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Coursing Towards Twelve Tone

Quatuor Diotima, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, String Quartets, Jacaranda February 25th, 2017— The Diotima Quartet is an anomaly in the 21st century. Witnessing their precision, concentration and commitment in action serves as the perfect antidote to the off-the-cuff remarks, half baked ideas, reactionary reflexes, and incomplete sentences that marked and marred the beginning of 2017. Quatuor Diotima, in it's present incarnation, includes Yun-Peng, violin I, Constance Ronsatti, violin II, Franck Chevalier, viola and Pierre Morlet Cello. Soprano Elissa Johnston joined for the Schoenberg String Quartet No. 2 and Contralto, Adrianna Manfredi, concluded with the Berg Lyric Suite. Released in 2016, … [Read more...]

Money and the Time Suck

Whitesplaining Extinction to Junot Diaz, RECAT, February 17, 2017 — Related Posts: The Radical Middle, Toward an Experimental Politics of Nonviolence At REDCAT recently I heard Junot Diaz address a packed house and found myself wanting to whitesplain money. Diaz, the author of Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her, and the winner of a MacArthur Fellowship and many other prizes, geared his presentation to the young artists and activists from black and Latino communities who had made the trip downtown to Disney Hall. Rejecting the typical format of literary readings, Diaz stepped down off the podium and took questions from the audience, calling especially for “African-American sisters” to … [Read more...]

Redhawk, Documenting Standing Rock

Ryan Vizzions: Photography Raising Consciousness, Dakota Access Pipeline—   A lot has been happening in North Dakota since the Standing Rock Sioux tribe first stood up against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that threatens the 174,00 sq mile Ogallala Aquifer.   At least 76 law enforcement agencies have been called in to protect corporate interests, against the peaceful water protectors who oppose them. Representatives from an estimated 280 groups of indigenous peoples (a first in U.S. history) as well as 5,000 veterans have showed up in solidarity with the tribe. Peaceful water protectors have been charged with rioting and attempted murder, while laws are being … [Read more...]

Strings on Fire

 Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments, REDCAT, February 6, 2017 —                                     REDCAT's February 6 concert, "Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments", was quirky, ambitious, lengthy and rewarding. At the outset, not all of the 240 seats were occupied; after intermission, another 50 were empty. Even for those of us who love music, two hours of solo violin/viola was daunting. But the more one focused on Mark Menzies—his calm demeanor, the skills he employed to navigate complex music, the remarkable range of sounds emanating from his instruments—the more involving the evening became. He also had a couple of … [Read more...]

“We’re never going home”

Women's March on Washington, January Twenty First, 2017, Washington DC — We made an unlikely trio: an artist, a banker and an architect. I knew them better by their Twitter handles than by name, having met long ago in the faceless context of Internet fandom. Bound together by a deep love for tennis and the irresistible appeal of Rafael Nadal, it wasn’t the US Open that had brought us together on this chilly morning, but the results of the US Inauguration. Gathering in the 4 AM darkness of a January morning, we proudly clutched homemade signs and posters like precious homework assignments. Sleepily joining a long bus line in our pink hats and slogan-driven T-shirts, groups of drunken youths occasionally stumbled past us, … [Read more...]

The Russian Evolution

S. Rachmaninoff, P.Tchaikovsky, A. Arensky, D.Shostakovich, S.Taneyev,, Le Salon de Musiques January 8, 2017— Despite its often dark past, the "Russian Bear" has blessed our eyes and ears with great beauty, from the architecture of St. Petersburg palaces, onion domes on Orthodox churches, painted religious icons and the contents of the Hermitage Museum to Faberge's bejeweled Easter eggs and the enduring novels of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Pushkin. Following his 1837 death, it was Pushkin's tales that provided inspiration for a century of artists who created perhaps his country's greatest gift to the world--music. A partial list of notable composers who were born or writing in 19th century Russia includes Glinka, Balakirev, … [Read more...]

Death and the Avant-Garde in Our Neoliberal Nightmare

The Ontology of Tantrum — On the eve of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 I happened to attend a performance of Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis at UCLA and, oddly enough, it was the perfect work of art to draw me back from the brink. I thought of this again after finding myself on the edge of an even deeper abyss following the debacle of November 6, 2016, when two recent productions served a similar purpose. I’m talking about Marissa Chibas’s The Second Woman at Bootleg, and Letter to a Man by Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Both productions managed to cast new light on our increasingly dire situation in the US, reminding me in very different ways of the ferocity with which our right wing elite has been waging … [Read more...]

Los Liones 2, Los Liones 3

Uneasy Landscapes,  Los Liones 2, 2013,  Los Liones 3, 2013 by Brian Forrest   Los Liones 2, 2013   Los Liones 3 … [Read more...]

A Sistine Chapel for Our Time

"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving." — Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787 — I must confess that I felt no such awe when I first saw the Sistine Chapel, sometime in the seventies. By the time I reached it I was furious, having come from the Vatican Art Museum where I saw works of art that had been plundered but were exhibited as trophies to the glory of the Holy See. The Chapel did nothing to restore my capacity for awe. I giggled at Adam in limp-wristed lassitude, reluctant to receive God’s touch; at God swooping toward him in a conveyance that looks like a cutaway section of a body organ. Feeling suffocated by the reverence of the craning … [Read more...]

Romantic Respite

R.Strauss, X.Schrwenka, R.Schumann, Le Salon de Musiques November 6, 2016— One hour of daylight was taken from us on November 6th in the annual turning back of clocks.  Only two days later, the presidential election would rob almost exactly half the country of the candidate they hoped would win. Depending on one's political persuasion, it would be either the best or worst day in a long, long time. But on Sunday, the 6th, the outcome could only be guessed at, prayed for or feared. One thing, however, was certain: the entire populace, left or right or center, had definitely experienced more than enough pundit-pontificating, TV commercials, flyers in mailboxes, exhorting robocalls, tense arguments and an endless barrage … [Read more...]