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20th Century music in San Diego, annoying audience members, passion play in Old Town

The awe of Yosemite, I black out at opera, despicable Godspell, awful Joan Sutherland

A performance of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, by Maestro Eros’s San Diego Symphony Chamber Orchestra, had to be prefaced by a plea from the conductor to listen to the music without prejudice.
A performance of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, by Maestro Eros’s San Diego Symphony Chamber Orchestra, had to be prefaced by a plea from the conductor to listen to the music without prejudice.

Neglected, rejected, and misunderstood

When — I don’t speak only of San Diego — do we ever get a chance to hear live performances of Ernst Toch, Vittorio Rieti, Vaclav Nelhybel, Peter Mennin, Roger Sessions, William Schuman, Roy Harris, Ben Weber, Quincy Porter, David Diamond, Walter Piston, Ross Lee Finney, Arnold Bax, E.J. Moeran, Douglas Lilburn, Michael Tippett, Frank Martin, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg, Daniel-Lesur, Luigi Dallapiccola, Hans Pfitzner, Klaus Egge, Alan Petterson, Heinrich Sutermeister, Ferenc Szabo, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, etc., etc.

June 30, 1977 | Read full article

Once Leonard Bernstein smiled at little Henry on an airplane. And there he goes, conducting the entire concert from row M of the balcony.


The Smell of the Crowd

The five-finger exerciser sits next to you in a frenzy of agitation, as though being confined to a theater seat were like being locked in a closet, tied up in a straightjacket, drowned in quicksand. He rolls his program into a tube, unrolls it, rolls it again. His nervousness increases, he begins to rub the rolled-up program across the palm of his hand, back and forth. At a concert, he will at first keep time with the music.

Aug. 4, 1977 | Read the full article

When you spend half your time hanging about the mailbox, waiting for the next issue of High Fidelity or the next list of EMI imports (for by now you know that the European pressings are always better) then you will know that you are not simply a record buyer.

Confessions of a discaholic

Those who feel passionately about La Boheme (and who does not?) will have to have the Angel recording with Callas and Di Stefano, and the London recording with Tebaldi and Bergonzi, and the Seraphim recording with De los Angeles, Bjoerling, Merrill, and Beecham, and the Victrola with Licia Albanese, Jan Peerce, and a very audible Toscanini, and the old Seraphim with Gigli, and the London with Pavarotti, and the Cetra with Tagliavini — and all this just as a start.

September 1, 1977 | Read full article

Take a Letter

I didn’t see any Russians in the audience, so what did it matter? Speaking personally, I liked the way those names sounded; SEMyon, and KONstantin, and BORis, and KiEV, and NiNOCHka, and MedveDENko. I especially liked Pyotr NikolaEVich and Irina NikolaEVna, and the name Masha HyiNISHna sounded just like music to me. Besides, even if the pronunciation did matter, how could the staff at the Old Globe possibly have found out how the names ought really to be pronounced?

January 26, 1978 | Read full article

For a Christian, this was more than theater.

Ritual on a Saturday Afternoon

Jesus concluded the Last Supper with Hamburguesa as a backdrop. He took up the cross between Seeley Stable and the Casa de Pedrorena bakery. He suffered the first fall of the Via Crucis just before reaching the crowded and busy parking lot. He dragged the cross’s heavy weight past O’Hungry’s soup kitchen, the Hawtree Trading Company, and Taco Bell, all doing business as usual. In front of Something Special from Scandinavia, Simon the Cyrenian, dressed like Lawrence of Arabia, helped Jesus carry the cross.

April 19, 1979 | Read full article

Only in America, the land of opportunity, could a coddled, Ivy-League-trained, rich girl from suburban New Jersey achieve success by turning herself into a uneducated lower-class Zulu.

Enuf Is Enuf

The result was that, under the combined influence of her Women’s Studies courses and the new literary barbarism, Paulette Williams decided to identify herself with poor, uneducated, victimized black women; she took to writing poems in a foul-mouthed, illiterate, totally undisciplined style; she started dressing like an African peasant-girl; she changed her name to Ntozake Shange and the next thing she knew, her poems had been made into a hit Broadway show.

Sept. 21, 1978 | Read full article

To say that backpackers stand before this view in state of awe and reverence would not define their attitude precisely enough. They look at the scene as if, in some small measure, they had participated in creating it.

Point of View

There is another class of people at Glacier Point, mixed among the automotive tourists. They are silent, unobtrusive, scarcely noticeable, but beside their quiet realty the others seem to flit about like transparent ghosts. These are the backpackers, who have hiked the trail from the valley floor (a climb of 3400 feet in four and a half miles), or have come from even further away. There is no point in romanticizing the Yosemite backpacker; one of the reasons they are silent is that they are exhausted form the climb.

