Monthly Archives: September 2015

Cellist Extraordinaire Gautier Capuçon

Photo Gregory Batardon

Photo Gregory Batardon

From the audience, that 2009 Sunday matinee performance in Davies Hall, nothing seemed amiss. Gautier Capuçon’s rendition of the Schumann Cello Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony won me over instantly, as did his stage charisma—and, okay, those  cinematic good looks of his. Two years later, his thoughtful, nuanced performance of Henri Dutilleux’s “Tout un Monde Lointain, ” again with the San Francisco Symphony, was equally sublime. (Read my blog on it HERE.) It was only when I researched him for this blog, in the aftermath of another brilliant performance with the SFS (Elgar Cello Concerto in May—okay, I’m woefully behind here) that I learned he’d suffered an appendicitis attack, back in 2009, smack in the middle of his intended debut performance with the San Francisco Symphony. The Sunday matinee I saw him? Less than 36 hours after emergency surgery. What was to have been his third performance had become his debut. Lucky, lucky us, we who’d had Sunday matinee tickets!

Here’s the story in his own words, courtesy of an interview with San Francisco Classical Voice.  

“The night before my debut, I met with Semyon Bychkov. We were preparing for the Schumann concerto. The next morning was the first rehearsal with the orchestra, and it went really well. I was so excited! Then I started having stomach problems. I knew something strange was going on inside. You know how some people have stomach problems when they are nervous? I’d never had stomach problems in my whole life.

By midnight the pain was so strong I was lying on the floor in my hotel. That’s when I decided to call the doctor. The doctor came two hours later. By then the pain was really horrible. He examined me and said it was appendicitis and I had to go straight to the emergency room to be operated on. I told him that’s not possible: “I have to play a concert tomorrow!” He stayed with me for two hours talking to me. Finally I said, “Let’s make a deal. You can drive me to the hospital, but you have to promise me I don’t have to wait — I know what emergency rooms are like; you can spend the whole night there.” He said, “OK.”

Of course, it was appendicitis and they operated on me right away. Afterwards the doctor told me if I had waited five more minutes it would have ruptured and I probably would have died. I was quite lucky.

The next morning I was back in the hotel and I tried playing my cello and I felt fine. So I called the Symphony and told them I could play the second concert. They had had to cancel my first. Then my agent called and spoke to me. She spoke to me like my mother. She said, “No way! It’s too risky.” I did play the last concert and it was great.”

Capuçon was born in Chambery, France, in 1981. Musical talent runs in the family; his older brother Renaud is an equally accomplished, world class violinist, with whom he frequently collaborates. He began to play the cello at age 5, commencing formal musical education in his hometown at the Ecole Nationale de Musique de Chambéry. He studied thereafter in Paris, first at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris (CNR) and then at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique, with Philippe Muller and Annie Cochet-Zakine (and later with Heinrich Schiff in Vienna). He’s the winner of various first prizes in international competitions, including the International André Navarra Prize, and in 2001 was named ‘New Talent of the Year’ by Victoires de la Musique (the French equivalent of a Grammy). In 2004 he received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He plays a 1701 Matteo Goffriler cello.


Capuçon is tremendously interesting to watch perform. He’s reminiscent of pianist extraordinaire Yuja Wang, in that you can see and almost feel their curiosity, their interplay with the music: the notes, tonal colors and nuances. They’re immersed in the process of interpretation, almost dialoguing with it, brows furrowed in concentration only to be resolved a moment later with a slight nod, a yes, that was it; that was the feeling/sound I’d been striving for. To watch supremely talented artists working so deeply in the process makes it both a thrill and an honor to watch. It’s live performing at its best. Throw in good looks, an innate sensuality, and whoa, it’s especially fun.

Tell me if you agree…

Although Gautier Capuçon doesn’t have a lot of tours within the U.S. lined up this fall, he will be  in New York on October 21 – 25 at Avery Fisher Hall, with the New York Philharmonic. He’ll be performing one of my absolute favorites: the Brahms Double Concerto, with violinist Lisa Batiashvili. It’s worth going a long way to see but, regretfully, my San Francisco Bay Area base is a wee bit too far. So, those of you readers on the East Coast, please go see it for me. And after New York City, over the next four months, Capuçon will perform in, among other cities, Amsterdam, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Vienna, Paris, London. Just in case, you know, you’re in the neighborhood.

For those of us most decidedly not in the neighborhood, here are more YouTube clips you might enjoy. This first one is a rehearsal with Capuçon and renowned conductor Valery Gergiev (whose name ballet folks might recognize; he’s the general and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre). The rehearsal takes place in a church, I believe in France. I love these more relaxed, behind-the-scenes glimpses of a musician at work. It’s fun to see Valery Gergiev in a baseball cap and Gautier Capuçon in a white tee shirt and jeans, intent on rehearsing and not performing for the camera. Watch it all the way through; it’s great. The music is wonderful, but I’m not sure what it is. Can anyone help me here?

Here’s a full-length recording of the Dvoràk Cello Concerto very well presented.

Here’s an interesting interview of sorts with Capuçon and pianist Frank Braley. The two of them recorded a CD in 2013 called “Arpeggione,”  and this is a mix of music and conversation. For those of you, like me, for whom French is like music itself, you’ll love it. And for those of you, like me, who enjoy informal, “behind the scenes” kind of interviews, there you go, too. And it’s lovely, intriguing music.

And last but not least, want to see Capuçon and Yuja Wang perform together? Eye candy for both the sexes!

World Ballet Day 2015 is on!

Want the link to the Oct 5, 2017 coverage? Click HERE!

