BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA & PINCHAS ZUKERMAN at San Francisco Symphony

2-Photo-By-Paul-Labelle-120x67Any opportunity to hear Pinchas Zukerman perform is almost too good to be true. His performance with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, January 26, 2015, was truly wonderful. Playing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, Mr. Zukerman captivated the audience and enjoyed a perfect musical match with the BFO. To see Mr. Zukerman perform is enlightening in this era of show boats flinging arms in the air, bows pointed skyward and, one hopes, not into the eyes of their colleagues. With Pinchas Zukerman, it is all about the music. He stands calmly, listening, and plays whatever dauntingly difficult music as though it is his way of breathing. He is a demonstration that charisma can be found in quiet perfection.

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The BFO was a splendid partner throughout, playing Mozart with brightness, clarity, and a sense that they understood what they were doing. At one moment, Mr. Zukerman stood close to the Concert Mistress, Violetta Eckhardt, and leaned toward her and violinist Agnes Biro as though he were making a gift to them as well as playing with them. The program notes that Mr. Zukerman played two cadenzas which were written for him “as a gift by a close friend” and a third which was written by Fritz Kreisler. All three were brilliant, intricate wonders performed with lively perfection. No. 5 is the final violin concerto written by Mozart. It conveys a feeling of continuity and natural beauty that is an awakening to delight. The audience did all but rush the stage to pull Mr. Zukerman away from the exit. He offered the encore, Brahms’ Lullaby, to send his friends the BFO on their way home. He invited Conductor Ivan Fischer to come forward to sing with the audience. Mr. Fischer, sitting in the orchestra, declined, but many in the audience sang, turning the

astounding Mozart experience into a sweet love fest. PZukerman While the Violin Concerto, No. 5 is said to have been written in 1775, Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, was written in 1791 and premiered just two  months before his death at age 35. The January 26 performance opened with the Overture to The Magic Flute. It was interesting to begin the concert with an overture, meant to start us out, which is also an ending as it came so close to Mozart’s death. It contains all the spritely, mysterious, serious, and silly characterizations that appear in the opera. The Magic Flute presents an allegory of a prince who must go through trials to learn about good and evil before he can become who he is: a man meant to rule others. It creates an enchanted world which leads the audience to follow a playful bird catcher whose fun and adventure seem much more important than any philosophy. It was a brief but apt introduction to the program of work by the two greatest prodigies of Western classical music, Mozart and Mendelssohn. FelixMendelssohnThe Budapest Festival Orchestra’s performance of Selections from Incidental Music for Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61, was fantastic both in the musical representation of fantasy and the magnificence of their performance. They were joined by Anna Lucia Richter, soprano, Barbara Kozelj, mezzo soprano, and the Pro Musica Girls Choir, directed by Denes Szabo. Ms Richter and Ms Kozelj were stunning singers; the charming Choir sang very well.Together with the BFO they created a world of music inhabited by two worlds of creatures, the human and the spirits, elves, fairies. Actually, three worlds because there is the man who becomes a donkey (an ass); there are the lost lover humans and the “rough mechanicals” humans. There are the fairy King and Queen and the many kinds and ranks of other fairies. The music also is rich in life: the hee haws of Bottom, busy, flying fairy sounds, the beatific theme that is the wedding of all. It is a world of so many worlds and so many creatures, flowers, plants. Mendelssohn and now Ivan Fischer have given us a gift even beyond what Mendelssohn conceived at age 17 and a half when he made this particular masterpiece. We who are now its audience live in a world watching extinctions go past us like a medieval parade of death. The world once crowded with myriad forests and enriched with busy fantasies is being simpled down, clear cut, with species narrowed down to a few representatives in museum like zoos. Then here comes Mendelssohn’s Midsummer’s Night Dream to remind us of the rich diversity of life bounding, swarming, creeping,hopping around us. Once again, Maestro Fischer led his BFO in an a capella encore.FHensel

 

This time, a lovely song by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Felix’s gifted sister. Maestro Fischer’s conducting style involves many movements. In one which caught my eye more than once he raises both his arms in a rounded shape reaching up. I took it as an act of benediction for the music, his orchestra, his audience, and I was grateful for it, too. pictures: from above: Pinchas Zukerman, Ivan Fischer leading the BFO with P. Zukerman,P. Zukerman, Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.

BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA at San Francisco Symphony; Part One: All Brahms

november-28-29-30-Fischer-270x180On Sunday, January 25, Ivan Fischer led  the extraordinary Budapest Festival Orchestra in an all Brahms  program: Symphony No. 3 in F maj. Op. 90, and Symphony No.1 in C min., Op 68. Those individuals anywhere near San Francisco’s Civic Center will have seen a rounded, disk shape flying low and close to City Hall and the Opera House. It was the roof of Davies Symphony Hall which had lifted up and off the Hall at the conclusion of Symphony No. 1. What caused the lift off? Was it the energy created by the music itself or the force of the audience opening its four thousand eyes, leaning back and saying “oh!” surprised at its own exaltation? Sitting here, in Mountain View, just down the road from NASA Ames Research Center, one may leave the aeronautics to them, but it was not an unidentified flying object.170px-JohannesBrahms It was pure music rearranging the world. Symphony No. 3 opened the program. It is gorgeous, Brahms music which seems big enough to embrace the whole world. Mr. Fischer’s presentation took 7 fewer minutes than the older recording I listened to days later, wanting more of the experience. The BFO version was not rushed. It contained a sense of purpose and drive that made the whole symphony seem to pour forth without a pause. It opens with the Allegro con Brio making a declaration, presenting both a gentle dance and a struggle. There is an interplay amongst the strings in which their music seems to overlap like weaving. Despite the certain darkness behind the sprightly dance, a more positive theme re-emerges through the assault. There is no story or characterization in the music, and yet it is necessary to communicate its essence in the drama of language. This music carried in it the sweetness of our universe, even though the universe is impersonal forces. The Allegretto moves like the swaying of planets; it is so big and still intimate. It builds up to an enfolding theme that communicates human devotion. The winds suggest steps. Are they steps through the stars or human steps climbing lightfootedly through hills, rocking, turning through mists? The final, Allegro movement is busy, restless, quiet and suddenly louder. It surprises the listener and somehow suggests: we should have known. The call and response of the second movement reappears to remind us we were given hints and signs. In fact, we were shown. A spontaneous thought comes: “oh, no!” at the determined rebuilding of the music. It is wrestling with an angel. The horns make an announcement as they come over the hill, fighting and elevating at the same time. It is quiet music of our own atmosphere. Looking back, it brought to mind Robert Frost’s observation that “Earth’s the right place for love.” That is despite our limitations and because of them. There is Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 to encompass and present the love of Earth and the impossible human condition, the unbearable human condition which we might accept through Brahms’ triumph of beauty and understanding. Ivan Fischer Photo: Marco Borggrevepictures: Ivan Fischer, Johannes Brahms, Ivan Fischer. The Symphony No. 1 has a misleading title. It is Brahms’ first symphony, but when he wrote it he was hardly a beginner. While music writers make much of how long Brahms waited to write his symphony and that he worked on it at least 15 years, he created chamber music, choruses, songs, piano music, and, for the orchestra, a piano concerto, two serenades, and the mighty German Requiem while some in the music world stood tapping their feet and looking at their calendars for that missing masterpiece, the symphony. Brahms pointed out, “you have no idea what it”s like to hear the footsteps of a giant like that behind you.” He meant Beethoven. He knew what was expected of him, but no one but Brahms knew how he would create his new symphony, a wholly Brahmsian symphony, when he was ready. It is fair for Symphony No. 1 to be called “the giant,” at about 45 minutes it is longer than the average symphony. It also is bigger in every sense. Two of the four movements use the notation, “sostenuto,” and sustained is definitely a word that matches the magnificent work. It has a complexity of themes and musical journeys in it, and all of them are so intricately worked together that each element seems to exist only as a part of the whole. This is a great work whose conception and invention upon close examination might make 21st century persons think it could only be worked out on a computer which could handle all the different threads of music. However, they would be wrong. Brahms carried so much of music and life in his being that the complexity he knit together also carries in its entirety the soul of human culture. It is not a Jeopardy contest. HIs symphony is a life and death matter. He found the answer is unity, and then he found the way to make it. It opens with repeated beats of the timpani. A musical anthem appears briefly, wrapping in and out of the whole design. The world grows quiet. There are challenges on all sides. A theme repeats like the delicate steps of feet on rocks crossing water. The timpani comes back and the plucked strings play out a mystery. Rhapsodic music comes and drifts off, marching is heard under the swelling music, a horn calls from afar. We are in a strange world or a familiar world which we have never looked at before. The Andante Sostenuto is smooth but never lulling. It seems to make demands but circles away to an embrace. Even in its quiet mood it is always bringing energy and spirit higher and stronger. It is like a sunrise but with a strong pulse behind it; there is always an awareness of darkness. The third movement does that thing that Brahms does. The listener suddenly finds her face drenched in tears never having thought, this will make me cry. It opens with a lovely, lively rhythmic tune like a child playing on the grass; the winds dance together.

