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Announcing the 2013 Summer Season

Greetings from Festival Mozaic headquarters! We’ve been very busy behind the scenes. We had a fantastic WinterMezzo weekend in early March (with record ticket sales!) and we announced our 2013 summer season to our supporters.

Scott Yoo has put together an incredible array of musical events this July – from grand orchestra in the world-class Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center to intimate chamber music concerts in venues that showcase the Central Coast to the comic stylings of Italy-based Duo Baldo. Click here to flip through the season brochure.


Congratulations to San Luis Obispo artist Drew Davis, who is this year’s winner of our resurrected poster art contest. His original work of art, “Trio” was created specifically for Festival Mozaic and will be featured on posters and other publicity materials this summer. Learn more about Drew by clicking here.

Subscription tickets go on sale April 1. Enjoy – and we’ll see you this summer.


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We knew her when: Q&A with Mezzo Soprano Karin Mushegain

If you were fortunate enough to catch the Festival’s opening night concert featuring Mezzo Soprano Karin Mushegain, you know what an outrageous talent she is.  We had the chance to catch up with Ms. Mushegain just before she hopped on a plane to her next gig in Paris…

Festival Mozaic: Where did you grow up, and how did you start singing?

Karin Mushegain: I grew up in Pasadena, CA. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. But I started taking voice lesson in the sixth grade. That’s a very young age to start, but I had nasty elementary school music  teacher who made fun of my voice in class one day. I was so embarrassed I stopped singing all together. So my mom put me in lessons to get me excited about singing again.

FM: Where have you studied voice? 

KM: I’ve studied voice privately in Los Angeles, did my undergraduate training at Northwestern University, and my graduate training at UCLA.

FM: Favorite roles?

As Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola

KM: Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola. I also love portraying Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel.  It’s so fun running around as a hyperactive boy for a few hours! And Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte is just a joy to sing because the music is so stunning.

FM: What are your top three desert-island pieces of music?

KM: Bernstein’s West Side Story ( the movie soundtrack), Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, and the Gypsy Kings…cause if you’re stranded on a desert island there will be plenty of time for dancing!

As Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

FM: Who is a role model to you?

KM: Madeline Kahn is my idol!!!  She was an extraordinary singer and one of the greatest comedians of all time!!

FM: Dreams for the future?

KM: My dream is to keep singing the roles I love to sing in houses that nurture creativity and artistry…and also to have a family and be a mother. It’s a lot to ask for in a career that keeps you on the road 9-10 months of the year, but to have both successfully is my goal and dream.

Called “superb” by The New York Times and possessing an “ideal, dusky mezzo” by Opera Today, Mezzo Soprano Karin Mushegain is captivating audiences with her exciting, energetic portrayals. Her 2011-12 engagements include her role and company debut as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Virginia Opera, her New York City Opera debut as Flora in a new production of La Traviata, and her role and company debut as Stefano in Romeo et Juliette with Annapolis Opera. Engagements during the previous season included her return to New York’s Gotham Chamber Opera to sing the title role in Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas, her Austin Lyric Opera debut reprising the role of Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and her role debut as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Ash Lawn Opera. She also recently performed with Los Angeles Opera in their new production of Il Trittico, Opera Memphis as Dorabella in Cosí fan tutte, Opera Idaho as Angelina in La Cenerentola, Glimmerglass Opera as Alessandro in the US premiere of Handel’s Tolomeo and Tisbe, in La Cenerentola, and numerous roles and appearances with Pittsburgh Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

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2012 Summer Scrapbook, Part II

Best festival EVER!! The Summer portion of Festival Mozaic ended on Sunday with a bang, and we’ve been trying to catch our breath ever since.  Until then…

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Festival Fringe Focus: moira smiley & VOCO

I’ve just heard something…amazing: a quartet of young women known as moira smiley & VOCO. This is compelling and totally unique music…I’m increasingly blown away by it each time I put a disc in the player. [They] push the envelope of vocal music every which way – go there and be amazed.

