Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gil Shaham at LPR

Gil Shaham, violin and The Knights
with Adele Anthony and music of Pablo Sarasate
Le Poisson Rouge
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carmen Fantasy
Song of the Nightingale
Concert Fantasy on Gounod's "Faust"
Introduction and Tarantella

The show opened with a video featuring an extremely silly Gil Shaham being chased through the streets of New York by a man in a ridiculous bull costume. The show itself carried on this mood of fun, consisting of Mr. Shaham & his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, alterating in Sarasate show pieces, then concluding with the duet Navarra. Mr. Shaham's playing of this repertoire is both virtuosic & big-hearted. He treats it as real music, not just show pieces. I especially enjoyed the Faust fantasy. In fact I enjoyed it more than a recent hearing of the actual opera.

Mr. Shaham & Ms. Anthony were backed by an excellent chamber orchestra called The Knights, conducted by Eric Jacobsen. I was delighted by this full complement of strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion & harp. I liked the joyful playing of their concertmaster as well as his great facial hair. The facile playing of their trumpet stood out as a great bonus. For some reason the show was miked. Though it was done with discretion, I doubt that this was necessary.

I have to say that I even had fun showing up at Le Poisson Rouge early & being in a line outside a night club, as if I we were waiting to see a favorite rock band. For the full effect, we sat at a table right next to the stage & got drinks & food. Le Poisson Rouge is an ideal fusion of alcohol, appetizers & classical music. A definite pleasure.

Jennifer Koh Plays Solo Bach

Lunchtime Concerts
Tuesday, September 29, 12:30pm
Philosophy Hall at Columbia University

Jennifer Koh

J.S.Bach for Solo Violin
Sonata No. 1 for solo violin in g minor, BWV 1001

This is the 2nd in a mini-series of Bach Solo Violin programs Jennifer Koh is giving on the Columbia University campus. She plays one work on each of three successive days. The concerts are held in a student lounge of only moderate size, so by noon it was standing room only. Those of us who showed up early enough to get in experienced Ms. Koh quite close up. After making a few opening remarks about the formal structure of the Sonata, she launched into an intensely focused & technically clean performance. She is able to make every note clear, & one felt that she wanted to make every note count as well, even in the complex Fuga movement & the rapid Presto. She plays on a wonderfully mellow-sounding Strad with a very even timbre on all strings. The audience was appreciative & attentive. A woman seated in front of me even brought the sheet music with her & followed along.

I hadn't expected to have such a nice performance to attend on my 1st afternoon in New York, so a big thanks to my New York contact who was in the know & even saved me a seat.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In-Flight Entertainment

Grand central terminalSome one at Virgin America has enlightened taste in classical music. Besides Bach, Mozart & Beethoven, the classical music selections include Reich, Carter & Stockhausen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chamber Music Day

Chamber Music Day
Live + Free
September 26, 2009 12:30 - 8pm
Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento Street

I dropped in for about 2 hours of this free chamber music marathon. By necessity, the selections are shorter pieces or single movements, but it's a nice way for local ensembles to get additional exposure. The event was well-attended. Musicians & well-behaved audience members moved in & out efficiently between sets. The overall impression was of musical pleasantness.

I got to hear Sarah Cahill pound out forearm clusters in the rhythmically tricky Exultation by Henry Cowell. She also accompanied violinist Kate Sternberg in an evocative piece by Somei Satoh called Birds Warped Time II, which begins with a slow, ear-catching slide on the violin. The Nice Guy Trio played a mellow sort of jazz which was good-natured but seemed to have only one mood. The Picasso Quartet played single movements from quartets by Mendelssohn, David Garner & Ravel with much spirit. The Del Sol String Quartet performed pretty excerpts from their program of contemporary Latina composers. A trio from the Left Coast Ensemble gave a well-prepared performance of the tiny but explosive Bagatelles Op. 14d by György Kurtág. It was certainly the most startling music I heard that afternoon.

