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Press Page & Archive

BARS Hits Top 10 in iTunes!

BARS has hit the top 10 in iTunes classical albums!  This is the world's largest music store and we hit number 3!  The album is the recording for "I Am Harvey Milk" in which members BARS collaborated with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus this past June. The world-premiere original cast recording of Andrew Lippa's I AM HARVEY MILK was released Oct 22nd and features members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Andrew Lippa, Noah Marlowe, and Laura Benanti under the direction of Dr. Timothy Seelig. San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) Artistic Director, Dr. Timothy Seelig, announced the original cast recording of I Am Harvey Milk is now available for purchase and download. The world premiere of the choral work, I Am Harvey Milk, concluded the Chorus’s 35th anniversary season at the Harvey Milk 2013 concert. The recording is a perfect culmination of SFGMC’s 35-year history, which began at the candlelight vigil for slain Supervisor Harvey Milk. With music and words by Tony® and Grammy Award nominee Andrew Lippa (Big Fish, The Addams Family, The Wild Party), I Am Harvey Milk features Lippa as Harvey Milk, Tony® Award-winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, NBC’s “Go On”) as the Soprano Soloist and Noah Marlowe (Mary Poppins, Fun Home) as young Harvey, along with the 300 men of the Chorus. Recorded live during the world premiere at Nourse Theatre in San Francisco, the recording is mixed and mastered by multi-Grammy award-winner, Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Ranch. The recording is available now at SFGMC.org and is also available on iTunes. I Am Harvey Milk weaves the story of Harvey Milk’s life – from boyhood to his rise as the first openly gay man to hold public office in California to his assassination. Part choral work, part theater piece, I Am Harvey Milk is an emotional celebration of an American icon. Complete track listing is as follows: 01. An Operatic Masterpiece 02. I Am the Bullet 03. You Are Here 04. Friday Night in the Castro 05. Was I Wrong? 06. A Decent Society 07. Sticks and Stones 08. Lavender Pen 09. Thank you, Mrs. Rosenblat 10. San Francisco 11. Leap 12. Tired of the Silence I Am Harvey Milk is conducted by Dr. Timothy Seelig, orchestrated by August Eriksmoen, and features the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus accompanied by Carl Pantle on piano and members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. I Am Harvey Milk at Nourse Theatre was produced by Bruce Cohen, in association with Robb Nanus and Jessica Leventhal, directed by Noah Himmelstein, and Video and Projection Design by Andrew Lazarow.


Dawn Harms appointed BARS's new Music Director

Dawn Harms, Music DirectorIt is with great excitement and pleasure that Bay Area Rainbow Symphony announces its new Music Director is Dawn Harms. Dawn brings passion, expertise and wonderful musicianship to guide BARS's artistic course and the orchestra is thrilled to be working with her. Dawn's dynamism and energy will continue the upward trajectory of BARS as it enters its sixth season.   About Dawn Harms   Dawn Harms's very diverse career ranges from being a chamber musician, violin soloist, concertmaster, and conductor.  Dawn is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Associate Concertmaster for the New Century Chamber Orchestra and Co-Concertmaster with the Oakland East Bay Symphony.  She also records regularly at Skywalker Ranch Studios on sound tracks for movies and video games.   Dawn Harms's very diverse career ranges from being a chamber musician, violin soloist, concertmaster, and conductor.  Dawn is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Associate Concertmaster for the New Century Chamber Orchestra and Co-Concertmaster with the Oakland East Bay Symphony.  She also records regularly at Skywalker Ranch Studios on sound tracks for movies and video games.   Ms. Harms was chosen as a Fellow at the exclusive American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival, where she worked with some of the top conductors of the world.  Her recent guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, the Livermore Amador Symphony, and Symphony Parnassus.  She was also invited to conduct the extra shorts on the film Ratatouille which is exclusively found on the DVDs.  Her recent solo appearances include, Folsom Symphony, Paradise Symphony, Sacramento Symphony, Symphony Parnassus, and the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.  She has appeared in concert with Frederica Von Stade, Zheng Cao, Eugenia Zukerman and has premiered and performed works by Jake Heggie.  In March 2012, Dawn was fortunate enough to solo with BARS, playing the 4 Seasons of Buenos Aries, by Astor Piazzolla.  Now once again she is delighted to get to work with BARS as a conductor.   A strong advocate for Music education, she was music director and conductor of the Amarillo Youth Orchestra.  She designs and performs her own family show throughout the United States, New Zealand, and Japan.  Dawn recently performed her one-woman family show with the Lincoln Symphony in Nebraska, the Oakland Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, and the Napa Youth Symphony.  Dawn plays on her cousin Tom Waits's CDs "Alice" and "Blood Money." Dawn also has two solo CD's, "The Black Swan" and "The Hot Canary" that can be found on cdbaby.com.  She is currently on the faculty at Stanford University.

