Options include California Opera’s free production of “Cinderella.” Plus: “Hairspray” in Visalia; and “I Love You” in Oakhurst
Here’s a rundown on three promising arts picks for the weekend:
California Opera Association’s annual arts and education festival ends with a fully staged production Friday evening and Sunday afternoon of “La Cenerentola (Cinderella),” an operatic version of the beloved fairy tale, at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis. Under the artistic direction of Fresno’s own diva, Edna Garabedian, the festival brings together opera students, advanced singers and professional faculty in a month-long program. “Cinderella” is the festival’s big finale. And because it’s free (donations gladly accepted), it’s a great way to expose children to opera as an art form.
The production is stage directed by Richard Adamson, and the orchestra is conducted by Brian Asher Alhadeff, artistic director of Opera San Luis Obispo. Here’s the principal cast:
At Festival Mozaic, I get the chance to experience three beautiful concerts at three even more beautiful San Luis Obispo County locales
SHANDON — The folks at Festival Mozaic know a thing or two about good timing. As the last rays of the sun scrape over an adjacent ridge, the professional chamber orchestra before me begins the final movement of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Music spills out the open doors of the small and spectacular Serra Chapel, a Mission-style building situated high atop one of the rolling hills a few miles outside Paso Robles, and into the tiled courtyard where I’m sitting. By the time the music has ended and the 500 or so people squeezed into the space have risen to applaud, the sky has darkened to black, the stars emerged and the broiling temperature has dipped to goose-pimple cool.
It’s a glorious way to conclude a concert of classical music.
New music director includes five living composers in the 2017-18 season
I just received my first press release from the Fresno Philharmonic with the words “Rei Hotoda, Music Director” in big, bold letters at the top. How exciting! It means a new era has begun.
The occasion is the official announcement of the orchestra’s 2017-18 season. We already knew the outline of the season a few months ago, including guest artists and major works to be performed, but the Fresno Philharmonic waited until now to give Hotoda the chance to put her own touches on the lineup.
One of the most impressive developments: Works by five living composers will be featured, including Fresno State’s Kenneth Froelich.
Key quotation from Hotoda: “By combining exciting and innovative works by Aaron Jay Kernis, John Adams, Kenneth Froelich, Jennifer Higdon and Tan Dun with beloved pillars of the symphonic repertoire by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Debussy, we will demonstrate how the great orchestral tradition has evolved and been enhanced by new voices from the United States and around the world. We will embrace together these extraordinary works and champion them as new staples of the classical canon.”
San Luis Obispo County provides the backdrop for a notable festival focusing on orchestral and chamber music
For nearly 50 years, Festival Mozaic has been one of the jewels of San Luis Obispo County’s cultural scene. Over a period of nearly two weeks, world-class musicians and enthusiastic audiences intersect in a series of chamber and orchestral concerts held in notable venues, from the venerable downtown San Luis Obispo mission to a ritzy private chapel in far-flung Shandon.
I’ve always wanted to attend, and this year I’m going to check it off my To-Do Cultural List. The festival kicks off today (Wednesday, July 19) and runs through July 30. I’ll be there for the first weekend, on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are still available for most of the events on the schedule.
In the meantime, I talked by phone with music director Scott Yoo, who has been with the festival since 2005. (He brings impeccable musical credentials; in February 2016 he was named artistic director of the Mexico City Philharmonic.) With his help, here are Five Things to Know About Festival Mozaic:
There’s a lot in a name: Founded in 1971, it used to be known as the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. The name change to Festival Mozaic came in 2008. In terms of programming you can expect a healthy dose of Mozart, but there’s so much more, including early music, period instrument concerts, jazz, contemporary music, opera, chamber music, solo recitals and world music. Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Charles Ives and Olivier Messiaen are all composers you’ll encounter.
Cambridge choir makes a stop at Fresno’s St. James Cathedral. Plus: It’s the kickoff of California Opera’s summer festival, “Angels in America” hits the big screen, and Inner Ear poetry does its thing at Bitwise.
There are two Thursday evening events this week I want to make sure you know about, so I’m offering this version of “Donald’s List” a little early. Here’s a rundown on promising cultural events for the weekend:
If you love choral music, you don’t want to miss the Thursday performance of the Selwyn College Cambridge choir visiting from England on a West Coast tour. The ensemble sings a concert titled “One Equal Light: A Celebration of European Choral Music” at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Fresno.
Sarah MacDonald conducts the choir, which is made up 29 singers (16 female and 13 male), who are undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Cambridge. She is the first woman to hold the post of director of music in an Oxbridge Chapel. MacDonald is a longtime friend of Fresno State opera professor Anthony Radford — they were both in the Ontario Youth Choir when he was 20 — and when she knew she was coming on tour to California, she wanted to visit Fresno.
“You know, standard gym listening,” he says with a laugh.
It takes a healthy amount of self-confidence and verve to sit down and organize from scratch a big event such as “Composer Showcase,” which debuts Saturday, July 15, at Community United Church of Christ. Especially one featuring a pick-up 16-piece choir. But those in the Fresno-area music community know that Hinojosa, music director at the church and a recent Fresno Pacific University graduate, has tremendous enthusiasm for the local music scene. He is passionate about turning the central San Joaquin Valley into a musical epicenter — and, in particular, encouraging younger musicians to stick around.
Plus, in addition to his day job and his new gig as concert promoter, he’s a new father. Did I mention he’s energetic?