Back to profile

Stories by Garrett Harris

Take up the cause of Schmidt

Austria's local hero Franz Schmidt get a rare performance at this year's Proms

The BBC Proms is taking up the cause of Franz Schmidt in a concert on September 10 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. A performance of Schmidt’s Symphony No. 2 will be given by the Vienna ...

Wave of the baton creates political intrigue

Daniel Barenboim's global approach has displeased major powers

Politics in classical music is not new. Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Shostakovich, and countless other composers were politically active and, at times, censored. Almost every mid-20th-century conductor, singer, and instrumental soloist was politicized by World War ...

Conceptual art as a reference for conceptual music

Does the conversation determine what is art?

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. This is the title of a piece of art from 1991 by Damien Hirst. The work of art is a tiger shark in a ...

The sweat test

Buddy, don't take it easy — get out there!

I recently heard a kid at the park complaining about being sweaty. He went over to his parent and got some water and was told to “take it easy, buddy.” I realize this is a ...

Esoteric, hollow, enjoyable Victorian propaganda

Just because it's charming and lovely doesn't mean you can like Songs of the Sea

Songs of the Sea is the Esoteric Pick of the Week. If you haven’t been spending much time at the beach, you’re missing out. El Niño is here and the water feels so good, you ...

Stellar young cast delivers the Don

Mozart's Don Giovanni à la Point Loma Opera Theater

Point Loma Opera Theater continues to crank out quality concerts. The most recent success was Mozart’s Don Giovanni on Tuesday August, 18 at Pacific Beach Presbyterian and Thursday August 20th at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I ...

Five angry men

Garrett gets a taste of old-school venom for his SummerFest piece

Classical music has been one of the main culprits of “trolling” for centuries. The 19th century was full of factions which went to war in publications regarding the merits of different composers and schools of ...

Lost to history but preserved in legend

Beethoven's Coriolan is the esoteric pick of the week

Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture is not an esoteric piece of music. The overture is quite popular, in and of itself. The overture is not a freestanding piece, though. It was written as incidental music for a ...

Not enough time for classical music

Even the NFL is losing numbers to the million other distractions

What if this problem of declining audiences in classical music wasn’t really about the appeal of classical music? What if there were larger forces at work here? It struck me that declining audiences are more ...

Tough love at Summerfest

Certain performances may be just beyond our reach

“Besides the Faure, that concert was tough. I’m glad you couldn’t make it. It would have put stress on our friendship.” “Hahaha. Best critique ever. Put that in your review. After the Mainly Mozart introduction ...

Get on it!

Move fast if you want to do a half marathon in August

If you’re thinking about doing a half marathon event this month, you better get on it. The Stairway to Heaven trail half-marathon is already sold out but it looks as though the America’s Finest City ...

Wet Hot Viennese Summerfest

La Jolla Summerfest is going on all month.

I smelled perfume as I walked down Draper Street toward Sherwood Auditorium. It worried me at first. When you're going to a concert, one of the last things you want is to be next to ...

Classical is sexy

New research uses science to confirm what listeners already know

The BBC recently released an article about music and “skin orgasms.” The article claims great music carries with it a sensual element that can become addictive. Science tends to do this with classical music — ...

Work for the Oreos

You've got to move if you want the treats

The number one thing you need in order to maintain or improve your fitness is movement. You’ve got to move to get healthy. That’s obvious. Right? What if you’re having trouble moving? It might sound ...

Comprehensive Mozart

127 hour playlist contains almost every piece in the Köchel Catalogue

Who would like to listen to an hour of of Mozart? How about 127 hours of Mozart? There is a now a playlist which will give you that. Open Culture mentioned this little gem which ...

The music is the music

The Romantic German wrote a choral symphony... or did he?

I’m feeling a tad sheepish here about my classical music knowledge. I did not realized that Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 was written for orchestra, chorus and soloists. I was listening along on Spotify to Mendelssohn ...

Exercise creates a better brain

Want to be 50 and loving it?

Here's an interesting theory about exercise: if you exercise regularly then you have less anger. It might not make you a better person, but it releases the mental and emotional energy that can accumulate in ...

