Affordable, high-quality, cultural and music programs in San Francisco; classical music, chamber music, opera, broadway, piano, jazz, theater

2021 Season and Calendar

January

Jack Cimo, guitar

Saturday January 9, 7:30 p.m. To be rescheduled

Jack Cimo is a classically-trained Spanish guitarist known for his powerful presence, beautiful tone, and exciting renditions. Having played the guitar since he was a toddler, his devotion to the instrument has directed the course of his life. He has over 20 years of performing experience, and now calls San Luis Obispo, California home.

He has worked with Grammy-award winning musicians such as Steve Suvada, William Kanengiser, and Pepe Romero; and has captivated audiences in Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Costa Rica, and Ireland to name a few. He has been a finalist or prizewinner in various competitions, including winning USC’s Presser Award and taking 3rd in the Sierra Nevada Guitar Festival. He was recently one of two Americans to be invited to the prestigious Joann Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition in Buffalo, NY.

Sing Out Strong!

A Sunset Community Music and Arts Event

January 23, 4 p.m. Free Admission! To be rescheduled

Like visions of places visited long ago, we all have songs that remain in our hearts. Maybe the melody, the lyrics, or a special person helped place them there. Perhaps the song made us laugh, or cry, or want to dance……

Unforgettable !

Celebrating its 4th season at Sunset Music & Arts, the 14-member vocal ensemble Sing Out Strong! will perform songs from Broadway, the Great American songbook, folk tunes, and more. Musical memories that have earned for us the title, Unforgettable.

Joseph Kingma, piano

Saturday January 30, 7:30 p.m. To be rescheduled

American pianist Joseph Kingma, praised by the New York Concert Review as, “[coaxing] the listener into the music’s poetry from the very first notes of his Liszt, showing the command of a master and a composer’s insight…held the audience spellbound,” enjoys a prolific national and international career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. He won first prize in the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition, sponsored by the American Liszt Society, and has won awards in the Cincinnati World Competition and Sorantin Young Artist International Competition. As a recitalist, he has performed on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago, the Yamaha Artist Services Performance Series in New York City, the Dorothy MacKenzie Price Piano Series in Toledo, the Music Institute of Chicago, the Timucua Arts Foundation in Orlando, the Good Shepherd International Concert Series in Minneapolis, L’Oasis Musicale in Montreal, and many others. He performs with many orchestras, including the Monroe Symphony, Manassas Symphony, Palm Beach Atlantic Symphony, Spring Hill Orchestra, and Brazos Chamber Orchestra. He performs regularly as a chamber musician with faculty colleagues and appears as a guest artist with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival. Additionally, several of his performances have been featured on Chicago’s classical music radio station, 98.7 WFMT.

Joseph is the Coordinator of the Keyboard Division and Assistant Professor of Piano at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he teaches piano and related courses. He also teaches select advanced students through the PBA preparatory department. His students have won awards and competitions and he prepares them to perform at the highest professional level. He regularly receives invitations from music schools, universities, and music teacher associations across the country to present masterclasses, adjudicate competitions, and perform recitals.

February

Angela Kraft Cross, organ

Saturday February 6, 7:30 p.m. To be rescheduled

Angela Kraft Cross, San Francisco Bay Area organist, pianist and composer, graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in 1980 with bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Organ Performance. She then earned her Doctor of Medicine degree at Loma Linda University, where she subsequently completed her residency in ophthalmology. In 1993, she completed her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the College of Notre Dame with Thomas LaRatta. Her organ teachers have included Louis Robilliard, Marie-Louise Langlais, Sandra Soderlund, S. Leslie Grow, William Porter and Garth Peacock. In 2001, she was awarded the Associateship credential of the American Guild of Organists (AAGO) after passing rigorous playing and written examinations. She has studied composition with Pamela Decker.  Dr. Kraft Cross has performed extensively on both organ and piano, having given over five hundred concerts across the United States, in Canada, England, Holland, France, Hungary, Korea, Lesotho and Guam, including such venues as Notre Dame Cathedral, St. Sulpice and the Madeleine in Paris, Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Thomas Church in New York City, Methuen Memorial Music Hall and Trinity Church in Boston, E. Power Biggs’ organ at Harvard, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral in London, and the Mormon Tabernacle. She has been featured soloist with local Bay Area ensembles; Master Sinfonia Orchestra, Soli Deo Gloria, Sine Nomine, Masterworks Chorale, Viva la Musica, The Choral Project, and the San Jose Symphonic Choir as well as Seattle’s Philharmonia Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the Skagit Symphony in northern Washington.

