Winter’s Leaving:

A Concert of Iranian and Israeli Music

Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Music pursues peace by its humanizing effect. When we listen to great music from a great civilization, we can hear the expressive soul of its culture. Put two musical cultures together and we immediately recognize their shared humanity.

In this concert, clarinetist Mara Plotkin teams up with the Circadian String Quartet, composers Noam Lemish and Sahba Aminikia, along with guest performers Anne Rainwater (piano) and Christa Durand (soprano), to explore the musical soul of two cultures: Iran and Israel. 

The program includes two richly evocative pieces by Iranian-born composer Sahba Aminikia, "Winter's Leaving" and String Quartet No. 2; One Day; Tehran, which puts us in the middle of the street protests after the 2009 Iranian Presidential election. We will also hear the U.S. premier of Noam Lemish's sumptuous quintet for clarinet and strings, Bakesh Shalom Ve’rodfeyou (Pursue Peace), along with the world premier of Lemish’s song cycle Music Master, featuring settings of the Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi in collaboration with soprano Christa Durand and David Ryther on violin. Prokofiev's beloved "Overture on Hebrew Themes" rounds out the program.

This concert presents the fruitful possibilities of cross-cultural musical collaboration. Revel in the music’s expressive power, which takes us past political boundaries and straight to its inherent humanity. 

Concert Details:
February 13th, 7:30 p.m.
Piedmont Center for the Arts
Tickets Available at the Door:
$20 General Admission; $12 Student/Seniors

Doors Open at 7 p.m.,  Performance at 7:30

About the performers:


Clarinetist Mara Plotkin enjoys an active career as an orchestral musician, chamber musician, soloist, and recording musician. Mara has performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Four Seasons Centre, Massey Hall, Glenn Gould Studio. She has performed in international music festivals such as Music in the Mountains, the Banff Music Centre, and the Brott Music Festival. Her orchestral career includes frequent performances with the Toronto Concert Orchestra, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, National Ballet of Canada, and the National Academy Orchestra.

Mara is an active chamber musician and soloist and is a member of the Pacific Arts Wind Quintet. Recent performances include Converging Paths: Isaraeli-Iranian Musican Initiative at Alliance Francaise, performances with the Blythwood Winds and Array Music ensemble. Mara performed John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons presented by Soundstreams in 2011 as well as Anders Hillborg’s Duet for clarinet and violin in 2012 and was broadcast on CBC Radio's The Signal.

Mara is a visiting clarinet professor at University of the Pacific. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Toronto where she studied with Joaquin Valdepeñas and dedicated her research to the interpretation of orchestral ballet excerpts for clarinet. Mara received a Master of Music degree and Professional Studies Diploma from Mannes College of Music in New York City where she studied with Stephen Williamson and David Krakauer.


Oakland-based pianist Anne Rainwater is a dexterous musician known for her vibrant interpretations of works from J.S. Bach to John Zorn. Recognized for her "boldy assertive rhetoric" (San Francisco Examiner), she appears as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. Anne has collaborated with and premiered works by Ken Thomson, Stuart Sanders Smith, Nils Vigeland, Brett Dietz, and Danny Clay, with whom she works with regularly. She also performs with the contemporary piano ensemble New Keys. Anne has played at a number of prestigious venues and festivals, including The Kennedy Center, Le Poisson Rouge, Center for New Music, Switchboard Music Festival, and Princeton University.

Anne holds a Bachelor Degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters Degree in Contemporary Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. While in graduate school, she studied under the tutelage of Anthony de Mare and Christopher Oldfather, who affectionately referred to her as a "special kind of extraterrestrial." She has recorded for Original Abstractions, Bourbon Thomas Records, and Oberlin Conservatory's Aural Capacity Series. Highlights of the 2015/16 season include appearances on San Francisco's Hot Air Festival, a collaboratively composed sound installation at the annual Garden of Memory at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, and several recording projects, including an LP release with New Keys on Pinna Records. When not at the piano, Anne can be found running long distances, reading poetry and fiction, or rabidly watching San Francisco Giants games.


The Circadian String Quartet
David Ryther and Sarah Wood, violins
Omid Assadi, viola
David Wishnia, cello

Bay Area based Circadian String Quartet was founded in 2013 to promote the string quartet repertoire, in particular music of cultural and folkloric significance. Since then, the group has been featured through SunsetArts Chamber Music Series in San Francisco and the Merced Symphony Association. In 2014, the CSQ were invited to collaborate with the St. Petersburg-based Rimsky Korsakov String Quartet during their North American tour. They have also given U.S. premieres of pieces by world-renowned British composer Ian Venables in collaboration with mezzo-soprano Sally Munro of the San Francisco Opera and Natalie Parker, Principal Clarinetist of the San Francisco Ballet.Members of CSQ serve as resident teaching artists for Villa Sinfonia Foundation's Zephyr Point Chamber Music Workshop in South Lake Tahoe, NV, and teach chamber music to young musicians at the Crowden Music Center and the Berkeley Youth Orchestra. Dedicated to music education, the quartet works intensely with musician of all ages in developing their musical abilities in chamber music and ensemble playing.