Duet for organ and canine

Summer Organ Festival brings a true outdoor flavor to Balboa Park

I try to make it down to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at least once during summer. There is a concert at the Organ Pavilion every Monday night at 7:30 p.m. through August 31. On Monday ...

Elegant and unimportant

Faure's Pavane not that revolutionary

Let’s get a little crazy and combine a summer piece of music with the esoteric pick of the week. The power of this concept is overwhelming me. It’s the perfect summer storm. Faure composed his ...

Purer but not better

Voices versus instruments in the classical setting

The importance of human voices coming together has become less and less valued. There was a time when voices coming together was much more important to society. There is a coming together in a choir ...

Bring back the court composer, part two

Just a day dream....

Concerning the court composer or orchestral organization composer and compensation. Almost every orchestra has a donor or 20 with guest houses somewhere in the city. The composer would receive housing. The donor gets to possibly ...

Bring back the court composer

With no new symphonies to speak of, what's to be done?

Why not bring back the court composer? Way back when, aristocrats used to have their own orchestras and composers who wrote music for those orchestras. Why not bring that model back? What if the San ...

Do great singers ever really die?

The recent death of Jon Vickers is part of a strange phenomenon

Jon Vickers died on July 10, 2015. He had been retired since 1988 and had a prolonged struggle with Alzheimer’s. It’s a strange phenomenon when an artist of his stature dies. The first reaction, if ...

Classical... karaoke?

Faure's Requiem draws a participiatory crowd in Mission Valley, Vivaldi's next

There is a series of "summer sings" at Mission Valley Methodist Church over the next several weeks. I went to the first one on Wednesday, July 8. The piece for the concert was Gabriel Faure's ...

Star-spangled drunk

Real talk about the national anthem

Let us talk "Star-Spangled Banner." First, the tune is a British drinking song — people would sing this while they got drunk and nobody had a problem with making this the national anthem of the ...

White nights, summer romance

Soundtracks for the sunny season

When considering classical music with a summer theme, sometimes the title gives a clue — as in Frank Bridge's Summer. There is also Summer by Glazunov and Vivaldi. See there? Now, what do all three ...

Summer of nothing

Beethoven sits us down by the stream and does... nothing

Our recent little thunderstorm reminded me of what is probably the best piece of summer music: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. There are fives sections of the symphony, one of which is a thunderstorm which passes ...

Miss what most of us never had

James Agee and San Diego: Summer of 2015

Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Is there a more nostalgic title? It evokes a yearning for simpler times, a time when fathers watered their lawns by hose in the evening, after supper, while children played and ...

More complicated than you might think

A soprano isn't just a soprano

Let’s talk about soloists and concert music. I’ve yet to be impressed with any soloists at any of the orchestras in town. I’ve found them all to be serviceable at best and miscast at worst. ...

Are you free?

Singing for free is the norm, so why make it an issue?

Why don’t orchestras pay choruses for the concerts that require a chorus? Why would an institution with a $20 million budget not pay choristers? Here’s the deal. They do pay choruses, but they pay the ...

Racy conclusion

Beethoven contemplates but Mozart drives fast

As of June 20, the Mainly Mozart Festival is done for 2015. The final concert was a study in contrasting styles of music. Or perhaps I should say contrasting moods instead of style. The entire ...

Shining, happy people

Mainly Mozart musicians deliver a Biblical experience

“As he [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus...As the ...

Preaching to the choir

The bar is too low for choral vocal work in classical music

Warning: This article is critical of some current choral practices. If you’re a singer in a choir, you’ve been warned. Let’s talk about this explosive “k” at the top of every mass. The opening text ...

Top-notch Mozart by way of Bach

San Diegos request to classical music might just be "talk to us a little"

Saturday night’s Mainly Mozart concert was a wonderful experience of musicology. Conductor Michael Francis spoke before each piece instead of having a printed “Maestro’s Notes” in the program. This is the type of approach which ...

