The Sacramento Philharmonic’s executive director, Marc Feldman, is a native New Yorker, but he’s also put in serious time in Lisbon and Paris, among other exotic cities. His passport to adventure? I worked all over Europe as a freelance bassoonist, he tells me one recent afternoon over lunch at 33rd Street Bistro. Feldman, who’s 49, is married to French journalist Marie-Clmence Mayssonnier. His first wife was a circus acrobat. (I’m mentioning his marriages only to encourage aspiring freelance bassoonists who may be wondering if their chosen career will help them meet girls.) You can reap the benefits of Feldman’s globalism April 26 at 8 p.m. when the philharmonic presents its final concert of the season, Songs of Hope, at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Sac Phil’s resident maestro, Michael Morgan, and Nader Abbassi, artistic director of the Cairo Opera, will be sharing the podium (but probably not using the same baton, either due to union rules or because it would look silly if they kept throwing it back and forth to each other). Three years ago, Abbassi led his Orchestra for Peace&emdash;composed of Arab and Israeli musicians as well as Feldman, who also served as the group’s administrative director&emdash;at the Nobel Prize Conference in Petra, Jordan. Tickets for the April 26 show are available online at sacphil.org or by calling the Convention Center Box Office at (916) 808-5181 if, like most of us, you’d like to give peace a glance.
Come to the Cabernet&emdash;Since mixing metaphors is almost as much fun as mixing martinis, allow me to introduce Jon Affonso as a one-man-band winemaker. The 38-year-old is the owner and complete full-time staff of Rail Bridge Cellars, a winery located in a former auto repair shop at 400 N. 16th St. in the city’s River District. (For commuters: Rail Bridge is located on the left side of the street as you speed recklessly onto Highway 160 to get a jump on getting gridlocked on Interstate 80.) At the moment, Affonso is turning out two wines: a crisp, soothing yet surprisingly complex Sauvignon Blanc and an assertive, flavorful yet reassuringly nuanced Cabernet/Merlot blend. (Take that, Mike Dunne.) Rail Bridge was named for the I Street Bridge, which spans the Sacramento River; the Dunlavey Studio and Affonso designed the label. It’s the first winemaking venture for Affonso, who spent the past few years as the oenologist in charge of quality control at Renwood Winery. Before that he was an assistant winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard. (Making assistant wines can be quite difficult, I imagine.) Affonso says he started tasting wine when he was an exchange student in France, an educational experience he wanted so much that he repeated his senior year at Jesuit High School to get the chance to go. He majored in geology at Sac State but says, What I always loved was the science of wine. I first learned about how to blend ingredients when I worked with my dad in his coffee-roasting business (Terranova) and I found that winemakers do similar things. Affonso began to call winemakers to ask them how they got into the business. They all told me the same thing: Get a degree in either fermentation science or oenology. He earned his master’s in the latter at Fresno State. Being from Sacramento, it would have been a lot easier for me to just apply to UC Davis, he says. But Fresno had its own commercial winery right on campus. (Does this mean that every June the students go on sommelier vacation?) Anyway, if you’d like to set up a small-group tour or an event at the winery, call (916) 492-2530. Bet you know who’ll answer.