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SF Symphony Presents: Rachmaninoff - "Titan among Titans of the piano" (San Francisco Classical Voice), Grammy award-winning Garrick Ohlsson conquers Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto. Arguably the most demanding of all Romantic concertos, and equally electrifying, "Rach 3" is an immense challenge that will showcase Ohlsson's stunning virtuosity. The conductor The New York Times calls "dazzling," Juraj Valčuha leads the music of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky and Bartók's exotic The Miraculous Mandarin.
Disney's Mary Poppins

Clean out those chimneys and look to the sky as CMT San Jose will open up tickets to its Marquee production of Disney’s Mary Poppins at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose on Wednesday, October 1 starting at 10 a.m.

Two CMT and Mitty High alums, Tiffany Tanquary and Joey Dippel, will take on the lead roles of Mary Poppins and Bert, both very familiar to the 47-year old musical theater company with over four dozen CMT shows to their combined credits.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $24 for children and available by calling 408-288-5437 or online at www.cmtsj.org/tickets.

The Eclipse - April 2014 Eclipse & Golden Gate Bridge
Photo Courtesy of Mike Moir

Bay Bridge - Courtesty of Stephanie Tovrea Guilin, SLG Photography

Pier 39: Fresh seafood and sea lions
Photo courtesy of California Travel and Tourism Commission/Andreas Hub
Mandarin Oriental San Francisco: Best rooms with a view
Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental
San Francisco Pride: The largest LGBT gathering on the planet
Photo courtesy of Victorgrigas
Alcatraz Island: Former home of Al "Scarface" Capone and Robert "Birdman" Stroud
Photo courtesy of Dawn Ellner
Chinatown: A city within the city
Photo courtesy of Ed Schipul
Beach Blanket Babylon: Longest running musical revue in the country
Photo courtesy of Beach Blanket Babylon

San Pedro Square San Jose
 henner7

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

 David Herberg

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

San Jose Center for the Performing Arts 
 Andrew Sims

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

 hempomania

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

San Jose State University (Tower Hall with Ivy)
 d. yalamidis-gr

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

Knight Ridder Building San Jose
 JiPR

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 stevenjssanders

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

Adobe World Headquarters San Jose
 RamaReddy Vogireddy

Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners

VTA Train and Bus Stop Downtown San Jose
 Nathan Cook

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The Sainte Claire Hotel San Jose
 hookjaw

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Balloon Ride Over Napa: Get a romantic bird's eye view
Photo courtesy of chadh
Di Rosa: Art, wine and gardens
Photo courtesy of Di Rosa
Cycling Napa: An active winery tour
Photo courtesy of Neeta Lind
The French Laundry: Award-winning French cuisine
Photo courtesy of Matthew Hine
Auberge du Soleil: One of Napa's best hotels
Photo courtesy of Auberge du Soleil
Uptown Theatre: Live entertainment
Photo courtesy of Uptown Theatre
Harvest STOMP: Napa's annual fall festival
Photo courtesy of fall-line
World Class Spas: Relaxation and romance
Photo courtesy of Villagio Inn & Spa
Yountville: Home to some of Napa's best restaurants
Photo courtesy of Dave Dugdale
Mustard Flowers: Napa beautiful during low season
Photo courtesy of RC Designer

Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Bodega, CA. It was built by shipbuilders in 1859 and is the oldest church in continuous use in Sonoma County. The church is located directly next to the Bodega schoolhouse, which was the setting for the schoolhouse scene in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds. Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Bradley Photography

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Jupiter Restaurant Berkeley

"Out-of-this-World" Eatery in Downtown Berkeley

Cari Lynn Pace, Best of Bay Area

Among Berkeley’s abundant “pizza ‘n brew” options, Jupiter is from another planet altogether.  This historically classic 1890 livery stable excites the eyes, ears and palate.  Enter the gothic-inspired bar’s arched brickwork, hammered tin walls, and high ceilings for a selection of a dozen house brews (and more) at the copper-topped counter.  Catch a glimpse of the wood-fired oven roaring in the corner, with cooks pulling puffy pizzas from the flames.  Wander back to the popular multi-level beer garden, colorfully punctuated with red umbrellas by day.  After dark, heat lamps and strings of festive lights from the trellises keep the tables filled.  You won’t wait long for attention, as the friendly wait staff is quick to take your order or offer suggestions from the enticing choices of fresh salads, unique pizzas, and “guest” specialty beers. 

Marin Symphony 2014-2015 opening season performance

Guest Artist Cellist Zuill Bailey is a hit at the Marin Symphony.  Photo by Peter Rodgers
Guest Artist Cellist Zuill Bailey is a hit at the Marin Symphony. Photo by Peter Rodgers
Marin Symphony - The French Have a Word for It: "Oooh-La-La!"

Cari Lynn Pace, Best of Bay Area

A final performance of Sunday’s opening of the Marin Symphony takes the stage this Tuesday night, at the Marin Veteran’s Auditorium in San Rafael.  Brass trumpets, sweet violins, and resonating drums brought us to our feet with the rousing “Star Spangled Banner”.  Maestro (that’s musical jargon for “conductor”) Alasdair Neale turned to the audience, encouraging everyone to sing along at the top of their lungs.  As we hit the high notes of “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”, a guy next to me called out “Play ball!”  We laugh, straighten our jewelry and sit down.  

