Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

CABRILLO FESTIVAL takes over Santa Cruz Civic with 17 composers (most of them above) in residence and wall-to-wall new music. JAZZ SINGER KIM NALLEY at Kuumbwa. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET opens in Carmel. David Ives’ VENUS IN FUR opens August 7 at SC Shakespeare. For links to these and other live performance events, click our CALENDAR or on the ads, left.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RICK YRAMATEGUI

CARMEL VALLEY composer/pianist notched another on Saturday. Youth Music Monterey grad Kim Kistler is attending the University of British Columbia this fall.

PHOENIX NEEDS YOU

A PLUM JOB as executive director who is willing to tolerate high temps and Mexican monsoons over the high cost of living here. Click HERE   

KENNEDY CENTER 2018 AWARDS ANNOUNCED

THE JOHN F. KENNEDY CENTER for the Performing Arts has announced the selection of four Honorees who will receive the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements, and a special Honors distinction for a work of art and its co-creators. Recipients to be honored at the 41st annual national celebration of the arts are: singer and actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, Country music entertainer Reba McEntire, and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. This year, the co-creators of Hamilton—writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and music director Alex Lacamoire—will receive a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.   

SEXUAL PREDATORS IN CLASSICAL MUSIC

SHOCKINGINGLY BROADER AND DEEPER than recent reports suggest. Will it ever end? Click HERE   

UBIQUITOUS MUSICIAN GLEN ROVEN DIES

COMPOSER/COUNDUCTOR/PRODUCER to the stars succumbed following a coma at age 60. Click HERE   

SHOSTAKOVICH PREMIERE IN MENLO PARK

VIOLIST PAUL NEUBAUER and pianist Wu Han played the West Coast premiere of a just-discovered Shostakovich ‘impromptu’ at the 2018 Music@Menlo festival.

 THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, words and music by Marc Blitzstein, gave me two shocks. In this indispensable new recording that uses the original orchestration—recorded before a live audience at Opera Saratoga in New York—the first was the unmistakable impact it had on Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The second was that this opera/theater piece, composed in the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930s, has unmistakable parallels with the current political, economic, social and racial distortions in today’s America. Premiered in 1937, produced by Robert Houseman and directed by Orson Welles, its original production was shut down by Congressional conservatives (they had funded it under the Federal Theatre Project) forcing relocation to another theater where it was performed by Blitzstein on a solo piano with some cast members singing their parts, not from the stage but in the audience. The plot is an allegory about America during the depression and an indictment of unregulated capitalism, with archetypal characters inhabiting the fictional Steeltown USA, run by the tyrannical Mr. Mister and his Liberty Committee. The touchy subject of unionization is also prominent, with the predictably polarizing reaction. Blitzstein captured the ‘Berlin sound’ of Kurt Weill—indeed, he translated Bertolt Brecht’s libretto into English for that parody. In the very first scene of Cradle, you hear the template for the angry confrontation between Maria and Anita after Tony kills Nardo in West Side Story; Cradle also impacts that show’s memorable songs. (You hear the Blitzstein sound in other Bernstein works as well, including the score for the film On the Waterfront.) In Opera Saratoga’s production, singing actors are plainly preferred to opera-trained voices. John Mauceri, the polymath conductor of rare but important works, adds this comment, “Without a single updated text change, and maintaining the story in the late 1930s, we all knew this tale of nepotism, bribery, violence, prostitution on every level, fear of change, the manipulation of news, the suspicion of immigrants, and the buying and selling of the middle-class, were not things of the past. All we had to do was perform it as it was written.”  The performance time of Cradle is 97 intense minutes; it should go on the road. SM

Here, Blitzstein describes the origins of his pioneering ‘opera.’

PEGLEG TAP DANCER

EVAN RUGGIERO overcame a devastating amputation.

FRESH REVIEWS

ROMEO & JULIET in Santa Cruz; THE FANTASTICKS in Monterey; THE PRODUCERS in Aptos. Click HERE

CHOREOGRAPHERS SHOWCASE at SpectorDance. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK

CABRILLO FEST continues at Santa Cruz Civic. CELLIST MARK KOSOWER comes to Hidden Valley. HAIR grows at The Western Stage.

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor