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San Diego’s Top Weekend Arts Events: From Beethoven To Toni Morrison

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This weekend is all about celebrating the classics. From an exploration of Beethoven’s string quartets, to the history of L.A.’s Gold Star Recording Studios. Plus a popular alternative band returns.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Beethoven is in the spotlight this weekend at Summerfest in the Hoya Nineties alt rock returns to San Diego in the form of death cab for Cutie. And a film tribute to Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Journey me with more on the weekend preview is KPBS arts editor, Nina Garren. Nina, welcome. Hello. So La Jolla music society continues to Summerfest its Summerfest chamber music festival. What's going on this weekend? This weekend they're doing Beethoven complete string quartets and it's part of a two season project where they perform all Beethoven 16 string quartets with a different world famous group coming in to do it. Tell us more about these string quartets. So Beethoven wrote 16 string quartets and they're considered some of his finest work in particular, the last five. They're thought of as some of the best musical compositions of all time. They're not as romantic, they're more complex, so they might not be as popular and not heard as much. So it's a good opportunity to hear them. Now performing tonight is the Brentano Quartet, a quartet in residence at Yale School of music. Let's listen to them perform Beethoven's opus 18 number four

Speaker 2: 01:25 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 01:31 Then on Saturday night, the Miro Quartet returns. Now there are Summerfest favorite, aren't they? Yeah, they're from Austin, Texas and they have a very accessible way of playing classical music. Kind of like open to everyone. Everyone can understand it and they're going to perform the last major piece of music Beethoven composed. Let's listen to the mural quartets string quartet number 16 in f major opus one 35

Speaker 2: 02:00 [inaudible] [inaudible], [inaudible] summer

Speaker 1: 02:14 fests, Beethoven complete string quartets. That happens to night and tomorrow at the Conrad with part three happening next Friday. Alternative band death cab for Cutie returns to San Diego. Remind us who they are, Nina. They're a band that formed in the late 1990s but really they were played a lot in the early two thousands bear music is kind of poppy and quirky and they have very clever lyrics. It's like an English major wrote them, but like a good English major because they have a lot of emotion and a lot of intention. You've probably told us this before, but remind us how they got that name. It comes from a 1967 song performed by Bonzo dog dog band, and that band performed in the Beatles magical mystery tour. Okay, so this band I would imagine has evolved over time. It's been around for a long time. Yeah. In the early days it was the leader, Ben Guibert and musician Chris Walla, and they had this kind of low fi meandering, unpolished sound, and over the years it's evolved to be a lot more radio friendly, a lot more pop hooks, things like that. Let's listen to early death cab for Cutie. This is four oh five from the album. We have the facts and we're voting yes.

Speaker 2: 03:47 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 03:53 That song was like my anthem back in the day. Why do you think the band is still popular? I think because they still appeal to their early fans like me and they don't elite their new fans like kind of Weezer does that. I think because also at the heart it's just good songwriting. So in honor of Nina, let's listen to later death cab. This is gold rush from the album. Thank you for today.

Speaker 2: 04:26 [inaudible] keep doing it. [inaudible] new ground. Swing it in plaster wall

Speaker 1: 04:39 death cab for Cutie performs tonight and tomorrow at the observatory. Now finally, Tony Morrison died earlier this week and in her honor, digital Jim is bringing back a documentary about her. Tell us more about that. It came out in June and it's built around an extended interview with her and it's not so much a biography, but really an essay about her ideas and her causes. This documentary was made by a friend of hers. Yeah, Timothy Greenfield Sanders. He's a photographer and friend. She was a very private person. She didn't write a memoir or want any biographies, but she was able to open up to him in a way that we haven't seen. Say a few words about Toni Morrison's legacy. Well, she was just such a beautiful writer and she captured the experience of blackness without caring what white people thought. She actually challenged white people to confront their own prejudice and I also love that she helped other black writers like Angela Davis and she influences people today, like Roxanne Gay. The documentary is called the pieces. I am at plays today through August 15th at Digital Gym. You can find more arts events at and I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, Nina Garin. Nina, thank you so much. Thanks. Have a good weekend.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.