Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Ron Bierman

Ron Bierman

Ron Bierman has performed on saxophone and flute in several college and other orchestras. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where his studies included music theory as taught by Swiss pianist and composer Ernst Levy. His published work includes reviews of recordings, books, plays, films and live music performances for web sites and newspapers. He has an extensive library of books about music and over three thousand CDs. Now living in San Diego with his wife, he is the President of Advocates for Classical Music, an organization which has worked with local symphony orchestras to introduce as many as 15,000 young students to classical music. He and his wife enjoy visiting classrooms with CDs and instruments in hand.




MOST POPULAR ARTICLES

LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Feature: SAN DIEGO'S CLASSICAL MUSIC SCENE PhotoBWW Feature: SAN DIEGO'S CLASSICAL MUSIC SCENE
Posted: Jul. 7, 2021


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S LA BOHEME at Pechanga Arena Parking Lot PhotoBWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S LA BOHEME at Pechanga Arena Parking Lot
Posted: Oct. 28, 2020


BWW Interview: Emily Fons of San Diego Opera's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE at Pechanga Aren PhotoBWW Interview: Emily Fons of San Diego Opera's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE at Pechanga Arena
Posted: Mar. 31, 2021


BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO OPERA'S BARBER OF SEVILLE at Pechanga Sports Arena PhotoBWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO OPERA'S BARBER OF SEVILLE at Pechanga Sports Arena
Posted: Apr. 29, 2021


BWW Feature: SAN DIEGO'S CLASSICAL MUSIC SCENE
July 7, 2021

San Diego’s classical music scene coped with the COVID-19 invasion by trading shuttered concert halls for parking lots and online media. Appreciative bravos and bravas were replaced by either honking horns, flashing headlights or painful silence. The city’s Mainly Mozart was an early adopter of drive-in performances. Its first was in July of last year with an audience of 150 vehicles voicing raucous automotive approval for San Diego Symphony Concertmaster Jeff Thayer and seven musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, including Concertmaster Martin Chalifour. The musicians, delighted to be playing in person under any circumstances, delivered lively versions of an early Mozart divertimento and the Mendelssohn octet.

BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO OPERA'S BARBER OF SEVILLE at Pechanga Sports Arena
April 29, 2021

The San Diego Opera continued its quixotic foray into parking-lot adventures with The Barber of Seville by Rossini, social distancing once again forcing substantial changes to a production's length and cast size. Revisions to libretto, costumes, set and lighting went all out for a zany farcical effect that even many staid opera lovers of a certain age would eventually realize harkened back to the free-wheeling spirit of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in, complete with 'Sock it to me,' chicken jokes and Rowan's trademark closing 'Say goodnight, Dick.' This always said to his seemingly clueless partner Dick Martin. Lest you think it was a radically revised libretto, I offer assurances that most of the explicit references to the bygone TV show were displayed in hand-drawn lettering on cardboard placards held up by a man near the stage whose humble garb included a Santa Clause hat. This seemingly homeless but cheerful gentleman was teamed offstage with a gaggle of other extras. Some of them were chorus members, policemen and musicians usually on stage for Rossini's comic opera, but now, during difficult times, especially for opera directors and stage managers, they were singing, dancing and gesticulating wildly offstage, one of them mounted on a pickup truck.

BWW Interview: Emily Fons of San Diego Opera's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE at Pechanga Arena
March 31, 2021

As I write this, mezzo soprano Emily Fons is driving from her home in Milwaukee to San Diego to rehearse the role of Rosina, the wife of roving-eyed count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville by Rossini. Three years ago Fons sang Cherubino here in the related comic opera The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. The switch to the count's wife from Mozart's Cherubino, a 15-year-old boy and randy rival of the philandering count, is an indication of the mezzo's acting and vocal versatility. I discovered when we met via Zoom (what else?) that her adventurous openness to new roles is typical of the mezzo's approach to life.

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S LA BOHEME at Pechanga Arena Parking Lot
October 28, 2020

A connoisseur's bravos replaced by honkin' horns and flashin' headlights? Puccini's La bohème staged in a parking lot? Such is opera performance in an age of COVID-19. A sold-out fleet of 450 cars contained opera-starved San Diegans who showed their appreciation of the performance in ways never imagined by the composer or previously casts. The intrepid automotive adventurers were rewarded with warm, sometimes thrilling voices thanks to the daring initiative that salvaged a production originally planned for the San Diego Civic Center stage. Quite a feat given the challenge of new outdoor staging and libretto revisions required for social distancing among the performers.

BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY HONORS BRITISH COMPOSERS At The Jacobs Music Center
March 10, 2020

British guest conductor Bramwell Tovey led the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in authoritative performances of William Walton's Crown Imperial (Coronation March), Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto and the Enigma Variations of Edward Elgar. Britannia indeed ruled on this night! In 1936 Walton was asked to write a ceremonial march for the coronation of King Edward VIII. And did he ever! Tovey pulled out all the stops (no pun intended) when a roaring organ joined pounding percussion, crashing cymbals and blaring brass in the work's thrilling climaxes, though the sound became a bit muddy with organ at full-blast.

BWW Review: THE BEL CANTO TRIO Kicks Off San Diego Opera's Detour Series in La Jolla
March 7, 2020

The San Diego Opera's first Detour Series performance this season belonged to the new Bel Canto Trio, starring tenor Joshua Guerrero, soprano Julie Adams, and bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee. All are outstanding young award winners with impressive voices and resumes. Music director and pianist Christopher Allen was their accompanist.

BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY PRESENTS SIBELIUS at The Jacobs Music Center
March 4, 2020

Conductor Eun Sun Kim is the recently named musical director of the San Francisco Opera. In her debut with the San Diego Symphony she opened her program with Korean composer Texu Kim's playful Spin-Flip. Two hyperromantic works followed, the Sibelius violin concerto and Rachmaninoff's third symphony. In his program notes Texu Kim wrote, 'Spin-Flip is an eight-minute overture which is all about Ping-Pong: it conveys the driving energy of a (good) Ping-Pong match.'

BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY PRESENTS BEETHOVEN & SHOSTAKOVICH at Symphony Hall in the Jacobs Music Center
February 28, 2020

Beethoven was born 250 years ago. The San Diego Symphony's most recent birthday present in its celebration of the anniversary was an engaging performance of his violin concerto by violinist Stefan Jackiw. Conductor Rafael Payare, as though beginning one of Beethoven's powerful symphonies, put some heft into the work's long introduction right from the timpani's opening five drumbeats. That made for an even greater than usual contrast with the violin's unassuming entry, a contrast reinforced by Jackiw's sweet tone. As the performance continued the violinist proved he could call on anything from disarming sweetness to considerable power. And he has technique to go with that emotional range. High notes were solid and accurate, trills rapid and precise, multiple stops clear and strong.

BWW Review: UC San Diego Honors The Music And Influence Of Chou Wen-chung at the Conrad Prebys Music Center
February 24, 2020

Composer Chou Wen-chung, who died recently at the age of 96, was honored at the most recent 'red fish blue fish' percussion concert. Chou's works have been performed by major orchestras throughout the world, and he mentored many who have gone on to successful careers of their own. Tan Dun and Chen Yi are among his best known students. Tan once called him 'the godfather of Chinese contemporary music.'

BWW Review: San Diego Opera's Sly and Whimsical HANSEL AND GRETEL at the Civic Center
February 10, 2020

Engelbert Humperdinck's HANSEL AND GRETEL opened Saturday to an audience that included several dozen children, who followed their attention from beginning to end with color, movement, and singing backed by lushly orchestrated music. Even a five year-old girl sitting in front of me on a raised seat kept her eyes on the stage without a single fidget. Director Brenna Corner's playful production emphasized the fairy-tale nature of the story. During the overture a boy entered in front of the curtain, picked up a large book lying center stage and blew a cloud of dust from its cover. Fascinated, he dropped to the floor reading with a rapt expression while members of the San Diego Opera's children's chorus entered behind him, each with a letter on the front of their costumes. Once assembled the letters lit up to say, 'Once upon a time...,' and the story began. It continued after intermission with 'And then...' though not before a necessary rearrangement of the 'And...' brought a second laugh. The approving audience laughed again when the production closed with 'The end.'

BWW REVIEW: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY: EDO DE WAART CONDUCTS BEETHOVEN at The Jacobs Music Center
January 30, 2020

Beethoven was born 250 years ago, and the world has been honoring the anniversary with a deluge of the great composer's music. The San Diego Symphony's celebration continued with strong, well-played performances of Beethoven's Egmont Overture and sixth symphony. Principal Guest Conductor Edo de Waart was once again at the podium. He was assigned most of the heavy lifting for this season's surfeit of Beethoven. The program also included Haydn's 92nd symphony, the 'Oxford.'

BWW Interview: Director Brenna Corner of San Diego Opera's HANSEL AND GRETEL
January 29, 2020

Brenna Corner started out with dreams of Broadway. It wouldn't be a big surprise if the versatile young director's dreams came true, but not in the way she'd originally pictured. I met with her to learn more about that and the San Diego Opera's upcoming production of Hansel and Gretel. 'Broadway was the original idea when I was very, very little. I grew up in the theater, my mom's a costume designer. My dad was a carpenter in the shop. I just grew up loving theater. I lived in a little town in southern Alberta with a community theater that did amazing shows that I got to see, and I started to understand what a wonderful thing storytelling could be for the community.'

