The start of San Diego Symphony’s 2011-12 Season, Street Beat, the Tour de Fat, and much more on Weekend Preview.
September 29, 2011 1:18 p.m.
This weekend has something for everyone with the start of San Diego Symphony’s 2011-12 Season, Street Beat, the Tour de Fat, and much more.
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Interested in high-brow entertainment? How about the symphony or the lyric opera? Perhaps something more casual. How about adult beverages and block parties? It's all included in this edition of the KPBS weekend preview. My guests, Valerie Scher is an arts journalist who has covered San Diego's classical music scene for more than 25 years. Hello.
SCHER: It's delightful to be here.
CAVANAUGH: And Maya Kroth is the editor of where San Diego, and performances magazines. Good afternoon.
KROTH: Nice to see you, ladies.
CAVANAUGH: Let's start with the symphony. The symphony's 2011/2012 season is opening tomorrow night. Tell us about this, Valerie.
SCHER: Every year, when the San Diego symphony opens a new season, it's a special occasion for those of us who love classical music. It's something to look forward to. Tomorrow's concert, which will be led by music director launches the 100 and first season of the oldest orchestra in California. The fact the symphony has survived long enough to have a 100 and first season is remarkable in itself. And ticket sales for the season are a little bit ahead of where they were at the last time last year. That's very confirming news given the state of the economy, and the difficulty that many arts organizations are having with selling tickets.
CAVANAUGH: That's very true. What can we expect to see in this new season?
SCHER: Well, there will be stars, I'm glad to tell you. Pinkis Zuckerman will double as conductor and violin soloist in October. Yitzak Pearlman will present a violin recital in February. Horacio Gutierrez will play Rachmoninoff's piano concert number two in May. And the musicians who may not be as well known, but are outstanding in their own way. The symphony's concert master, Jeff they'll, and they will be soloists for Mozart's Symphonia Concertante in May.
CAVANAUGH: The season kicks off with a French pianist. His name is Jean Thibaudet?
SCHER: Correct. Tres bien.
CAVANAUGH: What are his live performances like? He's something of a star in his own right, right?
SCHER: Yes, he is. Jean-Yves Thibaudet is known for his sensitive and insightful interpretations of French music. Though his repertoire extends all wait to jazz. He's been quite adventurous. On Friday and Sunday at symphony hall, he's going to play both of Ravel's piano concertos, which is a real treat. Both concertos were composed around 1930, and it's rare to have a program that includes both the piano concerto in G, which has some exciting jazzy elements, and the piano concerto in D, which requires the pianist to play only with the left hand. Imagine that. Only the left hand. It was exposed for a pianist who host his right arm in World War I. And it's a mysterious, intense, and quite sensual piece. I'm eager to hear both concertos again.
CAVANAUGH: Just one last question, is the symphony trying to do anything different this year, Valerie?
SCHER: What strikes me is the San Diego symphony is becoming something of a presenting organization. In other words, it's bringing in a variety of outside groups that it presents in performance. Just a few examples are London's royal philharmonic orchestra, are the national Acrobats of China, and the Moscow festival ballet in swan lake and sleeping beauty. The orchestra doesn't always perform with the groups it brings in.
CAVANAUGH: I see. That's interesting.
SCHER: But this is a way to expand its reach as well as itself ticket sales.
CAVANAUGH: Maya, beer and art happening tonight.
KROTH: These are great bed fellows, aren't they?
CAVANAUGH: What is this event about?
KROTH: Well, it's kind of self explanatory in the name there. It's a celebration of two things that San Diego actually does pretty well. Even though people might not associate them with San Diego. It's the brain child of Kinsee Morlan who you upon. She's been a guest on your show.
CAVANAUGH: Quite often on the weekend preview. Sure.
KROTH: She's the arts editor at San Diego City beat. She knows all about the up and coming local artists in the gallery scene here in San Diego. Her husband, Jeff Hammett, in addition to being the owner of a fantastic handle bar must after, he runs the San Diego beer blog. So he knows everything there is to know about craft beer and hops and brewing and all of that. They decided to get-together on this event, will showcase some of the beers that Jeff has chosen for people to try. As well as the art of Katie Scott who is an artist from San Diego that Kinsey selected.
