Weekly Magazine

DESPITE COVID-19 Performing Arts Monterey Bay continues to provide relevant news and information–regionally, nationally and internationally–that our readers will find in no other Monterey Bay media. If you appreciate what we offer, please tell your fellow-travelers. Our subscribers’ email-privacy is sacred and available to no one else.

NEW THIS WEEK

VIRTUAL CALENDAR

FROM ST IGNATIUS PARISH a live violin recital by Patrick Galvin. MONTEREY JAZZ VIRTUAL FESTIVAL this weekend features Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, the Kenny Barron Trio. MONTEREY COUNTY THEATRE ALLIANCE sponsors an online reading of William Randolph Hearst: A Staged Reading in Zoom by Carol Marquart. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL continues online with the Virtu Ensemble featuring soprano Angelique Zuluaga. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

THE BALCONY SESSIONS

MONTEREY SYMPHONY musicians Eugenie Wie and Adelle-Akiko Kearns played duets on Friday afternoon. Charmers by Scott Joplin, Mozart, Carlos Gardel and Jacob Gade framed the program’s biggest (20 minutes) item, Eight Duets by the early 20th century Russian composer Reinhold Glière. This online event will remain via Vimeo on the Monterey Symphony Website. Click HERE

CABRILLO FESTIVAL REMEMBERS RBG

WHEN THERE ARE NINE by Kristin Kuster and Megan Levad was premiered during the 2019 season, with Jamie Barton, Roomful of Teeth and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. To watch and hear it, click HERE

A NEW SEASON OF ‘NOW HEAR THIS’

SCOTT YOO’S outstanding programs for Great Performances have just begun a new series, this one on composers of the Classical Era, from Haydn to Beethoven. THE ‘HAYDN’ EPISODE aired on PBS last week. To see it, click HERE

CMMB 20-21 SEASON ONLINE

CHAMBER MUSIC MONTEREY BAY’S 2020-21 season is set to start its online streaming on October 10 with the Miró Quartet playing Kevin Puts’ HOME and Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat, Op 127. Click HERE

CARMEL MUSIC SOCIETY ARCHIVES

SINCE APRIL 18 this year, the Carmel Music Society has published short pieces and movements every Saturday by many of the artists it has hosted over the years. You can access them all on the CMS website HERE

CAMILLE THOMAS ‘VOICE OF HOPE’

FEATURING Fazil Say’s Never Give Up cello concerto. (Click on the CC button for English subtitles.)

 

BLACK SCHOLARS STUDY RACISM IN ‘WHITE’ CLASSICAL MUSIC

ALEX ROSS, writing in The New Yorker, says “The field must acknowledge a history of systemic racism while also giving new weight to Black composers, musicians, and listeners.” Click HERE

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

FOR OVER A THOUSAND YEARS, Tibetan Buddhist psychology has taught techniques for overcoming negative, afflictive emotions, such as anger, greed, jealousy, sloth and ignorance. In the film The Last Dalai Lama? his Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, explains that Tibetan Buddhism is both a religion and a “science of the mind”; he also shares his crystallized understanding of the nature of mind, and its part in the creation and alleviation of all of our suffering. Believing that this precious wisdom belongs to the world, twenty years ago the Dalai Lama challenged a select group of world-renowned Neuroscientists and Mind/Brain researchers to look into the workings of the mind, and to prove scientifically that Tibetan Buddhist technologies for overcoming afflictive emotions are skills that can be learned by anyone. As he now turns 82, he faces questions about aging and death, and whether he will reincarnate as the Dalai Lama, or if he will be the last of the lineage that has existed since the 14th century.

Mickey Lemle’s film was released in 2016 and became available then on DVD. For some reason, the soundtrack CD has only just been issued. In it, Tibetan folk music master Tenzin Choegyal supplies the vocals (singing and chanting), folk instruments (lingbu, dranyen) and percussion. Of the 13 mostly short movements, Tenzin’s much-loved Heart Strings also includes a chorus of some 150 Tibetan children from their school in Dharamsala, India. Tenzin’s music is mixed with that of Philip Glass in various ways, while the sections strictly by Glass are instantly recognized for the composer’s repetitious patterns of scales, arpeggios and syncopated polyrhythms. (He and Michael Riesman play piano.) The movement titled Snow Lion is heard next to last as arranged for the new-music-specializing Scorchio String Quartet with Tenzin singing the haunting song and plucking the dranyen. The final track, lasting 15 minutes, is an organ improvisation that, lacking the benefit of actually seeing the film, is a little hard to contextualize. Glass wrote it in 1979 to ‘kill time’ waiting for Dalai Lama to show up for his first visit to New York. SM

FRESH THEATER REVIEW

PHILIP PEARCE attended Howard Burnham’s Zoom performance of The Last Lion and the Eagle: Winston Churchill at Hyde Park. Click HERE

NASHVILLE GOES TO THE MET

KELLI O’HARA has the right stuff for Opry and Opera

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

Weekly Magazine

 

Superstar pianist Yuja Wang at age 9

NEW THIS WEEK

‘THIS WE ASK: PRAYERS IN OPERA,’ Thursday evening live concert from St Ignatius Parish in San Francisco. INTERVIEW WITH JOANN FALLETTA Longtime Buffalo Philharmonic music director/conductor hosted online Saturday morning by Youth Music Monterey. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL LIVE: A recital by recorderist Claudia Liliana Gantivar on Saturday evening. SPECTORDANCE VIRTUAL CHOREOGRAPHERS SHOWCASE, complete concert from last weekend. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

OREGON SHAKESPEARE FEST SPARED

THE SUSPECTED ARSON FIRE that wrought destruction in the Rogue River Valley of Southern Oregon has left the popular Shakespeare Festival unscorched. Click HERE

