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Stories by Garrett Harris

Rach docs on a Sunday night

I needed to wash off the pop culture

I spent Sunday night “doc-ing out” on YouTube. Surrounded by the puddles of a mediocre culture obsessed with any number of transient concerns, I found it necessary to bathe in something more permanent — admittedly ...

Tchaikovsky at San Diego Repertory Theatre

Hershey Felder's latest in a string of successful one-man shows

The music of Tchaikovsky has long been a favorite of everybody except the most obtuse of emotional constitution. He, along with Puccini, is the master emoter. Whereas Puccini was almost exclusively a composer of opera, ...

Choral Consortium hosts a screening of Robert Shaw documentary

"Hearing Shaw explain the reasoning behind his approach made so many things fall into place."

I found myself listening to the Robert Shaw Chorale over the holidays. It was a bit of a nostalgic journey as this was the soundtrack for Christmas at my grandparents' house. I also remembered that ...

San Diego Symphony starts its month of the American composer

...kicking off with a couple of free concerts January 5 and 7

What does it mean to be an American composer? This is the question that the San Diego Symphony will be answering all month. January is dedicated to the American composer and the symphony is kicking ...

Three classical concerts from 2016

You can't do epic shit with basic people

The three performances that mattered most in 2016: Great Scott at San Diego Opera; Madama Butterfly at San Diego Opera; Holst The Planets at San Diego Symphony. Jake Heggie has been prolific by modern standards ...

Waltz in the New Year

The annual Vienna Philharmonic concert is on the way

The Viennese Waltz has become the official anthem of New Year’s, at least in classical circles. On each New Year’s day the Vienna Philharmonic gives a concert of music predominantly by the Strauss dynasty. Since ...

One hundred years of the Ukrainian Bell Carol

...turns out it's not a Christmas song

One hundred years ago a Ukrainian composer named Mykola Leontovich found an ancient tune of four notes and set them to text about the coming of spring. The story of the song was about a ...

Christmas Festival Death Match of White People

The Mormons and Lutherans square off for Christmas supremacy

I’m afraid that when it comes to Christmas, no one can do it quite like the Mormons and their Tabernacle Choir. On second thought, St. Olaf offers a big-time Christmas experience as well. If there ...

We are all Scrooge

The redemption by Christmas spirit is something that doesn’t read much these days

As the redemption of Scrooge drew nigh, I realized that there could be a better application of these characters. What if all the characters in A Christmas Carol are aspects of each of us? What ...

Beethoven's Ninth at the San Diego Symphony

The best performance of the three most recent

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. This piece of music is considered to be the ultimate expression of humanity's struggle for freedom. The main tune, which we all know, the Ode to Joy, was purposefully written as ...

Robert Oppenheimer is Dr. Atomic

A symphonic representation of an opera about a complicated man

The San Diego Symphony gave a performance of John Adams’s Dr. Atomic Symphony over the weekend of December 3 and 4. It was a great performance but it left me realizing just how rich is ...

Martha Argerich honored at Kennedy Center

Argentinian pianist makes a rare public appearance

I have an golden excuse to mention pianist Martha Argerich. On December 5 she was honored with a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. The Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS December 27, at 9 ...

San Diego Symphony and the astral plane

A singularity-esque performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets

Sometimes, in a live performance, a conductor will downplay “the big tune” in a symphony performance. Sometimes, in a live performance, a conductor will elevate and revel in “the big theme.” We gratefully received the ...

Musical fountain of eggnog from the San Diego Symphony

Clearly December is here

The weekend of musical eggnog begins with a screening of Home Alone at Symphony Hall. The San Diego Symphony will provide a live soundtrack to this modern holiday classic. What will that rapscallion Kevin do ...

Hold the egg nog and pass The Planets

Before choking on holiday concerts we get to explore the astrological solar system

Tis the season for choir concerts. Lessons and carols are being dusted off as the first Sunday of Advent is here. The ubiquitous Messiah is making its rounds and the symphony is, more than likely, ...

The theater is not a safe place, Mr. Trump

The Hamilton comments show a misunderstanding of theater and politics

Much has been made of Donald Trump’s tweets regarding the “rude” treatment of Mike Pence by the cast of Hamilton. There is a perception that the theater is a tame place. It is not. At ...

