Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

EUGENE O’NEILL’S A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN opens at the Colligan in Santa Cruz. DAVID CROSBY (pictured above) takes the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. SHAKESPEARE’S PERICLES opens in Carmel. PIANIST CHETAN TIERRA plays a ‘pay what you can’ benefit for Distinguished Artists in Santa Cruz. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events click on our CALENDAR

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN

EUGENE O’NEILL sequel to A Long Day’s Journey into Night tells a soaring tale about a barren patch of land on a Connecticut farm in 1923 and of two lost souls who hope to find love under a lover’s moon. The boisterous and sharp-tongued Josie Hogan seems destined to live her life alone working a rented farm with her bullying father. When the weary but charming Jamie Tyrone returns to settle the farm’s estate, which was owned by his late mother, sparks fly, hearts open, and desire just might make dreams come true. Moon is a moving exploration of the power of our collective humanity. For Jewel Theatre’s new production at the Colligan, bring a handkerchief or some tissues.

JAMIE BARTON AT ‘LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS’

AMERICAN MEZZO was featured at the 2019 Cabrillo Festival in Kristin Kuster’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg tribute When There are Nine. Ahead of the BBC Proms finale, Sept 14 at the Albert Hall, Fiona Maddocks interviewed Barton, beginning with “You’ve revealed you’ll be wearing the bisexual pride colours of lavender, pink and blue at the Last Night.” Click HERE  

MARIN ALSOP TO CONDUCT LOCKED OUT BSO

THIS SATURDAY, Baltimore Symphony music director Marin Alsop will conduct the locked out orchestra in a free concert to celebrate their city. Click HERE  

THE CROW WE LOVE

MULTI-STYLED SHERYL CROW revuelve los huevos. Click HERE    

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

SEATTLE SYMPHONY AT THE CUTTING EDGE

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN these two CDs of new music could hardly be more extreme. John Luther Adams’ Become Desert is a nearly motionless crescendo-decrescendo that lasts 40 minutes. Marc-André Dalbavie’s four works honor French composers of previous generations—especially the one just ahead of him—with a variety of styles he has assimilated and made his own. For both of these recordings the conductor is Ludovic Morlot whose tenure with the Seattle Symphony came to a close at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Adams prefers to take inspiration from places without people, like oceans, deserts and the tundra. A propos, he is drawn to the poetry of Octavio Paz whom he quotes “you sense that ‘there is no one, not even yourself.’” Like John Cage’s Four minutes, thirty-three seconds, this is existential music, absolutely in the moment. (After winning the 2014 Pulitzer for his Become Ocean, Adams explained that he took its title from a poem by John Cage, written “in tribute to composer Lou Harrison,” one of his mentors.) The existential idea/ideal here is total immersion in the music to the exclusion of all other sensual stimuli. (The philosophy is similarly embraced by high-end audio-video home theater expert Keith Yates of Keith Yates Design Group on behalf of his international clientele.) 

This may seem at odds with the time-honored Western classical tradition that music embraces a temporal journey from a clear beginning to a resolved ending, notwithstanding digressions, tensions and surprises along the way. But that concept was turned on its head when 1960s minimalism paved a new path of numbing repetition. And why not? Richard Wagner’s critique of Italian opera in the 19th century was that life doesn’t stop moving just because an aria puts it on hold. Maybe I’m writing this to an older generation, but JL Adams is not alone among composers and artists who have a more urgent understanding of existential. And in Adams’ case, it is socio-geopolitical, specifically desertification, the conversion of a mutually beneficial environment into a wasteland as accelerated by human activity.

Adams also engages the entire orchestra in his meditation, calling largely on delicate percussion to set the scene in the high register to which, after the swelling orchestra plumbs the depths, he returns. This action demands an extraordinary ability to sustain sonorities and textures over the long haul. (Below, hear the Seattle Symphony in Become Ocean.)

Dalbavie is a protégée of the late Marius Constant and the late Pierre Boulez. This new release begins with a tone poem, La source d’un regard (The Source of a Look), specifically inspired by a large-scale piece by Olivier Messiaen called Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (Twenty looks on the child Jesus), for solo piano. Dalbavie uses a four-note sequence from the Messiaen work to launch his piece that immediately turns attention to harmony, aural textures and instrument color. And what colors! The Seattle Symphony is at once a warm embrace and a cold shower of originality.

Thereafter, the disc serves up the composer’s oboe concerto (symphony solo oboe Mary Lynch), flute concerto (symphony solo flute Demarre McGill) and cello concerto featuring virtuoso Jay Campbell. The oboe and flute concertos outline the three-part classic concerto form. The six-section cello concerto is subtitled “Concerto in the manner of fantasies.” All three of these works are played through without break or pause. They equally demand extraordinary virtuosity from their soloists, from fiendish high-speed bravura to deeply examined expression. And there’s wit woven in as well; the spirit of Poulenc and Milhaud pops up in some of the soloists’ passages.

As these new recordings demonstrate, the Seattle Symphony must go on record as a leading light on behalf of new music, not only as performers but as commissioner funders. It is time for every American symphony orchestra to either unshackle itself from the past, slow or fast, or die. A side note: associate principal clarinet, Emil Khudyev, well known locally and who recently performed a recital at Hidden Valley, played principal clarinet in Dalbavie’s cello concerto. SM

LISTEN TO Adams’ 2014 Pulitzer winning Become Ocean here.

 

THE EXIT INTERVIEW MODEL THAT DOESN’T WORK

ARTI PRASHAR was told to never create a job that no one else could fill. She looks back on 13 years as CEO of Spare Tyre Theatre Company. Click HERE

I SAW HER AGAIN LAST NIGHT

MAMAS AND PAPAS from their second 1966 album, the year before they attended Monterey Pop. (Where did that counterpoint come from?)

 

NEXT WEEK

SANTA CRUZ FOLLIES returns to Civic Auditorium. COMEDIAN KEVIN NEALON at the Rio. THEO CROKER comes to Kuumbwa.

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor