Festivals by the Bay
Mark your calendars for the best of Bach, jazz and contemporary music
By Scott MacClelland
Festival season is upon us, as the Monterey Bay plays hosts to three world-class summer music events of startlingly different character: the Carmel Bach Festival, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Monterey Jazz Festival. But while each has its individual focus, they are also united by their adherence to the highest standards as well as programming choices that promise both variety and discovery.
The perspicacious listener will note that both new symphonic music and modern jazz have deep roots reaching all the way back to the Baroque. With a bit of effort and attention, these links become clear and the experience that much sweeter. The curious mind trumps the absolutist's every time.
The Carmel Bach Festival leads this summer's parade with a lineup of programs that gets under way on Saturday, July 15, and runs for three weeks at Sunset Center, Carmel Mission and a couple of intimate area churches. After the first week, the seven "Main Concerts" will be repeated, and feature two chorale cantatas and the St. John Passion by Bach, Handel's Israel in Egypt, an all-Mozart celebration, programs comprised of Baroque concertos and cantatas, and an evening of "Mexican Baroque." Music director Bruno Weil and choral director William Jon Gray will share conducting responsibilities, with programs also led by concertmaster Elizabeth Wallfisch and keyboardist Andrew Arthur. Running parallel will be ever-changing programs in the "Musica Intima" series of chamber and solo recitals in three discrete categories titled Twilight, Candelight and Intermezzo. Some of these fall under the authority of renowned lutenist and scholar Richard Kolb. Among Bach Festival artists (who come from around the world) is solo baritone Sanford Sylvan, famed for his roles in John Adams operas, and well known to both CBF and Cabrillo audiences.
Marin Alsop's Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music has, for the first time, added a third weekend, positioned ahead of the traditional two, and dedicated to three performances at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium of Frans Lanting's Life: A Journey Through Time, a preview of the acclaimed Santa Cruz photographer's soon-to-be-released new volume of stunning nature images, with music by Philip Glass. Composers in residence, between the July 29 festival opener and its conclusion Aug. 13 (that day at Mission San Juan Bautista) include the aforementioned Glass, the returning Michael Daugherty, Aaron Jay Kernis, Kevin Puts and Greg Smith, plus Daniel Brewbaker, Michael Gatonska, Mark Grey, Laura Karpman and the widely respected Nicholas Maw. Grey's violin concerto Elevation was written for Leila Josefowicz, who will make her festival debut in the work (and will also be featured in the fundraising Music in the Mountains event.) Maw will attend the concert suite drawn from his opera Sophie's Choice. Premieres include Laura Karpman's Transitive Property of Equality, Smith's The Melodic Life, Gatonka's The Whispering Wind, Kernis' Newly Drawn Sky, and Thomas Adès' America--A Prophecy featuring mezzo-soprano Gale Fuller. The bewitching percussionist-performer Evelyn Glennie returns, this time for Puts' Percussion Concerto, Askell Masson's Konzertst¸ck for Snare Drum and Orchestra and an entire program of her own invention. Daugherty, composer of the wildly popular "American Icons" series, will hear his Time Machine, requiring three conductors. Various related events will complete the principal bill of fare.
The Monterey Jazz Festival, the longest running anywhere, ignites the weekend of Sept. 15 through 17 at the Monterey Fairground, where convenient on-street parking requires that you stake your claim about five days ahead of time. (Likewise for hotel accommodations anywhere on the Monterey Peninsula if you need them.) Abundant activities, not least the "best bargain" Garden Stage events, are worth it alone. But for the headline experience, it's the five concerts on the Arena-Jimmy Lyons Stage. On opening (Friday) night, Kurt Elling and the Clayton Anderson Jazz Orchestra feature a premiere, the Yellowjackets celebrate their 25th anniversary and Richard Bona brings back Bonatology. On Saturday afternoon, Bonnie Raitt makes her MJF debut, the blues giant Keb' Mo' will rock the arena, as will the McCullough Sons of Thunder shout gospel band from Harlem. Saturday night spotlights the mastery of the McCoy Tyner Trio (with guests Bobby Hutcherson and Roy Hargrove), Dianne Reeves and the Charles Lloyd Quartet. Sunday afternoon goes to Chris Botti's The New Cool and Kurt Elling with the MJF Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Big Band. And the Sunday night finale gives you Oscar Peterson--for the first time since 1990--and the Dave Brubeck Quartet and guests premiering his Cannery Row Suite.
Luckily for those of us who can't get to everything in person, the stalwart KUSP-FM (89.9) broadcasts, live or delayed, most of these programs.
More Summer Festivals
By Leyna Krow
Woodies on the Wharf
Remember the Woodies? They're those huge wood-paneled station wagons that surfers drove way back in the day when it was still cool for dudes to wear short-shorts. On June 24, Woodie owners from across the country will converge on Santa Cruz, parking their vehicles on the wharf for your viewing pleasure. June 24. Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz.
Wharf To Wharf Race
Hailed as "The Best Little Road Race in California," this six-mile course from the Municipal Wharf in Santa Cruz to the Capitola Pier draws almost 15,000 runners each year. The field sells out months in advance, so sign up soon. www.wharftowharf.com. July 23, 8:30am, Santa Cruz to Capitola.
Scotts Valley Art and Wine Festival "Art Under the Oaks," with California artists and vintners sharing their wares, presented by Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce. Aug. 12-13, 10am-6pm, free. Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley; 831.438.1010.
Musical Saw Festival
No longer simply a tool for murdering trees, the saw has been reborn in Santa Cruz County as something much kinder and gentler--a musical instrument. Played with a bow, the saw makes a kind haunting, twangy sound and is a natural accompaniment to the guy who blows into the moonshine jug at the hoedown. Don't miss this day of bluegrass and country music, complete with workshops, jam sessions and fond memories of Tom Scribner. Sunday, Aug. 13. Roaring Camp, Graham Hill Road, Felton; 831.335.4484.
Grab the family and one of those really colorful beach umbrellas and head down to Capitola Village for a weekend of wholesome seaside frivolity. Activities include community group volleyball, a sandcastle sculpture contest, a nautical parade and nightly concerts in the park. The theme for this year's festival will be "Capitola Goes to the Movies." Sept. 2-4, Capitola Village.
Capitola Art and Wine Festival
Art and wine from 200 local artist and 15 regional wineries can be sampled along with food and music at this beachside weekend event. Sept. 9-10, Capitola Village; 831.475.6530.
Santa Cruz County Fair
Games, rides, displays and some livestock. Don't forget the funnel cake. Sept. 12-17, County Fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Ave, Watsonville; 831.724.5671.
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