BFOrchThen, a change to the amazing theme that grabs at the heart. It repeats with more emphasis, quiet steps in between, grows bigger, then quiet as the first theme comes back, reconsiders its place until all the music simply blows away. Brahms now shows us that music is made of silence as well as sound. Single notes pop into space. There is a long rest; again single notes pop into the environment as a sustained building of sound surges. After calm anticipation, the heart wringing theme returns, this time sounding positive and certain. It announces: I am here. This is all. It unwinds as there is a return of rushing, hurried, insistent music. Out of this a sound quietly asserts itself; a flute joins in until the whole orchestra marches forth to counter it. That theme returns, still certain. It is our anthem, and it persists even with the dark reminders from horns and strings. We come back. The dance elaborates itself struggling through the reworking of the theme. There are storms, threats; the theme slows, pauses, but never stops. It briefly becomes almost a lullaby. We are back to the dance on the hillside. One instrument is answered by the whole orchestra. The weather changes. A drum sounds as though the symphony is ending, but the music goes on, the clouds are clearing. There is the moment of  take off; the music quickens; the horns announce: we are here. In a succession of counts; one, two, one two three it is over. The immense, mysterious experience is over. We knew that would happen; we did not know how; we did not really believe it would come. At this performance, the audience, stunned and inspired, wore out its hands applauding. The BFO musicians stood up and scrambled, moved from their places to other places, all holding sheet music. They sang a capella an Evening Serenade,Brahms’ Sommerabend, Op. 85, no.1, written for a poem by Heinrich Heine. It was beautiful.

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YEFIM BRONFMAN with San Francisco Symphony

YBronfmanYefim Bronfman, pianist noble, performed Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, January 22, 2015. For those who were listening, their hearts could never be the same. The performance was awe inspiring. Mr. Bronfman plays with power and tenderness. Brahms gave him a masterpiece of emotion that waves over all like a force of nature, and Bronfman was the right master to make it real. Much though it captures that inevitability of nature, the wave following the next wave, it is a work of human art. Mr. Bronfman succeeded brilliantly at bringing that force to life bigger than life. It reaches into one and brings back memories and feelings that one was not aware of having. A woman leaving Davies Hall, said to me, “I can’t help it.” She was talking about her tears; she could not help it because why they came was a mystery. It is ravishing music which Mr. Bronfman created in the most immediate, stunning way. Music is a physical thing. It changes the air around us. It takes physical effort to make music. One could see Mr. Bronfman’s left foot beating out a rhythm on the floor, alternating with his right foot on and off the pedal. His touch on the piano is light, and he brings out the lyricism and loveliness of Brahms’ seemingly endless soul of gorgeous melodies. Hats off to Michael Grebanier, Principal ‘Cellist of the SFS, for the beautiful ‘cello solo he played in tandem with the piano. The silken sound of the ‘cello made the audience hold its breath at these amazing musical moments. It was an astonishing performance.

