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Stick Figure: Guest conductor Paul Polivnick will lead the Symphony Silicon Valley's first concert.

Classical Music

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Symphony Silicon Valley

IN THE LAST couple of years, a great many well-intentioned people have spent a lot of time and a lot of Packard Foundation money talking about the fate of classical music in Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, a few have gone about the business of actually delivering it.

Andrew Bales stands out in the latter category for having spearheaded the formation of Symphony Silicon Valley, a full-size orchestra that carries on the tradition of the defunct San Jose Symphony, but without all the debt and organizational baggage that brought down the "oldest symphony orchestra in California."

Newly weaned from its birth mother, Ballet San Jose, the now independent Symphony Silicon Valley is going boldly forward with a 2003-2004 season of six subscription concerts at San Jose's Center for the Performing Arts. As an additional "market test," a special program (free general admission) at the new Ritz-Carlton resort at Half Moon Bay is set for Sept. 19.

Each concert will be led by a different guest conductor (a rotation strategy that will carry the orchestra through the 2004-2005 season as well). Any talk of cultivating a music director is premature says Bales: "Selection is not even a topic, we're so new."

Of the seven guest conductors, two from the 2002-03 inaugural ballet-sponsored season have been invited back: Patrick Flynn, who will lead the Ritz-Carlton Sunset Symphony, and Paul Polivnik, who will conduct the October program at the CPA. Others, in order of appearance, are Theo Alcantara, Mallory Thompson, David Amado, Leslie B. Dunner and Sebrina Maria Alfonso.

The scheduled soloists are cellist William De Rosa, violinist Lara St. John, trumpeter James Dooley, contrabassist Bill Everett and piano prodigy Natasha Paremski.

The six subscription programs contain both familiar and unfamiliar music, with concertos by Haydn, Prokofiev, Hummel, Bach and Bottesini, and symphonies by Saint-Saëns, Dvorák, Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven.

Among the unfamiliar fare are Dominick Argento's Valentino Dances of 1994, Bottesini's Contrabass Concerto in B Minor, Kodaly's Summer Evening and Rubinstein's Piano Concerto in D Minor. Of 20 works, only six were composed in the 20th century.

One might wonder how the programs were created in the absence of a music director. Bales explains, "We have an ad hoc committee and collect input from our musicians, community leaders and outside advisers. Of course, our guest conductors propose their own programs. I don't initiate programming, but I help select. The conductors will tell you I make the decisions because the sign on my desk says, 'The Buck Stops Here.' But my role is more liaison with the community than programmer."

This approach makes more sense within the context of Symphony Silicon Valley's business model and philosophy. "We are making a conscious effort to build a market-driven symphony, one based on marketplace realities," Bales explains. "Out of the ashes of the San Jose Symphony, the ballet stepped forward and gave the community a very cost-efficient way to find out if there is a viable market, to test it 'on the ground.' [Last season] was so successful that the symphony now is a stand-alone, with its own larger season."

Bales has done his homework. "Across the field, the regional orchestras, like ours, have so little in common with the big ones, that trying to find and implement the commonalities is a waste of time. My sense of a viable model is a body of musicians who can give back in 100 ways: in ballet, chamber music, in special programs and as educators. The visual model is a pyramid. In providing these various services, we can't take on all the responsibilities, or for the entire livelihood of our musicians, but at the top of the pyramid we can promote our players to the community in myriad ways. I think from that position we're able to stimulate more opportunities for them to give back to the community. And I believe we need to do that."

To implement this strategy, Bales is in the process of bringing his market into clearer focus. "We found that our audience was not driving all that far to where we perform, so it would be a waste of time and money to target a distant demographic. We are looking to raise 60 to 70 percent of our income from ticket sales. We need to be able to defend to our contributing donors that there really is a new paradigm here, that their money is going to the musicians, into the product."

