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Stories by Garrett Harris

Musical genius dies at age 25

The esoteric pick of the week is all about the big symphony

There is one piece of esoteric music which I wish, above all others, the San Diego Symphony or La Jolla Symphony would perform. That music is Hans Rott’s First Symphony in E major. Rott wrote ...

No more grouch

The conclusion of the interview with Malcolm MacKenzie, in town for La Boheme

We continue with our interview of Malcolm MacKenzie. As it turns out, he isn’t so much an old grouch as a father of two who has figured out a way to balance an opera career ...

Old fogey or keeping it old school?

Opera singer Malcolm MacKenzie schools us on the art-form.

It’s almost opera season. I sat down to talk with Malcolm MacKenzie, who will be singing the role of Schaunard “the musician” in San Diego Opera’s new production of La Boheme. I asked him about ...

Rienzi: failed politician, failed opera

The esoteric pick of the week is a failure.

The esoteric pick of the week continues in the German tradition with Wagner’s Rienzi. This was Wagner’s first “successful” opera even though it was the third he wrot,e and it has not entered into the ...

Relax, it'll all make sense

Why can Mimi and Rodolpho fall in love immediately?

La Boheme is the first opera of the still-in-existence San Diego Opera. Boheme is generally considered the world’s favorite opera and there is good reason for that. The story is moving and the music is ...

Classical California gold

Notable classical music events in San Diego, January 15-16

Here’s a quick rundown of some upcoming classical music events of note. The San Diego Museum of Art is holding the first a monthly series of concerts on Thursday, January 15 at 7 p.m. The ...

"That was good" — yes, very good

San Diego Symphony and Edo de Waart play nice together

As mentioned, Edo de Waart made his San Diego Symphony debut this past weekend. I attended the Sunday afternoon concert of January 11. The format of the concert was typical: overture, concerto, large symphonic piece. ...

Mignon isn't just a cut of beef

Esoteric pick of the week is a Schumann rarity

Esoteric pick of the week: Requiem für Mignon by Robert Schumann. Schumann is not an esoteric composer, but Mignon is definitely a specialized topic of interest. In Europe she is considered the most successful heroine ...

Butterfly reborn

Learning about Japanese tradition recreates the Butterfly experience.

My leisure reading of late has been all about Japan. I'm not sure why I've been reading the bestsellers of the past such as Memoirs of a Geisha and Shogun but they have both made ...

Performances of note

Some highlights of 2014 in classical music.

I wasn’t able to go to every concert or event in 2014 but of those I did attend, here are some highlights. Since I was in Un ballo in Maschera and Verdi’s Requiem I did ...

Sir Neville out, de Waart in

Neville Marriner was to conduct the San Diego Symphony but is ill

Sir Neville Marriner, known to many as the founder of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, was supposed to be conducting the San Diego Symphony on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this week. ...

Preach it!

Classical music could use some evangelical zeal.

I remember a phrase from my evangelical youth which went a little something like this: “You need to give until it hurts.” The phrase was talking about money and was framed by the ancient biblical ...

Swaps at the top

2014 saw the two big guys change their leadership.

A quick review of 2014 is in order. For all the drama, I believe it was a good year for classical music in San Diego. We’ll start with the organizational bits. There were significant changes ...

Unbrighten the season

Playlist for the "depressed Disneyland Dad at Christmas when his ex has the kids"

We’ve all heard about people being depressed and alone on Christmas and if you haven’t heard about that, you have now. There are several tips on how to avoid holiday depression such as reading a ...

Silent Night of unrelated music

PBS broadcast of new opera is more of the same.

I tried to watch Silent Night on PBS on Sunday, December 21. I was drawn in by the promise of one of my favorite stories. The story is the Christmas Eve truce of 1914. German ...

Six-foot orgasm

Rachmaninoff's symphony of requited love.

During intermission I exchanged the awkward tight-lipped smiles symphony goers give each other. I texted a few friends about the David Bruce piece which, by the way, was entitled Fragile Light. Then the lights went ...

Just let it go, old man

David Bruce guides us toward the light in world premiere.

An old man sitting behind me said, "Gil Shaham is good" to the lady accompanying him. God help me to stop being that guy. If we ever go to a concert together and I try ...