– Kennebec Journal

Inga Swearingen, Moira Smiley, and April Guthrie of VOCO

We at Festival Mozaic talk a lot about programming performances that reflect the genius and spirit of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  None will do so as clearly as that given by moira smiley & VOCO with guest artist Inga Swearingen on July 21 as part of our Fringe Series.  Using various instruments like banjo, cello, accordion and body percussion along with tight vocal harmonies, Moira and VOCO bring a rascally exuberance to the Festival’s lineup.  Here, we chatted with Moira about her influences and what it’s like to perform such personal music for a crowd.

Festival Mozaic: When did your musical interest begin?

Moira Smiley: I started playing my older sister’s piano pieces by ear when I was four, and was dubbed ‘the little belter’ by my parents for singing folksongs that I learned from them at the top of my lungs around the house and farm where I grew up.

FM: Who are your musical role models? Heros? Inspirations?

MS: Musicians who travel and play with virtuosic humility and open-ness. Béla Bartók (Hungarian composer / pianist), Bobby McFerrin (American vocalist/conductor), Lena Willemark (Swedish vocalist/fiddler), Meredith Monk (composer / dancer / singer)…

FM: Do you approach different musical styles differently? How?

MS: Each musical style allows you to inhabit a culture of gesture, color and values. There are certainly common approaches in all the ones I’ve studied and practiced, but it is the differences that are thrilling.

Moira Smiley

FM: What differences do you notice between different listeners? E.g. A classical audience vs. a folk audience?

MS: People come to live music shows to be moved – whether moved to dance, to cry, to recognize themselves, to tickle their intellect. Having traveled between several networks of live venues throughout my career, I love to feel the spark of energy in any of those directions. Sometimes an audience wants more stories to tie everything together, and sometimes the fewer words the better.

FM: What is your all time desert-island favorite piece of music to play?

MS: Hmmmm…. improvisation, preferably with another human!

Moira Smiley, singer-composer, leads moira smiley & VOCO, travels the world (from los angeles) as a vocalist and creates music for dance, theatre and film.  Her voice, improvisations and compositions can be heard on feature films, documentaries, BBC, PBS, and on over 40 recordings including her recent albums “blink” (with VOCO) and “rua” (solo): fiercely spare and elegantly lush collections of warped traditionals and new songcraft.  She has sung with leading ensembles and artists around the world including Paul Hillier’s Theater of Voices, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, KITKA Vocal Ensemble, New World Symphony, Shakespeare Santa Cruz.  Featured in Lincoln Center, UCLALive, Royal Festival Hall, folk and classical music festivals across the U.S. and Canada, Moira’s work has received praise from Billboard to Gramaphone. www.moirasmiley.com and www.myspace.com/vocoinfo.

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Giveaway: TWO TICKETS TO CHAPEL HILL, 7/14, 7:30pm

We at Festival Mozaic are so excited about our lineup for this summer that we are feeling generous.  Very generous.  We’re giving away a pair of tickets to our most popular event, the Baroque Landscape concert at gorgeous Chapel Hill  on July 14 at 7:30pm.

If you’ve never attended this concert, you just don’t understand what you’re missing: a magical chapel overlooking paradise, panoramic views of vineyards, rolling hills, Belgian ales from locally revered beer guru Chuck Hiigel, picnicking on the patio, all followed by an evening of resplendent music performed by Music Director Scott Yoo and a host of the finest musicians on the planet.  Interested?

Here’s the deal: We want subscribers to the Festival Mozaic blog.  To win these tickets, scroll to the bottom of this page and look at the right sidebar.  See the link for “Follow blog via email?”  Click on that and enter your email address as directed.  You are now entered to win two tickets to the Chapel Hill concert AND you will recieve the latest and greatest news from your favorite music festival direct to your inbox.

We will take entries until Wednesday, July 11 at noon and will announce the randomly-selected winner by 5:00 that afternoon.  Spread the word, and good luck!

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The best deal around

What would you pay for a decadent French dinner specially crafted just for you and seven friends?  Or a four-night stay in Tahoe? Or an iPad 3?

How about $20?

Well, folks, it could happen.  The 2012 Summer Festival Raffle is almost underway, which means you could win an unbelievably cool prize and support an unbelievably cool organization for just $20 per ticket, or $100 for six.

