By Judith Kahn
Sunset Music and Arts is an organization dedicated to bringing affordable, high-quality cultural and music programs to San Francisco’s west side. Classical, chamber music, opera, Broadway, piano and jazz are some of the genres they present.
Since 2014, Sunset Music and Arts has been held at Episcopal Church of the Incarnation at 1750 29th Ave. in the Sunset District. The church also conducts workshops focused on the arts and offers occasional workshops at San Francisco schools.
The programs is the creation of Mathew Chacko. who said he is very excited about the 2020 season’s focus on Beethoven, presenting more than 25 works by the composer, including one rarely performed oratorio, “Christos am Olberg” (Christ on the Mount of Olives). Its presentation is a collaboration between Sunset Music and Arts and San Francisco Renaissance Voices, under leadership of its new music director, Don Scott Carpenter. The season will kick off Saturday, Jan. 11 with pianist and composer, Eric Tran performing works by Liszt, Beethoven and his own compositions. Tran will end the programs with Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Sixth Pastoral Symphony.
In November, Sunset Music and Arts will feature Beethoven’s solo, chamber and choral works in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The musicians comprise accomplished, acclaimed performers from the United States and all over the world.
With the departure of the Conservatory of Music from the Sunset, Chacko felt it was important that residents had access to many genres of music at affordable prices. The church offers great acoustics with the added advantage of available parking. He is very grateful to have the church as the venue with its pipe organ and grand piano for local and international artists and to be able to provide a space for up-and-coming talent.
Chacko’s own music education began in childhood as part of the church choir, before coming to the U.S. from India in 1985. He also studied the piano as a child. After a pause for a number of years, he said he found his passion again for the instrument during his undergraduate and graduate studies. He deeply regrets that music programs are no longer part of the middle school and high school curriculum. His own sense of music’s importance motivates him as he continues to create the series.
He refers to music as a language. His own tastes, apart from solo piano, are opera and choral music,
“The voice is an amazing instrument, and the fusion of words and poetry with music has a powerful effect,” Chacko said.
He also believes that chamber music is a genre that deserves more exposure.
“Composers sometimes use the chamber music genre to best express their more intimate feelings,” he said.
Chacko said the venue of the church “gives the audience the opportunity to actively listen and visually see each performer as part of the conversation.”
The season will feature accomplished returning artists along with many local, national and international artists. These include Nicole Oswald, student and graduate teaching assistant to the renowned concert violinist and pedagogue, Charles Castleman.
Another artist is Oliver Brett, who was educated as a music and academic scholar at Tonbridge School and an organ scholar at Kings College, Cambridge, graduating in 2007. Since then, he held positions at Westminster Cathedral, Durham Cathedral and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. Brett performed across five continents as a recitalist at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Seoul Art Centre in South Korea and the Istanbul International Music Festival, to name a few.
Also in the lineup is the Matt Renzi Quartet which has performed professionally for 20 years at international jazz and music venues. Jazz organizations in Italy, Spain, Belgium, India, Israel and the U.S. have cited the group for advanced concepts in spontaneous group composition and improvisation.
Another outstanding performer, Clare Longendkye, displays colorful musicality, technical fluency and an ability to interpret music across repertoires. For added diversity, Jack Cimon, a classically trained Spanish guitarist, is recognized for his powerful presence, beautiful tone and classical renditions. He has played the guitar since he was a toddler and worked with Grammy Award-winning musicians like Steve Suave and William Kanengiser.
For more information about the Sunset Music and Arts Series and the upcoming Beethoven 2020 Project, visit http://www.sunsetarts.wordpress.com, call (415) 554-2324 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.