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Stories by Garrett Harris

The most important music in the world

An exploration of the most influential music in our culture

There is a type of music that is crucial to almost every element of our culture. The old, the young, the rich, the poor, the enlightened, the depressed, the sick, and the healthy all respond ...

Leonard Bernstein — composer, conductor, performer, educator

A new documentary on Bernstein comes out this week

I mentioned that Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalm is being performed this weekend at San Diego Symphony. That just so happens to coincide with a new documentary about Lenny. Leonard Bernstein: Larger than Life is being ...

Season Finale at San Diego Symphony

All Americans close this year's season

The Jacobs Masterworks Series comes to its conclusion this weekend at Symphony Hall. Music by the all-star American lineup is on the program. Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein will all be ...

Dog days of the season at San Diego Symphony

The sublime was replaced by a rare pedestrian-ism...

A famous conductor once said, “A great orchestra is like an English lawn. It must be clipped and watered twice a day — and for a hundred years.” The San Diego Symphony has been clipped ...

Verdi for the ages

Singora Fausta Truffa sings Verdi

This little video of a woman singing Verdi is going viral. Viral for an opera video that is. Fausta Truffa, the soprano in this gem, does not yield many search results. I thought that perhaps ...

Great Scott delivers at San Diego Opera

Even when it was parodying different styles of opera, the music in Great Scott was heartfelt and true

People, myself included, are scared of modern opera. Modern opera tends to be an unhappy experience. It is bereft of humor and beauty. There's even a Facebook Group against modern opera. Jake Heggie’s Great Scott, ...

Bolero is free at last

Ravel's music exploited no longer

Ravel’s Bolero is now free. The copyright has expired and organizations no longer need to pay royalties to a network of corrupt people who aren’t related to Ravel or his family. This is where copyright ...

The grotesque should be present

Constellations is where Groundhog Day meets 50 First Dates meets Sliding Doors meets Edge of Tomorrow meets What the Bleep do We Know

I overheard a few conversations after the show. Constellations at the Old Globe confused some people. It should be stated that some people are persistently confused. The show, by its own admission, is a personification ...

I gioielli della Madonna, a new old opera

A new recording of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's old-fashioned jewel

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is a name we might not recognize. An upcoming release of his opera I gioielli della Madonna has him pinging on my esoteric radar. I gioielli della Madonna, The Jewels of the Madonna, ...

New York Philharmonic: Great and not great

Rhythmic intensity and lyrical insensitivity

The New York Philharmonic gave a concert at Symphony Hall on Wednesday night, May 4. It was loud. The concert was presented by the La Jolla Music Society as a part of their Celebrity Orchestra ...

Great Scott at San Diego Opera

The West Coast premiere of Heggie's new opera

The West Coast premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Great Scott opens at San Diego Opera on Saturday, May 7, at 7 p.m. This is the second production of the show, which premiered at Dallas Opera. ...

New York Philharmonic visits San Diego

One concert only at Symphony Hall

The august New York Philharmonic will be at Symphony Hall on Wednesday, May 4, at 8 p.m. This is the final concert of the year’s La Jolla Music Society Celebrity Orchestra Series. The New Yorkers ...

San Diego Symphony: Mahler in smash mode

Mahler and the San Diego Symphony rage against the dying of the light

"Unrelenting" and "unforgiving" are the words that come to mind at the conclusion of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. He never allows us to feel relief and the symphony ends not in “tragedy,” as it has ...

Mahler at the San Diego Symphony

Mahler's Sixth Symphony is going down this Friday and Saturday

Mahler Symphony No. 6 is a gargantuan piece of music and we have a chance to hear it at Symphony Hall this Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30. There is no Sunday concert. However, ...

2016-2017 at San Diego Symphony

A preview of what's to come

The San Diego Symphony revealed its upcoming season via a concert event on Thursday, April 21. The orchestra played selections from the 2016-17 season and a few things were the same and a few things ...

One of San Diego Opera's best productions: Madama Butterfly

Latonia Moore as Butterfly revealed the emotions that imbue Puccini's music.

Madama Butterfly is one of the best productions San Diego Opera has presented in recent years. I might even say it's one of the top five best in the past 15 years. Madama Butterfly is ...

