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Stories by Garrett Harris

You can't toss off the Adagio for Strings

Even if you consider Jesus to be a fiction, there is no denying that the stakes are quite exalted.

The San Diego Symphony gave a concert on May 11, 12, and 13 with music director emeritus Jahja Ling conducting the music of Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, and Ludwig van Beethoven. The programming was puzzling. ...

One Amazing Night at the San Diego Opera

This concert meant something

San Diego Opera closed their 2017/18 season on May 5 with a concert billed as One Amazing Night. They weren’t lying. The concert starred Greer Grimsley and Lise Lindstrom accompanied by the San Diego Symphony ...

Onslow, lost in the onslaught

World War I shattered the promises of the Enlightenment

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 ...

I'll hit you with a stick and you rejoice

Maestro Ling returns carrying a big stick.

Maestro Jahja Ling returned to the podium of the San Diego Symphony on April 20, 21, and 22 with a concert which was about as cinematic as they come. The program was packaged around Ling ...

An amiable concert at San Diego Symphony

The Mozart was pretty much what all Mozart has been

The San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday, April 14, was good. Jeffrey Kahane was both piano soloist and conductor in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27. Kahane went on to conduct Samuel Barber’s Music for a ...

Schumann vs. Schubert

It's springtime — time for Dichterliebe

I was speaking with a friend who is planning a performance of Schubert’s Winterreise. I immediately roasted him by pointing out that it’s springtime. I went on to offer some unsolicited advice and recommended Schumann’s ...

Trump and Wagner are nowhere close to equals

But the similarities of their convictions are eerie

I’m reading a book. Yes, it’s about Wagner. No, I don’t read books about any other composers. Yes, I’m enjoying it. Of the books I’ve read on the topic of Wagner, this one is by ...

All quirks present and accounted for

Mahler’s music is overtly psychological and biographical, perhaps more than any other composer

Mahler’s Symphony No. 1: Titan might be dwarfed by his Symphony No, 2: Resurrection but amongst first symphonic efforts, Mahler’s first looms large. Is there a first symphony by any composer which is performed more ...

The joys of groan-inducing dad jokes

There is no doubt that Finest City Improv is a better experience than watching improv on your phone or a TV

I admit that it was with some trepidation that I went to Finest City Improv. The location was a small theater on Louisiana Street just behind the Lafayette Hotel and its notorious Red Fox Room. ...

Mother Mahler's Home for the Sick and Dying

Cacophanous coughs mar Mahler masterpiece

Over the course of any endeavor there are highs and lows; peaks which reveal unimaginable vistas, and dark crevices full of creatures which are less than benevolent. With the San Diego Symphony, the crevices are ...

Mahler medium dive

The agitations and triumphs are in the music for all to hear

I had said these articles would be a deep dive into an upcoming piece on the San Diego classical music calendar. On second thought these are more of a medium dive. A deep dive would ...

The stupidest thing I've heard all year

Altos want to sing tenor roles. Here we go.

Give the arts enough time and zero resistance and they will confuse madness with innovation. Let’s look at the macro and then zoom into the micro. From a macro point of view, Russian composers dominated ...

San Diego Symphony, like a comet

Symphony Hall became Mother Mahler's home for the sick and dying

Over the course of any endeavor there are highs and lows, peaks which reveal unimaginable vistas and dark crevices full of creatures which are less than benevolent. With the San Diego Symphony the crevices are ...

Schubert Cello Quintet deep dive

The extra cello creates a depth of tone which translates to depth of expression

As a part of the transcendent coverage of classical music here at the San Diego Reader we will be doing a deep dive on an upcoming piece of music every so often. The first piece ...

The Old Globe's Uncle Vanya should make you appreciate the internet

Vanya could have used the handle @oldmanregretful

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov runs through March 11 at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. It is a devastating story based on not having an iPhone. You think I jest? I am as serious ...

Turandot returns to San Diego Opera

This is a legitimate big-voice opera

San Diego Opera’s big one is almost here. Turandot is making a triumphal return to The San Diego Civic Theater. Warning: This is a legitimate big-voice production of Puccini’s final opera. Lise Lindstrom sang the ...

San Diego Symphony names new music director

Oh dear, sweet Jesus, let there be a Bruckner cycle in San Diego.

