You wouldn’t expect one of your old Journalism professors to be known worldwide, but then how many others started writing murder mystery novels
TONY HILLERMAN – You wouldn’t expect one of your old Journalism professors to be known worldwide, but then how many others started writing murder mystery novels set on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico-Arizona, that were so well-written they’ve sold millions of copies and been translated into many languages, and so authentically that Tony, during his lifetime, was honored many times by the Southwestern native people, for representing them so honestly and honorably. And he was an amazing prof, on so many counts, a blue collar intellectual who was so good at all the things he did, and stayed so humble. I think at one point he may have become the richest man in New Mexico, for the book sales and movie rights, and seemed genuinely, lovably embarrassed by that.
I will be going to UNM in two weeks to introduce his daughter Anne, an accomplished author in her own right (we went to the same high school, different years), who will receive an award in his name. I am honored, and really looking forward to it. (And the opportunity to get a bit of the best cuisine on the planet, New Mexican food. Hatch chiles. Carne adovada. sopaipillas. Good God.
It will also be a treat to see the exhibit they will have for this ceremony, reproductions of all the front pages of the Daily Lobo newspaper (where I worked and learned for four years), back to 1895. They have also recently completed the project of digitizing and posting online everything through 1980, which covers my time there. I can’t wait to look up some of my old pieces, to see if they have aged well, or stunk up the place. One review made it into a recent book release out of the UK; I’ll tell you more about that another time.
TONIGHT! – DUDAMEL, LA PHIL, BEETHOVEN’s “SYMPHONY NO. 7” – Dance music? Kodaly, hell yeah. Strauss, not so much, for me. But Beethoven was the master of all he surveyed, and when he takes on dance rhythms here, you can bet it will be insightful and inspiring. The 7th comes after intermission, preceded by two LA Phil-commissioned world premieres. Gabriella Smith’s “Lost Coast: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra” (love the rich cello), and Ellen Reid’s “West Coast Sky Eternal” (got to be fascinating, with that title – Thurs and Sat only). But don’t show up fashionably late, these lesser-known pieces are on the program because Gustavo wants them there. That’s good enough for me. Thurs, Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, $87-204
LAST PERFORMANCE! – LA OPERA, “OTELLO” – You’ve gotta understand, I moved to LA for the music. To work in the industry, but even more importantly, to be engulfed by music, the best, of the widest variety, nonstop, every night. Mission accomplished. But the delicious downside is that sometimes there is too much to fit in, and I do have a life outside that (as punching bag for the mindless minions of evil politicos). And so it happens, for the second LA Opera presentation in a row, that I cannot see it until the final performance. So, how can I honestly “highly recommend” it? I’ve gone to literally thousands of live shows since college, and often reported on them, and you learn to make accurate judgements based on what has already been proven. And in years of taking in LA Operas, I have been more often delighted and even thrilled, but never let down. Like the LA Phil and the old Jazz Bakery, consistently excellent. The experts are lining up, too. LA Opera just received, last week, their third Pulitzer (Best Musical Composition), for “Omar,” the complex, innovative modern opera with an ancient story and very wide-ranging music stylings, written by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, Wet Coast premiering last October. I’ve never seen a curtain part to such a striking set that it almost elicited a standing O from the audience. Even the New York Tim just honored America’s youngest opera company with a long, laudatory piece. Speaking of the experts, the LA Times crack critic Mark Swed wrote yet another review articulating the subtle accomplishments of the production. I feel it’s good prep to read his reviews before going, to be better prepared for what to look and listen for. He’s probably seen “Otello” a dozen times. Oh yeah, I made the right move for music to come here in 1980. I get more proof every single week. Sun 2 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA, $29-349.
DUDAMEL CONDUCTS MOZART – Need I say more? OK – “Overture to ‘The Magic Flute’,” “Piano Concerto No. 27,” “Symphony No. 41, ‘Jupiter’.” His Last piano concerto, with renowned Mozart interpreter Mitsuko Uchida,, and his last symphony, the mighty “Jupiter,” one of his longest and best-loved. Next Thurs 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, $124-319.
LAST THREE PERFORMANCES! – PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT, “THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE” – This one snuck up on me! And it’s their last show of the season. But I have to recommend it because so many productions of this little opera company that most certainly can, are great fun and artistically exceptional. And they pick great venues (started in Santa Monica), like this at Forest Lawn. Fri, Sat, Sun 7:30 p.m., Forest Lawn Museum, Glendale, $30.
TOLEDO DIAMOND – Unique, riveting, first class act. There’s nothing like it, it is high performance art and great fun. Degeneracy is rarely so well disciplined. Could be the most memorable 12 bucks you ever spent. Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s,
COMING ATTRACTIONS: MARIACHI USA, Hollywood Bowl, 6/3; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 6/4, 11, 18, 25; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 6/5, 12, 19, 26; DUDAMEL CONDUCTS MOZART, Disney Hall, 6/1, 2, 3, 4; SOUTHSIDE SLIM, Harvelle’s, 6/2; “PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 6/2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17; RICK SHEA, Cinema Bar, 6/8; PEDRO, Harvelle’s, 6/10; THEATRICUM BOTANICUM: “MACBETH” 6/10, 17, 25, “A MIDSUMMEER NIGHT’S DREAM,” 6/11, 18, 25, “QUEEN MARGARET’S VERSION OF SHAKESPEARE’S WAR OF THE ROSES,” 6/24; DAN NAVARRO, McCabe’s, 6/10; LIBRARY GIRL, Ruskin Theatre, 6/11; ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS/ IMPOSTERS, NICK LOWE, LOS STRAITJACKETS, Greek Thestre, 6/16; JACARANDA, 1st Pres Church of SM, 6/17; HOLLYWOOD BOWL JAZZ FESTIVAL, 6/17, 18; KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, Hollywood Bowl, 6/21.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at Charles Andrews.