MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Dover Quartet at Cal Performances

While preparing to write program notes for the upcoming stream from Cal Performances — a concert by the Dover Quartet that premieres on 10 December — I got to submerge myself in some glorious string quartets. Along with Haydn’s Op. 76, No. 2 (“Die Quinten”) and Dvořák’s magnificent Op. 106, the Dovers will perform an early work from the years while György Ligeti was still in Budapest (Métamorphoses nocturnes).

Here’s a look at the Ligeti, with score included:

Filed under: Cal Performances, Ligeti, string quartet

Reframing the Image: A Contemporary Lens on Robert Mapplethorpe’s Provocative Art

triptych-eyes-of-one-on-another-5@2x

Later this month, Cal Performances will present Triptych — a meditation on the legacy of Robert Mapplethorpe 30 years after his death that was composed by Bryce Dessner to a libretto by korde arrington tuttle. Here’s the article on this hybrid theatrical work I wrote for Cal Performances:

In this age of selfies, promiscuously disseminated Snapchat sexting, and Instagram—the omnipresent reflection of our image-saturated, disposable culture—it almost defies belief that an exhibition of photographs was once the flashpoint for the culture wars that continue to divide America…

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Filed under: art exhibition, Bryce Dessner, Cal Performances, Patti Smith, photography

World Premiere of Dreamers

article-header-dreamers

If you can’t make the world premiere of Dreamers this weekend by composer Jimmy López and playwright Nilo Cruz, don’t miss the live stream of Sunday afternoon’s concert (3pm West Coast time). Esa-Pekka Salonen is the conductor.

For more background, here’s my preview of a work that could not be more timely.

Filed under: Cal Performances, Jimmy López, new music

Dreamers at Cal Performances

article-header-dreamers

My story on a major upcoming new premiere by Jimmy López in collaboration with Nilo Cruz has been posted here.

Music Makes the Dream Reality:
A New Oratorio Inspired by the Immigrant Experience

It has been a few years since composer Jimmy López and playwright Nilo Cruz first conceived their latest collaboration, the oratorio Dreamers. But the message behind this musical-dramatic reflection on the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants seems to become more pressingly relevant every day. The work, which was commissioned by Cal Performances and receives its highly anticipated world premiere March 17 in Zellerbach Hall, pays homage to the experiences of Berkeley students who were brought to the United States as children and now face uncertain legal status.

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Filed under: Cal Performances, Jimmy López, Nilo Cruz

Within and Without: Addressing Citizenship through Artistic Engagement


Cal Performances at Berkeley has an especially compelling season lined up and is genuinely engaged with issues critical to our time — including the premiere of a new work commissioned by composer Jimmy López and writer-playwright Nilo Cruz. Here’s my preview:

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Filed under: Cal Performances, Jimmy López, Uncategorized

Bye Bye Beethoven

Last night at Zellerbach Hall, Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s remarkable staged concert,Bye Bye Beethoven, opened the Berkeley edition of the programs she just curated for the 2018 Ojai Festival. One of the most creative deconstructions I’ve seen in a while, one that really achieves what it sets out to do: to shake us out of the stupor of the safe concert routine and show us what we’ve been missing.

According to Kopatchinskaja, “the concert routine around the world is so absurd,” continually replaying the same icons “with not very much imagination relevant to our time.” Bye Bye Beethoven dramatizes her concern “about petrified traditions. I don’t think Beethoven would be happy to know that in the future his music would take so much space.”

It’s not iconoclasm—ultimately, a Puritan approach—but rather a wittily inventive transformation of perceptions that motivates Bye Bye Beethoven.

This is the kind of work being done all the time in the visual arts, in poetry, in fiction, in film. Why can’t we have more of it in concert life?

Filed under: Cal Performances, directors, Patricia Kopatchinskaja

Patricia Kopatchinskaja Comes to California

ojai-at-berkeley@2xPatricia Kopatchinskaja is an ideal choice to be this year’s music director of the Ojai Festival. In advance of the festival’s northern edition, Ojai at Berkeley, here’s my profile of this incomparable artist for Cal Performances:

Matters of technical proficiency are well accounted for in the arsenal of words that critics have at their disposal to describe what sets a musician apart. What is sorely lacking is …

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Filed under: Cal Performances, Ojai Festival, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, profile, violinists

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