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Sasha Cooke: How Do I Find You - Freestyle Love Supreme - Composer Viet Cuong

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke...
Cory Weaver
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This week in On The Arts, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, host David Latulippe talks with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke about her upcoming recital at Davies Symphony Hall, one night only (Sunday, Jan 30, 7:30pm), premiering seventeen new songs, written specially for her during the pandemic. Also, a conversation with cast members Kaila Mullady (aka Kaiser Röse) and Aneesa Folds (aka Young Nees), from the improvised musical comedy Freestyle Love Supreme, with which the American Conservatory Theater kicks off the 2022 season. Plus, we talk with composer Viet Cuong about his residency at the California Symphony in Walnut Creek. The Cal Symphony itself performs on January 29 (7:30pm) and January 30 (4pm) at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek in a program called Take Flight, featuring concertmaster Jennifer Cho, with music inspired by bird song and the sounds of nature.

This week in On The Arts, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, host David Latulippe talks with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke about her upcoming recital at Davies Symphony Hall, one night only (Sunday, Jan 30, 7:30pm), premiering seventeen new songs, written specially for her during the pandemic. Also, a conversation with cast members Kaila Mullady (aka Kaiser Röse) and Aneesa Folds (aka Young Nees), from the improvised musical comedy Freestyle Love Supreme, with which the American Conservatory Theater kicks off the 2022 season. Plus, we talk with composer Viet Cuong about his residency at the California Symphony in Walnut Creek. The Cal Symphony itself performs on January 29 (7:30pm) and January 30 (4pm) at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek in a program called Take Flight, featuring concertmaster Jennifer Cho, with music inspired by bird song and the sounds of nature.

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke returns to Davies Symphony Hall on Sunday, January 30 (7:30pm) for a one-night-only Great Performers Series recital, together with pianist Kirill Kuzmin. The program, titled How Do I Find You, is made up entirely of world premieres, commissioned by and composed specifically for Cooke, by 17 composers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This recital marks the first live performances of these works, which all appear on Cooke’s new album, how do I find you, to be released via Pentatone on January 28.

For this project, two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke decided to approach new collaborators, composers whose work she had admired from afar. With one exception (Nico Muhly), each piece featured on how do I find you is the result of a totally new creative partnership.

Some of the pieces are earnest, wrestling with societal challenges, from racial injustice and school shootings to California wildfires. Others are abstract or wryly humorous, told through the lens of harried parents working from home, or tackling quarantine quandaries such as whether to order a Peloton bike.

From Freestyle Love Supreme, we talk with cast members Kaila Mullady (aka Kaiser Röse) and Aneesa Folds (aka Young Nees). Freestyle Love Supreme is an improvised hip-hop comedy show that was conceived by Bay Area artist Anthony Veneziale and created by him together with his longtime friends Thomas Kail and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Launching its American tour at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (Jan 21 - Feb 13), Freestyle Love Supreme takes audiences on a freestyle hip-hop comedy ride. The performers spin suggestions from the audience into humorous bits, instantaneous songs and riffs, and fully realized musical numbers. No two shows are ever the same.

Plus, we talk with California Symphony’s newest Young American Composer-in-Residence Viet Cuong, who is in Walnut Creek with the Cal Symphony this weekend, for a first reading of his next piece, which will premiere on the season finale concert in May.

Every three years, the California Symphony offers an American composer the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with maestro Cabrera and the Symphony over a period of three consecutive years, and create, rehearse, premiere, and record three major orchestra compositions, one each season.

Viet is currently finishing his PhD at Princeton University and recently served as the 2020 Early-Career Musician-in-Residence at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. He holds degrees in music composition from the Curtis Institute of Music, Princeton University, and the Peabody Conservatory.

The Cal Symphony itself performs on January 29 (7:30) and January 30 (4pm) at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek in a program called Take Flight, featuring Concertmaster Jennifer Cho in a program with music inspired by bird song and the sounds of nature. On the program music from Vaughan Williams, Haydn, Sibelius and Dvořák.

On The Arts, with host David Latulippe, heard live on January 27 at 1pm, to be archived at this location until the internet dies. Listen now or anytime…

Niels Swinkels is a freelance journalist, musicologist, sound engineer, and radio producer. Born and raised in the Netherlands, he studied English and Musicology at the University of Nijmegen. Before moving to San Francisco, he was the Arts Editor, and Senior Classical Music & Opera critic for Brabants Dagblad, a Dutch daily newspaper. In addition to producing KALW’s Open Air, a weekly radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts, he is also a wine guy at Trader Joe’s Nob Hill in San Francisco...