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY: EDO DE WAART CONDUCTS BEETHOVEN at The Jacobs Music Center
January 15, 2020

Wondering how to celebrate Beethoven's 250th birthday? Well, to paraphrase Julie Andrews, the air is alive with the sound of his music. Take a European riverboat cruise that promises performances of his string quartets, stream Immortal Beloved with Gary Oldman's intensely romantic portrayal of the gnarly uncompromising genius, or just buy tickets for the next all-Beethoven concert at your favorite concert hall, probably next weekend given the enthusiasm for the anniversary shown by most symphony orchestras. The San Diego Symphony, for one, is all-in with a a?oeBeethoven Festival.a?? A dozen concerts will feature at least one Beethoven work this season, perhaps too much of a good thing.

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S AMAZING NIGHT at At The Balboa Theatre
December 16, 2019

The San Diego Opera's first Detour Series performance this season was 'One Amazing Night' with Soprano Ailyn Pérez, tenor Joshua Guerrero and accompanist Abdiel Vázquez. All are outstanding young award winners with impressive resumes. The first half featured operatic arias, enjoyable and worth the ticket price on their own. But the second half was something different--and special. In it the artists performed classic popular Mexican songs they grew up with, and their passionate affection was obvious. Vázquez was born in Mexico. Pérez and Guerrero are American children of Mexican immigrants.

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY: LING CONDUCTS PROKOFIEV & DVORÁK at At The Jacobs Music Center
December 11, 2019

The San Diego Symphony Orchestra's Conductor Laureate Jahja Ling returned again for multiple performances this season. In the first of these he was at the helm for Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from The Snow Maiden, Prokofiev's third piano concerto, and Dvorák's eighth symphony.

BWW Review: PAYARE AND SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY CONTINUE BEETHOVEN CELEBRATION at The Jacobs Music Center
November 13, 2019

The programming for Rafael Payare's first season as the San Diego Symphony's music director and conductor anticipates next year's celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth.  The schedule includes four symphonies, three concertos and an overture by that great composer. The entire second half of this Friday's concert was devoted to his third symphony, the a?oeEroica.a?? That symphony was preceded by Mozart's 35th, the a?oeHaffner,a?? and Mahler's orchestrations of five of his own songs.

BWW Review: RAFAEL PAYARE CONDUCTS BEETHOVEN AND TCHAIKOVSKY at The Jacobs Music Center
November 6, 2019

Rafael Payare's honeymoon with the San Diego symphony orchestra has barely begun, but I'm ready to predict a long and happy marriage. His energetic and emotional conducting brought unexpected excitement to even an ultra-conservative program of Schumann, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. The opening Overture to Manfred by Schumann may have been the only piece quite a few regular concert-goers haven't heard often enough to be able to conduct themselves. Composed while Schumann was going through one of his bouts with mental illness, the overture is a stormy brooding affair, with romantic swelling waves of sound, perfectly realized in Payare's interpretation. The orchestra has never sounded better.

BWW Review: The San Diego Opera Brings a Thrilling AIDA
October 22, 2019

The San Diego Opera's AIDA served Verdi's marvelous score without the usual extravagant sets and throngs of spear-carrying tunic led Egyptian soldiers. Although that conceded a bit of excitement, especially during the triumphal march scene, exceptional singers and musicians held the audience's attention from the mood-setting overture to the exquisite beauty of the closing duet.

BWW Interview: Carl Tanner of SAN DIEGO OPERA'S AIDA at The San Diego Civic Center
October 17, 2019

Tenor Carl Tanner is in San Diego to sing Radames, the lead male role in Verdi's Aida, a role he's already sung 145 times before. We met to discuss his background and career just before he was due at a rehearsal. Tanner's is the most unlikely tenor in the history of opera.

BWW Review: Rafael Payare Conducts The San Diego Symphony Orchestra at the Jacobs Music Center
October 9, 2019

It's an exciting time for San Diego classical-music lovers. There are more concert choices than ever before, and performance quality has been impressive for everything from solo recitals to symphony concerts and operas. The La Jolla Music Society's $82 million dollar multi-stage Conrad Prebys Arts Center held its first concert early this year, and the San Diego Symphony has begun its own multi-million dollar project to turn its waterfront summer venue into a state-of-the-art amphitheater that will host year-round concerts and events.



 1        5