And he is encouraged. "Last season, I was really impressed to see how many people hung around in the lobby after the concerts to talk about what they had experienced. I've been toying with a new slogan, something like, 'I went to a concert, and a great time broke out.' As long as we can keep that buzz going, I am excited at what we might be able to do." Bales hints at developing other productions in different venues. Meanwhile, he adds, "Renewals are coming in very nicely."

Scott MacClelland

Where: San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose
When: Saturdays at 8pm
How Much: $28/$48/$68
Info: 408.286.2600; www.symphonysiliconvalley.org

Oct. 11: Another Openin' Another Show. With guest conductor Paul Polivnik and cellist William De Rosa Program: Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian Easter Overture; Haydn, Concerto in C; Saint-Saëns, Symphony no. 3 (Organ Symphony)
Nov. 22: Valentino And Violins. With guest conductor Theo Alcantara and violinist Lara St. John. Program: Argento, Valentino Dances; Prokofiev, Violin Concerto no. 1 in D major; Dvorák, Symphony no. 8
Jan. 31: Something for Everyone. With guest conductor Mallory Thompson and trumpet soloist James Dooley. Program: Kabalevsky, Colas Breugnon Overture; Hummel, Trumpet Concerto in E-flat; Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act III Suite; Bach, Brandenburg Concerto no. 3; Hindemith, Symphonic Metamorphosis of themes by Carl Maria von Weber
March 6: A Classical Affair. With guest conductor David Amado and double bass soloist Bill Everett. Program: Haydn, Symphony no. 6 (Morning); Bottesini, Double Bass Concerto no. 2 in B Minor; Schubert, Symphony no. 5 in B-flat Major
April 3: Spring Symphonies. With guest conductor Leslie B. Dunner. Program: Barber, School for Scandal Overture; Mozart, Symphony no. 40; Brahms, Symphony no. 4
June 5: The Big Finish. With guest conductor Sebrina Maria Alfonso and pianist Natasha Parenski. Program: Kodaly, Summer Evening; Rubinstein, Concerto no. 4 in D Minor; Beethoven, Symphony no. 7.

Steinway Society

THIS 10-YEAR-OLD nonprofit volunteer group focuses on classical piano music.

Where: Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. Fifth St., San Jose
How Much: $15-$35
Info: 408.246.4200; www.steinwaythebayarea.com

Sept. 13-14: Olgas Kern. Program: Works by Back, Rachmaninoff, Brahms and Liszt. Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 4pm
Nov. 16: Robert Schwartz. Sunday at 7pm
Jan. 3-4: Jon Nakamatsu. Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 4pm
Feb. 8: Young Artist Concert. Sunday at 7pm
March 21: Ursula Oppens. Sunday at 7pm
April 18: Cheng Zong Yin. Sunday at 7pm

San Jose Chamber Music Society

THE SOCIETY brings visiting soloists and chamber music ensembles to town for performance, talks and music appreciation. The big event of the season should be the local debut of Benjamin Lees' new quartet.

Where: Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. Fifth St., San Jose
When: Sundays at 7pm
How Much: $17-$30
Info: 408.286.5111; www.sjchambermusic.org

Oct. 12: Amati String Quartet
Nov. 9: Salzburg Hyperion Ensemble
Nov. 23: Ives String Quartet, With Pianist Jon Nakamatsu
Dec. 7: San Jose Brass Quintet Plus One and the SJSU Choraliers
Jan. 11: I Musici De Montréal
Feb. 22: Cypress String Quartet. California composer Benjamin Lees will be present for the South Bay premiere of his Quartet no. 4. Lees will conduct an interpretative rehearsal of the work Feb. 21 at 1:30pm.
March 14: Ensemble Mirable. Italian and German Baroque selections
April 25: Amadeus Piano Trio

San Francisco Symphony at Flint Center

THE MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS-led San Francisco Symphony continues to be the premier orchestra in the region, but getting in and out of downtown San Francisco for a concert can be an ordeal. In some heartening news, the symphony has scheduled an expanded season of concerts in the South Bay.

