Vernon Salon Series
I am excited to curate the Vernon Salon Series, a monthly series whose mission is to provide musicians and other artists a friendly platform to present and discuss new works for an enthusiastic and supportive audience. Founded in January of 2016, it has provided a wonderful setting for artists to meet friends and test out new programs and ideas. Alongside many incredible musicians, other artists who have presented their work have hailed from the fields of visual art, literature, musicology, viticulture, illustration, dance and others.
Please contact me if you are interested in performing on the series or would like to be added to the monthly invitation email list.
January 15 at 7 PM PST: New York-based composer Jude Traxler will perform the second set of songs from his one-act, post-apocalyptic opera, CPU, playing songs of love and loss with a not-so-subtle hint of nihilistic narcissism. For more information on Jude’s work, visit his website.
The YouTube Live link is HERE.
February 26: Praised by the New York Times for her “crystalline performances, gestural expressiveness, and careful attention to color”, and by the Boston Globe for her “effortless incisiveness”, award-winning Canadian pianist Katherine Dowling performs across North America and Europe as a soloist and in all manner of chamber configurations. She is familiar to audiences through close associations with the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Orlando Festival, the Tanglewood Music Centre, the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, the Avaloch Farm Music Institute, and she can be heard on CBC, Radio-Canada, BBC, National Radio 4 (Holland), and the Etcetera label. She credits her teacher Gil Kalish as the major influence in her musical life. She will present two pieces of old songs reimagined for a new world: Arcana by Rudolf Escher (1944) and Fantasia Baetica by de Falla (1919). www.katherinedowling.com
March 26: California-based pianist Anne Rainwater will present a lecture-recital entitled The Humble Half Step. It will explore compositional uses of the half step, from serious to humorous. Anne will play selections of pieces by Mozart, Prokofiev, Chopin, and Walker.
April 16: California composer Anne Hege presents new works for her instrument “the tape machine,” a live-looping instrument created to accompany artist book Water Calling by book artist Camden Richards and print maker Deborah Sibony. Anne will weave together live and pre-recorded excerpts of the soundtrack with an online preview of the book as we collectively consider the power of water in its beautiful and complex interplay in our lives.
May 14: Nicola Waldron is a writer whose recent work focuses on linking word to practices of mindfulness and deep consciousness. She’ll read some poems and short prose pieces from her latest manuscript. Pour yourself a cup of tea, and find a comfortable, quiet space to listen along. You can join Nicola’s newsletter “Postcards from Within” at https://floweringhedgehog.
December 4th at 7 PM PST
New York-based composer and performer Jude Traxler will present a solo set of song selections from his opera, CPU. For more information on Jude’s work, visit his website. The YouTube link is archived HERE.
November 13th at 7 PST
Constance Koo, an Oakland-based harpist, presented a unique program including Baroque transcriptions for the harp. The YouTube link is archived HERE. For more information about Constance, visit her website.
October 23rd at 7 PDT
Writer Lindsay Merbaum read from her forthcoming feminist horror novel The Gold Persimmon and showed us her recipe for the Gold Persimmon, a signature cocktail named for the book’s deliciously mysterious hotel, featuring hibiscus, bourbon, mezcal, and Earl Grey. Follow her on Instagram @pickyourpotions. The YouTube link is archived HERE.
Tenor Alex Taite shared a portion of his one-man show focusing on the development of the Negro Spiritual, its evolution within, and its influence on American music. The YouTube link is archived HERE. For more information, visit Alex’s website.
Violinist Dan Flanagan and pianist Miles Graber presented short violin and piano pieces by August birthday composers, including Claude Debussy, Lili Boulanger, Georges Enescu, Amy Beach, Albert Spalding, Dan Flanagan, Fritz Gearhart, and Clarence Cameron White. Dan is also performed on Albert Spalding’s violin, one of the composers on the set! For more information, visit Dan’s and Miles’s websites at https://www.danflanaganviolin.
The YouTube link is archived HERE.
May 29: Two Salons in one month! Coming to you again live on YouTube, flutist Jessie Nucho will be presenting a solo set on bass flute, alto flute, and C flute! Composers include Cornelius Boots, C.P.E. Bach, Emma Logan, Shiva Feshareki, Katherine Hoover, and Julie Barwick. The YouTube link is archived HERE.
May: The Vernon Salon Series presented its first live stream show! In coordination with musicians Lewis Patzner, Ariel Wang, Corey Mike, Glenda Bates, Derek Sup, and Jacob Hansen-Joseph, Anne Rainwater hosted an an evening of solo works over Facebook and YouTube live on Friday, May 8th at 8 PM. Missed the show? You can always watch it HERE at the archived link on YouTube.
January: Trombonist Will Lang visited from New York and played a solo set, featuring composers Reiko Füting, Jason Eckardt, Anne Hege, Alex Temple, Arvo Pärt, and several pieces he wrote himself.
