Best of 2001: Best Place To Hear New Music

Spruce Street Forum
301 Spruce Street, Banker's Hill
619-295-0301 or 619-297-3531

Musicians with big names in new music play here from September to June. The space is warmly lit, with cream-colored walls and large windows that show passersby the scene inside. There is no stage or raised platform; 120 folding chairs simply surround a center. Atmosphere is more lecture hall than club. No one eats or drinks during these performances; at intermission and afterwards, audience members join the musicians in the garden for wine and snacks (complimentary but donation suggested). Ticket prices are reasonable, ranging from $8-$20, depending upon the billing. Students get a discount. Musicians are just as apt to hail from Amsterdam or Vancouver as New York or San Francisco. UCSD Music Department members and their promising grads also make appearances. For the biggest names -- Gerry Hemingway, Andrew Cyrille, Dave Holland, and Don Preston in recent seasons -- sold-out shows are not uncommon, so reserve early. "New" music means many things: improvisation, both acoustic and electronic; experimental jazz; the oxymoronic contemporary classical. What do you call a pairing of piccolo and computer? Forum founding director Bonnie Wright likes to call it all "good" music. She's the one who sets the tone: elegant and hip, to be sure, but somehow not intimidating.

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