Monday, December 14, 2009

New England Aquarium and Under the Sea in 3D on IMAX was pleasant enough. I can watch fish in aquariums for hours. And the IMAX movie was immersive (pun intended) without being 3D gimmicky. I groaned (inside, at least) at some of the narration, but was fascinated by some of the footage, particularly of cuttlefish changing color and convict fish feeding in a wave across the sandy floor.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Went to Reckless by SpeakEasy. For the first half of it I was amused and annoyed and intrigued, wondering where this was all going. Somehow, it was redeemed for me toward the end as the theme of seeking redemption for past actions that turned out poorly hit home.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Went to MFA's First Fridays with cocktails and music in the old masters room. It was the first time I'd been at the event, and the first time I'd spent much time in the room with the paintings there. It was kind of fun and fascinating to make my way around the room spending time with each painting, overhearing snippets of conversations, listening to bits of Christmasy jazz, and sipping on a holiday ale. And now I'm acquainted with the old master works hanging in the gallery, too!
Went to BSO's Dvorak Symphony 8, Bartok Divertimento for String Orchestra and Martinu Violin Concerto 2. The Bartok was enjoyable enough, the Martinu well-played but not engaging to me, and the Dvorak familiar and delightful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heard the Back Bay Chorale do a mix of Italian music "for cathedral, concert hall, and opera house." I was particularly struck by the Rossini liturgical piece O salutaris Hostia, clearly dramatic, yet spiritual. I also enjoyed the other Rossini pieces from Péchés de vielillesse ("Sins of Old Age"), especially the Toast for the New Year -- so light and festive. It was also nice to sit with friends (one of whom I thought would be singing) and listen to other folks I know singing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I enjoyed Boston Philharmonic's All Wagner Program. In particular, Siegfried's Funeral March is quite moving for me. I was disappointed that often I couldn't hear the soprano soloist that well, with the whole orchestra on stage rather than underneath.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Enjoyed the BSO's open rehearsal!

I was surprised at the long line for tickets twenty minutes before the start time -- it stretched outside nearly to the corner of the building, and it didn't seem to be moving very quickly. I was worried about missing the beginning. It was cool to see a mix of people from college age to older folks with canes lining up for the concert.

I made it in a couple minutes before the conductor got on stage. I was disappointed that the seats I wanted up close on the first balcony were taken by the time I got there (open rehearsals -- open seating), and the ones on the other side I spied from across the hall turned out to be reserved. I went to my go-to seats at the back of the second balcony.

I came mostly for the Honegger Pastorale d'été and Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2, and was middling on the Stravinsky Petrushka (1947 version).

I was charmed by the Honegger. It had a gentle arc from quiet beginning to dance-y high point in the middle, back to calm. I reminded me a lot of Copland, but with a little more resonance or reverb. I thought a lot about how well this might work as a chamber ensemble arrangement, perhaps woodwind quintet plus string quartet and maybe string bass.

I was surprised by the Saint-Saëns on two counts. First, the composition itself more than met my expectations for a composition by him: well-crafted, intelligent, expressive, varied.

More memorable than the composition itself was the soloist, Lise de la Salle, 21 from France. She came on stage pretty casually with her hair loosely up in what looked like a bun, carrying her purse and wearing a baggy sweater in authoritative high heels. She sat down with poise. Then, wow.

I've heard a few virtuoso pianists in performances, but I don't remember being so impressed by one before. Incredible agility, power and grace. Go to a performance by her if you can!

After the first movement she took off her sweater to a few chuckles and tittering. Clearly she'd been working hard during the first movement, and under her sweater, she had a tighter one on that showed off her beautiful body.

The second movement was quite playful and charming and even from the back of symphony hall I could sense that she and the whole orchestra were enjoying the fun of the piece. At the remarkably cute ending, the audience laughed and chuckled out loud.

Apparently Ms de la Salle had been working hard on the second movement, too, because she then took off the second sweater, leaving herself in a thin-strapped little top. The audience laughed out loud, perhaps wondering, like I did, whether she'd take something else off after the third movement!

After the third movement, the audience was quick to applaud loudly, holler, and after the applause ended, talk excitedly into intermission. I don't recall the last time a classical performance has gotten so many people so excited.

The Stravinsky was well-done and familiar, but it just didn't grab me. I don't know why. I don't think I object to anything in it, but neither does anything really move me. (When I saw a couple of scenes by Basil Twist puppets, I was thoroughly engaged.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Danish organ music at King's Chapel in Boston was enjoyable enough. Nothing really grabbed me, and only one piece turned me off.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Saw comedian Vidur Kapur. A competent stand-up comic. Not particularly memorable, pleasant enough.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

King's Chapel Bach on the organ, played by Malcolm Proud.

