Groban leads GMC summer series

The sun was out in full force Tuesday morning as the line-up for the inaugural summer season of the MasterCard Performance Series was being announced on the Green Music Center's Weill Lawn.

"I'm going to be brief because we're all getting a suntan, and I don't want to be blamed for your sun issues," said President Armiñana jokingly.

Featuring nine different concerts ranging from classical to bluegrass, the Green Music Center will be the place to be this summer for both Sonoma State students and Sonoma county residents.

Starting things off will be the revival of a community tradition, the Independence Day Celebration with an orchestral concert with an afternoon full of family-friendly activities that will end with a fireworks display lighting up the skies.

Less than a week later on July 14 the retro-pop orchestra Pink Martini will perform their unique blend of classical, jazz and cabaret. With such a combination of genres, perhaps you'll want to purchase outdoor lawn seating so you can feel free to get-up and dance.

A few days later the GMC partners with Napa Valley Festival del Sole on July 16, for a concert by the Grammy award-winning Russian National Orchestra conducted by Carlo Montanaro. Also featured are Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano and Sarah Chang on violin.

One of the highly anticipated performances of the series is that of singer/songwriter Josh Groban on July 24. Groban will be accompanied by the Santa Rosa Symphony for this special performance.

According to Emmanuel Morlet, newly appointed Artistic Director of the GMC, this will be Groban's only West Coast performance. However, this seems to conflict with reports on Groban's own website (he will also be performing at the Hollywood Bowl on July 2-4).

Transitioning into August will see the San Francisco Symphony performing an evening of memorable movie scores in "Music from the Movies" conducted by Sarah Hicks on Aug. 4.

A surprise special narrator for the evening will be announced at a later date. Filmophiles are definitely urged to save the date.

On Aug. 10 the pianoSonoma workshop and music festival will conclude with a final public concert, following a week of workshops and private lessons with instructors from the esteemed Julliard School.

Mixing things up on Aug. 11, an exclusive concert by the group El Gusto will be performed followed by the documentary of the same name.

El Gusto is a group of Jewish and Muslim artists who were separated by war in Algeria and brought back together by their passion for Chabi; a musical blend of Berber, Andalusian and Flamenco music. Because of how inspirational El Gusto's story is, the concert will be free to the public.

The crème de la crème of this summer series is the return of Yo-Yo Ma with the Goat Rodeo Sessions on Aug. 23, with special guest vocalist Aoife O'Donovan. It was apparent that everyone involved with the summer series were ecstatic with the return of Yo-Yo Ma after such a ground-breaking performance earlier this year.

"I like Yo-Yo Ma so much, and I'm always intrigued by Goat Rodeo," said President Armiñana. "The idea of a goat rodeo challenges my mind!"

American jazz-trumpeter Chris Botti performs Aug. 25, concluding the MasterCard Performance Series for the summer. For as the saying goes, it ain't over until the trumpeter blasts that final note.

For ticket prices and more information on the upcoming performances, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu.