Past Performances

*July 16, 2017

NURTURING YOUR SUZUKI EXPERIENCE
with Special Comfy Concert featuring Hillary Nordwell!
*10am-4pm at Holy Names University

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Caroline Fraser, BlancaMaria Montecinos, and Hillary Nordwell will be sharing this workshop with parents, prospective parents of Suzuki students and new/experienced Suzuki teachers.  Parents are encouraged to come to learn more about their role in their child’s musical education, share practice suggestions and reinforce their skills as effective teachers at home with their child.  The class is open to parents and teachers of all instruments.

 

April 2, 2017

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata in F-sharp Major, Opus 78
Für Elise, WoO 59
“Moonlight” Sonata, Op. 27, No. 1: Adagio sostenuto
Variations on a Theme by Giovanni Paisiello, WoO 70
Sonatina in F Major, Anh. 5, No. 2

Get to know Beethoven as a little boy, while listening to music he composed throughout his life. This introduction to some of Beethoven’s most famous works, and a few inspiring pieces you may be hearing for the first time, will also include a glimpse into some of his beloved symphonic works.

beethoven4One of the great masters of solo piano writing, Beethoven composed many sonatas, sets of variations, and smaller pieces for the instrument. His famous “Für Elise” (“For Elise”) may not have been written for an Elise at all- it is suspected there may have been an error in the title, which could have been “For Therese,” a woman to whom Beethoven proposed (and was refused) near the time the work was published. The Piano Sonata in F-sharp Major (1809) comes with a dedication to another Therese, who was a close friend, former student, and patron of Beethoven’s. The Variations on the program were composed around 1795 on an operatic duet by Paisiello, which had been performed in Vienna Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.33.18 PMsoon after Beethoven took up residence there. According to  Franz-Gerhard Wegeler, Beethoven composed them for a woman sitting next to him at the opera, who mentioned she had once owned a set of variations on the duet, but had lost them. 25-year-old Beethoven sent the new set of variations to her the next morning.  The slow movement of the “Moonlight” Sonata, composed in 1801, is one of the most famous and best-loved pieces Beethoven ever wrote.

January 15, 2017 (Pacifica) – 2pm
January 29, 2017 (Berkeley) – 3pm
American Art Song

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Acclaimed recording artist and chamber musician Ann Moss, soprano returns to perform a program of American Art Song, featuring works by Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, and John Duke; plus some of our favorites by living composers Vartan Aghababian (Boston) and Jake Heggie (San Francisco). Ann Moss is the artistic director of CMASH, a New Music repertory group committed to establishing and nurturing long-term collaborative relationships between composers and performers, and has long been a champion of new works by American composers. I couldn’t imagine anyone better to introduce our young audience _DSC0180
members to the wonderful world of American Art Song. Ann and I so much enjoyed offering “story through song” with Robert Schumann’s Lieder this summer, and are looking forward to allowing the children an even more direct connection with the songs this time, since they will be in our native language! This delightful program includes (among others) the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and none other than A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh stories!

December 11, 2016
Holiday Celebration

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 8.47.47 PMCome enjoy the story of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, accompanied by delightful arrangements of holiday favorites for piano and strings, as well as a Christmas Carol sing-along to finish off Comfy Concerts’ 2016 Season!

Emily Packard, violin
Robin Reynolds, cello
Hillary Nordwell, piano and viola

November 13, 2016
Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

Clara Schumann: Soirées Musicales, Op. 6
Robert Schumann: Widmung (Dedication), transcribed by Franz Liszt

Clara_Wieck_im_Alter_von_15_JahrenPlease join us as we revisit the composer featured on Comfy Concerts’ premiere performance in August 2015.

Clara Wieck Schumann, one of the most prominent pianists of her time, was also an avid composer of music for the piano. Clara began her musical studies with her father, Friedrich Wieck, who later took on Robert Schumann as a student. Thus the beginning of a musical romance… and the many struggles that went along with it. 

The Soirées Musicales were written when Clara was a teenager, in love with a young man for whom her father was a mentor. Her father, however, was dead set against the relationship developing between his daughter and composer Robert Schumann. He did everything in his power to stop it, including a law suit, in which Robert and Clara won the right to marry before her 21st birthday (and they did, the very day before she turned 21!). Widmung, by Robert Schumann, was part of a set of Lieder (art songs) that he wrote as a wedding gift for Clara.

