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 tens of thousands of young students to classical music. He and his wife enjoy visiting classrooms with CDs and instruments in hand.
ise Lindstrom has returned to San Diego to sing the lead in Puccini's Turandot. We spoke for nearly an hour in a rehearsal room at the San Diego Civic Center where she'd just finished working on makeup for the performance.
You might think that someone with Lindstrom's powerful voice would have known, and been told from the age of twelve or so, that she was destined to become an opera star. But it didn't happen that way for the well-known dramatic soprano, nor is it likely to for any other would-be diva. No matter how potentially great your voice is, it takes a bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work to become a success.BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at The Jacobs Music Center February 15, 2018
Sameer Patel, Associate Conductor of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, made his subscription series debut with Liszt's Les Preludes, the fifth symphony of Sibelius, and the world premiere of Adam Schoenberg's violin concerto Orchard in Fog.
Les Preludes is one of 13 tone poems written by Liszt. He invented the single-movement form as a way to evoke specific scenes or moods. Liszt sites a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine in the score, but it appears it wasn't his original inspiration since Les Preludes is an adaptation of an overture written for an abandoned larger work based on a different text.BWW Review: MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES at The Lyceum Theater February 1, 2018
Maria de Buenos Aires, a 90-minute opera by Astor Piazzolla and librettist Horacio Ferrar, is the latest in the San Diego Opera's innovative Detour Series. According to the company's website, the series name indicates its productions are stops on 'a route that is different from the ordinary.' Piazzolla's opera is decidedly such a stop. Unlike probably any other operatic work, far more of the libretto is spoken than sung, dance scenes feature tango rather than ballet, and the surrealistic libretto intensifies mood and emotion, much as music does, without adding much clarity to the plot line. That leaves a lot of space for production crew creativity. Director John de los Santos took advantage. He kept the cast in eye-catching motion and tailored scenes to make major plot lines clearer. Still, Piazzolla and Ferrar weren't after realism. Without a complete rewrite of the libretto, the opera, or tango operetta as Piazzolla called it, will have as much in common with the paintings of surrealist painter Salvador Dali as Puccini's verismo.BWW Review: MINGUS DYNASTY at TSRI Auditorium January 30, 2018
The Mingus Dynasty Septet plays often at the Jazz Standard in New York City, one of the top jazz clubs in the country. La Jolla's Athenaeum Library brought them to San Diego for two performances that included a tribute to Charles Mingus's Tijuana Moods album, originally recorded in 1957 and finally released in 1962. The septet, appropriately enough, played first in Tijuana. The following night I was at the TSRI Auditorium near the UCSD campus to see a repeat performance of the all-Mingus program.BWW Review: THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at The Jacobs Music Center January 27, 2018
Conducting with a combination of precise hand signals and smooth sweeping arm gestures, Jader Bignamini went all-out to please and entertain in his guest appearance with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and he succeeded. Thefamiliar works he selected seemed to forma spectacular five-movement concerto for orchestra.BWW Interview: Bruce Stasyna of MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES at Lyceum Theater January 24, 2018
Bruce Stasyna, San Diego Opera's chorus master, will also lead the orchestra in the company's upcoming production of Astor Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires. We met in the Civic Center's Copper Room recently to discuss that, his career, and more.BWW Review: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY at Jacobs Music Center January 19, 2018
Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare opened his San Diego Symphony Orchestra guest appearance with Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture. Payare conducted with vigorous dramatic motions, and the orchestra responded by bringing the work's romantic themes and stirring gestures to life. Principle English horn player brought exceptional warmth and beauty to the score's first solo. She wasn't unique in her excellence. Every soloist and section managed even demanding tempos and dynamic changes with pleasing tone and precision.BWW Review: DAVID DANZMAYR CONDUCTS THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY at Jacobs Music Center December 8, 2017
Conductor David Danzmayr opened his guest appearance with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra with Mid-20th century Polish composer Gra?yna Bacewicz's Overture of 1943. It was a intelligent choice; her music deserves to be programmed more often. Although she received many awards and commissions during her lifetime, her name is largely unfamiliar to contemporary audiences. The overture is a brisk workout for every section. The piece's little more than five minutes features rapidly scurrying strings, heroic brass, virtuosic wind solos and boisterous percussion. Danzmayr's demanding interpretation built excited anticipation for what was to follow. The overture is a terrific way to open a concert.BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S PRODUCTION OF AS ONE at Joan B Kroc Theatre November 14, 2017
If a spouse transitions from one sex to another in a state where gay marriage is illegal, is the marriage still valid? There are many possible reactions to that question, including heated discussion, juvenile giggling, or reactionary distaste. Composer Laura Kaminsky chose empathy for those most directly affected. The result was her first opera, and it is a striking statement at a time when empathy for anyone different is in short supply. As one, a chamber work for two singers and string quartet, does a compelling job of describing a transgender's struggle with sexual identity. It is the latest offering in the San Diego opera's d tour series, which features smaller-scale works outside the usual operatic repertoire. Kaminsky's choice of artistic partners was as fortunate as her timing. Kimberly Reed, a transgender woman, and Mark Campbell, one of today's most successful librettists, collaborated to produce a story that feels real and has emotional impact.BWW Review: CROSSCURRENTS at The Balboa Theatre November 7, 2017
