Classical Music

Reviews and previews of classical music performances and players. For a list of upcoming classical performances, visit our events section.

Summer of nothing

Beethoven sits us down by the stream and does... nothing

Our recent little thunderstorm reminded me of what is probably the best piece of summer music: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. There are fives sections of the symphony, one of which is a thunderstorm which passes ...

Miss what most of us never had

James Agee and San Diego: Summer of 2015

Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Is there a more nostalgic title? It evokes a yearning for simpler times, a time when fathers watered their lawns by hose in the evening, after supper, while children played and ...

More complicated than you might think

A soprano isn't just a soprano

Let’s talk about soloists and concert music. I’ve yet to be impressed with any soloists at any of the orchestras in town. I’ve found them all to be serviceable at best and miscast at worst. ...

Are you free?

Singing for free is the norm, so why make it an issue?

Why don’t orchestras pay choruses for the concerts that require a chorus? Why would an institution with a $20 million budget not pay choristers? Here’s the deal. They do pay choruses, but they pay the ...

Racy conclusion

Beethoven contemplates but Mozart drives fast

As of June 20, the Mainly Mozart Festival is done for 2015. The final concert was a study in contrasting styles of music. Or perhaps I should say contrasting moods instead of style. The entire ...

Shining, happy people

Mainly Mozart musicians deliver a Biblical experience

“As he [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus...As the ...

Preaching to the choir

The bar is too low for choral vocal work in classical music

Warning: This article is critical of some current choral practices. If you’re a singer in a choir, you’ve been warned. Let’s talk about this explosive “k” at the top of every mass. The opening text ...

Top-notch Mozart by way of Bach

San Diegos request to classical music might just be "talk to us a little"

Saturday night’s Mainly Mozart concert was a wonderful experience of musicology. Conductor Michael Francis spoke before each piece instead of having a printed “Maestro’s Notes” in the program. This is the type of approach which ...

Sexy mountain climb

An esoteric pick of the week for the Richard Strauss, the birthday boy

Richard Strauss had a birthday this week so let’s make him our esoteric pick of the week as a birthday present. It’s the thought that counts. Strauss wrote six “great tone poems.” In all, there ...

Bring the healing

Michael Francis talks Mainly Mozart in Balboa Park

There is a unique event coming up on Sunday, June 14th, at 3 p.m. — a free concert at Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. What is the event? I’ll let Maestro Michael Francis tell us ...

How to start with Mozart and end up with nihilism

The arbitrary fame of the Haffners leads Garrett to wonder what really matters

Mozart’s Haffner Symphony is a fairly famous piece of music, but who the hell was Haffner? Haffer got not just the symphony but also a 55-minute-long serenade. That’s about 90 minutes of music by Mozart ...

You need an epic to describe an epic

A Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra experience only Homer can describe

“No more words — he dashed toward the city, heart racing for some great exploit, rushing on like a champion stallion drawing a chariot full tilt, sweeping across the plain in easy, tearing strides — ...

Voice of understanding

Conductor Michael Francis talks Mozart, "the most fascinating of all musical lives"

The new music director of Mainly Mozart, Michael Francis, hits us with a firehose-stream of knowledge and understanding prior to the opening of the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra concerts. The interview is so extensive that ...

Vaughn Williams's esoteric summer road trip

Slip on your Wayfarers and learn about the wanderers and their soundtrack

Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams is the esoteric pick of the week. Now, if at any time in your life you’ve been a baritone undergraduate student, this is not an "esoteric" selection — this ...

Mainly better than sliced bread

The Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra starts this week!

I’ve been waiting for this moment for 49 weeks. I’m not even joking. The first of five Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra concerts is this Saturday, June 6, at 7:30 p.m. The venue is the Balboa ...

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