Category Archives: Reviews and Criticism

Arguendo – Bringing the Supreme Court to Life

Just back from NYC where I saw 16 performances in 10 days, the entire Prototype Festival of new opera, co presented by HERE Art Center and Beth Morrison Projects, and large chunks of the Under the Radar festival at the Public Theater. That’s a lot of theater. And much of it was fantastic. When askedContinue Reading

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Come for the Schoenberg, stay for the Johnson

The Avant Music Festival got a lot of press earlier this week for their part in the John Cage centennial, a sold out marathon concert of his works. While I missed that extravaganza, I was able to swing by for the third concert of this, their third year. The first half was dedicated to Schoenberg’s seminalContinue Reading

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Review: Little Match Girl Passion – Death Speaks

To get to Dinkelspiel Auditorium for an 8pm concert on a Wednesday requires leaving San Francisco at 6pm, an hour to get to Palo Alto fighting traffic all the way, and then another 45 minutes to an hour to fight the crowds to get a scarce campus parking space. Things will be different when StanfordContinue Reading

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The worst music ever written

A couple of weeks ago I recorded an episode of VoiceBox with Chloe Veltman about the worst vocal music ever written. While preparing for the show I did my best to try to analyze the nature of “badness”, perhaps even creating a taxonomy of characteristics that contribute to bad music. The goal was to notContinue Reading

One Response to The worst music ever written

  1. David Rodwin says:

    Oh,I’m smart enough to get it. I just don’t want it. 🙂

    So, you can have The Shaggs all to yourself.

    (BTW, did you see the musical Gunnar and my friend Joy did of (The Philosophy…”)

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Glacial is the New Black: Satyagraha and Shen Wei

Somewhere imprinted in my brain is a sacred rule of story: take only as much time as you need to get an idea across. Get in, make your point, get out. Keep things moving and don’t lose your audience. But this week in New York two separate pieces, both non-narrative, reduced me to tears byContinue ReadingContinue Reading

One Response to Glacial is the New Black: Satyagraha and Shen Wei

  1. David Rodwin says:

    These are my thoughts on Satyagraha. A little less technical a little more emotional.

    And I give a shout out to you and Music vs. Theatre!

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The creepiest thing ever…

What’s creepier than the Teletubbies? Teletubbies in slow motion with a Arnold Schoenberg soundtrack. (Warning, if you’re easily spooked, you should probably watch something a little less creepy. Like ‘The Ring’ or ‘Saw III’.)

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Tweaking a masterpiece: Assassins

Few, if any, musicals mine darker creative ore than Assassins. By humanizing a group of disenfranchised, semi-stable malcontents, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman tell a story of the American Nightmare, a haze of anger, frustration, and humiliation that can, apparently, only be relieved by killing the President of the United States. It’s long been inContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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A 1-bit rave (with no dancing)

When in New York last month I was lucky enough to be invited to the advanced opening of Ryoji Ikeda’s mammoth video/audio installation the transfinite at the Park Avenue Armory. It’s a 40′ high screen, both imposing and overwhelming. The front side, entitled test pattern is a series of aggressive strobing black and white patternsContinue Reading

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Brilliant? According to whom?

Early on in the week, based upon a few tweets from chambermusiciantoday and Sequenza21, I checked out Elodie Lauten’s ‘new’ opera The Death of Don Juan (apparently it originated in the 80s, but this is the first staging and it was radically overhauled). The timing was right, I was going to be in the neighborhood,Continue ReadingContinue Reading

One Response to Brilliant? According to whom?

  1. I couldn’t agree more and since I cannot express it any better than you have, I’ll leave it at that. Just taking this opportunity to tell you how much I admire and enjoy your writing style Brian! Keep the posts coming!

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Schick Machine: A One (White) Man Blue Man Group

Part sculpture, part monodrama, part concerto for virtuoso percussionist, Schick Machine is a genre defying performance piece that combines its disparate elements into a surprisingly delightful 80 minutes. This collaboration of composer Paul Dresher, percussionist Steven Schick, instrument builder Daniel Schmidt and writer Rinde Eckert may not be life altering theater, but it is aContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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