BrahmsABergpictures: above, Yefim Bronfman; L-Rt, Brahms, Berg

The SFS also performed Alban Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra. Maestro Tilson Thomas addressed the audience to explain what would happen in the music and put everyone at ease about hearing reputedly difficult music. Seeing Robin Sutherland, SFS Keyboardist, seated at the celesta, one could expect something magical.In fact, it was very magical music with rhythmic inventions and interesting use of stillness. The Three Pieces are Praeludium: Slow; Reigen: A little hesitant at first-Light and winged; Marsch: Moderate march tempo. There are moments when the music is not only light/not heavy but seems to be light/not darkness. It suggests the movement of light as we see it reflected on an insect’s wing or changing the face of water. It races, alters our perceptions, bounces off of surfaces as it changes its meter. The concluding Marsch reveals that this is not coming to a good end. There is a collapse of structure. Berg called for the “large hammer ‘with non-metallic tone.’” It is an ending that brings to an end all the light and lightness that preceded it. This is MIchael Tilson Thomas’ 20th Anniversary as Music Director & Conductor and his 70th birthday. MTT’s gift for the art of program planning as well as bringing out the best of the wonderful SFS musicians is an ongoing celebration.

ITZHAK PERLMAN at the San Francisco Symphony

IPerlmanItzhak Perlman performed a recital at the San Francisco Symphony Davies Hall, January 18, 2015. Performing with him was Rohan De Silva, the extraordinary pianist who is his musical partner throughout the program. It is pointless to search for sufficiently exuberant and extravagant superlatives for this performance, though they are needed. Too many of the great adjectives have been worn out on cars and soap. It was a privilege to be in Itzhak Perlman’s audience. His program selection was an art in itself. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 in G major, Opus 30, no. 3 was a delight; even its complexity was playful as well as beautiful. It demanded masterful speed, precision and understanding from both instruments as they sing to each other gently and when they spin and whirl the sound. Following the Beethoven Sonata No. 8 came Grieg’s Sonata No. 3 in C minor for Violin and Piano, Opus 45. This a surprising, great piece which was not known by this listener. It rewards the audience with layers of emotion which sweep the rhythms and almost tumultuous music to suggest a hidden narrative. Grieg brings in his Norwegian folk music and dance for moments of pleasure before ending with explosive energy. It was a brilliant pairing to have these very different sonatas in the first half of the recital. The second half was devoted to Sonata in G major for Violin and Piano by Ravel. The Ravel piece truly stands apart. In it, Ravel revels in syncopation, harmonies from the blues, and a kind of anxious interplay or lack of interplay between violin and piano. At times, the piano seems to be channeling Count Basie or earlier rag time pianists and composers. While the pianist is inhabited by this spirit, the violin could be said to be on its own except that Ravel so surely has connected them in their differences: in the time that comes between each beat, the tone that only happens because of their different notes. It was a fascinating, exciting work which did not try to imitate jazz but showed ways that Ravel had made jazz properties his own. What came next is only typical of Itzhak Perlman, the great artist who is also the great human. After at least 6 curtain calls, Mr. Perlman, Mr. De Silva, and the page turner who re-entered carrying a tall stack of music scores settled in place. Mr. Perlman played encores for half an hour. The audience would happily have stayed for more. His encore choices were dazzling, virtuoso pieces mostly transposed for the violin by Fritz Kreisler and Jascha Heifetz. He also performed the theme music from the movie, Schindler’s List for which he collaborated with composer John Williams as the violin soloist. Between each presentation, Mr. Perlman regaled the packed to the rafters hall with pleasantly silly commentaries. He is a man of many sides: superb, supreme musician; dedicated teacher; deeply knowledgeable world cultural leader; a good man. Look on his website. You will see a video of him teaching a master class rather than a video of him receiving awards or performing in a great hall. This season he will perform recitals with Mr. De Rohan in Boston,Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, and conduct the Israel Philharmonic and Houston and Seattle Symphonies. What could one possibly do that would be more fun and more inspiring than to be in Itzhak Perlman’s audience?ItzhakP

WONDERFUL WINTER WORKSHOP: IT REALLY WAS WONDERFUL!

