November and December Concerts at Weill Hall

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Located on the picturesque campus of Sonoma State University in the heart of California's wine region, Weill Hall at the Green Music Center continues its 2012-13 inaugural season of the MasterCard Performance Series with November and December concerts by world-renowned artists including acclaimed mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe and Joyce DiDonato, Afro-Cuban musician Chucho Valdés, jazz-infused flamenco artist Buika, Renaissance vocalists the Tallis Scholars, and Philharmonia Baroque with Handel's Messiah.

Renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe brings her highly praised program, "We'll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith" Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe asserts that Blythe "was in some ways an even better Kate Smith than Kate Smith. Guiding listeners through anecdotes alternately hilarious and moving, and accompanied subtly and stylishly on the piano by Craig Terry, she infused this sometimes frustratingly stable material with nuance and sophistication, filament-thin pianissimos and formidable walls of sound, which excavated fresh emotion in songs that she lovingly called 'musical comfort food, mac-and-cheese music.'"

Hailed by The New York Times as "the dean of Latin jazz" and "one of the world's great virtuosic pianists," Afro-Cuban musician Chucho Valdés and his quintet perform in Weill Hall on Sunday, November 11 at 7 p.m. Their sound is a unique blend of African, South American, Cuban, and Spanish music traditions, with the dexterous Valdés leading from the piano and combing sheer power with rhythmic sensibility, steeped in the intricacies of Afro-Cuban culture. Valdés has a forty-year track record of blazing new trails – as a visionary musician unwilling to bend to his government's aesthetic structures, and as a composer, musician, arranger, and bandleader.

The New York Times describes singer Buika's unique blend of flamenco, jazz, soul and blues as "luminous...magnificent...superb!" Daughter of political refugees from Equatorial Guinea, the "Flamenco Queen" was raised in a gypsy neighborhood on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Her soulful, passionate and powerful vocals have been described as a mixture of Tina Turner, Lora Flores, and Sarah Vaughan – but her musical style is one all her own. Her performance takes place Thursday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is beloved by audiences and critics alike, receiving international honors including the 2010 Gramophone Artist of the Year award. Proclaimed by The New York Times to be "the perfect 21st-century diva – an effortless combination of glamour, charisma, intelligence, grace, and remarkable talent," DiDonato performs at Weill Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m., one of only three recitals in the United States this season. Fresh off of her hugely successful performance as Romeo in Bellini's I Capuleti e I Montecchi with the San Francisco Opera, mezzo-soprano DiDonato's recital, "Drama Queens," focuses on music from the Italian Baroque period.

The superbly blended voices of The Tallis Scholars, led by Peter Phillips, are renowned for their absolute clarity and purity of sound in Renaissance polyphony with The New York Times calling them "the rock stars of Renaissance vocal music" and asserting that the group has "proved themselves equally adept in the idiom of the contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt." Their program, "Love is Better Than Wine," will demonstrate that range when they mix works by Tallis, Praetorius, Lassus, Vivanco and Pärt on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.

Famed Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki, founder and Music Director of the Bach Collegium Japan, leads the internationally renowned Philharmonia Baroque on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. in a performance of Handel's beloved Messiah. Recently proclaimed by Joshua Kosman in Gramophone as "a leader in the field of historically informed performances, both in the U.S. and internationally," the Bay Area-based early music ensemble will be joined by Philharmonia Chorale led by director Bruce Lamott, and soloists Sherezade Panthaki, Fabiana González, Dann Coakwell and Dashon Burton.

MasterCard Worldwide is the series presenting sponsor for Weill Hall at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center, providing generous supports for the annual MasterCard Performance Series, as well as a future outdoor pavilion for music and dance. Programming support is also provided by the Edward and Carolyn Stolman Fund, inaugural season lead underwriter; and Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, vocal series underwriters.

Tickets range from $20 - $90 and are available through the Green Music Center Box Office at 1-866-955-6040 or online at gmc.sonoma.edu. For further information, please visit gmc.sonoma.edu or email greenmusiccenter@sonoma.edu.

TICKETS AND OTHER INFORMATION Tickets range from $20 - $90 and are available through the Green Music Center Box Office at 1-866-955-6040 or online at gmc.sonoma.edu.

For further information, or to purchase tickets, please visit gmc.sonoma.edu or call 1-866-955-6040.