Monthly Archives: January 2018

Ax & SFSymphony: Mozart & Schoenberg, A Brilliant, Varied Concert

January 13, 2018, the San Francisco Symphony performed a sensational concert with pianist Emanuel Ax. The variety of challenging pieces chosen for the program demonstrated the excellence of the SF Symphony and Mr. Ax, surely one of the absolute top pianists in the world.

Emanuel Ax     First on the program was the Leonore Overture, #3 (1806). This overture, written with Beethoven’s only opera in mind, has so much energy and color, the listener can absorb the revolutionary new principles of freedom embraced by Fidelio, the female character who comes to rescue her lover, a champion of liberty. These were also Beethoven’s principles; they imbue the music with the celebration of the rights of man instead of the rights of dictators.

Ludwig van Beethoven

After the rousing beginning of the concert came Mozart’s Piano Concerto,No. 14, in E-flat Minor(1784). Complicated and beautiful, this concerto manages to offer inventive, complex music which is written so perfectly by Mozart that the listener absorbs its beauty rather than be transfixed by its complications. Mr. Ax transmitted the restlessness and concentrated construction without a hesitation. He so completely embodied the music that he and the SF Symphony nearly disappeared. The music became a living presence. The second movement, Andantino, came as a surprise. It was elegant, almost peaceful, an incredibly eye opening change. The Concerto ends with a rondo, Allegro ma non troppo. The rhythms are engaging; the movement sweeps the audience away to a new level of aesthetic excitement.

Wolfgang Amadeo Mozart

Matching the Mozart concerto with Schoenberg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 41 (1942) was daring and brilliant. When Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas turns to address the audience, everyone present is tremendously lucky, about to be enlightened by SFS Music Director, MTT, about what we will hear. It was a very beneficial offering. In addition to describing the famous, or infamous, 12 tone method, MTT had Mr. Ax play some of the music from the Concerto as it would have been written in the traditional, major -minor system. That provided an “Aha!” moment. While I wouldn’t pretend to “understand” the composition principles, hearing that example opened a door. It was an intense, dramatic, performance. Both Mr. Ax and the SF Symphony showed that they were able to triumph in this “new” music as well as in the Beethoven and Mozart.

Arnold Schoenberg, photograph by Man Ray

The concert finale was Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, After the Old Rogue’s Tale, Set in Rondo Form for Large Orchestra, Op. 28 (1895). This piece has a special place in my musical education. In my elementary school in St. Louis County, one year, maybe during 4th grade, a Music Lady came to play music and talk about it. She played Smetana’s The Moldau and Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. No Peter and the Wolf for us. Ever since that time, I have avoided Till because I remember being told that he was so mischievous, had so much delight in his practical jokes, that he was hanged. The story terrified me. Too much fun? Off to the gallows.

Medieval woodcut of trickster, Tilll Eulenspiegel, courtesy, San Franciso Symphony

Fortunately, I pushed that memory aside and enjoyed a performance that revealed the determined individualism of Till, a character in  many German legends. The music does not involve moralistic commentary. It plays hide and seek with Till’s personality and adventures. The concert, which had begun with the inspiring Leonore Overture, closed with an emphatic exploration of  a character who came to life on the outside of accepted society. The audience was completely charmed by Till and roared its approval.

 

 

Awards for Creative Performances with Movement

Expand your audience! Create new work!

Creators of performance works that involve movement –theater/spoken word with movement; mime; juggling; physical comedy; ANY style of dance, more — are invited to submit their work to be performed in the 7th annual International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd awardees will present their work on Festival programs either June 22 or June 23, in Mountain View. These are ticketed, public performances.

Awardees receive publicity coverage and rehearsal time, honorarium.

Work must be original, no more than 8 minutes, can be solo or group work. Please send a video by DVD or youtube to The Lively Foundation. DVD to The Lively Foundation/550 Mountain View Avenue/Mountain View, CA/94041; OR youtube to livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net     IF YOU USE youtube, please let us know by email that you doing that so we do not delete it as spam.  Send video of the work you want to perform. Include a letter stating your name, street address, email address, number of performers in your piece, length of time of piece, title of piece, any program note you feel will be helpful to viewers. Please note if your work requires specific technical effects/equipment. Applicants must be adults. Application fee is $20; make your check to The Lively Foundation, and mail to The Lively Foundation, 550 Mountain View Avenue, Mountain View, CA, 94041.

Questions? please contact Cathy So at livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net

IDF@SV is a unique and wonderful dance experience. Don’t miss this opportunity!

