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Souvenirs: Lost and Found

C. Debussy, G. Faure, Z. Kodaly and C. Chaminade, Le Salon de Musique, April 2, 2017— Years ago, while employed in the television industry, we purchased thirty antiques for possible use in a production. These 18th and 19th century furniture pieces—huge armoires, elaborate partner desks, chifferobes, secretaires and vitrines—haunted a dark corner of a stage for months until they were returned to the seller, never used. But while they sat gathering dust, these former possessions of Europe's elite fascinated me. In time I thoroughly searched every nook, cranny and drawer looking for possible hidden compartments, hoping to find a lost bit of hidden history—a story by Oscar Wilde, a letter from Napoleon, a score by Mozart—tucked … [Read more...]

Pink Elephants

Circus Polka, 1942, Fifty Elephants, Balanchine and Stravinsky Team Up— "Elephants never forget", as the old saying goes. And we should never forget one of the oddest moments in the history of elephants, circuses and classical music. April 9th will mark the 75th anniversary of this unique event. In late 1941, choreographer George Balanchine was contacted in New York by John North Ringling with a unique proposition: could a "ballet" be created for his Barnum and Bailey Circus elephants? The idea was intriguing and in January, 1942, Balanchine called his friend Igor Stravinsky who was busy working in Los Angeles. The two Russians agreed on the idea and, for a healthy fee, the composer finished a piano version of what … [Read more...]

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...]

Uneasy Landscapes

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