The Santa Ynez Valley Concert Series will celebrate its 41st season with a Valentine’s Day-themed performance by San Francisco Opera pianist John Churchwell at 5 p.m. on February 12 and a second guest performance. special and Grammy Award-winning violinist Johnny Gandelsman at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16.
Churchwell, director of music at the San Francisco Opera and faculty member of the Music Academy of the West, will present a repertoire of love songs and dances, themed “An Evening of Lieberslieder” on February 12 .
The romantic program will also feature two rising stars of San Francisco opera – soprano Esther Tonea and tenor Victor Cardamone, as well as guest pianist Robert Cassidy, artistic director of the SYV concert series.
The concert will feature pieces by musician Brahms, a solo vocal piece — or arias — and a duet from Gounod’s classic opera “Romeo and Juliet.” The artists will conclude with some of their favorite love songs from different genres.
“We present this concert series to enrich lives through the exquisite beauty of masterpieces performed by brilliant musicians,” Cassidy said. “We invite you to join us for any or all of the upcoming performances.”
Four days later, Gandelsman will take the stage to present several works from “This is America,” an anthology project he says was inspired in response to the turbulent times many have felt since 2020.
“This is America” is a musical collection of original pieces commissioned by 20 American composers, a spokeswoman for the program said.
“Each composition in the anthology reflects the current state of American society in a personal and intimate way, looking through an unwavering lens at universal topics like separation, loneliness, hope and love” , explained Gandelsman.
Gandelsman will also perform a Bach work or two, the spokeswoman noted.
Churchwell has served as assistant conductor for the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera, and has worked on more than 125 productions with conductors such as James Levine, Nicola Luisotti and Sir Charles Mackerras.
Churchwell is also Director of Music at the Music Academy of the West Summer Festival, a prestigious school for classical instrumental and vocal artists to train for significant careers in music.
Adler Fellows with the San Francisco Opera, Tonea and Cardamone have performed with opera companies across the United States and as soloists with symphonies and recitals.
Cassidy is a respected solo pianist and professional collaborator who works with renowned artists including violist Richard O’Neill, cellist Ani Aznavoorian and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian.
Gandelsman is a founding member of the influential Brooklyn Rider Quartet, a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and a soloist. He frequently collaborates with luminaries of many musical genres, including Bela Fleck, Abigail Washington, Anne Sofie von Otter, Rhiannon Giddens, Bono, Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Ma.
Gandelsman is also a Grammy Award-winning producer through his label, Circle Records, and has produced his own solo albums.
Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, editions of the Santa Maria Times.