Harwood named Orchestra Management Fellow; BARS welcomes next ED

Saturday, May 21, 7p: Benefit Dinner at Ton Kiang, 5821 Geary Blvd, SF (Map) | Tickets

Ian Harwood, BARS Founder and Executive DirectorBARS announces the departure of founder and Executive Director, Ian Harwood, who as been named a 2011 League of American Orchestras Orchestra Management Fellow.

In honor of Mr. Harwood’s service to the arts and LGBTQ community, we invite you to a farewell dinner and "roast" on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 7pm at the award-winning Ton Kiang. BARS will also introduce its next Executive Director, Mr. Tyler Wanshura, at the benefit dinner.

Tickets may be purchased in advance only and are limited in number.

Mr. Harwood and his work has been recognized by the League of American Orchestras, the only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, and has been named a 2011 Orchestra Management Fellow. Ian has accepted this prestigious honor awarded to two individuals nationally. Over the course of 2011-2012, the fellowship will take him to Aspen Music Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Memphis Symphony. The focus of the 12-month program is to fast track administrators who have direct managerial experience and have demonstrated potential to lead a professional orchestra within five to ten years. The redesigned program also includes more extensive mentoring by orchestra executive directors, a professional development stipend, and visits to orchestral and non-orchestral organizations known for their innovative entrepreneurial environments. The 31-year-old program’s alumni lead many orchestras across the country including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and Saint Louis Symphony.

Mr. Harwood says, “Every day for the past four years, I’ve been humbled by the non-stop support of BARS, by our musicians and audience alike. I’m confident, that under Mr. Wanshura’s leadership the organization will continue to ‘raise the bar’ and challenge stereotypes of LGBTQ and community arts groups.”

Tyler Wanshura, BARS next Executive DirectorAs Harwood prepares to depart, BARS announces its new Executive Director, Tyler Wanshura. Mr. Wanshura is a native to Minnesota where he received a BA in Studio Art from St. Olaf College. He has resided in San Francisco for just over a year now after receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree in Arts Administration from Southern Utah University. Wanshura has worked recently with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Braithwaite Fine Art Gallery, Theater Crescendo, Minnesota Opera, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

Wanshura says, “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the BARS community. This is an incredibly talented and dedicated group of artists. I look forward to continuing the amazing trajectory BARS is following.”

Press contact: Tyler Wanshura, twanshura@bars-sf.org

Introducing Jessica Bejarano, BARS Asst. Conductor

Jessica Bejarano, Asst. Conductor BARS is thrilled to announce the appointment of Jessica Bejarano as BARS first assistant conductor!

Maestra Bejarano led BARS Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Bernstein's Candide Overture in June, 2009, as well as a number of BARS chamber ensemble selections, including recent presentations at the 2011 Conductor’s Guild annul conference in San Francisco at Calvary Presbyterian Church.

Click Read the Full Article for Ms. Bejarano's biography.

Jessica Bejarano, BARS Assistant Conductor

Maestra Jessica Bejarano is honored to serve as the first Assistant Conductor of Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. Maestra Bejarano also serves as Music Director of West County Winds; Assistant Conductor of the Peninsula Symphony; and Artist-In-Residence with LEAP as a music education curriculum developer and teacher.

Maestra Bejarano received her Associates of Fine Arts in Music Education from Casper College; a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Wyoming; and her Master of Arts in Conducting from the University of California Davis.

