Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another upcoming concert....

The Goliards Quartet will perform music of the middle ages -1100-1600-in the Hibben Gallery at the San Diego Museum of Art from 1-3 pm on Saturday, December 27th.
With voice and multiple instruments, The Goliards will present sacred and secular medieval works of the season that hail from across Europe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Upcoming "crossovers"

While the SDEMS is taking a little break until its next concerts on January 25 and February 6, there are a few other interesting events coming up and we will try to post details about some of them on this blog.

Three concerts this weekend are interesting not only for their own sake, but also because they represent a musical crossover between two worlds. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra teams up with the Bach Collegium under the baton of Jung-Ho Pak for the usual Messiah, while the San Diego Symphony will be led by Nicholas McGegan in a program of baroque music and Messiah excerpts. And then on Sunday evening, the same San Diego Symphony, still under the baton of Mc Gegan will present the full-blown Messiah as well.

What will be interesting to watch and hear during these concerts - and maybe even compare if one gets the opportunity to hear them all - is how the two teams strike the balance between the "modern" tradition represented by the two orchestras using modern instruments and traditional or "romantic" interpretation styles and the so-called "Historically Informed Performance" style (HIP) brought by the Bach Collegium and Nick Mc Gegan.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the SDCO/Bach Collegium's Messiah production will be yet another crossover by fetauring - as advertised - "a dramatic video presentation of the great masterpieces of art." If the goal of this video presentation is to add some excitement for an audience that has already heard the Messiah way too often, may I humbly suggest that this team present Bach's Christmas Oratorio instead next year?
Laurent Planchon

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Remembrance of Robert Buzzard: June 1926-July 2008

Few early music lovers in San Diego did not know Robert Buzzard (Buzz), and those who did not know him personally were beneficiaries of his work on the board of SDEMS. We are very sorry to lose such a generous music enthusiast and friend.

Bob’s professional life centered on computers and engineering, but his great love (after family life) was music. Bob began playing recorders in the 1950’s and kept expanding his musical frontiers to include viola da gamba, guitar, lute, theorbo (his favorite), and most recently modern and baroque cello. He was an enthusiastic participant at many early music workshops across the country. A ceaseless proponent of amateur music, he shared his talent, instruments and music generously, and always encouraged beginners.

Wherever Bob settled, he was not long in joining or establishing an early music group to play with. He played with many small ensembles in and around San Diego. One such group for which he was the guiding light was dubbed the “Lunars” and has been meeting weekly for many years. He was steadfast in his attendance and commitment despite failing health and energy, and a true friend to all in the group. In additon, he played weekly with a group in Oceanside, and occasionally played cello with local community orchestras.

Bob barely survived a traumatic auto accident in 1990. His determination to overcome his resulting handicap and to continue his musical life has been an inspiration to us all.

He will be greatly missed and remembered by his friends.

Lynn Lipetzky

Friday, May 30, 2008

A wintry weekend on Mount Palomar

It was indeed a dark and stormy night as early musicians inched their way up South Grade Road towards the Mount Palomar sixth-grade camp last Friday. Rain, sleet and swirling fog made driving a challenge - and we were all relieved that everyone arrived without mishap.
Despite the fact that enrollment was slightly down this year, classes and activities were as enjoyable as ever. Our two new faculty members, viol players Rebekah Ahrendt and John Mark Rozendaal, were well received, and we welcomed return visits from Mark Davenport, Inga Funck, and of course Janet Beazley. Steve made T-shirts and tote bags which were eagerly snapped up, musical instruments changed hands, and CDs and sheet music were offered for sale.
The Grand Consort and Third Annual Crumhorn Conclave were the highlights of Saturday evening, and we were treated to a wonderful faculty concert on Sunday. But of course, every workshop has its little vignettes which stay in the mind long after the event is over - mine will be the sound of Laury Flora standing outside playing "reveille" on the cornetto at 7:30 on Sunday morning . . .
I was interested but not particularly surprised to discover on my return to San Diego that the temperatures for that weekend were some of the coldest ever recorded in May. I think we all experienced a new-found appreciation for the fact that the cabins are warm, hot water for showers is plentiful and hot beverages are in constant supply!
Next year, the workshop will revert to the weekend prior to Memorial Day (May 15-17). The theme will be the music of Spain and Portugal - and you are advised to bring shorts, sunglasses and mosquito repellent . . .

