Critic’s Notebook Dec. 2012 – Numbers and Nutcrackers

By Kris Eitland | December 12, 2012 |

DANCE/USA An unexpected visit from Amy Fitterer, Executive Director for Dance/USA, dovetailed nicely with recent announcements from the National Endowment for the Arts. While nine NEA grants totaling $213,000 were awarded to San Diego County organizations, none were for dance projects. Most notably missing from the list was Trolley Dances which has been producing site-specific work along the tracks for 15 years. The lack of awards for dance and the small turnout made Fitterer’s visit especially welcome, since the mission of Dance/USA is to unite members and advocate for dance in America. Dance/USA is the only national service organization for…

John Williams Conducts His Music with the Symphony

By Ken Herman | December 8, 2012 |
John Williams (photo courtesy of the San Diego Symphony)

The San Diego Symphony went for the best of both worlds Friday (Dec. 7) when they brought in John Williams to guest conduct a program of his own music. Easily the most recognized and acclaimed living film composer, Williams has also established himself as a significant orchestral composer, although acclaim has not yet attached itself to this facet of his persona. Williams’ program divided neatly into familiar excerpts from his beloved film collaborations with Steven Spielberg—“Star Wars,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Schindler’s List,” “Harry Potter,” and the recently released “Lincoln”—and two of his works for cello and orchestra, the Cello Concerto…

Zen and the Art of Drumming: Steven Schick in Carlsbad

By Ken Herman | December 7, 2012 |
Steven Schick (photo courtesy of the performer)

When an accomplished musician gives a solo recital, the performer is typically aided by a fine instrument, perhaps an 18th-century violin or cello hand-crafted in Italy or an imposing 9-foot concert grand piano. The performer’s artistry is expressed through an instrument of first-rate craftsmanship. In an intimate solo recital Tuesday (Dec. 4) for the Carlsbad Music Festival, virtuoso percussionist Steven Schick proved he needed no such crutch to enthrall his audience. Give him a single triangle suspended on a stand, or a pair of maracas, or even four cheap flowerpots on a table, and he is Horowitz with drumsticks. A…

“A Christmas Carol” As 1940’s Radio Drama in Old Town

By Ken Herman | December 4, 2012 |
Cast of Cygnet Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" (photo by Daren Scott)

As a conjurer of distinctive, unforgettable characters in his many novels, Charles Dickens could never be accused of lacking imagination. But I do wonder if he could have possibly imagined the many incarnations his 1843 book “A Christmas Carol” would assume in its long afterlife. Within a year of its publication, “A Christmas Carol” was adapted for the stage in both London and New York, and in recent decades its myriad theatrical presentations have become for North American drama companies the Christmas season cash cow that Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet is to countless dance ensembles. Ah, but the stage was only…

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