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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Soundbox: Lineage

Available on the San Francisco Symphony Web site / Music

“Musicians are hyper conscious of their lineage,” the soprano Julia Bullock has said. “They honor it and value it.” Whether that’s true across the board, it holds for her to a preternatural degree. If on paper, Bullock’s programs can look bewildering, in performance they have achieved a luminous wholeness very difficult to account for in words. In an early New York recital, she once let Richard Strauss’s songs of the drowned Ophelia (in German) dovetail into the spiritual “Deep River,” which in turn led, step by thoughtful step, to a crest of redemptive jubilation. The transitions in the hour-long video Lineage are if anything more daring, taking quantum leaps from historic film clips to masked performances from our Plague Year. And it’s by no means all about Julia. Plenty of screen time is given over to instrumentals by members of the San Francisco Symphony, with whom she seems in uncanny accord. Even so, Bullock’s moments before the mic and the camera register as the very soul of this creation. Even as she sings, she listens with a sensitivity that opens our ears and hearts, too. —M.G.

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