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

J.S. Bach - B minor Mass June 8-9

Bach Collegium San Diego Presents

Sunday 8 June 2008 at 4pm
Monday 9 June 2008 at 7pm
St James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church
743 Prospect Street, La Jolla 92037

Bach's monumental setting of the Latin Ordinary comes to life in the hands of conductor Ruben Valenzuela as he conducts the Bach Collegium San Diego and soloists in San Diegoss debut period instrument performance.

Patron: $60 (Reserved seating)
General: $35 (Non-reserved seating)
Student: $25

Ruben Valenzuela, conductor
Pierre Joubert, leader

Anne-Marie Dicce, soprano
Angela Young Smucker, alto
Vladimir Maric, tenor
John Polhamus, bass

Advance Tickets or Information: (619) 341-1726
Reserved:$60 General:$35 Student:$25
Children under 12: $12

Note: Discussing the B minor Mass: An Overview
Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 6pm (Following Evensong at 5pm)
St Peter's Episcopal Church (Parish Hall)
334 14th Street, Del Mar 92014

An informative discussion provided by music director Ruben Valenzuela in which he discusses the genesis, transmission, and reception of the B minor Mass, in addition to implications for performance practice.

Bach Collegium San Diego
P.O. Box 33754
San Diego, CA 92163 USA

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Courtly Noyse: Sunday, May 18th

The San Diego Early Music Society and the San Diego Museum of Art jointly present the “Old Masters” series highlighting local performers of early music. The concerts take place every other month on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m., upstairs in the Hibben Gallery in the Museum in Balboa Park. Admission to the Museum also admits you to the concerts.

May 18, 2008 - 2pm

Courtly Noyse will present a program of vocal and instrumental music of the Renaissance. Instruments may include recorder, viola da gamba, lute, harp, crumhorn, and psaltery. Members are Penelope Hawkins, Laury Flora, John Cassaboom, Vickie Jenkins, Jay Sachs, and Sandra Stram.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Scintillating Sounds

Local harpsichordist Takae Ohnishi treated SDEMS members to a positively scintillating performance at the season-end house concert, held in the home of a SDEMS patron. Ohnishi graduated from the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, and holds a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. She is currently Lecturer of Harpsichord at UCSD.

She opened the program with a nice pairing of two works by Johann Jakob Froberger: a Toccata in C major, followed by the Tombeau fait a Paris sur la mort de Monsieur Blancrocher. Ms. Ohnishi demonstrated nice control of articulation in the Toccata, a fine example of Froberger's progressive harmonic language. The Tombeau is arguably one of Froberger's most performed pieces, and deservedly so: this composition speaks a romantic language not heard for another two hundred years. Ms. Ohnishi played it with the abandon the composer directs, choosing to repeat the final section, saving the dramatic "fall" for the conclusion.

Ms. Ohnishi then collected four pieces from Jean-Philippe Rameau's Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin (ca. 1728) into a nice suite in A minor. Opening with an Allemande, taken at a very slow temp, the Courante and Sarabande built momentum to the concluding show piece, Les Trois Mains. Ms. Ohnishi played with a singing tone and a nice grasp for the poetry of the music.

Scarlatti sonatas are often used to demonstrate a harpsichordist's technical mastery: most of them dazzling trifles with lots of finger work. Ms. Ohnishi chose instead to program a pair that are less often heard, but that better showed Scarlatti's lyric side. The Sonata K208 is rare in that it has no "gimmics," just a beautiful and plaintive melody that starts solo, with a contrapuntal answer and then a tender development. It is a moving piece, nicely presented by Ms. Ohnishi. The second, Sonata K162, is even more rarely heard: initially a "sedate" piece with a surprise sparkle, providing a contrast between the tender and bold. It was refreshing to have two relative unknowns. She didn't have to strut her stuff with the Scarlatti, because the finale proved her mastery and intensity.

Antonio Soler's Fandango is one of the most Spanish pieces in the harpsichord repertoire; it just asks for castanets and (even better) a dancer! Relatively long and demanding, it can be the 18th century equivalent of Ravel's Bolero, both in its successes and failures at the hand of the performer. Ms. Ohnishi began perhaps just a tad slow, but she sustained and built momentum to a roaring climax. It was an exciting end to a very nicely balanced program that both pleased the senses and satisfied the soul.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When there’s room in the heart, there’s room in the house.

