Weekly Magazine

The Andalusian Hand. Inspired by Luis Buñuel’s An Andalusian Dog ?

NEW THIS WEEK

THE WESTERN STAGE continues to build on its 2020-21 theme of “Home” by offering a series of interactive forums full of tips and tricks from entertainment and arts industry professionals, many of whom got their start at The Western Stage and are reconnecting with their “home theater” to share their expertise. This first series of four forums collectively named the “Welcome Home Series” will be held online through Zoom. (The Zoom link will be provided to those with reservations.) They are especially designed for high school and college students, as well as others interested in learning about stage and screen careers. “Welcome Home” Summer Forum Series: four online interactive forums from TWS alumni now working as professionals in the arts and entertainment industries.  “A Day in the Life of a Voice Actor” (6 pm, July 29); “12 Steps to Get a Casting Director to Love You” (6 pm, Aug. 5) “One Singular Sensation” (5 pm, Aug. 12); “Put Your Best Face Forward” (10 am, Aug. 19)

CABRILLO VIRTUAL FESTIVAL

BEGINS THIS SATURDAY, July 25, 3:30pm, with a donors concert. Click HERE

MC COMPOSERS’ FORUM

MONTEREY COUNTY COMPOSERS’ FORUM posted a link to 12 compositions from their archives, and two new originals. It begins with the enchanting overture for chamber orchestra from the 2019 ballet The Nightingale by Steve Ettinger. Access will remain through August 2. Click HERE

SC BAROQUE STREAMS JG GOLDBERG

THE SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL will stream two trio sonatas by the JS Bach pupil, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who inspired Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Tune in Saturday, 7:30pm & Sunday, 11am, HERE

HIGHEST PAID CONCERTMASTERS

THE DREW McMANUS survey of concertmaster earnings in the US for 2017/18 showed that all the top ten are now earning over $300,000, and the top five are earning around twice as much. Cleveland’s William Preucil used to brag that he was the highest paid in America, but in this final year before his toppling over sexual harassment claims he was displaced by the New York Philharmonic’s Frank Huang, pictured right. This was Huang’s inaugural season and he’s already earning more than his predecessor Glenn Dicterow.

1 New York Philharmonic: $687,955
2 Cleveland Orchestra: $634,277
3 San Francisco Symphony: $594,522
4 Chicago Symphony: $565,670
5 Los Angeles Philharmonic: $547,061
6 Boston Symphony: $497,444
7 Philadelphia Orchestra: $452,543
8 National Symphony: $422,543
9 Baltimore Symphony: $311,108
10 Cincinnati Symphony: $308,346

STING: IN DARKNESS LET ME DWELL

JOHN DOWLAND’S eerie masterpiece composed in 1610, from the album The Journey and the Labyrinth.

 

LETTERS

YOUR RECENT PIECE on Italian Composer Ennio Morricone made me go back to find one of my favorite movies, Cinema Paradiso (the Italian version) which I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years. The movie was as enjoyable as the first time I saw it. This time I paid more attention to the score which hauntingly flows through it. Thank you for PAMB, always anticipated, never disappoints. ~Jerry Gervase, Carmel

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

LEGENDARY GUITARIST Sharon Isbin performs multi-faceted and virtuosic new works for guitar, written for her by four major composers. From the Africa-influenced El Decameron Negro by iconic Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, through the Chinese and Spanish-inspired Seven Desires for Guitar by Tan Dun, to Richard Danielpour’s sensual song cycle Of Love and Longing (with multiple Grammy winner Isabel Leonard) and the jazz and world music-influenced Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra by Chris Brubeck with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and conductor Elizabeth Schulze. Sharon Isbin gives these works her inimitable imprint and enriches the repertoire for guitar. The four world premieres also include a two-guitar arrangement for her by Colin Davin of Antonio Lauro’s Waltz No 3 “Natalia.” The 16-minute Affinity opens with a driving impulsive character, transparent but busy. Soon it enters a state of repose and circumspection that takes on a new lyricism with Latino inflections. Two thirds the way through, the pace seamlessly begins a vigorous dance, with claves, castanets and clapping syncopations, followed by a short solo cadenza and a final bongo-fueled and trumpet-punctuated dance. Cuban guitarist Leo Brouwer’s El Decameron Negro consists of three complex solos inspired by African love songs, each with fanciful titles and played with authority. Lauro/Davin’s “Natalia” is a joyful and colorful spin with Davin himself adding the other part. Tan Dun’s solo Seven Desires sounds more like cravings with in-your-face aggression at the start; added percussive effects bring into focus the composer’s uniquely creative voice. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard joins Isbin for Richard Danielpour’s song-cycle, with all the sensuality of the verses by Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi, where the erotic and spiritual are always intertwined. This is a gem of excellence! SM (Zoho label describes itself as “Latin / Jazz with a New York vibe.”)  

