Sunday, May 30, 2010

Berkeley Opera's Legend of the Ring: Get Yer Tickets Now

I bought mine last month, and now that the casting has been announced, I'm very glad. I will conveniently highlight two singers you might be a little surprised to see at Berkeley Opera:
Conductor ........ Jonathan Khuner
Stage Director & Production Designer ........ Mark Streshinsky
Projection Designer ........ Jeremy Knight

Wotan ........ Richard Paul Fink
Siegfried ........ Jay Hunter Morris
Woglinde, Freia, Sieglinde, Forest Bird, Gutrune ........ Marie Plette
Hagen ........ Dean Peterson
Brünnhilde ........ Christine Springer
Alberich ........ Bojan Knezovic
Loge, Mime ........ Stephen Rumph
Fricka ........ Valentina Osinski

Yes, that's Richard Paul Fink, the premier Alberich of our time, singing the Father of Gods. His web site says he's singing Gunther as well, following in the footsteps of Friedrich Schorr. Does this mean there are some big-house Wotans in his future? I'd pay to see it, you bet. And Jay Hunter Morris has a good career hisownself.

Here are the dates and times:
Saturday, July 31, 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, August 4, 7:30 p.m. (note early start time)
Friday, August 6, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 8, 2:00 p.m.

El Cerrito High School,
540 Ashbury Ave, El Cerrito

Tickets are $15-$65

Oh,'d be nice if Berkeley Opera put up bios of Christine Springer (Brunnhilde), Bojan Knezovic (Alberich), and Stephen Rumph (Loge & Mime), too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Google Apps Script Hackathon, NYC, June 24

There's going to be a Hackathon for Google Apps Script in NYC in a few weeks, on June 24, 2010. It's at the Google NYC office, 76 Ninth Avenue, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Food provided!

Code along with members of the Apps Script team and learn a very cool feature.

Sign up for the Hackathon here:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Read DeLong Today

Economist Brad DeLong has a particularly illuminating and worthwhile set of links today.

Berkeley Humane in Need

The Berkeley East Bay Humane Society has been providing shelter and care for animals in need for decades. Early Thursday morning, a fire broke out that did about a half-million dollars' worth of damage to their building. Most of the cats awaiting adoption died; all of the dogs survived.

A Berkeley Humane representative told us that they've had more than enough offers to foster the surviving animals. What they most need now is money.

We've gotten a couple of fine cats from Berkeley Humane and their dog trainer is first-rate, working miracles with our sometimes-challenging pooch. The folks there do good work.

If you can donate a few bucks, that'd be swell. Go to the Berkeley Humane home page, scroll down, and look in the left-hand navigation bar for the DONATE button.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Only Thirty Days to Go!

Erzsebet: The Blood Countess Opera, by Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, needs about $7200 more to meet its fundraising goal and has 30 days to get there - make your pledge now (and get cool schwag as thanks)!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Calling All Former Well Members

Want to join up again? The Well, among the first and still one of the best all-purpose, on-line discussion forums, has a special offer for returning former members - a year's membership, free of charge. Click this link if you want to see the details and sign up again.

Why My Next Car Might Be an Original VW Bug

Some computer scientists investigated the vulnerability of the computer systems in contemporary vehicles and found them hackable: Cars' Computer Systems Called At Risk to Hackers

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Department of You Don't Say, Political Edition

Today's horrors.

Flooding in Nashville

When the Cumberland River, in Nashville, Tennessee, overflowed its banks recently, it did a good bit of damage throughout the city. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where the Nashville Symphony Orchestra plays, got flooded up to its ankles, more or less. Here are links to some stories about the effects of the flooding:
  • Drew McManus reports on damage to the building and some of the instruments.
  • Drew also reports on a free concert given by the NSO.
  • No link yet, but I have a press release with the news that the musicians of the L.A. Philharmonic, their conductor Gustavo Dudamel, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the LA Philaharmonic Association are donating $25,000 to the NSO, to help replace the pianos lost in the flooding. The LAPO is currently on tour, and their Nashville program had to be relocated from the damaged Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
  • Many country music performers lost instruments, often historic instruments in the flood, says the NY Times.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dynamic: Italian Record Label New to Me

