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Stories by Garrett Harris

I wasn’t expecting low energy with Rafael Payare stirring the stick, but good Lord...

Wish I hadn't missed the Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky

Rafael Payare made his debut as the San Diego Symphony music director on Thursday, January 10. I went on Friday, January 11, and experienced a completely different concert. Part of me wishes I had gone ...

Don't skip Rafael Payare, Michael Francis, or of course Matthew Aucoin

Matt's Playlist: Sibelius, Beethoven, Rameau, plus ultra-moderns

The new year is upon us and the San Diego Symphony is beginning its annual midseason festival. This year’s theme is “Hearing the Future”. Curating the festival is American composer Matthew Aucoin. Born in 1990 ...

Rigoletto would never have made it if written in 2018

Austrian censors had no problem with rape

In just a few weeks Verdi’s Rigoletto will be opening at The San Diego Opera. Let’s talk about how it fits in with the current milieu of hypersensitivity. The fact of the matter is that ...

You suck, Scrooge

What do we make of a transformative story such as A Christmas Carol?

A Christmas Carol at Cygnet is unique in that the book and lyrics were adapted by Cygnet co-founder Sean Murray, with music by frequent Cygnet collaborator Billy Thompson. This year marks the fifth the show ...

2018 greatness

Am I still alive?

Here’s a list of the greatest classical music moments in San Diego for 2018. The parameters of this list are my subjective, biased, arbitrary opinions. Let’s start at the end of the 2017/18 Jacobs Masterworks ...

Garrett Harris outs self as Christian

What is San Diego Opera telling us?

All is Calm is beginning to become a holiday tradition in San Diego. This is the third year in a row the show about the 1914 Christmas Eve Truce has been produced in San Diego. ...

Christmas haters

The sun appears stuck from Dec. 22-24

"I hate Christmas music” is a phrase I’ve heard often over the years. What’s to hate? Three-four time? Angels? Babies? The rebirth of the sun? I’m going to poke the dragon of PC-culture and suggest ...

I teared up at Kelli O'Hara

Matthew Morrison's glamorous masculinity

I had heard the name Kelli O’Hara but I had never heard the Tony Award-Winner sing until Tuesday, November 27, at Symphony Hall. About 30 seconds in, my eyes were tearing up. Her first song ...

New meaning to “flying reindeer”

Miracle makes a strong case for the importance of the myth of Santa

What interests me most about Miracle on 34th Street is the way it juxtaposes belief in Santa Claus against common sense and practical thinking while expounding upon the Santa Claus archetype. Over the past six ...

Steven Sloan apes Leonard Bernstein

He had already trampled Copland’s Appalachian Spring

“Really? Jesus arms?” I loud-whispered to my concertmate. I was frustrated with conductor Steven Sloan. When he raised his arms as if giving a Papal benediction at the conclusion of The Unanswered Question, by Charles ...

Not since Fatal Attraction

Queen's Freddie Mercury an opera nut?

I recently went to see Bohemian Rhapsody the movie about the band Queen. I knew that lead singer Freddie Mercury was an opera fan but I was impressed with the way opera was incorporated into ...

San Diego Symphony on immigration

Oh hell no.

At this moment, Conrad Tao might be the most athletic pianist on the planet. His performance with the San Diego Symphony on Friday, November 1, felt as if it almost took the orchestra by surprise. ...

Concert fatigue?

Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra last week and Tchaikovsky coming up on November 2 and 4.

The Taiwan Philharmonic played a fine, fine, concert on Wednesday, October 31, at Symphony Hall. The only problem is that it was Wednesday, October 31 and the audience attendance did not reflect the excellence of ...

Deep in the shadow with Gergiev

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 made me feel guilty to be well-fed, warm, and safe

Thursday morning, October 25, was grey. It was the most appropriate morning the San Diego climate could muster after what happened the night of Wednesday, October 24, at Symphony Hall. That evening defies the written ...

Wow!

After bumpy start, symphony sparkled with Mason Bates, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart.

The San Diego Symphony came into form at their concert on Friday, October 12. Joyce Yang was back at the keyboard not just on the 12th but also earlier in the week at The Scripps ...