Where: Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino
When: Concerts at 8pm
How Much: $26-$51
Info: 415.864.6000 or 408.864.8816; www.sfsymphony.org

Oct. 30: With Guest Conductor Alan Gilbert And Pianist Horacio Gutiérrez. The program features works by Smetana, Chopin and Scriabin. The big selling point is the U.S. premiere of Exquisite Corpse by contemporary Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. 8pm.
Nov. 29: With Guest Conductor Alasdair Neale and Violinist Elmar Oliveira. Selections by Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Haydn.
Dec. 10: Choral Christmas
Feb. 13: With Guest Conductor Neville Marriner. Works by Wolf-Ferrari, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.
March 4: Michael Tilson Thomas. Works by conducts Berg and Mahler (Symphony no. 5).
April 9: With Guest Conductor Yuri Temirkanov
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7
April 24: With Conductor and Violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky. The evening is devoted to Bach and showcases Sitkovetsky's string transcription of The Goldberg Variations. 8pm.

Nova Vista Symphony

THE SYMPHONY presents its 38th concert season.

Where: Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, Los Altos
When: Saturdays at 8pm
How Much: $8-$40
Info: 408.530.0700; www.novavista.org
Tip: Season tickets are only $40 general admission; children under 12 are free (but remind to remind them to be quiet).

Nov. 8: What's in a Note? Pianist Kana Mimaki performs works by Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Schumann and Stravinsky.
Jan. 10: Pianist Dmitri Demiashkin. Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no. 2 and Mozart's Serenade for Winds in C.
Feb. 21: Pops Concert: The Best of Broadway and Hollywood
April 17: Young Artist Competition

Peninsula Symphony


Where: Various venues, including San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware St., San Mateo; Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino; Fox Theater, 2215 Broadway St, Redwood City
Info: 650.941.5291, 408.277.0595; www.peninsulasym.org

Oct. 17-18: Grand Opening. Program: Bernstein, Candide Overture; Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto no. 2, op. 18, featuring Jon Nakamatsu, Piano; Brahms, Symphony no. 1, op. 68. 8pm. Friday at 8pm in San Mateo; Saturday at 8pm at Flint Center.
Nov. 21 and Nov. 23: Holiday Concert. With the Stanford University Symphonic Chorus, featuring Puccini's Messa di Gloria and Fauré's Requiem. Friday at 8pm and Sunday at 1:30pm at the Memorial Church, Stanford.
Jan. 16-Jan. 17: Gershwin. With Wesla Whitfield and Mike Greensill and Trio. Friday at 8pm at the Fox Theatre, Redwood City; Saturday at 8pm at Flint Center.
March 19-20: Around the World in 80 Minutes. With marimba soloist Evangelina Estrada. The program features Estrada on Hovhaness' Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints for Marima and Orchestra, which definitely counts as a not-your-average classical selection. March 19 at 8pm in San Mateo; March 20 at 8pm at the Fox Theatre.
May 21-May 22: Young Virtuoso. With the winner of the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. May 21 at 8pm in San Mateo; May. 22 at 8pm at Flint Center.

Baroque Choral Guild

THE 25TH anniversary season features three concerts conducted by music director Sanford Dole.

Where: Various venues
How Much: $10/$20 students; $20-$25
Info: 650.434.1410; www.bcg.org

Nov. 22: Bach's Mass in B Minor. 8pm at First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton St., Palo Alto.
March 13: Rachmaninoff's Vespers. 8pm at First United Methodist.
May 17: Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Plus a premiere by Kevin Beavers in conjunction with the California Symphony. 8pm at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware St. Tickets are $40-$60.

