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Stories by Garrett Harris

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 ...

No marketing, sharing, or promotion, please!

What if the sparsely attended Symphony realized it was 2015?

Never, ever, record a symphony or opera concert. Ever. If you do, it will be a blatant and vile transgression against the very foundations of what your friends want you to share with them. (And ...

Celebration of sex and gambling

The Carmina Burana text may have been authored by clerics, but it has Vegas beat.

I thought I was the first guy to have a 10-hours-long sexual encounter with the goddess Venus herself. As it turns out, I’m 800 years late, since someone shared just such an experience in the ...

Spring has sprung

This week is blooming with classical music

Carmina Burana, American composer royalty, fairy tales, and Romeo and Juliet are all part of a jam packed classical music week in San Diego County. Carmina Burana features sweaty gambling followed by naked men leaving ...

History, culture, and the Dance of Death

An old story made new is the esoteric pick of the week

"You might be a king or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later you dance with the reaper." — Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey On February 14, 1942, the Royal Air Force received authorization ...

Context brings out the creep

Ignorance could not last forever as the melancholy story of Die Tote Stadt comes out.

In spite of my desire to remain mystically ignorant of Korngold’s context regarding Marietta’s Lied, a conversation thread on Facebook has not allowed it. The aria comes in the first act of Die Tote Stadt ...

Out of time and space

Garrett's experience of "Marietta’s Lied" from Die Tote Stadt is never to be bested

I have one observation from the back row of the chorus regarding the San Diego Opera 50th Anniversary Gala. So long as I live, I will never hear or experience anything more beautiful than Marietta’s ...

Greatest of the great

The 50th Anniversary Gala at San Diego Opera may be a monumental experience

The voice was bouncing off the back wall of the house and echoing back onto the stage. The goosebumps were making their rounds through the assembly. It was obvious that this was going to be ...

When Dido pulls the trigger — gasp!

Point Loma Opera Theater undergrads continue to put in work.

Point Loma Opera Theater is cranking out performances like mad these days. I caught their double bill of Trouble in Tahiti and Dido and Aeneas on Sunday evening. These were the fourth and fifth productions ...

More than a little self-congratulatory

Garrett's clout grows as the esoteric pick of the week influences the Brits

The BBC Music Magazine awards were held recently and a few of them are worthy of comment. The BBC Music Magazine Awards are similar to the Gramophone awards, which are similar to the Grammys. Of ...

Samples at the Symphony

The weekend is booked with classical music

The San Diego Symphony is offering a pay-what-you-want sampling of next year's season. The orchestra will be performing sections of the 2015-2016 season. There will be an open bar. I mean, the bar will be ...

Who wants to be the philosopher king?

A cultural meandering

I think we're stuck with Shostakovich as the last composer to write a great symphony. Michael Tippett is also a candidate, but he doesn't have Shostakovich's stature. I hate to play the blame game but ...

But would audiences love him?

The esoteric pick of the week may suffer from a branding problem

I'm starting to wonder if a composer's name helps maintain their status? Think about that for a moment. How many composers have names that are difficult? There are a few, mainly Russian, but by and ...

Immediate masterpiece at San Diego Symphony

Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony was an instant classic at release

"There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men for this treachery." I'm going to switch up that Tolkien quote and say, "There is no sufficient honor in Elvish, Entish, or the ...

I am the very model of modern major composer

Arthur Sullivan gets all serious on us

What if Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a symphony? What would it be like? First off, I suppose Gilbert wouldn’t have much to do, so I should say, “What if Sullivan wrote a symphony”? We’re in ...

Mainly Mozart starts its engine

Two chamber concerts and a big ol' symphony this weekend.

Mainly Mozart is giving two Spotlight Series concerts this weekend in two enticing locations. The music is a transcription of Bach's Goldberg Variations for string trio. The concert is at the Scripps Research Institute on ...

Difficult man, difficult plot, masterful work

The esoteric, and acerbic, pick of the week.

The esoteric pick of the week is Palestrina. Not the composer, Palestrina, himself, but the opera based on events late in his life by German anti-modernist Hans Pfitzner. Hans Pfitzner was born in Russia to ...

The maturity we need

An exegesis: understanding the ballet in Nixon in China

People I’ve talked to about the ballet scene from the end of Act II of Nixon in China have been a little confused. Why is Henry Kissinger writhing on stage and whipping peasant girls to ...

