Fall 2015 Concert Notes and Bios

Kurt Erickson, Composer of “I Think I Shall Praise It”

Kurt Etickson, composer

Kurt Erickson is an active composer whose music can be heard frequently throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Compositional highlights include a ballet commission from the Lawrence Pech Dance Company for chamber ensemble, adult chorus, and boy sopranos; a San Francisco Girls Chorus premiere; and an orchestral premiere with the Sacramento Philharmonic. In 2005, he took part in a composer residency at Randolph-Macon Woman's College and at the Napa Valley International Festival of Dance.

While in his twenties, Kurt served a unique Three Church Composer Residency at the Grace Cathedral, St. Mary the Virgin, and St. Mark's Episcopal churches in San Francisco. He served as composer-in-residence at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi from 2001 to 2003, writing sacred choral music for its professional ensemble, Schola Cantorum.

Born in Fresno, California, Kurt studied piano performance with pianist Philip Lorenz at California State University, Fresno. He continued his graduate studies with William Cerny at The University of Notre Dame and composition at Mills College with Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran.

Kurt’s choral works have been recorded and released on a CD by the Schola Cantorum vocal ensemble entitled “This Christmas Night.”

Joseph Liebling, Guest Conductor

Joseph Liebling, guest conductor
Photo: Christian Fritze  

Joe Liebling has had a special relationship with BCCO for many years. Introduced to the chorus by former Music Director Arlene Sagan, Joe has been a frequent guest conductor at music retreat weekends and has led regular rehearsals from time to time. He is always available to lend his extraordinary musical knowledge to the chorus, and he has been known to liven up BCCO parties by playing Broadway tunes and standards on the piano while everyone sings along.

As guest conductor for the entire fall 2010–spring 2011 season, Joe led BCCO in performances of Haydn’s Harmoniemesse that led one audience member to remark, “I can’t believe it’s a free concert, it’s so good.” That year’s spring performances of Brahms’s German Requiem, which he shared with Arlene, were a moving musical high point.

Joe’s career began in the High School of Music and Art in New York City and continued with degrees in piano and orchestral conducting from Juilliard and Columbia University. He played backup piano for Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie at early hootenannies in New York, and he was the piano accompanist for the Pearl Primus Dance Company on tours in England, Israel, and the United States. He sang for seven years with Robert Shaw’s Collegiate Chorale. During that time, the group also performed under Toscanini, Koussevitzky, Stokowski, and Bernstein.

Joe co-founded the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and founded the Richmond Symphony Chorus, now the Contra Costa Chorale. He was music director of the Oakland Symphony Chorus for 22 years, where he was more than “just” the chorus conductor. Starting with his first season, he annually led the full orchestra and chorus in a program of his choosing. On several occasions, he also conducted the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra with the chorus. Under his direction, for many years the Oakland Symphony Chorus was the brightest light in the Paramount Theatre.

Joe was acknowledged by no less a composer than Igor Stravinsky, whose secretary wrote to Joe after performances of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Requiem Canticles with the Oakland Symphony and Chorus that “your chorus is absolutely marvelous, and their performances were the best ever. Mr. Stravinsky has spoken several times of his delight at the sound of both of the pieces.”

Debra Golata, Director of the Berkeley Women's Community Chorus

Debra Golata, BWCC director

Debra Golata received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in choral conducting from San Jose State University.

Her vocal performance experience includes solo recitals, opera, musicals, and professional choral singing. She sang with the acclaimed Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Chorale for 15 years, and she has concertized throughout the United States and Mexico with classical guitarist Jon Harris.

She recorded songs about Bay Area women artists featured in the book Aging Artfully. She is organist and music director at Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley and teaches private voice and piano lessons, as well as general music classes for schools in the Bay Area.

Deb has served as the assistant conductor and vocal coach of the San Francisco Lyric Chorus. She is the director of the Berkeley Women’s Community Chorus, formed under the auspices of BCCO.

Derek Tam, Director of the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers

Derek Tam, BCCS director

In demand as a conductor and historical keyboardist, Derek Tam performs regularly in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

As a guest conductor, Derek appears frequently with choral and orchestral ensembles. In addition to serving as artistic director of the Star Valley Children's Choir, he is director of music at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, one of the major performance venues for classical music in the East Bay. He served as BCCO’s first assistant conductor from 2011–14, and he continues to lead the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers, BCCO’s outreach group, which performs at community and private events, hospitals, and retirement homes.

In addition to being a conductor, Derek is a soloist, chamber musician, and accompanist on various historical keyboards, from the harpsichord and fortepiano to the modern concert grand. As a historical keyboardist, he presents solo recitals throughout the Bay Area; upcoming concerto appearances in the 2015–16 season include performances with the Modesto Symphony and Elevate Ensemble.

Derek is a founding member of MUSA, a San Francisco–based baroque ensemble. He is also a member of Ars Minerva, a performing arts organization dedicated to presenting forgotten operas from the Italian baroque. He has served as a continuo harpsichordist for the symphonies of Merced, Modesto, Napa Valley, and Santa Cruz, as well as at Festival del Sole. He is an advocate for new music for harpsichord, and his ensembles have premiered works by Danny Clay, Sean Harold, and Andrew McIntosh.

Derek is a faculty member at the NAPA Music Festival and has been on the staff of the American Bach Soloists Festival and Academy. Derek is also education coordinator for American Bach Soloists, one of the nation’s premier early music ensembles, as well as director of educational programs for San Francisco Renaissance Voices. He also played a major role in resurrecting the choral program at Berkeley High School.

He currently chairs the Youth Advisory Board of Early Music America.

Derek is a registered tax professional with the State of California. He is a graduate of Yale University.

For more information, visit www.dereksaihotam.com.