It’s the relaxed start of a superb evening of classical music with a French theme, opening with “Candide” overture by Leonard Bernstein and a “Cello Concerto” by Camille Saint-Saens.  The cello guest soloist, Zuill Bailey, is a charming and oh-so-attractive young version of Antonio Banderas.  Bailey, playing with no music but the notes from his soul, emanated such warmth and quick-fingered skill the audience stood and would not stop applauding.  In gratitude, Bailey performed a surprise encore, “Meditation” by Jules Massenet, leaving everyone breathless.  

"Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen

Main Stage West, Sebastopol
Iliana Niernberger, Peter Downey (Photo by Eric Chazankin)
Iliana Niernberger, Peter Downey (Photo by Eric Chazankin)

Suzanne and Greg Angeo, Best of Bay Area

Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

The Honeymoon’s Over

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen has crafted some of the strongest women characters in theatre. The strongest of them all, and perhaps the most difficult to portray, may be Hedda Gabler. To say she’s a troubled woman is an understatement. She’s an intriguing mix of sociopath, temptress, dominatrix and neurotic, all wrapped up in a very decorative package. Ibsen’s play of the same name premiered in Germany in 1891 and was not well received, and no surprise. Few characters demonstrate such a calculated lack of empathy (with the possible exception of Regina in “The Little Foxes”), and few endings are as dismal. But the play went on to become a classic. The adaptation of Ibsen’s play by Brian Friel, now being presented at Main Stage West, is an intricate story filled with taut suspense and fine performances by every member of the cast.

Bobby Jo Valentine

Following the journey of a singer-songwriter

Shelley Shepherd Klaner, Best of Bay Area

If someone is described as a singer-songwriter to an individual not in the music business, it may seem redundant or confusing. Isn’t anyone in the music biz a singer and a songwriter? Not necessarily. The life of a singer-songwriter can be likened to the wandering minstrel of days gone by. Some musicians may play cover songs or be part of tribute bands. Others are more musically centered versus telling stories of their lives in the words they themselves penned.  The singer-songwriter typically sings about him or herself and writes about life experiences. Although they often have a band, they are often the centerpieces of the music.

The Bay Area is chalk full of musicians, who dub themselves as singer-songwriters, but one, Bobby Jo Valentine of Petaluma, recently has been recognized because of a new documentary film: “Bobby Jo: Journey of a Singer-Songwriter” that recently debuted at Santa Rosa Junior College in its auditorium. An “official” premiere followed at the Wine Country Film Festival in Kenwood. Additional showings will appear around the country with a DVD to follow suit.

Where's My IPONY?

Will Durst, Best of Bay Area

Shake off the blues, put on your shoes, and tell grandma the news: the next generation iPhones are here. Cue the “woo- hoos.” And guess what: they’re huge. Or not. You choose. It’s like iGoldilocks. There’s a small, a medium and a large. And the best part- no bears. 
 
The iPhone 6 is a little bigger than the previous models but the iPhone 6 Plus looks like they shrunk the Minipad. Or tiny iPad. Or whatever they call it. “Is that an iPhone 6 Plus in your pocket or are you just really really happy to see me?” All across America, Baby Boomers are raising 8 ounce glasses of prune juice in grateful toasts. They can finally see their buttons. These phablets are fabulous. 
 
In other fruit computer news, the iWatch did not turn out to be the iWatch: it’s the Apple Watch. Even though the company filed for trademark protection in about 100 markets for the right to call it the iWatch. Of course, the wrist- bound marvel doesn’t become iAvailable until 2015. Or when iSwatch freezes over. 
 
In response to the new releases, the Galaxy Android Samsung contingent (GAS) has ramped up their troll- like flame campaign to shame and defame Apple for belatedly matching the lame technology of their sacred superior smart phones. But in such a piercing stridency, one thinks- perhaps they doth protest too much. If whining were beer, these guys would be a frat party during Octoberfest. In Bavaria. 

The Wandering Wine Woman:

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
Petit Sirah grapes are almost ready for picking
Petit Sirah grapes are almost ready for picking

Cari Lynn Pace, Best of Bay Area

Want to maximize your enjoyment when you’re off for a wine tasting day?  One great strategy is to focus on an area, not bounce from one appellation or one valley to another - a novice mistake that takes up a lot of driving time.

For today’s exploration I centered on Healdsburg.  The wines of the Alexander Valley caught my attention, and I tried three welcoming tasting rooms all in easy driving from one another.

33rd Annual Harvest Wine Celebration

Livermore Valley Annual Harvest Celebration

Byron Carman, Best of Bay Area

Each year over the Labor Day Weekend, 40 wineries in the Livermore Valley Wine Country celebrate  the exciting crush season. Each winery hosts activities including wine tasting, arts, crafts, and music.  While I've been to every winery in the area one time or another, I just couldn’t resist attending another celebration this year.  Each year it keeps getting better and better!  I went to my first celebration in September 2000. Back then, the event took place over two days and had what I would call a party type atmosphere. Fully packed shuttle busses took participants in 100 degree heat to the various wineries that were often times overwhelmed with wine lovers. You had the option of selecting the cabernet tour or the chardonnay tour depending on your taste. 

This year, it was drastically different than I remember in back in 2000. There were not any shuttle busses and it was a bit calmer, allowing for participants to just relax, taste good wine, and enjoy the scenery and hospitality at each winery.  Smaller wineries were pouring their wines at the larger wineries, allowing festival goers to spend less time on the road and more time tasting wines, shopping, eating and listening to local bands. 

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