I’m teaching a course this semester on music, writing, and culture in Houston, sponsored by the wonderful Humanities Research Center here at Rice University. After four concerts and five excellent guest speakers, the course culminated with a visit from The New Yorker’s Alex Ross last week. You can read about it on the English department website if you like, but in summary, it was a brilliant visit full of Catherisms, Wagnerisms and other favorite things.
A beautiful opera, no doubt about it. And it fared much better in the cavernous George R. Brown Convention Center than last week’s La Traviata. Read my review at Houstonia.
How do you review an opera after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey wipes out its hall for a season? It’s not anything I ever learned in school. At Houston Grand Opera’s season opening night of La Traviata on Friday, I heard all kinds of mixed emotions from the audience who, replete in black tie, clambered around the George R. Brown Convention Center hall HGO had valiantly converted into an opera theatre. Take a look at the varying reviews coming out. At Houstonia Magazine, mine is but one version of what’s going on and how to talk about it. Particularly, I admire Joseph Campana’s review at Culturemap–do check it out too.
Read my review of Friday night’s concert at Bachtrack.
Aperio, Music of the Americas, broke the spell downtown with the first concert since Harvey hit. And, notably, it was with a world premiere arrangement of a work that I never thought I’d hear live: Philip Glass’ Aguas da Amazonia. An ambitious undertaking and a heartfelt performance. Read my review at Houstonia Magazine.
Yesterday I saw blue sky for the first time in days, and it was a moment of relief, but Harvey will be lingering in Houston for years to come. Among the many traumatic images and stories of suffering, my thoughts are with the Houston Theater District–Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, the Alley–that has experienced devastating flooding and loss. It’s a massive blow to our rich, artistic community.
Trombonist and bandleader Ryan Gabbart and pianist Andrew Lienhard talked to me about playing the volatile 1959 album Mingus Ah Um live. Read my preview of their Sunday concert at Houstonia Magazine.
At the MFAH this weekend, Sound of Redemption, a documentary about jazz legend Frank Morgan, is making its Houston premiere. His story is about great music as much as it is about overcoming great odds. I had the pleasure of speaking with his sister, Angela, in an interview you can read at Houstonia Magazine.
Two pieces at Houstonia Magazine this week: the first, a review of Houston Grand Opera’s Abduction from the Seraglio in which Ryan Speedo Green stole the show, and the second, an interview with Gabriela Lena Frank about the world premiere of her Conquest Requiem this weekend with the Houston Symphony.