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Bertolt Brecht

Cal Performances once again hosted the Ojai North Music Festival.  It always succeeds in presenting new and challenging music.  The Saturday matinee began with The Knights, a new music classical orchestra, performing Charles Ives' Three Places in New England.  Always fresh and bracing, Ives' career as a successful insurance executive should forever quell the amateur/professional debate.  (He's not a real musician because he has a day job).  He was a giant of 20th century music, albeit largely ignored in his lifetime.  Next the pianist Timo Andres joined The Knights for his recomposition of the Mozart Coronation Suite.  Andres at only 29 has amazing technical command.  As the left hand in the Suite is largely omitted from the original score, there is lots of room for inventing new passsages.  I keep thinking true improvisation will return someday to classical musicians.  My dear friend Butch Morris worked to that end with his conduction pieces with symphonies.  Andres' re-imaginings, while pleasant,  sounded a bit like George Gershwin or Dave Brubeck faking their way through the score.  After intermission came two short pieces by Morton Friedman and Karlheinz Stockhausen, both quite lyrical.  And then, Storm Large and a vocal quartet Hudson Shad joined The Knights for the Kurt Weill ballet chante' The Seven Deadly Sins.  With a huge vocal range and perfect pitch, Storm is a force of nature.  Whether opening for Nina Hagen, fronting her own rock bands, or crooning standards, Storm is always electrifying.  While the vocal quartet were over-miked scenery chewers, Storm was perfection as Anna, who leaves her home in Louisiana to earn enough money to build a house for her family.  Weill and Brecht's last collaboration, The Seven Deadly Sins has humor, pathos and satire.  Storm's vocal and acting skills make her the perfect interpreter. 

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