Gold in the drought age

Sol Invictus rules

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water. Only There is shadow under this red ...

A rare opera performance on Black Friday in Escondido

Intimate La Traviata

There is a chance to hear opera on Black Friday weekend. Pacific Lyric Association is presenting Verdi’s La Traviata at the California Center for the Arts Escondido. Singing the lead role of Violetta is L.A.-based ...

San Diego Symphony: The Rachmaninoff Redemption

Conductor Johannes Debus allowed the brass to poor it on pretty thick and heavy

The San Diego Symphony is sounding good this season. I went to what I’m calling "The Rachmaninoff Redemption" last weekend and my sins were washed away. The opening piece of the RR was a “between-the-wars ...

Who is George Onslow?

Piece after piece of Onslow’s chamber music confirmed that here we have a neglected master

Beethoven and Schubert admired him. Mendelssohn and Schumann thought his string quartets were as good as those by Mozart and Beethoven. Schubert fashioned his cello sonatas after this composer’s cello sonatas. He was George Onslow ...

Verdi’s your daddy

Had the show been about three female friends it would have been brilliant.

I found myself perplexed by the way the characters analyzed every single nuance of their interactions in Interepid Theatre’s ART [run ended November 6]. As a straight white male — as are all three characters ...

Rach Mozart

San Diego's busy weekend in classical music

In addition to a busy weekend of contrasting operas, the San Diego Symphony is throwing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 at us. Mozart’s final symphony, The Jupiter, is coming along for the ride as well. ...

Two very different operas this week in San Diego

A tale of two operas

There are two decidedly different operas being performed November 11–13. One is Hansel und Gretel at Point Loma Opera Theatre and the other is Soldier Songs at San Diego Opera. Hansel und Gretel is most ...

Purveyors of mindless memes comment on the Richard Tucker opera gala

Yaaaas, I've had enough

I watched the live stream of the Richard Tucker Gala on Medici TV’s Facebook stream. At one point I was kind of a fan of letting people live tweet during opera or symphony performances. After ...

Rossini the foodie

Opera and food — It's a good life

I had forgotten that Rossini stopped composing opera so early. It could be that I never put it together since he continued to compose sacred music in the 1840s, '50s, and '60s with the Petite ...

William Tell at the Met

A drowsy patron makes it to the satisfying conclusion

William Tell or Guillaume Tell is an enormous opera. The performance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera began at 6:30 p.m. and ended at 11:45 p.m. While there are times when I thought Rossini could have ...

Freedom from what?

The Lion is an optimistic triptych that has been carved by family, love, and disease.

The Lion plays at the Old Globe through October 30. I saw it on Sunday, October 16. In the finest tradition of song cycles such as Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Schubert’s Winterreise, The Lion, by Benjamin ...

San Diego Opera: Similar to the Met

After seeing two operas at the Met, I think San Diego offers a similar experience

I ended up in New York over the weekend and attended two productions at the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center. The operas I saw were William Tell and Italian Girl in Algiers. Both are by ...

Already lost

Trump is supposed to be legitimizing the slum-lord exploitation practices of his father.

Trump Card at The La Jolla Playhouse is a monologue show by Mike Daisey. It is, as one might guess, about Donald Trump. I saw the show on Friday, October 7, two days before it ...

San Diego Symphony opens masterworks season

I got "Shaham'd." Again.

The Jacobs Masterworks Series started at Symphony Hall this last weekend. The concert was Schumann’s American Festival Overture, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and Brahms Symphony No. 3. Starting off was William — not Robert — Schumann’s ...

Cenerentola or Cinderella at San Diego Opera

An unfamiliar version of the rags to riches story

On Saturday, October 22, the San Diego Opera will open its 2016–17 season. This is the first autumn production the company has put on for as long as anyone can remember. The opening opera is ...

Opus Gala at San Diego Symphony

...sans "opuses"

The San Diego Symphony had their annual Opus Gala on Saturday night October 8. The format this year was different from that of recent years. The difference is that there were on "opuses." Also, music ...

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra goes esoteric

Has Riccardo Muti been reading the San Diego Reader?

