Saturday, June 04, 2011
Brenden Guy in an Evening of British Chamber Music
Hidden away in the inner Mission District near the 16th Street BART station is Saint John the Evangelist, a beautiful old Episcopalian Church that was built after the 1906 earthquake and fire by a congregation that dates from 1857.
My first visit to the church was last Thursday to hear Brenden Guy, "Clarinet & Conductor," in an evening of English chamber music with friends. Brenden is a young British graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music who has been working for Karen Ames, one of the best public relations people in San Francisco. If you want everyone who is anyone to know about a cultural event, Karen Ames is the person to see.
It's always a bit nervous making going to see someone you know perform for the first time, because what are you supposed to do if they are mediocre or just plain terrible? Happily, Brenden's clarinet playing was very, very good and the concert itself was charming, with English Pastoral pieces by Gerald Finzi, Arnold Cooke, and Gustav Holst in the first half, and a virtuoso sonata for clarinet and piano by Herbert Howells in the second half.
The final piece was Benjamin Britten's Opus One, "Sinfonietta," written at age 18 for a ten-piece orchestra which was conducted by Guy. Never having heard the piece before, it was a complete delight, and as usual Britten's music blew away all of his British predecessors (as he surely intended).
For more detailed descriptions of the program, click here for Axel and here for Charlise. Also, say a prayer that the United States government issues Brenden a visa to work in this country since his boss doesn't know what she's going to do without him if they don't.