Samantha Cho, piano

Saturday February 20, 7:30 p.m. To be rescheduled

Born in Los Angeles, pianist Samantha Cho is active professionally as a performer and educator. Her recent appearances include Noontime Concert Series (San Francisco), Classical King FM (Seattle), Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert (Chicago), Harbor College (Los Angeles), and more. Her 2020 engagements include solo recitals in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a radio appearance on Chicago’s “Live from WFMT” with CSO cellist Brant Taylor and violinist Florin Parvulescu, and her debut in Korea’s prestigious chamber music venue, Sejong Cultural Center. Passionate about chamber music, Samantha has collaborated with members of the San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra; and she has also performed as soloist with Kenwood Symphony as winner of the 19th Annual Master’s Concerto & Aria Competition. Her performances have been broadcast on WFMT (Chicago), Classical KingFM (Seattle), and Arte TV (Seoul).

Also passionate in music education, Samantha joined the piano faculty at Los Angeles Pierce College in 2019, and she has coached pre-college chamber music groups at San Francisco Conservatory of Music since 2016.

March

Francesca Kahlifa, piano

Saturday March 13, 7:30 p.m. To be rescheduled

Italian- Egyptian pianist Francesca Khalifa was the winner of the Ferrara International Piano Festival in 2014, awarded by famed pianist and musicologist Paul Badura-Skoda.

Active soloist and chamber musician, her recent performances include solo recitals and chamber music concerts both in Europe (Claudio Abbado Theatre in Ferrara, Piccolo Coccia Theatre in Novara, Eglise de Saint Merry in Paris, Kapelzaal in Leiden, De Tobbe Theatre in Rotterdam) and in the United States (Saklad Auditorium and Greenfield Hall in New York, Renee Weiler Concert hall in New York, Spectrum NYC, Brooklyn Center for the Arts. Concert Hall and Barness Recital Hall in Tampa, Art Gallery and Rehearsal Hall at the University of Central Florida).

Francesca is currently on Faculty at the Greenwich House School of Music in New York City and had previously served as Adjunct Instructor at NYU Steinhardt and Piano and Ensemble Assistant Professor at the USF School of Music in Tampa. She has been the founder and the Artistic Director of the community concerts series Classical Thursdays at the Brooklyn Center for the Arts and is currently the Director of the Ferrara Piano Festival at St. John’s in the Village concert series in New York.

Her mentors are the Cuban pianist and pedagogue German Diez (1924-2014) and pianist Ena Bronstein-Barton, both former pupil of Claudio Arrau. Her playing is also very much influenced and shaped by the counsel of pianist, friend and mentor, Marcus Baban. Her research on German Diez is at the base of a documentary that is currently in the production phase.

April

Naeim Rahmani, guitar

Date: Saturday April 24, 7:30 p.m.

Award winning guitarist Naeim Rahmani was born in Isfahan, Iran and immigrated to the United States as a refugee in 2003. Presently based in Seattle, Naeim completed his Master’s degree with Rene Izquierdo at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Naeim has performed throughout the US and internationally. He enjoys bringing his music to small community or arthouse spaces where he can interact with the audience. His performance venues have included everything from private homes and community churches, to a renovated industrial space in Oaxaca, Mexico, ancient churches along the Camino Santiago in Spain, and arthouses in Berlin. In all of these places Naeim brings his deeply personal style to create an intimate musical experience for the audience.

Outside of his performance career Naeim is the director of the Seattle-Isfahan Guitar Project. This collaborative endeavor was created as a way to forge connections between musicians in Seattle and in Naeim’s home town of Isfahan, Iran.

San Francisco Girls Chorus

Date: Friday April 30, 7:30 p.m.

