2014-2015 Concert Series Featured Performers

allan pollack
Miksak
Malan
Harrison
dLeon

Allan Pollack has served as the music director and conductor of the Symphony of the Redwoods for the past twenty-four years.  He also currently serves as Artistic Director for the Mendocino Music Festival, and served as Artistic Director/Conductor for the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento for eight years.

Pollack received a PhD in composition from UC Berkeley in 1984, and has since written several works for orchestra and chamber ensemble. Among his compositions are The Spiral Dance for chorus and orchestra, From the Song of Songs for soprano and orchestra, Two Movements in Time for orchestra, a Vibraphone Concerto, and A Summer Evening at the Boonville Fair for orchestra. His jazz concerto for saxophone, Albion Song, was recently premiered at the Mendocino Music Festival and subsequently performed by the Camellia Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Pollack has had an extensive teaching career in the Bay Area, including a 35-year lectureship at the UC Berkeley, various appointments at the Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Community Music Center. He also taught clarinet and saxophone out of his Berkeley studio for decades. His work as a clarinetist and saxophonist embraced a myriad of styles, and he played in many chamber groups, orchestras and jazz bands. Some say he still plays a mean jazz saxophone.

Pollack’s commitment to excellence has inspired musicians and audiences alike and, over the years, he has played a significant role in developing and sustaining musical life on the North Coast.

 

WINTER CONCERT

Miles Graber received his musical training at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Anne Hull, Phyllis Kreuter, Hugh Aitken, and Louise Behrend. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1971, where he has developed a wide reputation as an accompanist and collaborative pianist for instrumentalists and singers. He has performed with numerous solo artists, including Sarah Chang, Cho-Liang Lin, Camilla Wicks, Axel Strauss, Mimi Stillman, Judith LeClair, Martha Aarons, and Lev Polyakin. Mr. Graber performs frequently with violinists Christina Mok and Mariya Borozina, clarinetist Tom Rose, and flutists Gary Woodward, Amy Likar, and Ai Goldsmith. He is a member of the chamber groups MusicAEterna, GGR Trio, Alcyone Ensemble, the Sor Ensemble, and the new music group Sounds New. 
Mr. Graber has been associated with such ensembles as the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Midsummer Mozart, the Oakland-East Bay Symphony, the Berkeley Symphony, the California Symphony, the Santa Rosa Symphony, Oakland Lyric Opera, Berkeley Opera, and Opera San Jose. He has accompanied master classes by such artists as Midori, Joseph Silverstein, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Pamela Frank, Alexander Barantchik, James Galway, Lynn Harrell, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Lipsett, Ronald Leonard, Leon Fleisher, Alisa Weilerstein, and Kim Kashkashian. He has been a frequent performance accompanist and chamber player with members of San Francisco Symphony, San Jose Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, California Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, Oakland East Bay Orchestra, Oakland-East Bay Youth Orchestra, UC Berkeley Symphony, and members of the San Francisco Conservatory faculty. He is a staff accompanist at the San Domenico Conservatory in San Anselmo, California, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Northern California Flute Camp in Carmel Valley.  He is a pianist for the annual Young Artist Competition at the Mondavi Center for the Arts at UC Davis, as well as the annual Irving Klein Competition at UC San Francisco, and the Summer Brass Institute at the Menlo School in Atherton, California.

WINTER CONCERT

Roy Malan - In January 2015, Roy Malan will relinquish his position as Concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. His 40-year first chair tenure with the orchestra sets a record for any major orchestra in the San Francisco Bay Area and quite likely the rest of the country as well. Malan's contribution to Bay Area music life is unusually wide-ranging. His violin playing represents a distillation of his links to the Golden Age of romantic performers, combined with a hands-on knowledge of contemporary performance techniques.
During the San Francisco Ballet's season, Malan has been heard by thousands every evening in the grand ballet solos of the literature, which includes most of the major violin concertos. Herb Cain wrote that these solos alone were worth the price of admission. Colleagues have described him as the last of the romantics whose sound alone could identify him.
As the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players' premier violinist for as many years, Malan has performed standard cornerstone as well as hot-off-the-press new music, collaborating with such luminaries as Olivier Messaien, Elliot Carter, Pierre Boulez, Lou Harrison, John Adams, Dave Brubeck and Frank Zappa.
His training at the Curtis Institute under Efrem Zimbalist (from the legendary virtuoso stable of the fabled Leopold Auer in St. Petersburg) and at Juilliard, as a product of the 20th century's celebrated star-producer Ivan Galamian, has provided Malan with the necessary wherewithal. Additional mentors included Yehudi Menuhin and Oscar Shumsky.
As a teacher he has placed students in most of the Bay Area's orchestras and chamber groups. In addition, he directs a summer chamber music festival in Telluride, Colorado, and is the author of an acclaimed biography of his teacher Zimbalist, who bequeathed Malan his favorite French concert bows.

