Monthly Archives: March 2018

San Francisco Symphony’s “American Optimism” March 17

The San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, presented a brilliant, diverse program, March 17, 2018, at Davies Symphony Hall. Given the title, “American Optimism,” the program offered the works of three very different composers: Charles Wuorinen’s world premiere, Sudden Changes, Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 26, and Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony. Wuorinen and Copland are both American composers. Prokofiev’s Concerto was premiered in Chicago with Prokofiev as the soloist.

Charles Wuorinen ( New York, 1938–)

Sudden Changes, Short Fantasy for Orchestra (2017), Charles Wuorinen’s premiere commissioned by the SF Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, was a serious delight. It was serious as Wuorinen’s music is always serious: complex, varied, intellectually and musically challenging. It was a delight in its sprightly temperament, witty changes of rhythm and mood, and the way his music rewards one’s close attention. This listener especially appreciated the rhythmic changes: a break into jazzy sounds, a walking rhythm. There was also surprising and welcome lyricism. Wuorinen was Composer in Residence for the SFS, 1985-1989. He also directed the programs of New and Unusual Music, the SFS’s forum for contemporary music. He received a Pulitzer Prize in Music and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. His work in multiple forms–chamber music, opera, ballet, orchestral works–is performed worldwide. Michael Tilson Thomas, introducing Sudden Changes, reminded the audience of the composer’s deep ties to SFS. The Maestro lowered his voice when he mentioned that Wuorinen explores “new dimensions” of (whisper) twelve tone writing. Michael Tilson Thomas knew that news could be scary. However, everyone in the fully packed hall stayed put and heard something fresh and engaging.

Sergei Prokofiev (Russia, 1891-1953)

Prokofiev, while vacationing on the Brittany coast of France, 1921, wrote his Piano Concerto No. 3 (Easter break is coming; what are you going to do?). It is the most popular and critically acclaimed of his five piano concerti. It combines great musical variety with steel trap focus and unity. Prokofiev’s gifts as a pianist must have matched his genius as a composer; the soloist’s part is absolutely stunning. Pianist Behzod Abduraimov’s performance was astonishing. He has virtuoso, knock your socks off skills but also embodies profound understanding and connection to the music. One characteristic of this concerto is the balance between piano and orchestra. The orchestra is an equal player in what Prokofiev referred to as an “argument.” The first movement, Andante-Allegro, opens with a clarinet solo in lyrical melody. The orchestra joins in and then, almost as a surprise, the piano enters with energy and elan.

Behzod Abduraimov ( Uzbekistan, 1990–)

The dialogue between orchestra and piano begins. A new theme is introduced; the orchestra returns to the clarinet’s theme while the piano projects a variation evoking wisps of memory.  The movement ends with the two forces in a dissonant harmony. The middle movement is Theme (Andantino) with five variations. These include one with jazzy syncopation, one with an airy, celestial feeling. At the movement’s end, the partners’ contest has the orchestra playing the original theme in the original rhythm–which is half time of the variation that preceded it– while the soloist plays double time. Bassoons and strings begin the closing movement, Allegro ma non troppo. The piano enters with a contrasting theme. Slow woodwinds are singing. The piano makes an ironic reply. The eye opening, virtuosic Coda seems to explode as the pianist, moving so fast that his hands were a blur, plays “double note arpeggi.” Let’s just say incredibly difficult and incredibly fast. The Concerto ends in fortissimo splendor.

Aaron Copland (New York, 1900 – 1990)

Copland’s Third Symphony (1946) contains the theme of his famous Fanfare for the Common Man. Even now, hearing the trumpets taking their time to announce and salute the Common American Citizen, it makes me sit up straighter and remember being a mid-western child saying the Pledge of Allegiance, late in the 1950s. The Fanfare came about because, in 1942, Eugene Goossens, Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, commissioned eighteen composers to write fanfares for brass and percussion. All were prominent composers; most wrote fanfares celebrating a US ally or military unit. Copland stated later that “It was the common man, after all, who was doing all the dirty work in the war and the army. He deserved a fanfare.” Working on the Third Symphony from 1944 to its premiere in 1946, Copland wanted it to have “an affirmative tone…it was a wartime piece–or more accurately, an end-of-war piece–intended to reflect the euphoric spirit of the country at the time.” It does. While it has no specific, recognizable program or narrative, the symphony as a whole is a magical ride from the first movement, Molto moderato, with simple expression, to the fourth, Molto deliberato (Fanfare)–Allegro risoluto. A very deliberate and resolute Allegro. This writer uses the word “magical” which would not have been appropriate in 1946 when so much blood, hard work, and dedication had brought American society to a peak of optimism. Copland is the composer most able to express the essence of America’s best idea of itself and faith that the country could become just that.