IN MEMORIAM, MET VIOLIST VINCENT LIONTI

VIOLA SECTION of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra with Joyce DiDonato. Handel’s “Ombra mai fu.”

 

OSMAN AND THE SNAILS

A POLITICAL PRISONER in Turkey inspires an opera. (From The Economist, July 4, 2020.)

IN A PRISON outside Istanbul, Osman, an inmate held in solitary confinement, finds two snails nestled in his lunch. Longing for company, he decides to look after the gastropods, feeding them lettuce and rice. The snails reward him—with a song. “In some kitchens, we’d end up in a pot with garlic butter and seasoning,” they chant. “Our luck to be here with Osman, a man of such honour and reason.” But even a snail is bound to find prison life dreary. “It’s all very slow,” one sings, “even for me.” So begins a ten-minute video opera, “Osman Bey and the Snails”, (see below) produced by Opera Circus, a performing-arts company based in Britain. It is a tribute, based on a true story, to Osman Kavala, a businessman, philanthropist and one of Turkey’s best-known political prisoners. Mr Kavala has spent nearly three years behind bars on outlandish coup and terrorism charges.

The project began as an exchange between Thomas de Waal, a writer and journalist, and Nigel Osborne, a composer, who have known Mr Kavala for years. Mr de Waal heard about the cellmates his friend had adopted and joked that Mr Osborne should turn the story into an opera. The composer took up the challenge. Mr Osborne infused his work with elements of Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish and Balkan music, a nod to the bridges Mr Kavala has tried to build between artists and communities divided by the bloody collapse of the Ottoman empire. A group of Mr Kavala’s friends and human-rights campaigners wrote the libretto. Opera singers from across the globe recorded the songs from their lockdowns. No money changed hands.

Mr Kavala was originally arrested in connection with the protests that convulsed Turkey in 2013. This year a court cleared him of all charges. But as he prepared to leave prison he was arrested on new, even more preposterous charges, related to an attempted coup in 2016. The snails are now free, and living with his lawyer. But Mr Kavala remains behind bars.

 

HOW A GROUP OF STUDENTS CHANGED PETRUSHKA

THEY APPEALED to the estate of choreographer Michel Fokine to ditch the Stravinsky ballet’s Blackface Moor. Click HERE

DAYDREAM

JOHN SEBASTIAN in 1970 at Tanglewood

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

THE BAD NEWS: C-19 strikes the arts yet again

MONTEREY SYMPHONY’S BIG DECISION

2020-21 SEASON moved back one full year. Symphony’s ED fleshes out the story. (We added the news to our Weekly Magazine last Wednesday.)

PACREP CARMEL CANCELS ALL 2020 SHOWS

THEIR THREE VENUES to remain dark for the rest of the year: Golden Bough Playhouse, Circle Theatre and Forest Theater.

CALI ROOTS & WEST END CELEBRATION CANCELED

THE POPULAR California Roots Music and Arts Festival announced last week that it was necessary to postpone from Memorial Day 2020 for one full year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Festival’s Dan Sheehan recently said, “The good thing is we have a great relationship with all the artists and the managers and agents that we work with.” SAND CITY announced that it will be cancelling this year’s West End Celebration due to COVID-19 concerns. The event was scheduled for Aug. 21-23.

