Saturday’s La Jolla SummerFest program, “Songs of Heaven and Earth,” clustered major sacred works by J.S. Bach, Olivier Messaien and Gustav Mahler, a combination of composers I cannot recall appearing together on a previous SummerFest program, Both the musical progression and the spiritual journey proved unusually compelling.

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Sunday afternoon, SummerFest Music Director Inon Barnatan matched Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s virtuoso, arch-Romantic Sonata in G Minor for Piano and Cello, Op. 19, with George Crumb’s rarely performed 1971 “Vox Balaenae” (“Voice of the Whale”) for amplified flute, cello and piano, and Maurice Ravel’s “Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé.”

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In 2018, the key players of San Diego’s classical music scene struck gold by collaborating with each other. Enlisting some 10 musical organizations in its month-long “It’s About Time Time” festival in January, the San Diego Symphony set a high bar of cooperation for the coming year, but other organizations readily took up the challenge with rewarding results.

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Friends who know me well will quickly attest that they have never heard me exclaim, “I am dying to hear another performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto!” However, after hearing pianist Conrad Tao’s spectacular performance of this popular work with the San Diego Symphony, Friday, November 2, I have been completely converted.

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The air could not have been more electric in the Balboa Theatre Saturday night (June 10) when the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra offered Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella Suite” under the baton of Music Director Michael Francis and Conrad Tao launched into his exuberant keyboard fusillade that turned into Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 8 . . .

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