SUNDAY afternoon, Tuesday evening; cannot believe it came and went so quickly. Sunday was such a full and exciting day. Artist/teachers leading participants with extensive dance training and some beginners, or dancers with extensive training in other dance forms trying something new. There were several Bharatnatyam artists, for example, taking Contemporary, Salsa, and Line Dancing for the first time. This way of getting into the spirit of dancing is just what WWW.1.0 is all about. Amity Johnson’s Pilates mat class was a fantastic full body tune up. One very experienced dancer who also is a Pilates regular was heard to say, “It was great and now my stomach muscles will hurt all week.” We all need to have those moments of direct communication with our stomach muscles! Just returning from Tuesday evening’s classes. The participants not only danced full out and had a great time, they learned a lot and polished up what they had begun on Sunday or at the International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley, Aug. 2014. Here are some pictures; more will come soon. Etta1:18To the left and on top: Etta Walton leads line dances. Below: Leslie Friedman teaches Contemporary class. Tuesday night’s classes had that feeling of the last day of camp. Everyone was reluctant to say the dance was ending. Only for now.betterCrawl?IMG_0462

Emanuel Ax, Piano

EMANUEL AX, PIANO, at San Francisco Symphony

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Emanuel Ax performed a magnificent, wonderful, loving recital of works by Bizet, Rameau, Debussy, and Chopin at the Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, January 11, 2015. There is little to write about his performance except that it was wonderful. He is a great artist. His presence is low-key. There is no fuss and bother, no gesture that is not part of playing the piano with an understanding of the music that goes far deeper than the notes and with technique that has mastered every nuance, tone, color, rhythm. Like a baseball player who is hitting better than .300 for the season and still is the first one in the park to take batting practice, Mr. Ax could be seen from Davies’ Hall’s foyer over the SFS closed circuit t.v.s practicing until the ushers were forced to open the doors to let the audience be seated. His selections were not the usual fare for a pianist’s performance. He opened with Bizet’s Variations Chromatique de Concert. A dazzling display of musical color, it is also an astonishing virtuoso challenge. From the beginning, Mr. Ax showed that he was the Master and could make the piano would do whatever amazingly difficult turns the Master required. Dismissed as merely virtuosic by a music commentator who didn’t get it, the piece is a musical joy. Shall I point to center field and hit the home run exactly there? Ok, that’s what I will do. Shall I jump up and, while staying up there, cross my feet front and back six times just to show that a human could do such a thing? Ok, I’ll do that. And, I will do it beautifully because beauty counts.The Rameau selection, Suite in G major/minor from Nouvelles Suites de pieces de clavecin, was also a splendid surprise. It is full of invention from this late 17th-early 18th century composer. Each piece of the suites called for either a specific, unusual action of the pianist or musically suggested a image in action. For Les Tricotets (The Knitters) the pianist’s hands play closely together as though the melody is being unfurled like a scarf from knitting needles. La Poule (The Hen) has the music suggest the bird. However, by describing them in these brief phrases I am in danger of simplifying music which experiments with harmonies and rhythm as well as the physical act of making music. Approaching Debussy, the listener may anticipate being in a more familiar, early 20th century, musical world. Debussy never disappoints until one thinks it possible for him to be predictable. The selections were Estampes (Prints): Pagodes, La Soiree dans Grenade, Jardins sous la pluie. They were elegant, mysterious, beautiful in a way in which Debussy helped to teach us to find beauty. The delicate Pagodes was inspired by Debussy’s fascination with Japanese art which was just coming to France and captivating the Impressionist painters, as well. At times it suggested a small, graceful water insect which can tip toe across the surface of a pond. La Soiree dans Grenade had a snip of jazz inflection with its light touch of a Spanish accent. Debussy’s Homage a Rameau, in addition to being a fitting addition to the Rameau on the program, is a graceful and rhythmic tribute to the composer Debussy greatly admired. L’Isle joyeuse is completely extraordinary. Listeners whose closest association with Debussy is Prelude to L’Apres-midi d’un Faune especially should seek this music. It seems to capture all of Debussy’s love of nature: plants, water, strange and famiiar animals. It is an Eden one can almost touch, but only almost. After the intermission came Chopin. Mr. Ax chose Four Scherzos, written from 1832-1842. The great composer lived such a brief life, 1810-1849, that the time span of the Scherzos is significant. I will not describe them. I am still overcome by their intensity, range of emotion, magnificent and purposeful virtuosity. Each one had its own terrors and passion and its own troubled peace. Find them and listen. To find Emanuel Ax in concert, one need not travel far. He will play with orchestras in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles, Vancouver, in addition to an extensive European tour. Hear him live.Photos, top, Emanuel Ax; below: Bizet, Debussy, Rameau, ChopinBizet

