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Stories by Garrett Harris

One-sided conversation at San Diego Symphony

Schumann’s themes tend to stick in the ear

Every concert is a conversation between the performers and the audience regarding a particular composer. This conversation isn’t quite fair, because the audience always has the last word. The audience’s response is the final verdict ...

I see your agenda

Concepts versus emotions in the arts and advertising

I recalled that graphic art and commercial art or logo design attempts to create a visual representation of an idea or a concept. This is why commercial art or corporate sculptures most often feel as ...

Time to take out the Eurotrash

A German part-time orchestra is attempting to improve US/Mexico border relations.

There is a practice in classical music which I find to be somewhat disingenuous. That practice is overtly politicized concertizing. As I've written in the past, almost every great opera has a political edge but ...

Ok, Gustav, I feel you

Some great singing and a map of consciousness from the San Diego Symphony

Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 has always been a riddle to my ears. The maniacal quality of the woodwinds in the first movement has barred my way to this music in the past. Imagine our old ...

Thug life — Mahler's 3rd @SanDiegoSymph

I want classical music to be accessible, but I also want people to suck less

Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3 is going down at the San Diego Symphony starting Friday, May 5th, 8:00 p.m, plus performances Saturday night (8:00) and Sunday afternoon (2:00). This is a biggie. How does one ...

PONY rides a new vision for live classical music

Movies, lights, but where is the social media presence?

Well, well, well. It looks as though an orchestra is making a serious effort to fling itself into the not so new century. The Philharmonia Orchestra of New York — which calls itself PONY — ...

Verdi is a deceptive bastard

SDO's La Traviata both solid and uneven

The value of a solid production is somewhat undervalued by the experienced opera aficionado. If you’re around opera long enough then you will have a handful of peak experiences by which you judge every other ...

La Traviata's cheap trick

Wait, I'm better. No, I'm not. The end.

Since La Traviata opened at San Diego Opera on Saturday, April 22, I’m going to use it as an excuse to float a theory about the final lines of the opera. Just before Violetta dies ...

Young singers still love opera

Audiences decline, but students keep studying voice

The challenges facing young singers are becoming ridiculous. The art form is in transition, but thousands of students continue to study the art of operatic singing. Why? Why does opera continue to resonate with a ...

Point Loma Opera Theatre's radio operetta

Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief is cheeky, clever, and sometimes funny

Having gone on an unscheduled rant about opera and higher education let us return to the performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief by Point Loma Opera Theatre. Director, Jordan Miller, ...

A room with a view of ignorance

How many students graduate with no idea what opera is?

The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti was originally written for radio broadcast and has now become a staple of opera workshops at colleges and universities across the country. Point Loma Nazarene ...

Elijah could have ended the drought

Mendelssohn's Elijah at First United Methodist Mission Valley

Where was Elijah when we needed him? I would say dead, but Elijah never died. He was taken up to heaven in a “fiery chariot” — ancient aliens. Why did we need Elijah? We needed ...

San Diego Symphony season revealed

The 2017–2018 season at San Diego Symphony

The 2017–2018 Jacobs Masterworks series has been announced by the San Diego Symphony. What wasn’t announced was a new music director. Neither was there any indication of a time table for finding a new director. ...

The Lord passed by the San Diego Symphony

I'll be a witness to the holy sounds of the orchestra playing Bruckner

The crowning achievement of maestro Jahja Ling’s tenure as music director of the San Diego Symphony came on Saturday night with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8. That is not to say there haven’t been spectacular concerts ...

A deep performance at the La Jolla Symphony

Verdi Requiem has the power to move us

As the text “libera me” hung in the air no one applauded. The tone evaporated and still no one applauded. I was sitting on my hands because I was caught up in the sacred feminine ...

La Jolla Symphony performs Verdi's masterpiece

There is nothing more important for you to do this weekend.

The La Jolla Symphony is doing Verdi’s Requiem this weekend. If you happen to be reading this and have never been to a live performance of the Requiem then I would say there is nothing ...

Is nonprofit the best way to do classical music?

You can't follow the money if the money isn't there...

Is nonprofit status a good thing for classical music? It’s the standard model in the United States, but does that mean it’s the best model? I’ve been watching some content from an entrepreneur named Gary ...

A childlike concert at San Diego Symphony

How do you make Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 fresh and new?

When it comes to concerts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the one turned out by the San Diego Symphony on March 4 was special. Never in my life could I have imagined anyone conducting like ...

Tenor Nicolai Gedda dead at 91

If I ever had a new aria to learn I would listen to Gedda first in order to make sure I was “doing it right.”

Nicolai Gedda’s family has announced that the legendary tenor died on January 8, 2017. He was 91 years old. Gedda was a master of diction. If I ever had a new aria to learn I ...

Falstaff at San Diego Opera

Verdi's final opera is a comedy

Verdi’s only successful comedy, Falstaff, opens at San Diego Opera on Saturday, February 18, 7 p.m. There will be four performances running through February 26. Sir John Falstaff appears in three Shakespeare plays: Henry IV ...

Do not bend the knee to the NFL

Why change a timeless concert for a temporary Super Bowl?

I must take responsibility for not double checking the time of Sunday’s concert at the San Diego Symphony. I along with about a dozen or so others assumed that the concert started at 2 p.m. ...

Classical music hidden in the city

Pop Quiz: Locate San Diego's classical music halls

To find classical music in this town you’ve got to want to find it. Without consulting Google, can you say where Symphony Hall is? The only people who can answer this are people who already ...

Tchaikovsky's 4th at San Diego Symphony

A stunning comeback

Super Bowl Sunday was one of the greatest comeback performances in history. After a shaky start the team came together and finished like the champions they are. I speak not of the selfish and immature ...

Stop humming and learn math

Music is a map of consciousness but that's not very productive

“Music stays the same across time but also transforms across time and it is full of layered patterns and the patterns interact harmoniously with one another. I was fascinated with music because it gives people ...

Classical music doesn’t care if you think it is long and boring

Immature and Selfish, the bill has come due

Immature and selfish. Are there any two more undesirable attributes? You might say cruel and unfeeling but cruel and unfeeling are just different iterations of immature and selfish. As positive as I feel I’ve tried ...

Peak performance on the horizon at San Diego Symphony

What the hell are we all doing?

Have you ever taken a moment to ask yourself, “What the hell are we all doing?” It’s a legitimate question. What are we all doing and who decided gold is valuable? Every morning when we ...

Itzhak Perlman sold out Symphony Hall

The venerable master of the violin plays for a packed house

Symphony CEO Martha Gilmore made some lovely statements before Saturday night’s symphony concert. She also made a sly remark about the house being sold out for the music of Erich Korngold. Of course, the house ...

Ten extinct conductors you should know

A dusting off of some masters who are now gone

There are certain names one should know when it comes to conductors. Not just names but their contributions. Here are 10 dead conductors whom everyone should know of. I have limited to conductors of whom ...

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 ...

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

Tchaikovsky at San Diego Repertory Theatre

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. ...

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