ENGL 397: Capturing Music at Rice

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.

Opera after a Hurricane

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.

Hurricane Harvey

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.