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Wonderful Winter Workshop/TIME TO DANCE!

Here’s the poster for WWW 1.0 It’s the first Wonderful Winter Workshop of IDF@SV. The International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley wants everyone –beginners & pros–to dance and have a wonderful time. Join us; it’s time to DANCE!WWW 1-1.0FlyerHow to register? Just send an email to livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net Let us know which classes you want to take. Send a check to The Lively Foundation/550 Mountain View Avenue/Mountain View, CA 94041-1941. Prices are very reasonable, and the more classes you take the less they cost per class. Here’s the break down: $25 single class/$40 for 2/$54 for 3/$64 for 4/$75 for 5/$78 for 6/$77 for 7/AND $77 for ALL EIGHT! What you are looking at for example is paying $15 per class for 5 Master Classes with artist/teachers who are here to make you shine. OR Take all 8 classes and each class costs only $9.60. That is such a great deal! Email or call with ANY questions and then, come on and DANCE!!!

WWW. -WONDERFUL WINTER WORKSHOP/Schedule

Announcing the class schedule for WWW 1.0, our first Wonderful Winter Workshop of the International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley. Take all 8 classes, one will be FREE!!

Classes on Saturday, Jan. 18: from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.    at the Mtn.View Masonic Center, MV,  12:30 DUNHAM TECHNIQUE, LESLIE ARBOGAST;1:30  SALSA, LEANNE RINELLI; 2:30 PILATES MAT, AMITY JOHNSON; 3:30 CONTEMPORARY, LESLIE FRIEDMAN; 4:30 LINE DANCING, ETTA WALTON. All classes are mixed levels. NO partners needed for Salsa or Line Dancing.

Classes on Tuesday, Jan. 20, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Mountain View Masonic Center, MV, CA 94041

6 p.m. DUNHAM TECHNIQUE, LESLIE ARBOGAST; 7 P.M. SALSA, LEANNE RINELLI; 8 P.M., LINE DANCING, ETTA WALTON.

DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY TO GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT FOR 2015! DANCE AND HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME! THE ARTIST/TEACHERS WANT TO HELP YOU SHINE! information: contact: The Lively Foundation, livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.netEtta WaltonSmallLeslie angel

Pictures: Left: Etta Walton; Right: Leslie Friedman

 

 

 

WWW. = Wonderful Winter Workshop

"                               ""                               "mail-2The International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley presents WWW. a wonderful winter workshop. Open Master Classes led by beloved artist/teachers will help you to dance into the New Year! Classes will be offered on Sunday afternoon, January 18, and Tuesday evening, January 20. Artist/teachers are coming from around the country to participate. We welcome back Leanne Rinelli from New York and Leslie Arbogast from San Diego. All classes take place at the Festival HQ: the Mountain View Masonic Center, 890 Church Street, Mtn. View. All classes are mixed levels. A prima ballerina might be a complete beginner at salsa; a salsa dancer will love to learn Dunham technique. Do what you love; try something new to you. Classes offered will include:

Salsa – NO partner necessary; Line Dances – NO partner necessary; Dunham Technique – Katherine Dunham introduced Afro-Haitian & Afro-Cuban dance to the US; Pilates mat – no previous experience required, a great body tune up for Pilates lovers or newbies; Contemporary -technique & repertory.