Established in 1978, the mission of the San Francisco Girls Chorus is to create outstanding performances featuring the unique and compelling sound of young women’s voices through an exemplary program committed to education and visionary leadership in the development of this art form.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices fused with expressiveness and drama. As a result, the Chorus vibrantly performs 1,000 years of choral masterworks from plainchant to the most challenging and nuanced contemporary works created expressly for them in programs that are as intelligently designed as they are enjoyable and revelatory to experience.

The Chorus School offers a program of unparalleled excellence, designed to take young girls from their first introduction to the art of choral singing through advanced choral/vocal instruction. This comprehensive music education includes the study and development of choral artistry, vocal technique, music theory, music history, and performing style. The discipline, teamwork, and concentration young girls learn in the Chorus School rehearsals and performances instill in them the values necessary for high achievement in music and in life.

The Chorus School Level III is an ensemble of approximately 50 girls ages 8-13, which performs music for holiday events, festivals, dinners, luncheons, auctions, and other events.

May

Janis Mercer, piano and Daniel Lewin, violin

Date: Saturday May 1, 7:30 p.m.

Janis Mercer is an American pianist/composer living in San Francisco.  As a solo pianist and accompanist, Janis Mercer’s interest in the music of the Second Viennese School has continued unabated since the early 1980’s.  With her ensemble, schwungvoll!, she received funding from the Zellerbach Family Fund for a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of Webern’s death in 1995.   In 2005 she commemorated the 60th anniversary of his death with the commissioning of student and professional composers to write music “completing” Webern’s unfinished children’s piano cycle. These pieces were performed as part of concerts commissioning Webern’s death, in San Francisco and Spokane, Washington.  She was invited to compose a chamber work and to attend the 2005 kofomi (KompositionForumMittersill) commemorative concerts staged throughout the town of Mittersill, Austria, where Webern was killed. 

Daniel Lewin has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.  He has an unusually diverse career as a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster and teacher. He was Concertmaster with the Symphony of the United Nations, Solisti New York, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, Charleston Symphony, Nevada Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, and Cedar Rapids Symphony.  He made his Carnegie Hall concerto debut with the New York Youth Symphony.  He has played with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, the Spoleto Festival, in both Charleston, S.C. and Spoleto Italy, and toured Greece as a member of the American Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Lewin was Professor of Violin and Viola at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he taught both undergraduates and graduate music students. He served as the Concertmaster of the Nevada Symphony and was a founding member of the Nevada Fine Arts Trio.  He spent a season as Visiting Artist in Residence of Violin at the University of Memphis where he was a member of the Pyramid String Trio. Mr. Lewin was also the Concertmaster of the West Virgina Symphony and first violinist of the Montclaire String Quartet.  His teaching credentials include the College of Charleston, S.C., and the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C.  Mr. Lewin currently resides in the East Bay, where he teaches privately, performs in various chamber ensembles, and is the Director of the Trinity Chamber Concert Series.

José López, piano: “The Judaic Muse”

JoseLopez

Date: Saturday May 8, 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1750 29th Avenue, San Francisco
Tickets: $20 General, $15 Seniors/Students  Buy Tickets

More Information Video

Program: Mr. López presents “The Judaic Muse,” featuring the music of Judith Shatin, Fanny Mendelssohn, Ferdinand Hiller, and Charles Alkan.

José López is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Keyboard Studies Program at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, President of the South Florida Chapter of the American Liszt Society, and Honorary Secretary of the United Kingdom’s Alkan Society. He has performed throughout the United States, Italy and Central and South America with orchestras, solo recitals, and chamber groups in concert halls, summer festivals such as the Music Festival of the Hamptons in New York and the Killington Music Festival in Vermont. Active throughout South Florida, he has been a featured performer in the Florida International University’s Music Festival; ISCM New Music Miami Festival, the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival, Coral Gables’ Mainly Mozart Series, University of Miami’s Miami Festival, and as founder and co-director of the Deering Estate at Cutler’s “Chamber Music Series.”

