Downes to serve up ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ on Sunday at Mondavi

By From page A11 | December 07, 2011

Pianist Lara Downes will present "Green Eggs and Ham," a musical adaptation of the popular illustrated book for children by Dr. Seuss, in family concerts at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center. Courtesy photo

Help yourself

What: “Green Eggs and Ham,” featuring pianist Lara Downes, soprano Ann Moss, Davis High School musicians and local boy Jimin Moon

When: 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center, UC Davis

Tickets: $35 general, $17.50 for students; www.mondaviarts.org; (530) 754-2787

Pianist Lara Downes will be joined by local performers and soprano Ann Moss from the Bay Area to present “Green Eggs and Ham,” a musical adaptation of the ever-popular illustrated book for children by Dr. Seuss.

The family concerts will be presented at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis.

Joining Downes in the performances will be fifth-grader Jimin Moon, a student at Pioneer Elementary School who also is active in community theater; an ensemble of musicians from the Davis High School Symphony; and Angelo Moreno, the orchestra’s conductor.

“It’s an amazingly funny piece,” said Downes, with playful music by composer Robert Kalilow that is at once appealing to young listeners and yet simultaneously quite complex and challenging for the performers.

“It is also one of the relatively few pieces of music referencing children’s literature, other than Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf.’ I love ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ it’s a very clever score with a lot of musical jokes, and it treats the text in a smart way, so I’m happy anytime I have a chance to do it.”

Downes recalls that when she was a girl, her parents read “Green Eggs and Ham” aloud to her. Asked if she read the book to her children when they were very young, Downes replied, “Of course!”

Moreno will lead an ensemble of Davis High musicians, including  Margaux Filet on flute/piccolo, John Park and Cassandra Vance on clarinet, Kimia Nader on bassoon, Spencer Park on trumpet, Kristen Ronning on horn, Michael Dohn on double bass, and Samuel Ravani on percussion.

Downes will be at the keyboard; choreographer Mindy Cooper is the stage director.

Downes and young pianist Grace Zhao — who hails from Southern California, and is one of the 2011 Mondavi Center Young Artist Competition winners — also will team up to perform a piano four-hands version of Gabriel Fauré’s “Dolly Suite” (Op. 56), a loving musical tribute to one of the composer’s somewhat eccentric friends.

Downes also will open the concert with a few solo piano selections, to be announced from the stage.

Tickets for “Green Eggs and Ham” are $35 general, $17.50 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or (530) 754-2787.

Downes also mentioned that her new album, “13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg: Bach Reimagined,” was picked as one of the top 100 albums of the year by critic Ted Gioia. Downes’ album came in at No. 16 on the list.

Other artists who recently have appeared at the Mondavi Center also had albums on Gioia’s list, including:

No. 27: Chick Corea and Stephano Bollani, “Orvieto”;

No. 31: Sonny Rollins, “Road Shows, Vol. 2″;

No. 33: Miguel Zenón, “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook”;

No. 34: Kronos Quartet, “Uniko”;

No. 43: Tony Bennett, “Duets II”;

No. 47: Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa, “Charles Ives — Four Sonatas”;

No. 70: Simone Dinnerstein, “Bach: A Strange Beauty”; and

No. 99: Steve Mackey and So Percussion, “It Is Time.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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