Popular RB Library music series to expand
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
A trip downtown and an expensive ticket are not necessary to experience high-caliber musical performances. You only need to go to the Rancho Bernardo Library.
Friends of the Rancho Bernardo Library hosts free chamber music concerts nine times a year. This fall, the series will add three jazz performances, said Harvey Levine, who organizes the concerts.
This is the 14th season for the concert series that has become so popular that sometimes it is standing-room-only in the library’s second-floor community room designed to hold 130 people, he said. Concerts are 6:30-7:45 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month from September through June. There is no December concert and the date changes if it conflicts with a holiday.
“The primary format is chamber music — classical with occasionally a folk concert and usually at least one jazz concert per year,” Levine said. There is also one featuring early music, like last week’s Renaissance concert featuring Courtly Noyse.
Because Friends member Don Bunin is a retired jazz drummer who still performs locally and has many connections in the jazz community, Levine said the group is adding a three-concert jazz series next season that Bunin will direct.
“The jazz community has noticed some sudden demise of jazz clubs … so there are musicians around looking for additional opportunities to play,” Levine said.
The jazz series will be on the second Wednesday in September 2012 with the Holly Hoffman/Mike Wofford Group (flute and piano), January 2013 with the Gilbert Castellanos Group (trumpet) and April 2013 with the Peter Sprague Quartet (guitar, sax, bass and vocal).
Levine calls the concert series a “win-win-win-win type of thing because the music, library and people who come (are all winners) and I get a great kick myself.”
Levine said typical performers are professional musicians from the San Diego Symphony, Orchestra Nova, Camarada and Pacific Symphony. The musicians form trios or quartets and perform the same pieces they are performing at venues that charge $30 or more for a ticket.
Last February, when jazz guitarist Peter Sprague finished his RB Library performance, he went straight to catch a flight since his next concert was at Lincoln Center in New York City, Levine said.
At the library, concerts are free, but attendees are asked to drop a free-will donation in the box when leaving. Most give $3 to $5, he said.
Through the donations, plus a $1,000 grant from the Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation, Levine said in the last few years the concerts have become self-supporting. They were originally funded by the Friends with money raised at its book sales, but when Levine took over the concert series a few years ago, he upped the performer caliber which in turn increased attendance.
The move did raise expenses. Concerts now cost $450 to $500 to put on. It would be more, but musicians typically lower their stipends, he said. The expense is worth it, because the concerts attract more attendees and donations have risen. The series used to receive $70 in donations per concert, but now receives $350 to $400 each month, he said.
Though the series attracts a “mature audience,” Levine said there are usually a few children, some as young as 7, who are learning to play an instrument.
The final three concerts of this season will be:
• April 25 — the Brahms Horn Trio, featuring Ben Jaber (principal French horn at San Diego Symphony), Kate Hatmaker (violin) and Jessie Chang (San Diego Symphony pianist).
• May 23 — California Quartet (violin and cello).
• June 27 — Highland String Quartet plus Clarinet playing Mozart selections.
For concert information or receive monthly email announcements, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rancho Bernardo Library is at 17110 Bernardo Center Drive.
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