José López and William Wellborn, piano 4-hands: Beethoven2020 Project

Date: Sunday May 9, 7 p.m.
Venue: Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1750 29th Avenue, San Francisco
Tickets: $20 General, $15 Seniors/Students  Buy Tickets

More Information Video

All Beethoven program, featuring works for solo piano and piano 4-hands!

William Wellborn enjoys an active career as a pianist, teacher and lecturer, and has performed and lectured widely over four continents. He received a MM (New England Conservatory) and DMA (University of Texas) in Performance, and a BM in Piano Pedagogy (University of Texas), where his teachers included Gregory Allen, Patricia Zander, and Nancy Garrett, and two leaders in the field of piano pedagogy- Amanda Vick Lethco and Martha Hilley. He has also received coaching from John Perry, Leon Fleisher, Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Adam Wibrowski, Andrzej Jasinski, and Jerome Lowenthal. Guest artist appearances include the New Orleans Institute for the Performing Arts, the Paderewski Festival, the American Liszt Society, the Great Romantics Festival in Hamilton, Canada, the Chopin chez George Sand festival de piano in La Châtre, France, the Três Séculos de Piano series in Rio de Janeiro, and the Festival du Chablisien in Chablis, France. In 2004 he had the honor of presenting an all-Liszt program on Liszt’s piano at Hofgärtnerei Museum in Weimar, and in 2009 he presented a Haydn program at the composer’s birthplace in Rohrau, Austria. Orchestral appearances include the Austin Symphony, the Austin Chamber Ensemble, the Laredo Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, the Redwoods Symphony, the Monterey Symphony, and the Sudeten Philharmonie in Walbrzych, Poland.

José López is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Keyboard Studies Program at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, President of the South Florida Chapter of the American Liszt Society, and Honorary Secretary of the United Kingdom’s Alkan Society. He has performed throughout the United States, Italy and Central and South America with orchestras, solo recitals, and chamber groups in concert halls, summer festivals such as the Music Festival of the Hamptons in New York and the Killington Music Festival in Vermont. Active throughout South Florida, he has been a featured performer in the Florida International University’s Music Festival; ISCM New Music Miami Festival, the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival, Coral Gables’ Mainly Mozart Series, University of Miami’s Miami Festival, and as founder and co-director of the Deering Estate at Cutler’s “Chamber Music Series.”

Susan Merdinger, piano

Date: Sunday May 16, 7 p.m.

American Pianist Susan Merdinger has been internationally acclaimed in prestigious newspapers and journals for her stunning performances. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described her recital as a “daring, enormously joyous presentation which captured and transfixed the audience”. Fanfare Magazine ( March/April 2014) declared that her “Carnival” CD was “exquisitely detailed and full of life”, likening her playing to that of legendary pianists Leonard Bernstein, Annie Fischer and Nadia Reisenberg. Among her many honors, was selected as an Honored Artist of The American Prize in 2019, and is a First Prize Winner of the 2012 (Professional Solo) and 2017 (Professional Piano Duo) Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, First Prize Winner of the 2013 International Music Competition of France, a Winner of the Dewar’s Young Artists Award in Music (presented by the late Marvin Hamlisch), the Artists International Young Musicians Competition, the Artists International Distinguished Winners Prize, the IBLA Grand Prize Competition “Special Liszt Award”, and the Masterplayers International Music Competition. She is also a laureate of the prestigious Harveys Leeds International Piano Competition, Montreal International Concours de Musique, William Kappell International Piano Competition and Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. Ms. Merdinger is the recipient of  Gold Medals in the Global Music Awards for her CD recordings “American Melting Pot” and “French Fantasy”. In Fall 2019 she was awarded Best Classical Album in the Clouzine international Music Awards. All of her recordings have received glowing reviews in publications such as American Record Guide, Classical Sentinel, Audiophile Audition, Fanfare Magazine, The Whole Note, The Hyde Park Herald, Classical Candor, and the Audio-Video Club of Atlanta.

Gayatri Venkatesan (soprano) in concert

Gayatri

Date: Saturday May 22, 7:30 p.m.

