Established in 1986, the Mendocino Music Festival was the dream of Allan Pollack, Susan Waterfall and former principal bassoonist of the San Francisco Symphony, Walter Green. The Festival is a magical blend of fine music by outstanding performers in one of the most enchanting sites in Northern California. Evenings include orchestra concerts, Big Band, chamber music ensembles, dance, blues, jazz, world, folk, bluegrass and popular contemporary music. Daytime concerts include lecture/recitals at the Piano Series, a performance by participants in the Emerging Artists Program, and small concerts in intimate venues throughout the historic towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg.
Artistic Director and Conductor
Maestro Allan Pollack has guided the Mendocino Music Festival as Artistic Director and Conductor since the first note was played in 1987. Over the years, memorable performances have taken shape under his baton including Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. In addition to leading The Festival Orchestra in the classics, Mr. Pollack has conducted many fully staged operas.
With a Ph.D. in composition from UC Berkeley, Maestro Pollack has composed a variety of pieces especially for the Festival Orchestra and musicians: The Spiral Dance for chorus and orchestra; Two Movements in Time for orchestra; From the Song of Songs for soprano and orchestra; A Summer Evening at the Boonville Fair for orchestra; Albion Song: Jazz Concerto for Saxophone; a Vibraphone Concerto; and a String Quartet. As a jazz musician, he leads the fabulous Festival Big Band and sometimes takes a solo on saxophone.
Allan is also Music Director and Conductor for Symphony of the Redwoods.
Associate Artistic Director
Pianist Susan Waterfall creates yearly multi-media, narrated settings for chamber music for the Festival. These have included: Voyage a Paris (2001); Argentina: Gauchos and Tangos (2002); Bartok’s Women (2003); Tales of a Parisian Salon: Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac (2004); Young Brahms (2005); Scandalous Music! Satie, Ravel, Debussy, and Stravinsky (2006); Leos Janacek: A Solitary Genius (2007); Degenerate Music! Kurt Weill, Schoenberg, and Hanns Eisler in Weimar Berlin (2008); They Left A Light, Masterpieces from Nazi Prison Camps (2009); Hallelujah America (2010); Irresistible Grooves (2011), Music for a Teahouse (2012), with Wu Man, compositions of Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, and traditional Chinese music; and Umi no Hi (2013), an entire day of events celebrating Japan’s contemporary and historic music and culture, featuring the compositions of Toru Takemitsu. In 2014, she designed and performed in the four-day Bach Fest, featuring lectures and concerts. With Mozart in Mendocino (2015), Waterfall continued her in-depth exploration of the music, life, and cultural milieu of a major composer. This summer’s Beethoven Tribute will similarly offer an array of programs designed to provide the listener with an understanding of Beethoven’s pivotal role in Western music and culture.
Waterfall studied piano with Ivan Moravec and Karl Ulrich Schnabel and musicology with Roland Jackson and Glenn Watkins. In the 1970s Susan lived, studied, and performed South Indian Classical Music with the legendary Dhanammal family in Madras (Chennai) India. Susan brings an enhanced sensibility of the role of music in culture to all of her concerts. Susan and Allan are the parents of the acclaimed jazz pianist Julian Waterfall Pollack.