"When there’s room in the heart, there’s room in the house."

This is the inspiration and theme for the newly commissioned opera for San Diego North Coast Singers. Riding the current wave in the world of children’s choirs, North Coast Singers joins the Children’s Chorus of Washington and the renowned Los Angeles Children’s Chorus as front-runners in developing and performing a children’s opera.

Jung-Ho Pak, conductor of the San Diego Chamber Orchestra wrote,“I believe this opera project is an excellent vehicle for exposing children firsthand to the wonderful world of opera. They will discover the power of being part of a full theatrical production. This is a rare opportunity for a San Diego arts organization to produce an important addition to the children's choir repertoire. I have full confidence that Sally Dean will be able to execute this project with great skill and enthusiasm.”

The chorus’s Board of Directors has commissioned New York composer, Cary Ratcliff, to write an opera based on the award-winning book, Mice and Beans, by acclaimed San Diegan author, Pam Muñoz Ryan. The opera will feature the children’s chorus in an innovative, audience-friendly format. Even those who do not think of themselves as opera buffs will be swept away by the comedic characters and splendid music. Ratcliff is a brilliant choral composer and looks forward to setting this piece specifically for the excellent children’s chorus. The world premier of Mice and Beans: The Opera, will debut at the Birch North Park Theater in San Diego on April 26th and 27th, 2008. In the fall of 2008, NCS hopes to revive the opera for school children in San Diego County.

To order tickets call 619-239-8836 or visit
The Timmstrom Foundation is a long-time donor to and supporter of SDEMS.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lucidarium - April 28th

Lucidarium La Istoria de Purim io ve Racconto“La Istoria de Purim io ve Racconto”

Monday, April 28, 2008 - 7:30 P.M.
Congregation Beth El, Jacobs Family Community Hall

Lucidarium is one of Italy's premier early music ensembles devoted to the music and poetry of the Jews in Renaissance Italy. It makes its San Diego debut with “La Istoria de Purim,” a richly-nuanced program of rarely heard repertoire which has delighted audiences and critics from Budapest to San Francisco. Lucidarium won the award for musical creation from the European Association for Jewish Culture.

For more information, visit The San Diego Jewish Music Festival website.

Monday, April 7, 2008

40th Annual Weekend Workshop

40th Annual Weekend Workshop
May 23-25, 2008
Early Music of Germany and the Netherlands

Our workshop is held at the San Diego County School Camp on Palomar Mountain, in the State Park, and near the 200 inch Hale Telescope. This beautiful mountain valley provides fresh air, hiking trails, and even a fishing pond close by. You will be provided warm dormitory sleeping facilities and wholesome family style meals.

Check-in begins at 4:00PM on Friday. You will receive class assignments and schedule at that time, and can set up in your favorite dorm. We will have potluck snacks only on Friday evening, followed by informal playing and singing. Join the group in the main hail or form your own ensemble. Meals and Classes begin Saturday morning at 8:00AM. We will have a conducted “grand consort” for all on Saturday evening.

Faculty includes Rebekah Ahrendt (viols), Janet Beasley (recorders and flute), Inga Func (recorders), Richard Glen (lute & guitar), John mark Rozendaal (viols).

Return of the Crumhorns: the Third Annual California Crumhorn Conclave will take over the main hall for a bit of fun and music of the (mostly) capped double reed variety on Saturday night. Bring your crumhorns, cornamusen, racketts and dulcians to play and share. We again will have Madrigal and Part Song singing on Saturday afternoon. The workshop will wind up by 4:00 PM on Sunday, after class “show and tell” (optional) and a concert by the faculty.

We will have a table for your sale/trade of instruments, sheet music and used CDs. The cost for this exciting weekend is $225 for SDEMS members and early bird registrants, $235 for non-members, and $100 for students. Details, including a map and the application can be downloaded here (600K).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Artistic Director Laurent Planchon in the Spotlight

San Diego's Union Tribune newspaper featured an article by music critic Valerie Scher about SDEMS artistic director Laurent Planchon in today's paper. The focus of this article is Laurent's "moonlighting" in producing solo harpsichord recitals. We have, in fact, hosted many of the the World's top harpsichordists here in San Diego, including probably of the two top young rising stars today: Mahan Esfahani and Benjamin Alard.

