Sunday, August 31, 2008

If You Think There's Pandering Going On...

you're right:

Even Fox is asking the question. And here's McCain's answer:

WALLACE: But Senator, you talked about her years of experience. Ten of those years were as a city councilwoman and mayor of a town of 9,800 people. And in terms of foreign policy, in March of 2007, after - two months after the surge had started, she was asked about it, and she said, “I’ve been focused on state government. I haven’t focused on the war in Iraq.” Understandable for a governor; not understandable for a vice president.

MCCAIN: Well, by the way, also she was a member of the PTA. I think it’s wonderful. But the point is she’s been to Kuwait. She’s been over there. She’s been with her troops. The National Guard that she commands, who had been over there and had the experience. I’m proud of her knowledge of these challenges and issues.

About timing:

MCCAIN: And I’ve watched her record, and I’ve watched her for many, many years as she - as she implemented ethics and lobbying reforms.

WALLACE: Let me see if I’ve got the chronology straight… As I understand it, you met her for the first time at the governor’s conference in… February.


WALLACE: You talked to her on the phone last Sunday. And you met with her face to face - face to face for the first time to discuss the vice-presidential ticket Thursday morning, and then you offered her the job. Must have been a heck of a meeting.

MCCAIN: Well, the fact is, I’ve been watching her. I mean, look, what she’s been doing in Alaska - let’s have some straight talk - has affected the representation in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yes We Can!

He said it best.

Proofreaders Wanted, at Several Musical Organizations

No, this is not a want ad. It's a plea for sanity.
  • San Francisco Opera's E-Opera email newsletters have twice referred to Simon Boccanegra as "highly prized." It's pretty clear, from context, that they mean highly-praised.
  • "Gut grabbing vocal heft" - is that the best possible description of Dmiti Hvorostovsky's voice?
  • Seattle Opera's web site currently refers to operas being performed in January through May, 2009, as the "Spring 2008" operas, here and here. Oops! After I clicked a link in email I received from Seattle, I thought I'd somehow missed a program I would like to see.
  • The page for Erwartung and Bluebeard's Castle says "By Bela Bartok" at the top of the page. Scroll down and you do find Arnold Schoenberg's name, but why should you have to scroll?
  • Yes, I did email the Seattle Opera webmaster about those little gaffes.
  • Printed matter from the San Francisco Symphony is unclear on how to style one of Schubert's symphonies. I've ranted about this before: that rather long symphony is not The Great Symphony. It is the Symphony No. 9, "Great C Major," or "Great" C Major. In context, it probably should have been styled The Great C Major Symphony, but two mailings from the SFS are wrong in two different ways! The idea is to distinguish it from the "Little" C major symphony, a shorter work from the composer's youth.
  • Lastly, I got a beautiful printed brochure in the mail last week from one of the Bay Area's major concert presenters. The type is largely 6 point sans serif white on black or mauve backgrounds. Please, have pity on those of us who never had 20/20 vision to start with. 

Jorge Liderman Memorial Concert

Bob Schneider passes along the word that the University of California, Berkeley, Music Department is presenting a concert in memory of Professor Jorge Liderman, who died tragically in January. The program will include the following works by Liderman:

Tropes V (Jackie Chow, piano)
Tiempo Viejo (Florian Conzetti, percussion)
Aires de Sefarad (Duo46, Matt Gouldd, guitar; Beth Ilana, violin)
Antigone Furiosa (film clip)
Swirling Streams (Berkeley Contemproary Chamber Players)

Hertz Hall
Sunday, September 14, 2008
2 p.m.
Tickets not required.
Event Contact 510-642-4864

A Sad Day, A Great Day

Del Martin died yesterday, age 87, after a long and well-lived life as a lesbian rights activist. You can find obituaries here and here.

A founder of the Daughters of Bilitis, the pioneering lesbian organization; the author of several books; the first openly lesbian NOW board member; the loving partner for 55 years of Phyllis Lyon, who survives her, Martin will be missed by, well, everyone who knew her or her work. She lived long enough to marry Phyllis; their wedding, this past June, was the first legal marriage in California of a same-sex couple, as well it should have been. 

Deepest condolences to Phyllis. Rest in peace, Del - you fought the good fight and won a lot of battles for millions of people.

Some hours afer Del's passing, Barak Obama received the Democratic nomination as the party's presidential candidate. Over the last few days, Senator Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Senator Henry Reid, Senator Joe Biden (the nominee for vice president), President Bill Clinton, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have all made kick ass speeches at the convention. Senator Obama accepts the nomination tonight. 

It is a great day, and it's also a matter of considerable shame that protestors at the convention are confined to "free speech areas." 

Shades of the Bush presidency! Hello? Are you turning Republican? This is no way to start a new era.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

San Francisco Electronic Music Festival

This looks like fun!

The essentials only, copy/paste from an emailed press release:

For Immediate Release:
Press Contact: Matt Davignon
P: 510-268-8213,

San Francisco's only festival dedicated to electronic music, featuring five nights of performances by emerging and internationally renowned artists.

San Francisco Electronic Music Festival 2008
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 through Sunday, September 7, 2008
Project Artaud Theatre, 450 Florida St, San Francisco, CA

Saturday performances start at 8pm
Sunday performance starts at 7pm

Further Information:
Full calendar listing at bottom of page.
For web photos, please visit

Friday, August 15, 2008

At the Mostly Mozart Festival

The Times reports that Osmo Vanksa, besides conducting at Mostly Mozart, is playing clarinet in a couple of pieces. Bravo to him, I say.

He is also conducting the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, with Kari Kriikku as the soloist.

