Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Donald’s mailbag: Why no love for Fresno State jazz?


I received a thoughtful note from Brigid de Jong, a Fresno State music professor:

Thank you for the fine article about our local players participating in the Fresno Phil’s pops concert on Saturday. Jazz is alive and well in Fresno.

I was disappointed, however, that you didn’t mention the connection that exists between Fresno City College and Fresno State. The fine teaching that the students receive at FCC can segue into a degree with a jazz emphasis at Fresno State, headed by Alan Durst (whose name you did mention, but perhaps you didn’t know he developed and runs our instrumental jazz major.)

Since you made a point of acknowledging the strong jazz program at FCC, I think it would have been good to point out that our local students can continue that fine beginning by earning a BA in music with an emphasis in instrumental jazz. As it is a relatively new option, this would have been a great opportunity to inform the community about it.

Thank you for your extremely thorough and thoughtful coverage of the arts in our area. You do the community a great service by constantly showing the people here that the arts are alive and well in the Fresno community.

My response is after the jump.

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Donald’s mailbag

I can’t begin to match the love for Disneyland that my esteemed former colleague Heather McLane captured so eloquently on the Beehive. But on a recent trip to Anaheim, I realized how special the place is to me in terms of childhood memories. I wrote my Jan. 13 Sunday Spotlight column about the visit, in particular a very special moment I witnessed in a tucked-away corner of the park in the the Tomorrowland Innoventions attraction. I received lots of warm notes from readers in my in-box and on Facebook. So in a moment of Saturday afternoon feel-good, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Anita Morris writes:

Thank you for your article. I just took my kids again to Disneyland, and Innoventions is a must see/do for us too. I miss the circular stage and refuse to have the computer tell my kids what my BMI is no matter how much they beg. :).

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Donald’s mailbag: Well, we agreed on ‘Sound of Music’


Up first: a response to three of my recent reviews. Plus, on the jump: a Rogue Festival artist writes to let me know that months later, he finally worked up the courage to read my review. (And he’s happy he did.)

Sherryl Gonzalez writes:

I read your reviews of “The Sound of Music,” “Beau Jest” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and I just have to respond.

I’ve been to all three of these plays. I agree with your assessment of “The Sound of Music.” It was very good — acting, singing and staging. However, I completely disagree with your assessments of “Beau Jest” and “Merry Wives of Windsor.”

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Donald’s Mailbag: rudeness at ‘HAIR’

A reader named Joann writes in a Sunday letter:

Yesterday I went to see MTF’s production of “HAIR.” I was really looking forward to the show but my enjoyment of the first act was spoiled by a group of patrons behind me that were talking and whispering non stop.

The lyrics of HAIR are very challenging so you really have to listen carefully. Because of the rude talkers behind me I couldn’t concentrate. Imagine my surprise when the lights came up at intermission and I recognized one of the talkers as being none other than a cast member in another local musical whom I had just seen performing last weekend. Shame on you! How would you like it if people came to your show and did that?

Talking during a play or a movie is rude to everyone around you and just shouldn’t be done. Luckily I was able to move for the second act but I feel sorry for the rest of the folks that were stuck around the talkers! In the future, please be more considerate. Thank You.