MEDIA ARCHIVE

REVIEW: Show-stopping Spanish guitar star Pablo Sáinz Villegas says a firm ‘No!’ to candy at San Diego concert

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
December 8, 2019

The sweet sound of music on stage? Yes, please.

Candy consumption in the audience? Absolutely not.

That was the dual message conveyed by Spanish guitar star Pablo Sáinz Villegas during his sold-out Saturday night concert at the Baker-Baum Concert Hall at La Jolla’s new Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.

The $82 million center, the new home of the La Jolla Music Society, opened in April. Sainz, 42, is the society’s first education ambassador in residence. Just seconds after the beginning of his Saturday performance here, the award-winning guitarist was unexpectedly provided a teachable moment by one of the members of his audience, which included the society’s new music director, Inon Barnatan.

The subject at hand? Candy.

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REVIEW: Show-stopping Spanish guitar star Pablo Sáinz Villegas says a firm ‘No!’ to candy at San Diego concert2019-12-09T09:09:47-08:00

ARTICLE: “We shine a beam of light” on Beethoven quartets – Danish String Quartet in La Jolla this month

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Garrett Harris
November 22, 2019

The Danish String Quartet is in residency at The La Jolla Music Society from November 16 through November 23. They are presenting five concerts as a part of their Prism project. The players in the quartet are Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violin; Frederik Øland, violin; Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola; Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, cello.

I sat down with the quartet after their concert on Sunday, November 17, to discuss what Prism is. Violist Asbjørn Nørgaard explains:

“It’s a series of concerts that focuses on the late string quartets by Beethoven. There are five of them and they’re quite famous in the string quartet world, infamous almost. It’s a project which is centered around those pieces. Usually one of those quartets is the conclusion of the concert. It is the summit of the mountain. Our idea is to put one of those quartets in the middle like a prism. We shine a beam of light on them from Bach and this beam of light, or music, is then split into several directions. It’s a way to re-contextualize Beethoven.”

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ARTICLE: “We shine a beam of light” on Beethoven quartets – Danish String Quartet in La Jolla this month2019-12-09T11:12:44-08:00

REVIEW: Danish String Quartet delivers excellence, from Bach and Beethoven to Shostakovich and Schnittke

The San Diego Union-Tribune 
Christian Hertzog
November 18, 2019

It’s not even 249 years after Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth — Dec. 16, 1770 — yet programmatic celebrations of his 250th anniversary have already begun.

Beethoven’s symphonies, sonatas and concertos are heading your way, like it or not. Think there’s already too much Beethoven at concerts? You may want to hibernate for a year or two.

However, there are other ways to observe this milestone besides nothing-but-Beethoven performances, as the Danish String Quartet demonstrated in Baker-Baum Concert Hall this past weekend.

On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, we heard the first two offerings of their series for the La Jolla Music Society devoted to Beethoven’s last five string quartets. Each concert features a late Beethoven opus, a J.S. Bach work arranged for string quartet, and a later composer’s quartet that demonstrates Beethoven’s and/or Bach’s influence.

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REVIEW: Danish String Quartet delivers excellence, from Bach and Beethoven to Shostakovich and Schnittke2019-11-20T09:06:28-08:00

REVIEW: The Danish String Quartet Opens Its Musically Probing Prism Project at The Conrad

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
November 17, 2019

The Danish String Quartet returned to La Jolla Saturday, November 16, bringing a joyful, sonically resplendent Beethoven String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127, and the smoldering intensity of Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 15 in E-flat Minor, Opus 144. This stirring concert opened their week-long residency under the auspices of the La Jolla Music Society (LJMS) and marked their debut in the organization’s recently opened Baker-Baum Concert Hall at The Conrad.

Since I first heard the Danish String Quartet play in 2014 under the auspices of UC San Diego’s ArtPower, I have been smitten by their artistry and persuasive musical communication. LJMS brought the Danish String Quartet back to La Jolla in 2016 and again earlier this year, and each visit has strengthened my first impression of the quartet. The number of worthy younger string quartets on today’s classical musical beat is indeed heartening, and my personal favorites have included the Calder Quartet and the Miró Quartet, and I have payed special attention to the Hausmann Quartet in residence at San Diego State University.

But I am convinced that the Danish String Quartet stands out among the panoply of contemporary musical colleagues. Every piece I have heard them play comes across with an unusually high level of engagement, an immediacy that is compelling.

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REVIEW: The Danish String Quartet Opens Its Musically Probing Prism Project at The Conrad2019-11-20T09:02:33-08:00

PREVIEW: The new ‘Fab Four’: Danish String Quartet brings its Grammy-nominated ‘Prism’ project to La Jolla

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Catherine Gaugh
November 14, 2019

After hearing the achingly beautiful sounds both sublime and searing in the playing of the Danish String Quartet, it is difficult to believe that they never planned to be professional musicians, much less one of the leading quartets of their generation.

They were 11, 12 and 13 years old when they met at a summer music camp outside Copenhagen. They became instant best friends.

“We were normal Danish boys doing normal Danish things,” said Asbjørn Nørgaard, who plays the viola in the group. “We hung out and played football.”

They also shared an early passion for chamber music: listening to it, reading it and, ultimately, playing it.

