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April 03, 2010

Symphony Silicon Valley announces a 7-program season for 2010-11

Richard Scheinin, Mercury News
Symphony Silicon Valley opens its ninth season Sept. 30 at the California Theatre with an old friend on the podium: George Cleve, leading a program of Schumann, Mahler and Beethoven. That's meat and potatoes for the maestro, a South Bay icon who led the old San Jose Symphony for 20 years.

The season ends in June 2011 with a South Bay newcomer as guest conductor: Carolyn Kuan, 33, a rising presence whose program showcases a work titled "Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!" It's by Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman and was a hit at last summer's Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, with its marimba melodies and rain forest sounds, its reverberating gongs and deep grooves rising from low strings.

Marin Alsop, that festival's famous music director, led the performance. But Kuan also knows the score literally, as she has been Alsop's assistant conductor at Cabrillo since 2003. She has also guest-conducted the San Francisco Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other leading groups. She has been a resident artist at the New York City Ballet and Salzburg Festival, recently completed a term as the Seattle Symphony's associate conductor and now comes to the South Bay.

So those are the bookends for the 2010-11 season: Cleve and Kuan, Mahler and marimbas. In between, there will be five more programs covering a lot of ground, with a well-known soloist or two (i.e. pianist Jon Nakamatsu); a world premiere by jazz clarinetist/composer Paquito D'Rivera; an anchor piece of the choral repertory, the "German Requiem" by Brahms; a showcase for Gypsy-style violin; and more.

Here are details:

Sept. 30, Oct. 2-3: Cleve leads the season opener, featuring Schumann's Symphony No. 1; Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of the Wayfarer)" with baritone soloist Eugene Brancoveanu, a former Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

Oct. 16-17: Gregory Vajda conducts a Hungarian-flavored program featuring 19-year-old violinist Lajos Sarkozi, already a veteran of Gypsy jazz bands in Prague and now starting to make the orchestral rounds. He will play Saraste's "Gypsy Airs" and Ravel's daunting "Tzigane." Also on the program: works by Dohnanyi, Kodaly, Bartok and Brahms (three of his "Hungarian Dances").

Dec. 4-5: Giampaolo Bisanti, a busy conductor in Italy on the big-city opera circuit, leads Symphony Silicon Valley in works by Rossini (Overture to "The Barber of Seville"), Mozart (Horn Concerto No. 2, featuring Meredith Brown, the orchestra's principal horn, in her debut here as soloist), and Schubert (Symphony No. 3).

Jan. 15-16, 2011: Pianist Adam Golka, only 22 and winning critics' praise around the United States and in Europe for the sensitivity and panache of his performances, makes his South Bay debut, playing Liszt's "Totentanz." The program, conducted by Paul Polivnick, also includes Wagner's "Siegfried's Idyll" and Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances."

March 24, 26-27, 2011: Vajda returns to lead the orchestra and the Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale, directed by Elena Sharkova, in Brahms' glorious "German Requiem."

May 12, 14-15, 2011: The world premiere of jazz great D'Rivera's "Cape Cod" Concerto for Clarinet, Piano and Orchestra, featuring soloists Jon Nakamatsu (piano) and Jon Manasse (clarinet). They are co-artistic directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, where just last summer they debuted the original duo version of the work, which paid homage to Benny Goodman, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth. D'Rivera has now expanded the work to full orchestra. Nakamatsu will also perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, a war horse among war horses and one Nakamatsu has never before played in the South Bay, his home turf. Leslie Dunner (also a clarinetist) conducts.

June 4-5, 2011: Kuan takes on Dorman's "Spices," with help from a couple of key soloists: Galen Lemmon (Symphony Silicon Valley's principal percussionist) and Steve Hearn (assistant principal timpanist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra). Cabrillo mainstays, Lemmon and Hearn performed the exotic "Spices" at Cabrillo last summer, under Alsop's direction. Now it's time for Kuan. She also conducts Bizet's "Carmen" Suite and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4.




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