Sexy mountain climb

An esoteric pick of the week for the Richard Strauss, the birthday boy

Richard Strauss had a birthday this week so let’s make him our esoteric pick of the week as a birthday present. It’s the thought that counts. Strauss wrote six “great tone poems.” In all, there ...

Bring the healing

Michael Francis talks Mainly Mozart in Balboa Park

There is a unique event coming up on Sunday, June 14th, at 3 p.m. — a free concert at Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. What is the event? I’ll let Maestro Michael Francis tell us ...

How to start with Mozart and end up with nihilism

The arbitrary fame of the Haffners leads Garrett to wonder what really matters

Mozart’s Haffner Symphony is a fairly famous piece of music, but who the hell was Haffner? Haffer got not just the symphony but also a 55-minute-long serenade. That’s about 90 minutes of music by Mozart ...

You need an epic to describe an epic

A Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra experience only Homer can describe

“No more words — he dashed toward the city, heart racing for some great exploit, rushing on like a champion stallion drawing a chariot full tilt, sweeping across the plain in easy, tearing strides — ...

Voice of understanding

Conductor Michael Francis talks Mozart, "the most fascinating of all musical lives"

The new music director of Mainly Mozart, Michael Francis, hits us with a firehose-stream of knowledge and understanding prior to the opening of the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra concerts. The interview is so extensive that ...

Vaughn Williams's esoteric summer road trip

Slip on your Wayfarers and learn about the wanderers and their soundtrack

Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams is the esoteric pick of the week. Now, if at any time in your life you’ve been a baritone undergraduate student, this is not an "esoteric" selection — this ...

Mainly better than sliced bread

The Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra starts this week!

I’ve been waiting for this moment for 49 weeks. I’m not even joking. The first of five Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra concerts is this Saturday, June 6, at 7:30 p.m. The venue is the Balboa ...

They're not going to come find you

Continued discourse on the problems of classical music attendance

It’s not a matter of people not liking classical music. I’ve been driving for Uber here and there for some extra income and I always have classical music playing via Spotify. What usually ensues is ...

One big cover band

Is the audience there for the performer or the music?

Can we finally agree that classical music is about the music? It is not my intention to diminish the brilliance of classical performances, but a classical music artist is really a member of a huge ...

Near to genius

Stephen Hough flirts with true brilliance

I’m not sure I’ve used the term genius in the past when describing a performer. I’m not sure it applies here either, but it’s pretty darn close. Stephen Hough was a candidate for genius while ...

Is it all about brand recognition?

Observations from last weekend’s fantastic, sparsely attended Spanish Rhapsody concert

The hall was about half full for the Spanish Rhapsody. Previously the hall had been 95% full for Carmina Burana. To my mind and heart, the Spanish concert had the greater merit musically and artistically ...

My name is Inigo Montoya, I play the violin, prepare to die

A Spanish lovefest at Symphony Hall

The San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday, May 9, was as hot as Seville in August — maybe hotter. (I’m not sure, since I’ve never been to Seville, but I can imagine.) Violinist Ray Chen ...

Spanish music by French guys comes to the Symphony

Sounds like they might punch you or make love to you — or both

I complained about a lack of variety in symphonic programming just in time for the San Diego Symphony to present an entire concert of hidden gems, built around a Spanish theme. Ravel is the most ...

Appeal of the new-old

Continued reflection on butts and seats

The esoteric pick of the week series is starting to piss me off. There is a buttload of amazing music out there that isn’t being performed. I understand why opera companies would want to stick ...

It's not you, it's me, Carmina

Garrett's sad breakup with what he was considered a masterpiece

As I listened to Carmina Burana it occurred to me that it wasn’t the greatest music in the world. In fact, it’s something of a one-hit-wonder. What else did Orff write? Think about it — ...

Show thief!

Conrad Tao runs away with the entire evening at San Diego Symphony

Conrad Tao stole the show twice on Saturday, May 2, at Symphony Hall. He tore the place apart with the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 and then upstaged that monster with the conclusion of Prokofiev’s ...

Win a Pair of 3-Day Passes to
KAABOO Del Mar

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!

Close