Arts & Events

The Standing Ovation: When is It Right?

By Richard Reynolds
Tuesday November 01, 2011 - 09:25:00 PM

We’ve all been there.

The concert ends, the applause begins. A well-dressed woman up front (the chair of the board?) stands up. The other board members see her standing, and they stand up too.

Other audience members see people in front standing up, and they begin to stand as well. The conductor or soloist bows to the audience and exits stage right. By the time she returns, most of the audience is standing.

This is all wrong.

It misses the point.

A standing-ovation performance is one in which you are so excited at the end that the only possible action is to leap to your feet. If you have to think about it, forget it. The performance doesn’t deserve a standing ovation.

Bay Area audiences are way too ready to rise to their feet at the end of a performance. I have, on occasion, given in to the crowd and joined in when everyone around me has risen to his or her feet, but I do so grudgingly, and if I saw nothing exceptional about the performance, I will remain seated.

Last Thursday, when Johannes Moser performed the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Berkeley Symphony, I didn’t have to think about it. Like most of the audience, I jumped to my feet before the last hair on his bow had snapped. Moser grabbed that concerto by the throat at the very beginning and never let go until he was finished. -more-

Around & About Music: A Note on the Berkeley Symphony

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 02, 2011 - 01:01:00 PM

Last week's opening concert for the Berkeley Symphony's new season--and Joana Carneiro's third season as music director here--saw two contemporary pieces premiere, one played by the composer in memory of Harry Weininger (Gabriela Lena Frank's Vendaval), the other with the composer present (Enrico Chapela's Li Po, for orchestra and electronic soundtrack, after Jose Juan Tablada's modernist poem about the 8th century Chinese poet), as well as extraordinary renditions of Brahms' Third Symphony, occasioning great ovations from the audience, and virtuoso cellist Johannes Moser featured as soloist in Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, which was met with shouts and a prolonged standing ovation, as well as a Bach piece as encore by the energetic and genial Moser. -more-

Eye from the Aisle: Race, Rape, Truth, Mamet—90 compelling minutes at A.C.T.

By John A. McMullen II
Sunday October 30, 2011 - 12:31:00 PM
Anthony Fusco, Susan Heyward, Chris Butler, Kevin O’Rourke

About 20 years ago, I was walking with my girlfriend down 2nd Avenue in NYC. I looked up and saw “Final Preview Tonight --Mamet’s OLEANNA.” They had two tickets left. It was about a college professor opening up to his working class student in private, mandated lectures with an undercurrent of intimacy and her cataclysmic reaction. William Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon on a spare set with her husband’s inflammatory words. At the end of the play, couples were shrieking at one another in the lobby and into the street. -more-

Ira Marlowe's World-Record Halloween Songathon

By Gar Smith
Thursday October 27, 2011 - 10:17:00 AM

Bay Area singer-songwriter Ira Marlowe is within days of pulling off a truly tricky treat. Since the first day of October, Marlowe has been posting a new, original and ghoulishly gleeful song for each and every day leading up to Halloween. Anyone can tune in for free. You just need to "friend" him on Facebook. ( If you need another infusion of Marlowe's macabre melodies after this first bite, you're in luck: he's got two live performances scheduled for the next week (see below). -more-

Berkeley Symphony Opens On Thursday With Music By Chapela, Brahms, Shostakovich

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 10:00:00 AM

Berkeley Symphony, conducted by Joana Carneiro, opens the new season with music by Enrico Chapela, Brahms and Shostakovich, Thursday at 8, Zellerbach Auditorium. -more-

Around & About Music: Kent Nagano Conducts at Gala Celebrating Alden Gilchrist's 60th Anniversary at Calvary Presbyterian

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 09:53:00 AM

In his only West Coast appearance this season, former Berkeley Symphony music director and present emeritus conductor Kent Nagano will conduct the San Francisco Academy Orchestra at a gala concert to celebrate Alden Gilchrist's 60th anniversary as organist and music director at Calvary Presbyterian Church atop Pacific Heights in San Francisco, where Nagano has sung with the Chancel Choir, which will also perform, along with featured soloists, a jazz cycle by the Dave Scott Quartet and the Santa Rosa Children's Chorus, featuring music of Monteverdi, J. S. Bach, Mozart, Dvorak--and Gilchrist, Friday at 6 p. m, with a reception to follow. The community is invited, free of charge, but asked to RSVP: (415) 346-3832 x 60; -more-