I was surprised to be so moved by the chorale Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier BWV 731. So sweet and beautifully crafted and played.

The Prelude & Fuge in E minor BWV 548 was engaging and interesting, too. Still a bit much for me to follow the whole thing, but cool to notice things going on at shorter time scales.

I missed some of the Byrd piece at the beginning, but it was interesting to notice how much was going on compositionally with the work, though he died 60 years before Bach was born.

I like these noon concerts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Went to the Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade. It was quite cool to see all the people out with their lanterns, making a ring around the pond. Also nice to meet and run into a couple people I know.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl at Lyric Stage in Boston

Went with Paul to see this (he liked another play he saw by Ruhl, and I thought the review looked good and like the last thing I saw at the Lyric Stage: Grey Gardens).

A fun, clever, sometimes dark play well-performed and -staged. As ridiculous as much of it was, it had the quality for me of keeping me wobbling between awareness of the artifice of the play, emotional engagement with the characters, and curiosity about what's meant to be "real" and "imagined" -- both in the play and in the world. Nice.
BSO Beethoven Symphonies 1, 2, 5 open rehearsal.

After listening to the Teaching Company's Symphonies of Beethoven course lectures on these symphonies in preparation for the BSO's series of all nine of them, it was nice to hear them with "new ears" of a sort.

I was particularly engrossed in No 2, particularly the first movement, as the program notes said it was like the introduction of a number of characters in a comic opera. It got me thinking about wanting to find or commission one or several works that introduce "characters" associated with different instruments, then have the characters interact (counterpoint) and change (variations?, harmony, elaboration) over the course of the piece.

Friday, October 16, 2009

BSO Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky et al

I particularly liked the Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini, and am looking forward to hearing more Tchaikovsky soon. The Stravinsky Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra was engaging, though I'd have to listen to it again, I think, to have a clearer idea of the program notes' assertion that the influence of Tchaikovsky is all of it.

The Martinu (Frescoes of Piero della Francesca) and Thomas (Helios Choros II) were missable. In particular, while there were a couple of engaging short moments in the Thomas, it repeatedly reminded me of my dislike and dismissiveness of recent "bleep-bop" art music -- that to me sounds like a series of pairs of pitch-harmony-timbre clusters coming helter skelter one after another. *sigh* Fortunately, the concert ended with the Tchaikovsky.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The last of the MFA classes "The Creative Eye" finished today. While it started out a little awkward with me arriving a couple minutes late and realizing I was both the only male and the only one under 50 (I think -- there may have been a woman or two in her 40s). Each week we spent about a half hour each at three works (still lives, landscapes, portraits, sculpture), spending a long time looking and sketching or writing and then talking about what we saw and a bit about the painting, the style, the artist, etc. A lovely class that has helped me see more. And I was quite impressed with the teacher, who I wasn't surprised to find out had done education work at the Met.

Friday, October 09, 2009

BSO Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich conducted by Vasily Petrenko

A fascinating concert for many reasons:

It was the first time I sat in the first balcony very close to the stage where I could see the conductor well from the side.

Vasiliy Petrenko was fascinating to watch: young, intense, authoritative without seeming imperious, gracious to the audience, and making more use of his face and body in more different ways than I remember seeing a conductor do before. I'd like to watch him again.

While none of the three pieces (Stravinsky Scherzo Fantastique, Rachmaninoff Isle of the Dead, and Shostakovich Symphony 10) really grabbed me, I enjoyed all of them. The standout for me was the Rachmaninoff (who I generally like) and the clear inspiration and relationship with the painting that matches the name of the piece.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Boston Philharmonic Brahms Violin Concerto in D Op. 77 and Dvorak Symphony 7.

Went with Tim to this lovely concert in Sanders Theatre. The Violin concert was well-performed, but didn't grab me. The encore by Feng Ning was an impressive arrangement of a classical guitar piece.

