Season of music |

Season of music

Eileen JoyceComposers (from left) Howard Hersh, Mark Vance, David Dvorin, Mikail Graham and Jay Sydeman will showcase their music at the fairgrounds this weekend.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

After 20 years of choosing which musicians will be at the Music in the Mountains Summer Festival of Classics, Paul Perry particularly relishes the festival of 16 concerts between Wednesday and July 3.

“I think it’s the greatest festival we’ve ever had,” said Perry, MIM’s founder and artistic director. “It’s the best mix of classical, pop and jazz we’ve had.”

One reason Perry believes this will be the best of the 21 events is the Beachfront Property concert.

“They’re from Los Angeles, and they are hot, hot, hot!” Perry exclaimed. “Beachfront Property is a vocal jazz group with a combo backup. I feel really privileged we’re bringing them up for the first time.”

Another highlight for Perry is the return of MIM’s founding concertmaster, Mariko Smiley, on June 21. A violinist in the San Francisco Symphony, Smiley was MIM’s concertmaster for 18 years. She will perform in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Festival Orchestra.

“Of course we’re really excited about Howard Hersh’s commission to be played by our present concertmaster, Robin Mayforth,” Perry added.

Hersh is a Nevada County composer who will have a world premiere of his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra on June 28. He was one of nine composers selected for residencies across the country in the American Symphony Orchestra League’s “Music Alive – Composers and Orchestras Together” program. Last year, Hersh worked in his hometown with Music in the Mountains.

In conjunction with his American Symphony Orchestra League residency, Hersh mentored area youth. Those efforts will culminate in Wednesday’s Bach’s Lunch, which focuses on works by five middle school and high school students.

They are Daniel Douros, Joshua Landry, K.J. McAleese, Sheena Wenger and Sarah-Lynn Wright, who have attended seven composition workshops led by Hersh since November.

Last month, the youths first heard their pieces played professionally by violinist Sarah Woods, cellist Jonathon Palmer and pianist Paul Perry. The three musicians will perform the five pieces at the Bach’s Lunch.

Hersh will moderate the program, the young composers will talk about their pieces, then the audience will ask questions.

“The music is very melodic,” Hersh said. “They’re always looking for ways of putting in new sounds. A couple of works are influenced by Celtic music. A solo violin piece is about the composer’s cat, which has unpredictable changes like his cat would. One has a New Age feel; another is a choral piece.”

Hersh stressed the youths did not receive school credit for their compositions.

“They do it because they love it. They have to find time to work on the compositions, which isn’t easy. The reward is the music itself,” Hersh said. “That’s the future of music, that young people have a connection with new works. I’m proud of what they did; the community should be also.”

WHAT: Music in the Mountains

WHEN: Wednesday to July 3

WHERE: All concerts at Nevada County Fairgrounds1 Festival Center except one at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley and another at a Nevada City home.

ADMISSION: $15 in advance and $17 at the gate for outdoor concerts (children under 18 are free). $14-$26 for indoor concerts. Bach1s Lunch, including meal, is $15. KinderKonzert is free. Garden gala is $100. Tickets at The Union office, Odyssey Books, Book Seller, Mike1s Alta Sierra Market, Placer Savings Bank in Alta Sierra, Pleasant Valley Pharmacy in Lake Wildwood and the MIM office.


New music will open summer

For the first time, the third annual Festival of New Music will kick off Music in the Mountains1 annual 21st Summer Festival of Classics this Friday and Saturday at the fairgrounds.

3We want to look at new music,² said MIM artistic director Paul Perry. He noted the area is home to many talented musicians: 3Maybe the new Beethoven lives right here.²

Perry says that audience surveys across the country continually name Beethoven as the favorite classical composer.

In researching what works he should include in the festival, Perry recently ran across a music critic1s comment made in 1812 about the beloved composer.

3The critic said about Beethoven1s Symphony No. 7 that OThis is personal proof that Beethoven is ready for the nuthouse,1² Perry said with a laugh. 3This shows how tastes change. Now we love the piece. So maybe the new Beethoven lives amidst us.²

The Festival of New Music is presented by the Nevada County Composers Cooperative. Members1 compositions will be heard during the festival.

Mark Vance, Jay Sydeman, Nancy Bloomer Deussen, Terry Riley and Mikail Graham1s compositions will be featured Friday. Compositions by Sydeman, Vance, Graham, Howard Hersh and David Dvorin will be featured Saturday.


Until last year, the Nevada County Composers Cooperative was known as the Nevada County Composers Coalition. It was founded eight years ago to bring new music to the area.

Most of the composers have lived here for years. Often the compositions premiere in the musicians1 hometown before being heard in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and elsewhere.

Get the members together, and it becomes rather clear why the group1s name was modified last year. The musicians express similar supporting views, even finishing each other1s comments.

On Monday, for example, Graham, Sydeman and Vance were in total agreement about this weekend1s festival.

When Vance said it1s significant that MIM is collaborating with them, Graham quickly added that MIM validates the cooperative to the public, and Sydeman pointed out that much of the population is unaware of the group.