Just recently in September 2010, Maestra Bejarano was selected to attend a Master course with Maestro Jorma Panula and the Rousse (Bulgarian) National Philharmonic where she performed works by Edward Elgar and Hector Berlioz in Rousse, Bulgaria.

During the summer of 2007, Maestra Bejarano was selected to attend the International Academy of Advanced Conducting in Saint Petersburg, Russia where she received “Honorable Mention” for her performance with the Classical Symphony Orchestra of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Maestra Bejarano was invited back by the Academy (IAAC) in 2008 to continue her studies and perform in Urbino, Italy. During the same summer, she also attended the International Institute for Conductors in Bacau, Romania and conducted The Philharmonic Orchestra “Mihail Jora” of Bacau in two separate performances.

Maestra Bejarano has served as Artistic Director of the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus; Music Director of VOICES Lesbian Choral Ensemble; Music Director of the Davis Summer Symphony; Assistant Conductor with the Community Women’s Orchestra in Oakland; Assistant Conductor of the University of California Davis Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the University Chorus and Chamber Singers at the University of California Davis; and Music Director of GLAM Youth Choir. Ms. Bejarano has also guest conducted the Beloit Community Orchestra, in Beloit Wisconsin; the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra in Laramie, Wyoming; and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus of San Francisco.

The Newest 4 Members of BARS Percussion Section: Thank You!

BARS Timpani: Yamaha 6200 SeriesTogether We Did It Thanks to the generosity and support of our audience, and community, BARS has purchased a brand-new set of Yamaha 6200 series timpani. Come and meet the drums at their debut at our next performance on June 4, 2011 at SF Conservatory.

BARS gives a standing ovation to The Jon Sims Endowment Fund for the Performing Arts, the Castro Lions Club, T Wyatt & California Percussion, CF Howes and M Saccomano for their efforts in helping us raise the bar.

SF Classical Voice Concert Preview & Interview

Daniel Canosa, Artistic Director

Read all about it! Rebecca Liao of San Francisco Classical Voice (SFCV) previews BARS September 25th performance at SF Conservatory of Music.

The article features interviews with Daniel Canosa, artistic director, and Ian Harwood, executive director, about BARS history and future direction and goals.

Click Here to read the full article on SFCV.org

A Rainbow of Promises

Published September 20, 2010 on SFCV.org

Minority groups have the unenviable task of celebrating their uniqueness while demonstrating that they have a great deal in common with everyone. Small wonder, then, that classical music and the LGBTQ community found each other. The partnership displays its accomplishments again on Sept. 25 at the San Francisco Conservatory as the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony (BARS) opens its 2010-2011 season with the ever-popular Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Daniel Glover as soloist) and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Late in 2007, five musicians, in fine San Francisco tradition, saw a need and fulfilled it: “What we had in S.F. by way of LGBTQ [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer] music groups was wind instruments and a couple chorus members, but we never had anything with string players,” says Ian Harwood, BARS’ executive director. “We wanted to start an organization that combined instrumentalists. At the same time, we wanted to change the model for how an orchestra functions. As a tuba player, I would always joke that I know everybody in the orchestra because I see the backs of their heads, but we never interacted. One thing that was always very strong with LGBTQ groups is the social element.”

When Daniel Canosa attended BARS’ maiden concert in summer 2008, the ensemble, which gathered at Old First Church for the event, consisted of a few strings and winds. By the time Canosa was invited for a trial run as conductor, BARS had grown into a full-fledged orchestra. After he was appointed artistic director, it quickly became clear that his instinct for community fit well with BARS. “I wanted to spend the first two years doing repertoire that the musicians and the audience would relate to,” says Canosa. “Now, I’m a little bit freer to make decisions on my own, but I didn’t want to start with pieces that weren’t familiar.”

And surely establishing a voice for the LGBTQ community is important? Yes and no. Harwood laments that “a lot of people think of LGBTQ music as Broadway musicals, ‘jazz hands,’ and [feather] boas.” What people don’t realize is that “there’s a really strong tradition of gay classical composers and performers that date back throughout music’s history. We think about Copland and Bernstein, Tchaikovsky and Schubert. In time, one of our goals is to showcase LGBTQ music and composers and performing artists and say that these individuals are part of our community and they have this wonderful story to tell.” Canosa ensures that there is an LGBTQ composer featured in every program. The purpose, though, is not to reclaim ownership but to reach out — at the San Francisco Pride Festival, Oakland Pride, the Castro Street Fair, and any of the other numerous LGBTQ events at which BARS volunteers, as is expected, but also to those whose only memories of classical music come from Looney Tunes.

Ultimately, says Canosa, “The main point for me as an artist is the moment in your day where you go and experience something and you remember something you forgot. It’s why I do music.” The warhorses in BARS’ repertoire have gotten loyal listeners in the door. After two successful seasons, BARS is ready to be more daring with its power as a tastemaker. For instance, the orchestra played Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 last spring to a rave audience response; Bruckner and Stravinsky may not be far behind. Canosa would particularly love to work with the arts outside of classical music, including pop music, ballet, cinema, and even the hot New York City band Antony and the Johnsons. “We all grow up with many different forms of music. How can you not want to collaborate?” he wonders. Being attached to a category for so long has encouraged the explosion of category altogether. Classical music has been dragged in this direction for years; BARS shows us how the migration can be made happier.

Rebecca Liao has produced several classical music performances in the Bay Area. A lawyer by day, she is currently working on an essay collection about contemporary classical music theory.

BARS' 2011 Pride Month Concert™: Saturday, June 4, 2011, 8pm

San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St at Van Ness, SF 94102 (Map) | Tickets

Jon Mendle, guitar

Marquez – Danzon no. 2

Villa-Lobos – Guitar Concerto

Jon Mendle, guitar

Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Tres Agaves Tequila

Part of the BARS LGBTQ Composer & Performing Artist seriesFalla – El sombrero de tres picos

(Three Cornered Hat) suite no. 2

Part of the BARS LGBTQ Composer & Performing Artist seriesRavel – Bolero

This event's post concert reception sponsored by

Tres Agaves Tequila and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly

About Jon Mendle, guitar

Since making his Carnegie Hall debut at age 19, classical guitarist Jon Mendle is rapidly building a career as a performer, teacher, arranger, and composer.

In August 2010, Jon embarked on a ten concert tour of music festivals in the U.S. with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.

In 2005, as a second-year student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Jon was the only undergraduate selected by audition to perform at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in a concert presented by the Conservatory's guitar department. Jon performed his own transcription of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, a piece originally written for organ, which Jim Tosone of Guitar Review Magazine called, "...a monumental work, performed with a great deal of poise."

Jon began studying the guitar at the age of 12, and recently finished his graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory under the tutelage of renowned guitarist Sergio Assad, earning a Master of Music degree in Classical Guitar Performance.

Based in San Francisco, Jon has performed solo and ensemble works at venues throughout Northern California and Nevada. In 2008, at the Guitar Foundation of America's annual convention, Jon played at Herbst Theater in San Francisco in an ensemble conducted by guitarist David Tanenbaum, in the U.S. premiere of Sergio Assad's "Trois Bresiliens a Saint Paul.” More recently, in 2009, he won the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s biennial Guitar Concerto Competition, playing Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra. He performed this work with the Conservatory Orchestra in May, 2010.

Jon’s primary instrument is an 11-string Archguitar built in 2007 by Alan Perlman of San Francisco. The Archguitar is a hybrid of the Renaissance and Baroque lutes, 19th century guitar, and modern guitar, making it ideal for a large cross section of early music, as well as certain modern and impressionist works.

Jon received a Bachelor of Music in classical guitar performance in 2007 from the Conservatory, where he studied with Lawrence Ferrara, Marc Teicholz, David Tanenbaum, and Dusan Bogdanovic. His first teacher was Matthew Grasso. He has participated in master classes given by guitarists James Kline, David Russell, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, William Kanengiser, Miroslav Tadic, and lutenist Nigel North. He has also studied the classical music of North India with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, Calif., and privately with sarod player Steve Oda. Outside of the classical guitar world, Jon enjoys playing the occasional punk rock show and practicing yoga.

This is Jon's first performance with BARS.