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May 21, 2010 > Chamber series in music and narrative

Chamber series in music and narrative

By Janet Grant

All good things must come to an end. But what an end it will be! On Saturday, May 22, Music at the Mission presents the last concert of its phenomenal fifth season with the popular "Music and the Spoken Word" series. This program explores the intersection of music and narration by welcoming back as narrator, the acclaimed actor, David Ogden Stiers.

A highly accomplished actor of TV, movie, and stage, Mr. Stiers is probably best known for his TV role as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on the long running series M*A*S*H. He has also been the voice of many characters in films including such Disney classics as Lilo and Stitch, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas. Though well-known as an actor, Mr. Stiers has turned his lifelong passion of classical music into a second career. He has served as a guest conductor for over 70 major US orchestras and is currently the Associate Conductor of Oregon's Newport Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Stiers will be joined by some of the Bay Area's finest chamber musicians including Aileen Chanco, piano; Bill Everett, double bass; Karen Shinozaki Sor, violin; Michael Graham, cello; Michael Corner, clarinet; Loren Mach, percussion, and Alicia Telford, horn.

On Saturday, Music at the Mission explores the many facets of music with narration from the comedic, to the tragic, to the absurd in an evening filled with wit and zaniness. Featured in the evening's program is the world premiere of Mark Fish's "Winston of Churchill," Jon Deak's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Wager at the El Dorado Saloon," Barbara Kolb's "Three Place Settings" and Harold Meltzer's "Sindbad."

Bay Area composer, Mark Fish is no stranger to Music at the Mission. He has written and arranged a number of works for music with narrator including "Ferdinand the Bull," which was performed at the old Mission in 2005. Saturday's performance marks the world premiere of a new work: "Winston of Churchill." Based on the delightful children's book by Jean Davies Okimoto, it tells the story of Winston, a polar bear in Churchill, Manitoba, and his struggles with adjusting to climate change.

New York composer Jon Deak is well known for combining the musical and theatrical in innovative ways. In Deak's musical tales, actors begin by narrating the story then gradually becoming the characters they had been describing. He draws on a wide range of subject matter in his pieces with two of his compositions being performed in the old Mission - The Sherlock Holmes adventure, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" involving a solo bass player simultaneously playing and reading the parts of six different characters, and "The Wager at the El Dorado Saloon," based on a scene from Jack London's "Call of the Wild."

Barbara Kolb was a disciple of Aaron Copland and it was the performance of her "Three Place Settings" in 1968 that drew Copland's attention to her music. The piece sets three diverse poems about music. The first movement is a sort of homage to one of the great culinary dishes of the world: Mashed Potatoes. The second movement sets a recipe for a sort of "turducken" Peacock. The last movement depicts a losing battle with a food vending machine.

Harold Meltzer's "Sindbad" sets to music and word, a short story by Donald Barthelme which first appeared in the New Yorker magazine. The work alternates the tales of Sinbad the Sailor with the story of a shy, frustrated night school teacher.

Join Music at the Mission for a celebratory night of musical stories performed by some of California's finest musicians and featuring the amazing narrative voice of David Ogden Stiers. Fremont's ever innovative and remarkable chamber series will not disappoint. After all, where else could you find a Canadian polar bear, a hellish hound loose in the moors, a night school teacher too timid to teach in the daytime, and mashed potatoes all in one place? With "Music and the Spoken Word," at the old Mission San Jose, of course!

An informative, half-hour concert talk will precede the concert at 7:15 p.m. with the concert beginning at 8:00 p.m. A complimentary dessert and champagne reception will immediately follow the concert where you will be able to meet the artists.

For more information, call (510) 656-2364 or visit

Music at the Mission presents "Music and the Spoken Word"
Saturday, May 22
7:15 p.m.
Old Mission San Jose
43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont
General Admission, $25, Students and seniors, $20

Tickets by mail (checks only):
Music at the Mission San Jose
P. O. Box 3276
Fremont, CA 94539
E-mail (checks only):
Online (credit card):

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