October 2, 2016
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

Sonata for Viola and Piano Op. 11, No. 4
“Let’s Build a Town!”

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 7.21.05 PMA treat for adventurous listeners, Hindemith’s viola sonata intertwines soaring melodic lines, folk-inspired tunes, intense declamatory energy, and even a few moments that hint at French Impressionism.

Hindemith enjoyed presenting his music at intimate gatherings, with serious and receptive listeners, rather than in big, well-publicized concert events. He said, “Music is meaningless noise unless it touches a receiving mind.” Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 7.28.02 PMThe Viola Sonata is quite a magnificent journey, and Hindemith preferred it to be performed without any pause between the movements. However, we hope he would support our idea to help young minds receive his music; we will play individual sections within his through-composed piece, interspersed with a beautifully written and illustrated new childrens story by David Litchfield, The Bear and the Piano.

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 7.45.03 PMHaving lived through two world wars, we presume Hindemith knew what he was talking about when he said, “People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts.” We wholeheartedly agree, and hope that our musical offerings and our efforts to create interest and passion for music in the younger generation will help promote peace in a troubled world.

“Your task it is, amid confusion, rush, and noise, to grasp the lasting, calm and meaningful, and finding it anew, to hold and treasure it.” Paul Hindemith

Justin Ouellet, viola
Hillary Nordwell, piano

July 31, 2016
Selected Songs of Robert Schumann
(And CD Release! Schumann: A Musical Journey)

Magic, Feelings, Nature, and more!

Explore the broad range of Schumann’s personality through one of his most intimate, and influential, forms- the Art Song (Lied). Themed sets geared toward childrens’ sensibilities and interests will cover the gamut of all of our emotions, and the beauty of Ann Moss’ “powerful expression” will leave children and adults alike wanting more!

RobertSchumann_40JahreAnn Moss is a frequent performer at Comfy Concerts and a versatile and beloved artist. For her full bio, and information on her other projects, please see her website.

This will also be the first concert on the newly restored Steinway Grand (the same piano as always with brand new inner workings!), and will serve as the release for
Robert Schumann: A Musical Journey, my brand new album featuring my reading of Ann Rachlin’s engaging story about Schumann as a young boy, alongside my performance of Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6, featuring a Comfy Concert style format of story and music intertwined.

May 15, 2016

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata in F-sharp Major, Opus 78
Für Elise, WoO 59
“Moonlight” Sonata, Op. 27, No. 1: Adagio sostenuto
Variations on a Theme by Giovanni Paisiello, WoO 70
Sonatina in F Major, Anh. 5, No. 2

beethoven4One of the great masters of solo piano writing, Beethoven composed many sonatas, sets of variations, and smaller pieces for the instrument. His famous “Für Elise” (“For Elise”) may not have been written for an Elise at all- it is suspected there may have been an error in the title, which could have been “For Therese,” a woman to whom Beethoven proposed (and was refused) near the time the work was published. The Piano Sonata in F-sharp Major (1809) comes with a dedication to another Therese, who was a close friend, former student, and patron of Beethoven’s. The Variations on the program were composed around 1795 on an operatic duet by Paisiello, which had been performed in Vienna soon after Beethoven took up residence there. According to  Franz-Gerhard Wegeler, Beethoven composed them for a woman sitting next to him at the opera, who mentioned she had once owned a set of variations on the duet, but had lost them. 25 year old Beethoven sent the new set of variations to her the next morning.  The “Moonlight” Sonata, composed in 1801 is one of the most famous and best-loved pieces Beethoven ever wrote.

*April 10, 2016
Classical Kids at Noe Valley Chamber Music

1:30pm and 3:00pm

RobertSchumann_40JahreCome out to Classical Kids at Noe Valley Chamber Music for a reprise of the Schumann program from this summer- it would be wonderful to see some familiar faces!
Please see their website for more information: http://nvcm.org/classical-kids/kids2016/hillary-nordwell/

Robert Schumann: Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6

Robert Schumann sent Clara these words, along with the Davidsbündlertänze, during their time of separation, enforced by Clara’s father because he didn’t approve of their relationship:

“You will, I know, make a little place in your heart for them, because they are mine… But my Clara will know how to find the real meaning of these dances, for they are dedicated to her in a quite special sense… I never spent happier moments at the piano than in composing these.”