On my arrival, I unexpectedly ran into a musical friend who was perhaps checking out the competition. Later in the evening he made the thought-provoking suggestion that Stendhal, with his self-centered reporting style, was a blogger.

Expo for Independent Arts

James c ferrellIt was a gorgeous day to check out the Expo for Independent Arts, scattered throughout the Golden Gate Park concourse between the 2 museums. It's hard to detect a common thread between the participants, which include visual artists, performing arts groups, publishers, collectives, on-line journalists & progressive political organizations. Perhaps the main thing they had in common was an eagerness to chat.

When I mentioned my up-coming cat-sitting gig, a very amusing young woman from Mission: Comic and Art came up with a brilliant horror scenario involving zombie cats. It was hard to resist the marriage equality pitch from the earnest young fellow at the California Courage table. I had an interesting conversation about the future of journalism with people at The Public Press & News You Might Have Missed.

I was mesmerized by the vivid tintypes portraits offered by RayKo Photo Center. I'm grateful to the photographer for patiently explaining to me how this 19th century photographic process works. It has been revived in modern times, perhaps as a reaction to the non-uniqueness of the digital photograph. My favorite art works, though, were the uncannily proportioned model cars made from painted cardboard by James C. Ferrell.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Book Sale

Book saleIn yet another expression of bookmania, The Friends of the Library is currently holding their Big Book Sale event at Fort Mason. There were quite a few bargain hunters when I dropped by at midday today, most of them using shopping baskets or even pushing shopping carts to load up on books. You really have to be willing to invest a lot of time in browsing, though, as books are simply lumped into broad categories & not organized any more than this. Most books seemed to be 2 or 3 dollars, & no books are more than 5 dollars. On Sunday all the books go for a dollar.

Up coming: Chamber Music Day

Chamber Music Day
Live + Free
September 26, 2009 12:30 - 8pm
Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento Street

Almost all day tomorrow September 26, 2009 there is a free chamber music marathon at Old First Church on Sacramento. This put on by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.

Arion Press Tour

Arion Press
M & H Type
Grabhorn Institue

The book arts publisher Arion Press is notable for having printing presses, a typefoundry & bindery all under one roof in the Presidio. Even though there were only 3 of us this Thursday afternoon, we were given a patient & thorough tour of the facility. There was some excitement, as the artist Kiki Smith was working in their offices, & we got a glimpse of her as well as mock-ups of the piece she is working on, a poem illustrated with photocopies of her own hair.

Arion Press: Unfolded PagesDownstairs we saw the printing presses & a massive stack of unfolded pages for an edition of Don Quixote.

Arion Press: Typeface cabinetsThey house an impressive collection of historic typefaces, going back to the Colonial Period, including the typeface used to print the Thompson Bible, one of the first American Bibles. Long walls are lined with these cabinets.

Monotype KeyboardA friendly fellow in overalls showed us the typecasting machines in the M & H Type typefoundry. The Monotype system has some vague parallels to computing. The Monotype keyboard punches holes in a paper tape. This paper tape is then fed into a caster, which interprets the holes to make the metal type. Software processes are gradually replacing the keyboard, so that a computer can be used to directly control the caster.

Arion Press: Book Sewing MachineIn the bindery, an apprentice binder showed us how an edition of Mrs. Bridges is currently being bound. Amazingly, almost all of this is still done by hand, even folding the pages & sewing the bindings. They have this book sewing machine that does the job in a fraction of the time, but apparently hand sewing is just stronger & better.

