October 22, 1988 |
An inveterate story teller, Johana Harris-Heggie nevertheless seems to avoid reminiscing--she lives and laughs in the present. But Roy Harris' widow, now remarried, can sometimes be persuaded to look back. The other afternoon, for instance, at the end of a long day of teaching at UCLA, the veteran pianist, who will be 76 in January, seemed in the mood for short forays into the past.
June 3, 2008 |
With 22 seasons under its belt, Pacific Serenades still makes a major point of trying to freshen the chamber music repertoire with newly commissioned works. Sunday afternoon in Pasadena's Neighborhood Church, the series presented its 90th commission -- the U.S. premiere of "Friendly Persuasions," a song cycle for tenor by Jake Heggie (composer of opera's "Dead Man Walking") built on a great idea.
December 3, 2000 |
We Americans pride ourselves on being a direct, sensible people. We celebrate straight shooters, straight talkers, straight whiskey and straight stories. We like explanations, not ambiguity. We expect our day in court, clear and rational arguments, unbiased judgments, no loose ends. We are not, as is Italy, an operatic nation. Just compare the original American western with its spaghetti imitation.
October 1, 2000 |
A towering black grid of square and rectangular cubicles looms at the back of a rehearsal hall stage. It is meant to represent both physical and psychological space--prison cells as much as the interior of the mind--and its very size suggests the insurmountability of the human conflicts unfolding in its shadow. On stage in front of the massive structure, a group of men and women sing a scene fraught with pain and discord.
December 19, 1999 |
The fine art of songwriting, in the art song tradition, has been a practice paid ambivalent attention in our century. San Francisco-based pianist and composer Heggie has taken it upon himself to delve into the venerable songwriting tradition, often referring, stylistically, to romantic 19th century models and hints of smarter Broadway musical thinking, and now has well more than 100 pieces to show for the effort.
October 12, 2004 |
In 2000, when composer Jake Heggie enjoyed the big San Francisco premiere of his opera "Dead Man Walking," many critics balked. The drama, they asserted, was admirable, but the flat, derivatively tonal music was not. Heggie wrote decorative, meandering lines that safely borrowed from Strauss, Sondheim, Menotti and Bolcom. At the time, it seemed as if a powerful pod of Broadway composers had usurped our operatic waters. Heggie led the swim.