March 13, 2016
Allan Crossman, Bay Area Composer
The Eusebius Duo: Monika Gruber, violin and Hillary Nordwell, piano

Florébius (composed in 2015 for The Eusebius Duo)

Selections from Musical Theater compositions, including
“I Know Exactly Where I Am”
“Piano Teachers’ Problem Waltz”

bio-allan-crossmanCome and meet Allan Crossman, a composer who currently
lives and works in the Bay Area!
Mr. Crossman will share stories of himself as a young person, his motivations and inspirations for becoming a musician and composer, as well as a few works he composed in his early years. The Eusebius Duo will perform Florébius, a work composed by Crossman early last year, which the duo will be professionally recording in March, and Allan Crossman will introduce the kids (and adults!) to some musical theater pieces he has composed for young performers. This is a chance in a lifetime for children to meet a living and local composer, who will answer their questions, speak on his evolution as a composer, and introduce them to the compositional process.

Program note for Florébius by Allan Crossman:

EusebiusDuo_photo1Florébius was written in 2015 for the Eusebius Duo. The piece has the features of expression associated with the characters Florestan (extraverted) and Eusebius (introverted), which, in Schumann, usually appear as separate and distinct passages. In the present composition, those moods/qualities are intertwined, so that there is always one within the other, or one lurking behind the other, ready to take center-stage. And thus the title of the piece…


I’ve been enjoying writing in this dramatic-concert tradition, and what a pleasure working with the Eusebius Duo – seeing how their own personalities and expressiveness intertwine with this music.

Applauded for their “exquisite balance of control and passion,” Monika Gruber and Hillary Nordwell of the Eusebius Duo offer a wide range of music for violin and piano, including repertoire from four centuries, written by composers of many nationalities. They share a special love for the life and music of Robert Schumann.

February 28, 2016
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
Aria from the Opera “Il Re Pastore” for voice, violin, and piano
Das Veilchen (The Violet)
Piano Sonata in C Major, K 330 (Allegro Moderato)

mozart2Comfy Concerts welcomes back Justin
Ouellet and Ann Moss, plus violist Nellie Freed, in this program featuring one of the most famous child prodigies of all time.

In his short life (1756-1791), Mozart composed over 600 works of music, including operas, symphonies, chamber music, piano music, concertos, and art song (Lied). While not able to present symphonic music in such a small space(!), we will cover many of the various genres of Mozart’s composition, and give your child a hands on experience with the instruments of the string family.

November 29, 2015
Holiday Celebration

images-12Come enjoy “Frosty the Snowman”
accompanied by holiday favorites played by piano trio (Violin, Cello, Piano), as well as a Christmas Carol sing-along to finish off Comfy Concerts’ 2015 Season!


Guest performers Emily Packard, violin and Robin Reynolds, cello,  join in the fun!

October 4, 2015
Franz Schubert

schubertArpeggione Sonata, D. 821
Selected Lieder: Im Frühling and Ganymed

We welcome Justin Ouellet, viola, and Ann Moss, soprano, in this program including Schubert’s beloved Arpeggione Sonata and two of his many beautiful art songs (Lieder).

Originally written for the “arpeggione,” an instrument like a bowed guitar, the Sonata was only published after Schubert’s death, when the instrument had already faded into obscurity. It is now performed most often by violists and cellists.

AJFoothillsIm Frühling, the text written in 1815 by Ernest Schulze, depicts the remembrance of love and loss, as set against a backdrop of a valley coming alive in the springtime. 

Ganymed, written in 1774 by Goethe and also set in springtime, describes human-kind and the divine becoming one through nature.

August 16, 2015

Robert Schumann: Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6

Robert Schumann sent Clara these words, along with the Davidsbündlertänze, during their time of separation, enforced by Clara’s father because he didn’t approve of their relationship:

RobertSchumann_40Jahre“You will, I know, make a little place in your heart for them, because they are mine… But my Clara will know how to find the real meaning of these dances, for they are dedicated to her in a quite special sense… I never spent happier moments at the piano than in composing these.”

 

August 2, 2015

Clara Schumann: Soirées Musicales, Op. 6
Robert Schumann: Widmung (Dedication), transcribed by Franz Liszt

Clara_Wieck_im_Alter_von_15_JahrenBecome acquainted with Clara Wieck Schumann, one of the best pianists of her time and an avid composer of music for the piano. Clara began her musical studies with her father, Friedrich Wieck, who later took Robert Schumann on as a student. Thus the beginning of a musical romance… and many struggles that went along with it.