More discriminating coverage of local classical music would serve the community well.
Thursday, March 30, 2000
Preparing to write a short advance piece about a local production, I approached the presenter for additional material, adding, "I try to help when I can, between being..."
"Bitchy?" was instantly proposed by the other party.
After a bemused moment, I accepted the suggestion, even though I had been prepared with "critical."
The exchange reminded me of the presenters'' axiom: Criticism is always bad. There''s another: The well-financed presenter will dedicate considerable effort to ingratiating its sycophants with the popular media.
In some cases, such conflict of interest is flagrant, as for example the Monterey Symphony reviews written by Barbara Rose Shuler for the Monterey County Herald while serving as the regular host of the Symphony''s broadcasts on KBOQ. (In her last review, Shuler praised the performance by piano soloist John O''Conor while ignoring his widely discussed missed notes and memory lapses.)
This kind of writing seems less designed to report events than to gain accolades from the obviously self-interested presenting organizations. In addition to such obvious indiscretions are the insidious ones, those in which some writers fill their columns with minutiae in order to avoid acknowledging performance failures. Whether overt or covert, writing that finds everything praiseworthy and nothing unsuccessful celebrates only mediocrity.
Here''s the bottom line: All presenting organizations bring solicited money and other community resources to their productions. A critical assessment needs to understand those assets and resources, and to evaluate the resulting product accordingly. When a well-financed organization serves up a stinky egg, it is the responsibility of the reviewer or critic to say so. Obviously, no one else will. No one, that is, but the many concertgoers in this community who continually inform me that they know the difference, and, unlike some local writers, would not eat a stinky egg just because one was served them.
In its debut for the Salinas Concert Association, the Trio con Brio tilted decidedly in favor of its vocalist, soprano Judith Dickison. That didn''t appear to be the original plan, but the singer''s radiant personality and stage presence pretty well stole the show at the Hartnell Main Stage theater on March 18. Through most of the varied program, pianist Melinda Coffey accompanied Dickison and cellist Nancy Skei accompanied Coffey. This protocol produced the best results, a worthy and satisfying song recital. When Coffey played alone, or when Skei was the focal point, the result was, comparatively, more like hausmusik.
Dickison, who lately sang a challenging song collection by Joseph Schwantner with Ensemble Monterey, showed remarkable range in music by Purcell, Head, Rodrigo, Cannon and aus Broadway. This first outing by Trio con Brio has raised some questions for these artists, each of whom brings different strengths to the concept. With the Brio stacked so heavily on Dickison, a name change that more accurately reflected those strengths might be worth consideration.
The vocal competition conducted by the Carmel Music Society last Saturday awarded its top three prizes to baritone Kenneth Goodson (age 32), soprano Jenni Samuelson (age 25) and soprano Corinne Larsen (age 21) respectively. According to opera maven Barbara Smythe, who attended the awards concert, the prizes accurately reflected the age and experience of the three winners. As part of his prize, Goodson will appear March 5 during the 2000-2001 CMS subscription season. Eight finalists were selected from a field of applicants, all from California. The judges were Blanche Thebom, Dorothy Warenskjold and David Gordon.
Duo Recital Saturday, 4pm. Pianist Kumi Uyeda and violinist Greg Mazmanian perform "an eclectic concert" from classical to jazz (Brahms, Bartok, Schubert, Gershwin, folk music). All Saints Episcopal Church, Carmel. Benefit for Monterey Bay Charter School. $10/adults, $5/kids. 394-5888.
Orpheus String Quartet Saturday, 8pm. Mozart Society hosts program of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert. Sunset Center, San Carlos and 9th, Carmel. $15/adults, $5/students. 625-3637.
Lute/Guitar Recital Sunday, 1:30pm. Robert McNamara plays Renaissance lute and guitar music at MPMA''s La Mirada Gallery, 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. 372-5477.
Il Giardino Armonico Sunday, 3pm. Giovanni Antonini conducts Grammy-winning Baroque orchestra, hosted by Carmel Bach Festival. Sunset Center, San Carlos and 9th, Carmel. $30, $25. 624-2046.
Monterey High Showcase Concert Monday, 7pm. Choral, orchestra and band forces from Colton and King Middle schools join Monterey High School for major spring program. Randall Gymnasium, Monterey High, 101 Herrmann Dr., Monterey. Free. 649-1042.