I'll tell you, if I were programming this year's MMF, and there was a certain emphasis on Finns as both performers and composers, and I had Kari Kriikku handy, I wouldn't have him playing the Mozart. I'd program Magnus Lindberg's fabulous Clarinet Concerto, which has been spectacularly recorded by Kriikku, with Sakari Oramo at the helm. Yeah, Mostly Mozart, but why the Spectacularly Overexposed rather than the Spectacular?

(Speaking of Finns, wish I could be at this program at the Kaplan Penthouse.)

"Wrenching and Gravely Beautiful"

Anthony Tommasini reviews La passion de Simone.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The upcoming premiere of The Bonesetter's Daughter has inspired a host of ancillary events, which are listed on a convenient page at the San Francisco Opera web site. I remain skeptical, but the book has plenty of fans, so have at these events, and the opera itself.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Today's SFCV Music News column brings to mind something Steve Smith wrote last month in a Times review:
During a panel presented recently at the National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, the American Music Center and the American Composers Forum reported preliminary findings from “Taking Note,” a survey of American composers. The study was undertaken to help those organizations better serve their constituencies. According to its findings, the average American composer is a highly educated 45-year-old white male.
Music News includes an item saying that Composers, Inc. has seven world premiere commissions on its 2008-09 season, by Sean Friar, Clint Needham, Robert Greenberg, Frank La Rocca, Jeffrey Miller, Martin Rokeach, and Allen Shearer. (The latter composers are five of the six artistic directors of Composers, Inc.) The group will also present works by Ann Callaway, Edmund Campion, Matthew Cmiel, Cindy Cox, Donald Crockett, Richard Felciano, Derek Jacoby, and Robert Muczynski during the upcoming season.

Saariaho in the Philadelphia Inquirer

David Patrick Stearns writes a primer on Saariaho's music, a fine piece that makes an excellent complement to Steve Smith's article in the Times.

Brewer at the Met (and Everywhere Else)

Sieglinde notes:
[Christine] Brewer travels all over Earth as the world's stopgap dramatic soprano, yet she hardly stops by the Met to show off. Finally we get her, but only for one Ring cycle (the early bird special on Saturday matinee) and one extra Walküre. Why such limited exposure? Deborah Voigt's people must play real hardball, Sieglinde's telling you.
Why such limited exposure? Because Brewer is big and makes no bones or apologies about it. In this HD broadcast universe, the world's greatest living Wagner soprano isn't going to get much exposure at Peter Gelb's Met.

Or, I fear, at David Gockley's San Francisco Opera. Keep your eye on the casting for our Ring cycle.

Note to Peter Gelb

Alienating subscribers - who are typically an arts organization's strongest and most consistent supporters - is never a good idea. Telling them it's for their own good and some day they'll understand why is patronizing. Saying the problem is that your organization, one of the richest in the world, didn't communicate certain changes well enough is adding insult to injury.

Personal to Daniel J. Wakin: describing the Metropolitan Opera Guild as a "support group" doesn't conjure up quite the image you want. Try "education and outreach group" instead.

Update: La Cieca is soliciting and publishing accounts of readers' experiences at the cattle call ticket exchange.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saariaho in the Times

Just in advance of the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho's La passion de Simone, at the Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, Steve Smith has a portrait of the composer in the Times.

Bitter Laughter

George Bush, heard on TV during a news break:
Georgia is a sovereign nation. Its territorial integrity must be respected.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Robert Bowman at the Hillside Club, Berkeley

Nice program here:

Robert Bowman
In Recital
Friday August 29th at 8:00 PM
Admission $15 ($10 for HSC members and Seniors)
The Berkeley Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley 94709
Info: (510) 845-1350

The Berkeley Hillside Club is delighted to welcome back to our stage keyboard artist Robert Bowman in a concert of keyboard music spanning three centuries, including works by Prokofiev, Mozart, Scarlatti, Gottschalk, and Brahms. Don't miss this wonderful artist performing in our acoustically-excellent hall!

The Artist:

Keyboard artist ROBERT BOWMAN has performed extensively on the West and East Coasts of the United States in solo and chamber ensemble recitals, numerous appearances with orchestra, and on radio and television since 1960. He has also performed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico, and Prague (Czech Republic). He has also performed and lectured for state conventions and local branches of the Illinois State Music Teachers, CAPMT, MTAC, AGO, and Northern Nevada Music Teachers Association.

He has taught on the music faculties of U.S.C., Eastern Illinois University, and California State University, Chico where he was coordinator of the keyboard program for 33 years and Certification Program in Keyboard Pedagogy for the past 7 years. He was awarded Professor Emeritus in 2003 and fully retired at the end of the Spring Semester 2008 after teaching half-time for the past 5 years.

The Program:

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Sonata #1 in F Minor, Op. 1: Allegro

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Sonata #8 in A Minor, K 310
Allegro maestoso
Andante cantabile con espressione

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869)
Le Bananier (Chanson Nègre), Op. 5
Souvenir de Porto Rico (Marche des Gibaros), Op. 31
Le Banjo (Esquisse Américaine), Op. 15

Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Sonata in F major, Kk. 44, Allegro
Sonata in C minor, Kk. 84, Presto
Sonata in F minor, Kk. 238, Andante
Sonata in F minor, Kk. 239, Allegro

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Sonata #3 in F minor, Op. 5
Allegro maestoso
Andante. Andante espressivo - Andante molto
Scherzo. Allegro energico avec trio
Intermezzo (Rückblick / Regard en arrière) Andante molto
Finale. Allegro moderato ma rubato

Adriana Mater Roundup

A number of reviewers and bloggers have weighed in on Kaija Saariaho and Amin Maalouf's Adriana Mater:

Sunday, August 03, 2008

San Francisco Opera on WFMT

San Francisco Opera's 2007-08 season will be broadcast on WFMT's national network, with weekly airings from August 23 through October 11. Full details are here.