Lisa Hirsch is a technical writer. She studied music at Brandeis and SUNY/Stony Brook.
Articles by this Author
The Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, held in alternate years, typically features at least one program that's as much theater as music. In past years, the early music extravaganza had the horse ballet "Le carousel du roi" and the "Carnaval Baroque".More »
Old First Concerts played host on Sunday to a varied and exhilarating program of chamber music by Stefano Scodanibbio, performed by sfSoundGroup and the composer himself. The concert, sponsored by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of San Francisco, was part of Primavera Italiana: The Spring Festival of Italian New Music, now in its second year.
The five pieces on the program — solo works for contrabass and violin; a string quartet; a piano duet; and a partially improvised piece for diverse instruments — gave the audience a well-rounded look at Scodanibbio's compositional concerns.
Reputations are funny things. In the classical music world, technical virtuosity can lead to charges of superficiality or emotional coldness. Some listeners, especially opera fans of a particular ilk, prefer guts and heart to good intonation and steady tone. The great Jascha Heifetz had a reputation for playing with more technical perfection than musical soul; today, both Maurizio Pollini and the Emerson String Quartet have sometimes been labeled cold.More »
The Pacifica Quartet performed at Stanford Lively Arts on Wednesday, bringing with it a program of Beethoven, Carter, and Smetana. The program notes made much of the fact that the Beethoven (Op. 18, No. 2) and the Smetana (Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, "From My Life") were written when their composers were going deaf. Still, the works themselves, which respectively opened and closed the concert, don't have much in common.More »
As we begin the new year, San Francisco Classical Voice takes a look back at the performances of 2007 that some of our reviewers most enjoyed. As with any such list, the choices are entirely subjective. Each of these critics attended a large number of performances in their areas of specialization throughout the year, and so was able to choose from a broad range of music (in some cases, listing events they attended but that another SFCV critic reviewed).More "The Best Performances of 2007" »
The death of Jacques Offenbach before the 1881 premiere of Tales of Hoffmann left opera companies with a confusing mass of performance choices. In the end though, the textual decisions matter far less than whether a company succeeds musically with the piece.More »
Great performances are nearly a given at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, whether or not you find yourself loving the work being played, thanks to Music Director Marin Alsop and her fabulous orchestra. Happily, the program for Saturday's concert consisted of three first-class pieces that should all earn a place in the standard repertory.More »
Attending a concert at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music is a little like going to new-music camp: No one dresses formally, in the audience or the orchestra; the concerts take place in what looks like a disused gymnasium; and helpful counselors, er, composers tell you all about the music you're going to hear.
In the case of "Raise the Roof," the second Cabrillo Festival program, heard on Saturday, the counselors weren't really necessary. Michael Daugherty's Raise the Roof and Ghost Ranch, played before the intermission, are as accessible as can be.
In a program note written for San Francisco Opera some years ago and republished in his book The Ultimate Art, David Littlejohn called Don Giovanni "The Impossible Opera." He went into some detail about the reasons the work is so difficult to stage effectively.More »