Aug. 30, 1979 | Read full article

The publicity department of the Opera had as usual placed me exactly in the middle of one of those immensely broad rows uninterrupted by aisles, so that the project of rising and stumbling out of the theater seemed fraught with difficulty and embarrassment.

Exhibit A for “Peter Pan syndrome”

After a while, I noticed that things were starting to change. I still could not remember B.’s name, but his phone number came back to me. I called him. The moment I heard his voice, I remembered his first name – though not the last one. I searched for words to describe by condition and managed to dredge up a simple vocabulary and to use it in short sentences. As we talked, and with occasional promptings from him, I recovered more and more of my memory.

April 10, 1986 | Read full article

In the San Diego Unified School District there are thirteen music teachers at the elementary level, working with 126 elementary schools.

Why no one don’t know nuthin abut music around here

Since a large proportion of current high school students graduate unable to speak or write correct English, and with no effective knowledge of history, it may sound like nit-picking to complain that almost all of these students graduate as musical illiterates. But the complaint is a trivial one only if you believe that music is a trivial activity, and that being able to understand and enjoy it is a more or less superfluous achievement.

December 23, 1976 | Read full article

Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Nietzsche and other philosophers and theologians appear on stage and spout meaningless fragments from their works, all the while twitching and jerking like mechanical dolls.

Can Christianity survive Godspell?

The Jesus-clown, tied to the playground fence, singing in a weak Mickey Mouse voice, “O God! I’m bleeding!” The chorus intoning “Long live God!” Brethren and sistren, seek no more to discover who the Whore of Babylon is, that foul enemy of the Christian faith in the Book of Revelation! She is Godspell, and the seven-headed beast she rides upon is the money the authors of this exploitative fraud are stuffing their pockets with!

October 24, 1974 | Read full article

Sutherland in Lucia at San Diego. This was a production to confirm all the public prejudices against opera — a completely artificial kind of theater, without any human truth, infinitely far removed from real human concerns and real human feelings, and designed merely as a backdrop for empty vocal display by a large woman.

A Sutherland Disclaimer

The words themselves, the medium through which the dramatic situation emerges into the music, are so slurred and slighted that one wonders — now as throughout her whole career — whether Miss Sutherland has any idea of what they mean, or indeed whether she is really aware that they are words, rather than annoying interruptions of the vocal flow. If you did not know the plot, you would never garner the least idea of what is going on.

Dec. 19, 1974 | Read full article

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San Diego Symphony 2nd concert: Carlos Simon, Mozart, Tchaikovsky

Composers of orchestral music have to trust the audience
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A breakfast to remember at Golden Hill Cafe

“Sorry, but I never reveal my sauces.”
A performance of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, by Maestro Eros’s San Diego Symphony Chamber Orchestra, had to be prefaced by a plea from the conductor to listen to the music without prejudice.
A performance of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, by Maestro Eros’s San Diego Symphony Chamber Orchestra, had to be prefaced by a plea from the conductor to listen to the music without prejudice.

Neglected, rejected, and misunderstood

When — I don’t speak only of San Diego — do we ever get a chance to hear live performances of Ernst Toch, Vittorio Rieti, Vaclav Nelhybel, Peter Mennin, Roger Sessions, William Schuman, Roy Harris, Ben Weber, Quincy Porter, David Diamond, Walter Piston, Ross Lee Finney, Arnold Bax, E.J. Moeran, Douglas Lilburn, Michael Tippett, Frank Martin, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg, Daniel-Lesur, Luigi Dallapiccola, Hans Pfitzner, Klaus Egge, Alan Petterson, Heinrich Sutermeister, Ferenc Szabo, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, etc., etc.

June 30, 1977 | Read full article

Once Leonard Bernstein smiled at little Henry on an airplane. And there he goes, conducting the entire concert from row M of the balcony.


The Smell of the Crowd

The five-finger exerciser sits next to you in a frenzy of agitation, as though being confined to a theater seat were like being locked in a closet, tied up in a straightjacket, drowned in quicksand. He rolls his program into a tube, unrolls it, rolls it again. His nervousness increases, he begins to rub the rolled-up program across the palm of his hand, back and forth. At a concert, he will at first keep time with the music.

Aug. 4, 1977 | Read the full article

When you spend half your time hanging about the mailbox, waiting for the next issue of High Fidelity or the next list of EMI imports (for by now you know that the European pressings are always better) then you will know that you are not simply a record buyer.

Confessions of a discaholic

Those who feel passionately about La Boheme (and who does not?) will have to have the Angel recording with Callas and Di Stefano, and the London recording with Tebaldi and Bergonzi, and the Seraphim recording with De los Angeles, Bjoerling, Merrill, and Beecham, and the Victrola with Licia Albanese, Jan Peerce, and a very audible Toscanini, and the old Seraphim with Gigli, and the London with Pavarotti, and the Cetra with Tagliavini — and all this just as a start.