Ms. Gayatri Venkatesan recently graduated from San Jose State University.  During her time there, she actively participated in the San Jose State Opera Theater program, where she played roles such as Eurydice (Orpheus in the Underworld), Maria (Westside Story), and Marie (The Daughter of the Regiment).  She has also participated in the Opera Chorus at Silicon Valley Community Opera production of Madame Butterfly in Spring of 2015  Additionally, she has been singing with the choir at the Union Church of Cupertino under the direction of Dr. Ross Hoksbergen since June of 2016.

June

Zēlos Quartet

Date: Saturday June 5, 7:30 p.m.

The ZēLOS QUARTET is dedicated to performing a wide array of repertoire ranging from underrepresented contemporary works to transcriptions from the baroque, classical, and romantic eras. Committed to performing on saxophones that fit the acoustical specifications of its inventor Adolphe Sax, the Zelos Quartet looks to connect with a variety of audiences to show the wide range of sounds and colors of the saxophone.

Zelos has participated in summer music festivals such as Festival South (Hattiesburg, MS) and the National Music Festival (Chestertown, MD), where they connected with local audiences through public performances in retirement homes, farmers markets, and house concerts. They have also been extensively coached by Dr. Michael Hernandez of the critically acclaimed Mana Quartet and participated in masterclasses by the award winning Verona String Quartet and Amethyst Quartet.

Based in San Jose, the quartet performs extensively around the San Francisco Bay Area. Zelos regularly performs for First Friday, Groupmuse, Art Exhibits, and Open Mics. They were also the only student led ensemble to be invited to play in the 2017 San Jose State University Kaleidoscope concert.

Recent awards of the Zelos Quartet include 1st place in the 2018 Frances Walton Competition, advancing the Nationals Finals of the upcoming MTNA Chamber Music competition and winning SJSU’s Concerto Competition and Music Study Club Competition.

John Smalley (baritone) and Janis Mercer (piano)

Schoenberg and his Students: Music by Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Eisler, Ullmann and Wellesz

Date: Sunday June 6, 7 p.m.

John Smalley, baritone, is a native of San Francisco. He received his B.A. in Classics from Santa Clara University and holds an M.A. and M.Phil. in Historical Musicology from Columbia University in New York, where he taught for six years.  He has lectured and performed as soloist throughout the Bay Area, including Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, numerous Bach cantatas, and Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together. He was awarded a prestigious 2009 Shenson Performing Arts Fellowship.

Janis Mercer is an American composer/pianist living in San Francisco. Her musical activities as composer, and pianist are closely interwoven. Her compositions range in size from 8-piece chamber ensemble to digitally realized fixed electronics; utilize timbres from voice to drum set; and employ styles from 12-tone technique to structured improvisation, microtonality to field recordings.  Ms. Mercer holds artist residencies at Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts, Ragdale, Centrum, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods.

July

August

September

Benji and Rita: Original Brazilian Music and Jazz Duo

Date: Saturday September 4, 7:30 p.m.

About Benji Kaplan: The son of a native Cuban percussionist father and a prominent American visual-artist mother, Benji Kaplan has followed his arts-filled upbringing with a particular focus upon the classical forms of Brazilian music. Fully informed not only in Brazilian Classical and popular music, but also by Western Classical music and Jazz, the emerging composer crafts his own brand of Contemporary Classical Brazilian music ingeniously spiced with the full gamut of his rich musical understanding. He beautifully expresses his unique vision with ensembles ranging from string quartets to wind ensembles of varying shapes and sizes. His most recent album – Chorando Sete Chores – features 13 pieces for acoustic guitar and wind quintet. Although they are through-composed, they are fully informed by his deep Brazilian and Jazz influences and provides a clear display of the brilliant fusion of elements that is at the core of his sweeping artistic vision. His previous album Uai Sô vividly demonstrates his enormous scope, combining strings, brass and woodwinds in various combinations ranging from seven to twelve instruments.

About Rita Figueiredo: The musical vein of the multimedia artist Rita Figueiredo began it’s pulse early on. At age 14, the young girl, born in São Paulo began to study voice. Graduating in 1995 from Liberated University of Music (ULM) in lyrical song(classical and operatic techniques of singing). (Linked to the Sao Paulo State Music School of Tom Jobim) (EMESP).

John Wilson, piano

Date: Sunday September 19, 7 p.m.