I don't remember hearing the Dvorak Symphony 7 before, but I really liked it. I was also pleased that as Ben Zander was talking about the piece and having the orchestra play excerpts, I though "ooh, that sounds like Wagner", at which point he turned and said, "If you like that, come back for our Wagner concert next time."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Saw Paula Poundstone with Mark at the Wilbur Theater. Lots of fun. The most memorable for me was her talking about how awful she thought it would be to fell like your marriage was threatened by gay marriage. "Um, Honey, I'm not feeling close to you now that Patrice and Maureen are getting married."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Donkey Show was kind of fun, and there were lots of beautiful people, both in the cast in glitter and on the floor as audience, but it just didn't grab me. I'm glad I brought ear plugs, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I saw Fences at the Huntington with Erik and Alex up from Providence. I was quite impressed with the show. I've liked August Wilson works put on at the Huntington before, but I don't remember the audience gasping three times during a play before. And I gasped once, too -- a rarity for me. And it was just on the simple delivery of surprising and heartbreaking news -- no violence, no screaming, just a devastating statement of fact. Looking forward to the next Huntington show I see next year.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Had a lovely little trip to Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor with Rick. Kind of cool yet strange to see how green it's becoming after being filled upwards in the 1990s. Lots of open grass, nice to lie in and feel the wind and the sun without hearing much of the city a few miles away.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Varla Jean Merman in Provincetown was excellent and, as expected, bawdy and funny. Varla Jean and the Mushroom Heads got to play with kids' shows in an even racier way than Avenue Q. Can't wait to see her again.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Brave New Workshop Saves the Planet; or Yes We Can, but Do We Have To? with Jon and Kristin was lots of fun. An actually funny and clever (and sometimes juvenile) satire/two-act-set-of-related-sketches. I was particularly struck by Kim Jong Il's plans for a doomsday unicorn from his guts. I still snicker at the little soliloquy. (Dudley Riggs)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Went back to the ICA again with Larry to see the Shepard Fairey exhibit again before it closes up. Wow I like his stuff, especially at such huge scale. Reminds me a bit of how Beethoven can take stuff and repurpose and vary and recombine it to make amazing new stuff from fairly simple starting materials.
Went to the New England Aquarium. Was pleasantly surprised -- despite the dark bunker of a building, there's a lot of cool exhibits. I war particularly enthralled by the Giant Ocean Tank, and the penguins were fun, and the jellies mesmerizing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Went to Mass MoCA in N. Adams. I was particularly struck by two exhibits: The big Sol LeWitt exhibit, particularly his early work on the first floor. I also appreciated Guy Ben-Ner's Treehouse Kit, a bit of Robinson Crusoe from Ikea components.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

They Might Be Giants put on a good show, but man it was loud. I'm glad I had earplugs. Peter used them until he'd had enough, then I did. Didn't really grab me, though it was fun to hear some of my favorite novelties: Particle Man and Istanbul. Also nice to run into a college friend.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boston Gay Men's Chorus: Boys Just Wanna Have Fun: Totally 80s was fun, energetically performed, and at times touching and moving. Fortunately, early sound mixing that overwhelmed the chorus with the band got better and I could enjoy the show. I wouldn't want to see this kind of concert all the time, but it was a lovely little diversion.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More catching up -- Attended:

Grey Gardens at Lyric Stage May 8 - June 6

UP in 3D at Castro Theater

[Greek-Italian-American Cabaret at Sculler's]

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Catching up -- Attended:

Alvin Ailey at The Opera House April 28 - May 3 - live with Sweet Honey in the Rock April 28

Gold Dust Orphans show "Willy Wanker..." April 24 - May 24

SpeakEasy Stage Jerry Springer The Opera at Calderwood May 1 - 30

Boston Gay & Lesbian Film Festival at the MFA May 7 - 18

Max Culpepper's farewell concert with the Dartmouth Wind Symphony May 10 2:00pm at Dartmouth

Boston Ballet Ballets Russes May 14 - 17

Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Sunday afternoon, Jim and I went to see The Buddha In His Own Words. I thought it was well-written and interesting, but the storytelling and acting didn't draw me in. It felt like something between an animated university lecture and a story hour, but didn't get to the level of intensity that a one-man play needs to in order to get me involved.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday night I went to Boston Lyric Opera's Dvorak "Rusalka", which was performed quite nicely with engaging staging. It's a lovely piece of music, and I'm glad I listened to the talk beforehand -- I had no idea that Dvorak was into the whole leitmotif thing, too. And I'm glad I brought binoculars with me -- being able to see the performers closer-up brings me much more into the experience, even if I don't use them the whole length of the show.

Unfortunately, the first half of the first act was marred by lobby conversations audible in the hall and an extremely disruptive latecomer seating mob, right at the beginning of the highlight aria. *sigh*
Went to the Friday afternoon Boston Symphony Orchestra concert of Stravinsky "Petrushka", Ravel "Mother Goose" and Prokofiev "Violin Concerto No 2".

I really liked Petrushka, I thought I'd like Mother Goose much more than I did based on the description, and the Prokofiev was nice.

Overall, it was really great to be in the hall (this time on the second balcony in back with great sound and no annoying person behind me. I was alternately drawn in to the music and stimulated to think about various things, mostly inventing-related, which was actually nice. I might go just for that kind of stimulation.

Between the first and second pieces, as the orchestra was rearranging, I saw someone change the conductor's score and I wondered how they make sure that they get the right one. Do they have a checklist backstage? Do they check with the players to make sure of what's next?

