Saturday, June 30, 2007


Heidi Melton, who sang Diana in Iphigenie en Tauride with enormous command and impact. Keep an ear out for this one, a dramatic soprano in the making.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rolling Over in His Grave

Today would be a bad day to be near the grave of Thurgood Marshall, as the Supreme Court of which he was once a member overturned Brown v. Board of Education, which he argued before the court in 1954. Chief Justice Roberts's opinion holds, perversely, that it's illegal to take race into account in promoting school integration.

The Times has a few choice words about the decision.

The Big Screen

The Royal Opera House is on the bandwagon, and the third and last of its summer telecasts around Great Britain is coming up. You can see Tosca on the big, big screen on Tuesday, July 3, at 7:30 P.M. at the following locations:

ABERDEEN Duthie Park
BIRMINGHAM Chamberlain Square
BRADFORD Centenary Square Terrace
DERBY Market Place
HULL Queen Victoria Square
IPSWICH Christchurch Park
LEEDS Millennium Square
LIVERPOOL Clayton Square
LONDON Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf
LONDON Potters Fields Park (Between City Hall and Tower Bridge)
LONDON Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
MANCHESTER Exchange Square
ROTHERHAM All Saints' Square

Another Alice

David del Tredici isn't the only composer using Lewis Carroll's classic Alice books as the basis for large-scale works: Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland premieres at the Bayerische Staatsopera on June 30. Kent Nagano conducts.

The composer talks about it here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Cycles of a composer's complete [fill-in-the-blank] are not difficult to find: the Beethoven string quartets are being done someplace almost all the time. The Emerson celebrated 30 years together with a tasty cycle in NYC that included works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Ives, Webern, Bartok, and other composers, one of which was a new quartet by Kaija Saariaho. Locally, this year's Music in the Vineyards Festival features a Beethoven quartet cycle. The Salzburg Festival feted Mozart with a cycle of his 22 operas, now available as a boxed set. Andras Schiff is playing all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas at Davies.

The New Esterhazy Quartet is about to undertake a remarkable cycle: over the next two years, they will play all 68 of Haydn's string quartets, on original instruments, in 18 concerts. Sixty-eight!

I'm so happy to see this. I feel like Haydn is one of the great unknown composers even though he more or less invented the modern symphony and string quartet. I hope the series is well-attended. I don't expect to have many chances in my life to see all of these played by one group.

The first season consists of 10 concerts at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco, plus an additional program that will be presented at three Bay Area venues under the auspices of the San Francisco Early Music Society. All of the St. Mark's concerts will be at 4 p.m.

And the very first concert is soon, soon, soon, on Sunday, July 1.

Here's the complete season and contact information for the quartet. This is cut-and-pasted from email posted on the Well, so it is not beautiful. I would put it behind a cut tag if I could figure out how, sigh.

"Individual tickets are $25 ($20 for SFEMS members, $10 for students and seniors 65+), a subscription to the St. Mark's series is $175, or $250 for a pair of tickets to all ten concerts. Please make your purchase at the door."

The New Esterhazy Quartet
POB 251
Vacaville CA 95696
phone: 510/233-9403
temporary email address:

Sunday 7/1/07: Founder's Concert I
Op33/5 in G (How Do You Do?)
Op2/2 in E
Op55/1 in A
Op76/5 in D

Saturday 9/29/07: Haydn and Royalty, Part 1
The Princes and the Frog
Op1/3 in D (Prince Nicholas Esterh?)
Op77/1 in G (Prince Lobkowitz)
Op2/4 in F (Prince Nicholas Esterh?)
Op50/6 in D (The Frog)

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10/19?21/2007: The Horseman & the Hunt
Presented by the S.F. Early Music Society
Op1/1 in Bb (La Chasse)
Op74/3 in g (The Rider)
Op17/3 in Eb
Op33/3 in C (The Bird)

Saturday 11/24/2007: Haydn and Royalty, Part 2
The Duke and the Counts
Op76/1 in G (Count Joseph von Erd
Op33/4 in Bb (Grand Duke Paul of Russia)
Op71/1 in Bb (Count Anton Georg Apponyi)
Op33/2 in Eb (Grand Duke Paul of Russia)

Sunday 12/16/2007: Haydn's Fugues
Op42 in d
Op20/5 in f
Op20/6 in A
Op50/4 in f#

Saturday 1/19/2008: Haydn and Royalty, Part 3
The King and the Emperor
Op50/2 in C (King of Prussia)
Op50/3 in Eb (King of Prussia)
Op76/3 in C (The Emperor)

Saturday 2/16/2008: Haydn in Bethlehem
Op17/4 in c
Op20/3 in g
Op17/1 in E

Saturday 3/8/2008: Haydn in Salem
Op2/6 in Bb
Op17/2 in F
Op20/1 in Eb
Op77/2 in F

Saturday 4/12/2008: Haydn in London
The Wisdom of Salomon
Op64/3 in Bb
Op71/3 in Eb
Op74/1 in C

Saturday 5/31/2008: A Toast to Johann Tost
Op54/1 in G
Op55/3 in Bb
Op64/1 in C

Saturday 6/21/2008: Haydn in Hungary
Op33/1 in b
Op54/2 in C
Op20/4 in D
Op76/2 in d (Quinten)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Garden of Memory

We're not New York City, and we don't yet have Make Music New York!, but we do have Garden of Memory, the annual new-music festival held at Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes, a remarkable columbarium designed by Julia Morgan.

