Guest Artists

Chris Brubeck, High Impact, October 19, 2019

Chris Brubeck

Grammy-nominated composer Chris Brubeck continues to distinguish himself as a multi-faceted performer and creative force.  An award-winning writer, the respected music critic for The Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, calls Chris “a composer with a real flair for lyrical melody–a 21st Century Lenny Bernstein.”     

Chris has created an impressive body of symphonic work while maintaining a demanding touring and recording schedule with his two groups: the Brubeck Brothers Quartet (with brother Dan on drums), and Triple Play, an acoustic trio featuring Chris on piano, bass, and trombone, along with guitarist Joel Brown and harmonica player extraordinaire Peter Madcat Ruth.  After a concert with Triple Play in California, Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Triple Play was rollicking good fun led by bassist, trombonist and pianist Chris Brubeck, the trio stole the show with its flair and virtuosity.”

A much sought-after composer, Chris’ latest work, a double concerto for Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, premiered in August 2018 at the Classical Tahoe Festival.  His last commission, “No Borders,” written for the famed Canadian Brass, premiered with the Lexington Philharmonic in November 2017, and has been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today.  He has been commissioned to write many innovative orchestral works from The Boston Pops, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Indianapolis Symphony, Portland Symphony, and many others.

Chris’s highly acclaimed “Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra” has been played by many of the top bass trombonists in the world and was recorded with Chris as soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra. It can be heard on the Koch International Classics recording “Bach to Brubeck.”  He then wrote a second trombone concerto, “The Prague Concerto” which he premiered and recorded with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on the Koch cd, “Convergence.” Reviewing that disc, Fanfare Magazine wrote “Brubeck’s skill both as composer and soloist is extraordinary.”  April 2009 saw the premiere of “Ansel Adams: America,” an exciting orchestral piece written by Chris and Dave Brubeck.  Commissioned by a consortium of eight orchestras, it was accompanied by 100 of Ansel Adams’ majestic images projected above the orchestra.  In 2013, “Ansel Adams: America” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition. chrisbrubeck.com

Pasquale Esposito, Bianco Natale, December 7 and 8, 2019

Pasquale Esposito, tenor

Italian Tenor Pasquale Esposito was born and raised in Naples, Italy and immigrated to the United States, pursuing his passion for music by studying at San Jose State University and receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree where he was a distinguished alumnus in 2009.

An international crossover recording artist acclaimed for his pop-opera delivery of songs, Esposito began touring internationally with his first musical revue: Naples… That’s Amore in 2005.  Thereafter, he toured with his CD of Original Compositions: A Brand New Me (2009) and Il Tempo (2011).

Esposito embarked on writing and producing his first PBS Special, Pasquale Esposito Celebrates Enrico Caruso in 2015, filming in the historic Castello Giusso in Vico Equense on the Amalfi Coast and accompanied by the Orchestra Santa Chiara conducted by Maestro Renato Serio.  The docu-concert pays homage to Caruso by taking the audience on a musical journey in Italy highlighting the life, career, and songs that made Caruso an international star.  Maestro Placido Domingo collaborated in the program with an intimate interview.

His successful debut at the San Francisco Opera in June 2015 came with the premiere of Marco Tutino’s Two Women, an opera adaptation of the 1960’s film La Ciociara, with Sophia Loren. The New York Times stated that Esposito sang with “airy charm” in his performance of Ragazzo del Popolo, while the San Francisco Chronicle described Esposito as “a charismatic and dulcet-toned singer.”

In Spring 2018, Esposito released his second public television special on PBS Stations Pasquale Esposito Celebrates Italian Piazzas.  Esposito was accompanied by the Orchestra Talenti Napoletani conducted by Maestro Adriano Peninno. This docu-concert is a unique musical journey of culture, art, and tradition where Esposito dedicates a song to each of the beautiful piazzas (squares) performed in the prestigious Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, Italy.  A live concert version of the special followed with a robust Fall/Winter 2018 North American Tour including Toronto, San Jose, Las Vegas, New York City, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Hartford, Sacramento, Detroit, Reno and Chicago.

Presently, Esposito is arranging and recording a Christmas album that will be featured in his next public television special, Celebrating the Spirit of Christmas.

Esposito established Notable Music and Arts Organization, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization promoting music education in 2012. The organization provides music instruction to under served students in the San Francisco Bay Area and develops and produces educational programming for public television. Esposito travels nationally to major universities and colleges offering Master Classes in vocal technique and also provides private instruction in his San Jose, California studio.  pasqualeesposito.com

Jon Nakamatsu, Swept Away, February 15, 2020

Jon Nakamatsu, piano

The distinguished American pianist Jon Nakamatsu – known internationally for the panache and elegance of his solo, concerto, and chamber performances – has become a favorite with audiences throughout the world. As a prolific recording artist, Mr. Nakamatsu has set to disc numerous seminal performances on the harmonia mundi label. Of Mr. Nakamatsu’s March 2018 performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Symphony Silicon Valley and conductor Carlos Vieu, David Bratman of San Francisco Classical Voice wrote: “Nakamatsu unleashed his tempered-steel drill-bit persona to keep up [with Vieu’s emphatic style], rumbling deeply through even his opening runs in order to catch attention. His trills and accents gleamed fiercely. By contrast, the slow movement was the soft and melancholy one, even though it’s in the major mode. Here Nakamatsu was gentle yet simultaneously energetic. The Rondo finale split the difference in mood, cheerfully and enthusiastically jumping into each new section.”

