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In orchestras around the country, the contingent of players aged 40 and younger is usually quite small. Not in San Diego, where young players like violinist Kate Hatmaker comprise a sizable chunk of the ensemble.

“There’s no one who has an orchestra as young as ours,” Hatmaker tells us. “At least a third of them are under 40, which is unheard of. In other orchestras, you might have five.”

Hatmaker and several friends are parlaying that vigor into their alternative ensemble, Art of Élan, which mixes modern pieces with unusual configurations of musicians. With her co-director, former symphony principal flutist Demarre McGill, Hatmaker has been creating concerts for several years; this is the group’s fifth season. The ensemble’s work was featured in our Meeting of the Minds event, where a software developer with a self-proclaimed preference for football touted Art of Élan’s strategies to make classical music hip.

Our photographer Sam Hodgson walked with Hatmaker through downtown while she played a Bach piece (happens to be one of my favorites, the Allemande from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor). Watch the raw videos of her surprise performance for trolley riders that Sam captured while he shot her portrait.


You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Extreme Art-Making, Home Edition

• Next Tuesday, crews plan to hoist a 70,000-pound house and perch it atop the seventh story of one of the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering buildings as part of the UCSD’s Stuart Collection of large-scale art pieces. The $1 million project is an art piece called “Fallen Star” by renowned Korean artist Do Ho Suh.

Catch up on this staggering project with our coverage:

The house is tilted at a dramatic angle to add degrees of disorientation and dislocation. The house’s tilt is befuddling and sparking nausea in construction workers accustomed to operating with straight lines, Randy Dotinga learned. Crews last week attached siding and scouted the house’s hoist strategy while Sam Hodgson photographed. In our TV interview, I asked construction supervisor Don Franken what kind of pep talk he gave his workers as they came onsite:

I just basically told everybody to throw their levels away. Don’t bring ’em out here, unless you want to use them for a straightedge, because there’s nothing level about this cottage. And there’s nothing you can use a level to even extrapolate the dimensions you want. You have to use just math and squares. That does get kind of nutty.


• Artist Rich Walker painted a man that stands in his front yard a few years ago, and he regularly paints over the message the man holds with a new one, like “Live Now” and “Create.” (See the Man in the Yard Facebook page.) Walker is moving, but not before the Man in the Yard rides in the OB Holiday Parade in a few weeks. (CityBeat)

• What is the history of Southern California art? Several UCSD professors and alumni are featured in Orange County and L.A. shows that are part of the Getty-instigated “Pacific Standard Time” effort — adding more local flavor beyond the two San Diego shows we’ve written about. (UCSD News)

• The board of directors for the bankrupt Lyric Opera San Diego is appointing a new executive director to run the theater venue, who says he’ll “change the face of what the Birch North Park Theatre was” to make it more attractive to groups who would pay to rent the space and thereby help the venue operate in the black.


New Perspectives

• A group of 10 musicians last week tried a new kind of playing together. Four of the musicians were at UCSD, five were at New York University, and they were linked by audio and video transmissions so they could play “together.” (SD Reader)

• In her second piece of our series exploring the wrinkles of setting ticket prices in the age of discount sites like Groupon, Roxana Popescu finds out about the supply and demand of price-figuring. One misconception in the economics of art is that the price patrons pay to see a work actually equals what it costs to make. What do you want to know?


• After running the company for 30 years, Kathy Brombacher will retire next year from Moonlight Stage Productions, the musical theater company operated by the city of Vista in North County. (Union-Tribune)

• Local art cheerleader April Game is up to something: She’s trying to rally community conversations in Chula Vista, Escondido and Solana Beach about launching a “county art council.” (CityBeat)

• San Diego Junior Theatre’s new director is “a retired professional ballet dancer with an M.B.A.” (Balboa Park blog)

Local Flavors

• Our friends at Sezio have a knack for creating memorable concerts and events. This week’s Four Day Weekend features four nights of hot indie bands at North Park’s Sunset Temple and spills over into after-parties at The Linkery and El Take It Easy. (Sezio)

• Who’s taking the stage? The U-T’s Jim Hebert rounds up some upcoming casts for local productions.

• Writer Cathy Robbins, who once wrote occasionally about arts for VOSD, has written a book about modern life for Native Americans, and will be in town in the next couple of weeks for readings. See details on her website.

• National Geographic whale photographer Flip Nicklin got his feet wet in the world of whales when he rode one off the La Jolla coast in 1963. (U-T)

We recently visited the exhibition of Nicklin’s photographs at the San Diego Natural History Museum for Behind the Scene TV.

• Local sculptor Jeffery Laudenslager recently made a new piece for a college campus in Colorado. The military veteran told the Craig Daily Press his art can be aptly described as a hobby, but he’s always been able to sell it to someone.

I interviewed Laudenslager for this story about the public art planned for the city’s new central library; he said it can be really difficult for an artist to keep up the energy between an initial request from a government agency and the time you’re eventually given the green light to make it.

“Unfortunately that’s the difficulty. Working with some of these municipalities, it’s antithesis to art.”

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

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

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