Weekly Magazine

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


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)


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


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


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


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


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



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


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.”)  


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



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.



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


JOHN SEBASTIAN in 1970 at Tanglewood


Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor