“Composer Hannah Kendall is fired by big ideas,” writes Michael Zwiebach in Tuesday’s (2/5) San Francisco Classical Voice. “When she stepped to the Zellerbach Hall stage on Thursday to give a brief intro to Berkeley Symphony’s world premiere of her Disillusioned Dreamer, she gave off the air of someone struggling to compress a lot into a small space. Her music also packed worlds into a spare, nine-minute frame…. Fluidly conducted by Joseph Young, the orchestra gave a tense, dramatic reading in a concert that was all about reading literature through music. Kendall’s source for Disillusioned Dreamer is one of the most quotable passages from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The narrator speeds through a microcosm of types of black men all clinging to the belief that they can succeed in a segregated America…. Actor Michael J. Asberry spoke the lines brilliantly at the outset and then again before the piece’s final section…. The premiere was followed by Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety,’ by Leonard Bernstein…. The opening work, Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, is more than just nature painting…. The opera’s emotional trajectory is also encapsulated in this music.”

Posted February 6, 2019