Email a week or so ago called my attention to the Italian record label Dynamic. Their web site is here (available in Italian and English). The catalog is an interesting mix of live and studio, current and historical recordings. Some might be familiar to you, but live recordings of unusual operas from less-known houses, maybe not. (Are these legal or bootleg? I do not know.) Also, they have recordings by many Italian instrumentalists completely unknown to me. I expect there are a few gems in there; goodness knows, plenty of outstanding instrumentalists don't get performances outside their region or country and don't have contracts with internationally distributed labels.

Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University

Stanford University is about to break ground for a new concert hall seating 800-odd. Called Bing Concert Hall, it will open in 2012. It's designed for a range of performing groups.

Stanford has a spiffy web site up for the hall, and it certainly looks good, with attractive designs inside and out, with tiered in-the-round seating and, apparently, plenty of circulation space.

The height and the bowed-in panels on the walls remind me of the fixes to Davies Symphony Hall, but it's a very different design team here. The architect is Polshek Partners, with whose work I'm not familiar, and the acoustical designer is Yasuhisa Toyota, who is best known in the United States for his magnificent work on Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Here's hoping they hit this one out of the ballpark. A hall with acoustics equivalent to those of WDCH would be a thing of beauty indeed.

Update: Stanford has a news page about the groundbreaking, complete with video from the ceremony.

Mystery Photo

Over at Musical Assumptions, Elaine Fine and her readers are trying to identify the men in a photo with Paul Hindemith, c. 1947. Yes, no. 10 does bear a resemblance to Benjamin Britten! Take a look and see if you know any of those pictured.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lawsuit Potential

So is Steve Jobs going to sue Grant Achatz for opening a restaurant called Next?

Things That Make You Go "Buh?"

"Renowed American dramatic soprano Patricia Racette," found in a press release from San Francisco Opera about the upcoming Faust production.

Dramatic soprano? I don't think so!

Concerts in Memory of J. Karla Lemon

The Stanford University Music Department is presenting two concerts in memory of J. Karla Lemon, who died last fall at the sadly young age of 55. Lemon had conducted the Stanford Orchestra for a number of years.

Here are the details -

Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22
8 p.m.
Stanford Memorial Church
Stanford University Orchestra, Symphonic Chorus, and University Singers
Jindong Cai, conductor

Applebaum, Martian Anthropology 1.2.3, second movement
Berlioz, Grande Messe des morts

Tickets: $10 general admission, $5 students

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Or Maybe Not

More on Moby-Dick; everybody is more positive than Brian:
  • Anne Midgette is quite positive, though there's this: "Heggie’s music can be a little facile, a little derivative: references in this piece range from Glass to Puccini to Britten. It also has a slightly anodyne quality, lulling the listener with through-composed pleasantness, in spite of Patrick Summers’s spirited, committed conducting."
  • Joshua Kosman likes it, but calls out what sounds like howling bad judgment at one point in the opera. He mentions, also, a "long, torpid silence" when the whale is approaching. Well, now, Heggie also bailed on composing any music to accompany the death of the condemned prisoner in Dead Man Walking.


Mr. Monotonous Forest to me, in February: If you had a week to hear any music you could, what would you want to hear?
Ms. Iron Tongue, after some dithering: Music I've never heard before, whether old, new, chamber, orchestral, operatic, or early.

My mother to me, earlier this week, somewhat indignantly: I heard a concert today by the daughter of some people I know. I didn't know any of the music on the program and I don't think I had even heard of any of the composers! (after inspecting the program, she owns that she'd heard of Pergolesi and Handel.) I think performers should take into account what their audiences are familiar with and want to hear.

What I didn't say: So you're only happy if you hear some music you know, by composers you know, in styles you're comfortable with?

What I thought: Sometimes I wonder where I came from, but I'm obviously her daughter.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cal Performances 2010-11 Season

Matias Tarnopolsky, the new director of Cal Performances, put on a press conference this morning to announce the 2010-11 season.


I'm going to outsource the full calendar to Cal Performances itself; you can see everything at a glance, on one page. (Yay, web team!) Here are some of the programs that made me want to stand up and scream; make sure you read all the way to the end.


JONAS KAUFMANN, co-sponsored by San Francisco Opera, which I hope is dangling big bucks under his nose to get him under contract to sing Lohengrin
Bryn Terfel returns!
Dawn Upshaw is on three separate concerts! She is now the music director of a series called Ojai North! That's their exclamation point, not mine.
Jessica Rivera, singing music new and old


Not usually my thing, but there are some must-see dance events.

Ex Machina, Eonnagata, conceived and performed by Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage, and Russell Maliphant
Royal Danish Ballet, in what is evidently the company's west coast debut. They've been avoiding us since the company was founded in 1748. Their programs include La Sylphide, choreographed for the Royal Danish Ballet sometime in the mid-19th c.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company's farewell tour

Chamber Music

David Finckel & Wu Han play the Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano
Jerusalem Quartet plays Mozart, Janacek, and Brahms quartets
Kremerata Baltica, with a pretty wild program of new music and Beethoven
Christian Tetzlaff plays the Bach partitas and sonatas for solo violin


Jeremy Denk, Goldberg Variations and the LIGETI ETUDES!!!!
Nicolas Hodges, Hammerklavier sonata and STOCKHAUSEN KLAVIERSTUCK!
Paul Lewis, all-Schubert program
Joyce Yang, various

Early Music

Benjamin Bagby performs Beowulf
Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin
Tallis Scholars, two Spanish programs called The Victoria Project
Les Violons du Roy, who have Ian Bostridge on board

Everything Else

Silk Road Ensemble
A good jazz lineup
Gamelan Cudamani
Zenshinza Theatre Company
Will Shortz!
Alex Ross! performing a chapter from his forthcoming collection
Circus Oz
Cirque Eloize


The Britten Project: Castleton Festival Opera/Lorin Maazel, The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring, two performances of each

Semyon Bychkov and the VIENNA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA!!!! in three separate programs, one of which is the Mahler 6. Let's just say that the orchestra's sexism won't be keeping me away if I can get my hands on tickets to these programs. I'm not passing up the opportunity to see one of the world's greatest orchestras on my home turf.

Monday, May 03, 2010

LePage Ring

The trailer for the Met's upcoming Ring cycle, designed by Robert LePage, is no longer on YouTube, so see it on the Met web site instead.

Um, wow. And get that brief, brief glimpse of a page full of photos of past singers in Ring costumes.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Wild Weekend: Interlude

While I was away, word went out that critic Alan Rich had died at 85. I have read very little of his work, an omission I plan to correct. Remembrances and obits around the web:
What I find interesting: Bob Commanday's obit seems to ascribe Rich's changes of venue to his personality, while at least one of the other writers notes that his trajectory had more to do with the trajectory of print media over the last 25 years.

Fears Come True

Brian at Out West Arts went to Texas for the premier of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick. Here's the most important paragraph of his review:
Perhaps the biggest disappointment, though, is Heggie’s music. It can be lyrical at times, but it is unwaveringly the same throughout, regardless of the emotional or narrative content of scenes. It is often two-dimensional and misses opportunities to communicate directly to the audience at nearly every turn. It sometimes felt that you could swap out the music for any scene with any other scene and one would hardly know the difference. Oh, there is the predictable storm music, and the speed picks up a bit when the whale arrives, but there is little in the music that would ever suggest the sea. Moby-Dick has water, water everywhere, but not a drop to hear.
This sounds just like what little I remember of Dead Man Walking, where the best music was in Frederica von Stade's aria and a spiritual sung by Susan Graham written by someone other than Heggie. I like what I've heard of Heggie's songs, but I just don't understand why he gets opera commissions. His music is too anonymous, too undramatic, too ordinary for setting the extraordinary.

Update:Steve Smith, writing in the Times, was more positive, though he hints that the music has a few misses.