ArtBeat: Blue Rose Trio concerts connect Alaska and the Amazon

Mike Dunham

The Blue Rose Trio, three enormously talented musicians living in different parts of the globe who join up from time to time, will present two concerts in Anchorage this week. The programs will feature 20th century music from Latin America that tends to blend classical precision and intensity with the infectious verve of popular music.

The trio includes Anchorage clarinetist Karl Pasch, who toured Brazil last year thanks to a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation. Lars Hoefs, formerly of California, is a professor of cello at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil, where he has performed with that nation's major orchestras and is considered an expert on the country's most prominent composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. Rose Chen is a pianist, teacher and conductor in the Los Angeles area. All are familiar to Alaska music fans from several previous performances here.

A portion of both programs will focus on the music of major Latin composers -- Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, D'Rivera and Piazzolla -- and include a cello ensemble, The Anchorage Villa-Lobos Cello Choir, that consists of about half the cellists in Anchorage. The first, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, will take place at Central Lutheran Church, 1420 Cordova St., and will include a shot of tango, samba and Latin jazz with guest musicians from Anchorage's John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet.

The second, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Wilda Marston Theater at Loussac Library, will include several other Anchorage performers, including Damberg, Mari Hahn, Timothy Smith and Laurie Koenig. That program will feature a piece by Pasch titled "Mush!" In addition to the piano, Chen will perform on a pianica -- also known as a melodica, a wind instrument with a keyboard.

Cellos swarm Sitka

Speaking of cello ensembles, the Sitka Summer Music Festival is holding its inaugural Sitka Cello Seminar through July 15. Ten top cello performance majors from colleges and conservatories from Florida to Asia are studying with Festival director Zuill Bailey and cello pedagogue Melissa Kraut of the Cleveland Institute of Music. It's designed in the tradition of the master classes led by Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California back in the day, when Sitka Festival founder Paul Rosenthal took part.

Students and faculty are living and working in 100-year-old Stevenson Hall on the campus of the former Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, the Festival's permanent year-round home. Participants will make outreach visits to local venues. The public is invited to observe the master classes on July 7, 8, 10 and 11

The final performance of the seminar -- "Cellobration" -- will be held at Harrigan Centennial Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Three Alaskans honored in Austin

Last month in these pages we wrote about Chanda Ly, the former Cambodian refugee who became Mrs. Alaska United America, before the national competition in Austin, Texas. That pageant took place on June 21 and, we're happy to report, Ly was named runner-up in her division.

In addition, Ariel Talen-Keller of Chugiak, last year's Ms. Petite United America, was given the title of Ms. United America Ambassador, sort of a lifetime achievement honor. Deb Morton of Eagle River, a supervisor at the Alaska Military Academy, received the title of Ms. Petite United America, a title reserved for women 5 feet 6 inches or shorter.

Chicago children's choir performs

Anima -- Young Singers of Greater Chicago is touring Alaska as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. At 7 p.m. today, they're scheduled to perform at the Chapel by the Lake in Juneau. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, they'll join the Alaska Children's Choir in a concert at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River. Performances are free, though donations will be accepted at the door. You can find out more about the group at

'Klinghoffer' canceled

Last month, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it would remove John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer" from its upcoming season of live HD broadcasts. In a press release, management said there were concerns that the opera, about the killing of a Jewish passenger on a cruise ship by Palestinians in 1985, "might be used to fan global anti-Semitism."

The cancellation came after objections were presented by the Anti-Defamation League and the family of the American victim, Leon Klinghoffer. The production will, at this writing, remain on the Met's schedule, but will not be included in the live transmissions to movie theaters around the world, including Alaska.

The originally announced HD broadcast date for "Klinghoffer" was Nov. 15, the final day of its run in New York. No mention was made concerning what other opera, if any, would take its place in the broadcast schedule. We're guessing there won't be any. And there's still a possibility that the decision will be reversed. We're guessing not.

There was a good deal of initial stir in the New York and European press about the decision and the reasons behind it. That seems to have dialed down as tensions in the Mideast dialed up after the discovery on Monday of the bodies of three teenagers in Israel, one of them American, followed by an apparent retaliatory killing and, as of this writing, great concern over whether the conflict will escalate by the time these words appear in print.

There is irony in how Adams' opera, written in the 1980s to reflect current events of that time, has performance issues imposed by current events 30 years later.

Meanwhile, the next HD broadcast from the Met will be seen at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Century Theatres in Anchorage. It will be an encore presentation of Verdi's "Otello," an opera about racism, lies, back-stabbing, domestic violence and wife-killing that offends no one. Verdi's operas, like Adams', are generally political. But his music is much better.

Elsewhere in Alaska

The Alaska International Piano-e-Competition is taking place in Fairbanks, where homegirl Vivica Genaux sang the lead role in Opera Fairbanks' production of "The Italian Girl in Algiers." Look for reports on both events at

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.