Dessert followed by veggies

San Diego Symphony ends the concert with the vegetable dish.

Sometimes we’ve gotta eat our veggies after we have dessert. I’ve never tried it, but it’s basically what happened during the last half of the San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday night. The first half ...

Kate Smith sings again

Stephanie Blythe to sing standards for San Diego Opera.

Stephanie Blythe is bringing her one-woman show about Kate Smith, "We'll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith," to the Balboa Theater on Thursday, December 11 at 7 p.m. Blythe was here last April to ...

Forty La Bohemes for ten bucks?

The popular music streaming site offers a robust selection of classical music.

I resisted Spotify for years. Years, I tell you. I found their classical music to be spotty at best. I would search for Tannhauser and Placido Domingo and get all kinds of crazy unrelated items ...

Go away, Professor Baker

A British academic tries to take on Venezuela's system.

A book just came out on November 28 which thinks it’s going to expose Venezuela’s El Sistema as a tyrannical and corrupt petty kingdom. The author published an article about his findings in The Guardian. ...

The Messiah and pals are upon us again

Three amigos of Baroque provide the Christmas thing with three events December 7.

It’s December, which means the Messiah and pals are upon us again. Who are the pals of the Messiah? Bach and Vivaldi for sure. Sometimes Vaughan Williams gets invited to play, along with Puccini, but ...

100 years of avant garde

A century later and we're still waiting.

It dawned on me that avant garde music, so to speak, is about 100 years old if we count the 1913 premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as the starting point. It also dawned on ...

Mahler Seventh? No problem.

San Diego Symphony capably delivers Tchaikovsky and even Mahler's "problem child."

“It’s kind of like a road trip, you’ve gotta at least try.” I was trying to be jocular during intermission on Saturday night but the gentleman I was trying to engage with my humor stared ...

Mahler's problem child

Maestro Ling discusses Mahler's Seventh Symphony.

Let’s talk a little more about Mahler. His Seventh Symphony is this weekend at San Diego Symphony and I was able to speak to non other than Maestro Ling about Mahler’s “problem child”. We spoke ...

Cinderella education

How many versions of this story are there, exactly?

There are how many versions of the Cinderella story? There’s Disney (of course), Rossini, Prokofiev, the 1984-85 Villanova Wildcats, and Massenet. I’m sure I missed a few, but Massenet is the one I want to ...

Sibelius ice, empty seats

The San Diego Symphony melts the ice with Sibelius.

Someone tell please tell me that they don't like Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. You might say you don't like it, but you'd be lying through your teeth. Everyone loves that song even if ...

The brass of the Noldor

La Jolla Symphony brass brought the pain in Mahler.

Sometimes my tradition of not reading the program until after a concert backfires on me. I don’t read the program because I want to experience the music for itself and oftentimes the program notes get ...

Ebola is a less contagious than Mahler

Mahler's Fifth Symphony in La Jolla this weekend.

We’ve heard the phrase, “Go big or go home.” If we look at the La Jolla Symphony’s upcoming season, those folks are never going home. The season contains Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and ...

Sister Angela

Opera production supports opera company.

Suor Angelica is not among Puccini’s most popular operas. On Sunday night, about 400 or so of us were wondering why, because it was fantastic. The performance was at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in ...

Communicate the fire

The conclusion of our interview with Lola Astanova.

This is the continuation of our interview with Lola Astanova. San Diego Reader: If you had to spend the next year on a desert island with a piano, what music would you take with you? ...

Timpani and GTOs

San Diego Symphony revs it engine.

There is a quality about Leonard Bernstein’s music which has kept it fresh and cool for decades. Saturday’s Opus 2014 Gala Concert opened with Three Dance Episodes from On the Town. I wonder if someday ...

Rachmaninoff is a rose, is a rose, is a rose

Lola Astanova plays Rachmaninoff and Chopin at San Diego Symphony.

Authenticity happens when your actions reinforce your beliefs and ideas — you know, those beliefs and ideas that you won't shut up about. The ones your family roles their eyes at while you protest, "Hey, ...

Piano haute couture with Lola Astanova

Garret sits down to chat with a stylized pianist who plays upon the world stage.