CAVANAUGH: There will be three different beer flights tonight. Explain what beer flights are. I had to have it explained to me too.
KROTH: Flights is a word that's most often associated with wine tasting. It refers to a smallish taste of a group of different wines or in this case beers. You sip and you sample, and you compare tasting notes. Jeff selected 12 different beers that he's grouped into three different flights of four beers each. Two of them are showcasing just craft breweries from San Diego, and one of them is great craft beers from all over the world. Including one I think all the way from Japan.
CAVANAUGH: Why pair craft beer with under ground art? Is it just because the two people putting this on have different expertise?
KROTH: Well, I think aside from the personal passions of Kinsey and Jeff who created this event, my theory is that it might be up to sort of blurry the borders between what people typically think of as a high-brow thing or low-brow thing. There's a lot more to beer than a lot of people imagine. And it's a craft entrepreneur. And by contrast, I know -- enterprise. And by contrast, Kinsey has always sort of worked to demystify art and bring it into a more accessible plane.
CAVANAUGH: Well, let me tell everyone, beer and art is tonight at bottle craft in little Italy. Valerie, we're going to revisit the opening of the symphony to the extent that we visit the opus 2011 gala concert. It's the San Diego symphony's big fund raiser, and it helps this Saturday. How is this different from the start of the season we just talked about?
SCHER: One way to think about it would be that the gala concert is a performance with a party wrapped around it. Of it's the time when supporters dress up, socialize, support the city's oldest musical organization. The atmosphere is festive, as you can imagine, and the concert isn't as long as concerts usually are. So there's plenty of time for the pre and post concert activities which will take place at the posh symphony club at the top of star towers.
CAVANAUGH: And Kathleen battle will be performing at this gala.
SCHER: That's right. She'll be there along with John even Thibaudet. She has been around for a long time. I remember the sound of her voice when I first heard it years and years ago. It had such extraordinary purity and prevision that it led to a big career. She is very much a diva, both in terms of artistry and temperament. And Thibaudet will be her piano accompanist in the symphony gala. Upon the program, by the way, includes Ravel's bolero, which is always an audience favorite.
CAVANAUGH: How much does it cost to mingle with the elite? Are these tickets pricey?
SCHER: They are. You're absolutely right. But it's not as much as you might think. There are options. The top tickets are expensive because this is an important fund raiser. It costs $5,000 for the ultrapremium gala ticket. That includes the reception, a CD autographed by guess who? John even Thibaudet. But you can also get concert only tickets for the performance without all the festivities, and they cost between $30 and $80.
CAVANAUGH: So from 5,000 down to 30. It's a pretty wide price range.
SCHER: That's right, that's right.
CAVANAUGH: Saturday night at Copley symphony hall. Street beat is happening this Saturday Saturday in little Italy. Tell us about it. It's a first annual event.
KROTH: And it seems to me that it might be sort of might be kind of tip towing into the territory vacated by street scene, may it rest in peace. It's a little tiny block party in little Italy between A and ash, and they're going to be showcasing a few great bands and food, and local craft beer: You can't have an event in San Diego without local beer. So it's 21 and up.
CAVANAUGH: Music acts OAR, and Gomez are sponsoring. Tell us about them.
KROTH: A lot of these bands have been planned a lot on gray's anatomy, if that gives you any hint. Gomez I really like. They're a British indie rock group that does a great power pop take on Americana music. And there's also a singer song writer from Mexico named Jimenez Arriana who's going to be performing. She's been getting a lot of attention recently because she did a cover of Jason Mrazz's song, lucky. And did a video with Jason in it. So there's a little bit of a local connection there as well.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. So tonight, beer and art on. On Saturday, beer and music. What else can we expect from this block party in its first year?