Minutes later, Sydeman said he hopes MIM patrons will see the Festival of New Music as a new offering, to which Graham added, 3the whole community.²

The three composers are appreciative that MIM has given them a venue, even if the works are not mainstream.

3Music in the Mountains is supporting the individual composers1 creativity,² said Sydeman, a founder along with Hersh and Riley of the organization.

They hope this festival is the beginning of a working relationship between the two music organizations.

3It1s a bigger venue for us,² Vance said. 3For Music in the Mountains, it1s a real push for new music.²

There are currently eight composers in the Nevada County Composers Cooperative.

3That1s an amazing number for this area, in terms of composer per capita. This is a real haven for writers, artists, musicians,² Vance added.

MIM schedule

Unless noted otherwise, all concerts are at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley.

Wednesday: Bach1s Lunch/Symposium with Young Composers and Howard Hersh. Festival Orchestra members will perform students1 compositions. 12:30 p.m.

June 14: 3Garden Gala² with Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) and Natalie Haas (cello) at a Nevada City home. Tickets must be purchased by that afternoon. 6:30 p.m.

June 15: Outdoor jazz concert/picnic at Western Gateway Park with the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band. 7:30 p.m.

June 18: 3Beethoven Spectacular² concert with Symphony No. 7, Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello. Trio of Eric Zivian on piano, Ian Swensen on violin and Noriko Kishi on cello will be accompanied by the MIM Festival Orchestra. 8 p.m.

June 19: Bach1s Lunch/Symposium 3Music Today² with Mark Vance and Howard Hersh. 12:30 p.m.

June 20: 3KinderKonzert² free half-hour concert for youth. No tickets are required for admission. Noon.

June 21: 3Classic & Romantic Gems² concert with Mozart1s 3Magic Flute Overture,² Mendelssohn1s Symphony No. 4 and Beethoven1s Concerto for Violin. Guest violinist Mariko Smiley of the San Francisco Symphony, founding concertmaster of the Festival Orchestra, will be featured with the orchestra. 8 p.m.

June 22: Outdoor jazz concert/picnic with Beachfront Property. 7:30 p.m.

June 23: 3Sizzling Classics² concert with Vivaldi1s 3The Four Seasons,² Nevada County composer Mark Vance1s world premiere of a duo for clarinet and cello, Rossini1s Duetto for Cello and Bass and Mozart1s 3Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.² Violinists Robin Mayforth, Jason Pell, Mutsuko Tatman and RaeAnn Goldberg will be featured. 8 p.m.

June 26: 3Masterworks for Chorus & Orchestra² concert with Vivaldi1s selections from 3Gloria,² Brahms1 selection from 3Ein Deutschers Requiem,² Hanson1s 3Song of Democracy² and Chopin1s Piano Concert No. 2. Polish pianist Jacek Mysinski will be featured. 8 p.m.

June 27: Bach1s Lunch/Symposium 3Meet the Composer² with Howard Hersh. 12:30 p.m.

June 28: 3World Premiere plus Mozart, Strauss and Gershwin² concert with Strauss1 3Serenade,² Haydn1s Symphony No. 8, Nevada County composer Howard Hersh1s premiere of a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, and selections from Gershwin1s 3Porgy and Bess.² 8 p.m.

June 29: Outdoor concert/picnic with 3Broadway Romance² featuring Broadway stars Raymond Saar and Diane Ketchie and the MIM Festival Orchestra. 7:30 p.m.

June 30: Outside picnic/inside big-band dance with Art Baron and The Duke1s Men from New York City. 8 p.m.

July 2: 3From Bach to Bizet² concert with Dello Joio1s 3Choreography,² Tchaikovsky1s 3Serenade for Strings,² J.S. Bach1s Concerto in D Minor and Bizet1s Symphony No. 1. Trumpet solos will be by Scott Macomber and Kale Cumings, accompanied by the Festival Orchestra. 8 p.m.

July 3: Outdoor Picnic/Pops 3Happy Birthday U.S.A.² concert. Foothill Theatre Company artistic director Philip Charles Sneed narrates and the Festival Orchestra performs. 8 p.m.

Friday1s concert

Nancy Bloomer Deussen: Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano

Mark Vance: Sonata for violin and piano

Mikail Graham: 3Richard Stepped Out,² electro-acoustic score with recitation


Jay Sydeman: Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano

Terry Riley: 3The Heaven Ladder,² 1994 (Book 7)

Saturday1s concert

Jay Sydeman: Three Pieces for Piano and Variations for Piano

Howard Hersh: 3Crown of Feathers² for solo violin


Mikail Graham: 3Invisible Life,² electro-acoustic score with recitation

Mark Vance: Moire for piano

David Dvorin and Mikail Graham: 3Links,² duet for two composers

WHAT: Third annual Festival of New Music

WHEN: Talks at 7 p.m., concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds1 Festival Center, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $16 for either concert or $32 for both concerts in advance and $20 at the door. Advance tickets at The Book Seller, Odyssey Books and Music in the Mountains box office.


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