Tickets will be available at all 2012 Festival Mozaic events from July 11-22, or by visiting the Festival office in San Luis Obispo at 2050 Broad Street. And remember, when you purchase a ticket, you’re supporting the Festival’s mission of bringing the best in music-making to the Central Coast.

And here’s more info on the prizes.  Bonne chance!

Dinner for 8 prepared by Chef Jose Dahan of Et Voila! at the Avila Beach home of Shirley and Mike Ritter

Chef Jose Dahan

A native of Toulouse, France, José was professionally schooled in Paris where he spent six years at restaurants such as Le Relais Paris Est and Lucas Carton, followed by seven years of additional training in Belgium. He later moved to California to work in leading L.A. area restaurants including Le Dôme, L’Orangerie, and Le Beaujolais before opening J’Adore restaurant in Palos Verdes which he ran for nine years. Settling on the Central Coast of California in 1997, José opened Et Voilà for private parties and occasional public events. Chef José offers a broad range of specialties from traditional French and international to more contemporary cuisine. This sumptuous meal will take place at the beautiful Avila Beach home of Mike and Shirley Ritter.

Two tickets to the November 3 WinterMezzo Notable Encounter Dinner 

Join other music lovers at the Festival’s WinterMezzo weekend November 2-4, 2012. You and your guest will be seated at a table with Festival Mozaic Music Director Scott Yoo at our Notable Encounter Dinner on Saturday night. Enjoy scintillating conversation with Maestro Yoo before being dazzled by his amazing musicianship.

iPad 3

You’ve seen the Festival Mozaic artists perform using their Apple iPads for storing music. The iPad 3 has four times more pixels than iPad 2 with Razor-sharp text and richer colors. The Retina display on the new iPad features a 2048-by-1536 resolution, 44% greater color saturation, and an astounding 3.1 million pixels — in 9.7”of space. That’s four times the number of pixels in iPad 2 and a million more than an HDTV. You still get up to 10 hours of power to read, watch, play, write, and create. Generously donated by Dr. Samantha Curran.

4-Night Stay in Lake Tahoe

Located in beautiful Tahoe Keys, South Lake Tahoe, this 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, 3-story newly refurbished townhome sleeps up to eight and is complete with updated kitchen, whirlpool bath, washer and dryer, internet, DirecTV, single car garage and additional off street parking. There is a view of the Tahoe Keys Marina and access to a private beach. There are also an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and private gym available for a small additional charge. Come and enjoy all the wonderful Tahoe sights and activities that are here waiting for you, like skiing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing in the winter and water sports, kayaking, and hiking in the summer. No holidays; subject to availability. Generously donated by Vance and Virginia Rodgers.

Case of 12 assorted wines donated by the Festival’s Favorite Wineries

A selection of a variety of delicious reds and whites assured to please every palate donated by Anglim, Cass, Claiborne & Churchill, Halter Ranch, Harmony Cellars, Laetitia, Lone Madrone, Kenneth Volk, Kynsi, Niner Wine Estates, Tablas Creek and Vina Robles.

A CD of the Final Concert of the 2012 Summer Festival!

Take home the live recording of the Festival Mozaic Grand Finale concert on July 22, 2012. This is the only CD recording available of this exciting concert. Add this to your collection and re-live the concert again and again!

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Festival Fringe Focus: Mandolinist Mike Marshall

Mike Marshall epitomizes the performers who play Festival Mozaic’s Fringe Series: ecclectic, erudite, accomplished, and loads and loads of fun.  Here, we talk to the world’s second-greatest living mandolinist (“second to Caterina Lichtenberg,” he says, in reference to his fellow musician for their July 14 performance with the Festival Orchestra at Chapel Hill and their  July 15 performance at See Canyon Fruit Ranch) about what it means to devote one’s life to an artform.

Mike Marshall

Festival Mozaic: How did you wind up on mandolin?

