Weekly Update: May 20, 2013



While our website is still new—having gone public on May 1—we have big plans in process, and feedback both startling and exhilarating. Apparently we have tapped into a need underserved by the general-interest media in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. Where else outside of California’s major urban centers can you realistically expect, and find, the quantity and quality of the performing arts we enjoy on the Monterey Bay?

To that end, we are still recruiting skilled writers as critics/reviewers for PAMB. Theater critic Philip Pearce has just posted his review of Light Up The Sky at MPC. (Find it under our link to Theater Reviews.) Next week he’ll take on the Magic Circle Theatre production of Glorious! It’s the Florence Foster Jenkins story, the lady who finally conceded that people said she couldn’t sing, but they could never say she didn’t sing.

On board with us so far, though not yet published, are David Gordon and Rob Klevan. David is well known as the dramaturge and Adams master class director for the Carmel Bach Festival, and has operated his own valuable website, Classical Music Matters, for many years. Rob, on the faculties of UC Santa Cruz and CSU Monterey Bay, writes a column for the Monterey Herald, and will be writing for us on his favorite subjects, music and, especially, jazz. What we are looking for are excellent writers in both Monterey and Santa Cruz counties with a love for both their craft and their subject matter. Too often we’ve seen writers who freight their previews with impossible promises and clutter their reviews with adjectives that ultimately say more about themselves than the subject nominally under scrutiny.

Last Sunday, Max Bragado conducted the final performance of the Monterey Symphony’s 2012-2013 season. I chatted during the interval with a couple I know who have been Symphony subscribers for two decades, and heard them rave about the season just ended as the “best one.” Since this was the season that featured piano concertos on every program, ending with Dubravka Tomsic in a spacious performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, I engaged Maestro Max in a “post season” conversation.

I remarked that Tomsic played “to the piano,” developing its glorious sonorities by slowing the pace. “We have a beautiful instrument,” Max acknowledged, “and she knows how to get the right sounds.” He explained that when the soloist comes to town he does a run-through with her (or him) alone, before rehearsing with the orchestra, adding “I don’t like to start blind.”

I have often wondered if Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto could successfully accommodate a broadly paced interpretation. At 40 minutes, Tomsic answered my question with grandeur and dignity making the composer’s own 30-minute 1929 recording seem more like a flash in the pan. Her conception deserves comparison with Mount Rushmore, and the audience at Sunset Center in Carmel Sunday afternoon got it, rewarding the artist with a long-sustained standing ovation. Yet, initially, Max and the orchestra were taken by surprise. He found her slower tempi “challenging.” But then he added that he enjoys a challenge and, equally, being told by the soloist what to do. “I’m usually the one telling others what to do,” he says. “But for a soloist, I prefer to be their humble servant.”

He says he is very proud of his orchestra and how well they do. “It’s a real pleasure to work with them,” he adds. People, he says, will always have their own opinions, but he takes great joy from his “smiley” musicians and the many soloists who ring in asking, “When am I coming back?”

Keep checking in with us, www.performingartsmontereybay.com

Mark and I are continually adding to and tweaking our site to make it more user-friendly and comprehensive in our coverage. Soon, you’ll be able to subscribe to receive our Weekly Updates each Tuesday. Our postings are now automatically archived in place, the newest pushing the previous ones down the page. And we’ve added an Advisory Board as another way to channel feedback. (First on our Advisory Board is David Gordon, with more to come.)

Scott MacClelland, Editor