​Mr. Nakamatsu has been an active guest soloist with leading orchestras throughout his career, including Berlin Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milan Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Stockton Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony and many more. His numerous summer engagements have included appearances at the Aspen, Tanglewood, Vail and Wolftrap, among others.​

He records exclusively for harmonia mundi USA, and has released twelve CDs to date. All have garnered high critical praise. Notable releases include an all-Gershwin recording with Jeff Tyzik and Rochester Philharmonic featuring Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F which rose to number three on Billboard’s classical music chart as well as a trio disc of works by Brahms, Beethoven, and Weber with Mr. Manasse and cellist Clive Greensmith, which has elicited brilliant reviews from The New York Gramophone and audiophile edition.

A high school teacher of German with no formal conservatory training, Jon Nakamatsu’s electrifying performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto won him the Gold Medal at the 1997 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition amidst a field of experienced competition warriors. Mr. Nakamatsu had studied privately with the late Marina Derryberry from the age of six, and worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the great pianist Artur Schnabel. He also studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Leonard Stein of the Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California and pursued extensive studies in chamber music and musicology. Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education. In the fall of 2016, Jon Nakamatsu joined the piano faculty of the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music. jonnakamatsu.com

Ji in Yang, The Planets, April 4, 2020

Ji in Yang, violin

South Korean violinist Ji in Yang began her music journey at the age of six.  Since then, she has appeared internationally as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician at such venues as the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Seoul Arts Center, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Zankel Hall and Weill Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Cadogan Hall. Recognized for her expressive and nuanced playing, the United Kingdom’s Musical Opinion described her solo appearance at Cadogan Hall as “brilliantly played.”

A guest soloist of orchestras internationally, Ms. Yang regularly appears with ensembles in the United States and all the major orchestras in Korea, including the KBS Symphony Orchestra, Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Ulsan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ms. Yang tours regularly with the distinguished conductorless ensemble, Sejong Soloists, where she often appears as a soloist.  Their most recent album “Passion” on the Universal Music label features her as a soloist in Piazzolla’s Four Seasons and Ponce’s Estrellita arranged by Heifetz.  In 2006 she was appointed the “Samsung Foundation of Culture” Chair, a distinction she held until 2008.

Ms. Yang’s performances have also been heard on radio and television shows such as NPR’s From the Top, Japan’s NHK, America’s Capital Public Radio on “Insight”, and in guest appearances on Korea’s KBS television shows “Art Theatre” and “Classic Odyssey“.  She was also a guest performing artist at the United Nations in their Earth Day celebrations.

A frequent collaborator with some of the worlds leading musicians, she has worked closely with such artists as Joseph Kalichstein, Cho-Liang Jimmy Lin, and Elmar Oliveira.  Ms. Yang holds a Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Hyo Kang and Dorothy DeLay and graduated from Yale University with an Artist Diploma.  She is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts on a full scholarship at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York with Daniel Phillips.  She has also worked with Ruggiero Ricci, Itzahk Perlman, Rodney Friend, Robert McDuffie, Dong-Suk Kang, and Igor Ozim in masterclasses.  Ms. Yang plays a Petrus Guarnerius violin, made in Venice in 1723. jiinyang.com

Shana Blake Hill and Roberto Perlas Gomez, Opera Meets Broadway, June 6 and 7, 2020

Shana Blake Hill, sopranoSoprano Shana Blake Hill is known for creating and premiering new roles and contemporary works, as well as bringing a thoughtful and modern perspective to the heroines of the standard repertoire. Critics such as Opera News and The Philadelphia Enquirer have described her as a “fearless actress,” “floods of glorious sound,” and as “visually and vocally voluptuous.” Hill has sung principal roles with The Los Angeles Opera, Savonlinna Festival Opera (Finland), Dayton Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Long Beach Opera, Santa Barbara Opera, and Opera Southwest. She has been a soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, The Seattle Symphony, The Pacific Symphony, The Naples Philharmonic, The Pasadena Symphony, The Louisville Orchestra, and The Colorado Symphony. Hill is a Naxos recording artist, and is featured on Sony’s Favorite Film Score Compilation. Her latest world premiere as Angela in the first Flamenco Opera Llantos 1492 at the Tucson Desert Festival of Song was critically acclaimed and made opera history. Her upcoming performance of Ghita in Zemlinky’s Der Zwerg at the Historic Theater at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles is part of the widely anticipated inaugural season of Numi Opera, a company dedicated to recovered voices and the works of oppressed composers.  Her reprisal of Eurydice in Orfeus the feature film/live performance experience by Nmon Ford are soon to take place in both New York and London, and she returns to Festival Opera in the title role of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah with Festival Opera in July of 2019. shanablakehill.com

Roberto Perlas Gomez, baritone

Filipino-American baritone Roberto Perlas Gomez has performed his extensive repertoire of over one hundred roles with many of the international and regional opera companies throughout the United States. His career has had a special emphasis on performances in California. Mr. Gomez performs many of the standard leading baritone roles in French and Italian opera with Barbiere’s Figaro and Germont in La traviata being his signature pieces. He recently sang the role of Elias in the Filipino opera, Noli me tangere at Kennedy Center.

Mr. Gomez made his international debut as Marcello in La Boheme with the Shanghai Opera. He was in Manila to create the title role of Rizal in a premiere celebrating the centennial of the Philippine National hero.

Mr. Gomez made his European debut for the Arena di Verona as the Chinese Prime Minister, Chou en-lai in the Italian premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China, a role he later reprised with the Long Beach Opera.  He performed his first title roles with Long Beach in their productions of Antonio Vivaldi’s long lost Motezuma in its American premiere, and Emperor of Atlantis. He has made a specialty of modern operas, performing Rambo and the First Officer in The Death of Klinghoffer. robertoperlasgomez.com

Guest Artists and programming subject to change.