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In the meantime, other productions have started to pop up here and there across the country. Now City Lights gives the play its South Bay premiere, and in February, it hits the North Bay with a Marin Onstage production in San Rafael. The City Lights staging is sharply directed by acclaimed local actor Mark Anderson Phillips, who starred in the original production. The team in the play is a close-knit group of collaborators who work together like a well-oiled machine, and that aspect is mirrored in the casting. Hannah, the anxious middle manager sitting in to make sure the brainstorming process runs smoothly, is briskly played by City Lights executive artistic director Lisa Mallette. Ted, the avuncular Southern old pro nicknamed “Papa Bear,” is portrayed with laid-back charm by former artistic director Tom Gough. George Psarras, the company’s resident composer and sound designer, is priceless as the brash Brock (the role that Phillips originated).

Sunny Moza is a coolly deliberate Sandeep, a junior member of the team who’s quick to see the sinister implications of the project, Max Tachis is amusingly oblivious as Scooter, an inept and presumptuous intern far too eager to be one of the guys, Ron Gasparinetti’s set lends an otherwise unassuming meeting room a few little details grishko ballet slippers to engender unease, such as a slanted ceiling and light ringing the underside of the floor, Psarras’ minimal sound design features some hilariously perfect pop song choices whenever someone puts on some music..

The action takes place in real time, without intermission. The characters are told they have to brainstorm a presentation in 90 minutes, and we stay with them the whole time, keeping the tension high and mounting throughout. One brilliant thing about the play is that as the dread and paranoia grow to a fever pitch, the group’s way of working through scenarios and quibbling over nomenclature doesn’t change. Their problem-solving methodology is deeply ingrained, whether the problem they’re working through is their assigned task or doomsday scenarios of how much trouble they might be in and how best to navigate through it. They may not know if what they’re working on is ethically defensible or at all safe to have even gotten involved in, but they do know they’re very good at what they do.

Berkeley, that artistically and intellectually vibrant city, has long provided fertile  ground for major achievements in the arts, letters, sciences and sometimes  (albeit somewhat more modestly), even sports,  Fitting nicely into the creative and intellectual richness of the area is the Berkeley Symphony, currently under the leadership of grishko ballet slippers the brilliant young Portuguese-born conductor Joana Carneiro, who is frequently sought after to guest conduct many of the world’s great orchestras and music festivals..

One of the Symphony’s well-deserved bragging points is its frequent forays into contemporary music.  Maestra Carneiro is also committed to opening new musical doors by including many contemporary works, along with classics, in programs she conducts here and throughout the world. But  she won’t be conducting the Berkeley Symphony (or any others) for the next few months.  Her physician has instructed her to refrain from conducting for the next few months due to her current pregnancy.  The plucky Berkeley band won’t be left high and dry, however.  It has engaged three young musical superstars to perform at its concert at Zellerbach Auditorium  on Thursday.  Mounting the podium to take Carneiro’s place will be German conductor Christian Reif.

Reif joined the San Francisco Symphony as its resident conductor and music director of the  acclaimed San Francisco Symphony grishko ballet slippers Youth Orchestra  during the 2016-17 season, He came to San Francisco from Miami, where he was the Conducting Fellow with the New World Symphony for the past two seasons, He is also a member of Germany’s prestigious Conductor’s Forum (Dirigentenforum), Among his many  successes have been leading the Munich Chamber Opera and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.  He also distinguished himself leading the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz in the world premiere of Mehmet C, Yesicay’s “Lieder aus der Fremde,” a work based on the current European refugee crisis..

The highlight of his Berkeley program will be the Bay Area premiere of young Bay Area composer Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto.  Bates is piling up acclaim for his compositions and has recently been named the most-performed composer of his generation.  Currently serving as the first-composer-in residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., he is also  teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Bates’ music seems to fit happily into 21st century tastes with its utilization of the harmonies of jazz and techno rhythms. His music has been the first symphonic music to achieve widespread acceptance from delighted audiences for its creative integration of electronic sounds.

The new concerto will feature cellist Joshua Roman as soloist,  The concerto is dedicated to Roman, who played the world premiere in 2014.  According to Bates, the concerto’s origins came from his grishko ballet slippers friendship with Roman, when they worked together in New York,  In program notes he wrote that “Roman is beloved by just about everyone who meets him, and I  am no exception.  Immediately apparent is his unusual combination of enlightened prodigy and everyman approachability (he’s from Oklahoma.)”..



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