As the article mentions, Laurent has been coordinating about three concerts per year. The final one for this season is will be by a personal favorite of mine, Laurent Stewart. While Stewart is not particularly well known in North America, this will be his third concert in San Diego. Seats for that recital are filling up fast and it looks like we will have a full house: literally.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April 9th: The Goliards at the Carmel Valley Library

April’s free family music program sponsored by The Friends of the Carmel Valley Library will be presented on Wed., April 9th at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s community room. It will feature the Goliards, who will present a program of authentic medieval music on period instruments. The music comes mainly from the 13th and 14th centuries, and includes bouncy dances, drinking songs, and hauntingly beautiful devotional and art melodies. The performers will be vocalist Wendy Greene, flutist Janet Parish-Whittaker, and harpist David Parish-Whittaker.

Wendy Greene is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, sung for many years in the San Diego Opera Chorus, and presently teaches voice at San Diego City College and Southwestern College. Janet Parish-Whittaker has a master’s degree in performance (flute) from UCSD, and is also a composer. David Parish-Whittaker is a specialist on ancient brass-strung harps and has performed with several early music groups.

The Library is located at 3919 Townsgate Drive in Carmel Valley. For further information call (858) 552-1668.

The popular Athenaeum Mini-Concerts series is now in its 38th season of free one-hour concerts in La Jolla. At the same time, the Athenaeum San Diego Mini-Concerts continue downtown at the Lyceum Theater and in adjacent Horton Square for the 35th year. Performances at both venues feature some of the finest local musicians and ensembles in San Diego. Concerts alternate between the two venues. fall through spring, except for a break during the winter holidays.
Mini-concerts take place every other Monday at Noon and last about an hour.

The Goliards will be performing at noon on on April 21 at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla and April 28 downtown at the Lyceum Theater.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Evening in Versailles

It could argued that there never was such a thing as a "harpsichord concert." Recitals for the masses probably didn't happen. Rather, the harpsichord (and most solo instruments, other than the organ) was an instrument of the salon. There is no doubt that the best way to hear the harpsichord is in a salon environment.

SDEMS board members Laurent Planchon and Kemer Thomson have been producing solo harpsichord events for several years now, most frequently in a wonderful private home already filled with antique instruments. The last concert for this season will return to that favored venue, with the return of French harpsichordist Laurent Stewart.

Noted for his fiery, sensitive and passionate interpretations of music of the Grand Siècle, acclaimed French harpsichordist Laurent Stewart returns to San Diego to conclude the season with a recital of pieces by the great 'musicians to the King' Louis XIV Jean-Henry D’Anglebert, Louis Marchand and Antoine Forqueray and rarely heard Rameau’s ‘pieces de clavecin en concert’.

Friday, April 11, 7.30pm
Private residence in Rancho Santa Fe
Suggested donation $20 general/$10 students

For more information
To reserve seats, send email to Kemer Thomson or call him at 619-840-3416.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

April 20: buy your tea ticket on line

We've just added a button to our website to enable you to purchase your tea ticket on line. Go to , click on "Tickets" to the left of your screen, and you will be taken straight there.
(Why not buy a ticket for next week's Ensemble Rebel concert while you're at it? There is a wonderful snippet of video on our home page which gives you a sneak preview of the treats in store. All this, and recorder/flute virtuoso Mathias Maute as well . . .)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monthly Musicmakers

Come to the San Diego Early Music Society's Monthly Musicmakers

Free and open to all!

On the fourth Saturday of the month, all interested musicians are invited to come sing and play. For our meeting, we will gather at the ClairemontCommunity Center from 1:00 until 5:00 on Saturday , March 22.

Come and bring any music you would like to share, as well as your singing voices, viols, lutes, recorders, sackbuts, jaw harps, crumhorns, or anything else you can use to make some music! This is free of charge to everyone. Email your friends! Don't email your enemies!

Contact Steve Hendricks at 619-459-4522 or for more information.