One must be awed by the amount of raw human labor & skill required for these productions. Books arts have been rising in popularity in recent years, perhaps as a reaction to the increasing digitization of our world. Everyone here seems quite confident of the continued existence of the book as an object.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SFO: The Abduction from the Seraglio

San Francisco Opera
The Abduction from the Seraglio

Wed Sep 23 2009 7:30 pm

Conductor: Cornelius Meister
Director: Chas Rader-Shieber

Belmonte: Matthew Polenzani
Osmin: Peter Rose
Pedrillo: Andrew Bidlack
Pasha Selim: Charles Shaw Robinson
Constanze: Mary Dunleavy
Blonde: Anna Christy

If I had read my program more carefully, I would not have been so surprised when Belmonte started speaking English after singing the opening aria in German. The fellow next to me was equally startled, & muttered "Oh no" at the same moment. Though I appreciate how much more audience-friendly it is to do the copious dialog in English, I never got used to the switching back forth.

The setting, an 18th century theater, complete with box seats & chandeliers, is very pretty, as are the matching 18th century costumes. However, the director did not exploit the opportunity to present a play-within-a-play. While there are some charming comic touches, such as a toy boat that appears in the distance, I often felt that many chances for silliness were passed up. The escape attempt in Act III seems perfunctory, & I never believed in the Europeans' predicament.

Conductor Cornelius Meister is impressively young, & his biography already includes a Ring in Riga. I found his conducting to be a bit square, though, which can be deadly for Mozart. Matthew Polenzani as Belmonte is a very idiomatic Mozart singer, with great breath control & an even sound. Andrew Bidlack as Pedrillo was asked to really ham it up, & it was odd to hear him use expressions like "What's up?" while Pasha Selim used vocabulary containing "wouldst" & "thou". Mary Dunleavy has a somewhat weighty soprano, & I liked her in her 1st Act II aria "Welcher Kummer herrscht in meiner Seele." Anna Christy was appropriately bright & chipper as Blonde. Peter Rose was able to hit Osmin's impossibly low notes, though with somewhat reduced volume. The Osmin & Blonde duet at the beginning of Act II was a comic highlight of the evening.

I was happy to get a chance to check out this show in a prime Stehplatz location, thanks to some habitués of the standing room scene. However, I must re-iterate that I am not married to anyone who was in standing room last night, despite the unseemly displays of camaraderie & merriment occurring just before curtain time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SF Opera at the Ballpark

Il Trovatore at the ball park
San Francisco Opera
Il Trovatore
Live Simulcast
AT&T Park
Saturday, September 19 at 8 pm

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti

Manrico: Marco Berti
Leonora: Sondra Radvanovsky
Azucena: Stephanie Blythe
Count di Luna: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Ferrando: Burak Bilgili
Inez: Renée Tatum
Ruiz: Andrew Bidlack
A Messenger: Dale Tracy
A Gypsy: Bojan Knezevic

Even though I printed out my early entry ticket from SF Opera's website & arrived at AT&T Park at just about 6:30pm, field seating for this event was already full. My companion & I ended up in the stadium seating, overlooking right field. With 25,000 people showing up, how can anyone say there is no audience for opera? Just before curtain time, Anne Richnavsky, winner of the on-line contest, sang the National National in a lovely, tender voice. She easily interpolated an extra high note on the word "free" which provoked a roar of approval from crowd.

From what I could tell through the booming sound system, this Trovatore is excellently cast. Sondra Radvanovsky sounded magnificent, though she was entirely upstaged during her 1st aria by a little boy who ran out onto the pitcher's mound &, using a variety of feints, managed to elude 3 men for quite some time. Stephanie Blythe is a formidable Azucena & seems to be well-matched by the solid & ringing sound of Marco Berti as Manrico. Dmitri Hvorostovsky looks & sounds dashing. The gigantic rotating set made for a smooth video presentation. The gypsy camp scene with the choreographed anvil blows & stage fighting looked great on the extra-wide screen. During the final scene effective use was made of a split-screen to provide close-ups of the principals during a trio & a duet. Nicola Luisotti conducted the final bars with a wild vigor.