KROTH: There's going to be some local musicians playing as well inside the club and outside the silent comedy are going to be there. They won best pop at San Diego music awards, and there's also going to be various vendors, just an all-around festival atmosphere.
CAVANAUGH: Street beat is Saturday in little Italy on India street between ash and A. We move to Mame at the lyric opera, it's the season opening production. We think of Mame, though, Valerie, as a musical comedy. Is this a good fit with the lyric opera?
SCHER: Despite its name, lyric opera also presents musicals and operettas. The company doesn't limit itself to operas. Musicals are very welcome. And Mame, I'm sure you remember, was a big Broadway hit in 1966 with musing by Jerry her man, and the music that went to the rather daring novel by Patrick Dennis. On Broadway, Jessica Lance bury took the role of the brassy aunt. She summed up her philosophy of life, I'm talking about Mame, in a single sentence. That sentence being, "love is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death."
CAVANAUGH: Except she didn't say suckers.
SCHER: You are so right! I was going to say the language is more comfortable than that, but I think it's probably not suitable to KPBS.
CAVANAUGH: Mame is played by Andrea Filber.
SCHER: She is familiar to local audiences. This is her third production at lyric opera. She portrayed countess Maritsa. And last May she was Desiree in a little night music by Steven Sondheim. Those were good roles for Mo'olelo performing arts, a character who dominates the production.
CAVANAUGH: Some people will be surprised and distressed to hear that lyric opera San Diego is trying to sell birch Northpark theatre. Can you tell us what's happening with this briefly?
SCHER: To me, the situation is poignant because I remember and wrote about when lyric opera bought the Northpark theatre in 2006. There was such a feeling of admiration for the company for being able to pull this off. It was one of the few professional opera companies in the country to own its own venue. But the financial burden was just too big. I spoke with general director Leon Natiker few days ago, and he said an offer to buy the theatre is pending. He's hoping they can raise $750,000 to kick you have a capital campaign so the theatre can stay in lyric's hands. But clearly money is tight. When I went to Saturday's performance of Mame, the artist director showed the audience an SDG&E bill for $7,800. He was also selling ravel tickets saying keep those actors on the stage and off the streets. It sounded like something out of a depression era musical. And one can only hope things will get better for the company
CAVANAUGH: Indeed. Season opening production, Mame, continues through Sunday night at the birch Northpark theatre put on by the San Diego lyric opera. Tour de fat returns for the fact year to San Diego. What is this event?
KROTH: Tour de fat is a traveling festival of bicycles that's put on by a craft brewery. Can you sense a theme in my event picks this week? It starts with a parade around the south park neighborhood around 11:00 AM, and ends with a big party at Golden Hill park from noon till 4:00. In addition to bikes there'll be beer, and some of the proceeds are going to benefit our local bike groups here in San Diego.
CAVANAUGH: What does the name mean?
KROTH: It comes from Fat Tire Beer. It is the signature brew of new Belgium brewery out of Colorado. Founder of the brewery is an avid bicyclist and really into sustainability issues. He runs his brewery with low carbon footprints and all of that. I guess inspiration struck him while he was riding his fat tired mountain bike through the streets of Belgium one day, and the idea was born.
CAVANAUGH: Sometimes it's dangerous pairing bikes and beer. How do you keep the two of them apart?
KROTH: There is such a thing as a BUI, I discovered. But I think that at those low speeds in the neighborhood, you're going to be safe. It's actually kind of a nice fit. The we're and the bike thing with this new generation of people who are really interested in sustainability issues which really seems to go hand in hand with craft issues. It's kind of a natural fit philosophically as well.
CAVANAUGH: Is there a cost for this event?
KROTH: 32 not. You have to pay for beer. But that money again goes to benefit some of our great local bike organizations. Money well spent.
CAVANAUGH: And there has been a theme to all this. Tour de fat is this Saturday in Golden Hill. I'd like to thank my guest, Valerie Scher and Maya Kroth, thank you so much for coming in and telling us all about what's coming up on the weekend.
KROTH: Thanks Maureen.
SCHER: Thank you.