September 1, 1977 | Read full article

Take a Letter

I didn’t see any Russians in the audience, so what did it matter? Speaking personally, I liked the way those names sounded; SEMyon, and KONstantin, and BORis, and KiEV, and NiNOCHka, and MedveDENko. I especially liked Pyotr NikolaEVich and Irina NikolaEVna, and the name Masha HyiNISHna sounded just like music to me. Besides, even if the pronunciation did matter, how could the staff at the Old Globe possibly have found out how the names ought really to be pronounced?

January 26, 1978 | Read full article

For a Christian, this was more than theater.

Ritual on a Saturday Afternoon

Jesus concluded the Last Supper with Hamburguesa as a backdrop. He took up the cross between Seeley Stable and the Casa de Pedrorena bakery. He suffered the first fall of the Via Crucis just before reaching the crowded and busy parking lot. He dragged the cross’s heavy weight past O’Hungry’s soup kitchen, the Hawtree Trading Company, and Taco Bell, all doing business as usual. In front of Something Special from Scandinavia, Simon the Cyrenian, dressed like Lawrence of Arabia, helped Jesus carry the cross.

April 19, 1979 | Read full article

Only in America, the land of opportunity, could a coddled, Ivy-League-trained, rich girl from suburban New Jersey achieve success by turning herself into a uneducated lower-class Zulu.

Enuf Is Enuf

The result was that, under the combined influence of her Women’s Studies courses and the new literary barbarism, Paulette Williams decided to identify herself with poor, uneducated, victimized black women; she took to writing poems in a foul-mouthed, illiterate, totally undisciplined style; she started dressing like an African peasant-girl; she changed her name to Ntozake Shange and the next thing she knew, her poems had been made into a hit Broadway show.

Sept. 21, 1978 | Read full article

To say that backpackers stand before this view in state of awe and reverence would not define their attitude precisely enough. They look at the scene as if, in some small measure, they had participated in creating it.

Point of View

There is another class of people at Glacier Point, mixed among the automotive tourists. They are silent, unobtrusive, scarcely noticeable, but beside their quiet realty the others seem to flit about like transparent ghosts. These are the backpackers, who have hiked the trail from the valley floor (a climb of 3400 feet in four and a half miles), or have come from even further away. There is no point in romanticizing the Yosemite backpacker; one of the reasons they are silent is that they are exhausted form the climb.

Aug. 30, 1979 | Read full article

The publicity department of the Opera had as usual placed me exactly in the middle of one of those immensely broad rows uninterrupted by aisles, so that the project of rising and stumbling out of the theater seemed fraught with difficulty and embarrassment.

Exhibit A for “Peter Pan syndrome”

After a while, I noticed that things were starting to change. I still could not remember B.’s name, but his phone number came back to me. I called him. The moment I heard his voice, I remembered his first name – though not the last one. I searched for words to describe by condition and managed to dredge up a simple vocabulary and to use it in short sentences. As we talked, and with occasional promptings from him, I recovered more and more of my memory.

April 10, 1986 | Read full article

In the San Diego Unified School District there are thirteen music teachers at the elementary level, working with 126 elementary schools.

Why no one don’t know nuthin abut music around here

Since a large proportion of current high school students graduate unable to speak or write correct English, and with no effective knowledge of history, it may sound like nit-picking to complain that almost all of these students graduate as musical illiterates. But the complaint is a trivial one only if you believe that music is a trivial activity, and that being able to understand and enjoy it is a more or less superfluous achievement.

December 23, 1976 | Read full article

Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Nietzsche and other philosophers and theologians appear on stage and spout meaningless fragments from their works, all the while twitching and jerking like mechanical dolls.

Can Christianity survive Godspell?

The Jesus-clown, tied to the playground fence, singing in a weak Mickey Mouse voice, “O God! I’m bleeding!” The chorus intoning “Long live God!” Brethren and sistren, seek no more to discover who the Whore of Babylon is, that foul enemy of the Christian faith in the Book of Revelation! She is Godspell, and the seven-headed beast she rides upon is the money the authors of this exploitative fraud are stuffing their pockets with!

October 24, 1974 | Read full article

Sutherland in Lucia at San Diego. This was a production to confirm all the public prejudices against opera — a completely artificial kind of theater, without any human truth, infinitely far removed from real human concerns and real human feelings, and designed merely as a backdrop for empty vocal display by a large woman.

A Sutherland Disclaimer

The words themselves, the medium through which the dramatic situation emerges into the music, are so slurred and slighted that one wonders — now as throughout her whole career — whether Miss Sutherland has any idea of what they mean, or indeed whether she is really aware that they are words, rather than annoying interruptions of the vocal flow. If you did not know the plot, you would never garner the least idea of what is going on.

Dec. 19, 1974 | Read full article

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