Vasily Petrenko and Joshua Bell in a Russo-English Program with the SF Symphony: Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, and Elgar

Hats off, ladies and Gentlemen! A conductor! And a great symphony!

Vasily Petrenko’s recent electrifying week with the San Francisco Symphony reminds the listener that Gustavo Dudamel is not the sole “conducting animal” to be found on the musical circuit these days. Esa-Pekka Salonen coined the term a while back, with the impassioned Venezuelan in mind. And indeed, Dudamel is the sort of refreshing performer who has the winds jumping to their feet like jazz musicians and bass players twirling their instruments. He is all about emotion as vitality. But physically, apart from the energy with which he beats time, his manner is unremarkable.

The fascination of Petrenko, by contrast, is his ability to reflect every quivering moment of the music somewhere on his face or body, as though he were a disembodied hologram. We joke about people who are “double-jointed.” But Vasily Petrenko might as well be quadruple-sprung and then some…this is a man who’d have no trouble tapping three heads, rubbing five tummies and signalling with numerous eyebrows at the same time!

Sol LeWitt III: The ABCDs of Sol Lewitt

This exhibition at Williams College Museum of Art is supplemental to the immense retrospective installation at MassMoca in North Adams. In some surprising ways it reveals more of the evidentiary by-products of the thought process of the seminal conceptual artist than the spectacular realizations at MassMoca.

Of the Fourth of July, UNESCO’s Buddy Bears, and Atheists

So far, this Fourth of July message hasn’t offered much to get one out into the streets singing “You’re a grand old flag,” but there is hope yet. Ronan Noone’s <em>The Atheist</em>shows that the spirit of those grand old Americans Ambrose Bierce and Mark Twain lives! Earlier today, July 5, it warmed my heart to see two or three Americans stomp out of the theater, one of them contentiously asking for his money back at the ticket office—a telling sign that the WTF is doing good work this summer. Of course Bierce and Twain, especially the dark side of Twain, are as American as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

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