Welcome to The Classical Girl’s World Ballet Day 2015 page! Glad you could make it. I will update this page prior to, and throughout World Ballet Day, so you can have the most relevant links and information as the day unrolls. And want to hold onto the ballet world for more than one day? To help celebrate World Ballet Day, my ballet novel, OFF BALANCE, is only $2.99. Check it out at!

Who you can expect to see at what time

  • The Australian Ballet: 10pm Eastern Time on 9/30, 7pm Pacific, 12 noon local time
  • Bolshoi Ballet: 3am Eastern, midnight Pacific Time, 11am local time
  • The Royal Ballet: 6am Eastern, 3am Pacific, 11am local time
  • The National Ballet of Canada: 11am Eastern, 8am Pacific Time, 11am local time
  • San Francisco Ballet: 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific, and, whaddya know – 1pm local time!

How to watch? You can watch World Ballet Day live streaming at the official website, or from each ballet company’s YouTube channel. Below you’ll find links to the company’s website or their YouTube channel.  And to alleviate your concern about watching the wrong channel at the wrong time, all five companies will be broadcasting the entire 23 hour event. You just might be hearing Russian instead of English, or vice versa.

A change from last year: the day will include pre-recorded footage from a wide range of regional dance organizations geographically close to the five participating companies, including  Bangarra Dance Theatre, Ballet of China, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, National Nederlands Dans Theater, Northern Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal,  and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Stop 1, The Australian Ballet

Artistic Director David McAllister’s brand new production of The Sleeping Beauty.

Behind the Scenes

  • The Australian Ballet School
  • Audience Engagement Programs
  • Ballet Philanthropy
  • The Magical Wardrobe Department

Pre-recorded footage from other companies to include: Bangarra Dance Theatre, Ballet of China, Royal New Zealand Ballet


Stop 2, Bolshoi Ballet

Recent Productions

  • Radu Poklitaru’s Hamlet
  • Yuri Possokhov’s Hero of Our Time


Preview of Upcoming Season
World premieres, revivals, special projects, festivals, international tours, guest company presentations on the Bolshoi Theatre stages, and a gala dedicated to the memory Maya Plisetskaya.


Stop 3, The Royal Ballet


  • Raven Girl – Choreography Wayne McGregor
  • The Two Pigeons – Choreography Frederick Ashton
  • Czardas – Choreography/Dancer Steven McRae; Violinist Vasko Vassilev
  • Charlotte Edmonds – The Royal Ballet Young Choreographer Programme with students of The Royal Ballet School
  • Viscera – Choreography Liam Scarlett
  • Carmen – Choreography Carlos Acosta
  • The Nutcracker – The Royal Ballet School

Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes at the matinee performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet taking place during World Ballet Day.

Pre-recorded footage from other companies to include: Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet,


Stop 4, The National Ballet of Canada

“Join The National Ballet of Canada at the Place des Arts in Montréal as they take audiences behind the scenes during their fall tour.”


  • Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale 
  • Dress rehearsal of Marco Goecke’s Spectre de la Rose
  • Dress rehearsal of Wayne McGregor’s Chroma

Pre-recorded footage from other companies to include: Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal,


Stop 5, San Francisco Ballet


  • Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle
  • Tomasson’s The Fifth Season
  • Liam Scarlett’s Hummingbird
  • Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush©
  • George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations
  • Liam Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries (new work)

There will be a special interview with William Forsythe about SF Ballet’s North American premiere ofPas/Parts, a work never performed by a company other than Paris Opera Ballet.

Pre-recorded footage from other companies to include:  Houston Ballet (5:00pm PDT) and Pacific Northwest Ballet (5:30pm PDT).



Here are those links. (If you click on the company’s name, it will lead you to their information page at World Ballet Day’s official website. Good stuff there, too!)


Posted on September 8th  


It’s been the burning question for many a dance fan: Is there going to be a second, equally big World Ballet Day, like last year? Back in June, The Royal Ballet made their announcement, stating yes, plans were on for a repeat of last year’s unprecedented sensation. But further details proved elusive. I’ve been Googling, Internet surfing, visiting dance forums, dance journals and blogs, company websites, trying to find out who would be collaborating with the Royal Ballet, because it’s got to be a collaboration. Twenty-four hours of nonstop streamed ballet can’t be accomplished by one company, no matter how impressive they are. Finally, today, the word is official.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) September 08, 2015

Following last year’s unprecedented collaboration for the first World Ballet Day LIVE, five of the world’s leading ballet companies will once again stream 23 hours of live, behind-the-scenes footage on Thursday, October 1. The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, and San Francisco Ballet have partnered to provide viewers around the world with an inside look at professional ballet companies in the studio, on tour, and in performance. For more information, visit

Yay, it’s a go!!


In lieu of writing blog after blog about World Ballet Day, which my non-ballet readers might find tiresome, I will be updating this page regularly. So do stop by again. Next week, you’ll get the viewing schedule of the event, and details of what you might catch at each stop along the way. For a sense of it all, take a peek at last year’s World Ballet Day blog of mine, which offers times, schedules, etc. My hunch is that all the times will prove to be the same, but obviously what is being rehearsed will change. Check out that post HERE. You’ll also find some still-active links for footage of World Ballet Day 2014.

If you’re new to The Classical Girl and my writing, here’s an added incentive to swing by here the week of World Ballet Day: a special promotion for my ballet novel, Off Balance. Because I aim to celebrate World Ballet Day and share ballet with the world in proper festive style. Woo hoo – I feel a party coming on! Check it out at Amazon HERE.


So be sure and mark the day, folks. Thursday, October 1st. And just a head’s up: for the Australian Ballet, which starts the ballet-viewing extravaganza, their October 1st starts when much of us are still in the throes of September 30th. Plan to tune in Wednesday evening at 10pm Eastern Time, 7pm Pacific Time, when it will be 12 noon local time on October 1st. And then prep yourself for a long, memorable day of dance.