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Stories by Garrett Harris

Long lines swarm San Diego Symphony

Were they there for Mahler or Rafael Payare?

There were lines, long lines. Lines which stretched the length of the lobby and then extended around the corner. They were beautiful because everyone was in line for the opening concert of the 2019-2020 Jacobs ...

Noura need not be compared to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

The tale is replete with familial conflict, and the way those conflicts play out

The Old Globe website describes Noura as, “A riveting West Coast premiere loosely inspired by Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.” I agree, it is loosely related to A Doll’s House. Very loosely.So loosely, in fact, that ...

The scandal of cell phones at classical music concerts

Anne-Sophie Mutter.and the Cincinnati Symphony

No one in the history of recorded classical music has benefited more from media than violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. At age 13 was selected by Herbert von Karajan. At age 15 she was recorded for the ...

Hershey Felder does Chopin the right way

Questions from the audience during breaks

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a Hershey Felder fan. My fandom is based on three of his productions, the most recent of which I saw on Saturday night, September 14 ...

Amadeus: The victor is Mozart’s music

Putting Salieri in charge of the narrative relieves us of any controversy regarding the depiction of Mozart

If a show is only as good as its villain, then Amadeus is a great show. The title might refer to Mozart, but the show opens and closes with Salieri, the villain. The play, by ...

Berlin Philharmonic turns away from new music

New director, Kirill Petrenko, getting flak

The new music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, Kirill Petrenko, is receiving some flak for his opening concerts with the orchestra. He is too conservative with his programming. In the words of Alex Ross, critic ...

Romeo and Juliet re-imagined with choreography

Because dance is a tribal language

The Romeo and Juliet I saw at The Old Globe recently tried to “re-imagine” the classic tale. Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story actually does it. The success of West Side Story lies in the fact ...

San Diego Opera's Aida – more music, less moving

Sometimes costumes and the set obscure the sound

The San Diego Opera opens their 2019-2020 Season with Verdi’s Aida. I will be in the chorus, for the fourth time. However, this is the first time I will be in a production which is ...

We don't need a dabbler at the Met

None of these conductors has opera in his blood

I recently watched a YouTube video from a channel entitled *This is Opera*. The video demonstrated just how much Yannick Nézet-Séguin understands the human voice. If you watch the masterclasses which Nézet-Séguin held at Juilliard, ...

nkoda – egalitarian sheet music

Reader writer tested Aida for singing in this fall's opera

While I generally embrace digital technology, I don’t consider myself to be an app guy. I don’t follow the top app charts in the App Store or play any games on my phone or iPad. ...

Romeo and Juliet: Who were the Capulets and Montagues during Shakespeare’s day?

Democrats and Republicans are two feuding groups

“Wherefore art thou Romeo?” I’m assuming that’s a line you’ve heard before. For the purposes of this article, I’d like to change it to “Who-fore art thou Romeo?” Who were the Capulets and the Montagues? ...

Conrad Prebys – a modern-day Razumovsky

What if the Miró Quartet flopped?

I’m sure you remember the old “interrupting cow” knock-knock joke. Interrupting cow wh—? MOOOO! That joke was on my mind during Miró Quartet’s all Beethoven concert on Saturday, August 11, at the La Jolla Music ...

Is Dogfight harmless after Tailhook scandal?

It is the symptom of a mindset which is the complete opposite of the Marine Corps motto

The musical Dogfight at Coronado Playhouse is set in the early 1960s at the start of the Vietnam War. In this show, we follow a cast of characters who participate in a competition to find ...

Miró Quartet lets its hair down

Candid talk before La Jolla concerts

According to their website, “The Miró [String] Quartet took its name and its inspiration from the Spanish artist Joan Miró, whose Surrealist works — with subject matter drawn from the realm of memory, dreams, and ...

Why San Diego Opera is not like the national theater of Chile

Part-time employees our salvation

Slipped Disc website is reporting massive employee cuts by the Teatre Municipal de Santiago. The company is the national theater of Chile and is located in the capital of Santiago. The theater was inaugurated in ...

The little-known Verdi, Wagner, Haydn music

When they composed out of genre

Sometimes a composer becomes so well known for a particular genre of music that other pieces go unrecognized. The following are three examples of composers who are famous for one thing but who composed other ...

The villain’s journey in The Tale of Despereaux

The big question isn’t how the hero will end up, but how will the villain end up?