David Ryther (violin) has brought his interpretive powers as a soloist to such festivals as the Darmstadt Summer Festival of New Music, the Banff Center, and the Green Umbrella Series at the Bing theater in Los Angeles. He has been featured playing new music with adventurous ensembles sfSoundGroup, Earplay, San Francisco Contemporary Players, the Berkeley New Music Ensemble, Sonor, and Octagon. An active violinist, he can be found playing in many of the orchestras and ensembles in the Bay Area including the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. David graduated with highest honors in music from UC Santa Cruz and recently received his doctorate in contemporary violin performance from UC San Diego. A dedicated teacher and conductor, David is a teacher and assistant conductor with Villa Sinfonia in San Francisco, teaches violin at the Crowden School, and has served as coach and interim conductor with the Berkeley Youth Orchestra. As a composer, David has had world premieres played by the Villa Sinfonia, an orchestra piece called "Friend" commissioned by the Croi Glan dance troupe in Cork Ireland, and has worked in residency with Kate Weare company in New York and Dandelion Dance Theater in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

Sarah Wood (violin) leads a versatile career as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. She has soloed with the Music in the Mountains Summer Festival Orchestra and the Panache, Villa Sinfonia, and Icicle Creek Chamber Orchestras.  She has performed chamber music concerts across the Northwestern and Western United States.  Sarah is currently a member of the California Symphony, the Music in the Mountains Summer Festival Orchestra and the Circadian String Quartet, and can be found educating young musicians at the Crowden School of Music and through her private studio.  She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was awarded multiple scholarships and prizes for performance, entrepreneurship, and research.  There, she studied with the Takacs String Quartet and Lina Bahn. Sarah also holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Paul Kantor and William Preucil.

Native of Iran, Omid Assadi (viola) holds a B.M. and M.M. from San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Jodie Levitz and Bettina Mussumeli. Mr. Assadi is an active ensemble player and soloist; he has concertized with many of the Bay Area’s orchestras and has appeared numerous times as soloist with Golden Gate Philharmonic, City College of San Francisco String Orchestra, Kensington Symphony Orchestra, and Villa Sinfonia. Omid’s love for chamber music has led him to study chamber music with the members of the Kronos String Quartet as well as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music faculty members. In addition, he has collaborated with Jennifer Culp, Jodi Levitz, Jorja Fleezanis, and with the Shams Ensemble.

An active chamber musician, David Wishnia (cello) routinely concertizes with both the Circadian String Quartet and the Villa Piano Trio, and has taught at the Zephyr Point Chamber Music Camp and Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop. David has also appeared as a soloist with the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and Villa Sinfonia.  He is currently a member of the Marin Symphony, and has performed in numerous Bay Area ensembles, including the Berkeley Symphony, Modesto Symphony, Sacramento Symphony, Russian Chamber Orchestra, and Marin Oratorio, among others. David received his Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Aldo Parisot. He also studied with Jerome Carrington and Maurice Gendron, and received coaching from Paul Tortelier, Janos Starker, and Pierre Pasquier.

 Christa Durand

A versatile lyric soprano praised for her clarity and warmth of tone, Christa Durand has performed in hundreds of concerts and shows in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  Ms. Durand is recognized as a gifted performer who is equally comfortable in a classical recital hall as she is in an intimate cabaret venue.

Ms. Durand was a recipient of the Everett B. Person Scholarship for Vocal Studies at Sonoma State University, where she received her classical training and her Bachelor of Arts in Music. Ms. Durand is an avid enthusiast of working with current composers to help bring their musical visions to life.  You can find out more and view her performance schedule at:

Noam Lemish is a pianist, composer, scholar and educator, currently a DMA candidate in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto. He has appeared in numerous performances across the US, Canada, Europe, Israel, and in Bhutan having played and performed with such musicians as: Sheila Jordan, John Handy, Julian Lage, James Newton, Dayna Stephens, Frances-Marie Uitti, Donald “Duck” Bailey, Mel Graves, Babatunde Lea, Cameron Brown, Mel Martin, and many others.  Very recent recordings include, The Turning, released yesterday, the third recorded collaboration with percussionist George Marsh as well as the December 2015 release of a piano solo album presenting W.A. Mathieu’s The Magic Clavier (Book I).

His compositions include chamber, choral, piano, numerous jazz works and “The People’s King”: a commissioned multi-cultural suite in celebration the King of Bhutan’s 30th birthday composed while teaching music in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan in 2010. His dissertation focuses on “Israeli jazz” as a case study for musical transculturation in contemporary jazz practice.

Lemish began his jazz and classical studies in Israel. In 2002 he moved to Sonoma County, California where studied under the tutelage of W.A. Mathieu and completed his BA (Summa Cum Laude, With Distinction) in music at Sonoma State University in California. After a year of teaching music in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, Lemish returned to North America in 2010 undertaking graduate studies in Toronto.  While completing his masters degree in composition at the University of Toronto, he served as 2011-2012 Composer-In-Residence for “gamUT” – the University of Toronto Contemporary Music Ensemble. At present, Lemish is continuing his studies at the University of Toronto as a doctoral student in the Jazz Performance program.