The San Diego Symphony's search for a new music director has been ongoing for the past two seasons and has now been resolved. There have been a legion of guest conductors on the podium, and ...

World premiere at San Diego Symphony

New music, but it's beautiful

The San Diego Symphony premiered Adam Schoenberg’s violin concerto Orchard in Fog on February 9 and 10. The courage it took Mr. Schoenberg to write it needs to be acknowledged. What was courageous about it? ...

No better musical experience of its kind in the world (!)

Opera, symphony, Mainly Mozart, L.J Music Society, Bach Collegium, ProArte Voices

The San Diego classical music scene encompasses every genre of the artform. Chamber, orchestral, opera, and choral music are well represented. We’ve selected two large organizations, two medium-sized, and two boutique groups. They are the ...

San Diego Symphony delivers, despite disappointing program

Zukerman plays Tchaikovsky, technically

The headline at the San Diego Symphony said, “Zukerman plays Tchaikovsky.” While that was true in fact it was untrue in essence at the concert on Saturday, February 3. Pinchas Zukerman did play Tchaikovsky but ...

Vietgone at San Diego Rep offers a fresh take on boy meets girl

A good story is a good story regardless of its fiction to nonfiction ratio

There will always be boy-meets-girl and girl-meets-boy stories. However, I think it's safe to say that the genre is experiencing some fatigue. What better way to shake it up then to put the boy and ...

The greatest music Verdi ever wrote

Eternal rest grant unto Giuseppe, O Lord

Is there a composer who is more adored than Giuseppe Verdi? There are composers who command more respect than Verdi, but no one receives more love. To honor the recent anniversary of Verdi’s passing let’s ...

Beheading for treason was fashionable at the time

The Last Wife at Cygnet

The Last Wife is playing at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town through February 11. Who is the last wife? She is Katherine Parr the only woman to survive being married to King Henry VIII. Parr ...

The Segerstrom Concert Hall siren calls to me

Magnificent acoustics at the Orange County auditorium

I had never been to Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, but now it calls to me: “Come this way, honored Odysseus, great glory of the Achaeans, and stay your ship, so that you can ...

Carmen as revenge fantasy

New staging is not defiant, it's childish

An Italian opera company is said to be producing a version of Carmen in which Carmen is not stabbed to death by Don José. In fact she lives at the end of this production. In ...

Three fifths from San Diego Symphony

A few other fifth symphonies you should know about

In the winter and spring of 2018 the San Diego Symphony performs three fifths. The three fifths at the symphony are Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 , Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5. ...

Sexual assault allegations against SD Symphony guest conductor

A leader does no harm to those he leads

Several orchestras, according to an Associate Press report, have severed ties with conductor Charles Dutoit following accusations of sexual assault. Dutoit has followed that up with severing ties from his side with The New York ...

Don Giovanni and the abuse of power

The horrific text is covered with some of Mozart’s most charming music

We’ve discussed Don Giovanni and the abuse of power in these pages in the past. At the time I thought we’d seen perhaps the worst of it with Donald Trump’s comments about where to “grab" ...

TCMF (traditional classical music fatigue) is real

Nobody understands fatigue like a Soviet

I’ve a confession to make. I’m experiencing some classical music fatigue. It’s an interesting situation because I don’t love the music any less but I’m growing tired of the well worn path. It’s a position ...

San Diego's top four classical concerts of 2017

The crowning accomplishment of Jahja Ling’s tenure at San Diego Symphony

There are a few performances of note from 2017 which we will now revisit in a mood of celebration as we approach the rebirth of the light. I have four concerts in mind which were ...

Christmas just isn't a classical music festival

“O magnum mysterium” and “Alma redemptoris mater” are magically beautiful motets

I’ve a Christmas playlist on Spotify which is full of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Karen Carpenter, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Kay Starr, and others. It’s not a very classical playlist. I’ve often found classical ...

Johannes Debus is not the man to lead San Diego Symphony

Whipped cream on a turd of a concert

The father of my friend rolled a beautiful 25-foot putt right into the heart of the hole — for a triple bogey. For those who don’t speak golf, a triple bogey is bad for a ...

San Diego Symphony, good but not sublime

Blame Chopin. And happiness.

David Danzmayr was yet another guest conductor at the San Diego Symphony for the concerts of the first weekend of December. If a super-energized conducting style is your cup of tea than Danzmayr is your ...

