YBronfman

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 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 Spanish inflection. 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. 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.

San Francisco Opera: PARTENOPE

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The opera Partenope: 6 characters, 3 hours and 20 minutes, Baroque opera by Handel. Turns out it is a laugh riot. What 21st century music lover who is not totally up on Baroque could guess that? San Francisco Opera’s production of Partenope, performed Oct.15-Nov. 2, 2014, was originally created by the English National Opera and Opera Australia. It traveled well. An attempt at a summary of the plot: Partenope loves Arsace, the cad who abandoned Rosmira. Rosmira, convincingly dressed as a man, shows up at the house party. She/he claims to be in love with P., too. Shy Armindo is madly in love with P., but she can barely see him. Emilio arrives and offers to marry P. She refuses. E. threatens war. P. asks A(Arsace). to lead her forces. The other men and “man” have their feelings hurt. Ormonte observes. That’s just the first 20 minutes or so. The voices of all the performers were outstanding. Two of the men sang countertenor roles; David Daniels as Arsace and Anthony Roth Costanzo as Armindo. Those voices are higher than the voices of the two females; it’s just one layer of Handel’s satire of operatic conventions of his time. Daniels and Roth Costanzo were wonderful performers. Arsace’s emotions ranged from ardent suitor to dejected reject. Armindo, amazed by Partenope’s sudden declaration of love, breaks into a tap dance with top hat and cane on top of his nightie. Daniela Mack as Rosmira/Eurimene is conniving, passionate, heartbroken while in excellent voice. Danielle de Niese as Partenope, the Queen Bee to whom all the energy of the others is devoted, is more than an opera singer. She moves with the grace and assurance of a dancer thoroughly at home moving on stage. Her statuesque form plus her engaging presence showed that Handel was correct to make an opera all about her. It is a funny opera.Would we have missed the satire without the toilet paper? Director Christopher Alden packed the 200 minutes with sight gags including potty jokes. Emilio is interrupted by a sound; is it water? oh, no, it is a toilet flushing. Partenope walks out a door revealing a toilet. Emilio, sung by Alek Shrader with authority and a self-satirizing awareness, sings while hanging from the bathroom’s transom, makes hand shadows as though at camp, and executes a hilarious yoga routine. The set designed by Andrew Lieberman adds another star to the cast. The winding staircase in Act I is not only gorgeous but also gives Armindo an opportunity to show that he can fall down all the stairs–face down–and hang from the edge while still singing. A great addition to SFO’s repertory, it suggests one get out there to see more of Handel’s operas, maybe even this one in another production to see if Handel’s own humor is still there. Pictures: (L to Rt, top row)Danielle de Niese, David Daniels, Alek Shrader, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Daniela Mack(bottom row) Philippe Sly, staircase, Danielle de Niese.

BATS!!! Dance for BRACKEN CAVE

texasBatsBatFrom 1990-2007, The Lively Foundation presented BAT TALES! annually in San Francisco and around the Bay Area. The program included premiere dances, theatre, original songs–all about bats. Most were based on legends about bats from many cultures; some based on legends we made up. Lucy & the Count: the Bat Ballet was choreographed for music by award winning composer, Jon Deak; Mine Bat, a two part solo dance was set to a story by Leslie Friedman and music by English composer Jonathan Harvey. Mine Bat was based on an article written by famed nature writer, William Stolzenburg. The article appeared in Nature Conservancy, the magazine of the international organization, the Nature Conservancy. Mr. Stolzenburg then wrote about Ms Friedman’s dance and story in another Nature Conservancy article. “At the time I first presented Lucy & the Count, with the Bat being the hero, no one paid any attention to bats. The whole program might have been considered wildly eccentric. Bats were only thought of as scary creatures getting caught in some lady’s hair,” says choreographer, Ms Friedman, “but now there is more consciousness of their beauty and their enormous contributions to human well being.” Lively’s annual performances contributed to the raising of that consciousness. Here’s the good news for all of us and especially for the bats: Bat Conservation International (based in Austin, TX) and The Nature Conservancy have managed to buy more than 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave, near San Antonio. That land was going to be developed into many, many houses and other structures which would have meant curtains for the bats in Bracken Cave, home to the world’s largest population of Mexican Free-tailed bats. Millions of bats fly out of the cave at night to hunt insects. The bats are the most efficient pest control in the world. In the summer, the Bracken bats eat 140 TONS of insects EACH NIGHT. Throughout the US, bats save farmers about $23 billion in crop damage and reduced pesticide use. Three cheers for BCI, the Nature Conservancy and the BATS!!! It’s the best Halloween treat of all. Pictures courtesy BCI: Bats emerging from Bracken Cave, a bat visiting an agave. see also: www.nature.org  and  batcon.org  and   www.williamstolzenburg.com   and www.jonathanharveycomposer.com  and  www.jondeak.com