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August 2009

Stars of the Pit

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I was sitting in the second tier box closest to the stage at last night's Mark Morris performance at the Rose Theater, part of this week's ongoing Mostly Mozart festivities. It may not have been the best vantage point from which to see the dancers, but it hung directly over the most starry pit band I've ever witnessed: Yo-Yo Ma, Manny Ax and Brooklyn Rider's Colin Jacobsen, playing chamber music by Beethoven, Ives and Schumann. The performance was captivating and completely sold out - which is a good thing. But, when you have two of the world's great instrumentalists performing live, at what point does the music distract from the goings-on onstage? Or, vise versa? Hell, even Yo-Yo couldn't keep from looking up during pauses. And, during curtain calls, both they and Morris couldn't stop applauding each other.

There are two more performances tonight and tomorrow, if you're curious to check it out for yourself. (Both are sold out, but you can probably get a return/extra. More pics below.)

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Mostly (Not) Mozart

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Ok, I may not be the world's biggest Mozart fan, but I am a big believer in Truth in advertising. So, what's up with this year's Mostly Mozart? I did the math: less than 30% of the works on this year's program were composed by the Amadeus. Last week, it was Aimard splicing Mozart with Haydn, Stockhausen and Ligeti; since then, they've barely bothered with Mozart at all, giving things over to Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and "Composer-in-Residence" John Adams, who was in town to conduct his 2007 opera A Flowering Tree. Festival director Jane Moss started this composer-in-residence thing two years ago with Osvaldo Golijov; last year, it was Kaija Saariaho. Uh...sorry, Jane. I thought you already had a composer-in-residence?

It seems that Lincoln Center has come to realize that a 21st century festival dedicated to an 18th century composer - no matter how "genius" - is box office poison. Fine. Change the name. Need some suggestions? How about: "Mozart In Context"? Or: "Mozart and his Progeny"? Ok, maybe not... But, you get the idea.  

At least Adams, who was back on the podium last night to conduct ICE in three of his chamber work, likes Mozart, claiming that he's inspired by the elder composer's example, if not his music. And, while noone will mistake the relentless sawing of Shaker Loops or Gnarly Buttons' constant jumping for Mozart's Epsom bath of sound, Adams did at least hint at a connection in his program note: 

"He was an artist who cared deeply about the give-and-take with his listeners, wanting to delight them just as he wanted to provoke them and arouse their innermost feelings."

Anyone who's witnessed the brutal onslaught of Doctor Atomic, or the quiet beauty of China Gates, or the overwhelming power of Harmonielehre pretty much knows what he's talking about.

Still, change the name. (More pics below.)DSC08773

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Summer Styling


DSC08723 I didn't make it to the Williamsburg waterfront in time to catch DD/MM/YYYY yesterday afternoon, but still had fun wandering the surprisingly sparse crowd while listening to the hip hop stylings of DJ Prince Paul and Del the Funk Homosapien. (I was less impressed with the sloppy mess known as Gravy Train!!!!) But, as usual, the real styling was out in the audience. I swear, I've never seen so much ink. (More pics below.)

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