Festival Opening Night – June 3

buy ticketsFred Hersch & Julian Lage

Friday, June 3
Raven Theater
| 8 pm
115 North Street, Healdsburg

  • Fred Hersch and Julian Lage, solo and duo
  • Noam Lemish Trio with guest Matt Rothstein

Tickets: Gold Circle: $75 | General Seating: $45
Available now

Pianist  Fred Hersch and guitarist Julian Lage share a searching musical ethos and deep Healdsburg connections. A local-boy-made-good, the 23-year-old Lage has performed at just about every HJF, and Hersch is an HJF alum whose father and stepmother, Henry and Gloria, live in town. But they had never met before, only running into each other in Boston last year.

Lage arranged to take a lesson with Hersch, who quickly realized that the guitarist was an ideal candidate for a duo encounter, a seat-of-the-pants conversational format at which the pianist excels. They performed together for the first time in March, just as Lage’s career rapidly accelerated with the April release of his second album “Gladwell” (EmArcy) and recent tours with vibraphonist Gary Burton’s new quartet.

Hersch’s career is back on track after several harrowing years. He recently released the ravishing solo session “Alone at the Vanguard” (Palmetto), one sign of his recovery from an attack of AIDS-related dementia that left him comatose and unconscious for eight weeks. He’s found inspiration from the near-death experience, translating the hallucinatory images that filled his brain into his most ambitious work yet, “My Coma Dreams,” an evening-length multimedia production that San Francisco Performances will present at Herbst Theater on October 30. But the Raven Theater is the place to catch Hersch at his most intimate, where he and Lage are generously donating their services to ensure the festival’s future.

Playing both solo and paired with Hersch will be local guitar star Julian Lage. The Windsor native played Healdsburg jazz events throughout last decade, until Gary Burton recruited him for his New Generation ensemble, and his own 2009 solo album “Sounding Point” was nominated for a Grammy.  The versatile performer – his first “viral” hit was “Jules at Eight” on YouTube – has performed more recently with Mark O’Connor, David Grisman, Taylor Eigsti and his own quintet.

Together, these musicians provide a world-class concert with home town intimacy.

The opening set marks the welcome return of Noam Lemish. A Sonoma County resident for much of the last decade, the Israeli pianist makes his first appearance in the area since a productive year-long sojourn in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, which culminated with his performance of a piece commissioned for the king’s 30th birthday. Lemish is now studying composition at the University of Toronto, where he was named composer-in-residence for the school’s Contemporary Music Ensemble. Always looking to provide an array of musical experiences, he performs solo pieces along with a quartet featuring Jason Carr, bass, Alex Aspinall, drums, and guest saxophonist Matt Rothstein.