December: David Lang is one of the most meticulous composers on the contemporary music scene. As self-effacing as it can be, his music is full of puzzles and intellectual nuance. His major piano cycle Memory Pieces was written to commemorate friends of his who left this world earlier than they should have. Pianist Simon Karakulidi is an omnivorous pianist, born in Russia but educated in the United States. Simon believes that the well-being of “art music” is possible only if musicians explore the issues that have defined both current and past aesthetics alike. As a winner of many mainstream international piano competitions, Simon strives to bring as many contemporary American masterpieces to the spotlight as he can.
November: It’s the third annual Bring Your Favorite Artwork Salon! We’ll share music, books, poetry, videos, and more.
September: Local musicians Steve Heckman (saxophone) and Matt Clark (piano) performed compositions by Thelonious Monk, Leonard Bernstein, Harold Arlen, plus original compositions. They have recorded multiple albums together and have over 20 years experience of playing together as well.
August: Pianist Anne Rainwater and mixed-media artist Victoria Welling present their performance art piece Unladylike. Drawing from elements of ritual, the “cult of domesticity,” and societal expectations of women, both of the past and present, Anne and Victoria invite viewers to explore their own beliefs about women and their roles in private and public spheres. See below for some video highlights.
June: Folias Duo presented a program of all original classical music for flute and guitar influenced by Argentine tango, Astor Piazzolla, and South American folk. Having worked together for over ten years, this husband and wife duo of flutist Carmen Maret and guitarist Andrew Bergeron continue to break new ground as performers and composers with a list of over 40 self-published compositions on the Folias Music site. Folias’ five critically-acclaimed albums on the Blue Griffin Recording label show their versatility as musicians.
May: Michael Jones is a percussionist based in San Diego whose work focuses on experimental music and the avant garde. He is particularly interested in the concepts of beauty, natural listening, and community. The Basketweave Elegies (2018) is a new work for vibraphone by composer Peter Garland, based on the sculptures of the late San Francisco-based artist Ruth Asawa.
April: Oakland-based Robert Nance presented Inwards, a set of pieces for solo electric guitar heavily reliant on improvisation and inner reflection. The core idea was initially conceived as an exercise to eschew self-criticism while composing. In these very meditative works, audiences will be encouraged with explore their own relationship with listening as a form of self-reflection.
March: Zwischenspiel, a German word meaning both interplay and interlude, is a meditative program, features new and old music paired with photographs from 2 continents. Zwischenspiel features pianists Rachel Breen and Kelsey Walsh, both Bay Area natives, who have found a new home in Germany. Breen and Walsh are graduates of Juilliard and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and both maintain a full performance and teaching schedule in Hannover and Berlin, respectively. Works included on the program are J.S. Bach’s Contrapunctus 1 (from The Art Of The Fugue) and David Lang’s Orpheus Over and Under.
February: d’PaJo is an eclectic ensemble that focuses on their mutual love and appreciation for a myriad of musical styles – gypsy jazz, jazz standards, great American songbook, and any other music that speaks to them. As a collective, they have performed internationally on more than two continents and in a dozen countries, in settings ranging from intimate house concerts to venues such as Yoshi’s, Grace Cathedral and Davies Symphony Hall. Guitarist Patrick Anseth and Violinist Justin Ouellet have been active in both the California & New England music scenes. They are current faculty members at the renowned Oakland School for the Arts: Patrick is the director of the Jazz Guitar program, and Justin is the Co-Director of Chamber Music & Orchestral Studies. Listen to one of their live performances here.
January: San Francisco harpist Meredith Clark performed a set of solo works by harpist and composer Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961). Salzedo transformed the way composers write for and think about the harp through his large solo harp repertoire and his development of notation system for extended techniques that has been widely adopted. He also worked with famed dancer Vaslav Nijinsky to develop his own method of playing. Meredith keeps a busy schedule playing with orchestras all across the Bay Area as well as playing chamber music and recording for video games and films. She is the Principal Harpist of the Oakland Symphony and part of the Joshua Trio (soprano, cello and harp).
December: CD release party and holiday gathering! I’ll be officially unveiling my Goldberg Variations CD. Please come and join the celebration!
November: It was the second annual Bring Your Favorite Artwork Salon! We shared music, books, poetry, videos, and more.
October: Trio Étrange (Corey Mike – violin, Lewis Patzner – cello, and Anne Rainwater – piano) performed the early Brahms Piano Trio, Op. 8, as well as a movement from a new trio composed by Lewis Patzner.
September: San Francisco vocalist Melinda Becker and pianist Anne Rainwater performed Voy Solo – 20th Century Poetic Narratives, a song set that spans different cultures and languages, including Cuatro Canciones Andinas by Gabriela Lena Frank, Trois Chansons de Bilitis by Claude Debussy, and the Hermit Songs by Samuel Barber.