THE GOOD NEWS

SMUIN ARCHIVES’ CARMINA BURANA

MICHAEL SMUIN’s acclaimed Carmina Burana (above photo by Chris Hardy) is the July release in its Hump Day Ballets series, which aims to brighten mid-week spirits with free video streaming of a ballet from the company’s archives. Set to the sensual Carl Orff score of the same name, this dramatic piece was called “dazzling” and “unforgettable” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Carmina Burana will be offered beginning Wednesday, July 15, accompanied by a video introduction from Smuin dancer Tessa Barbour. The recorded performance will be available for 48 hours only, with streaming instructions announced through Smuin’s email list (sign up at smuinballet.org), or via Smuin’s Facebook (facebook.com/SmuinBallet) and Instagram (instagram.com/smuinballet).

MONTEREY COMPOSERS’ FORUM GOES VIRTUAL

THE MONTEREY COUNTY COMPOSERS’ FORUM is offering “Music From A Distance,” our first virtual, on-line concert, Sunday, July 19; the website will remain active through August 2.  Music selections include solo songs, choral works, instrumental chamber music, and fixed media (AKA “electronic music”).  Composers include Dana Abbot, David Canright, Steve Ettinger, Paula Kaiser and Julie Roseman, Mary Lesher, Carleton Macy, Edward Moncrief, Douglas Ovens, Dale Victorine and Rick Yramategui.  Performers include a number of distinguished guest artists as well as some of the composers. Many of the selections are video performances linked to YouTube.  As with most MCCF concerts, a wide variety of musical styles is offered for your enjoyment. Click HERE

CABRILLO VIRTUAL FESTIVAL 2020

CABRILLO FESTIVAL invites you to join our global community of composers, musicians, and creators July 25 through August 9 as we pivot to a completely new experience…a virtual 2020 season! 2020 Grammy Award-winning Music Director and Conductor Cristian Măcelaru, said “Despite the distance, the Festival Orchestra and I feel so profoundly connected to our Cabrillo family and so committed to the Festival. We all wanted and needed to make music together, to connect in meaningful ways, and to offer gifts of music and conversation that will be a source of healing and hope.” Click to their just-released 2020 website and explore all the offerings now! Then mark your calendar, and tune in July 25-August 9 to join this journey into a new frontier. Thanks to the generous support of foundations and individuals like you, most all of the 2020 events are FREE!

SALINAS SUMMER SYMPHONY

JOIN YOUTH ORCHESTRA SALINAS (YOSAL) for a virtual performance of Beethoven. Click HERE

 

SAN JOSE’S NEW ALL-PRO ‘DANCE THEATRE’

A NEW PROFESSIONAL dance company, spawned by San Jose Ballet Theatre dance school, coming soon.

 

CHORAL SINGING UNDER COVID

INHALING? Okay. Exhaling? Nokay. Click HERE 

THE GUSTAVS—KLIMT AND MAHLER—MADE WAVES

WHEN HE GETS HIS MOJO GOING Norman Lebrecht tells a really good story. Click HERE

LETTERS

THANKS SO MUCH for the concert (John Wineglass’ Big Sur: The Night Sun, last week’s Weekly Magazine.) I first saw it from row Z in the auditorium.  It was wonderful to view the performance up close. ~Janna Ottman, Seaside

THANK YOU for writing tenderly about Sara Wilbourne….big breath! Wonder if you knew Roberta Bristol died—she started the dance program at Cabrillo College as well as yoga in Santa Cruz, and Evan Parker—he designed lights for me for 30 years, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Cabrillo Stage—and George Coates, Baltimore Opera and more. Ooh my! I am reeling from their departures, yet each left when their bodies had said enough. Hope you are managing through this rigorous time, asking us all to be so many new things. ~Tandy Beal, Olympia Station, Felton

YOU DESERVE A (RE)TREAT

MAKE IT Rachmaninoff’s gorgeous Second Piano Concerto with Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili and the Filarmonica Teatro Regio Torino, Gianandrea Noseda conducting. Watch fullscreen & sound.