During the intermission, David Gockley appeared in the broadcast booth & led the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Opera", with the help of a follow-the-bouncing-ball video. Unfortunately he got stuck hopelessly behind. The cast took their curtain calls waving various baseball gear. Maestro Luisotti was totally goofy, turning his baseball cap backwards & swinging a toy bat.

I was surprised that the stadium audience actually paid close attention to the performance. In my section, there was no coming or going during the performance at all & only very occasional chatting. In other words, people behaved just as they would inside the Opera House.

Roadworks: Steamroller Printing Street Fair

Roadworks: Steamroller Printing Street Fair
San Francisco Center for the Book
Sat Sep 19 12pm-5pm

This block party sponsored by the San Francisco Center for the Book is an irresistible photo op.

Roadworks Steamroller Prints
First, carved linoleum blocks are inked & laid in the street. Paper is carefully placed over the blocks, then heavy blankets.

Roadworks Steamroller Prints
A 2-ton steamroller is driven over the blocks twice, imprinting the paper.

Roadworks Steamroller Prints
The finished images are revealed to the crowd, often to a round of applause. One old lady was so delighted with the process that she actually jumped up & down as an image was about to be revealed. The images were contributed by a variety of artists. One large image, about 4 feet square, of a bear reading in a library, was especially popular with the crowd.

I enjoyed encountering the friendly vendors in the small print & book arts fair. They made me think I might enjoy taking up book binding as hobby. Ginger Burrell patiently & enthusiastically gave me a tour of her hand-made books incorporating a diversity of unexpected media, such as tiny LCD screens or the pockets from blue jeans. Listening to the fog horn noises on the CD included with her photographs of fog-shrouded landscapes really put me into the pictures. It is also good to know that there exists in my neighborhood M & H Type, a good old-fashioned type foundry.

I was very glad to meet Aaron Cohick, whose painstakingly manufactured art books I recently saw at Zine Fest. I mentioned the rather negative tone of the panel I saw recently about the demise of the book, & he had a wonderful response. In his view, "Digital is doing for the book what photography did for painting. It's setting the book free."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Great Internet Bookburning Panel

The Great Internet Bookburning Panel
Peter Plate, Ethan Watters, Brenda Knight, Alan Kaufman, Herbert Gold
Books Inc. in the Opera Plaza
Fri, 09/18/2009 - 7:00pm

The Books Inc. in Opera Plaza hosted this provocatively-titled panel discussion with local authors & publishers, all of them decrying the decline of a book-centered, literary culture. The Internet & Google were the big enemies here. The panel was prejudiced & condescending. Herbert Gold quipped, "The computer is a really useful tool. I wish I had one." Peter Plate correlated the rise of texting with the fall of teenagers' vocabularies. Brenda Knight admitted that she wouldn't hire someone who played MMORPGs, because they wouldn't be able to do the things expected of them. I disagreed with everything the panelists said, & I found the discussion absolutely engaging.

There seems to be a lot of fear mixed with a nostalgia for a golden age of books. Herbert Gold regrets that authors are no longer rock stars, as Norman Mailer was in his day. A member of the audience with a Scotts accent pointed out the many advantages of the book as an object, delightedly recounting how he once tore the pages out of a book & stuffed them in his mouth to treat a toothache.

A big thank you to Books Inc. for presenting something so thought-provoking that wasn't just some author hawking a new book. The event was attended by about 25 people plus one occasionally restless dog.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Susan Graham Sings Rückert Lieder

MTT conducts Mahler's Symphony No. 1
San Francisco Symphony
Wed, Sep 16, 2009 8:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

Michael Tilson Thomas

Susan Graham

Rückert Lieder
    Liebst du um Schönheit
    Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder
    Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft
    Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
    Um Mitternacht

Symphony No. 1

I avoided the opera & symphony openings last week, but I seem to be catching up. I was drawn to this program by the chance to hear Susan Graham. She sang the 5 short Rückert Lieder with great dynamic control & an almost casual ease. I liked the pianissimo she achieved in Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen & a moment of teeth-gritting in Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder. The orchestration seemed light for Mahler. Strings were not even used for Um Mitternacht.

