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.


janinsanfran said...

Goodness -- you found new angles from which to photograph the church, not an easy task! Someday I'm going to write something about the effects of sitting weekly under that commanding though aesthetically hideous window in the last picture ...

Sort of surprised you'd never been there before as one of our past musicians often organized well-regarded concerts -- that was Charles Rus, a very special artist, now moved to Washington State.

Civic Center said...

Dear Jan: I'm finding myself in performance places in San Francisco, including churches, that I've never been before in my thirty years in this city, mostly because of this publication. I'm pretty good at picking up vibes through smell, atmosphere, spirits, what have you, and of the churches I've visited yours has one of the nicer feelings. Looking forward to reading about your issues with the big stained glass window. I didn't even notice what it was illustrating.