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Updated: Jul 17

This past week my brother in law Ming Tsai made a surprise visit to SandBox. When I got word he would be arriving in a couple of hours I headed out for ingredients we might provide him with to create the magic that happens when Ming cooks. We have a magnificent kitchen that was designed by the much loved architect, Jerome Lomax. I suspect it was never put to such good use as this meal with Ming. I realized as I watched Ming creating the recipe from his imagination, inspired by what he had to work with, that it is very much like the process of curating musical programs in SandBox. It's all a balance of flavors, textures and colors. The common thread throughout is that the real pleasure culminates in the sharing in community around the table or in SandBox. Ming travels the world cooking just as we musicians travel the world performing. We savor the food and we savor the arts. I don't believe we could live without either.

We are so fortunate in Monterey County with the freshest food. I walked down the pier to the Monterey Fish Market to find local Halibut, sword fish and rock cod. What a treasure exists in that store! The vegetables were all locally grown and fresh. With the bounty from nature and the cultural bounty that exists in our region not to mention the natural beauty that abounds, we are truly blessed to cal this region home.

On Sunday July 9, the sell out crowd at SandBox was witness to the brilliant young, gifted Romanian pianist, Alina Bercu. Mark Mancina made not only Alina's appearance at SandBox possible but was also the one to make the introduction The program displayed the versatility in Alina's technique and interpretation of the many styles on display. The program took us on a journey that began with a stunning performance, masterfully revealing the contrapuntal complexities of J.S.Bach's Italian Concerto. This was followed by two Chopin Nocturnes Opus 29 which the triggered a collective sigh from all who were present. With only one rehearsal under our belts, I joined Alina and violinist Jenny Cho in a performance of the Trio Elegiaque in g minor by Rachmaninov. The spontaneity of the brief encounter made for an exciting palate cleanser to set the scene for the main course which was Modest Mussorsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The audience was on their feet and as members of the audience left one could see awe, smiles, contentment and and even tears in their eyes.

A week ago I received a text from friend and colleague Francisco Fullana asking if he could stay with me over the weekend and suggested we might even make some music together. Five days later on Friday evening, March 24th we found ourselves playing to a sell out crowd in SandBox and raising nearly $2000 to help in the recovery efforts of the community of Pajaro. Francisco arrived late on Thursday evening after performing the Szymanowski violin concerto #1 in Madrid the night before. Frida morning we briefly read through our duo repertoire planned for Friday evening then he rushed up to Santa Clara County Court House to take his oath and receive his American citizenship!!! Returning with only 45 minutes to spare Francisco wowed the audience with his virtuosity and musicianship. The evening started out with the beloved

Chaconne by JS Bach, followed by a self designed triptych of sorts:

Duo - Allegro serioso, non troppo. Zoltan Kodaly

Duo. Andante Pal Hermann

Duo- Allegro Giocoso - Zingaresca Erwin Schulhoff

this was followed by some very showy solo works:

Asturias Isaac Albeniz

Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

Francisco Tarrega

Amazing Grace

It was a rousing ovation for everything shared that evening and tremendous gratitude for all we were able to accomplish and share in community. It was a great concert for a great cause. We were especially grateful to Gail Dryden for having brought 6 of the most divine home made chocolate raspberry tarts to share with everyone present. We also want to recognize Beth Peerless from the Monterey Herald for giving SandBox the incredible shout out in Thursday's Monterey Herald! It takes a village, as the saying goes. What a wonderful village we created together. Thank you everyone!

Here are a few brief samples from the evenings offerings:

Andante for the Grand Duo by Pal Hermann

Zingaresca from the Duo

by Erwin Schulhoff

Gail Dryden delivering her marvelous chocolate raspberry tarts!

Musikiwest musicians filled many hearts in the region with the Cello2Cello program. It was a dream team of generous and uber talented musicians who traveled from near and far to be here in Monterey County: violinists- Siwoo Kim, Anna Lee, violist Danny Kim and cellists Michelle Djokic and Jeffrey Zeigler. Our musicians shared their scripted open rehearsals on the nature of positive collaboration with hundreds of Monterey County school children from Big Sur to Seaside. The students shared some wonderful insights from their perspective with everyone about how to be empathic and supportive colleagues as we explored the dynamics of collaboration. To cap off a rich and productive week our musicians gave a closing concert at SandBox on Thursday, March 2nd to a sell out crowd of children and adults. Our program was comprised of two works dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that may very well have had their West coast premier! The first composition was by Luigi Boccherini, The Night Music of the Streets of Madrid. We were able to access the manuscript of the original realization of this programmatic work as Boccherini had originally conceived of the work. Our version included the lesser known final movement that had been eliminated when it was published after Boccherini passed away. Enjoy this little snippet of the tune you may recognize was used in the film Master and Commander.

The evening's featured composition was the Kreutzer Sonata of Ludwig van Beethoven arranged for quintet. The arrangement was made in Beethoven's lifetime so some argue that he himself penned the arrangement. However, the edition of the score by Simrock differs greatly from the individual parts and as we discovered, was full of errors. We spent much of our rehearsal time fixing the errors in order to successfully present this monumental work in this formation. It was well worth the effort as our audience members and musicians can fully attest. Perhaps one day, we can take this program into a recording studio and lay it down for posterity. The excitement of hearing this for the first time was exhilarating for the audience who were on their feet already after just the first movement. The standing ovation at the close inspired our performers to share one last selection. Which brings me to the 3rd B in our program, Let is Be by the Beatles. Anna Lee, is a stunning violinist also possesses a rich and beautiful voice. She shared her gift and spontaneously the audience joined in as we continued. The laughter and tears shared in this profound evening will live on in our hearts forever.

Let it Be

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