Before MTT & Ms. Graham came out, an announcement was made that the Rückert Lieder were being recorded, & a request was made for our silence during the performance. The audience dutifully maintained an exemplary quiet which certainly impressed me.

After intermission, MTT danced on the podium for a fast & loud playing of the Mahler 1. There was a humorous pause after the 1st movement when it looked like the orchestra was going to start without him, & indeed he may never have quite caught up with them. The sections played well together. For the entire concert the 1st & 2nd violins were split & the cellos placed on the inside of the 1st violins. The reason was not apparent. For this program I think I would have preferred the cellos on the outside rather than buried in the orchestra. The audience leapt to its feet for a standing ovation immediately after the noisy finale.

The Symphony generously gave out program inserts containing a code for free iTunes downloads of MTT's Mahler.

SFO: Il Trittico

San Francisco Opera
Il Trittico
Giacomo Puccini
Tue Sep 15 2009 8 pm

Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: James Robinson

Il Tabarro

Giorgetta: Patricia Racette
Luigi: Brandon Jovanovich
Michele: Paolo Gavanelli
La Frugola: Catherine Cook
Il Talpa: Andrea Silvestrelli
Il Tinca: Matthew O'Neill
Two Lovers: Tamara Wapinsky, David Lomelí
A Song Vendor: Thomas Glenn

Suor Angelica

Sister Angelica: Patricia Racette
The Princess: Ewa Podleś
Sister Genovieffa: Rebekah Camm
The Monitor: Catherine Cook
Mistress of the Novices: Daveda Karanas
The Abbess: Meredith Arwady
Sister Dolcina: Leah Crocetto
The Nursing Sister: Heidi Melton
Sister Osmina: Virginia Pluth
First Lay Sister: Daniela Mack
Second Lay Sister: Mary Finch
First Alms Sister: Tamara Wapinsky
Second Alms Sister: Dvora Djoraev
Sisters: Mary Finch, Claire Kelm, Rachelle Perry, Sally Mouzon

Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi: Paolo Gavanelli
Lauretta: Patricia Racette
Rinuccio: David Lomeli
Nella: Rebekah Camm
La Ciesca: Catherine Cook
Zita: Meredith Arwady
Gherardo: Thomas Glenn
Marco: Austin Kness
Betto: Jake Gardner
Simone: Andrea Silvestrelli
Amantio di Nicolao: Levi Hernandez
Spinellocio: Bojan Kneževic
Gherardino: Kyle Reidy
Pinellino: Kenneth Kellogg
Guccio: Valery Portnov

When applause began as the lights went down last night, I looked into the pit for the conductor but didn't see him. Then I realized that people were applauding the evening's sponsors as their names came up on the supertitles. Perhaps the excitement from last week's opening has yet to subside.

The simply designed set for Il Tabarro successfully indicated barge, river & dock without needing to be highly realistic. Paolo Gavanelli was oustanding as Michele. With his large, embracing voice & excellent acting, he communicates perfectly. Supertitles are simply unnecessary for such a performer. Gavanelli received well-deserved applause for his enraged closing monologue. Patricia Racette as Giorgetta looked appropriately sexy & a bit beaten-down. Brandon Jonanovich, in blue jeans, tank-top & unbuttoned shirt, convinced as a stevedore, yet his singing was pleasingly Italianate. Catherine Cook's slightly crazed rag-picker was unnerving. Andrea Silvestrelli's impossibly deep & cavernous voice had to be noted every time he opened his mouth. All this plus Patrick Summers's fluid conducting & Puccini's sinister, film noir music left me feeling overwrought during the 1st intermission.