New documentary puts a lid on Beethoven

Concerto — A Beethoven Journey is a new documentary exploring the piano concertos of Beethoven. The movie plays on Tuesday, April 26, at the Town Square Reading Theater in Clairemont and the Angelika Film Center ...

Emilie Mayer is a great composer

Playlist No. 5 adds a woman

So far we’ve been looking at what we could call the “standard repertoire” for the Playlist No. 5. Let’s add a female composer to the playlist. Emilie Mayer’s symphonies are fantastic mid-19th-century pieces of music. ...

Cultural musing about Madama Butterfly

The samurai caste is the deciding factor

If we don't understand something of Japanese culture as it existed in the era of Madama Butterfly, then we are tempted to see the story as the West (Pinkerton) being the baddie and the East ...

Two hot cellists rock Symphony Hall

...the greatest and worst concert I’ve ever been to

2Cellos, Tuesday night, April 12, was the greatest and worst concert I’ve ever been to. It tended toward the sublime and the ultra-cheese at the same time. 2Cellos is two young men from Croatia who ...

Tropical Maugham

Better served not to mention Somerset Maugham

The Old Globe has created a new musical based on the short story, Rain, by Somerset Maugham. Transferring the stark characters of Maugham’s story into a musical theater setting is a daunting task. Maugham’s characters ...

Jason Alexander and the loverly San Diego Symphony

The comedian sings us a few songs

Jason Alexander, known to all as George Costanza from TV’s Seinfeld, is a good old-fashioned song-and-dance man. He showed off his singing chops and dancing hoofs at Symphony Hall on Saturday night, April 9. The ...

Madama Butterfly is set to open at San Diego Opera

Puccini, the great whore

If I were pushed to make a declaration of my favorite opera of all time I would admit, with some sense of shame, that it is Madama Butterfly. The shame comes in because Butterfly is ...

Where is Johanna Senfter?

Our first foray into discovering female composers

Information about Johanna Senfter is tough to find. She was born and died in Oppenheim, Germany. Her dates were November 27, 1879 to August 11, 1961. All I can find about her is a list ...

The nut of consciousness

I was expecting a TED Talk. What I got was an intimate chat.

Does anyone remember who R. Buckminster Fuller was? I must admit that my knowledge of him was limited to remembering that he was something of an innovative thinker from the past. Just the other evening ...

Rachmaninoff, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky at San Diego Symphony

Some violence to go with all the romance

Oh hum, just another fantastic concert at the San Diego Symphony. The lineup of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff make for an accessible concert. These are all crowd-pleasing composers with a flair for the dramatic and ...

Beethoven allegedly takes out Mozart in the U.K.

The philistines at Classic FM have made a list

Beethoven is now greater than Mozart? Yes, the people have spoken and this is the case. The U.K.’s Classic FM 2016 Hall of Fame list is out. Over 170,000 votes were cast and Beethoven has ...

Amy Beach is better than Chopin

Visiting the growing matriarchy in classical music

When discussing Gabriela Lena Frank I mentioned that the time has come for the matriarchal age of classical music. Women have been excluded from classical music since the beginning and it’s getting old. How extreme ...

Star Trek, Grossmont, Art of Elan, and the San Diego Symphony

A full week of classical in San Diego

The Art of Elan has a performance at the San Diego Museum of Art on Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. The Formosa Quartet, Art of Elan’s quartet in residence, will be playing the world ...

Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and the barbaric yawp

Debussy, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky all on the same night

I knew going in that the concert program for the Orchestre Symphonique Montreal was aggressive. Aggressive as in Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 and The Rite of Spring on the same night. The Montréalaises are ...

Mainly Mozart is on the way to San Diego

A taste of what to expect from the festival this year

Spring has sprung and you know what that means. A gentle breeze has started to blow and it is whispering, “Mainly Mozart Festival.” Mainly Mozart music director Michael Francis was in town and we had ...

Stravinsky, Ginastera, and Frank at San Diego Symphony

Balancing the force and fire from the skies at San Diego Symphony

“Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people ...

Ginastera and Yolanda Kondonassis

The harpist speaks of her relationship to the composer

Harp music is an interesting phenomenon, at least it is to me. I’m always happy when I go to a symphonic concert and see a harp or two on the stage. That’s usually a good ...

