Chamber Music with Gail Machlis and Friends

Join us for a chamber music celebration with Gail Machlis and friends.


Mozart String Quartet in E Flat Major (k160)
Gail Machlis, Rachel Carlin, Rick Diamond and Nick Carlin

Two Serenades by Siegfried Benkman
Noel Benkman and Gail Machlis


Mendelssohn String Trio in D Minor, Op. 49
Gail Machlis, Diane Louie and Paul McCurdy

Gail Machlis and Friends at the Maybeck Studio
Sunday, September 28, 2014, 3:00pm
This event is sold out. Thank you for your interest.

After a 23 year hiatus (rebellion) from violin, Gail Machlis was scraped up off the sidewalk and set upright, through seven years of quartets with Rick Diamond, Nick Carlin, and then, Chuck Gabor, all friends from childhood. Both Rick and Nick married, Nick to Rachel, who then joined the quartet, after which babies ensued and  meetings waned, though they continue to meet sporadically (but enthusiastically) to this day.  When the quartet ceased regular rehearsals,  Gail began rehearsing weekly with Paul McCurdy,  and they then added  Diane Louie, one year later. They have been performing in the Bay Area for the last eight years as  The Fog Hill Trio.  Five years ago Noel Benkman and Gail started meeting with a goal of learning one Beethoven or Mozart Sonata each month.  They are about to embark on Beethoven #1 for the third time. Today they are performing two short pieces by Noel's Uncle,  Siegfried Benkman.  This is the first performance of his music, and, wherever he is in the afterlife for wonderful composers, we hope he will enjoy it.  Gail decided that the most fitting way to celebrate the next decade was to gather together these wonderful musicians, to play and celebrate.

Nick Carlin is an active Bay Area cellist. He has served as Principal Cellist with Symphony Parnassus and the Mill Valley Philharmonic. He has also played with Berkeley Symphony, Oakland Civic Orchestra, Holy Names Orchestra, and the Grove Street Opera. Most recently he played in Carmen with Verismo Opera.  Nick has done some composing and has performed with the composer’s group Irregular Resolutions. He has also played at the San Francisco Film Festival under the baton of Jonathan Richman, accompanying the silent film The Phantom Chariot. Nick spent many years playing guitar and singing with various bands, including George and the Wonders, Bakana and Attaboy. He has also performed in various sketch comedy groups as a singer and comic actor.  Nick studied cello with Colin Hampton, Miriam Perkoff and Jill Brindel. To help pay the bills, he works as a lawyer at Phillips, Erlewine & Given LLP in San Francisco. He lives in Mill Valley with wife Rachel (a violinist) and daughters Sofia and Allegra.

Rachel Carlin is a violinist and arts educator.  She has worked with the Berkeley Symphony, the Crowden School, and the San Francisco Community Music Center.

Rick Diamond started studying violin at age 6 with Felix Khuner. Khuner soon told his parents that "he should be playing baseball not violin." He continued studying with Barbara Rahm and other Berkeley teachers. At age 16 he auditioned for the Berkeley Symphony, not know that you were supposed to be a professional. Following a successful audition he joined the orchestra where he still plays, 42 years later. He started playing viola in his 30s, and plays a viola made for him by Andrew Carruthers, a local maker. Rick's introduction to chamber music was playing "Froggy went a courtin" with Gail Machlis in elementary school.

Diane Louie enjoys playing in different amateur chamber groups across the bay area, and plays regularly with the Oakland Civic Orchestra.

Concert pianist Noel Benkman teaches music at Foothill College and Diablo Valley College.  He has performed on numerous concert tours throughout China and in 2006 was awarded Honorary Visiting Professor of Music by Shanxi Art College in Taiyuan, China. He was first invited to China in 1996 as the "American Olympic Pianist" because he performed the Rhapsody in Blue with the New American Orchestra in the Opening Ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles . In his first international tour in 1996, he performed for 60,000 people at the Qingdao International Festival.In addition to recitals in Asia and the United States, he recently performed in Music in the Mountains in Yosemite National Park. Mr. Benkman’s CD Yosemite Suite has been featured on American Public Radio. He also has composed and recorded music for independent films and the theme music for the television series Culture Shock News.   He is also a web course developer and was one of the original managers and developers at Teacher Universe and Riverdeep.Mr. Benkman is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Stony  Brook University and lives in Orinda,

Pianist Paul G. McCurdy works with a wide range of organizations, including Lick-Wilmerding High School, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco. He will be releasing an album of Mozart piano sonatas in late 2014.

Siegfried Benkman (1895-1986) was a professional pianist for the first half of the 20th century and a professional composer from 1915 until his death in 1987. His parents emigrated from Berlin to San Francisco in 1885. He grew up in San Francisco playing piano and organ in cafeteria orchestras and movie theaters. As a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, he performed in vaudeville, burlesque (with the famous Sally Rand), in hotels, with orchestras, and hosted a radio program broadcast from the Tribune Tower in Oakland, California.

Siegfried's body of work is quite large. He wrote symphonies, tone poems, various chamber ensembles, a string quartet, duets for piano and saxophone, piano and flute, piano and violin, large number of works for solo piano, choral works, popular songs, and sacred songs. Among these is a ballet "My Beautiful Garden" for solo piano, "In Old California," a Spanish suite for chamber orchestra, and several tone poems including "Impressions Among the Redwoods" written from his experience living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and "Slavonika" which is dedicated to Russia prior to the 1917 Revolution. Virtually all of these pieces have never been heard. Fortunately, his orchestral piece, "Butterflies and Roses" and some popular songs and saxophone pieces were published in the teens, 20's, and 30's and the large solo piano work "Yosemite Suite" was recorded in 1996.