Posted inReview

Deep Listen: Clara Iannotta

I’m listening to “dead wasps in the jam-jar (ii),” a string work by Clara Iannotta, and I’m disoriented. Though I play violin in string orchestras, and have for years, I feel like a layperson without any visual information. How do the performers make those frog croaks—bowing overpressure, probably, but with or without the left hand? […]

Posted inReview

Two Sides Of A Concert, Part III

I rang in the new year at the San Francisco Symphony, interviewing audience members about the evening’s entertainment: Seth MacFarlane. The creator of the popular TV series “Family Guy” and “The Orville,” among others, MacFarlane is also a baritone. On December 31, he sang jazz standards and Broadway numbers under the direction of Edwin Outwater. […]

Posted inReview

Two Sides Of A Concert, Part II

The new John Adams opera “Girls of the Golden West” depicts the Gold Rush, an iconic moment in California history when people of different backgrounds suddenly came to live in the same place. With Adams, director Peter Sellars constructed much of the libretto from the letters of Louise Clappe, an educated woman who wrote under […]

Posted inOpinion

Surveying the Orchestra

From the inquisitive “Is Timid Programming Classical Music’s Biggest Threat?” in WQXR to the damning “America’s Orchestras are in Crisis” in New Republic, discussions of programming repeat an alarming diagnosis: performing groups choose repertoire from a rapidly shrinking list. The Republic’s Philip Kennicott thinks that managements cater to a caricature of an elderly audience who […]

Posted inReport

The Age-Old Problem of Aging

There’s a strange clip after a beautiful performance in “I Am The Violin,” the 2004 documentary about violin virtuoso Ida Haendel. On a simple string crossing in the first movement of the Brahms Concerto, Haendel’s bow bounces uncontrollably. She recovers within seconds, and the incident hardly registers in the scope of the performance. Yet the […]

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