Hailed for his “Virtuosity” (Miami Herald), “elegance and energy” (Classical Miami Magazine), “inventiveness” (San Diego Tribune) and described as a “marvelous, musical mad scientist” (Music Critics Association of North America) American pianist John Wilson performs equally brilliantly as a solo recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral pianist. Most recently Wilson was featured in the San Francisco Symphony’s 2018 Carnegie Hall tour, under the direction of Mo. Michael Tilson Thomas, performing the solo pianoforte part to Stravinsky’s “Petrushka (1947). His playing was subsequently described as “brilliant” by the “Classical Voice” publication.

Wilson has performed extensively in North America, South America and Europe, in recital halls such as the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center and at The American Academy of Arts and Letters. As a soloist he has performed with the New World Symphony, Napa Valley Symphony Orchestra, and both the New Amsterdam Symphony and Orchestra Camerata Notturna in New York City. A top prize winner in international piano competitions, he most recently won the prize for the “Best Performance of an American Work” at the 2017 Liszt- Garrison International Piano Competition.

An avid chamber musician, he has appeared in chamber ensembles with musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, violin soloist Anthony Marwood, and San Diego Symphony where his pianism was described as “highly inventive” by the San Diego Tribune. He has performed in duo recital with violinist Joshua Bell numerous times, cellist Johannes Moser, and soprano Audra McDonald. He has additionally collaborated with violinist Gil Shaham, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein. Dedicated to contemporary music, Wilson has been sought after for numerous world premieres, performing on the U.S and World premieres of solo piano works by Michael Tilson Thomas Timo Andres, Judith Lang Zaimont, and ensemble works by Steve Reich, Reinbert de Leeuw, HK Gruber, and Bernd Deutsch.

As an ensemble musician he has performed with over one hundred conductors, including the some of the world’s leading conductors, such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Stéphane Denève, and John Williams. He has appeared as Guest Principal Keyboard with the San Francisco Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

Jason Chiu, piano

Date: Saturday September 25, 7:30 p.m.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason Chiu was a recent prize winner of the American Protege Piano and Strings Competition and was invited to perform in the winners’ concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. He has received a number of other top prizes including first place in the 2019 inaugural Bay Area Piano Competition, and a third-place award in the 2014 American Prize Competition for his recording of Chopin’s four Ballades. In his rendition of these major works for the piano, he displayed “many original interpretative ideas and a very individualistic way of listening,” according to the judges. While attending U.C. Berkeley, where he attained his B.A. in Music, Jason performed as a soloist with the University Symphony Orchestra, and was a recipient of the Eisner Award for achievement in the creative arts. He later earned his Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music studying with Sharon Mann. Recent appearances include solo performances in Seattle at Benaroya Hall and in San Francisco with Old First Concerts, as well as performances with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and the Saratoga Symphony. Jason maintains an active teaching studio from his home near Berkeley where he resides with his wife along with his two children.    

October

Lyle Sheffler, guitar

Date: Saturday October 9, 7:30 p.m.

International guitar soloist Lyle Sheffler began playing classical guitar at the age of seven and made his first public appearance at the age of eight. Acclaimed for his artistry, warm tone, and captivating programs, he has played at such esteemed venues as Carnegie Hall, Freight & Salvage Stadium, the Tilles Center, and the Hanoi Opera House, as well as numerous other concert halls around the globe. In addition to solo recitals, Lyle has performed as a concerto soloist with orchestras with Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Fantasia para un Gentilhombre” and Antonio Vivaldi’s Guitar Concerto in D Major.

In the fall of 2012, Lyle was invited to tour the Middle East and Asia with Celebrity Cruises as a solo classical guitarist. He was also selected to participate in the prestigious Ile de Ré International Guitar Festival in France, led by guitar virtuoso Philippe Villa in 2010. While in France, Lyle was hand picked to perform in a solo concert held open to the public, as well as to play first guitar in several different chamber ensembles. During the summer of 2009, Lyle was awarded the opportunity to participate in both the Iserlohn Classical Guitar Festival in Germany and the Polish Guitar Academy in Poznan, Poland. There, he performed both in ensembles and as a soloist. He has participated in master classes with many world-renowned artists including Manuel Barrueco, David Russell, and many others.

