Archive for the ‘Announcements’Category

Tonight’s the night!

In preparation for tonight’s big concert I’ve posted the program notes for the eponymous song cycle, A Brief History of Love and Poetry in the Listen section of the blog. With any luck, the audio from tonight’s performance will soon be posted there as well (at least for the poems that don’t cost over $1000 to purchase mechanical licenses).

In the meantime I’m going over my mental checklist to make sure everything’s all set for tonight. Cookies are baked, wine purchased, programs folded, clothing picked out. Oh yes, at some point there’s the music.

Hope to see many of you at the Community Music Center tonight…


Apr 2011


Happy monkey is happy (and NOT a hypocrite)

Fantastic news here in Music vs Theater world! The San Francisco chapter of the American Composer’s Forum has seen fit to award me a Subito grant to help produce this weekend’s premiere of my song cycle (and other works)!

This is a huge deal, not only will it make it much more likely that we’ll be able to cover all the expenses (as well as pay the musicians closer to what they deserve), but with any luck, it will pave the way for future grants.

But, looking for the grey cloud behind this silver lining in this particular horse’s mouth, it looks like it’s time for me to revisit my post whining about how hard it is for new-ish composers to get arts grants. After all, can I still maintain that arts funding does more harm than good in the face of this new award?

Unfortunately, I kinda think so. Read the rest of this entry →

A Brief History of Love and Poetry – World Premiere April 23rd

I’m excited to announce that on April 23rd several of my new pieces will be premiered in San Francisco in an evening length concert dedicated to my work as a composer. A Brief History of Love and Poetry is a song cycle I composed late last year for baritone and mezzo soprano. It’s a setting of five love poems spanning a 150 year period, each expressing a different aspect of human relationships. Cary Ann Rosko and Robert Stafford will be singing with Keisuke Nakagoshi on piano.

In addition to the song cycle, there will be the first public performance of my string quartet, excerpts of my upcoming opera Failing That, and excerpts from the opera adaptation of Alice in Wonderland I wrote for Cinnabar Theater. A casual reception with snacks and drinks will follow.

For more information, please visit this page:

A Brief History of Love and Poetry


Mar 2011

Tonight: Free chamber music at the DeYoung

Does this look like what Debussy sounds like?

The Cypress String Quartet is performing Debussy’s luminous String Quartet as well as a piece by Pulitzer Prize winning Jennifer Higdon at the DeYoung tonight at 7pm in the Koret Auditorium. The general idea is to capitalize on the connection between the impressionism exhibit on loan from the d’Orsay and the impressionist musical movement largely associated with Debussy. I’m wary of drawing connections between styles of visual arts  and music but like it or not, there’s an almost unshakeable association between the work of Ravel and Debussy and gauzy representations of lakes and ballerinas.

But who’s complaining? This is going to be great music performed by a top notch ensemble. And it’s free! (Although I think it costs extra to see the actual exhibit.) Come on out.


Jul 2010

Tobias Picker starts foodie trend in New York

June 2010 Playbill

Apparently, when Tobias Picker eats, broadway listens.  Mere weeks after Mr. Picker was spotted at a Petaluma Applebee’s, broadway heart-throb Hunter Ryan Herdlicka told Playbill magazine that Applebee’s was the perfect spot to catch a post-show snack.  He even singled out the spinach and artichoke dip!

Maybe the New York Times will send a critic to Taste of Petaluma this year to spot next year’s trends…


Jun 2010

Save the small theaters!

Oh man.  Another small theater is taken out of commission.  I just learned that Climate Theater has lost its lease and is moving operations to the Traveling Jewish Theater.  Chloe Veltman covered it on her blog.  (Somehow I keep crossing paths with Chloe Veltman.  I think I only met her in person once, very briefly at the opening night parties that Cutting Ball theater threw for their production of Mud, but she keeps on popping up.  First she’s friends with fellow Richter Scale Jerry Cain (via NY Times blogger Scott James).  Then she’s interviewing my composition teacher David Conte.  This time I was actually in Jessica Heidt’s living room getting ready to do some work on Failing That while Chloe was interviewing her. One of these days we might actually have a conversation. But I digress…)

As someone who prefers his theatrical spaces to be intimate (more accurately, someone who prefers theater that isn’t going to draw more than 50 people in any given night) this is a bummer. We need all the small spaces we can get. So as a tribute to the Climate’s lost space, why don’t you take a look at what’s playing in San Francisco’s teeny houses this weekend. Or next weekend. (But don’t wait too much longer, lest they lose their leases as well…)

The Real Kim Harmon is doing a performance piece in the art space/curio shop hybrid Viracocha in the mission

The Dark Room is continuing it’s Twilight Zone productions as well as their bad movie nights.

Stage Werx has Lisa Marie Rollins’ solo show  Ungrateful Daughter (which features a scene that came from a suggestion I made at one of W Kamau Bell‘s solo performance workshops…)

SF Playhouse is previewing their re-imagining of The Fantasticks set in a contemporary dystopia.