“AT LEAST A YEAR” AFTER VACCINE

DR ANTHONY FAUCI tells actor Jennifer Garner that safe public theater events are still a long way off. Click HERE

STAGE-SCREEN STAR DIANA RIGG DIES AT 82

SHE SINGS SONDHEIM’S “Every Day a Little Death”

 

GOOD NEWS FOR MUSICIANS

NEW BILL SIGNED BY GOVERNOR NEWSOM loosens ‘gig’ economy restrictions. Click HERE

LETTERS

LAST WEEK’S WEEKLY MAGAZINE essay on musical textures (our review of a new CD of recent works by James MacMillan), composer Josef Sekon of Aptos writes: “This is but the tip of the iceberg on this fascinating musical exploration. Texture in modern music is more kaleidoscopic in which the orchestration explores many possibilities: Strings vs winds, vs brass vs a unique combination of all the above and beyond. I would suggest Lutoslawski, a Master! I hope someday you have the opportunity to hear at least one of my two new works for orchestra in which texture is one of the main objectives. Glad you touched on the subject.”

LAST WEEK’S email to our subscribers, for want of a comma, suggested that jazz pianist Keith Jarrett had died. Sorry: he’s alive and well. Thanks to Earleen Overend of Aptos for pulling up our socks.

LANG LANG’S NEW ‘GOLDBERG’ VARIATIONS

FROM BEIJING, and deeply personal.

 

WHAT IS AN ‘EQUITY’ ACTOR?

WE HAVE OFTEN BEEN ASKED this question by our readers. So we passed it along to Equity actor Julie James, founder and artistic director of the widely acclaimed Jewel Theatre Company in Santa Cruz. She provided us with a comprehensive reply.

PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS want the best actors for their productions and those actors are more often likely to be “Equity” (a member of the Actors Equity Association or AEA), the union for stage actors and stage managers in the U.S.  Equity actors are usually more extensively trained and more experienced at a higher level of theatre, are dedicated to a full-time career as an actor, and therefore more proficient. Having studied more extensively and having continued their training throughout their careers, having “paid their dues” doing small roles, working in non-union community and/or “street” theatre, and moving up to productions on a professional level, Equity actors’ experience is usually broader than non-union actors.” For her complete response, click HERE

MEANWHILE here is The Hitch-Hiker, one of Jewel Theatre’s virtual radio plays, now being offered in this time of C-19.

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

IT’S CALLED TAPHOPHOBIA, the fear of being buried alive. Several historical figures are thought to have felt it. Frédéric Chopin requested that his heart be cut out to ensure his death. George Washington asked that his body be “laid out” for three days. Hans Christian Anderson and Alfred Nobel wanted their arteries cut open. Gustav Mahler insisted that his heart be pierced before burial.

THE SWISS COMPOSER Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957) adapted a set of 14 poems, collectively titled Lebendig begraben (1846) by Gottfried Keller (1819-1890), another Swiss. Critic Paul Griffiths described the work, in which singer and orchestra elide from one verse to the next without pause, as more “monodrama” than song-cycle. Indeed, it takes its place in the romantic line of composers from Mahler to Schoenberg, Zemlinsky and Korngold. But don’t expect to find tunes you can hum. All of those composers, and Kurt Weill as well, used techniques associated with Sprechstimme (half speech, half song) and the cabaret songs of early 20th century Berlin. Nevertheless, the 45-minute work is a virtuoso tour-de-force for the baritone—bass baritone actually—who in this case is Michael Nagy. (The last recording of it dates from 1962, with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the notes suggest.) The texts are not so much an expression of terror but as rumination on life itself, favorite memories (trees, Christmas), the tolling of bells from a nearby church counting time by quarter hours, thoughts of a boat smashing on rocks. For all the images conjured by the words, the piece never quite finds itself in the safe embrace of tonality, although, strangely, the final chord is in the major. The texts tell of voices and yelling, twitching tendons (a piano appears in the orchestra), a glimpse of the sunset sky and March snow on the ground as the coffin lid is briefly lifted one last time. Thoughts of a gravedigger finding the entombed, or of a girl come to mourn, flit through the narrator’s head. In the grotesque 8th song, “I even ate the rose in my hand.” Closing in a final Farewell, a wordless chorus appears as another orchestral choir. Schoeck did a masterful job in reconciling the texts with extraordinary orchestrations, all sustaining a tonal ambiguity. I would not want to pore over it just before going to bed.

Rounding out the program are Paul Honegger’s Rugby (1928), a wild scrimmage between two teams (one in 3/4 time, the other in march time), and Concerto Grosso (1928) by a man much better known as one of the great 20th century conductors, Dimitri Mitropoulos. The latter piece, in four movements, draws on Baroque era procedures, including dotted French overtures, lots of counterpoint and fugues, the kinds of practices popular with the 20th century German master composer Paul Hindemith. The Orchestra Now—young musicians hand-picked from the world’s “leading” music conservatories, and, in the Schoeck, the Bard Festival Chorale, are conducted by Leon Botstein, a maestro with a penchant for the rare and unusual, as recorded last November at Bard College. SM

RAGAZZI BOYS CHORUS

USING ZOOM and new tech they can make all the pieces fit rightly together.

 

MUSIC AND BIOLOGY

IS THERE A QUESTION HERE? “The goal of this essay is to reignite a conversation with the Post Carbon Institute’s own Richard Heinberg about music and change in planetary systems, a conversation which began in the fall of 2017.” Click HERE

SEPTEMBRE BY BARBARA, 1930-1997

EXCEPTIONAL CHANTEUSE, née Monique Andrée Serf

 

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor