Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking Forward, and Back, from the First of the Year

So 2009 was a good blogging year for me. I had a secret goal at the start of the year, which was to post daily, or at least publish an average of one posting per day. I met that, with 387 postings from January 1 to December 31. I wish there had been more meat over the course of the year, more in-depth reviews and thought pieces, fewer "here's what's happening" pieces. I wish there weren't several opera performances and a bunch of concerts I still haven't posted about. (I meant to get some of this done while on vacation from Dec. 24 to this Sunday, but wound up spending a lot of time fretting and running around on house-renovation errands.)

Still, here are the posting statistics for the life of this blog, which opened for business on October 31, 2004:

2004: 24
2005: 86
2006: 98
2007: 238
2008: 267
2009: 387

I'm posting a lot more now than I did back then. What I miss most from the first couple of years is heated discussions among the relatively small number of bloggers in the classical music blogosphere: since there were about 20 of us, we were all reading each other's blogs and making comments. As of now, I think some of us have given up on reading or attempting to comment on a few of our fellow bloggers; some arm-wrestling just is not worth it, and some of us think maybe the sky isn't falling quite as badly as others do.

What was this past year like for me in general? I worked my butt off in the first six months of the year, owing to a major software release for which I wrote three entirely new documents and revised about a third of the online help system for the Google Search Appliance. As soon as that was done, I had to completely revise and rearrange a different doc set for a release a month later.

I went to quite a few good programs at the SFS during the first half of the year; I like Yan Pascal Tortelier's program and conducting a great deal (I believe Matthew Guerrieri found him overly fussy in a BSO guest appearance), and though I remain not a fan of the conductor, it was great fun to hear Walton's crazy Belshazzar's Feast on Vladimir Ashkenazy's program, even though I thought John Relyea was going to burst a blood vessel from the tension in his head while he was singing.

The Dawn to Twilight Schubert/Berg programs, with MTT at the helm, were fabulous, including a great Berg violin concerto from Gil Shaham, the gigantic Schubert Eb major Mass, and a bravura performance of the Berg Chamber Concerto, with Julia Fischer and Yefim Bronfman in for the occasion. Great programming, great performing - what more could you ask?

Things fell apart for concert-going after June, though. I saw almost nothing over the summer despite my vows to get tickets to the summer festivals. This past fall also saw a much lower-than-usual level of concert-going: I saw everything at SF Opera, a feat considering that I bought no tickets in advance and most went standing room, and I saw a few choral and early music concerts (Cal Bach, AVE, Magnificat) but that's about it. You could say that I had a somewhat stressful fall, between two more software releases, organizing a small tech writers' conference, and the house project. I missed many programs I really wanted to see, including Marino Formenti and a bunch of recitals. I could have seen Christine Brewer if I'd dragged myself out of the house that day, but somehow I couldn't.

At least I did get to everything at the Opera; in the last few years, lacking a subscription, I've managed to miss at least work each fall season. The highlights were Il Trittico, which I saw three, yes, three times, thank you Pat!; Abduction from the Seraglio (except for Mary Dunleavy, sigh); and, a surprise treat, Daughter of the Regiment, which I wish I'd seen more than once. A special nod to Sondra Radvanovsky, whose magnificent, golden-age Leonora was the highlight of what I found a surprisingly blah Trovatore. Well, except for Nicola Luisotti, of course. I probably should not have gone to see Trovatore the day after my second Trittico. Oh, and I must mention the amazing Ewa Podles. MY GOD where did that voice come from???

I'm hoping things will look up in 2010. We're two months into the renovations, which, briefly, including foundation work, completing the bathroom renovation that started in 2006 and had to wait until the foundation work was done to be finished, and constructing a new back porch to replace the crumbling original. This was supposed to take eight to nine weeks, my contractor said, which I figured meant 10 to 12. Sure enough, it seems likely they'll be done by the end of January. At work, I have a few smallish pending projects (and maybe one big one) and hope the first part of the year won't be too too stressful.

I know I need to take a real vacation, following the incredible shrinking vacations of the last three years: in 2007, we went to the Olympic Peninsula for 10 days; in 2008, we went to Santa Fe for a week; this past year, I went to Santa Fe for four days. (This is why I currently have about a month of vacation in the queue.) I have the time, but could not spend much money on vacations while the renovations were pending. If I have any money left when they're done, I'll be taking a nice beach vacation somewhere, then thinking about a stimulating city vacation.

So, goodbye to 2009, hello to 2010. Thank you for reading this blog, whether you're a regular or occasional; thank you for the comments and email and invitations and press releases. I'll see you at a concert soon.


Paul Muller said...

Thanks for all your efforts. I try to check in on this blog every day.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you; I appreciate all of your comments!

Henry Holland said...

Well done, Lisa, I'm glad you got to hear some great performances.

For me, it's kind of odd: I've never been more solvent or had more disposable income but I actually went to less concerts/operas etc. this year. It doesn't help that the first season of Dudamel's reign has very little of interest to me and that John Adams is in now running The New Music Group or that the LA Opera season is duller than week-old dishwater apart from the much-anticipated (by me) production of Die Gezeichneten in May. Of course, if I lived in New York or London or Germany, I'd have a lot more options......

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Henry. Wish I hadn't punted on so much during the fall.

Yeah, the LAPO issues. Maybe next year will be better....

I'm planning to come down for Die Gezeichneten, maybe the weekend I could also see Goetterdaemmerung

Ken said...

What a workload, Lisa. Congrats! I'm looking forward to reading a lot more in the new year.

Ken Woods

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Ken! And perhaps I will do some blogging this week.