Mainly Mozart masterclass

Young local violinists learn from masters

Three skilled members of The Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra participated in a masterclass at Mesa College on Saturday November 18. This particular masterclass featured the godfather of American concertmasters, William Preucil. It was a concertmaster ...

Mozart's Requiem at the San Diego Symphony

I'm going to get persnickety, because no one else will

On Saturday, November 18th, The San Diego Symphony performed Mozart’s Requiem. They pushed the concert hard on social media and it appears to have paid off. I was only using eyeball metrics but the house ...

Fly by Night: almost a metaphysical musical.

The "I don't know bro" of all things

When I see a title which includes “metaphysical musical” I’m expecting souls connecting on the astral plane based on the residue of previous lives which then stains future iterations of the same souls. You might ...

Amadeus at Symphony Hall

I happened to see that the San Diego Symphony was offering a screening of the movie Amadeus on a Saturday night (November 4) for $5, so I went. How could I not? The movie was ...

Autumn music

Russian choral music is also a must have for November

With the onset of some autumn-ish weather my ears are turning toward music of the same ilk. To whom can we go to find a fall-flowering? For times such as these the Norse gods of ...

Side dishes at San Diego Symphony

Four fantastic pieces on the program, but no Thanksgiving turkey

This Thanksgiving I’m going to have four of the most delicious, elegant, colorful, and refined side dishes you can ever imagine. However, if one of those side dishes is sweet potatoes there will be marshmallows. ...

The next Mozart? Just what classical music needs?

Big shoes to fill for 12-year-old Alma Deutscher

Suddenly Alma Deutscher is all over my social media. Is anyone else experiencing this? It seems as though network television still exists and 60 Minutes did a piece on the 12-year-old British composer. That’s right, ...

Father Comes Home to Intrepid Theatre

Stick with authenticity

Imagine you were given a choice to fight for ISIS — technically we have that choice­ — and in return they offer you the ultimate reward. ISIS is offering you the one thing you have ...

Impressed but unmoved

Marsalis, Rimsky Korsakov, Bizet at San Diego Symphony

Sometimes researchers go into the lab with an experiment and don’t get the results they wanted. This can be said of scientific research, and it can be said of artistic endeavors. Wynton Marsalis and Nicola ...

Violin Concertos from around the world

Dvorak’s is everything that we love about the tuneful Czech

After all the hype I tried to generate for Nicola Benedetti playing Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto, I thought it would be good to revisit some of the traditional violin concerto repertoire. I will group them ...

Nicola Benedetti at San Diego Symphony

I call them the millennial handful

In the past few years the San Diego Symphony has welcomed quite a few of the rising generation of violin soloists. We’ve seen Augustin Hadelich, Sarah Chang, Ray Chen, and Karen Gomyo. This weekend Nicola ...

Dump the “they were all racists” pabulum

Smoke on the Mountain at Lamb's Players

Smoke on the Mountain is set in a Baptist Church in North Carolina circa 1938. Let’s get the low-hanging, low-brow, low-intellect, judgmental BS out of the way so that we can have a grown-up conversation ...

Pirates of Penzance skewers Victorian Culture

Good Gilbert and Sullivan singing, for a change, at San Diego Opera

What of The Pirates of Penzance at San Diego Opera? The production is good and includes some excellent singing. My YouTube search for Pirates clips to include with this article brought home to me just ...

Bat Boy lands in OB

The ambiguous morality of the herd

Imagine Dracula meets Beauty and the Beast meets Frankenstein meets Footloose, and then add some music which has something of a Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe (but isn’t near the quality) and you’ve got Bat ...

Pirates sail into San Diego Opera

It promises to be a treat... because Greer Grimsley

The last time Greer Grimsley was in a production at San Diego Opera I was accused, in so many words, of having an unhealthy man-crush on the steely voiced bass-baritone. I don’t deny it. Although ...

Despite Monty Python's best efforts, Billy Elliot exists

The comedy troupe torched the idea 30 years earlier

One would think that by the year 2000 the whole Northern England coal mining family with a son who “just wants to sing [or dance]” trope would have played itself out. Especially after repeatedly being ...

National football music

The heroic sound of NFL Films

The autumn wind is a pirate/ Blustering in from sea/ With a rollicking song, he sweeps along/ Swaggering boisterously His face is weather beaten/ He wears a hooded sash/ With a silver hat about his ...

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