Jazz fans were at San Diego's Balboa Theatre to see Chris Potter, one of the best sax players in the world, and bass-playing legend Dave Holland. But why was half the audience in saris?? Well, the other five musicians in the Crosscurrents band are from India, and some of them are far better known in San Diego's Indian community, not to mention India itself, than either Potter or Holland.BWW Interview: Laura Kaminsky Composer of AS ONE at Joan B Kroc Theatre, San Diego November 3, 2017
As One, Laura Kaminsky's first opera, premiered in September 2014. While many contemporary operas are performed once and never heard again, it has been staged more often every year since then, and is already scheduled at nearly a dozen venues for 2018. In a recent phone interview Kaminsky and I spoke about that success, her peripatetic career, and what influences the music she writes.BWW Review: CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA IN SAN DIEGO at the Jacobs Music Center October 21, 2017
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is thought by many to be the best in the United States and among the top five in the world. The orchestra's performance at San Diego's Jacob's Music Center provided absolutely no support for a contrary view. The program consisted of Schubert's 'Unfinished' eighth symphony, the Mozart clarinet concerto and Schumann's second symphony.BWW Review: THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE at San Diego Civic Center October 18, 2017
The Pirates of Penzance--opera or operetta? The answer to that question seems important to some opera lovers who believe a 'serious' opera company doesn't do operettas. Too bad for them if their doubts made them miss out on San Diego Opera's hugely entertaining production. A nearly sold-out audience laughed frequently as Gilbert and Sullivan made fun of inept but kind-hearted pirates, cowardly policeman trying their best, and even Queen Victoria, who made a non-singing appearance with the signature rotation of the raised royal hand. While musicologists, historians and purists at home argued about the correct classification of the work, excellent operatic singers delivered clever lyrics and threw themselves into the light-heartedly silly plot.BWW Review: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY at Jacobs Music Center October 10, 2017
he San Diego Symphony's opening concert of the season featured a return appearance by Edo de Waart. The program consisted of Liszt's second piano concerto and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben. De Waart has become a favorite guest conductor of orchestra members, and Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer. He consistently brings out the best sounds the orchestra and its soloists have to offer.BWW Interview: Patrick Carfizzi of PIRATES OF PENZANCE at San Diego Civic Theatre October 6, 2017
San Diego's waterfront on a cool summer night seems the perfect spot for exciting Latin-flavored music by Alberto Ginastera, Astor Piazzolla and Maurice Ravel. Conductor Sameer Patelopened with Four Dances from Estancia by Ginastera. After an overly careful treatment of the first dance. The slow second was gorgeous, and more of Ginastera's risk-taking energy exploded as the lively third led to a satisfying near-frenzy in Malambo, the final dance.BWW Review: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY: LATIN JAZZ MASTERS at San Diego Embarcadero Marina August 13, 2017
Latin jazz inspired the latest concert in the San Diego Symphony's Bayside Summer Nights series. Gilbert Castellanos, the creative force behind the Symphony's jazz concerts, assembled an all-star Latin band for a tribute to past masters such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and Mongo Santamaria. As usual, Castellanos's selection of talent from a huge network of jazz-world friends emphasized skill as much as national name-recognition. The band's lineup ran the gamut from baritone sax player Jean-Paul Balmat, perhaps more widely known outside of San Diego as a jazz educator, to three-time Grammy Award winner, pianist Oscar Hernandez.BWW Review: DR. JOHN IN SAN DIEGO at Embarcadero Marina July 31, 2017
A worse-for-wear Dr. John walked slowly to the piano with the help of two canes. He was no quicker while leaving the stage at the end of the set. But for over an hour in between, he and his sextet kept up an infectious funky beat, and his voice and piano playing erased half a century of his 76 years. Listeners felt an irresistible urge to tap feet, sway rhythmically, and sometimes laugh at the lyrics of songs such as 'How Come My Dog Don't Bark (When You Come 'Round)?' sung in Dr. John's inimitable raspy growl. Contrary to the title of his biggest hit, it was 'Right Place Right Time.'BWW Interview: CEO of the San Diego Symphony Martha Gilmer, Part 2 July 12, 2017
As described in part one of the interview, Martha Gilmer works hard to expand San Diego Symphony audiences. That makes the summer program another priority. 'It's more ambitious than ever. We've really invested in it this year. And the results are spectacular. We already have advanced sales greater than those of past seasons.' Visiting artists include Leslie Odom Junior, Tony Bennett and Herb Alpert. There will also be a special program devoted to Broadway. Gilmer said Rob Fisher, 'Has created a program for San Diego, dedicated to the work of Bock and Harnik. Rob and I share a passion for little known musicals, but, of course, the second half will be Fiddler on the Roof.' Music director, conductor, and arranger Fisher's credits include Chicago, the recent revival of An American in Paris and many other successful productions.BWW Interview: Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO July 1, 2017
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is often cited as the best in the U. S. and one of the top five in the world. Martha Gilmer started there as an intern. Thirty-five years later she left the number two spot, vice president of artistic planning and audience development, to become CEO of the San Diego Symphony. We spoke about that, and much besides, at her office in the Jacobs Music Center. 'It wasn't that I really wanted to leave. It was an interesting opportunity to take what I'd learned there and apply it to a different orchestra. And I had never been a CEO. I'd always been in a sort of number two position, and so this gave me an opportunity to test myself in a new role ... San Diego intrigued me for a number of reasons.' She knew music director Jahja Ling had an excellent reputation, and was impressed when she heard the orchestr