Golden Years?--Stuart Canin, founder of the New Century Chamber Orchestra retires--again.
Thursday, December 24, 1998
Under its founder and concertmaster, Stuart Canin, the New Century Chamber Orchestra will perform an all-Russian program the weekend of Jan. 14 through 17 in the S.F. Bay Area. In case you don''t recognize his name, Canin is the sort of person one might expect to see profiled in the pages of Modern Maturity as an example of how best to retire. In his case, that means going to work for yourself instead of punching somebody else''s time-clock. From 1970 to 1980, Canin was concertmaster for the San Francisco Symphony under Seiji Ozawa. The New York native and competition prize winner has served in the same capacity for the Casals Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival (New York), Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia and San Francisco Opera. He is also well-known as a teacher at the San Francisco and Oberlin conservatories and at music schools in Germany and China.
But at age 65, he decided to do his own thing. In 1992, he founded, trained and launched the 15-member New Century Chamber Orchestra. During the last five years, the NCCO has toured the Bay Area to critical acclaim. While they have kept a foot in the traditional literature, they have consistently produced overlooked masterpieces of the 20th century. As evidence of the latter, to say nothing of their high technical and artistic standards, they have released three CDs, including entire programs of Frank Martin and Dmitri Shostakovich, plus their newest, a collection of works by Argentine composers Alberto Ginastera and Alberto Williams.
Now, Canin has decided to retire--yet again--at the end of the current season. "Happily, the NCCO has become very successful. But it''s also now an eight- or nine-month job, and I want to go back to being my own boss," Canin told us. "I play four or five programs a year with Ozawa and the New Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo. In fact, I just returned from a tour in Russia with that group where we did concerts with Rostropovich. I''ll continue with them because I can choose how many programs I want to do. But, frankly, I''m looking forward to traveling without the violin."
Perhaps the Carmel Music Society or Chamber Music Monterey Bay could bring the NCCO to Carmel. Based on the documentary evidence, such an appearance would likely set a high point of that local season. Next month''s Bay Area tour, on the dates mentioned above, respectively includes concerts at Berkeley''s First Congregational Church, Palo Alto''s First United Methodist Church, San Francisco''s Herbst Theater and San Rafael''s Osher Marin Jewish Community Center. The program will include Shostakovich''s Octet, a work by Alfred Schnittke and Tchaikovsky''s Serenade for Strings. Information: (415) 392-4400.
All of NCCO''s recordings are easy to praise. Swiss composer Frank Martin is represented by Etudes for String Orchestra on a disc that also includes his Violin Concerto (featuring Canin as soloist) and the song-cycle Maria Triptychon (featuring soprano Sara Ganz) with Kent Nagano''s Berkeley Symphony (New Albion NA-086). The Shostakovich CD includes two "chamber symphonies" (adaptations by Rudolf Barshai of the composer''s 8th and 10th string quartets) and Two Pieces for String Octet, Op. 11, (New Albion NA-088). Just released is the Argentine program, including Ginastera''s brash Concerto for Strings, Op. 33 and three "Argentina Suites" each comprising four colorfully pictorial movements (d''Note Classics, DND-1035).
Last Week''s Quiz Of what composer''s playing did Sir Isaac Newton write, "I found nothing worthy of remark but the elasticity of his fingers"?
Answer: George Frideric Handel
This Week''s Quiz: What 16th-century cleric wrote, "In truth we know by experience that song has great force and vigour to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God with a more vehement and ardent zeal"?
Soprano Zora Jehlickova Sunday, 3:30pm. Czech opera artist sings arias, songs, with pianist Melinda Coffey. Church of the Wayfarer, Lincoln Street & 7th Avenue, Carmel. $12/general; $10/seniors & students. 624-3550.