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Stories by Garrett Harris

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 ...

Classical music and mind tricks

How we fool ourselves into thinking we're supporting when we're not

I’ve often heard people say how important it is to support the arts. If you’re reading this then you’ve probably said something along those lines yourself. Often this sentiment is then followed up by a ...

More Beethoven is more Beethoven

An unexpected flurry of attendance

As I scrolled through the Flipboard app checking out various articles on classical music, the “typical” quality of the topics became oppressive. There were a few articles on presenting classical music in new ways which, ...

Netflix, Žižek, and Beethoven

A fertile documentary on Netflix includes a gem about Beethoven

Slavoj Žižek has a documentary on Netflix called The Pervert's Guide to Ideology in which he discusses the pervasiveness of ideologies and our general inability to recognize them. He uses several examples from movies to ...

Jeremy Denk, one of the great interpreters of Bach

How do you encore The Goldberg Variations?

Jeremy Denk shared the Bach Goldberg Variations with a cozy gathering of patrons at Symphony Hall on Tuesday night, January 19. The upper levels of the hall were closed off as was the entire right ...

The Murderer's Row of classical music

Heavy hitters coming to San Diego this week

In baseball terms the classical music lineup this week could be called Murderer’s Row because there are some heavy hitters in town. As mentioned in the symphony review from Saturday night’s concert, Jeremy Denk is ...

San Diego Symphony gets stuck

...before Jeremy Denk brings us home

Every piece of music on Saturday night was tied to the piano. The piano theme is part of the San Diego Symphony’s Upright and Grand initiative for the piano and I’m enjoying the music it ...

Second degree: Sibelius's Fifth

Starting at Beethoven's Fifth and playing six degrees of separation

Since we’re making a six degrees of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 playlist, I’ll start numbering the degrees here. Let’s go to degree number two. Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5 could be considered one degree since it ...

Put your shirt on and drop the knife

Musical repression and deviance

Have you ever watched a symphony performance and thought the only person doing what they want to do is the conductor? The conductor is the only one who is allowed to publicly go crazy with ...

San Diego Symphony goes multimedia

Beyond the score and in the spirit

“I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be ...

Illicit drugs work better with classical

Research confirms that classical music is the best music to listen to while tripping balls

For those of us who grew up in the “just say no” era, the research that is being done on psychedelics at John Hopkins is puzzling. I thought drugs were the enemy. Turns out that ...

A few preferences for Schubert's Winterreise

Further along the winter journey

It’s time to return to Winterreise. When it comes to Schubert’s “Winter Journey,” I prefer bass-baritones to tenors for one simple reason. The type of tenor who would sing Winterreise isn’t a voice type of ...

Bearded beta males of the Pleistocene

Not much has changed around campfires in the last 40,000 years

The number of prehistoric instruments that have been found around the world is astounding. There is even evidence of instruments being found in neanderthal sites. These instruments are almost all based on the pentatonic scale ...

Three great San Diego moments of music from 2015

...those moments where the hall disappears, the audience disappears, and even the musicians disappear

Instead of making a list of best concerts from 2015 we’re going with a few of the best moments. The best moment of 2015 was soprano Emily Magee singing Marietta’s Lied at the San Diego ...

Tchaikovsky joins the gang

Return of the fifth playlist

Since Christmas is done we’re going to return to our Beethoven Five playlist. We’re using Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 as a loose reference point for a curated playlist. It’s something like six degrees of Beethoven’s ...

A gloomy winter journey with Schubert

Desperate new year

With the New Year coming I feel as though it's time to take an intellectual inventory. The inventory reveals that I’m in need of some new ideas. The one’s I have right now are solid ...

Gloria isn't limited to Christmas

An esoteric pick of the week — 1800 years in the making

We haven’t had an “esoteric pick of the week” for a while so let’s take a look at a seasonal piece. The Gloria has a long and complicated history concerning its inclusion in the Catholic ...

Blow off the promises to keep and miles to go before you sleep...

Time to pause

Whose woods these are I think I know.His house is in the village, though;He will not see me stopping hereTo watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queerTo stop ...

Dudamel awakens the force

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a guest conductor

A post by Gustavo Dudamel started running around Facebook on Tuesday morning. Back in October John Williams contacted Dudamel and asked him to conduct the opening and closing credits of the upcoming Star Wars: The ...

Brahms and Berlioz at San Diego Symphony

Musical and then spectacle

Brahms once again proved to be the go-to composer for Maestro Ling and the San Diego Symphony. I can’t think of another composer whose music has been so consistently excellent within the confines of the ...

A winter rose

One more for the playlist

Time for the depressed Disneyland-dad at Christmas when his ex has the kids playlist — also known as "a brief contemplation on the mysteries of solitude at Christmas playlist." We’ve got Es Ist Ein Ros ...

Why is sex banned from the concert hall?

Opera may titillate and shock, but classical music as a whole is quite Victorian

Conductor John Mauceri just wrote an excellent piece in the Huffington Post which explores some of the themes we’ve touched upon here in this column/blog. A few of those themes are sports versus classical music, ...

The best way to experience Handel’s Messiah is at a sing-along

Be a part of the music, don't just consume it

I’m feeling like the best way to experience Handel’s Messiah is at a sing-along. My kids (ages 11 and 8) and I went to the Greater San Diego Music Coterie Chamber Orchestra and Chorus sing-along ...

It's all about the femme

Overcoming, brooding, and human sacrifice at San Diego Symphony

A gentle snow falls at dusk in a pristine Finnish forest. The long arctic night is descending near the winter solstice and a solitary figure wanders the wood, lost in the trees. And so the ...