Photograph of Charles Wuorinen by Susan Johann courtesy of www.charleswuorinen.com

REGISTER for International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley NOW!

IT’S TIME TO REGISTER!

REGISTER NOW! Be sure to get the workshops & classes you want to take. IDF@SV 2018 has held on to prices from 2016. Sign up now for the best dance experiences anywhere. TO REGISTER: Mail your check made out to The Lively Foundation to The Lively Foundation, 550 Mountain View Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94041-1941. Please include a list of classes/workshops you want to take, your name, address, phone number. OR if you prefer to use a credit card (1) go to the landing page of livelyfoundation.org (2) scroll down to the PAYPAL logo (3) click on it & follow directions for making a donation (4) Please send an email to livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net stating which classes/workshops you want to take & your name, address, phone number. OR pay at the door with cash or check. Please note that Early Bird prices expired on May 7. Here are prices, schedules, descriptions:

CHOREO-CUBATOR©  $125 regular (after May 7) Choreo-Cubator© offers dancers and other artists whose work involves movement space and time to make new work or to polish a work in progress. Supportive atmosphere. Opportunity to perform (not required but encouraged) in Showcase Performance, June 22. Working sessions for Choreo-cubator© meet on June 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, at 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. ALL kinds of dance welcome.

PHYSICAL COMEDY WORKSHOP $30 for one person; bring a pal and  the second person pays $15. That’s a great deal for more fun than anyone could describe. Sun., June 10, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Megan Ivey, formerly of the world famous Ringling Bros., leads the Physical Comedy Workshop. Walk into walls! Fall down funny!                   AND BE SURE TO SEE Megan perform in the Festival Concert, June 23, 3 p.m.

FULL DAY OF DANCE© Meets  from 10:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 16.  Each class one hour long. Fifteen minutes between classes; lunch break 12:25 – 1: 15 p.m. All five classes $70. Classes include Jazz, 10 a.m.; Pilates mat, 11:15 a.m.; Tap, 1:15 p.m.; Contemporary Ballet, 2:30 p.m.; Line dances, 3:45 – 4: 45 p.m. Five movement classes, back to back, all mixed levels. Regular fees: $25 single class; $20 per class for 2; $18 per class for 3; $16 per class for 4; $14  per class for 5. BEST DEAL AND MOST FUN: TAKE THEM ALL!!!

Audreyanne Delgado Covarrubias (left) teaches and performs Tap; Etta Walton (right) teaches and performs Line Dances. Their classes are on Full Day of Dance© Their performances are on the Festival Concert, June 23, 3:00 p.m.

AFRICAN RHYTHM & DANCE: Meets at 11:00 a.m., Mon. through Fri., June 18 – 22.  Dancers’ Group discount: $112.50; Regular is $125. Participants will learn a dance to perform in the Showcase Performance!  (Performance encouraged but not required).

Keith Hames leads the Mon-Fri workshop in African Rhythms & Dance. He and his performance group, AKOMA, will perform in the Festival Concert, June23, 3:00 p.m.

DO IT NOW!!! Register for the best dance experiences available anywhere! Put the Heart Back in Your Art! Come Dance with Us!

PhotoFairs: Pictures Tell a Tale

PhotoFairs returned to San Francisco, February 22 – 24. The vast exhibition at San Francisco’s Fort Mason included works from 40 galleries from 15 countries and 26 cities. With offices in Shanghai, London, and San Francisco, PhotoFairs shows photography and moving image work it considers “cutting edge.” For this viewer, wandering through the almost endless display of photographs, the work that most attracted my attention included images which suggested stories. These were not specific narratives, but the onlooker could imagine, was even invited to imagine, what had happened.

Amikam Toren’s works, Replacing No. 1, 1975(bottom photo) and Replacing No. 2, 1975 (top) engaged my eye and thoughts. In each photograph, on the left there are broken pieces and on the right there is an object that has been made by putting the pieces together. One sees the cracks in the “finished” product and also some flaws which might mean that a piece is missing. Why was it broken? Why was it mended? Is the broken thing still the same thing it was before it was broken?

Replacing No. 1, 1975, Amikam Toren

Replacing No. 2, 1975, Amikam Toren

In these closer views does the title “Replacing,” mean that all the pieces have been put back in  place or that the broken thing now replaces what was once whole? Can Humpty Dumpty be put together again and still be what he was?

Robert Mapplethorpe’s work, Apartment Windows, 1977, invites as many stories as there are windows; actually, there are more possibilities than windows.

Apartment Windows, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1977.

