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InConcert Sierra’s new season: Musical education for all

Charles Atthill
Submitted to Prospector

A very long time ago, I took a university entrance exam in music. It included, along with harmony, counterpoint and studies of specific works, a section requiring me to identify musical themes by composer, work and any interesting features from a line or two of written notes. Quite a challenge for a 16-year-old.

But then my musical education had begun early. I grew up in a musical family, pre-television; music lessons, the record player and the BBC’s excellent music broadcasts were my diversions. My musical growth has never stopped with 24-hour classical music channels, a growing record collection and attending, and sometimes performing in, concerts and opera.

For the past 10 years, much of my musical life has been at the hands of InConcert Sierra. I look forward to the new season’s Third Sunday series. Some concerts immediately appeal; some seem to hold no interest. But I go anyway, and I’m always glad I did, my horizons expanded, new vistas opened. I’ve been introduced to new composers and unfamiliar works, and enjoyed the opportunity to hear and talk one-on-one with superb musicians, some at the peak of their careers, some emerging with top honors from their grueling training.



I relive specific performances: Romanian violinist Sherban Lupu playing fellow countryman Enescu; cellist Amit Peled and pianist Eli Kalman reveling in Shostakovich; Enso String Quartet’s sparkling Beethoven; Cypress Quartet’s poignant Bartok.

I’m inspired to delve more deeply into works the concerts have featured: Nikolai Lugansky’s massive Rachmaninoff First Piano Sonata; Joel Fan’s “West of the Sun”; Di Wu’s Debussy Preludes; Isabel Demers’ towering organ Symphonie by Rachel Laurin.




So what does the 2012-13 season, which started Oct. 21, promise?

“I’m particularly pleased with the season,” enthused Ken Hardin, ICS artistic director, “though I realize I say that nearly every year. My goal has always been to explore the breadth and depth of instrumental and chamber music with the best of young, and not so young, performers. There is something for everyone.”

Once again, the season started with an American Pianists Association Fellow, this year Ju Ying Song, mentor to last year’s exciting Spencer Myer. For those in attendance at the opening concert, they were wowed by a consummate artist. November brings violinist Stefan Jackiw (pronounced Jockeev) who has taken the musical world by storm since his European debut in 2000 and likened to the greatest violinists of our time.

Jackiw has taken the musical world by storm since his European debut in 2000.

The holiday will be celebrated with Sierra Master Chorale (on a high from “The Armed Man”) and a large orchestra in a program, including Poulenc’s exciting “Gloria.” The new year welcomes the Marian Anderson String Quartet.

New York Polyphony with its four men’s voices has quickly climbed to the top of the charts, while Ang Li was among the top pianists in the world at the 2009 Cliburn Competition. The Paris-based Zodiac Trio of violin, clarinet and piano has become a sensation across three continents, and the season ends in May with Sierra Master Chorale, in no way out overshadowed by the season’s world-class performers.


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