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Stories by Garrett Harris

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 ...

It really is all semantics

Our idea of opera is our idea of ourselves.

Back to my disbelief in the 14 Huffington Post artists who are transforming opera and the fact that many critics have been wrong for many years regarding the progress of music and art. In the ...

Venus is having a baby

Nic Reveles talks about Tannhauser from Bayreuth

We've got more from Dr. Nicolas Reveles regarding the Bayreuth Festival. See part one of this interview here. Nic Reveles: The Tannhauser was probably the weirdest thing I have ever seen in my life. It ...

Transforming opera? I think not

14 artists who are not exactly Wagner.

This Huffington Post article about 14 artists who are transforming the future of opera has been crawling around my Facebook and Twitter. First of all, we get the "grand opera is dead" discussion from the ...

Summer of Wagner

Bayreuth has been the big festival for decades.

July and August are Wagner months on account of the annual Bayreuth Festival in Bayreuth, Germany. The festival has been running since 1876, and has been impossible to attend for most of that time. However, ...

Early start for San Diego Opera

SDO usually starts the season at the end of January. This year it's September.

The beleaguered San Diego Opera officially starts its season way early this year with a September 5 recital concert by opera power-couple Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello at the Balboa Theatre. Both Costello and Perez ...

Library book, book, book, book

A San Diego Opera preview concert with young singers.

The book, the book, the book, the book, the book.” Believe it or not, someone was singing about “the book” at the Central Library. That someone was Jennifer Wu, and it was awesome. The Central ...

Classical and grotesque

Ken Russell made some interesting movies about composers.

We’ve looked at the great, the okay, and now for the third and final segment on composer films — Ken Russell. Ken Russell defies any categories we might want to come up with. Great? Perhaps. ...

Okay-to-good, but not great

Movies about composers tend to miss the point.

If Amadeus is the only great composer movie, what about some others that are good? I’m not sure there are any that are good-to-great but there are a few that are okay-to-good. Immortal Beloved comes ...

The greatest classical composer movie

Puccini's story might not be operatic, but could it be cinematic?

Regarding the Puccini story, one of our resplendent writers (Matt Lickona) wanted to know why this hasn’t been turned into an opera. I’m not sure how an opera would work but a staged production of ...

The sky is falling in Italy

Productions are being canceled in the birthplace of opera.

The fourth largest opera house in Italy is shutting down its two largest productions of the season, according to a Newsweek report. The fourth-largest opera house in Italy is the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy. ...

Buy Puccini's hideout

Purchase a tiny part of opera history in Italy.

The Guardian is reporting that Puccini’s hideout is up for sale. It’s going for about $535,000. The story goes that Puccini knocked up the very-married Elvira Bonturi and needed a place to hide from her ...

Could San Diego save the Met?

Why isn't there a White Knight Committee in New York?

With the first of a few benefit concerts for San Diego Opera coming up in a few weeks, let's talk a little bit about what has happened in San Diego and what is happening in ...

San Diego was only the prelude

The largest classical music institution in the U.S. faces financial trouble

The struggle at San Diego Opera may have been only the prelude to a much bigger fight at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. There have been several articles regarding the deficits at the Met. The budget ...

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