Counterpoint Gone Wild

Who doesn’t love Bach for his fugues? In Bach’s 1738 instructional book on counterpoint, Precepts and Principles for Playing the Thorough-Bass, he writes: “It is played with both hands on a keyboard instrument in such a way that the left hand plays the written notes, while the right hand strikes consonances and dissonances, so that this results in a full-sounding Harmonie to the Honour of God and the permissible delight of the soul.”

High stakes. The Brentano String Quartet is adding to them with their Art of Fugue, presented as part of Da Camera of Houston’s season next Friday, March 3. Read my interview with first violinist Mark Steinberg at Houstonia Magazine.

Art of the Sonata

Chamber music has always been my favorite genre to perform. It’s a thrill, but one that is often underestimated. Performers like Lars Vogt and Christian Tetzlaff show how deep the art form can go. Read my preview of their Da Camera Houston debut together at Houstonia Magazine.

The Sound of Picasso

Synesthesia aside, it’s a fascinating thing to think about how different artistic media (and their creators) overlap. Da Camera of Houston presents a concert at the Menil Collection next Monday and Tuesday in conversation with the current Picasso exhibition and promises just such an experience. Read my preview at Houstonia Magazine.

Fisk and Phan at the Menil

Eliot Fisk. Courtesy Da Camera


Two phenomenal artists are coming together on Tuesday night in a concert filled with Britten and Dowland song cycles. Nicholas Phan, a spectacular tenor, is no stranger  to Houston. From 2002-2005, Phan was a Houston Grand Opera Studio Artist. After his appearance here in January, he will return to close HGO’s season in the role of Tobias Ragg from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

He is joined by Eliot Fisk, a musician who has long been a hero of mine and who is widely considered to be the best classical guitarist in the world. I had a brilliant time speaking to them both and not nearly enough space to do them justice. Read my preview of Tuesday’s concert at Houstonia Magazine.

Their concert is Tuesday, January 27 at 7:30pm in the Menil Collection. For tickets and more info, visit Da Camera of Houston.


Christmas Lists

HGO premieres A Christmas Carol with music by Iain Bell and libretto by Simon Callow. It is the worst kind of bad–a boring bad. Read my review at Houstonia Magazine.

In happier holiday news, read my Top 5 classical and opera picks of 2014, also at Houstonia. Cheers to a merry 2015!

Casual Friday

Morgan Sorne at G Gallery


On Wednesday at the luminous G Gallery in the heights, four celebrated poets read from their work—Ange Mlinko, Paul Otremba, Joseph Campana, and Nick Flynn. And then, standing in a meager circle of electronic equipment and percussion instruments, musician and performance artist Morgan Sorne set one poem from each poet to music. The four resulting pieces, built looping and layering vocal samples, were unlike anything I have heard in Houston. What Sorne does is something new—and I mean that in its fullest sense. There’s word he’s going to give a concert here in October, and you won’t want to miss it.

So you missed Sorne on Wednesday, but do you have plans tonight? Catch the International Contemporary Ensemble tonight at the Wortham playing John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony, Louis Andriessen’s Life, and Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite as part of Da Camera’s 2013-2014 season. The renowned ensemble alone promises to be sensational; the program of these twenty-first-century greats makes this concert another must-see.

And if it’s just been a long week and you’d rather kick back at home, this video of “mad scientist of music” Mark Applebaum tests the idea of what music is altogether, opening with a pretty smart concept of boredom. His Concerto for Florist and Orchestra will complete your Friday night and round out your week by putting any absurdities you might have experienced into perspective (catch the performance in its entirety here).