The fist of God

Only the locals do work on the Berlioz Requiem at La Jolla Symphony

We could say, for comparison's sake, that Mozart's Dies Irae is something like an 18th Century cavalry charge and Verdi's Dies Irae is like a choreographed shock and awe campaign. Berlioz's Dies Irae? Berlioz is ...

People must hate the Swiss

Joachim Raff, esotericist

Joachim Raff was one of the most popular and influential composers of the Romantic era. Sadly, he is also the esoteric pick of the week. Raff "balled out" during the 19th Century with eleven symphonies, ...

Not quite Don Pasquale, but certainly not Iago

The conclusion of our interview with Nixon in China's Kissinger, baritone Patrick Carfizzi

Nixon in China opens on Saturday, March 14 at the Civic Theater. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 and part 2 of this interview are also available. San Diego Reader: ...

"Kissinger" keeps it to a low rumble

The Reader's interview with Patrick Carfizzi continues in part 2 of 3

Nixon in China opens on Saturday March 14th at the Civic Theater. The showtime is 7 p.m. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 of this interview is also available. San ...

Backroom operator

Patrick Carfizzi, Nixon in China's man behind the "Secretary of State," grants an interview

I got the rare chance to interview Henry Kissinger. Henry doesn’t do many interviews these days, but since he’s in San Diego for a few weeks, he relented. Okay, in truth, Patrick Carfizzi, who is ...

Schubeeeeeert!

After a week of listening to Schubert, it's time to vent

My colleague in the opera chorus was aghast when I mentioned that I think Schubert is a third- or fourth-rate composer. In the past this type of encounter was full of loud talking/shouting and expletives. ...

Three Bs in the Jewel

March 6 is a busy night for classical music in La Jolla

La Jolla is keeping the classical music going on Friday, March 6, with three quality concerts covering all of “The Three Bs”. Of course, “The Three Bs” are Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but we’re also ...

The Great? Not at all!

Schubert's Ninth is bad, bad music and the San Diego Symphony is in a slump.

I'm renaming Schubert's Symphony No. 9, known as The Great Symphony. I'm going to call it The Great Tediousness. This symphony goes nowhere, and for what feels like an eternity. I must admit that when ...

The Dream of... who?

The esoteric pick of the week is a scrappy poem about the afterlife.

I present Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius as the esoteric pick of the week. The Dream of Gerontius is a "Divine Comedy-esque" poem by John Henry Newman. Newman was a complex and controversial figure. ...

Greatness abounds

Two excellent and celebrated pieces will be played at two major venues this weekend

The Great Symphony — it's not the title that Schubert chose, or would have chosen, but it has stuck. The nickname was intended to differentiate this C major symphony from the Little C major Symphony ...

Schiff, Giovanni and death

The weekend is ripe with world-class classical-music concerts

Andras Schiff has been knighted for his ability to play the piano and he’s going to be giving a concert this weekend at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla next the Contemporary Art Museum at 8 ...

Engagement by the community is so enheartening

Tenor Paul Appleby discusses the future of the opera form.

Paul Appleby: I’m hopeful that the crisis that was averted here at San Diego Opera was averted by the people. That’s what’s so inspiring with this story. So many of us across the country were ...

Alternate Giovannis

Tenor Paul Appleby discusses the challenge of different versions and stagings

Paul Appleby: You know there are two version of Don Giovanni. There’s the Prague version and the Vienna version. The Prague version does not include Dalla sua pace. That was written later for the Vienna ...

He's no wimp

Tenor Paul Appleby talks opera and the cost of living.

Paul Appleby is a smart guy. He is also performing the role of Don Ottavio in San Diego Opera’s Don Giovanni. Paul went to Juilliard and then into the Metropolitan Opera’s young artist program. During ...

To Hell with the ruling class

Mozart had a rebellious side.

I’ve recently learned a thing or two about Mozart’s Don Giovanni that I think are worth passing along. Keep in mind that I’m not a musicologist, but I’m going to put my best foot forward. ...

Art of Élan

“Have you been to an Art of Élan concert?” Whenever I get this question it is asked at a hundred miles an hour with the enthusiasm of true belief. What is Art of Élan? On ...

Puccini partisanship

Reviewing a review could get ugly.

This could get ugly — really ugly. I’m about to “review a review” of San Diego Opera’s La Boheme. The production closed on Sunday so now is a safe time to do this. Why don’t ...

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 ...

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