Fall 2015 Events with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho

photo from Kaija Saariaho's website

photo from Kaija Saariaho's website

Beginning this month, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho will be in residence at UC Berkeley, together with her husband, the French composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière. Our San Francisco Bay Area new music community will be taking full advantage. 

  • The Fall 2015 run of Saariaho events in the Bay Area (all of which she has committed to attend) begins with Berkeley Symphony on October 14, featuring Laterna Magica, the composer’s 2008 work inspired by Ingmar Bergman.

  • The following Friday, October 23Cal Performances presents the UC Berkeley Music Department’s eco ensemble performing three of her works; the centerpiece is a chamber adaptation of Saariaho’s cello concerto Notes on Light (2006), featuring her close collaborator, cellist Anssi Karttunen.

  • At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco the following evening, October 24San Francisco Contemporary Music Players offers works for solo instruments and video by both Saariaho and Barrière, including Artistic Director Steven Schick performing the complex and polyrhythmic Six Japanese Gardens (1994), composed in memory of Toru Takemitsu.

  • The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble program “With You In Mind” concludes this two-week flurry of events: their chamber music set includes Miroirs and Sept Papillons, in Mill Valley on Sunday,October 25, and San Francisco on Monday, October 26.

  • Finally, the UC Berkeley Department of Music will host five Bloch Lectures on campus, from Monday, October 12 through Friday, November 6.

Buy 1, get 25% off the rest! All presenters of the events mentioned above have agreed to provide a 25% discount for anyone who has purchased a full-price ticket to one Saariaho concert. You’ll receive a code at checkout for any of the above events; if you’ve already purchased tickets, contact the presenter for the discount code. 

Read more at the Center for New Music.

Intersection 2016 Workshop Announced

Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 21 2016 are the dates for Left Coast's INTERSECTION adult amateur chamber music workshop!  For those of you unfamiliar with this fabulous workshop:

INTERSECTIONis an innovative workshop designed by the musicians of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble for adult amateur musicians to explore and perform both traditional works and new compositions written especially for this program.  This is our third year!

Thank you for an absolutely wonderful experience!
— INTERSECTION participant

Each individual is assigned a chamber ensemble; each ensemble is assigned a traditional classical work along with a new work specifically composed for them by a Bay Area composer.  Left Coast Chamber Ensemble players work with each group in three 2 hour coaching sessions between Jan. 10 and Feb.19, 2016 (scheduled by the participants).  Coaching will be followed by a weekend intensive Feb. 20 and 21, 2016 where, in addition to the two pieces,  all participants will rehearse and perform a newly composed piece.

For details see: http://www.leftcoastensemble.org/intersection/

Please let people know about this workshop. It is really fun, interesting and challenging all at once for every level of adult amateur.

Contact us for more information if you're interested in participating in the future.


Introducing Left Coast's New Managing Director

Nick Benavides. photo by Valentina Sadiul

Nick Benavides. photo by Valentina Sadiul

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (LCCE) is pleased to announce the hiring of Nick Benavides as the company’s managing director. Mr. Benavides will be responsible for directing all aspects of the operations and administration of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, including support for development, grant research and writing, concert and special event management, along with providing oversight for marketing and communications.

"Nick is an eclectic musician whose experience includes composing classical music, touring with a funk band, teaching composition to kids, playing ranchera music with his grandfather in New Mexico, serving as a recording engineer, editing music videos, and more; and on top of all that, he is a gifted and personable administrator, " says Anna Presler, LCCE artistic director.  "With his wide musical experience and knowledge, efficiency, imagination, and commitment to our mission, he is a perfect fit for Left Coast."

As one of the original founders and the artistic director of the Guerrilla Composers Guild (GCG), Mr. Benavides brings experience in promoting new composers and their works by presenting unique performances and listening parties. Through GCG, he has overseen dozens of new music premieres and been called a “new music impresario of San Francisco” (Cy Musiker, KQED Arts). Mr. Benavides is also an accomplished composer, performer, and conductor, and is currently the composer in residence with Elevate Ensemble. Next year, he will hold residencies in Visby, Sweden, and Marfa, Texas.

Benavides has studied composition with David Conte, Jack Perla, Pamela Quist, and Kurt Rohde and has received degrees in music at Santa Clara University (BA) and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (MM). He is on faculty at the Academy of Art University, and is also a teaching artist with the San Francisco Opera. His music has been described as “wonderfully structured and harmonically imaginative…” (Brian Rosen, Music vs Theater) and “… sadly reflective… not a note was wasted” (Jeff Dunn, San Francisco Classical Voice). His music has been featured all over North America and Europe at festivals as well as on the radio. Commercially, he scored and recorded the music for The Trouble with Bread, and wrote the music for Zoo Runner, an iOS game. As a freelance engineer he has recorded prominent classical artists in the Bay Area and his work with the choir Cappella SF has been featured on Classical KDFC.

2015-16 Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Season Announced

photo credit: Jeanette Yu

photo credit: Jeanette Yu

Subscribe and Save up to 40%!  Learn more. 