August: Vocalist/composer Anne Hege and trombonist/composer Jen Baker performed works created from their inaugural MAMA residency that explore the connection between listening, movement, improvisation, and instrument building. Using extended techniques and new technologies, Anne and Jen presented new works for voice, trombone, tape machine (analog live looper), and smartphones. They also discussed their compositions and strategies for supporting creativity and artistic excellence while parenting young children.
May: Oakland-based pianist Emily Tian performed works by Leslie La Barre and Nikolai Kapustin.
April: San Francisco-based Siroko Duo (Victoria Hauk and Jessie Nucho, both on flute) performed works by Jane Rigler, Izabel Austin, Nadine Dyskant-Miller, Alexandre Lunsqui, and Brett Austin Eastman.
March: The Tiny Lady Trio (Sophie Huet – clarinet, Erin Wang – cello, and Elena Akopova – piano) performed Beethoven and Muczynski.
February: Boston-based ensemble Transient Canvas (bass clarinet and marimba) presented some exciting new works as part of their California tour, featuring Joseph M. Colombo, Lainie Fefferman, Keith Kirchoff, Emily Koh, Crystal Pascucci, and Matthew Welch.
November: The first annual Bring Your Favorite Artwork month! Guests brought any work of art they personally enjoyed, and we had a lively sharing session followed by a discussion.
October: In collaboration with Phonochrome, musicians Elizabeth Talbert (flute) and Sophie Huet (clarinet) presented a timely, musical exploration of artistic and literary censorship. The show featured music inspired by banned literature, including Unsuk Chin’s Advice from a Caterpillar (from Alice in Wonderland), and music from banned composers, including J.S. Bach, whose works were censored during China’s Cultural Revolution.
September: The fabulous contemporary flute trio Areon Flutes performed pieces they commissioned from composers Ryan Rey, Julie Barwick, Elainie Lillios, and Dan Becker.
June: It was Music Trivia Night at the Vernon Salon Series, hosted by the inimitable Ben Zucker!
May: Cellist Helen Newby
performed some new pieces from her solo album that featured commissions
by David Bird, Danny Clay, Adam Hirsh, Kurt Isaacson, and Haley Shaw. Composer Ben Zucker presented a lecture-performance realizing his conceptual topography score that incorporates text, graphics, notations, and performance.
April: Local East Bay musicians Amy Zanrosso and Alisa Rose played Prokofiev’s First Violin and Piano sonata. Afterwards, artist Victoria Welling continued our discussion from February about women in the arts.
March: Vernon Street resident and cellist/composer Lewis Patzner performed originals and transcriptions for solo cello. Lewis is a local freelancer who plays in a variety of groups including the Town Quartet, Musical Art Quintet, Cosa Nostra Strings, Devotionals, and Judgement Day.
February: Flutist Jessie Nucho performed two solo works with electronics and fixed media by Kaija Saariaho and Eve Beglarian, and writer Lindsay Merbaum gave a talk about her experiences as a writer and literature critic.
January: We heard from pianist James Stone, violist/composer Scott Rubin, and butoh dancer Shoshanna Greene. See below for a video!
December: We heard from the [Switch~Ensemble], who performed works by Ben Isaacs, Chris Chandler, Max Murray, Matt Sargent, and Anthony Pateras.
November: Local musicians Mark Clifford and Crystal Pascucci performed some original duo pieces together, and Mark also spoke about how he personally addresses the unique challenges of composing for various types of ensembles and how he gives performers room to be improvisers within the context of pieces that are specifically notated.
September: Composer Jason Thorpe Buchanan and wine industry expert Jose Coronado gave talks on their work.
August: We heard from composer/guitarist Dr. Matthew Hough and vocalist/music theorist Meg Wilhoite, performing original compositions by Matthew.
July: Dr. Stephanie Patterson, a bassoonist who teaches at Columbus State University in Georgia, performed a set, followed by a presentation by guitarist Robert Nance also presented a talk about composer Kevin Volans.
June: We heard from contemporary pianist Andy Costello and Beckett scholar Dr. Emily Zubernis.
May: Caitlin McSherry, Monika Warchol, and Anne Rainwater performed horn trios by Johannes Brahms and Eric Ewazen, followed by John Cage’s Living Room Music and presentation by local composer Danny Clay.
April: Liason Ensemble performed a Baroque set and Rachana Vajjhala, a musicologist from UC Berkeley who specializes in French ballet, spoke about Debussy’s Jeux.
March: Performers this month included guitarist Matt Linder, followed by Doug Machiz, Jessie Nucho, and Anne Rainwater performing George Crumb’s Voice of the Whale. Local illustrator Emily Dove Barton also read us her new book Wendell the Narwhal.
February: We heard the music of Robert Nance performed by Kevin Rogers, Abigail Nance, and the composer himself. We also heard poet Roy Doughty read some of his recent writings.