PigPen Theatre Co., which previously produced The Old Man and the Old Moon at the Old Globe, has now adapted the award-winning children’s novel The Tale of Despereaux into a musical stage production extraordinaire. (The ...

San Diego, get ready for Beethoven

San Diego Symphony will perform Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9

Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770, in the Electorate of Cologne, in present-day Germany. At the time, Bonn was the seat of the Electorate since Cologne had become a Free Imperial City ...

Stormy end to Mainly Mozart

Waiting since Amadeus for this

The sun was setting in Beethoven’s Symphony No.6 out beyond the reaches of the Vienna Woods, which extend to the north and southwest of the “city of music”. The final glow of the music disappeared ...

Mainly Mozart released Beethoven from his terrestrial confines

Vision of the Enlightenment

There are stellar performances and then there are revelations. The San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival can be counted on to provide at least one revelation per festival. So far in 2019, there have been at ...

The urban legend of Sweeney Todd

Under what circumstances would I be willing to kill people and then serve up human flesh in pies?

Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an American masterpiece of the musical theater. The show debuted in 1979 and was based on a 1973 play by Christopher Bond.However, the story ...

June 8's Mainly Mozart: Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn

Jeremy Denk was quick but did not hurry

On Saturday, June 8, The Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra exploded into the Balboa Theatre with a performance of Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, thereby opening their five-concert series with music director Michael Francis. Full disclosure: I ...

What about the LA PHIL's audience for new music?

Brahms is no longer for the middle class

There was a new piece of music at the closing concert of the Jacobs Masterworks Series at the San Diego Symphony. I didn’t review it because, in my opinion, it wasn’t worth reviewing. I spent ...

JC Lee's What You Are ponders the “big damn hurry.”

Being a good person has nothing to do with technology.

Things just aren’t the way they used to be. At least they’re not for Don, the aging protagonist in this Old Globe-commissioned world-premiere play by JC Lee. Don can’t quite keep up with technology, or ...

San Diego Symphony's Rachmaninoff: the heavens opened

Final movement of Beethoven's Eighth needs speed

The San Diego Symphony concluded its Jacobs Masterworks Series with a weekend of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. I attended the Saturday, May 25 concert. This was the third time I’d heard the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. ...

Garrett Harris goes crazy for Mainly Mozart

Platonic plane of pure potential

As an employee of the San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival, I’m not allowed to be as exuberant about the festival in these pages as I once was. It might appear as if I’m a propagandist ...

Dionysus and Thalia: the gods of comedy

Daphne’s prayer is heard and answered by the gods

When Princeton professor of classics Daphne beseeches the Grecian deities in a moment of despair, her prayer is heard and answered by the gods — the gods of comedy, that is. Who are the gods ...

Where four-handed piano music led to

Very few U.S. orchestras in U.S. until 1966

On April 27 and 28 the San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival presented a concert of, Two Pianos, Eight Hands. The format harkened back to the golden of age of the piano. Before the invention of ...

Berlioz almost upstaged Saint-Saens

San Diego's Symphony Hall shaken to its foundations

I’ve been waiting for Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony at The San Diego Symphony ever since it was announced last spring. The day came, Friday, May 3, and Saint-Saëns was darn near upstaged by a plucky ...

Charles Schulz and Charlie Brown: an everyman’s Dostoyevski

The fact is memes are a thing, and comic strips aren’t.

The format of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is to string together some of the classic cartoon frames from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip and then add original music which isn’t, by any stretch ...

Sweat: There are no successful victims

“They took our jobs!”

Sweat is a great example of a play written for people who go to the theater but about people who would never go to the theater. In other words, this is a “blue-state” playwright writing ...

Notre Dame – more modern than you think

It's not just the polyphony

The fire which consumed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has been out for a few weeks now. What many of us may not have realized at the time is the Notre Dame ...

SD Symphony musicians slower than conductor Jahja Ling

Jan Lisiecki piano in Chopin’s concerto could have stood alone

The San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, April 12 felt slow and unsettled. I was surprised. In years gone by, the combination of conductor Jahja Ling, the San Diego Symphony, and Johannes Brahms, has been ...

Jerrie Cobb: the “her” in They Promised Her the Moon

Her 30 years of missionary work are the real story

Jerrie Cobb was an exceptional human being. So exceptional that her stress test scores exceeded those of the astronauts in the Mercury 7 Project. She is the “her” in They Promised Her the Moon. The ...

Classical music not for dummies

Neither is physics

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – George Carlin. I came across this quote recently and came to an uncomfortable realization. I only say ...

