A Celebration of  20th Century American Music


Isaac Pastor-Chermak, cello

Miles Graber, piano


Ellen Presley, Mezzo Soprano

June 29

at 7:30pm

Thursday, June 29 at the Center. Admission by donation.


Gershwin, Three Preludes for Cello and Piano

Elliott Carter, Sonata for Cello and Piano

Henry Cowell, "Gravely and Vigorously" for Solo Cello

Jake Heggie, "Before the Storm," for mezzo-soprano, cello and piano



Gershwin, Three Preludes for Cello and Piano: (1926) Gershwin's classic piano pieces, recast for cello and piano in a new arrangement by Bronwyn Hagerty.

Elliott Carter, Sonata for Cello and Piano: (1948) One of the most challenging, gratifying and exciting pieces in the cello-piano repertoire. Miles and Isaac are thrilled to be repeating their performance of the Carter sonata from last summer. This piece will bamboozle and excite you at the same time. 

Henry Cowell, "Gravely and Vigorously" for solo cello: A short and elegiac composition for the cello alone, written in memory of President John F. Kennedy the day after his assassination in 1963. This is a rarely-performed and highly affecting piece that Isaac pleased to be reintroducing to audiences. 

Jake Heggie, "Before the Storm" for mezzo-soprano, cello and piano: (1998) Miles and Isaac are very excited to team up with mezzo-soprano Ellen Presley to conclude this program with a song cycle by Bay Area composer Jake Heggie. Beautifully-set poems of Judyth Walker, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and and Dorothy Parker are accompanied by lyrical, virtuoso writing for cello and piano. 



Isaac Pastor-Chermak is Principal Cellist of Portland Opera and Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony; Associate Principal Cellist of Stockton Symphony; and a member of Santa Barbara Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Dayton Philharmonic. He is the cellist of Black Cedar Trio, the only professional flute-cello-guitar ensemble in the country, and enjoys frequent sonata collaborations with pianists Miles Graber and Alison Lee. Pastor-Chermak is Beelard Foundation Artist-in-Residence at Young Artists Conservatory of Music in Vacaville, CA; and a faculty member at Dominican Sisters School of Music in Fremont, CA. He is founder and principal conductor of Solano Junior Strings, the first youth orchestra in the city of Vacaville. Pastor-Chermak holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (B.A.) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (M.M.). He makes his home in North Berkeley, but is at home wherever the music takes him. 



Miles Graber received his musical training at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Anne Hull, Phyllis Kreuter, Hugh Aitken, and Louise Behrend. He has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1971, where he has developed a wide reputation as an accompanist and collaborative pianist for instrumentalists and singers. He has performed with numerous solo artists, including Sarah Chang, Cho-Liang Lin, Camilla Wicks, Axel Strauss, Mimi Stillman, Judith LeClair, Frederica von Stade, Martha Aarons, and Lev Polyakin. He is a member of the chamber groups MusicAEterna, GGR Trio, Alcyone Ensemble, the Sor Ensemble, Mira Trio, and the new music group Sounds New. Mr. Graber has been associated with such ensembles as the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Midsummer Mozart, the Oakland Symphony, the Berkeley Symphony, the California Symphony, the Santa Rosa Symphony, Oakland Lyric Opera, Berkeley Opera, and Opera San Jose. 

Mr. Graber is a staff accompanist at the San Domenico Conservatory in San Anselmo, California, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Northern California Flute Camp in Carmel Valley. Other accompanying posts include the Mondavi Center for the Arts Young Artist Competition, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the Summer Brass Institute.


Lyric mezzo-soprano Ellen Presley is an avid performer of repertoire ranging from Handel to Heggie.  This spring, she returns to Black Box Baroque to sing the role of Galatea in Handel's serenata Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo, having recently performed Bradamante (Alcina) and Polinesso (Ariodante) in Black Box Baroque's sold-out productions.

This past summer, Ellen sang the role of Ottone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea with Opera Theater Unlimited, which the San Francisco Chronicle named as one of the top ten classical music events in San Francisco in 2016.  Other recent roles include Pisana in Verdi’s I due Foscari with West Edge Opera and Lieutenant Marshall in South Pacific with Foothill Theater.  A passionate performer of new music, Ellen recently sang in workshops for Shalimar the Clown by Jack Perla, commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and The R(evolution) of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates, commissioned by Santa Fe Opera.  At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Ellen performed Lady with a Hat Box (Postcard from Morocco), Arsamene (Serse), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), and Alma March (Little Women). Ellen has sung with Opera Parallèle, Sacramento Opera, Opera Academy of California, Sacramento State Opera Theatre, SFCM New Music Ensemble, BASOTI, University of Miami Frost School of Music at Salzburg, and San Diego Opera Intensive for Young Singers.  She holds a Master of Music degree from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she won Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Opera and Voice departments and studied with Jane Randolph.