Garden of Memory takes place tomorrow, Thursday, June 21st, the longest day of the year, starting at 5 p.m. and running until 9 p.m.

Read all about it in Joshua Kosman's Chron article. Lots of great performers in great music, and a steal at $5 to $12, kids under 12 free.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mystery Violist

My friend Mike and I saw the Mahler 7th at the San Francisco Symphony last night (more about that in another posting). Playing the solos very well indeed and sitting where we'd expect the principal violist to sit was a violist we'd never seen before. She wasn't listed in the program, either.

I asked him about her between movements and then said "I wonder if she's a candidate for Geraldine's spot."

Anyone know who she is?

Update with The Answer: Her name is Katie Kadarauch and she is a candidate for the principal viola position.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

In Philadelphia

The Wanamaker Organ roars again, with 95% of its pipes restored and the last 5% to be restored soon. (Times reporter Craig R. Whitney is the author of All the Stops, a history of the pipe organ in the United States, which looks like a very entertaining read.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm with him.

I don't know which Republican crime sent ACD around the bend -- there are so many -- but he is sooooo right.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Yes, indeed.

NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff on the new addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, designed by Steven Holl:
This freedom of movement adds to the sense of discovery, and it is reinforced by the museum’s policy of free admission, uncommon among the nation’s ever hungrier art institutions. This allowed Mr. Holl to create various entrance points into the building. The relaxed ease of entering fosters a sense that the museum and the artworks inside it belong to everyone, not to a privileged set of connoisseurs. (New York museums, take note.)
And art museums elsewhere, too. When public funds are used in the construction of institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the art within should be open to all free or at a reasonable price:

"The museum also received $65 million from the city, the largest completed capital grant to a private institution in the city's history. (Unlike museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Modern does not ordinarily receive public financing.)", NY Times, Nov. 7, 2004.

Metropolitan Opera High-Definition Broadcasts, 2007-08

The schedule of the initial broadcasts is posted now, and it's juicy. Yeah, the overblown Zef Boheme, but with Vargas, Gheorghiu, and, best of all, conductor Nicola Luisotti; Tristan with Heppner and Voigt; Hansel und Gretel; other performances well worth seeing!

Who's Floria?

parterre box has a vocal identifications challenge posted. It's plenty of fun and you should go try it out.

I thought I had all the answers, but figuring them out involved collaboration and research. The answers are now posted in the comments, and I'm not posting our guesses, but I'll say we wouldn't have won.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dead, Dead, Dead

Classical music is so dead that 400 people were estimated to be present for a 5 a.m. performance of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at the Bang on a Can Festival.

Okay, New York is a big place - but at the moment it's also got 50 new music ensembles where 40 years ago it had just a few.

So, I want to know what, exactly, would constitute "the death of classical music"? No performances of popular standard repertory works? The collapse of big musical institutions, the ones on the scale of the BSO, SFS, Metropolitan Opera? The disappearance of smaller groups, such as the multitude of string quartets? The failure of Maurizio Pollini to fill Carnegie Hall? No new music from prominent composers, and not because they've died themselves?

And when does anyone think classical music will die? Not this year, certainly. In five years? Ten? Fifty? After we're all dead, so we won't know one way or the other?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

New or Newish from Marston

I came home from walking the dog and found that the postman had left me the latest from Marston Records, a two-CD set of Eugenia Mantelli, Marianne Brandt, Guerrina Fabbri, and Rita Fornia. It is just on time, having been originally announced for May.

The previous Marston release was the magnificent second installment in the ongoing Supervia series. Was there ever a more charming, adorable, sexy, and communicative singer?? This volume includes cuts of the Cherubino arias that sound better than what's on volume I, some zarzuela, two arias from El Amor Brujo, and, possibly best of all, some songs for children with spoken introductions. You must hear this set, truly.

The mystery release originally slated for May has been postponed until August. I'm dying of curiosity!

Don Giovanni Cast Change at SF Opera

Hope Briggs got bounced from San Francisco Opera's new Don Giovanni production, which opens tomorrow night. (She's still on the cast list, but has been replaced by Elza van den Heever.) The Berkeley Daily Planet has some strong words in response.

All I can tell you is that I heard that everyone, including Briggs, was first-rate at the Wednesday rehearsal, and that she was splendid as the Duchess of Parma in Doktor Faustus three years ago.


Friday, June 01, 2007

We Need Something Like This

Celeste Winant has written about the tendency of multiple choruses in the Bay area to perform on the same weekend, which happens at least three or four times a year. She is also trying to do something about it.

There are plenty of reasons for choruses to do some schedule coordination. We're all in competition for the same pool of free-lance musicians. We all want to sing in the same venues. Some choristers sing in multiple choruses. Choristers are also audience members, and we want to hear what other groups are doing.

I think we might need something like the Gotham Early Music Scene to help out. This group plans to "help [early music groups in NYC] with marketing, ticket sales, merchandising and assembling the financial data required for grant applications."

Sheer genius: take this specialized work off the hands of small performing groups that don't have the time or infrastructure to do the best possible job with those tasks. Can we figure something out in the Bay Area to do this for choruses?