Soprano Rochelle Bard performs with Cadenza on May 27. Photo by Dina Scoppettone.

Soprano Rochelle Bard performs with Cadenza on May 27. Photo by Dina Scoppettone.

Some local classical music presenters, both traditional and new, seem to struggle for audiences and financial support. Yet others flourish. Imagine a formula that would impart equal success to all such worthies. Likewise, imagine a formula that would deliver the promised “unlimited” energy of controlled nuclear fusion.

To find unlimited energy, one need look no further than artistic vision that drives, for example, Cadenza, the ensemble Maya Barsacq launched in 2006 under the name Santa Cruz Chamber Orchestra. Already known for its “more dynamic programming,” the renamed orchestra places new emphasis on the talents and virtuosity of the individual players. These musicians come from all over the Bay Area because, as Barsacq explains it, “They are hungry for opportunities to play in Santa Cruz.” So far, Cadenza’s reputation has grown by word of mouth. “I’ve never held auditions,” she says with no small pride.

Barsacq is descended from a dynasty of French artistic authority: her grandfather, André Barsacq, was a famous theater producer/designer/director in Paris; her maternal grandmother was a niece of Leon Bakst, the set and costume designer for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. With her mother as musical inspiration, Barsacq became an accomplished singer. UC–Santa Cruz enticed her in 1990 to study biochemistry. There, she continued her vocal studies with Patrice Maginnis and Brian Staufenbiel, then fell in love with literature, the field in which she took her undergrad degree. Someone planted the idea of conducting. Soon this polymath fell in with conductors Michel Singher and Barbara Day Turner in the South Bay, and studied with Nicole Paiement at UC. Though she graduated in 1993, Barsacq continued to develop her skills within the university’s extensive music faculty and resources. Most recently, she has worked with the highly respected George Cleve. (Cleve, she was surprised to discover, was a pupil of Pierre Monteux, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes conductor in Paris.)

Barsacq says she loves the challenge and process of working with musicians and composers. She has offered local premieres, including some obscure incidental music by Poulenc and Milhaud composed for some of her grandfather’s theater productions. She has introduced recent works from republics of the former Soviet Union, including the U.S. premiere of Latvian composer Peteris Vasks’ Viatore, in 2008.

Cadenza’s program for this Sunday, titled “Love and Romance,” includes Tchaikovsky’s much-loved Serenade for Strings, the U.S. premiere of Canarian Vespersby Israeli composer Noam Sheriff, and five Rachmaninoff songs for which Barsacq made string arrangements of the piano originals. Sheriff’s work, for solo viola and strings, was composed for a festival in the Canary Islands, but actually reflects on the ongoing conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. It features Cadenza violist Chad Kaltinger. Soprano Rochelle Bard rejoins Cadenza for the Rachmaninoff.

Starting with the 2012-2013 season, Barsacq and Cadenza will perform in both Santa Cruz and San Francisco. The orchestra will swell to some 30 players for a Mozart piano concerto, and the season will include John Harbison’s Flute Concerto. A special collaboration with cellist/composer Joan Jeanrenaud is also in the works.



Sunday, May 27, at 7pm
First Congregational Church
Tickets $25 general/$20 senior/$15 student at 800.838.3006 or