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Photograph by Nancy Ellison

Down by the Boardwalk: Celebrated violinist Chee-Yun participates in the Green Music Festival's impressive program.

Shining Brightly

The Green Music Festival spotlights world-class chamber music stars

By Greg Cahill

The Donald and Maureen Green Music Center may still be just a twinkle in the eye of the Santa Rosa Symphony (which eventually will make its home there) and a handful of Sonoma State University officials, having hit a snag in their efforts to raise cash for the ambitious performing arts center, but the spirit of the project is alive and well.

This year, the summertime Green Music Festival--held near the site of the planned multimillion dollar 1,400-seat auditorium on the SSU campus--has nearly doubled the size of its popular chamber music series, which sold out in short order last season. Expect to be dazzled: Artistic director Jeffrey Kahane has tapped some of the world's top chamber performers for what should be four spectacular evening concerts.

The programs, an invigorating mix of the old and new, are called "Jeffrey Kahane and Friends I, II, III, and IV." Works by Debussy, Ravel, Osvaldo Golijov, Franck, Mendelssohn, Messiaen, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Haydn, Dohnanyi, and Brahms will be featured. The concerts will be held at the Evert B. Person Theatre on the SSU campus (1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park) on Sunday, July 13, and Sunday, July 20, at 4pm, and on Thursday, July 17, and Saturday, July 19, at 8pm.

The acclaimed Borromeo String Quartet-- the quartet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music and for the past two seasons members of Chamber Music Society Two, the emerging artists program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center--will return to the festival in a much-anticipated program. Among the other nationally and internationally acclaimed soloists and principals appearing throughout the series are virtuoso violinist Chee-Yun, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Eric Wyrick, San Francisco Symphony principal violist Geraldine Walther, San Francisco Symphony associate principal cellist Peter Wyrick, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and clarinetist Todd Palmer, former principal clarinetist for the Minnesota Orchestra.

Kahane, the renown pianist and conductor of the Santa Rosa Symphony (as well as music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra), has promised a most lively series.

Take him at his word.

On July 13, Kahane (piano) and Eric Wyrick (violin) will launch the program with Debussy's Violin Sonata. That will be followed by Ravel's Duo for Violin and Cello, played by Eric and Peter Wyrick (cello). The Borromeo String Quartet will be accompanied by clarinetist Palmer in a rendition of cutting-edge composer Osvaldo Golijov's Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, a powerful piece for string quartet and clarinet that is an homage to a 12th-century kabbalist rabbi of Provence.

The work is a musical expression--reflecting joy and sorrow, laughter and tears--of a mystical Jewish belief in a constant state of communion in which human consciousness nurtures and renews itself through meditation. Palmer recorded the piece last year on the St. Lawrence String Quartet's stunning Grammy-nominated album Yiddishbbuk. Kahane and the Borromeo Quartet will end the afternoon with Franck's Piano Quintet.

On July 17, Peter Wyrick, Kahane, and violinist Chee-Yun, one of the rising stars of the international string world, will open the concert with a performance of Mendelssohn's D Minor Trio. Clarinetist Palmer and Eric Wyrick will join Kahane and Peter Wyrick for the finale, Quartet for the End of Time by Messiaen.

On July 19, pianist Jon Kimura Parker and Kahane will team up for Schubert's Fantasy for Piano, Four Hands. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who made her Carnegie Hall debut at age 15, will join Kahane--widely regarded as one of the best interpreters of Rachmaninoff--in Sonata for Cello and Piano by Rachmaninoff. Parker and Kahane will conclude the program with another piano duet called Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninoff.

On July 20, Kahane, Chee-Yun, and Peter Wyrick will kick off the final day of the chamber music series with Haydn's Trio in G Minor "Gypsy." Geraldine Walther, principal violist for the San Francisco Symphony, will join Eric Wyrick and Peter Wyrick on stage to perform Dohnanyi's Serenade for String Trio. Brahms' G Minor Quartet finale will be performed by Chee-Yun, Walther, Weilerstein, and Kahane.


Tickets for the individual chamber music concerts are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $15 for youths. For additional information or to order tickets, visit http://festival.sonoma.edu or call 707.664.2353.

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From the July 3-9, 2003 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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