San Diego Opera stands by its man

...even though David Bennett left Gotham in financial ruin

Why San Diego Opera's second act won't end in tragedy.

Concerts choke the first weekend in December

You thought Black Friday was crowded?

The first weekend in December is stacked with concerts. 'Tis the season to make a choice because many of these promising events conflict. Sunday is like a battle to the death, with no fewer than ...

Consider the mystery of the feminine and masculine in balance

Make a playlist, check it twice

For Christmas we’re going to move our curated playlist over to The depressed Disneyland dad at Christmas when his ex has the kids playlist. This list is also known as a brief contemplation on the ...

Puccini's ode to Paris

A fitting tribute

In the opera La Rondine by Puccini, the young Ruggero arrives in Paris for the first time and Puccini lets him sing an ode to the City of Light. The aria is difficult to find. ...

Timpani and Prieto go gigante

San Diego Symphony tours Mexico, Argentina, and Spain

Never in my life did I expect to hear a timpani concerto, let alone two, and those two in back-to-back seasons. Opening weekend of 2014 included a timpani concerto by William Kraft, and this last ...

What would Hitler do?

Classical music is superior

Classical music is counterculture. I threw that out there in passing regarding the Alice Cooper narrated Peter and the Wolf. Let’s look at it for a little while more. It is always important to define ...

Lohengrin and the feminine redemption

Video of a classic performance and scene gets to the core of Wagner's philosophy of art

The time has come to baptize this little playlist. We’ve worked around the Germanic pantheon of composers with Beethoven, Mahler, and Bruckner but it’s time to bring the lumber and add Wagner. This scene, Lohengrin’s ...

Brisk is always better than lugubrious

Painting and music combined to mixed effect in the Symphony's partnership with the Museum of Art

Saturday night’s San Diego Symphony concert was an okay attempt at combining music and art. It was a pretty idea but the execution of the concert was pretty stale. I assume the pre-concert lecture got ...

Alice Cooper and the wolf, on the tablet

Counter-cultures collide in new take on the Russian classic

Any worthwhile lover of classical music knows that it has always been somewhat counter-culture in one way or another. Alice Cooper has been considered counter-culture from time to time, but he has passed through into ...

Who cares about beer week?

The week's big events are all about classical music

I understand that everyone is amped up for beer week but there’s some great music lined up this week as well. Point Loma Opera Theater is giving the San Diego premiere of Nino Rota’s The ...

Sarah Chang + Bruch = Barry White

The Symphony's concert with superstar violinist Sarah Chang was nothing short of sexy

Sarah Chang playing Bruch and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6: Pathetique was the moon and stars on Saturday night at Symphony Hall. There was a sunny piece of new music by Judd Greenstein, but as soon ...

Scorsese to take on Bernstein

Will commercialism sabotage the classical story?

A Martin Scorsese film about Leonard Bernstein has been confirmed as an upcoming project. Bernstein was the high priest of classical music in the United States and one of a handful of conductors who thrived ...

Jesus, don't fail me now!

The esoteric pick of the week is a light ditty about the pure blood of Jesus Christ

For the esoteric pick of the week we’re going with Gavin Bryars and his epic 1993 remastering of his 1975 composition Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet. When I first heard Jesus' Blood it was ...

The Umbrage Files: "Diva" edition

Every now and then you've got to take umbrage with something

I haven’t taken umbrage with anything in a while. What good is a column without some umbrage? Today’s umbrage is brought to you by the term diva. Nowadays, we have three-year-olds wearing "diva in training" ...

Cold war politics are back in music

Russian conductor Valery Gergiev gets... sparklered?

Valery Gergiev, our conductor in video number three, has been accused, in the media, of being pro-Putin and for anti-gay laws in Russia. An article of defiance showed up in The Guardian at the start ...

Hardcore death talk

The dead don't get high, but they can dance and chit-chat

Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre is a somewhat sterile version of the “Dance of Death”. In this version death shows up at midnight on Halloween and calls all the other dead folk together for a party. There ...

Russian horror story

Halloween is coming and the goats are getting anxious

We’re going to revisit the Halloween classic: Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bald Mountain. For years, Mussorgsky had been considering several large scale projects based on spooky Russian folklore. He looked at creating an opera ...

Crush the boulder into a pile of rubble

Mythic performance from the Symphony highlights the beauty in repetition

“There is no longer a single idea explaining everything, but an infinite number of essences giving a meaning to an infinite number of objects. The world comes to a stop, but also lights up.” — ...

Who was Günter Wand and why should anyone care?

The curated video playlist gains a fourth entry and yes, it's finally Bruckner

Günter Wand isn’t a household name in the United States, but in Britain and Germany he is one of the most admired conductors on the 20th Century. Wand came into this admiration late in life. ...

Profundity through repetition in Harmonielehre

John Adams's study is our esoteric pick of the week and an upcoming Symphony concert also

We haven't had an esoteric pick of the week for a while and it just so happens that the San Diego Symphony has selected one for us. They are performing Harmonielehre by John Adams this ...

Technique versus technology

San Diego Symphony's second night of the Masterworks season showcased the power of place and personality

In this day and age of computer-generated sounds and images, as the precious bud of virtual reality starts to blossom upon our consciousness, it’s nice to be reminded that technique often trumps technology. On Saturday ...

March toward transcendence

The 2015-16 San Diego Symphony masterwork season begins

The overture to Die Fledermaus is usually reserved for New Year's Day but the San Diego Symphony decided to use it on a new season's day. This Viennese war horse, or Lipizzan stallion, as the ...

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