MILL VALLEY 142 Throckmorton Theatre • Sunday, October 25, 2015 7PM
SAN FRANCISCO SF Conservatory of Music • Monday, October 26, 2015 8PM 

Eric Zivian • The Swan Takes Flight for Bass Clarinet and Piano written for Jerome Simas
Johannes Brahms • Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114 written for Richard Mühlfeld
Francis Poulenc • Flute Sonata written for Jean Pierre Rampal and dedicated to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge  
John MacCallum • NEW WORK for Flute and Cello written for Stacey Pelinka and Leighton Fong
Kaija Saariaho • Miroirs for Flute and Cello written for Camilla Hoitenga and for Anssi Karttunen
Kaija Saariaho • Sept Papillons for Cello written for Anssi Karttunen 

Sometimes a composer is inspired by the compelling voice of a particular performer. Brahms had stopped composing but was enticed out of retirement when he heard the playing of a remarkable clarinetist; Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, who will be in town for our October 26 concert, has written many works for cellist Anssi Karttunen. Other composer/performer pairs include Eric Zivian/Jerome Simas, Francis Poulenc/Jean Pierre Rampal, John MacCallum/Stacey Pelinka. With You in Mind takes us to the intersection of composer and muse.


MILL VALLEY 142 Throckmorton Theatre • Sunday, December 6, 2015 7PM  
SAN FRANCISCO Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion • Monday, December 7, 2015 8PM  

Iannis Xenakis • Dmaathen for Oboe and Percussion
Gioachino Rossini • Duetto in D Major for Cello and Double Bass
Richard Chowenhill • NEW WORK for English Horn and Double Bass
Richard Chowenhill • Arrangements of Ancient Songs for Baritone, Oboe, Cello, and Guitar
George Crumb • The Ghosts of Alhambra for Baritone, Guitar and Percussion 

In early English baroque music Broken Consorts were ensembles that combined contrasting instruments and voices; in a modern take on this idea, this Left Coast program presents unlikely combinations of instruments that let each voice be heard distinctly. We welcome guests Daniel Cilli and Loren Mach––who also performed in our recent opera production––for these concerts. Music includes Dmaathen by the revolutionary Iannis Xenakis (for oboe and percussion), George Crumb’sGhosts of Alhambra (for baritone, guitar and percussion), Rossini’s duo (for cello and double bass, unobscured by higher instruments) as well as Robert Chowenhill’s new arrangements of ancient music, and a companion work by the same composer.


MILL VALLEY 142 Throckmorton Theatre • Sunday, January 31, 2016 7PM  
SAN FRANCISCO SF Conservatory of Music • Monday, February 1, 2016 8PM  

Kurt Rohde/Manuel De Falla • Suite Populaire Espagnole for Flute, Oboe, and String Quartet  
Elinor Armer  NEW WORK for Flute, Oboe, and String Quartet
Anthony Porter • Five, Six, Heaven for String Trio
Arthur Bliss • Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet, Op.44, F.21 

Left Coast’s own Tom Nugent is featured in a program that includes an Arthur Bliss quintet.  Nugent describes this idiosyncratic piece, “the quintet is lush, with French impressionistic and English pastoral sonorities that combine as a counter point to 20th century outburst.  It would seem that Bliss in this 1927 work is entering the 20th century kicking and screaming but always coming back to his tonal and stylistic roots.”  Kurt Rohde is making a new arrangement of Manuel De Falla’s 1926 Suite Populaire Espagnole especially for this program. We revisit Anthony Porter’s Five, Six, Heaven, a work commissioned by the LCCE Intersection Workshop.


MILL VALLEY 142 Throckmorton Theatre • Sunday, March 20, 2016 7PM  
SAN FRANCISCO SF Conservatory of Music • Tuesday, March 22, 2016 8PM  
BERKELEY Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, 17 Gauss Way  • Thursday, March 24, 2016 5:15pm

Sean Varah • NEW WORK for Piano Trio
Craig Walsh • Neshanic Wanes
Jeremy Podgursky • Nonsense and Sorcery ?%#*!
Felix Mendelssohn • Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 49 

Reviewing Mendelssohn’s D Minor Piano Trio, the composer Robert Schumann praised his colleague to the skies: “He is the Mozart of the 19th century, the most brilliant of musicians, the one who most clearly perceives the contradictions of the age, and the first to reconcile them.” Hearing this piece, a work both energetic and lyrical, it is easy to understand why it delighted Schumann and has continued to enchant audiences in ensuing decades.  Contemporary works by Craig Walsh, Jeremy Podgursky and Sean Varah provide brilliant 21st century perspectives on the piano trio.


MILL VALLEY at Millicent Tompkins art studio • Sunday, June 5, 2016 7PM  
SAN FRANCISCO SF Conservatory of Music • Monday, June 6, 2016 8PM  

Richard Strauss • Ophelia Songs
Charles Ives • The Housatonic at Stockbridge
Paul Hindemith • Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
Francis Poulenc • La dame de Monte-Carlo
Franz Schubert • Shepherd on the Rock
Franz Schubert • Lieder 

Aptly described in The New York Times as “…dazzling…” and praised for her“…melting beauty and purity of tone…" soprano Nikki Einfeld will also be remembered by area audiences for her leading role in Left Coast’s recent production of Death with Interruptions and her appearances with West Edge Opera and the San Francisco Symphony and Opera. For Left Coast’s season finale Einfeld is joined by Jerome Simas and Eric Zivian in Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock and works by Strauss, Poulenc, and Ives. If you haven’t heard this flawless and expressive singer, come find out why critics and audiences both rave about her. Completing the program is Hindemith’s Clarinet Sonata. 

All programs are subject to change