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

BRIDGE RECORDS loves George Crumb. This is their 19th volume of his music, which previously included his 1968 Pulitzer-winning Echoes of Time and the River. As ever, the now 90-year-old composer continues to astound as this new CD, Metamorphoses, Book I, composed between 2015-2017 attests. (Crumb completed Book II this year.) These are ten ‘fantasy pieces’ for amplified piano inspired by famous paintings by Paul Klee, Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, James Whistler, Jasper Johns, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí and Wassily Kandinsky. (A heady bunch there!) The only thing you can expect with certainty from Crumb is surprises, and here ‘amplified piano’ is only the beginning. Klee’s Black Prince (1927) was inspired by a visit to Tunisia; like the painting, Crumb throws splashes of color onto a somber and dark background and adds sweeping chords on the bare strings of the piano, a technique pioneered by Henry Cowell. For the artist’s Goldfish, Crumb hints at Debussy’s Poissons d’or and darts about with sharply struck whole-tone chords and mutes. (Much of the piano playing liberally uses the sustain pedal.) Van Gogh’s Crows over the Wheatfield (1890) finds Crumb marking the music “Lento elegiaco (uncanny, forbidding)” and adds the sound of duck calls to imitate crows cawing; a wire brush is stroked over the low strings with percussive tapping on the instrument’s frame. Chagall’s The Fiddler sounds vaguely like klezmer music, with another example of the wire brush on the exposed strings. Marcantonio Barone, long a Crumb advocate, displays astonishing effects here; he observed that Crumb “achieves an orchestration of richness in a work for piano solo, supplemented by only a handful of auxiliary instruments.” Crumb noting Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold “eerie insubstantiality” creates an “ethereal, dreamlike” image. Jasper John’s Perilous Night sputters out of the gate at high speed then fades away quietly. Chagall’s Clowns at Night restores a nocturnal mood, with moaning, bell-like tones from the keyboard and heavy knocking. Gauguin’s Contes barbares follows a narrative of story-telling including a Tahitian Death Chant and menacing shouts. Dalí”s The Persistence of Memory paints a “distorted self-portrait” and quotes from Beethoven’s Op 110 sonata and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and ends with the melody of “Amazing Grace.” For Kandinsky’s The Blue Rider Crumb takes inspiration from Schubert’s song Erlkönig, “a father galloping on horseback with his child in a frantic but futile attempt to outrun Death.” All of these extraordinary pieces are short: from three to five minutes. Barone has made them his own. SM

MELLON FOUNDATION SHIFTS FOCUS

THE NATION’S largest arts funder notifies applicants they need a new ‘social justice’ rationale. Click HERE

HIGHEST PAID CONDUCTORS

DREW McMANUS has reached phase two of his annual survey of US orchestral wage bills, as posted in their tax returns for tax year is 2017-18 and this is the league table for maestro remuneration:

1 Chicago Symphony: $3,527,730 (Muti)
2 San Francisco Symphony: $2,203,185 (Tilson Thomas)
3 Los Angeles Philharmonic: $2,130,895 (Dudamel)
4 Dallas Symphony: $1,894,129 (van Zweden)
5 Cleveland Orchestra: $1,698,759 (Welser-Möst)
6 New York Philharmonic: $1,660,299 (Gilbert)
7 Philadelphia Orchestra: $1,380,667 (Nézet-Séguin)
8 Boston Symphony: $1,199,866 (Nelsons)
9 Saint Louis Symphony: $1,020,638 (Robertson)
10 Baltimore Symphony: $926,562 (Alsop)

Riccardo Muti was the big winner with a 29.86 percent wage hike, posted as $2,264,240 in payments as an independent contractor and $1,263,490 as an employee.

HAPPY 100TH YUL BRYNNER

BIGGER THAN LIFE stage and film actor, Yuliy Borisovich Briner, was born July 11, 1920 in Vladivostok. He won the 1956 Oscar for his role in The King and I. He also starred opposite Deborah Kerr in what other feature film?

SOCIAL CORRECTNESS 2020

GOODBYE Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. (It won an Oscar!)

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor