For And Against Flash Mobs

I've received several YouTube links from friends in recent weeks with footage of various "flash mob" performance happenings around the world, from outbreaks of Italian opera by fruit and vegetable vendors in Spanish markets to teenagers performing hip-hop dance routines in Australian train stations.Seems like flash mobs are all the rage these days. They're a wonderful idea because they create a sense of immediacy, bring art to a wide audience and help to blow the dust of artistic genres that many people tend to associate with musty theatres and … [Read more...]

The Case For and Against Making A Case for the Makropoulos Case

If an artistic event has been and gone, is it still worth writing about?Timeliness is of course next to godliness when it comes to arts journalism. But sometimes I think that the media places too much of an emphasis on coverage as a means of driving audiences to experience a particular artistic event. Sure, it makes sense both from the producing organization's perspective and media organization's perspective to publish content that can drive sales. Yet there should be more to arts journalism than touting a current arts event.I bring this up … [Read more...]

Creative Problem-Solving (and extended absence greeting)

A few days ago I exchanged email with a friend who works in the arts media landscape. I asked him how he was doing. "Can't complain. My life is a process of creative problem-solving," he responded.I realized that what he said pretty much describes my life. (Then again, when it comes down to it, the sentiment could be applied to just about anyone in any field trying to make his or her way in the world.)It's been a couple of days of intense creative problem solving for me, anyway. It all began on Monday afternoon, when I heard from the … [Read more...]

Hooray for Handicrafts

Exhibitions based on handicrafts have been making a big comeback in the Bay Area in recent years, what with the city's two museums dedicated to crafts helping to spotlight artists who work in handicraft media and organizations like YBCA also doing their part to put on exhibitions focusing on crafts.The visual art show of works by the fiber/DIMENSIONS artists' collective currently going on at The Presidio Officers' Club Exhibition Hall through December 19 -- intersections 5 -- furthers the campaign to divest basket-weaving, knitting, crochet, … [Read more...]

A School Play

SF Playhouse is a company in San Francisco that is remarkable for the slickness of its output. The organization's prolific productions usually belie what most people normally think of as "black box theatre": The actors are among the best in the Bay Area, the sets and lights are always gorgeous and the programming is often engaging and sometimes risky.The company's latest production, Coraline, is different though -- though sweet and festive in its own way, it feels like a school play.It's hard to pin down why this is the case exactly and having … [Read more...]

Chanticleer’s Home Video

Chanticleer's attempt to reach broader audiences through online music downloads and adventurous forays into new repertoire are laudable. But the release of its first ever music video, featuring the group singing Vincent Peterson's arrangement of indie-pop composer Erika Lloyd's "Cells Planets" is the first time that I have seen Chanticleer, a group which epitomizes choral professionalism, put out anything amateurish.There's nothing wrong with the music per se. Soprano Casey Breves does an angelic job on the song's spiraling, heartfelt solo … [Read more...]

VoiceBox: A Poem

Shattered but happy after pulling off first ever full-scale fundraising event for VoiceBox, my weekly public radio project on KALW 91.7 FM all about singing, last night. Leah Garchik, the fabulous San Francisco Chronicle columnist who co-hosted the soiree with me, touched me deeply by penning some sweet and funny verses for the occasion. Leah read out her poem infront of the assembled crowd at Salle Pianos in Hayes Valley, San Francisco. It went like this:What new on the RialtoInquires the nosy contraltoThe venue is localFor melodies vocalFor … [Read more...]

Tribute

When ArtsJournal publishes memorial pieces or formal obituaries, they're usually of household names or at least leading figures in the world of the arts. This morning, however, I'd like to pay homage to an amazing choreographer, beautiful dancer, deep thinker and dear friend, Niki Pollard, who passed away on Monday following a nearly five-year battle against cancer. She was 37 years old.Niki and I attended university together in the mid-1990s in England. We both read English literature and bonded over dance. Following graduation, I spent much … [Read more...]

Holy Handel

The festive season is fast approaching and once again the Bay Area is abundant with opportunities for listening to and singing along with The Messiah. Here is a shortlist of some of the regional outings of Handel's holiday favorite in the coming weeks:Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale (first time in a decade! -- choir pictured above)Nicholas McGegan, Music DirectorPhilharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, DirectorMary Wilson, sopranoDaniel Taylor, countertenorJohn McVeigh, tenorTyler Duncan, bassFriday 3 December, at 7:30pm Herbst … [Read more...]

To Rehearse Or Not To Rehearse? That Is The Question

There seem to be two schools of thought on the question of whether performers who are sick should attend rehearsals or stay away.One school says: "Keep the hell away from the rehearsal room. You'll only make yourself feel worse and possibly infect everyone else around you!"The other school says: "Come and sit away from everyone else. Even if you can't actively participate all of the time, at least you won't fall behind with the rehearsal process. And as long as you're not at death's door, you might even feel better for getting out and … [Read more...]

Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does William! William! William!

The American rocker Rufus Wainwright stepped out before an expectant audience at Davies Symphony Hall for the world premiere of his new song cycle based on five sonnets by William Shakespeare dressed in a puffy, white Renaissance shirt embellished with what looked like a piece of squashed Victoria sponge cake, lilac taffeta trousers and patent black clogs. A silver chain-link necklace glistened between the dark hairs on his pale chest.Fortunately, Wainwright composes better than he dresses.Five Shakespeare Sonnets includes a part for solo tenor … [Read more...]

Measha

Soprano Measha Brueggergosman performed her recital debut in San Francisco last night under the auspices of San Francisco Performances at the Herbst Theatre.The audience was on the small side: Though the singer is a big name in her native Canada, she's not so well known in the Bay Area right now. But I suspect that every person who heard her last night went home clamoring to hear her lustrous voice again.Brueggergosman's voice takes a little adjusting to. It doesn't have a uniform, bell-like quality. It has many many colors, from voluptuous, … [Read more...]