Some windows are open, others completely closed. Some have just the drapes pulled together, some have shades and drapes. What is happening on the other side of the windows? The various approaches to open, closed, covered, partly covered invites speculation about the stories within each apartment. Who closed the drapes or pulled the shades all the way or part of the way down? Why was the choice made to cover the window rather than leave it open? When the window is open, it’s not just that someone outside could look in, but also that someone inside could look out.

Tang Feng Gallery of Miaoli City, Taiwan, presented photographs by two artists, one working in classic black and white and the other in color in a smaller format. The images are evocative, seemingly straightforward, suggestive of mystery. A man sits in a decorated cart; a pedicab driver, he is taking time to relax.  The photographer captures the moment from above, showing the man momentarily at rest.

The Native Gaze 0005, by Chang-Ling, 2016The Native Gaze 0006, by Chang-Ling, 2016

In Chang-Ling’s The Native Gaze 0006, something photographic is happening. A young woman turns to talk with someone we don’t see. Everyone else is focused on something happening beneath the arc of balloons. Its intense color, the light coming from at least three different sources, and the young woman looking a different way play with the onlooker’s ability to know what is happening.

The Old Man and the House He Built, 2014, Wei-ming Yuan

In The Old Man and the House He Built, the Old Man walks past a house that appears to be built of mismatched materials. How did he build something that could stay standing with these objects? There is a story behind that house, that man, and the equally old dog which might be following him. The onlooker cannot know the whole story or all the stories, but it is fascinating to wonder about it.

Tai Chi, by Wei-ming Yuan, 2005

The artist also shows images which become nearly abstract due to his closeness to the subject or the movement in the subject. In Tai Chi, he looks up through the rock of a slot canyon in the American West.

These selections are not the most “experimental” of the works shown, but they held my interest for the stories they might tell.

Photographs of the photographs by Jonathan Clark, Mountain View, CA

See www.livelyfoundation.org/wordpress/?s=photofairs  Hedgehog Highlights article about PhotoFairs, January 29, 2017

Notes on photos: Amikam Toren (Israeli, b. 1945), Replacing No. 1, 1975; Replacing No. 2, 1975;  Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1948-1989), Apartment Windows, 1977; Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Estate; Weinstein Hammons Gallery, Minneapolis; Chang-Ling (Taiwan, 1975) and Wei-ming Yuan (China, 1948), Tang Feng Gallery, Miaoli City, Taiwan.

 

 

 

Choreography Contest: Apply to Perform!

The International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley invites choreographers, dancers, and other artists whose work involves movement to apply for the Choreography Awards at IDF@SV 2018. All kinds of dance are welcome.

Winners will perform on one of the Festival’s concerts: the Showcase Performance, June 22, 6:30 p.m., or the Festival Concert, June 23, 3 p.m.  These are both public, ticketed performances. There are also cash awards. This is an amazing opportunity to present your work to new audiences without having to do the many chores of self-production.

PLEASE NOTE: work may not be longer than 8 minutes. DEADLINE for application is May 7. We will not announce awardees until after the deadline in order to have time to review all applicants. Even if we love your work, we cannot announce until after the deadline to be fair to all applicants.

Applicants are advised to send their video either on a DVD by US mail to The Lively Foundation, 550 Mountain View Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94041-1941                                                             OR                                                                                                                                                                   send video by youtube to livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net    IF YOU SEND BY YOUTUBE: Please send us an email stating that you are sending it so that we do not think it is spam. We prefer not to receive by dropbox due to spams.

Send the following for your application: Your name, name of the work, length of time of the work, number of performers and their names. Let us know if you need special technical effects or equipment. The performances are low tech. Please mail us your entry fee of $20 by a check made out to The Lively Foundation and mail to The Lively Foundation/550 Mountain View Avenue/Mountain View, CA/94041-1941 For more information, please contact livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net

photo above: Elisabeth Kindler-Abali, takes a bow; Dancer/choreographer from Berlin, Germany, guest artist, IDF@SV, 2017 & 2016; photo by GKermode: Los Altos, CA

AFRICAN RHYTHM & DANCE! Classes with Keith Hames

International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley is thrilled to announce classes and performance schedules with Keith Hames, IDF@SV 2018. DON’T MISS THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY!

Keith Hames

Keith will offer workshop classes, Monday – Friday, June 18 – 22, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. These classes are open to adults of any age and young people, age 12 and up. Participants in the workshop will learn a piece to perform in the Showcase Performance, June 22nd (performance encouraged but not required). KEITH HAMES and AKOMA, his performance group, will perform in the Festival Concert, Saturday, June 23, 3 p.m. Watch this blog for more information! Registration is OPEN.