WINTER CONCERT

STEPHEN HARRISON, cellist, has been on the faculty at Stanford University since 1983 when he returned to his native Bay Area to become cellist of the newly formed Stanford String Quartet.  His performing life has combined chamber, solo and contemporary music. During his fourteen years with the Stanford String Quartet he recorded and toured internationally with a number of works commissioned for the ensemble, including those by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer William Bolcom, Ben Johnston, and Donald Crockett. In 1998 he co-founded the Ives Quartet and continues performing, recording (on the Naxos, New World and AIX Entertainment labels) and teaching with that ensemble in the Bay Area and around the U.S.

A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Boston University’s School for the Arts (where he won the award for Distinction in Graduate Performance), he has been solo cellist of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players since 1985.  With the Contemporary Players, he has given over 50 world premieres and made commercial recordings for the CRI, Albany, Music and Arts, New Albion, Newport Classics, New World and YBM labels.

Former principal cellist of the Chamber Symphony of San Francisco and the New England Chamber Orchestra, he is currently principal cellist of the Mendocino Music Festival Orchestra and cellist at the Telluride Chamber Music Festival.  Mr. Harrison has served as artist / faculty at the Rocky Ridge Music Center, Italy’s Schlern and Orfeo International Music Festivals, and the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop.

 

SPRING CONCERT

James D’LeÓn - Born in South Korea into a musical family, James D’León began the piano at the age of 4 and performed his first solo recital at the age of 5. After receiving early piano training from his mother, he was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious pre-college program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with May Kurka and Milton Salkind. As the winner of both the San Francisco Symphony and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra competitions, he performed the Grieg Piano Concerto and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 at the age of 12. He then relocated to Pennsylvania where he honed his technique and performance skills and by the age of 14, he had won every regional competition culminating in his debut performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
  
He continued his piano studies with George Sementovsky in Philadelphia, which resulted in top honors as a summa cum laude graduate from Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music in Philadelphia. This study greatly influenced his style, refined his technique, and formulated his philosophy of piano performance, especially in regard to physical movement. He was subsequently awarded a fellowship to the Eastman School of Music in New York where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Literature. 
  
From there, he competed and won praise in many international piano competitions such as the Bachauer, Kapell, Leeds, and the Cliburn. He was also a top-five finalist in the Naumburg International Competition where he was selected out of 250 extraordinary pianists. Afterwards, he received top honors in the Artist International Competition that led to his New York Debut Recital at Carnegie Hall, and the Gold Medal at the New Orleans International Piano Competition, which helped launch his performance career.
  
In 2009, he was selected as an International Steinway Concert Artist on both the prestigious New York and Hamburg, Germany rosters. Since then, he has performed in England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Canada, and 40 states (and counting)throughout the continental United States. 
  
His performances have garnered critical praise from audiences and critics everywhere including the Philadelphia Inquirer, which stated that he performed with “exciting pianism and powerful emotion.” The Salt Lake Tribune commented that “D’León was a musical sorcerer who mesmerized the audience with every single note.” After his performance at the prestigious Reading Festival in England, International Piano Magazine stated that “D’León is one of the latest U.S. pianists to watch, and his recital was an absolute sheer and dazzling delight!” His busy summers have included performances at the Banff Festival in Canada, the Boyle Festival in Ireland, the Schlern Festival in the Italian Alps, and the Mendocino Music Festival on the northern California coast. 

As a chamber musician, he has performed with many of the world’s finest chamber groups including the Muir String Quartet, and the Shanghai String Quartet, with whom he performed the Brahms Piano Quintet to a capacity audience that resulted in a 10-minute standing ovation. He is also in great demand as a master-class presenter and adjudicator. He has given master classes at more than 75 universities around the world and has served as judge in international piano competitions of all ages. 

As a recording artist, the American Record Guide has called his performances "Remarkably played! The result is a revelation and a real treasure!” E-Music Magazine called his performance of Schubert and Liszt "Amazing…and if you think you have heard it all with this particular Schubert sonata, take a listen to this disc!” He has also recorded contemporary works for the German Col Legno record label including works by renowned Czech composer Ladislav Kubik. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla’s complete tangos transcribed for piano quintet. 
  
Today, D’León is known as a rare and completely versatile pianist who is just as comfortable performing a concerto as he would be playing a full solo recital or collaborating with a world-class chamber group. He continues to dazzle audiences and keep them on the edge of their seats with his commanding technique, expressive body movement, and searching interpretations.