The Clairemont Community Center is located at

4731 Clairemont Drive at Lakehurst Avenue
(In the ClairemontTownSquareShopping Center)
San Diego, CA 92117-2704
Phone: (858) 581-4111

View Larger Map

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Reviews

I have a personal blog, Midlife Music Musings, that includes a number of recent CD reviews. Here's a summary of some of the latest that relate to early music:
  • Mozart Sonatas & Rondos
    Marcia Hadjimarkos, Fortepiano
    Avie, AV 2138 (2007)
    Her performances are full of life and creativity, with her own distinctive personality stamped on them. The sound of this instrument is glorious: this is the fortepiano I would want, if I could afford one of Clarke's instruments.
  • Mondonville: Pieces for Harpsichord and Voice or Violin; Sonata No. 4
    Shannon Mercer, soprano and Luc Beauséjour, Harpsichord
    Analekta AN 2 9920
    Opus 5 is really beautiful music, in fact, memorable music. The longest piece, Protector meus, is darkly dramatic, with inventive harmonic twists that make one sit up and pay attention.
  • Johann Jacob Froberger: Complete Fantasias - Complete Canzonas - Toccatas
    Bob van Asperen, Cipri Organ of S. Martino, Balogna (1556)
    Aeolus AE-10501 (2006)
    However, it seems that van Asperen is often imprecise in his meter and makes little use of articulation. As a result, I often find it difficult to follow the voices, even with score in hand.
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
    Luc Beauséjour, Harpsichord
    Naxos 8.557625-26 (2007)
    Beauséjour's approach is very uncomplicated and tempi are on the brisk side: it is a very "pure" reading. For those who find Hantaï excessive, this might have a lot of appeal.
  • C.P.E. Bach Württemberg Sonatas
    Miklós Spányi, Clavichord
    BIS-CD-1424 (2007)
    Volume 17 of the complete solo keyboard works: one of the best, to-date.
  • Mr. Abel's Fine Airs
    Susanne Heinrich, viola da gamba
    Hyperion CDA67628 (2007)
    This has turned out to be a marvelous recording on all three fronts: the music is memorable, the sound is top notch, and the performance has just the right combination of heartfelt simplicity that seems to live up to Abel's reputation. I very much like Heinrich's warm and enthusiastic, yet sensible approach.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

April 20: Tea and Music

This year we are look for new ways to branch out. You might have noticed the fabulous venue for the February El Mundo concert: the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. I'm sorry I missed a great concert; people I talked to loved both the venue itself and the change of location.

We are trying out another new idea on April 20th: a traditional English-style afternoon tea, followed by a "command performance" by John Holloway, Jaap ter Linden, and Lars Ulrik Mortensen. This renown trio are performing a program titled “Madcap, Red Priest, and Angel" in La Jolla the evening before. The recital following the tea (a rather elaborate affair itself) will to a much more intimate audience. This is being held at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego. I checked out this venue last month: the hotel, which is located behind the Civic Center and nearby Horton Plaza, is elegant in an appropriately baroque way.

The $65 question is: will people come downtown on a Sunday afternoon and spend over three times our usual ticket price to enjoy a concert in a more upscale and intimate environment? Will we get a different audience? The SDEMS board discussed this at length and we finally voted in favor, in agreement that to reach new audiences, we need to try new things. As for myself, it sounds like a lot of fun: a great excuse to dress up, drive downtown, and feel a bit like the rich-and-famous.

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Westgate Hotel
1055 Second Avenue • San Diego, CA 92101
Tea from 2:30pm, onwards • Concert at 4:00pm
Information: 619-226-4266
$65 per person

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Transformation of Media

Welcome to the first entry for the San Diego Early Music Society's new blog! Like music organizations around the World, SDEMS is discovering that the Internet provides an ideal medium for getting the word out—a better way that saves not only in wasted paper, but in the cost of mailing newsletters that are often merely glanced at before seeing the trash heap! The ones and zeros of the Digital Age are replacing paper media everywhere, redefining the venerable newspaper and magazine. And so, it is our intent to replace our newsletter with this blog.

Actually, moving to the blog format is a natural progression. We retired the newsletter in its paper form last year; instead, we posted PDF versions of the newsletter on our web site. This really was redundant in the truest sense of the word: posting one electronic digest on another. Furthermore, newsletters take a great deal of work to create, yet circumstantial evidence suggests that they are infrequently read. Blogs encourage us to produce a steady stream of smaller articles, lessening the editorial burden, and also encourage readers to give us feedback. Rather than redundantly overlaying our excellent web site, which can be counted on to provide up-to-date information about the organization and upcoming programs, the blog format is ideally suited to providing a different perspective: reviews, commentary, observations, and experiences that we feel may be of interest to the local early music community. Ultimately, we hope that this new medium will help foster interest, grow the community, and contribute to the success of our remarkable organization.

Kemer Thomson