April 18, 2006 > Music's back at the Mission
Music's back at the Mission
by Janet Grant
There's music in them thar hills...the East Bay hills that is. Nestled at the base of the foothills of Fremont lies beautiful Mission San Jose, 14th of the historic 21 California Missions. With the first full season of the Music at the Mission series of concerts, the present is wonderfully echoing the past and the hills are once again alive with the sound of music. Music at the Mission is an exciting classical concert series that brings innovative and lively chamber concerts to the restored old mission. Formed in January of 2005, Music at the Mission in partnership with the San Jose Cathedral Foundation performs a spectacular mix of programs with leading-edge artists, grounded in the classical genre.
Franciscan padres led by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen founded Mission San Jose on June 11, 1797. As the first European outpost in what is now Alameda County, the mission served as one of the first points of contact between European settlers and the indigenous California Ohlone Indians. In 1806, with the arrival of Father Narciso Duran, Mission San Jose gained recognition as a center of music. An accomplished musician himself, Father Duran taught the Ohlone Indians how to play instruments and invented a method of writing music that could be easily read. He eventually trained a choir and orchestra of 30 Ohlone's, which became known as the "wonder of the area."
Almost 200 years later, Mission San Jose is once again trying to establish itself as a center for music with the creation of the Music at the Mission series.
The concept of the music series began with what Music at the Mission Artistic Director, Aileen Chanco described as a serious lack of awareness of the performing arts in the community. This led to a desire on restoring the mission to its historic place as a leading center for music. The mission, with its superb acoustics, has been a favorite in the past for many group and individual performances. By presenting a vast array of "genre-bending" classical concerts that will challenge and inspire, Chanco believes that she can once again attract audiences from all the around the Bay Area. She hopes to make Mission San Jose a favored concert venue for leading classical artists.
One of the goals of Music at the Mission is to raise awareness that classical music is necessary for the enrichment of our society. Further illustrating her own mission, Chanco hopes the music series will raise awareness that society cannot thrive without art (classical) music. Drastic cuts of arts education in schools and the bankruptcies of orchestras around the nation make it important now more than ever that society continues to be educated and nurtured in the arts.
In response to nurturing arts education, Music at the Mission has brought an outreach program to schools and organizations within the community. For schools, the outreach helps enhance existing music programs by providing students an opportunity to meet the performers and special ticket prices are available to the students to make it easier for many of them to attend the concerts.
Before their November 22 concert, Ertan Torgul, guest violinist and Associate Concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony, and Chanco, herself a critically acclaimed solo pianist, visited Horner Junior High School. The two played pieces by Beethoven, Aaron J. Kernis, and Turkish composer Fazil Say, to appreciative band and advanced band classes. Students were also treated to Torgul's passionate performance on a 1732 Arkwright-Lady Rebecca Stradivarius violin.
Other concerts for the 2005-2006 season included famed organist Gail Archer and the Ira Stein Trio. Archer played mission era music on the mission's own period Spanish pipe organ, while the Ira Stein Trio demonstrated how the old influences the new by presenting jazz improvisations of music by J.S. Bach.
In December, Music and the Spoken Word wove a magical night of music inspired by three classic tales: Ferdinand the Bull by Mark Fish, BB Wolf by John Deak, and L'Histoire du Soldat (A Soldiers' Tale) by Igor Stravinsky. Veteran actor Roscoe Lee Browne narrated two of the tales supported by musicians from the Symphony of Silicon Valley and solo double bassist, Bill Everett, as a Big Bad Wolf in need of psycho-therapy.
The concert season ends in April with the amplified sound of ETHEL, the group Strings Magazine describes as "New York's most daring string quartet sensation." Infusing string music with a Rock twist, ETHEL has electrified audiences across the country with their improvisations, even appearing on the David Letterman show.
Tickets are $25.00 general public and $20.00 for students and seniors. All concerts feature a free champagne and dessert reception after the performance when you can meet and talk to the performers.
For more information or to purchase tickets on TicketWeb, go to www.musicatthemissionmsj.org, or call (510) 656-2364
Friday, April 21
San Jose Cathedral Basilica
80 S Market St., San Jose
Saturday, April 22
St. Joseph's Church
43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont