Headline: Rediscovering an English Enchantment
April 1, 2015 (from the review by Adam Broner in Piedmont Post and on line in “Repeat Performances”)
“Last Friday night, March 20, San Francisco’s Z Space was transformed into an airy English garden inhabited with six fine singers and propelled by 11 musicians led by conductor Jonathan Khuner. The action, though refined, was gripping, made easily accessible through Stevens’ reduction and the singers’ careful diction. The music was a revelation . . . that mirrored and explored the emotional dynamics. And those dynamics? The rumors and rules of small-town life, the bonds of family, the rigidity of the social system, the constraints on women, and, above all, unwise love. The duets were also explorations of those human dynamics: at times voices crossed like swords, and at other times there was a sweetness to the exchange, where one finishes the thoughts of another. Or they blurred into that large terrain between war and love, starting together and ending with separate texts. It was a rich device, and as colorful and coy as the nineteenth century original.”
Headline: Middlemarch in Spring
March 22, 2015 (from the review by Jaime Robles in Bachtrack on line)
“Middlemarch in Spring is charming, engaging, and romantic . . . I found the music especially wonderful.
Written for a chamber group of 11 musicians and performed by the Bay Area’s best – formidably talented musicians – under the stellar conducting of Jonathan Khuner, Shearer’s music is lush, elegant and witty. There is a playful irony that asserts itself in moments, in the flute’s flourishes during the Rev Casaubon’s pompous dictations, for example. And most lingering and enjoyably in the political campaign of Dorothea’s uncle, when the band took on the role of a jeering mob, in between playing its own raucous campaign song. And Tod Brody, the flutist, had the enviable commission of throwing stuffed fabric vegetables and fruit at Arthur Brooke.
The singers were wonderful as well. With soprano Sara Duchovnay presenting a pure voiced Dorothea. Tenor Daniel Curran sang the role of Will Ladislaw beautifully. And Eugene Brancoveanu, who sang Sir James Chettam, is always a joy to hear, with his richly colored baritone. Tonia D’Amelio sang Dorothea’s sister Celia with ebullient flirtatiousness. And Philip Skinner gave Rev Casaubon a presence and depth that the original character lacked. Tenor Michael Mendelsohn created an amusing interpretation of Dorothea’s somewhat foolish but good-natured uncle.
Videos projected onto the metal latticework that comprised the sets by Mathew Antaky added an interesting spin to the psychological underpinnings of the story. The projections by Jeremy Knight used imagery from William Blake and Goya. Using the imagery of the two artists to represent Dorothea’s inner emotional turmoil was an intriguing choice.”
Headline: ‘Middlemarch in Spring’ at Z Space
March 25, 2015 (from the review by Cedric Westphal in SFist Reviews)
“. . . masterly written, the back and forth between the singer and stage and the musicians’ interjection effortlessly natural. . . we wish it a similar trajectories (sic) as Mark Adamo’s Little Women.