When the curtain came up for Suor Angelica, I was shocked by the 20th century institutional setting & glaring florescent lights. Ewa Podleś has a voice like a force of nature, emanating from someplace in the center of the earth, & she gave a powerhouse performance as the Princess. Though her sound was a bit effortful, Patricia Racette never overacted. I liked the naturalistic way she broke a glass cabinet to get at bottles of poison. Maestro Summers led a beautifully seamless orchestral flow. The off-stage band at the end was eerie. In the final moments, there was no other-worldly vision. Instead the staging remained resolutely grounded in reality, emphasizing the already sadistic nature of the story.

When the curtain went up before the music started for Gianni Schicchi, the audience applauded the bizarre, op-art, black & white design of the production. Mr. Gavanelli again put in a star performance, nimble in both movement & voice as the title character. When Ms. Racette entered as a youthful & spirited Lauretta, she smiled at the audience, as if to say, "Here I am again!" She got a laugh from the petulant stance she took just before launching into the lovely yet over-familiar "O mio babbino caro". The ending, however, was interrupted by premature applause. Though Puccini does not differentiate the family members much, the Zita of Meredith Arwady, who has a wonderfully hefty contralto sound & great comic poise, stood out, as did Mr. Silvestrelli, whose huge voice was again impossible to overlook.

It's impressive that SF Opera came up with 3 equally strong parts for this triptych. People tell me that productions of Il Trittico are rare, so I did really well with my first outing this season!

I cannot help noting that the background essay in the program is by Gavin Plumley, who has been known to leave unusually pertinent comments here. I at times doubted his existence.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

OSJ: Manon

Opera San José
Manon by Jules Massenet
California Theatre, San Jose
September 12, 2009 8 p.m.

Conductor: Joseph Marcheso
Opera San José Orchestra

Manon: Khori Dastoor
Des Grieux: Alexander Boyer
Lescaut: Krassen Karagiozov
Ct. Des Grieux: Silas Elash
Guillot: Bill Welch
Des Brétigny: Adam Meza
Pousette: Jillian Boye
Javotte: Betany Coffland
Rosette: Cathleen Candia

I am no fan of Massenet's Manon, yet somehow I found myself sitting through it last night for the opening of Opera San José. On the plus side, the very even cast had big, hall-filling voices, especially bass Silas Elash as Count des Grieux. I liked Joseph Marcheso's able conducting of the relatively small pit band, which played very well. I was impressed by their excellent intonation, as well as by nice solos from the violin & oboe.

It was the opera itself that bored me. The conventional staging had us looking at lots of wigs, fans & knee-breeches. I found myself re-imagining the evening as a Regieoper: Manon stealing Guillot's Mercedes in the 1st scene, des Grieux appearing as a televangelist in the seminary scene, a bear attacking Manon along train tracks in the final act.

The California Theatre venue, an opulently restored silent movie palace, is a good size for opera. The downstairs restrooms are a bit of a maze, & I nearly got lost, at one point mistaking a broom closet for an exit. I enjoyed hearing the theater organ in the lobby before the show. We also heard the auditorium's theater organ during the seminary scene, though the organist made a false entry at one point.

It was quite easy to glide into a post-performance party around the corner from the theater. The ample desserts were a bit intimidating.

Friday, September 11, 2009

SFS Free Concert at Justin Herman Plaza

San francisco symphony noon time concert
San Francisco Symphony Free Concert at Justin Herman Plaza

Fri, Sep 11, 2009 12:00pm
Justin Herman Plaza
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

Mephisto Waltz No. 1

La Valse

Carousel Waltz

There was quite a crowd of music lovers in Justin Herman Plaza for the San Francisco Symphony's free noontime concert. The weather was ridiculously beautiful, not to say hot, & even many orchestra members were wearing sunglasses. I enjoyed the performance while eating my to-go lunch of Thai curry.