As I descended the dimly lit stairwell, I could hear that someone was playing the piano. I walked out onto the stage of The Jacobs Music Center and there was Lola Astanova — practicing. Ms. ...

Hide and seek with a battle axe

Beethoven and Prokofiev at San Diego Symphony.

Who knew that Beethoven was a fan of hide and seek? While that might not be historically accurate, there is certainly a sense of tiptoeing around in the opening measures of his Fourth Symphony. During ...

FloFo Jenkins has her big moment

An opera legend may come to the silver screen.

Speaking of a few singers who should turn singing into a hobby, there is now a rumor that a movie is being made about the ultimate pay-to-sing performer. Pay-to-sing programs are legion. They are typically ...

Winners and participants

The 2014 Metropolitan Opera Auditions are an experience.

There is a certain type of person who haunts The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Remember, this is called an audition but it’s a competition. I haven't been in a couple of years but I'm ...

An all-Scottish affair

The San Diego Symphony opens the season with a trio of Scottish-inspired pieces.

Friday night was the first Masterwork concert of the new season. As I sat in the foyer waiting for my dude-date, I didn't observe an abundance of anticipation. It kind of felt like a mid-season ...

Heard for the first time in 500 years

An interesting relic from days of music past has surfaced in England.

The Telegraph has reported that a gift of choral music to Henry VIII has just been uncovered in the vaults of the British Library. It has just received its first performance in 500 years. The ...

Three for the opera

Get a front-row seat for "opera crazy."

This is a big week for classical music. Let's take a look at what's going down. There are three opera concerts that are going to be pretty good. The first is the continuing Opera Wednesdays ...

Wrap it up

I thought I'd finish this thing up but failed.

I may have painted myself into a corner here with a couple of posts about the gym, pop music, ass and eyes. This is my attempt to make those previous posts make sense. George Sandow ...

Two great things

The schedule is pretty thin this week but there a few highlights.

There are a couple of great things happening this week. On Friday evening, at St. James-by-the-Sea Episcopal in La Jolla, New York Polyphony will be performing a concert of Thomas Luis de Victoria’s O Quam ...

The gym and the fancy

Is the gym the only superficial institution we resist?

I'm writing this while on the stationary cycle at the gym. The gym is the domain of ass-eyes. Not ass or eyes. You know, ass-eyes. I'm glancing around from time to time to see who ...

Hahn out, Thayer in

Hilary Hahn has been forced to cancel her Symphony appearance.

The San Diego Symphony is reporting that all-world violinist Hilary Hahn has had to cancel her San Diego appearance. Hahn was to be the featured artist for the Symphony’s opening weekend concerts of October 11, ...

It's still Verdi

The scale doesn't matter in Rigoletto.

Pacific Lyric Association Opera’s performance of Rigoletto on Saturday night was well worth seeing. Why? For one thing, this is an excellent example of how good opera can be when it is scaled down and ...

Ass or eyes?

"Sexy" or "beautiful" — can we tell the difference?

Less ass, more eyes. Well, let's be realistic. Same amount of ass, and add the eyes. What am I getting at? Recently the Aviara Trio gave a performance of Rachmaninoff's Arabesque no. 1 and I ...

Tragic and comic, listen and sing

Verdi's Rigoletto opens Saturday and Gilbert and Sullivan opens Sunday.

Pacific Lyric Association is running three performances of Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto starting on Saturday, September 20th at 7 p.m. The venue is the Escondido Center for the Performing Arts. The remaining performances are on Friday ...

Please don't tell me about your influences

Things seem to end up being unfair to both the old and new works.

If there is one idea that gets me worked up, it’s the “inspired by” idea or the “based upon” idea. O Brother Where Art Thou borrows incidents and characters from Homer’s Odyssey but I’d rather ...

Aviara Trio free concert

San Diego libraries provide great concerts all year.

The Rancho Bernardo Public library has a chamber music series. Several libraries have similar programs. They are a rich source of music in San Diego County and they’re all free. I bring up Rancho Bernardo ...

Carlsbad premiers a master

The 11th Annual Carlsbad Music Festival will present multiple interesting classical performances.

The 11th Annual Carlsbad Music Festival is starting September 19th and goes through the 21st. Pulitzer-prize winning composer and Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang will be in residence and his music will be ...

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