Will. Call.

You know how sometimes you look at a once-familiar word, phrase or sentence and it suddenly seems incomprehensible, like it's written in Swahili or Urdu?That happened to me a couple of nights ago as I was on the plane back from New York staring dumbly at the screen of a passenger seated a couple of rows ahead of me. My neighbor was watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm on the in-flight TV service and Larry David was gesticulating in his usual over-the-top fashion at some other guy in front of a theater box office.All of a sudden, the … [Read more...]

They’re Listening

KALW 91.7 FM, the small, scrappy and innovative public radio station which broadcasts my weekly radio show about the art of singing, VoiceBox, is doing really well in terms of listener numbers. I was gladdened to find out that the station, which is tiny and run on a shoestring, came in fourth on the Public Radio Player's list of live radio streams which are accessed most by listeners.At the top was WBUR (Boston), second was WBEZ (Chicago), KCRW Music (Los Angeles) came in fourth, followed by KALW (San Francisco). KQED, the much bigger and … [Read more...]

New York Roundup At Lightning Speed

Here's a very quick roundup of some stuff I experienced on my trip to New York over the past few days:1. Pinball machine exhibition at San Francisco International Airport: I should pay more attention to the exhibitions in the international concourse at the airport. The show on pinball machines at the moment is not only gorgeous to look at thanks to all that chrome and all of those flashing lights, but is also very informative. I might have to visit a pinball convention one of these days. San Francisco appears to be one of the last remaining … [Read more...]

White Men Can’t Sing

It's a common assumption that if you're a truly great singer, you can sing most anything. But this assumption of course is false. There are amazing lyrical tenors who can't do Wagner. And incredible jazz singers who can't sing folk music. For many experts, fach is everything and knowing your parameters as a vocalist is the best way to become excellent.In the world of choral singing, however, some groups have earned a reputation for being able to sing in practically any style. The King's Singers is one such group.But at last night's concert at … [Read more...]

The Outsider-Insider

What's it like to feel like an outsider in your own country? I think a lot of people living here in the so-called "Republic of California" feel like this when they read about pro-life groups gaining headway in the mid-west or the outlawing of the teaching of the Big Bang Theory in southern schools.Not that the Bay Area way of life, with its yuppie brunches and hipsters fretting over whether their Thanksgiving turkey went to art school before it was humanely put to sleep, is necessarily preferable, mind you.It is this duality that underpins solo … [Read more...]

A Skype Conversation with David Hurley of The King’s Singers

The fabulous British all-male a cappella vocal ensemble The King's Singers is in town for one concert tomorrow night, Wednesday 17 February, at The Herbst Theatre under the auspices of SF Performances. I caught up with one of the members, countertenor David Hurley, via skype, for a quick chat...Chloe Veltman: Hello David.David Hurley: Hello Chloe.Chloe Veltman: How are you doing?David Hurley: Fine thanks.Chloe Veltman: Did you know that someone's just hacked into the King's Singers website?David Hurley: Again!Chloe Veltman: You mean it's … [Read more...]

Spreading the Love at City Hall

Arts events aren't a common occurrence at City Hall in San Francisco. But they should be.Hundreds of people flocked to the venerable old building on Friday at noon to witness a jubilant Love Everywhere, a new dance-theatre production by local choreographer Erica Chong Shuch.The piece commemorated the sixth anniversary of the weekend when San Francisco city officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.Given the current political turmoil surrounding this subject, the event, which was free to the public, couldn't have been more … [Read more...]

Alone At The Top

At what point in an arts organization's growth does it need to have more than one person at the top? I ask this question in light of the departure of the Magic Theatre's Managing Director, Scott Hawkins. According to an article in The San Francisco Chronicle, Hawkins decided to eliminate his own position:"Reached by phone, Hawkins said that in his efforts to help restructure the company to cope with its financially straitened circumstances, "after analyzing the budget in December I decided we could no longer afford a managing director's salary. … [Read more...]

On The Woes Of Maintaining A Digital Music Collection

Unlike many people who write about music, I keep all of my audio collection on my laptop computer, a MacBook air. The main advantages of doing this are that I have my entire music collection at my fingertips wherever I go, and I save a lot of shelf space that would otherwise be taken up with CDs gathering dust. I also love buying music online - it's so quick and easy - and these days, you can find a surprising amount of unusual stuff via digital download. But in truth, maintaining a digital music cache isn't ideal in many ways. Here is a … [Read more...]

Guest Blog: Soprano Kiera Duffy On Life After ‘The Audition’

American soprano Kiera Duffy is a rising star of the opera and concert stage. Since being a finalist in the 2007 Met National Council Auditions -- and as such was featured in Susan Froemke's documentary about the major opera competition, The Audition -- she has gone on to great things. In 2008, she won a Sullivan Foundation grant and has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well as at Tanglewood and Carnegie Hall. Kiera took some time out of her busy schedule to pen her thoughts for lies like truth about … [Read more...]

My Kind of Monday Night

It's official: Monday is the new Saturday and last night's escapades in San Francisco are proof of this fact.The evening kicked off with some delicious Brazilian food and then a concert at the Conservatory of Music dedicated to celebrating the new official "sister school" link between the San Francisco Conservatory and The Shanghai Conservatory.The concert itself was, to be honest, a bit of a yawnfest. Besides a luminous rendition of Jake Heggie's schmaltzy but gorgeous song "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed" by mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, … [Read more...]

Anniversary Blues

Why are arts organizations so obsessed with anniversaries? Every day it seems, some museum, presenter, dance troupe, alternative arts space or theater company is celebrating a milestone birthday, be it 25, 50 or 75 years with a retrospective or special series of events of somesuch. But to what extent are anniversaries really worth observing from an artistic perspective? Or are they merely crutches for programming, pegs to attract media coverage or excuses for amping up fundraising efforts? In a sense, an anniversary is definitely something to … [Read more...]