Music@Menlo festival trumpets thriving decade 

click to enlarge Chamber champion: Clarinetist Anthony McGill appears in Music@Menlo concerts today. The music festival has featured 170 world-renown artists over its 10 years. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Chamber champion: Clarinetist Anthony McGill appears in Music@Menlo concerts today. The music festival has featured 170 world-renown artists over its 10 years.

As the chamber music festival Music@Menlo opens its 10th season today, its dazzling programming and accomplishments are out of proportion with its mere-decade history.

Operating on a $1.8 million annual budget that supports 65 public events, the “musical start-up in Silicon Valley” originated by cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han attracts a loyal audience of more than 15,000. Music@Menlo concerts have featured 170 world-renown musicians, and its Chamber Music Institute has helped launch some 250 young artists’ careers.

Festival concerts air nationwide on American Public Media’s “Performance Today,” reaching 1.3 million listeners weekly, and 55 CDs have been released on the Music@Menlo LIVE label.

Beyond the figures are personal success stories galore.

“Music@Menlo changed my life,” says Gloria Chien, a pianist from Taiwan who first appeared in the festival as a member of the International Program and now directs the Chamber Music Institute, managing the schedule for 40 students.

“I never knew that an environment like this — where music is constantly shared, discussed and created — existed. It was a glimpse into this world of chamber music of which I wanted to be a part,” says Chien.

“I remember sitting in the company of luminaries such as Michael Steinberg, hearing him using phrases like ‘the thunderous ocean of silence,’ reciting poems or listening to the great singers of the golden age,” adds Chien.  

She also was coached by a young clarinetist named Anthony McGill, with whom she appears in concert this morning at Menlo School’s Stent Family Hall.

McGill, principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra — who first appeared with the festival in 2006 at age 24 — calls Music@Menlo “one of the top chamber music festivals in the world, attracting some of the greatest musicians in the world.”

This year’s anniversary season, titled “Resonance,” aims to “explore music from the listener’s perspective,” according to co-founder Wu Han.

Where: Center for Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton; plus smaller venues
When: Today through Aug. 11
Tickets: $20 to $50; some 40 free events
Contact: (650) 331-0202,

At Center for Performing Arts

  • 6 p.m. today; “Sustained,” with music by Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven, featuring Anthony McGill (clarinet), Juho Pohjonen (piano) Benjamin Beilman (violin), David Finckel (cello), Pacifica Quartet
  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday; Silent films, accompanied by pianist Stephen Prutsman
  • 8 p.m. Friday; “Transported,” with music by Barber, Sibelius, Granados, Debussy and Mahler, featuring Sasha Cooke (mezzo soprano), Kelly Markgraf (baritone)
  • 8 p.m. Aug. 1; “Invitation to the Dance,” with music by Bach, Schubert, Johann Strauss, Bartók and Copland, featuring Gloria Chien and Gilbert Kalish (piano), Wu Han (harpsichord), Carol Wincenc (flute)
  • 6 p.m. Aug. 5; “Impassioned,” with music by Schumann, Dvorák and Fauré, featuring Kalish, Wu Han (piano), Arnaud Sussmann (violin), Richard O’Neill (viola)

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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