Thursday, January 03, 2008

Great Series with Silly Name

I got a press release from San Francisco Performances yesterday. They're presenting a great Alexander String Quartet series at Herbst Theater on some upcoming Saturday mornings.

For some reason, it's called the "Inspirations" series, which is referred to as an "innovative new theme." That's all just silly, but the programming is not and speaks for itself. The following is quoted from the press release, and just look at those great pairings:

All performances begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings and are approximately 2 ½ hours long. Ever since its inception in 1995, the Saturday Morning Series has continued to build momentum, drawing capacity audiences who appreciate the unique format and winning formula of a world-class performance combined with an educational and entertaining lecture.

Here are “Inspirations” programs:

February 2
Maurice Ravel, “String Quartet”
Lou Harrison, “Quartet Set”

February 16
Joseph Haydn, “String Quartet Op. 76, No. 1”
Elliott Carter, “String Quartet No. 2”

March 15
Béla Bartók, “String Quartet No. 1”
Robert Greenberg, “String Quartet No. 3, Among Friends (for the Alexander String Quartet)”

May 10
Béla Bartók, “String Quartet No. 5”
Wayne Peterson, “String Quartet No. 2”

May 17
Franz Schubert, String Quartet No. 14, “Death and the Maiden”
George Crumb, “Black Angels (Images I) for electric string quartet”


Joe Barron said...

Sounds like a nice set of concerts. And "Inspirations" isn't too silly a name. They had to call it something. I heard the Alexander Q. play Carter's 2d years ago at the Library of Congress, and as I told the violist afterward, they played it like they meant it. This was back in the 80s. I always wondered where they went.

BTW, I understand you know Lynn Kendall. Small word indeed.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Hi, Joe! Yes, I do know Lynn.

The Alexander has been in residence at SF Performances for a while, and also at San Francisco State University, though there is or was a long association with Baruch College as well, according to their Web site: http://www.asq4.com/about.htm

Anonymous said...

it may not be inspired, but i'm not sure why it's silly. if the series is about how a later work is inspired/influenced by an earlier work....?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Here's the money quote from the press release: "Each of the five concerts pairs contemporary works by such groundbreaking composers as Lou Harrison and Elliott Carter with older works by masters like Hayden, Ravel and Bartók, who may have inspired them, either directly or indirectly."

"May have...directly or indirectly:" weasel words.

I consider using a tagword like "Inspirations" to be the victory of marketing over substance. The programming is fantastic - those all all interesting pairings - and markets itself. So, silly because unnecessary and distracting from the real substance of the series.

pjwv said...

Speaking of marketing . . . I assume you received this press release in your capacity as a music reviewer. Are they planning on notifying their subscribers, like me? Your mention is the first I've heard of this series. If it starts in a few weeks, they're cutting it sort of close. You'd think I'd be on some sort of "OMG OMG OMG he'll pay to listen to new music!" list. I realize arts groups are perpetually underfunded, but in my experience SF Performances is consistently, exasperatingly inefficient, and if they can have people calling me asking for money they can have people sending out informational e-mails. I like their programming so I get over feeling annoyed, but I wish marketing imperatives would take over a little more if that means getting their product to the desired consumer without irritating him or her.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, boy!

Yes, I'm on SFP's mailing list. You haven't heard about this yet??? Oh, dear.