Why Figaro needs tradition

The answer is obvious

As The Marriage of Figaro comes up soon at San Diego Opera, I thought sharing some of the rules of the Figaro game might be warranted. It’s difficult to enjoy anything when one isn’t aware ...

Chaos, order, Huey Lewis

The Heart of Rock & Roll is a new musical at The Old Globe. It runs through October 21. The title is borrowed from the famous Huey Lewis and the News song, but this is ...

I'll take Germans for the win

A poll of conductors on their all-time faves

We have unanimous confirmation of German superiority via WQXR. WQXR is a New York public radio entity which has been a standard bearer for the arts over the past several decades. In a poll of ...

Classical music as weapon

How 7-11 chases away transients.

From time to time there is story about classical music being used as a means of repelling undesirable elements at a business establishment. The most recent stories are about a 7-11 in Modesto and another ...

October is ripe

San Diego concert harvest rich and full

It’s the middle of September and all is quiet, but October is on the way. The San Diego Opera is moving one of their mainstage productions to October, and the autumn harvest of concerts is ...

Why do anything else when I can listen to Bruckner

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 and Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 only come close

It’s time to recognize the birthday of my favorite composer. I never expected to play the My Favorite Composer game. But when I saw that September 4 was the birthday of Anton Bruckner, I realized ...

Leningrad in October

We need to remember the devastation of totalitarianism.

Of all the special concerts over all the years, perhaps this one is the most special. Great orchestras such as The Philharmonia or The Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, among others, visit San Diego on a ...

Why vocal recitals are a clear loser

Money? Repertoire? Singers?

One of the least appreciated elements of classical music is the vocal recital. It is a double rite of passage for vocal majors in that they are required to produce both a junior and senior ...

Pleasure Island

Once you go full jackass, it's too late.

Pinocchio just might be the most underrated movie of all time. Watching it as a child is one thing but having it dissected by a psychology professor is something else. I’ve been watching the Maps ...

The hitch in changing the rules

Started in 19th Century music, accelerated after WWII with opera

One of the earliest and most important elements of human development, according to Jean Piaget, is learning how to play fair within the agreed-upon rules of a game. In other words, we learn how to ...

The doctor is in

Extroverted or introverted, it doesn't matter. Classical music and opera works for you.

There are two ways in which we can interact with classical music and opera. One is extroverted and one is introverted. We could call these the transpersonal and the personalistic. One more? The external and ...

Hello Neumann

The ascent toward consciousness is unnatural

I did a very strange thing this week. I went to the library and checked out a book. First let me say that the not-so-new Central Library Branch is a distinct failure, except for the ...

Why Brahms burned his letters

Brahms would never marry or ever have sexual relations with any woman he loved

I recently read Simon Callow’s excellent biography of Richard Wagner. Now, to be fair, I’m reading a biography of Johannes Brahms by Jan Swafford. As in music, in biography these two are opposed. We have ...

The Intellectual Dark Web

Long form on the rise

Could it be that the tide is beginning to swing back to classical music? With the demise of network television and radio a new space is beginning to open up which could shift musical taste ...

Mainly Mozart marathon

The performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 pushed the limits

The Mainly Mozart Festival has completed it’s Genius Weekend which ran from June 7-June 10 at multiple locations throughout San Diego County and Tijuana. It was perhaps the most rigorous weekend of music and presentations ...

What happens behind closed doors?

I'll take portamenti for the win.

The Mainly Mozart Festival sprinted out of the gate with four concerts on June 1, 2, and 3. Three of the opening concerts were Spotlight Chamber Music events in Rancho Santa Fe Garden, La Jolla, ...

San Diego Symphony finale

Brahms, de Waart, and the symphony rode off into a brilliant sunset

The San Diego Symphony’s 2017-18 Jacobs Masterworks Series came to a satisfying conclusion with concerts on May 25, 26, and 27. The concerts were conducted by maestro Edo de Waart who, you might recall, was ...

Regret is useless, and yet...

I make a big deal out of the Mainly Mozart festival because it actually is a big deal

Every year I make a big deal of the upcoming Mainly Mozart Festival, and I do this because it actually is a big deal. I had been writing about classical music for about five years ...

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 ...

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