Not long after, “we became a string quartet,” he said. “We were given lessons, and did a few concerts, just for fun. We never took classical music seriously and never had the idea we would make a living at it.”

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PREVIEW: The new ‘Fab Four’: Danish String Quartet brings its Grammy-nominated ‘Prism’ project to La Jolla2019-11-14T08:57:03-08:00

REVIEW: Garrick Ohlsson’s Definitive Brahms Recital at The Conrad

The San Diego Story
Ken Herman
November 10, 2019

Garrick Ohlsson returned to The Conrad in downtown La Jolla Saturday, November 9, to play another all-Brahms piano recital. With his evident affection for the repertory, his superlative technique, and his insight into what makes Brahms’ piano music distinctive, his recital also turned into a graduate level master class for anyone who plays piano or has ever studied the instrument.

From Brahms’ early Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 5, and the Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 35, Book II, to the mature Op. 79 Rhapsodies and the Op. 116 Fantasies, Ohlsson’s every phrase illuminated important aspects of this rich body of piano music, amplifying the sheer joy of experiencing Brahms played with such command and panache.

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REVIEW: Garrick Ohlsson’s Definitive Brahms Recital at The Conrad2019-11-13T15:28:12-08:00

PREVIEW: Borders blur when Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer make music magic

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
October 13, 2019

Over the years, Ben & Jerry’s has created ice cream flavors inspired by famous musicians and bands, including Cherry Garcia, Bohemian Raspberry and Phish Food. If rival ice cream company Häagen-Dazs wants to get in the game with a music-inspired flavor of its own, genre-leaping banjo innovator Béla Fleck and contrabass master Edgar Meyer are ideal candidates.

Fleck, a 14-time Grammy Award winner, and Meyer, a five-time winner, first started making music together in the summer of 1982 in Colorado, in front of the Häagen-Dazs store in Aspen. They haven’t stopped collaborating yet.

“I don’t think there was a Ben & Jerry’s in Aspen back then!” Fleck said. He performs here Wednesday at the Balboa Theatre with Meyer and Indian tabla drum legend Zakir Hussain, whose own musical collaborators have ranged from George Harrison and Ravi Shankar to John McLaughlin and the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart.

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PREVIEW: Borders blur when Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer make music magic2019-10-14T14:41:25-08:00

ARTICLE: Here is San Diego’s best and worst architecture

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Phillip Molnar
October 4, 2019

It was time to duck and cover Thursday night for architects in San Diego.

San Diego County’s annual Orchids and Onions competition awards the best in local architecture with an Orchid — and the worst with an Onion. Only five Onions were given this year, so most architects avoided the notorious distinction during the awards ceremony Thursday.

The competition is now in its 43rd year, with the goal to make the region a better place to live. It was started by the local American Institute of Architects, but has been handled by the San Diego Architectural Foundation since 2006.

A committee of 11 jurors evaluated 118 nominations. There were also two People’s Choice awards, decided by online voters.

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ARTICLE: Here is San Diego’s best and worst architecture2019-10-04T09:46:41-08:00

PREVIEW: Keyboard legend Chick Corea and rising star Gerald Clayton discuss their music and mutual admiration society

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
September 29, 2019

There is a 43-year age difference between jazz-and-beyond icon Chick Corea and rising star Gerald Clayton. But the mutual admiration between these two genre-leaping keyboard dynamos — who each perform in San Diego on the same night next week at separate concerts with their respective bands — easily transcends time.

“He’s an amazing young musician,” Corea, 78, said of Clayton, who performs a Wednesday Athenaeum Jazz at TSRI concert with his quartet.

“Gerald is one of the guys who inspires me when I hear him. He has his own way of doing it and finding his own voice. And he’s a very bright guy. I really like him a lot, and I love his playing.”

Clayton, 35, is even more effusive, to the point that he suggested this article should focus more on 22-time Grammy Award winner Corea than on him.

“Chick is a legend — the maestro! — and has been a huge inspiration for me since I was a teenager,” said four-time Grammy nominee Clayton of Corea, who performs Wednesday at the Balboa Theater with his band Trilogy.

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PREVIEW: Keyboard legend Chick Corea and rising star Gerald Clayton discuss their music and mutual admiration society2019-09-30T08:52:07-08:00

ARTICLE: La Jolla Music Society will celebrate 51st year with biggest season ever

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
July 7, 2019

How will the La Jolla Music Society top its recently concluded 50th anniversary season, which featured 34 performances and climaxed with the April opening of the nonprofit arts organization’s eye-popping, $82 million Conrad Prebys Center for the Performing Arts?

By presenting even more performances and expanding the range of programming in its eye-popping new performing arts center.

That expansion includes the debut of a new family concert series and a new lecture series that will be presented in collaboration with National Geographic. In addition, acclaimed classical music guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas will become the society’s first ambassador of education, a role that will see him spend three weeks in San Diego to perform at the center and do community outreach programs.

“This will be the biggest season we’ve ever had, and it will showcase the next step in our evolution,” said Leah Rosenthal, the society’s director of programming.

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ARTICLE: La Jolla Music Society will celebrate 51st year with biggest season ever2019-09-04T11:31:51-08:00