The Symphony offered what was the 1st half of their opening night gala program, so all we were missing was Lang Lang. MTT gave a brief introduction to each piece, pointing out that the entire program is in 3/4 time, including our national anthem, which opened the proceedings. Despite all that dance music, it turned out to be a pretty dark & moody program. La Valse in particular felt like a strange thing to be hearing outdoors & in the bright sunshine. During the piece, the orchestra had to contend with the Ferry Building clock tower marking the half-hour, which raised smiles among the musicians. MTT seemed genuinely unprepared when the appreciative crowd demanded an encore. After taking a few moments to give instructions to the orchestra, he reprised a portion of the Carousel Waltz.

Solar panelsAt the beginning of the program, a spokesman from corporate sponsor PG&E announced that the concert was being powered by solar panels parked just behind the stage. This also got huge applause.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kemble Scott at Books Inc.

book_coverThis evening at Books Inc. in the Marina I heard Kemble Scott talk about his satiric thriller The Sower. The novel started life on scribd.com but has just now been released as a physical hardback. Mr. Kemble claims that, though it usually takes 18 months for a completed book to make it into print, The Sower was put into print in 29 days. He also says that this 1st print edition is being distributed exclusively to independent bookstores in the Bay Area, as a way of thanking them for helping to make his previous book, SoMa, a success.

Mr. Kemble seems comfortable with the self-promotional aspect of authorship. He explained the obscene meanings behind his characters' names & read a passage that seems to be a digression about the Armenian genocide. He offered the opinion that physical versions of books will continue to exist, side by side, with their digital equivalents. He observed that, with an on-line version of a book, the author is not committed to a final text. Indeed, he occasional changed his on-line text, & the readers would be entirely unaware of it. He imagined a future for the book in which the text would be fluid & not fixed.

There were at least 15 people at the event, many of them already fans. A man sitting next to me was late & must have been exerting himself for some time before arriving. He was amused when we both pulled out pocket moleskin notebooks. I discovered that he had already read the book & was eager to talk with the author. I also had the very unsettling feeling that I should have recognized him somehow.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Noontime Concerts: Cypress String Quartet

Noontime Concerts
Old St. Mary's Cathedral
Tues 8 Sep 2009, 12:30pm

A Concert for the Bells of St. Mary’s
Cypress String Quartet

Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 3 "The Bird"
Samuel Barber: Adagio from String Quartet, Op. 11
Ludwig van Beethoven: Grosse Fuge, Op. 133

Due to a Muni bus breakdown, I arrived while the Cypress String Quartet was well into the Haydn. Despite this, a welcoming staff member urged me to come in, handed me a program, & told me to make myself comfortable. I very much enjoyed this program, which was quite substantial despite lasting under an hour. The Cypress String Quartet makes a warm, comforting sound, & I like the good communication & sense of agreement between the players. Their assured Grosse Fuge performance feels like the result of long familiarity & much interpretive discussion.

The audience was quiet & attentive, apart from a pair of older ladies in the pew in front of me, for whom the concert was apparently an interruption to their devotions. There was a long, appreciative silence after the Barber Adagio, as if it would be unseemly to start clapping. The sounds of cable cars & an old man playing the erhu occasionally filtered into the church. The whole experience had a sanctuary feel to it.

At the end, a lady announced that this program was dedicated to the construction crew currently working on the building renovations. She thanked them for suspending their work while the concert went on.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Rettet Seraglio!

I just heard a KQED radio announcer tell us about SF Opera's production of "The Abduction of Seraglio".

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Alonzo King LINES Educational Programs

Alonzo King LINES in Union SquareWednesday, September 2
12:30pm – 1:30pm
Jewels in the Square Presents
Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Educational Programs

I just happened to be crossing Union Square at the right time today to catch this dance program by students of Alonzo King LINES Ballet. The purpose of the event was to drum up interest in their dance classes. There were 4 or 5 dance pieces in different styles, including a flamenco number with several women in bright dresses, accompanied by live guitar music & a wonderful Spanish singer. Jewels in the Square is doing a good job putting live entertainment into Union Square several times a week. This Sunday it looks like tango lesson!