Lyle earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, where he studied under the tutelage of acclaimed guitar pedagogue Ray Chester. Lyle received his Masters of Music degree in classical guitar from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Guitar Foundation of America competition winner and Naxos recording artist Marc Teicholz and department chair David Tanenbaum. As a performer, Lyle has become an integral part of the San Francisco music community, both as a soloist and chamber musician. He also maintains a thriving teaching studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides classical guitar, Lyle is proficient on double bass, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, and lute. He looks forward to a future of sharing his love for the guitar with his audiences and students, alike.

Lyle Sheffler currently plays on a spruce double-top super concert guitar hand built by Jeroen Hilhorst.

Liana Paniyeva, piano

Liana Paniyeva

Date: Saturday October 16, 7:30 p.m.

Award winning pianist Liana Paniyeva has performed at international festivals in Norway, Hungary, Canada, Italy, South Africa and Israel. Liana performed three times at Carnegie Hall in New York City . Her solo recital in 2016 at the Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago was broadcast live on WFMT Radio. Ms. Paniyeva is the winner of the American Protégé International Competition of Romantic Music; Grand Prize at the Metropolitan International Piano Competition; and the winner of the AFAF Golden Era of Romantic Music International Competition. Liana Paniyeva was also awarded the Cargill Foundation Prize in the 2014 Scottish International Piano Competition in Glasgow, and became a prizewinner at the Iowa International Piano Competition in 2015 . In 2013-2015, Ms. Paniyeva was awarded the E.B. Storrs Piano Scholarship from the Musical Club of Hartford. Liana earned Third Prize at the International Competitions in Memory of E. Gilels, First Prize at the International Competition in Memory of Prokofiev, and Second Prize at the International Competition in Memory of A. Karamanov. In 2008, Liana won First Prize in the “Music World” International Competition in Italy. In Israel Ms. Paniyeva won a prize in memory of Bracha Eden for a most impressive performance during the competition ” The Voice of Music ” Jerusalem . Liana graduated from the Donetsk Music Academy in Ukraine, and went on to earn her Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music in 2011. Her career continues with recitals in Hungary, Israel, Ukraine, USA, England, Syria , Canada , South Africa and Norway. Ms. Paniyeva finished her Artist Diploma at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford . Most recently, Liana played in concert halls of Scotland, South Africa, and in multiple states of the USA including Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Chicago Cultural Center , Epiphany Church in Downtown of Washington DC , Chicago Public Library , Grand Country Concert Series in Colorado , Jamestown Piano association and many more.

Frank Huang, piano and Lin He, violin in concert: Beethoven2020 Project

Date: Saturday October 23, 7:30 p.m.

Frank Huang is an Assistant Professor of Piano at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Previously, he served as a faculty member at The College of Wooster and The Cleveland Institute of Music. Described by New York Concert Review as a “thoughtful and accomplished performer” and that his playing was “impressive for its maturity and refinement,” Mr. Huang has gained international recognition for his artistry and technical command. Others have also acknowledged his talents, as the Chopin Foundation of the United States, Northwest Chapter has commented that “Huang plays with authority and panache” while El Comerico of Lima, Peru praised his interpretation of Mozart’s Piano Concerto, K.482 “with the utmost sensitivity.” Mr. Huang’s performances have led him throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Such notable venues include Weill Hall, Carnegie Hall, Benaroya Hall (Seattle), US Embassy in Warsaw, Zelazowa Wola (Warsaw), Gijon International Piano Festival (Spain), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Holland Music Sessions, Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Dame Myra Recital Series at Chicago’s Cultural Center, Lincoln Center in New York, and St. Martin in the Fields, London, UK. Mr. Huang’s concerts have also been featured on radio and television broadcasts in various cities across the United States and abroad.

