The head of a plastic cow bobs and wobbles inside Copley Symphony Hall, in a room you might have never known about: the library that houses the symphony’s collection of roughly 1,300 pieces of music.

At the helm is Nancy Fisch, a 66-year-old with an affinity for bovines and Beethoven whom our writer calls “the Joan Rivers of symphony librarians.” One recent afternoon, she let us peek as she painstakingly copied the instructions to keep all of the violas playing in the synchronized movement characteristic of a professional orchestra.

Jobs like Fisch’s don’t usually make kindergarteners’ lists of what to be when you grow up. But we’ve found many stories of jobs and workers woven inextricably into local arts institutions, like the woman whose whispers of “Go!” cue everything that happens on-stage and backstage at San Diego Opera and the guy who played the Grinch last year at The Old Globe.

Fisch keeps her phone on at night, like a doctor might, so she won’t miss a music-related emergency. Delve into the crucial but hidden domain, and learn what makes this salty librarian lower her voice solemnly, “as if discussing something deeply shameful.”

In other news:

• I’m intrigued by how many people in San Diego are thinking about the intersections of science and art. For a retired biologist and artist, those intersections are “creativity, elegance and the sublime.” He doesn’t think many people in the general population grasp either science or art.

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• What could change that? A school board member in San Diego Unified commented on that Q&A, wondering what the arts community could do (like some science events do to make science accessible) so that San Diego can become more educated on the merits of less accessible art.

• CityBeat’s fall arts issue dropped last week, full of tidbits and previews of the alt-weekly’s picks for dance, art, music, film, theater and poetry. Highlights: A mix of fascinating-sounding music previews follows a feature on the Center for World Music; the story of a new art center in mobile shipping containers; and a peek into the challenge of staging a play at UCSD that is “loopy with heady issues.”

• You’ve got to be prepared to perform in Trolley Dances, the local series where adventurous dances spring up within walking distance of trolley stations. We find out what a 27-year-old dancer packs to the dance site: “sunhat, sunblock, snacks and plenty of water … knee pads, tennis shoes with thick sole inserts and gloves,” and where her favorite place to take a break was. The dance series continues this weekend. CityBeat’s Kinsee Morlan snapped these photos of the trolley dancers last weekend.

• The public art discussion continues. Gayle Falkenthal commented that she doesn’t think our discussion is about the merits of public art. Rather, she says, we’re talking about “the merits of taxpayer-funded public art.”


• KPBS’s Culture Lust blog rustled up an intriguing videotaped discussion among some established artists to give us a window into what the artists themselves think about public art. And the La Jolla Village News highlighted a series of recently painted transformer boxes in University City.

• The U-T profiles the South African playwright laureate Athol Fugard, who has lived in Del Mar for eight years. Fugard and his theatre contemporaries “braved government harassment and secret-police surveillance” to put on plays in the 1950s, years before the end of apartheid in South Africa. San Diego Repertory Theatre is staging his play The Road to Mecca, which opens this week.

• Here’s the North County Times’ fantastic weekly roundup of nearly everything that’s going on this week, from ZZ Top and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tonight at Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, to the ninth annual San Diego Film Festival starting Wednesday, to Diversionary Theatre’s world premiere of Sextet, a gay opera by Oceanside native and San Diego Opera education director Nicolas Reveles.

• The playwright of The Old Globe’s current production of Welcome to Arroyo’s, a musical involving rap and hip-hop music, is a hot commodity whose wrestling-themed play was a finalist last year for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (North County Times)

• How’s this for a patchwork of jobs and incomes for a performer? Soprano Laura Bueno lives in El Cajon and is singing the title role in Lyric Opera San Diego’s production of Gigi, which opened last weekend. She also sells Mary Kay cosmetics and teaches cake decorating classes at Michael’s, a craft store. The U-T’s positive review of the show attracted a dissenting view in the reader comments about hype and self-promotion in local arts.

• What story does a building tell? The author of a new book on UCSD’s architecture (whom we recently interviewed) talked on KPBS’s These Days about the stories inherent in architecture: iterations of the “epic battle between man and nature.”

The school’s public lecture series, UCSD By Design, kicks off this week.

No telling what kind of epic battle will ensue if some enterprising artist “designs” her own summa cum laude diploma from the esteemed university.

Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

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Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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