Beauty and harmony offer a civic break in an urban glen among the San Francisco Skyscrapers. Next: Chicago.
What a glorious day for a noon concert in an urban glen set among skyscrapers. Jan Uddenfeldt, CTO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, was attending a technical conference at the Metreon in downtown San Francisco when it came time for lunch. He headed toward the outdoor balcony for a bite to eat when far below he saw the Swedish flags draped as a backdrop to the grassy amphitheater's stage, and then glorious music drew him down to the audience.
It was the annual gift of the Swedish Consulate General of Northern California to San Francisco: a classical concert of Nordic melodies, piano solos and operatic arias featuring the 2012 recipients of the Jenny Lind scholarship and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s piano scholarship, in their initial concert tour of the United States. Both young artists are Swedes—the Jenny Lind scholar is mezzo-soprano Josephine Andersson, and the piano scholar is Nigar Dadascheva, who performed as accompanist and soloist.
The concert began with half a dozen songs from the Nordic countries by Peterson-Berger, Grieg, de Frumerie, and then Stenhammar’s piano solo to midsummer. The singing was glorious in its range and warmth; the piano playing was striking for its intensity and lyricism. On stage and in the open air, the grand piano was fully miked so everyone could hear even the softest passages to the fortissimo bass chords without drowning out the soloist.
The second part of the program exercised both artists' historical range of styles from the Baroque of Handel to the romance of Schumann, the lyrical strains of Mendelssohn, and the mid-19th century galloping rhythms of Rossini. Dadascheva concluded this portion with the ever-popular Liebestraum no. 3 by Liszt.
The concert ended with a concentration on French composers Fauré, Hahn and Gounod. The standing ovations they received were reciprocated with Grieg’s ever-popular and so-appropriate, “Jag elsker deg.”
Next Jenny Lind Concert will be at the Swedish American Museum, Chicago on June 21, at 7 p.m.
Another musical event not to miss if you're in the Midwest or in the East, is the visit by Old Town Gospel Choir Swedish Gospel on Tour
The Scholarship Awardees
Born in Stockholm, mezzo-soprano Josefine Andersson has studied in both Sweden and Denmark, graduating this spring from the Opera Academy in Copenhagen. She has performed in several productions at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen as well as with a young opera company in southern Sweden, where she sang the principal role in Rossini’s “Cenerentola.” Currently she is singing the role of Sesto in Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” at the Folkoperan opera house in Stockholm.
Nigar Dadascheva, on the other hand, was born in Baku, Azerbajdzian, and started playing the piano at age 5. After studying for many years in her home country, she and her family moved to Sweden, where she is currently completing her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. She has performed in many concerts both in Azerbajdzian and Sweden.
The scholarships to these artists, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and the People’s Parks and Community Centers in Stockholm, include a concert tour of the U.S. following that which Jenny Lind made in 1850-1851, produced by P.T. Barnum. The Swedish Nightingale was greeted on her arrival in New York by 30,000 people lining the quay to welcome her boat.
In addition to presenting this concert, Consul General Barbro Osher warmly introduced the performers, and at the conclusion of the concert presented beautiful yellow and blue bouquets to each of them as she graciously thanked them. Everyone was not only grateful to the artists but to Consul General Osher for the gift of this concert, marking the twelfth year we have enjoyed this tradition in a peaceful oasis amidst the canyon of skyscrapers. Somehow she orders perfect weather each time, though the pianist’s page-turner might quibble with my description of the gentle breeze wafting more through the stage than the audience.