Santa Cruz County Symphony

CONDUCTED BY John Larry Granger

Where: Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz; Mello Center, 250 E. Beach St., Watsonville
When: Saturdays at 8pm at Civic, Sundays at 2pm at Mello
How Much: $12-$45.
Info: 831.420.5260; www.santacruzsymphony.org

Oct. 4-5: Works by Britten, Liszt, Tchaikovsky
Nov. 8: Works by Bartok, Bizet and Von Suppé (The Beautiful Galatea Overture)
Feb. 21-22: Works by Mozart, Ibert and Beethoven. The standout in this program is Dansa Trimbula, a composition for saxophone and accordion by composer Henry Mollicone (a favorite at Opera San Jose), with William Trimble on sax and Anthony Quartuccio on squeeze box.
April 3-4: Works by Rossini, Brahms and Ives
May 1: Dvorak's Stabat Mater

Villa Montalvo

IN ADDITION to a full run of big-name pop performers, Villa Montalvo also hosts a number of significant classical performers in its intimate Carriage House Theatre.

Where: The Carriage House Theatre, Villa Montalvo, 15400 Montalvo Rd., Saratoga

How Much: $25-$45

Info: TicketMaster, 408.961.5858; www.villamontalvo.org

Tip: Show up early and enjoy the magnificent grounds of the Phelan estate.

Oct. 3: Antigoni Goni. Guitar prodigy from Greece, presented by the South Bay Guitar Society. 8pm.
Oct. 10: Kronos Quartet. 8pm.
Oct. 11: Violinist Gil Shaham with Pianist Akira Eguchi. 8:30pm.
Oct. 18: The San Jose Youth Symphony and the Asia-America Youth Honor Orchestra. 7pm.
Dec. 4: The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. 7:30pm.
Feb. 5: Violinist Hilary Hahn. 7:30pm.
March 5: The Eroica Trio
April 18: Lang Lang. Solo piano. 7:30pm.
May 7: The San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Longtime local music luminary Barbara Day Turner leads the orchestra in a performance of miniature compositions, including works for the toy piano. 8pm.

Palo Alto Philharmonic

MUSIC DIRECTOR Gideon Grau leads the Philharmonic in its 16th season with a four-concert program.

Where: Cubberley Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
When: Saturdays at 8pm
How Much: $5-$14
Info: www.paphil.org

Oct. 18: Daphne Wang, Violinist. Works by Brahms, Sibelius, Lalo.
Dec. 6: With Guest Conductor Camilla Kolchinsky. Works by Schubert, Paganini, Bartók and Rimsky-Korsakov, with solo viola player Adam Smyla.
Feb. 28: Pianist Rueibin Chen
April 18: Flutist Elena Yarritu

Redwood Symphony

DIRECTED BY Kujawsky, the new season features some refreshingly out-there programming.

Where: Various venues
How Much: $10-$20
Info: 650.366.6872; www.redwoodsymphony.org

Sept. 20: Frank Zappa's G-Spot Tornado. It kicks off a wildly eclectic program that also features Beth Anderson's Minnesota Swale; Varèse's Density 21.5; Mozart's magnificent Symphony no. 40; and even a piece by P.D.Q. Bach. 7pm at the United Methodist Church, Los Altos.

Nov. 15: Jason Klein, guest conductor. He leads the symphony in Lou Harrison's Parade; Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (with Michael Bautista, guitar); and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. 8pm at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center.

Feb. 22: Berlioz's March from Les Troyennes; H.K. Gruber's Frankenstein!; and Brahms' Symphony no. 2. 2pm at Notre Dame de Namur University Theatre, Belmont.

April 18: John Adams' Lollapalooza; Ives' Country Band March; Shostakovich's Piano Concerto no. 1; and Stravinsky's Petrushka (1911/1947 edition by Kujawsky). 3pm at Cañada College Theatre, Redwood City.

April 25: Stravinsky's Petrushka. A family concert examines Petrushka in depth. 2pm at Cañada College Theatre, Redwood City.

June 13: Messiaen's Un Sourire; John Corigliano's The Red Violin; Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 with Schola Cantorum. 3pm at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center.

July 24: Summer Pops. 8pm at Cañada College Theatre, Redwood City.

San Jose State University

AS PART OF its fall residency at the university, the Cypress String Quartet presents a performance of Beethoven's Quartet in C-sharp Minor, op. 131, along with a discussion of the work's structure and history. The SJSU Choraliers, conducted by Dr. Charlene Archibeque, serve up a choral sampler--from Renaissance madrigals to world folk songs--a fortnight later.

