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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Harmony Hammond

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"Inside the Artist's Studio" is an on-going series exploring issues in contemporary art through direct encounters with the artists themselves. Please click on the artwork to enlarge for all painting details. The Monochrome Reconsidered – Harmony Hammond and I had just turned onto the interstate leading out of Santa Fe to Galisteo where she maintains her home and studio when traffic assumed the sluggish pace caused by rubbernecking motorists. As if from a slow moving escalator, we then had our chance to gaze at the limp body of a smallish black dog in the center of the left lane, its curvy plush form like a thick brushstroke dolloped on a gleaming linen canvas. A larger mongrel dog frantically circled its companion’s corpse, ... [Read more]

Armenian Suite

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Radiant Summit, Jacaranda, March 12-13th, 2011 – On the occasion of the Alan Hovhaness’ centenary, Patrick Scott, Artistic Director of Jacaranda, wanted to include another great Armenian American composer Richard Yardumian (1917-1985) in all-Armenian program. After much Googling, and efforts just short of the Library of Congress, Patrick, who had recently been introduced to me and the writings of Times Quotidian asked for an introduction to Aram Yardumian, whose musical musings, insights and historical research can be found regularly on TQ. Upon finally discovering a living link to the Yardumian family, a fruitful collaboration began with the composer’s daughter Miryam. Jacaranda needed permission to  commission a chamber ... [Read more]

Hit Hard

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Yamamoto, Watanabe and Mikaye, Fall RTW 2011 – Magnitude. I cannot fathom the sheer force unleashed on the Northeast coast of Japan by the largest earthquake ever recorded. I am no stranger to the shakes. The Northridge earthquake of 1994 lasted 20 seconds and the fear of imminent death undermined my core sense of self. Five minutes of a 9.0 is unimaginable. There is no material preparation for the enormity of that kind of impact. There is compassion. There is today. I urge people to put aside their crisis fatigue and continue to donate to the worldwide effort to help the people of Japan sustain, recuperate and rebuild. The Red Cross operates 92 hospitals in Japan, has deployed 700 medical relief volunteers across the country ... [Read more]

Ageless Deliberations in Space

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Eiko & Koma: Retrospective Project I: Regeneration, REDCAT, March 3 and 5, 2011 – Raven, performed at Danspace in 2010 The singular duo Eiko & Koma returned to Los Angeles for the first segment of their three-year retrospective based on 40 years of performing together, which have included many honors, grants, collaborations, and documentations. This Project I features one work each from 1976, 1984, and 2010. I attended two of their five performances at REDCAT. The newest of the three works, Raven, established the unwavering grim tone and largo tempo for the evening. Eiko & Koma build and modulate tension through magnified examinations of movement. While they do eventually arrive at new locations or orientations, it ... [Read more]

The Cat, the Bee and the Bird

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Wedded to the World, A Continuous Encoding – I've often felt myself to be a kind of visitor to the land of the present. Not a tourist, please - more like a kind of honored guest. Yes, an honored guest en route from the respected kingdom of the past toward the glittering land of the future, and it’s like I’m bearing important documents of state. As such, I expect certain amenities which the squalid land of the present often has a difficult time providing. I take a breath and check my watch - I won’t be staying long. My daughter Eliza took a whack at this way of thinking before she was six months old. We were in the back garden and the first cat Eliza ever saw came across the ivy beneath the rubber tree and jumped up onto ... [Read more]

Reprise

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Swans, El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, March 2, 2011 – In the 1980’s and 90’s, Swans as a live experience was nothing less than a baptism by sound – cleansing, cathartic, obliterative – a relentless and perpetual immolation by pure noise and power. It was quite satisfying for those of us who sought to both transcend and fully inhabit this material world and corporeal self through a violent surrender to a literally deafening present. It sounds over the top and that was exactly the point. The music was lyrically and sonically potent, but its power was harnessed and channeled by M. Gira, whose very name suggested  a severing of identity and its iconic reformation. I don’t know if I took myself as seriously as Michael Gira ... [Read more]

Time Within Space

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Remembering Milton Babbitt, The Path Least Taken – At age 76, Milton Babbitt received his PhD from Princeton University for his thesis on 12-tone theory—an event in and of itself unremarkable, and one the composer himself hardly noticed. That it came forty-six years after the thesis’s submission makes it somewhat more intriguing. By way of explaining the delay, the university claimed its readers in the music department at the time had simply not understood it. Impossible to understand, unplayable, unimpeachably academic—such are the stigmas notching the years gone and criticisms leveled against Babbitt’s far-ranging oeuvre. Yet there are also listeners who, without comprehending the high math architecture of Babbitt’s music, ... [Read more]