If a great composer like Johann Sebastian Bach were alive, how would he want his music played? Two programs this month in San Diego take strikingly different approaches. Writer Valerie Scher brings us into the conversation with questions for both groups’ conductors.

One prefers a starker, more historical style, while the other’s stage is packed with people playing modern instruments. Both respect the work the other is doing. What’s your preference?

You’re reading the Arts Report, our roundup of news and views on local arts from our pages and elsewhere.

Made in San Diego:

• Longtime former Union-Tribune arts writer Welton Jones appraises the legacy of Edith Pirazzini, a “bridge from the amateur past to the professional present” in local theater.

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• A look at a life of juxtaposition and distance for Leucadia artist Patricia Patterson. Art spanning her career hangs in a current show in Escondido. (Los Angeles Times)

• La Jolla photograph gallery owner Joseph Bellows tells more about his intriguing brush with art crime (KPBS).

• The artist living and working at Lux Art Institute in Encinitas right now is a Santa Barbara painter and surfer whose paintings often focus on the water. We visited him with our partners at NBC San Diego.

• Diversionary Theatre, a long-running local theater dedicated to serving the LGBT community, gets a new executive director with “deep local roots and a wide-ranging resume in and out of theater.” (U-T)

• The winners of the San Diego Art Prize have works on display right now at the Athenaeum in La Jolla. Kraig Cavanaugh reviews the show for SanDiego.com. (We wrote about previous winners of the Art Prize in a recent post.)

• Adorers and arrangers of prickly cacti and rosy succulents expect record numbers at their convention this weekend. (U-T)

Decisions to Make:

• A new slate of directors says a rough patch is over for the 88-year-running production in Hemet of “Ramona,” the “official state outdoor pageant.” (North County Times)

• On tap this week: Champion Irish fiddlers and step-dancers, Julio Iglesias and a British farce. (NCT)

• The Mingei Museum’s exhibitions director spends time every week opening drawers, trying to get her arms around the museum’s 20,000-item collection, we learned in a Q&A.

• At a lively sounding panel discussion at the Timken Museum last Thursday, San Diego Opera general director Ian Campbell admitted “he really didn’t ‘get’ the work in the exhibition.” CityBeat’s Kinsee Morlan recapped the discussion, including Campbell’s sense: “I guess I just need someone to explain it to me,” he said.

• San Diego County supervisors included The Old Globe, the North Coast Repertory Theatre and other arts and youth groups in their recommendations for county grants. (NCT)

• A Las Vegas abstract painter’s works, on view now at a gallery in Little Italy, are inspired by musical ideas like Jimi Hendrix solos. (U-T)

Countdown to Curtain:

This week freelance arts writer Roxana Popescu and photographer Sam Hodgson are exploring details of the backstage efforts behind mounting an opera production. Here are their first few glimpses:

• Introduction: Opera is the turducken of classical music: monumental, multi-layered, inconceivable to anyone who hasn’t experienced it live, and endlessly satisfying if you just sink your teeth into it and let all the different flavors and textures do their thing.

• Prelude: San Diego Opera’s general director Ian Campbell started thinking all the way back in 2006 about doing “Faust” this season.

• Construction: Nine hours after the last performance of the previous opera, the sets crew tears down 18th-century opulence to begin setting up the somber scenery of “Faust.”

• Separately, Popescu penned a story for the Union-Tribune looking at the role the San Diego Symphony plays in the orchestra for all of the San Diego Opera performances.

Clarinetist Terri Tunnicliff described working in the pit, the recessed spot in front of the stage where the orchestra plays out of sight:

“When we’re on the stage at Symphony Hall, we are the audience’s focus. When we are in the orchestra pit, we are like cogs in a really giant wheel.”

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I’m the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett and at facebook.com/behind.the.scene.SD.

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

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