 

Charlotte Bronte: The Bats of Haworth

The Lively Foundation is proud to announce that the Browning Society of San Francisco, a prominent literary and theater society, has invited our Artistic Director, Leslie Friedman to make a presentation on January 12, 1:00 p.m., the Sequoias, 1400 Geary, San Francisco. Admission is free. A reception with cake, coffee, tea follows the talk.

The Bronte sisters, Emily, Anne, Charlotte, painted by their brother, Branwell.

Leslie will show the video of her dance, THE BATS OF HAWORTH, which is accompanied by spoken excerpts from the writings of Charlotte Bronte, and music of Chopin. The dance is a trio about the Bronte sisters. This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights. The presentation will include a talk about the sisters and their art as well as about the choreography. Dr. Friedman choreographed and danced in this work.

The presentation is free and open to the public, Jan. 12, 1:00 p.m., at the Sequoias, 1400 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. You may enter through the buildings Post St. entrance, sign in, take the elevators to the top floor. For more information, please contact Dennis R. Parks, 415/668-0332 or dennisrparks@yahoo.com  or find the Browning Society on Facebook.

GODS IN COLOR at SF’s Legion of Honor Museum

Close your eyes and think of ancient Greek statues. Do you see them in their gleaming white marble? Do you see how the classical purity of their forms is presented without enhancement or any distraction from colors or other decor? That’s certainly the way anyone interested in art history would have envisioned them for the past several centuries. Turns out, that vision is wrong. The astonishing exhibition, Gods in Color, will be at the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum through its last day, January 7th. It’s more than an eye-opener. It will not just invite you to reconsider everything you know about aesthetic values; it will force you to blink a few times and conclude the past is something different, maybe more complicated, than we thought we knew it to be.

Reconstruction of Trojan Archer, 2005. Original: Greece, Aegina, ca.480 B.C.E.Glyptothek Munich. Copy synthetic marblecast with natural pigments in eg tempera, lead, and wood, height 37 3/4in. Leibieghaus Sculpture Collection (Polychromy Research Project), Frankfurt, on loan from the Universit of Heidelberg, LG157. picture courtesy Fine Arts Museums San Francisco.

This writer had heard years ago that the Acropolis was thought to have been painted in bright colors (my mother, a student of Art & Archaeology at Washington University, St. Louis, called this “a wake up call.”) Improved technology has now analyzed the bits and traces of color especially on statues and architectural remnants. The Gods of Color exhibition shows reconstructions of famous statues, friezes and even an Ionic capital all painted according to what the scientific detectives have found. Shown with the reconstructions are outstanding, original, unchanged works from classical Greece, Egypt, the Near East. The exhibition is fascinating not only for the chance to see these art works in a way close to the way the ancient Greeks saw them, but also for what is revealed about the science and economy of the times.

For example, one color is called Egyptian blue. The color was entirely synthetic. The Egyptians had worked out the science of producing a blue for their art through their knowledge of chemistry. They used silica, lime, copper and alkali. Blue made from lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone, was too costly for a multitude of projects. Other colors in the Greek works were derived from natural mineral sources: red and yellow ocher, red cinnabar, azurite and malachite. The cave paintings in Lascaux (ca. 17,000 B.C.E) demonstrate that even then the artists could create colors from minerals. Dr. Rene Dreyfus, Curator in Charge of Ancient Art and Interpretation, explains that although they might have found a way to make the deep black for their art work from local sources, it’s most likely that they used hausmannite, a rare manganese oxide that would have come from the Pyrenees, 150 miles away. The use of color derived from minerals like lapis lazuli suggests that even in these eras so far away from us in time, artists could have relied on far flung trade routes for color. The lapis, for example, would have come from Afghanistan.

When you first enter the exhibition, you will see two magnificent male, warrior statues. They demonstrate that bronze statues (these from ca. 460 B.C.E.) also were enhanced by color. Silver, colored stones, gold, copper were used for teeth, eyes, eye lashes, lips, and nipples. The color was an integral part of all of the “glory that was Greece.” It appears that during these golden eras, nude art works would have been naked without their colors. Will you see these statues and think them garish? That is surely what our culture had long ordained. Rush to this exhibition and consider how much you will, or will not, reconsider.  Warrior picture: Two bronze warriors from Riace, originals ca. 460 BCE, These were found underwater off the coast of Reggio di Calabria.  The last day for Gods in Color is January 7, 2018. See legionofhonor.org     Museum Admission: Free for members; $15 (ages 18-640, $12 (over 65), $6 (college students with ID), Free for age 17 and younger.