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Performance brings history to life

CARDIFF — History came alive through music during a performance that paid homage to the composers whose names mark streets in the so-called “Composer District.”
On Sept. 21, as part of the Cardiff Centennial celebration, the performance included a multimedia historical presentation to benefit the Cardiff School District music programs. An eclectic mix of children, parents and community elders attended the event.
The namesakes of the winding roads in the town are an insight into the earliest development of what was a sleepy outpost by the Pacific Ocean in the early part of the 1900s.
Victor Kremer, a German-born music publisher and composer found his way to Cardiff and laid claim to the Composer District, north of Birmingham Drive. Current resident Billy Stern said his experience walking through his neighborhood with his oldest son in 2004, and noticing all of the street names designated as great composers was intriguing.
Stern set out on a journey of discovery to uncover the origins of the neighborhood street names.
“It was just a great story of Victor Kremer and his passion for music and the arts,” Stern said. Given his own deep love of music, Stern, who is on the board of directors of the nonprofit Guitars in the Classroom and an accomplished guitarist, the process of learning about the roots of his neighborhood, came naturally.
“I definitely care about the community and I definitely care about music,” he said.
A self described “knowledge navigator,” Stern said he was aptly prepared to find out why Kremer chose the composers such as Mozart and Verdi and others to put a stamp on the area.
“Each composer was a brilliant character,” Stern said. He said there are so many interesting people that still live here today and are attracted to the area that the existence of the composer district serves as a metaphor.
“When he (Kremer) put a street sign up it was meant to inspire people,” Stern said he believes.
Perhaps his most obvious legacy is the addition of “by-the-Sea” to Cardiff, taken from the popular 1914 song “By the Beautiful Sea.”
“This was an opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of the Cardiff Composer District and the 12 composer-named streets and enjoy a musical performance of the composers’ pieces by one of San Diego’s finest guitar duos,” Stern said.
He narrated a multimedia history followed by a musical performance by classically trained guitarists Fred Benedetti and George Svoboda. The musicians wowed the audience by playing pieces from various composers from Mozart to Gershwin.
“It’s a story about someone following their passion and really caring about the community they live in,” Stern said. “Kremer planted seeds that would benefit generations to come. These composers were bigger than rock stars. They were virtuosos appreciated by royalty and common people alike.
“The 12 composers are each amazing stories, and some of them weren’t appreciated fully during their life,” he said.
“For the younger audience there’s an interesting depth to what you see on the surface of things,” Stern said. “I think one of the lessons is to take the time to learn some of the history of the community, of your own life.
“It’s really about appreciating history, the music and making your community a really wonderful place to live,” he said.
That’s exactly what Kramer did according to Stern.
The evening successfully raised funds for two programs that support music education in Cardiff School District. The Music Boosters whose primary goal is to help the Ada Harris Wildcat Band and Guitars in the Classroom, which inspires, trains and equips general classroom teachers and specialists to integrate music and music making across the academic curriculum through “song-based instruction.”
For those who missed this event and for future generations, Stern will be putting this great story and performance on a website: He expects the site to be live by Dec. 1 to cap off the Centennial celebration year.