What strikes me most about the SummerFest lineup this year? It's the star-studded performers! Here are my quick impressions of the first four names that popped out at me while I read the brochure:
Gil Shaham, violin - Oh so nimble fingers belying sweet style
Gil Shaham has been coming to San Diego for years. We brought him to La Jolla for SummerFest in 2009. San Diego Symphony is bringing him back for performances on May 27, 28 and 29th. I think it will be fun to hear him backed by an orchestra and then again in a chamber setting at SummerFest; but maybe others will get tired of him. What do you think?
You can hear Gil Shaham playing in SummerFest 2008 for free from InstantEncore. He introduces each piece; so you will also hear his interpretation of the music. I'm listening while I write this post. Beautiful!
Paul Neubauer, viola - You would never know he is a virtuoso
One of the best things about SummerFest is the access to the performers. Because they stay for several performances, master classes, and rehearsals, many for free, you can truly get to know a musician if you try. I've talked with Paul Neubauer several times to find that he is quiet-spoken. I must admit that I was surprised by his biography. He's done everything a musician can do. Joan Tower, a composer featured at SummerFest this year, wrote a viola solo expressly for him called, Wild Purple. It makes me wonder what wild craziness is behind his quiet demeanor. Here is a video of that piece. Fast forward to 4:00 if you don't have time for all seven minutes.
Alisa Weilerstein - Read the music on her face
Alisa Weilerstein is utterly engaged in every performance. Her face shows her concentration. Even when playing a boring base beat, her eyebrows, lips, and slight head bounce portray her as a lady enthralled. I usually am too when listening to her; but I was distracted when watching this wonderful video of Ms. Weilerstein playing Kodálys at the White House on November 4, 2009. I kept looking at the audience members while listening to the music. I was watching to see if any of the most powerful people in the world are neanderthals who yawned or looked at their blackberry during the concert. No. They were enthralled.
Joyce Yang - Energetic, fun, brilliant, kind
Joyce Yang put links to my blog posts on her web page. Need I say more? She's a favorite of mine!