Then the conductor and soloist came on and there was a longer-than-expected delay before starting the piece. The guy who changed the scores came out and looked at the score and then red-faced (I presume) took it back stage and brought a different score, to the chuckling of the audience mixed with light applause. What a fun coincidence! (Fun for me, at least -- I expect he was somewhere between disappointed and mortified.

Based on this, I'm likely to try to head back to get rush tickets ($9), even if I'm not that excited by the program -- just being there is great.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

London Symphony Orchestra Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 & Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 at Symphony Hall March 25 was lovely and inspiring (despite the man with the noisy plastic bag right behind me -- who let it fall to the floor at one point, then noisily picked it up again so that he could have it in his lap to make more noise with -- *sigh*).

First, it was nice to be back in Symphony Hall -- a lovely place that I have fond memories of. Then as soon as the music started, I also remembered how beautiful the sound is -- both clear and warm and enveloping, even though I was near the back just under the first balcony overhang.

While themes from the Beethoven were familiar to me, it felt mostly new. It was fun to be able to listen more closely after listening to a number of lecture + concerts of Beethoven's String Quartets that I heard in San Francisco a couple years ago. And the playing was first-rate -- both expressive and precise. It also was interesting to watch Giergiev conduct -- without baton and with often floppy-jointed gestures.

The Prokoviev was all new to me as far as I can tell, and while it wasn't as preciously beautiful as much of the Beethoven was, there was lots of rhythmic excitement and much richer and varied orchestral textures.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Symphony Hall for more Russian composers at the next BSO program.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Of Mice and Mink" by Gold Dust Orphans was fun and well-done. I'm glad D reminded me of them and then went with me to see the show. I'm also glad I read "Of Mice and Men" so that I could appreciate how they played with the original material. (I didn't know anything about the story besides that it was American before that.)

I'm looking forward to their next show: "Willy Wanker and the Hershey Highway". Seriously. (Or they're just pulling all the audience members' legs, which could be, too.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"I Love You Man" with S last night was much funnier and cleverer and sweeter than I expected.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sita Sings The Blues (at the Boston MFA)was engrossing and charming and fun! (You can even watch it online.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I saw Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Acropolis Now with DT on Sunday March 15. It was as fun and silly and clever as I'd remembered the shows to be... I'm looking forward to next year's show.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I saw Wonderboy performed by Joe Goode Performance Group with Basil Twist-directed puppetry at Northeastern U. on March 14. I was engaged but not super-excited by the first piece on the program, but I was charmed and really enjoyed the combination dance and puppetry second piece. A bit of magic and fun and tenderness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I saw Two Men of Florence at the Huntington on March 12, and enjoyed it. The set was cool and effective. By intermission, I thought 'well, that's well-set-up, but where's the conflict?' Then the Pope decided something was really wrong, and things did get interesting.

Afterwards, the Out and About reception and backstage tour was nice.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I enjoyed the Triangle Gay Men's Chorus fundraiser and performance called 'Feelin' Groovy' on March 7 in Durham, at the lovely Duke Gardens. It was nice to enjoy the chorus singing, and really revel in how lovely they (formerly we) could sound, especially in a sweet little arrangement (by Roger Emerson) of Scarborough Fair.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I went to the Opera Boston performance of The Nose on March 3. I was looking forward to seeing someone I knew from college in the title role. By the time I got there, the only tickets I was willing to pay for had the supertitles blocked. I enjoyed the pre-concert talk, and the show seemed to get off to a good start, and I enjoyed some of the clever stagecraft. Unfortunately, the music just didn't engage me, I couldn't see the guy from college under his foam costume, and I just wasn't enjoying it. I left at the intermission. I suspect I would have enjoyed it a little more being able to follow a little more closely with the supertitles, but I don't think it would have drawn me to stay. Oh well.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I saw The Corn Is Green at the Huntington. As I remember other Huntington productions, this one was extremely well-crafted and well-performed, ranging from gags that would be at home on a sit-com to anguish in the face of dilemmas.

It's uncommon for me to get misty-eyed at a show, but I did at this one, reflecting on the teacher's sacrifice for her student. It was quite humbling to consider how much my teachers have done for me (though none of them adopted my unplanned child).

I'm eager to get back to the Huntinton many, many more times.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saw Bread and Puppet Theater Sourdough Philosophy Spectacle at BCA Cyclorama in Boston. I'd wanted to see a B&PT show for many years. It was certainly interesting, both for theatrical techniques (from primal sounds to crowd scenes) and for themes, but it really wasn't my thing. I was walking out when the show came to a close.
Bread & Puppet Sourdough Philosophy Spectacle at BCA Cyclorama was painful and slow. I admire their earnestness and effort, but I don't want to be stuck indoors at one of their performances again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saw A Chorus Line at Broadway Series South in Raleigh. It was well-performed, and it was kind of cool having the 'Director' doing his part from a few feet away from me in the house, but the show just didn't grab me.