The Garage has got the athletic dance group the San Francisco Moving Men

Counterpulse has a new show about LGBTQ elders by Outlook Theater Productions

Intersection for the Arts is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a Gala auction.

And, of course, up in Petaluma, I’ll be performing in the closing night of Emmeline at teeny opera company Cinnabar.



Jun 2010

Cultural whiplash, aka Opera Sandwich, aka Free A Cappella TONIGHT!

One of the best things about singing in operas is that you rarely have performances (or rehearsals for that matter) two days in a row.  This is in stark contrast to plain ole musical theater where, for all intents and purposes, you might as well bring your toothbrush and sleeping bag, since you will be spending the bulk of your life in that theater for a couple of months.  There’s a reason Equity rules require a cot for each production (Section 58, C-8). Well, not a reason that makes much sense, but still it’s a reason.

Anyways, invariably those days between shows get filled up with other shows.  Like tonight. Fresh from performing in a contemporary opera about the cruelties of convention in puritanical early New England, I’ll be singing some a cappella ditties with my best friends, the Richter Scales. And then eighteen hours later, I’ll be back in the pre industrial age shunning my hapless daughter for sins she had no idea she committed.

Richter Scales – Puttin on the Ritz
7:30 pm
St Peter’s Church
178 Clinton Street
Redwood City, CA
Saturday, June 5, 2010

It’s fun.  And free. So if you’re in the bay area, come on by and say hi. I’ll be the guy with the ridiculous muttonchops waving his hands in the front.


Jun 2010

Channeling my inner Merman

In the great canon of musical theater and opera roles, there are a few numbers that every actor/actress aspires to perform. Show stopping, scenery chewing, career making moments that put all of your talents on display for the world to see. The finale of Cabaret, Ya Got Trouble from the Music Man, and my personal aspiration, Sweeney Todd’s Epiphany.

This Saturday night, I’m going to be performing the big one.  The great grand daddy of all musical theater show stoppers.

I’m performing Rose’s Turn.

That’s right. Me. In Ethel Merman’s shoes. Belting away, strutting my stuff in that triumphant nervous breakdown of the hopelessly abandoned, desperate, and deluded.

But this isn’t a production of Gypsy.  Oh no. Not at all. What we have here is a genre mash-up of Gypsy and the Exodus. Called, (of course) “Everything’s Coming Up Moses.” That’s right. Moses.  And I’m playing Moses. And it’s pretty damn inspired. It originated from the pen of New York author and playwright Rachel Shukert and had it’s first reading last Passover in NY. It went over well so they’re bringing it out to San Francisco this Saturday as part of the Dawn Festival. It’s a staged reading, so the whole affair will be pretty loose, but still. I can’t wait to sing this music. It’s a welcome relief from rehearsals for an opera about a miserable New England teenaged girl who gets raped before intermission. (And the second act is even sadder.)

So, come on out to the California Academy of Science this Saturday night. The tickets are advance purchase only. Hope to see you there…

Oh…and here’s Bernadette Peters doing Rose’s Turn at the Tony Awards in 2003. (fast forward to 0:51 to skip the intro talking)


May 2010

Richard Foreman bails on theater

Looks like Richard Foreman was serious this time. He’s not doing anymore theater productions. I’m damn glad I caught Idiot Savant last year at Joe’s Pub. I’ve been a big fan of Foreman’s work since I went to see Lumberjack Messiah on a complete whim five years ago. Now I see whatever is playing at Ontological-Hysteric whenever I’m in NYC.

Foreman’s own pieces were surreal, lyric, highly stylized, fetishistic affairs. I had long imagined a kind of theater that was more music than narrative, using phrases, gestures and situations as motifs and melodies and his pieces were the first I had seen that realized that vision.

I’ve found his film and video work much less compelling. I’ve only seen a few pieces, but what I’ve seen is pretty damn boring: non-actors standing in a room, staring at a camera, repeating a phrase or two, making a gesture… hohum. I don’t get it. I’m sad to hear that this is where he plans to spend his effort from now on. Maybe they’ll get more interesting…


May 2010

More #Operaplotting

Instead of working on my own opera I seem to be spending the night trying to summarize other operas in under 130 characters. Hmmm… Maybe in a few years people will be trying to summarize Failing That in under 130 characters. Assuming I’m finished in a few years.

Here’s the latest batch:

La Boheme

“OMG, so, it’s like a remake of ‘Rent’, only they used, like, CLASSICAL music. What a cool idea, right?” Cue facepalm. #operaplot (via GenY)

Turn of the Screw

Mix one part Mary Poppins and one part Sixth Sense. Turn until screwed. #operaplot

The Ring Cycle

How do you summarize an opera with over 130 characters in under 130 characters? Damn you Wagner. #operaplot

Das Rheingold

Something about three girls in a river and a dwarf stealing their gold. Ummm… never made it past the first scene. #operaplot

OK. That’s enough. I need to try to get some “real” work done.


Apr 2010