Classical music helps with erectile dysfuntion

New study from Germany gives hope to sedentary males

New studies at the University of Tübingen in Germany have shown that listening to classical music for 25 minutes per day cures erectile disfunction in men who are pre-diabetic. The added blood flow from listening ...

Prokofiev 5

The next member of the Playlist No. 5

We’re running out of symphony No. 5’s for our playlist. The progression of 5’s had been Beethoven 5, Mahler 5, Tchaikovsky 5, Sibelius 5, Bruckner 5, Shostakovich 5, and now Prokofiev 5. These are all ...

San Diego Opera: Ferruccio Furlanetto recital

The luxurious ache of great singing

Ferruccio Furlanetto gave his U.S. recital debut on Saturday night at Symphony Hall as part of the San Diego Opera 2015-'16 season. If you’ll recall, the last recital I was able to see at San ...

Program music is the problem

Does a program help the music?

Since I carped long and hard about Berlioz and man-splaining, let us go to the root of the issue — program music. Program music is a composition that attempts to portray a specific mood or ...

Berlioz, Nielsen, and the San Diego Symphony

The rise of the man-splanation

There is an ungodly amount of “man-splaining” that occurs at the symphony and opera. What is “man-splaining” you ask? It is the terrible habit men have to point out and “explain” obvious elements to the ...

San Diego Symphony: Berlioz is the bait for Nielsen

The symphony brings us the esoteric pick of the week

It feels as though the San Diego Symphony just performed Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, but it was back in 2012. It feels like yesterday, but they are performing it again this coming weekend, and I’m hoping ...

The problem with Tosca

For starters, styrofoam statues.

If Tosca were written today it would be about two struggling artists living in Section 8 housing and hoping for an NEA grant.

Shostakovich celebrates because he must

Playlist No. 5 gets some Shostakovich

Now it’s time to add Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 to the Playlist No. 5. The list started with Beethoven 5 and progressed to Mahler 5, Tchaikovsky 5, Sibelius 5, Bruckner 5, and now Shostie 5. ...

San Diego Youth Symphony

Winter showcase at Symphony Hall

The San Diego Youth Symphony is a group I’ve been intending to check out for a while now, and on Saturday I made it down to Symphony Hall around 1 p.m. for their winter showcase. ...

San Diego Opera and Puccini's Tosca

The season at San Diego Opera has begun

San Diego Opera has started their season of transition with Tosca by Puccini. It should be noted that all three productions this year were established by the previous regime. This season is not an indication ...

An opera without political conviction becomes esoteric quick

Guess the esoteric pick of the week

The esoteric pick of the week is turning into the “esoteric pick of the every now and then.” For this edition we’re going to see if anyone can guess the piece. It's a silly idea ...

San Diego Opera and the politics of Tosca

It's an election year and we might be missing the politics

What if the best way to get sex from a woman was to arrest her boyfriend and threaten to kill him unless the targeted woman meets the demands of your pants? From what I can ...

Bruckner and No. 5

The number 5 keeps coming in our curated playlist

Playlist No. 5 has gone from Beethoven 5 to Mahler 5 to Tchaikovsky 5 to Sibelius 5 and now to Bruckner 5. A more logical step would be to continue into the 20th Century with ...

San Diego misses out on conductor

One of San Diego's guest conductors makes a splash in Birmingham

Recall that time when Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla came to visit the San Diego Symphony and conducted Sibelius’s Violin Concerto and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring? She was maybe, possibly, a candidate to be the next music ...

Something San Diego’s musicians taught me

Classical music in San Diego is always in transition. Organizations have come and organizations have gone. General directors and conductors have retired, moved on, or shuffled away in disgrace. Attendance has been up and attendance ...

Nations no longer matter in classical music

Music is about humanity experiencing humanity

In reviewing the most recent San Diego Symphony concert, I made something of a big deal about countries of origin not being important in classical music. While that is true when it comes to performing ...

Brahms, Beethoven, the San Diego Symphony, and Mr. Cohen

Symphonic forces conspire

The San Diego Symphony put Beethoven and Brahms together on Friday night at Symphony Hall. The Beethoven was his Symphony No. 6: The Pastoral. The Brahms was his Piano Concerto No. 1. The sound of ...

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