Violinist Lin He made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in November 2014, after a performance there earlier that year with principal players from the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra in orchestral setting. Over the past seasons, he performed the Korngold Concerto with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Shippensburg Symphony and the Sibelius Concerto with the Lake Charles Symphony. Inspired by the complete Beethoven Sonatas and complete Mozart Sonatas for Violin and Piano in the past two season, 2018-2019 season of concerts will include Schubert Complete Music for Violin and Piano and complete Brahms Sonatas for Violin and Piano in multiple venues including the PianoForte Foundation Concert Series in Chicago; chamber recitals as the violinist of Caladium Piano Trio; violin soloist of the Bruch Scottish Fantasy with the Sonoma Philharmonic Orchestra; solo recital and masterclass at University of Oklahoma and Northern Illinois University; series of concerts and masterclasses in mainland China and Taiwan. He has presented recitals at universities across the United States and China. Most recently, he shared stage with Shanghai String Quartet and violinist Charles Castleman; performed solo recitals and gave master classes at Arizona State University, Florida State University, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of Houston, University of Las Vegas, University of North Texas and University Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

November

Duo Smirnov, piano 4-hands

Date: Saturday November 6, 7:30 p.m.

Duo Smirnov is a Piano Show by the family couple of musicians, Angelika and Anton. They perform original, classical, jazz, and crossover works. Their repertoire ranges from classical and romantic era to modern pop with a comedy twist. Duo Smirnov carefully choose pieces for their show to keep listener’s attention until the very last note of the concert! Previously successful soloists, they have decided to unite and expand their style into something new, adding more creativity and positive energy to the piano recital. Together with an extensive performer’s career, the couple working on the album in crossover genre which they plan to release in 2019. Duo leaning towards the quality of music and show regardless music styles they perform in!

Brazzissimo!

Date: Saturday November 13, 7:30 p.m.

BRAZZISSIMO is a ten-piece brass chamber music ensemble.  You may well ask, “What exactly is a brass chamber ensemble?”  Well, it’s a fascinating combination of four trumpets (including piccolo trumpet, various pitched trumpets and flugelhorn), four trombones (including euphonium), French horn and a tuba which comprise this captivating and exciting music ensemble. 

We perform a variety of music especially arranged or composed for this brass ensemble medium, all of which include arrangements of classical, jazz, Latin and contemporary works. 

​Our musicians, past and present, represent some of the finest brass players in the San Francisco Bay Area region.  In addition to our ensemble’s responsibilities, individually we perform in orchestras, bands, smaller chamber groups, and often freelance.  Our continuing goal is to present the most enjoyable and memorable concert experiences possible.

Olson/De Cari Duo

Date: Saturday November 20, 7:30 p.m.

The Olson/De Cari Duo, a husband-and-wife ensemble, is dedicated to expanding the repertoire for classical guitar and voice, deriving inspiration from their eclectic backgrounds in both science and the arts.

The Duo’s unique approach to song performance draws on Gioia’s expertise as both a classical singer and a theatre artist, and John’s diverse musical background and affinity for ensemble performance. Their innovative repertoire includes many pieces written for them, including compositions from their Science/Music Commissioning Project, which seeks to celebrate the science-informed worldview and illuminate the human side of science through song.

NYlon Review described their performance as “superb . . . served up with style and elegance,” and the Science Friday Initiative noted that “the Olson/De Cari Duo straddle science and art gloriously.”

Their new CD, Eve’s Diary, released in Fall 2018, features new compositions and arrangements commissioned by the Duo, including song cycles by David Leisner and Frank Wallace, arrangements of Jobim songs by João Luiz, and arrangements of theatre songs by Clarice Assad.

December

Laura Klein Trio

Date: Saturday December 11, 7:30 p.m.

Laura Klein (pianist/composer) classically trained but deeply steeped in the jazz tradition, has been influenced by the writing of Thelonius Monk, Wayne Shorter, Fred Hersch and Joanne Brackeen. She has recorded her own compositions with FivePlay Jazz Quintet, Triceratops, and vibraphonist Ted Wolff. Laura has appeared with her trio at numerous venues including SF Jazz and Piedmont Piano Company, and was featured on KCSM’s “In the Moment” and “Desert Island Jazz”.  She co-leads FivePlay Jazz Quintet, and leads a busy performing schedule appearing with numerous Bay Area luminaries.

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