It appears as though maestro Riccardo Muti has been reading the esoteric pick of the week. I’m obviously overstating the case there, but the Chicago Tribune has weighed in on Muti’s recent trip “...down nearly ...

Of the company, by the company, for the company

October Sky at the Old Globe

Based on the movie of the same title, October Sky, a new musical at The Old Globe runs through October 23. The story follows a group of high school students who become immersed in rocketry ...

Neville Marriner dies aged 92

Health kept him from conducting the San Diego Symphony

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has announced that Sir Neville Marriner has died. We almost had the honor of hearing him conduct the San Diego Symphony in January of 2015 but the ...

Serotinal dismay

The hottest day of the year forces my ears to Vivaldi and Finzi

Monday was the hottest day of the year, so I was forced to turn toward some autumnal music to keep from falling into an Indian Summer depression. I went to two different pieces of music, ...

What happened to Meyerbeer?

The most successful opera composer of the 19th Century is now a footnote

What happened to Giacomo Meyerbeer? After seeing Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable, Chopin proclaimed him to be immortal. His opera Les Huguenots was the first opera to be performed more than 1000 times at the Paris ...

Steve Martin has no point

Who needs clarity when you have charm and humor?

Why do we say what we say? It’s not always a clear choice. Sometimes we just say stuff. Where do the words come from? Who’s in there calling the shots? It could be a single ...

Opus Pops Gala: San Diego Symphony breaks with tradition

Jazz and the Great American Songbook open the symphony season

September feels as though it is taking forever. It feels that way every year. Football starts, school starts, summer ends, and I’m still waiting for the symphony season to begin. This year the San Diego ...

Other than arias drama

A dramatic scene from Otello

The concertate from act III of Otello has long been a favorite scene in the history of opera. With that in mind, I’m shocked at the disparity of views on YouTube between this and the ...

Fiddler jumps off the roof

Loudness is not passion and energy is not conviction.

I saw a Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof on Thursday, August 18. The set and lighting were perfect. The orchestra glimmered with the polish of a thousand and one performances. Dancers executed modern ...

A useless insight

Who cares about being insightful?

I want to discuss the term “insightful.” It's a word which is thrown around the halls of music with some frequency. “The performance was insightful,” “Beethoven's music is insightful,” etc. We've all heard comments along ...

Tenor Johan Botha dead at 51

One of the great tenors of our new century has died

Johan Botha was one of the great tenors of the early 21st Century. He died September 8 in Vienna at the age of 51. The cause has not been made official, but it is known ...

The feminine future of classical music

Women continue to balance the disparity in classical music leadership

I remember stating that it was time for balance between the feminine and the masculine in classical music. It appears I was not alone in that conviction. Maybe observation is a better word than conviction. ...

Peachnote app for classical music

Following a score just got peachy

Peachnote could change everything. At least everything about studying a score. In the past people would follow a recording or even a live performance with the score in hand. It's similar to keeping a score ...

Back to scholasticism

Scholastic activities are resuming but what does that mean?

Now that it is September I feel as though some solemnity is required. The start of the school year will forever imbue this month with scholasticism. For as long as I have revelled in the ...

Trolley tracks and Tchaikovsky

The opera goes to the other side of the tracks while the symphony does the nutcracker — in September?

As we enter the final days of summer the Symphony Pops is completing its run at the Embarcadero while San Diego Opera brings some culture to the other side of the tracks. It’s Tchaikovsky time ...

Finally ... some intellectual rigor!

Sense and Sensibility need not try

“I find Haydn’s music to be too formulaic.” “Ah, but he is the father of the string quartet.” This brief exchange between Marianne and Willoughby in the Old Globe’s Sense and Sensibility sealed the deal. ...

Soundcloud needs to make it rain

Music website holds buried classical treasures

Have you heard of Soundcloud? It's for sale if you've got $1 billion. There are murmurs that the company is seeking to be purchased because it's not making money. In other words, Soundcloud isn’t “making ...

Mozart or Paxil?

No one likes ugly-man-sob face

I feel that it is appropriate every now and then to get a tad personal in my writing here. Today I look to Mozart once again. We just discussed the mammoth release of recordings for ...

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