Guilty pleasures: 1812 Overture, Messiah, Ave Maria

My go-to Christmas selection is now Vaughan Williams’ Hodie

What’s your classical music “guilty pleasure”? This is a question all classical music devotees must answer at some point. Let’s define what a “guilty pleasure” is. A guilty pleasure has little artistic merit but has ...

San Diego Symphony: rambunctious list for next season

Lotsa Beethoven, but why not Dvorak 7 or 9?

The San Diego Symphony has announced its 2019-2020 season and it is a rambunctious list of symphonic music. For the past few seasons, I’ve felt as though the San Diego Symphony has been getting away ...

Robert Spanos personality, Vaughn Williams' glory show up at San Diego Symphony

Beethoven not great before 3rd Piano Concerto, 3rd Symphony

We are having a proper winter in San Diego and on Saturday, March 9, we had a proper symphony performed by the San Diego Symphony at the Jacobs Music Center. Before we received the proper ...

James Agee and Joélle Harvey made me like Samuel Barber

San Diego Symphony's A Village Romeo and Julietand Knoxville Summer of 1915

Soprano Joélle Harvey was my favorite part of the San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, March 1, at Symphony Hall. Over the years I’ve been critical and disappointed with the vocal experience at the symphony ...

Listen to The Witch

A person who is dangerous and aggressive but chooses to temper her aggression is a moral person

I’d never seen Into The Woods live, so I took a chance and went up to Torrey Pines to see Steven Sondheim’s fractured fairytale. The production was impressive but more importantly, the emotional content of ...

10 Best lists for classical music

The Marriage of Figaro, Carmen, Otello, Trout Quintet – everyone would agree

In speaking with a friend the other day, the topic of “10 pieces of classical music everyone should hear before they die” came up. We came up with three pieces before the parameters of the ...

Diana: Fairy tale to soap opera to tragedy

She was plucked out of obscurity and forced to choose a role she didn’t necessarily want

Diana, a new musical at the La Jolla Playhouse, is running through Sunday, April 7. Given La Jolla Playhouse’s production of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical we might expect Diana to be The Diana Ross ...

San Diego Reader 2019 Arts issue

Dance, classical music, galleries, street art, movies, theater

Birds sing, elephants dance, and monkeys paint, but only humans turn those activities into art. And only humans evince a bottomless hunger for it: hence the endless parade of pictures on Instagram, stories on Netflix, ...

A stream of consciousness akin to the art of Faulkner

Once we speak the truth and align with reality, things begin to get better.

It is a play based on a book based on an online advice column which was called “Dear Sugar”. I had previously read some of the Dear Sugar material, and found it to be spotty ...

The peerless Augustin Hadelich and the bourgie Brahms

I reveled in the easy listening of the Hungarian Dances

I was pleasantly surprised by the San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, February 15. Why so? Because it was one of those concerts with four pieces of music none of which could be considered the ...

The future of classical music came to San Diego

I asked them to use one word to describe their relationship with music

I recently sat down with the future of classical music and had a chat. Violinist Stefan Jackiw, Clarinetist Yoonah Kim, and pianist Henry Kramer were in San Diego as a part of the Mainly Mozart ...

San Diego Opera's Rigoletto on Tuesday defined the genre

It's not the lack of mics or suburban dads

I came up with a new theory during the San Diego Opera production of Verdi’s masterpiece, Rigoletto, on Tuesday, February 5. The theory? “Pure Opera.” A few weeks ago I became involved in a shockingly ...

Black Panther’s Danai Gurira highlights the American immigrant pastoral in Familiar

The story isn’t about Zimbabwe; it is about America

To assimilate or not to assimilate, that is the issue in Familiar, which plays at The Old Globe through March 3, 2019. This mixed cocktail of comedic cultural exchanges was written by Danai Gurira, who ...

San Diego Symphony: Beethoven Haydn, Sibelius, Mahler, Aucoin told future

But didn't the prelude to Tristan und Isolde?

I had mixed feelings about Matthew Aucoin’s concert at the San Diego Symphony on Friday, January 25. The concert consisted of several short pieces and excerpts from larger pieces. I like that format. It is ...

Beauty of the concert with maestro Francis was self-evident

The truth was more subtle

For the second week in a row the San Diego Symphony has won a battle in the eternal tug of war between higher and lower consciousness. As I mentioned at an earlier date, we humans ...