Where: Beethoven Center, Fifth Floor, Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Fourth and San Fernando streets, San Jose
When: Oct. 5 at 3pm
How Much: $5/$15/$20
Info: 408.808.2058

Oct 5: Cypress String Quartet

Where: Campbell United Methodist Church, 1675 Winchester Blvd., Campbell
When: Oct. 10 at 8pm
How Much: $10/$15/$25
Info: 408.924.4333

Oct. 10: SJSU Choraliers

Santa Clara University

FOR SHEER SONIC intensity, Bach's organ works stand pretty much alone in the classical canon. SCU faculty member James Welch presents a dual concert devoted to the Bach organ repertory: the first half will take a period approach, while the second half will showcase modern pop reinterpretations of Bach.

Where: Mission Church, Santa Clara University
When: Oct. 3 at 8pm
How Much: $5/$8/$10
Info: 408.554.4018

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

THE ENSEMBLE aims at historical authenticity in its performances of Baroque and early Romantic-era music. The season opener is a significant undertaking: Handel's Jephtha, the composer's last oratorio. It dramatizes in music the Old Testament story of Jephtha who makes a promise to God that he learns will be very, very hard to keep. Nicholas McGegan conducts, with vocalists John Mark Ainsley, Christine Brandes and John Amos.

Where: First United Methodist Church, Hamilton and Webster streets, Palo Alto (the series also repeats in San Francisco and Berkeley)
When: Concert at 8pm; Jephtha at 7:30pm
How Much: $2-$60
Info: 415.392.1288; www.philharmonia.org

Sept. 20: Jephtha
Oct. 17: Mozart Piano Concert. With Seth Carlin, plus Telemann, Haydn and C.P.E. Bach.
Nov. 7: Italian Motets By Vivaldi and Corelli. With violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock and soprano Emma Kirkby.
Dec. 18: Bach Christmas Program. With conductor and violinist Andrew Manze.
Feb. 6: Beethoven Piano Concerto and Eroica. With Melyvn Tan, fortepiano.
March 19: French Baroque Program
April 16: Scarlatti Vespers

Mission Chamber Orchestra

EMILY RAY conducts concerts in smaller venues for maximum musical intimacy.

Where: Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. Fifth St., San Jose
When: Concerts at 8pm
How Much: $5-$17
Info: 408.293.6060; www.missionchamber.org

Sept. 27: Opener and Auction. With soloist Pip Clarke. Program includes Beethoven's Symphony no. 7, Gwyneth Walker's About Leaves and Wiren's Serenade for Strings. Auction begins at 6:30pm.
Dec. 20: Amahl and the Night Visitors. At St. Francis of Assisi Church, 5111 San Felipe Rd., San Jose; also Dec 21 at St. John Vianney Church, 4601 Hyland Ave., San Jose.
Feb. 14: Latin Romance. With guitarist Rodolfo Troncoso.
April 24: Spring Romance. With Pip Clarke.

South Bay Guitar Society

Sept. 27: Dimitry Illarionov, Russian Guitarist. 4:30pm at San Jose City College, $15/$18.
Oct. 3: Antigoni Goni. 8pm at Villa Montalvo.
Nov. 8: Alieksey Vianna, Brazilian Guitarist. 8pm at Music Recital Hall, West Valley College, Saratoga. $10/$12.
Dec. 4: Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. 8pm at Villa Montalvo, $25/$45.
Feb. 7: Festival Of Four. With Richard Patterson, classical guitar; Viviana Guzman, flute; Radim Zenki, mandolin; Guillermo Rios, flamenco guitar. 8pm at a location TBA.
Spring 2004: Platero y Yo. Short poems scored for classical guitar by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, performed by Frank Koonce. Date and place TBA.
May 15: William Kanengiser. 8pm at Le Petit Trianon. $15/$18.

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From the September 11-17, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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