Letter to the Editor

Mention the Music

Sin of omission: I have just read the review of Houston Ballet's Swan Lake ["Soaring Swan," by Marene Gustin, March 2]. While she describes in great detail the synopsis, choreography, costumes and sets, her only mention of the music performed was a brief reference to "Tchaikovsky's haunting score." The music apparently did not haunt Gustin enough to even mention the Houston Ballet Orchestra or conductor Ermanno Florio. Neither did she hear three extraordinarily difficult violin solos spectacularly played by the orchestra's concert-master, Denise Tarrant. These are serious errors of omission.

Houston readers have become accustomed to inadequate references to the Houston Ballet Orchestra in Houston Chronicle ballet reviews. Perhaps the Press can assume a more enlightened role and responsibly mention the sound that the audience hears for more than three hours. That sound is not the patter of feet but an orchestra of highly skilled professional musicians. The training and continued practice needed to achieve and maintain professional status is considerably more than that which is required to write ballet reviews. Appropriate deference is very much in order.

Lawrence Wheeler

School Shaft

Carnegie shortchanged: I read with great interest Todd Spivak's two-part article regarding the top ten public high schools in the Houston area ["Houston's Best Public High Schools" and "These Kids Go to the Best Public High School in Houston," February 23 and March 2]. My interest turned to great disappointment when I realized that my daughter's school, HISD's Carnegie Vanguard High School, was buried at No. 33 on the list (at the very bottom of the "Tier 1 schools"). This apparently happened because as a school that has existed on its own campus since only 2001 (despite the fact that the Vanguard program has been around for more than 25 years), Carnegie Vanguard could not be assigned a graduation rate. It also was not assigned any points for "innovation" since it was not ranked in the top ten.

While I understand the importance of adhering to your report's methodology, I feel it was incumbent on the Houston Press to make it clear that even though Carnegie didn't qualify for actual ranking in your study given the report's methodology, the school still stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best high schools in the Houston metropolitan area. In a recent Texas A&M study, which can be viewed at Carnegie's Web site (www.vanguardian.org), we were ranked second on the list of the best public high schools in Houston and seventh in the entire state of Texas.

In fact, when you add up all the points for the categories in your report in which Carnegie Vanguard was assigned a score and compare the total of those scores to the other schools' totals in those same categories, we are virtually tied with No. 1-ranked DeBakey; we're two points ahead of No. 2-ranked HSPVA; and we're a full seven points ahead of No. 3-ranked YES College Preparatory School.

As to the "innovation" category (for which Carnegie received no points), I note that there is no explanation whatsoever concerning the criteria used or how the score was assessed. But if you had looked at innovation and creativity on our campus, you would have discovered unique courses like "1968" and "World Religions," and a campus culture more akin to that of a small liberal arts college than a typical Texas high school. You also would have discovered a thriving theatrical department that mounted a superb outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream last fall, is working on The Importance of Being Earnest and sponsors an annual One-Act Play Festival featuring works that are written, directed, acted and produced by students.

We invite you to visit our campus and see for yourself what makes Carnegie Vanguard such a special place for Houston teenagers to prepare for college.

Lisa Robinson
Vice President Communications
Carnegie Vanguard PTO

Boo, Beatles

Bubblegum boy band: I agree with Brian McManus's assessment of the Beatles [Wack, March 16]. He asks, "...has there ever been a band with more smoke blown up its ass than the Beatles?" I've heard all the fanatical claims about "musical genius" and "greatest rock and roll band ever" but have yet to be convinced. Songs like "Fool on the Hill," "Michelle," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"? This has been bubblegum boy-band fare and elevator music from the word go. I've also heard the crap about other bands "stealing" the Beatles' ideas. Even if this were true, I think bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin made much better use of any "stolen" material than the Beatles ever did Ė and certainly rocked much more.

Hey, if you like them, fine by me, more power to you. Just don't expect me to believe all the boomer hype.

Of course, to me, the Beatles' biggest sin was unleashing Yoko Ono upon an unsuspecting, and largely unwilling, world.

Brian Bartz
Clear Lake


Robb Walsh is a national finalist for writing about drinks

Houston Press food writer Robb Walsh has once again been named a finalist for a James Beard award in the prestigious national competition honoring cookbook authors, chefs and journalists.

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