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Vandal in a Red Armchair

shirtless%20landeros

Something has been pestering me about the news coverage of Uriel Landeros, the alleged “artist” who last year defaced Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair at The Menil Collection. I’d forgotten about him until last week, when Whitney Radley covered his guilty plea for Culturemap. She wrote an excellent brief story, probably what I would have written if I’d received the same assignment. If you haven’t been following the case, I urge you to explore … [Read more...]

The Sound of the Wild, Wild West

As thrilling as the Houston Symphony Orchestra’s final concert with Hans Graf was last Friday night – everything came together perfectly for a stunning Mahler 2nd – it’s bittersweet to see him leave. He’ll be back as guest conductor at HSO next year, in particular, from November 29-December 1, for a concert with pianist Ingrid Fliter (Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23), Beethoven’s sixth symphony, and Grieg’s In Autumn; and again, next April, when … [Read more...]

That’s Right, You’re Not From Austin

graffiti, South Congress Avenue in Austin (photo: T. Bale)

When I lived in Boston, I met and worked with many press agents. I remember one of them saying once, “you know, there’s good news and there’s bad news. And then, there is some f*cking serious news.”   I know she would agree when I say the past few weeks have been filled with way too much of that serious news. As an arts writer, I froze in the midst of it. Somewhere in between the Boston marathon bombings, the fertilizer plant explosion in the … [Read more...]

Hydrocarbons: They’re What’s For Dinner

Menu for "A Tasting of Hydrocarbons and Geological Time" by Marina Zurkow

Editor's note: My partner Joseph Campana and I discovered Marina Zukow's work when it was presented in Houston by Diverseworks (see below). One of the most important American artists of her generation, Zurkow will be coming to Houston later this year as part of Joe and his colleague Tim Morton's unique seminar on energy and the arts. Joe sends this communication from Boston, where an unusual performance premiered last weekend. At a CVS on … [Read more...]

Living Room for the Performers

liminal_space_14Pews

Liminal Space Contemporary Music Ensemble is a recently-formed, Houston-based new music group I’ve decided to follow. Regrettably, I missed their first concert last year, devoted to John Cage’s work. Liminal’s second performance in December at the Station Museum was a stunning event focused on Frederick Rzewski (covered  elsewhere on this blog). The ensemble's founders and main performers Luke Hubley and George Heathco seem to share my own … [Read more...]

Only a Red Glow in the West

wozzeck

It was, without doubt, the frightening photo of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Evelyn Lear on the Deutsche Grammophon boxed vinyl recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck that first attracted me to this modern masterpiece. The cover promised whatever was contained inside was bound to be completely different. I was still an undergraduate music student at the time, and I’d had the pleasure of meeting Karl Böhm, conductor on the recording, when The Hartt … [Read more...]

Coming Together, in December

sam-melville

The weeks preceding Christmas might seem like a strange time for musical performances with a political and/or military flavor. Maybe not. In 1969, of course, John Lennon and Yoko Ono chose December to disseminate their billboard message, "WAR IS OVER! If You Want It - Happy Christmas From John and Yoko," around the world. We should be even more mindful of contemplating peace on earth right now, no? Two recent important concerts in Houston, … [Read more...]

Light Years

Jeremy Choate

The last time I spoke with Houston artist and lighting designer Jeremy Choate, he was planning an installation for the exterior building of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, a project about which he was very excited. This morning, I learned that Jeremy died suddenly Saturday night in Houston. Stopped at a red light on his motorcycle, a car running the light struck him. Jeremy was 33-years-old. Deeply creative and exceedingly polite, … [Read more...]

The Choreographer Vanishes

vanishing_1

Just before I moved to Texas, people warned me Houston was a kind of dance wasteland. Even a local critic told me there was “nothing here” in terms of dance, saying in a scolding tone, “you know, you’re not in New York!” While my experience has been variable (check out my latest review of Houston Ballet in the sidebar, after a depressing night of Ben Stevenson's Romeo and Juliet), the situation is hardly what I’d been told to expect. Sometimes, … [Read more...]

Dial M for Mahler

Kirill Gerstein, Pianist

The “iPhone Marimba Man” accused of ruining the New York Philharmonic’s recent Mahler 9th was stoned to death this past weekend in a secluded alley of the city’s meat-packing district. “It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it,” said one conductor wearing a woolen ski mask to conceal his identity. Photographers from New York Post and The National Enquirer were given exclusive access to the scene and are expected to distribute their lurid photos … [Read more...]

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