The new season began for me with a recital which was exemplary in every way. The music-making was on the highest level, and the program was was astutely chosen for a clearly defined purpose with which no music-lover could take exception. Paul Jacobs made in absolutely clear in his rather extensive, but never tedious addresses to the audience that he had two missions in mind: 1. to bring the organ recital back into mainstream concert-going 2. to promote the music of a great composer who is neglected by performing musicians and audiences alike. The organist's jocularity only made his passionate belief in these causes all the more poignant.
SOLD OUT! The signs taped to the front doors of Jordan Hall told a rare story for Boston’s classical music scene. Odyssey Opera began its second season with a hit on its hands—the Boston premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s 1920 opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), a romantic work now best known for a soaring soprano aria, “Marietta’s Lied,” a favorite of any diva who can sing a high C on pitch (and some who can’t).
ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) has become a fixture at what might once have been considered and unlikely event, Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival. In recent years it has devloped into a more eclectic sort of festival, grounded in the music of Mozart as always, but including baroque and classical music played on period instruments as well as contemporary music. Within a few weeks Mostly Mozart provides a condensation of our musical interests today. It is especially welcome to get some taste of the rich contemporary music life in the City, when it inevitably thins out for the summer, as composers, many of whom teach for a living, go off to the country or an arts center to compose, perhaps with a visit to the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood or some other opportunity to congregate with colleagues and hear each other's work.
The lattest upheavals in San Diego and New York have, as you might expect, stirred up another raft of "death of opera" articles in the press. Clichéd automatic reactions to what may be symptoms of something larger or may not were common enough before the digital age, but, since all it takes is to get a reader to click on a headline to accomplish something positive (as it seems) the constant repetition of dire news has become a reality of a decidedly Pavlovian sort, since the Net is interactive, is it not?
At one point in the entirely delightful Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, Ira Glass observes that Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass imbue their performances with personality just like “real people” as differentiated from more typical dancers with bland facial expressions who spin around. Bingo. This hybrid of two art forms, dance and radio, is like nothing I've ever seen, and I doubt that anyone else in the large Town Hall audience has either.
A curious map hangs in the second room of Heaven and Earth, the new Richard Long exhibit at the Tate Britain in London, which opened on June 3. From afar, the map of Dartmoor Forest in southwest England resembles strategic battle map, with four concentric circles drawn atop a specific area, perhaps suggesting a target. The map, however, exists as a simple record, a history, of a walk Richard Long took thirty-seven years ago. “A Walk of Four Hours and Four Circles, England, 1972,” the caption reads. Each of the circles on the map represents Long’s self-imposed paths for his walk and do not necessarily symbolize dominion.
Indian summer is a favorite time of year in San Francisco. The city's deceptively cutting winds give way to something approaching balminess. And one gears up, if not for romance, then surely for a new Symphony season to warm the heart, excite the pulse and remind one that art is the password to beauty's permanence. I've often commented about the happy spirit of our symphony...and do so again. There exist surly orchestras, whose players sit looking for all the world as though they'd gladly wring the conductor's neck as play for him. (These tend to be Russian!) But before I'm accused of national prejudices, I should point out, as an old New Yorker, that the New York Philharmonic is quite capable of gathering onstage looking as though they'd like to kill each other! Perhaps it is Panglossian naïveté to think comity reigns here, but it certainly seemed so on Saturday.
Six of the performances in the summer run of Sylvia Milo’s The Other Mozart were performed by the Austrian actress, Julia Rosa Stöckl. It was fascinating in itself to see the play performed by an artist other than the author, and above all by a countrywoman of Nannerl Mozart herself. As at the other performances the house was almost sold out, and Ms. Stöckl received a resounding ovation for her elegant and psychologically penetrating performance.