FORTEPIANO Daniel Adam Maltz plays his replica fortepiano in concert. The music is performed on the instrument for which Mozart, Hayden and Beethoven composed.

With the Healdsburg Jazz Festival launching into its 26th season this month, and weekly party bands in the Plaza and mini-festivals in the parks kicking it up a notch for summer, the classical-music scene in Healdsburg remains surprisingly healthy. And, to judge by two very different programs taking place this weekend, diverse.

Gary McLaughlin is ticking off the classical musicians he’s lined up for the next year of The 222 calendar—from Paul Galbraith, “one of the greatest first-class guitarists in the world today,” to a tango night with a cellist and a bandion duo in the style of Astor Piazzola next February, “and the Telegraph Quartet which is one of my favorite groups …

“So I think that’s nine concerts, maybe 10 for me alone,” McLaughlin said. “And there’s seven other programmers, so you can imagine it’s going to be something pretty much every week, like any major performing arts center. Except it’s right here in Healdsburg.”

Bistro Club

Woman on piano
BED OF NOTES Pianist Inna Faliks, who fled Ukraine at the age of 10, will perform an autobiographical presentation based on her life and music, at The 222 on June 8.

Take this Saturday night for instance. Inna Faliks, a Ukrainian-American classically trained pianist, returns to town with another unusual program. She presents a monologue with music, stories from her life woven into performances, such as the flight from Odessa to Chicago when she was 10 and her Chicago Symphony premiere at the age of 15.

All of which and more, including the whimsy of romance, is memorialized in her Polonaise-Fantasie: The Story of a Pianist, to be presented on The 222 stage on June 8. The stories are interspersed with performances of Rodion Shchedrin, J.S. Bach, Niccolò Paganini, Liszt, Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven, for a multi-dimensional portrait of the artist as a woman.

“This is actually the third time I’ve had her here,” said McLaughlin, the classical curator for The 222. “She does very unusual programs … it’s personal, but she’ll be performing quite a bit of major pieces that were critical pieces in her life throughout her life. So it’s a kind of a concert and literary event at the same time.”

Among the other “unusual” programs Faliks took part in at The 222 was last year’s combined reading-music performance with poet Ellen Bass. “I like doing those kinds of interdisciplinary things whenever I can to mix it up,” McLaughlin said.

But it takes more than artistic collage to get classical music fans to listen to live music. The 222 stage is a raised platform in the main arcade of the Paul Mahder Gallery, which is filled with bistro tables and comfortable folding chairs for the concerts. Little chocolates sit in a dish on each candle-lit table; wine is available by the glass. It’s cozy, not crowded.

The performers stand close enough to the audience that they can often be heard without a microphone, and audience interaction is a very real result.

“The artists always seem to really respond,” McLaughlin said. “They just are at their best in that kind of informal setting. It’s not a high stage; they’re just slightly above the level of the audience. They can talk to them.”

Mclaughlin, himself still a concert violinist at 85, is an unapologetic fan of the venue. “Regardless of whether it’s 60 or 80 or a hundred [attendees], people seem to just really enjoy it,” he said. “With tears in their eyes and hollering ‘Bravo!’ and, you know, responding.”

Theater Concerts

While some people like the bistro atmosphere of The 222, others might prefer the more formal dynamic preserved at the Raven Performing Arts Theater. Though known for its Raven Players productions and more pop-oriented concerts like last month’s John Jorgensen Bluegrass Band or next month’s Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Raven continues to present classical music to its audiences as well.

Sunday afternoon marks the return of Daniel Adam Maltz, an intelligent and articulate young musician who has made it his mission to explain and extol the fortepiano. Sometimes called the pianoforte, the instrument Maltz plays is a true fortepiano, an instrument made before 1830, or a copy thereof.

The modern piano is a descendant of this instrument, but there’s a world of difference between the two instruments. As Maltz has said, “The instruments today are built with very different things in mind. They are bigger, heavier and louder.”

Additionally, the fortepiano’s natural keys are black and the accidentals white, an exact inverse of today’s more familiar piano keyboard. The fortepiano played a strong supporting role in the 1984 film, Amadeus.

“It’s made almost entirely of wood and doesn’t have a cast-iron frame like today’s pianos,” Maltz said. “This makes it much lighter, at about 95 kg or 210 pounds, which is four or five times lighter than modern concert Steinways. I’m always amused during the scene in Amadeus when men run Mozart’s fortepiano to a concert.”

His own instrument, Maltz said, is a modern copy of an Anton Walter (1752-1826) fortepiano made by Paul McNulty. “Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven would recognize this type of instrument,” Maltz said. McNulty’s workshop is in the Czech Republic, in the village of Divisov, which looks like a slice of the 18th century (see

Though barely 30 years of age, Maltz is seemingly an ambassador from another time, playing the music of classical composers on the instrument they very often wrote it for: the fortepiano. Sunday’s concert will include Mozart’s Rondo in A Minor and Sonata in F Major; Haydn’s Sonata in A Major and Sonata in D Major, and Beethoven’s Andante favori.

Maltz prefers to play in small halls, and found the Raven to his liking in the past. The fortepiano is not amplified; it produces the kind of music that tickles the smaller sensory synapses. Attention must be paid.

As an added note on classical music in Healdsburg, Sunday, June 9, is the final concert in the 2023-24 pipe-organ concert series at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Music Director Paul Blanchard will be joined by members of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the American Guild of Organists to play an hour-long concert of classical music. Admission to the 5pm concert is free, and the public is welcome to attend.

Keep up with all kinds of classical music in Sonoma County, including reviews, at

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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