Saturday, March 15, 2014

San Francisco/Shanghai Chamber Music Festival

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Shanghai Conservatory of Music joined forces and created a collaborative annual chamber music festival four years ago. The location of the week-long event rotates each year between Shanghai and San Francisco, with year's edition back in California. The festival culminates in a pair of concerts featuring Shanghai and San Francisco chamber music students, teachers, and commissioned composers from both countries. I caught the first half of Thursday night's concert which started with Mozart's Piano Quartet #1 featuring the Shanghai students (left to right, above) Yang Zhang on violin, Yacheng Shi on viola, Menglu Li on cello, and SF Conservatory alumni Jeffrey LaDeur on piano. It was a perfectly charming performance, though a bit heavier than I prefer my Mozart.

Next up was the world premier of local composer David Garner's String Quartet #2 (photo above is of Garner with viola player Nian Liu). Garner's program notes were forbidding, as in "The entire quartet is based on a twelve-tone row with its attendant serial technique except that it strives for tonal centricity within the serial structure, instead of freedom from tonal centricity." However, the four-movement piece was eminently accessible, lively, intelligent, and even a bit traditional sounding.

The performance by Shanghai's The Han Quartet was impassioned and impeccable, with their obvious enthusiasm and expertise carrying the day. Pictured above left to right are Nian Liu on viola, Dandi Wang on cello, Shuting Wu and and Weimin Zheng on violins, with Garner beaming happily beside them. May a thousand cross-connections bloom.

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