The price per class reduces with each added class. For example, Early Bird fee for a single class is $20. EB fee for two classes is $36 ($18 X 2). The fees continue like that except for the fee for 7 classes which is $63. TAKE ALL THE CLASSES AND ONE OF THEM WILL BE FREE!!!!! WHAT A GREAT DEAL!!!!! EARLY BIRD fees available until Jan. 3, 2015. We are making this easy for you to come and dance: the two dates are not priced separately. Take one class on the 18th and three on the 20th and you get the rate for four classes. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to dance and have a great time. Contact: livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net with any questions. Watch the news on this livelyblog and also on our facebook pages:

facebook/The Lively Foundation   –  facebook/international dance festival silicon valley"                               "pictures: above L to Rt: Leslie Arbogast, Dunham Technique; Etta Walton leading a whole audience in Line Dances; Leslie Friedman, Contemporary; bottom: Leanne Rinelli leading Salsa performance. Amity Johnson, Pilates master teacher.

All pictures from Festival Concert, Aug., 2014.Amity Johnson

 

HOUGHTON HALL: Portrait of an English Country House

HHallExteriorSybilSassoonSargent

gibbs_-_houghton_hall_-_interior_1-1 ChumleyVisiting the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum is always visiting a very special place. Almost a world of its own, the museum sits at a distant end of The City on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge.The site is so breathtaking that one’s attention could be turned away from the beautiful building. It was built to echo the Legion of Honor in Paris and to honor the Californian “boys” who had died in World War I. As it is just two days away from Veterans’ Day, it is worth remembering to remember. Now, until January 18, 2015, the Legion hosts an exhibition which re-creates another special place within the museum. In 1728, Houghton Hall was called “the completest, beautifulest” of all country houses. It is gigantic, full of treasures and history. It was the home of Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime MInister and a voracious collector. When he died, in 1755, he left an enormous debt. His family sold Robert Walpole’s collection of Old Master paintings to Catherine of Russia, helping to make her Great and their debts less. In an odd quirk of history, the family has been able to hold on to the property because no one would buy the immense house and its 17,000 acres. Lucky for us. The property passed to Horace Walpole and then to a grandson of Sir Robert’s daughter. A fortuitous marriage to the Chomondeley family of Cheshire further secured both families’ properties. David Cholmondeley, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley (pronounced “Chumly”) and Lord Great Chamberlain of England is now in charge of both. His grandfather married the exquisite Sybil Sassoon, a descendant of the Rothschild family who brought her personal elegance, devotion to Houghton Hall, and more financial stability. Speaking to a group of journalists, David Chomondeley reminisced of happy times with his grandmother. She introduced him to treasures and special places in Houghton Hall, including the grand staircase which she restored. Among many fine things in the exhibition are paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Andrea del Sarto, Artemesia Gentileschi, and Hogarth. Visitors will be inside the library from which Robert Walpole ran England. This was the first house in England to use mahogany instead of oak. While building it, Robert Walpole took import duties off of mahogany; he put them back when the Hall was finished. There are also Sevres china rarities collected by George Chomondeley, the current Marquess’s grandfather, grand silver, statues. One gallery has portraits of Sybil by John Singer Sargent. The beautiful lady is now overseeing the visits of so many new guests to her San Francisco home. When you visit, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy an English tea being served in the Museum’s lovely cafe. Pictures, courtesy FAMSF: Houghton Hall exterior; Sybil Sassoon, Marchioness of Chomondeley, by Sargent; interior of Houghton Hall; Hogarth painting of Chomondeley collection.