Weekly Update, Aug 13, 2013

Our concluding coverage of the 2013 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music can be found on our Music Reviews page. We are especially pleased to welcome the music reviews of Don Adkins, long-time music faculty at Cabrillo College and program annotator for the Santa Cruz County Symphony. Finding qualified critics is no easy challenge. Around here, they range from the attention-starved but undisciplined to experts in their field who lack training as writers. There are also those somewhere in between. We’ve been fortunate in finding natural talent otherwise undiscovered and continue seeking those whose depth of knowledge and desire to be published entitle them to a PAMB dance card. Specialized training is available. Dance, along with music and theater applicants welcome at editor@performingartsmontereybay.com

Pulitzer-winning composer Kevin Puts, whose new Flute Concerto was premiered on the Cabrillo Festival’s opening night (see our Music Reviews posting of August 6) just published a thought piece on the nature of composing and, especially the use of classical forms, on National Public Radio’s website. Those forms continue in use to this day, in ways many popular song writers and singers who use them may not even be aware. Still, those forms are at their most highly visible in the classical symphony, the music equivalent of the novel, as the Cabrillo Festival itself makes plain.

In his article, Puts says,

The symphony is not a trifle. It is not cute or hip or light. It says something important — about life and death and cosmic stuff — and it does so without embarrassment. What it needs to say cannot be said in a few minutes; it is not short attention span music. It is music for the patient listener.

To read the entire article, click here. Or find the link on our Links of Interest page.

Bernstein shocked, angered in Vienna

A year before his death in 1990, Leonard Bernstein agreed to a long interview—his last it turned out—with Jonathan Cott, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and contributor to The New York Times and The New Yorker. Bernstein invited Cott to his country home in Fairfield, Connecticut for dinner. Now, all these decades later, Cott has published Dinner with Lenny (Oxford University Press), essentially a Lennytranscript from tapes made during the twelve hours they spent together, drinking, eating, Lenny smoking, listening to music, until nearly 3 a.m. In it, Bernstein tells Cott this astonishing story:

“Once, when the (Vienna Philharmonic) players were rehearsing my Kaddish Symphony for the first time, they stopped the rehearsal of their own accord to ask me what the word kaddish meant, and why they were so moved by the piece. And I said that we had to finish up by six o’clock because they were also going to be playing the opera that night, across town… And they said, Wir bleiben—whe’ll stay…‘just tell us what kaddish means.’ I said it was related to the word sanctus, what they said in church every week. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus is the same word as kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. And they were turning white…and then one of the musicians stood up and said (translated) “Are you telling us that Jesus was Jewish?” Like innocent babies! I couldn’t believe it. And I got so angry at them and said, ‘How can you ask me these questions? You’ve grown up in this city that was the Judendzentrum (Jewish center) of the world, and you killed them all, or drove them out.’

Bernstein continued to explain that that ‘conversation’ was revived during the next several rehearsals, when one clarinet player told the conductor, “We were brought up from the age of two not to ask questions, because we would get no answers. So we didn’t ask.” In continuing disbelief, Bernstein remarks, “They didn’t know that Jesus was Jewish or that Jesus spoke a language called Aramaic or that in his time he was referred to as Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef or that benedictus means Baruch Haba B’Shem Adonai or that there was a connection between the Old and New Testaments!”

Dinner with Lenny is a quick read. Cott wraps the transcribed interview with his own contextual prelude and postlude. As seen through the eyes of Bernstein, this is a historic document both readers and writers will no doubt mine for further insights into the man, his world view, passions and excesses of self-indulgence.


We’ve reached that time of year when classical music goes dark before resurfacing for the fall-spring subscription season. Likewise, the summer repertory seasons of our extraordinary local theater community are winding down. JTAD 2 copyThis is also when many of our performing arts educations programs (highlight our Presenters page and click on Educational Performance) are holding auditions for the coming school year. Meanwhile, our Calendar page, updated weekly, shows what’s going on. That includes Ariel Theatrical, the premiere theater company for kids in Monterey County, whose new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays the next three weekends at their Karen Wilson Children’s Theatre, 320 South Main Street in Oldtown Salinas, www.arieltheatrical.org

Ariel photo credit: Jay Moralez

Scott MacClelland, editor