score and recording of Lento Assai, so that I could delve deeper into the music before these concerts, and maybe ask something of Kevin or the quartet that might help you dear listener.
This I will enjoy this weekend, when I have some absolute quiet time and can just concentrate on the music. I will listen to the piece first, and then listen again with the score. I'll then make some notes and let it sit with me for a bit.
Next up is another listen and more questions, maybe an email or two to them about the piece, and we'll go from there.
There's lots of steps to go through, but these are the first basic ones...what would you do?

John Clare, classical broadcaster