Mike Marshall: I began my studies after my family moved to Florida when I was around 10 years old. I was lucky to have studied with Jim Hilligoss, one of the great string teachers certainly in that part of the country. I began as a guitar student, but Jim was a master of all the stringed instruments and also many styles of music. We studied classical music but he also had me playing by ear and learning to improvise. He also started a teenaged bluegrass group with some of his students. I went to my first bluegrass festival when I was about 13 and that is what really got me inspired and lit the fire in my heart. He also played all the other stringed instruments so I worked with him on violin, banjo, dobro, bass and eventually mandolin and for some reason that is the one that really stole my heart. Maybe it’s the size of the instrument or just the fact that not so many people were exploring its potential back in those days. So it always seemed to me to be this instrument that you could find your own voice with and really create your own musical path.

FM: Who are your musical role models? Heros? Inspirations?

Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall

MM: This would be a very long list but I suppose the main thing to understand is that I love so many styles of music so I would put J.S. Bach, Glen Gould, Zakir Haussain, Hermeto Pascoal, Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt and Earl Scruggs all together in the great place of creators who have pushed the limits of their instruments, created their own musical voice and showed the way for many generations of musicians after them where the music will be going.

But again, this is just a tiny, tiny sample of the musicians who I have learned from, been inspired by, and in some cases, even played with. There are probably fifty or more that I would include here as well.

FM: Do you approach different musical styles differently? How?

MM: Music is really ‘one’ thing, and certainly I have made it my life’s work to attempt to shine a light on this. Of course there are many styles and cultural differences and social and historical things that are important to understand about each form of music. So to become a master at any one style can become a life’s work, but in the end we musicians are all trying to do the same thing with the same twelve notes. What is really exciting for me is to finally begin to see a very natural bridge happening between music which is groove-based and has a component of improvisation in it and music which is written down and you play what is on the page. These two musical worlds have lived separately for many years and I believe we are beginning to see a generation that understands that the two can live side by side and that you can study both concurrently and they will both only enhance each other.

The important thing however is that you must begin to learn to improvise at a young age side by side with your other musical studies or the improvisational language seems to be very hard to acquire.

Hamilton de Hollanda, Mike Marshall, and Chris Thile

FM: What differences do you notice between different listeners? E.g. A classical audience vs. a bluegrass audience?

MM: I think that people are people and given the right setting they will be open to any music that you wish to play for them.  I think the thing that has separated audiences is not so much the music but the atmosphere of the concert setting.  If it’s in a bar or in a church or at an outdoor festival with ten thousand people, those are social settings that are each very different and demand something of the performer to be aware of, but the audience is made up of people who are all just people. So the differences might have to do with social things, like what you are supposed to wear at this event or how you are supposed to behave during the concert.

But in the end we are all just people and given the right setting and a chance to experience something intimate and great we will respond, but we have to first feel comfortable walking into the room.  These are social barriers rather than musical ones and seem to separate people from the music in a way that is unfair to the music.  So thank you all at Festival Mozaic for doing exactly that: creating a world that invites all of us all to celebrate this music together and makes us feel welcome.

FM: What is your all time desert-island favorite piece of music to play?

MM: J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from the solo violin partita number 2 in D minor (on the mandolin).  I really hope to be able to hear Mr. Yoo’s performance of it this coming July 12th.  Without a doubt, this is one of the most important works of art that has ever been handed down to us. It is a monumental achievement as a composition. Such a simple concept and yet such a grand walk through Mr. Bach’s seemingly unending imagination.

Thanks to Festival Mozaic for creating such an amazing event this summer. Caterina and I are very excited to be a part of things.

Mike Marshall is one of the world’s most accomplished and versatile string instrumentalists in American today. A master on mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin, he has created some of the most adventurous instrumental music for over 35 years and his concert tours have taken him around the globe.

Whether playing bluegrass with Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck or Chris Thile, Brazilian choro music with Hamilton de Holanda or Baroque classical with German mandolinist Caterina Lichenberg, Mike is able to swing gracefully between all of these musical styles with a unique blend of virtuosity, depth and musical integrity that is rare in the cross cultural musical world of today.  For more information on Mike Marshall, please visit www.MikeMarshall.net

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