16 June 2018

always the same, year after year

Nothing doing. Still an idea behind it.

He looked at the cattle, blurred in silver heat. Silvered powdered olivetrees. Quiet long days: pruning ripening. Olives are packed in jars, eh? I have a few left from Andrews. Molly spitting them out. Knows the taste of them now. Oranges in tissue paper packed in crates. Citrons too. Wonder is poor Citron still alive in Saint Kevin's parade. And Mastiansky with the old cither. Pleasant evenings we had then. Molly in Citron's basketchair. Nice to hold, cool waxen fruit, hold in the hand, lift it to the nostrils and smell the perfume. Like that, heavy sweet, wild perfume. Always the same, year after year. They fetched high prices too Moisel told me. Arbutus place: Pleasants street: pleasant old times. Must be without a flaw, he said. Coming all that way: Spain, Gibraltar, Mediterranean, the Levant. Crates lined up on the quayside at Jaffa, chap ticking them off in a book, navvies handling them in soiled dungarees. There's whatdoyoucallhim out of. How do you? Doesn't see. Chap you know just to salute bit of a bore. His back is like that Norwegian captain's. Wonder if I'll meet him today. Watering cart. To provoke the rain. On earth as it is in heaven.

A cloud began to cover the sun wholly slowly wholly. Grey. Far.

No, not like that. A barren land, bare waste. Vulcanic lake, the dead sea: no fish, weedless, sunk deep in the earth. No wind would lift those waves, grey metal, poisonous foggy waters. Brimstone they called it raining down: the cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Edom. All dead names. A dead sea in a dead land, grey and old. Old now. It bore the oldest, the first race. A bent hag crossed from Cassidy's clutching a noggin bottle by the neck. The oldest people. Wandered far away over all the earth, captivity to captivity, multiplying, dying, being born everywhere. It lay there now. Now it could bear no more. Dead: an old woman's: the grey sunken cunt of the world.

Desolation.

And a very happy Bloomsday once again to my mountain flowers

29 May 2018

fun stuff I may or may not get to: June 2018

This seems like a shorter list than usual, but appearances, as we all know, deceive: this month is full of festivals, and if you unpack them you will find dozens of performances awaiting you: there's the huge Berkeley [Early Music] Festival & Exhibition, Ojai at Berkeley at Cal Performances, and of course three cycles of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the San Francisco Opera; in addition, there are some overlaps and carry-overs from last month – the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, always a highlight of the year, runs from 30 May to 3 June, and a profound and dazzling production of Tony Kushner's epic Angels in America is running through July at Berkeley Rep (I recommend one of the marathon days, if that is a possibility for you).

Operatic
The big opera excuse me, music drama event this month is obviously the San Francisco Opera's revival of Francesca Zambello's "American" production of Wagner's Ring cycle, with Donald Runnicles conducting and a cast that includes Iréne Theorin (replacing the indisposed Evelyn Herlitzius as Brünnhilde), Greer Grimsley (Wotan/The Wanderer), Daniel Brenna (Siegfried), Falk Struckmann (Alberich), Karita Mattila (Sieglinde), Brandon Jovanovich (Froh and Siegmund), and Jamie Barton (Fricka and Waltraute). There are three cycles though you can now buy tickets to individual operas as well. There are lots of ancillary activities planned; of particular note are the Wagner Chorus Concerts and the three different symposia sponsored by the Wagner Society of Northern California.

If you're not in the mood for the creation and destruction of the universe and everything in between, Pocket Opera is presenting Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia on 10 June at the Hillside Club in Berkeley and 17 June at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (both performances are matinees).

At the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the 1869 original version of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov on 14 - 15 and 17 (matinee) June, in a production semi-staged by James Darrah, whose work is always worth experiencing.

As part of the Berkeley [Early Music] Festival & Exhibition, the San Francisco Girls Chorus and Voices of Music will perform Purcell's Dido and Aeneas on 7 and 9 (matinee) June at First Congregational Church in Berkeley.

And to glance ahead at the end of the year, you can mark your calendars for the latest baroque revival from Ars Minerva, which will present Giovanni Porta's Ifigenia in Aulide at the ODC Theater on 30 November and 1 December (as well as an abridged concert version on 9 November at First Congregational in Berkeley). You can also help make it happen by donating to their Indiegogo campaign.

Orchestral
The Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, led by Dawn Harms, plays a movement from Freitof's Suite by Elfrida Andrée, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, and an excerpt from Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti on 9 June at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

At the San Francisco Symphony, Susanna Mälkki leads the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with soloist Nikolaj Znaider, Kaija Saariaho's Laterna Magica, and Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy on 7 - 9 June; then Michael Tilson Thomas returns to close out the season with the Sibelius 6 and 7 and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3 with soloist Daniil Trifonov on 21 - 24 June and the Mahler 3 with soloist Sasha Cooke on 28 - 30 June.

Early / Baroque Music
This month's big event in this category is of course the bi-annual Berkeley [Early Music] Festival & Exhibition, presented from 3 to 10 June by the San Francisco Early Music Society. I was going to list some particularly interesting-sounding concerts but realized that would mean pretty much just typing out the whole schedule. Concerts start anytime from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, so you may need to be guided by what is available when you are. While you're checking out the Mainstage schedule, be sure to take a look at the Fringe events as well. And in conjunction with the festival, the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive is presenting a fun-looking series of films related to early music, ranging from performances of Monteverdi and Handel to Barry Lyndon and Amadeus.

Modern / Contemporary Music
Ojai at Berkeley makes its annual appearance mid-June under the auspices of Cal Performances; this year the musical curator is violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. As previously noted, the concert I'm most anticipating is the 15 June premiere of a new piece by Michael Hersch, with the composer himself on piano, along with sopranos Ah Young Hong and Kiera Duffy, pianist Amy Yang, Gary Louie on alto saxophone, and members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra led by Tito Muñoz. But the other three concerts also look good: on 14 June, a program with the sort of obnoxious title Bye Bye Beethoven, featuring works by Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Ives, Cage, and Kurtág, along with commentary and surprises; on 16 June (matinee), a concert of Romanian and Moldovan Folk Music, for which Kopatchinskaja is joined by her parents Viktor and Emilia on cimbalom and violin; and on 16 June (evening) music of Bartók, Stravinsky, and Ligeti. All programs are in Zellerbach Hall.

Old First Concerts presents cellist Hannah Addario-Berry, clarinetist Jeff Anderle, and pianist Kate Campbell on 1 June performing a world premiere by Ryan Brown, a San Francisco premiere from Ryan Rey, and works by Guillaume Connesson, Belinda Reynolds, Don Byron, Cornelius Boots, and Galina Ustvolskaya.

Curium, a new piano trio named after the ninety-sixth element in the periodic table (which was named for Marie Curie), will perform works by Chen Yi, Kaija Saariaho, and Shostakovich on 22 June at Old First Concerts.

Pianist and composer Amy Stephens visits Old First Concerts on 24 June to perform the world premiere of her latest work, Becoming, as well as the west coast premieres of works by Catherine Rollin and David Canfield.

Ensemble for These Times performs a cello-centric concert on 29 June at Old First Concerts, featuring world premieres from Lawrence Kramer, David Luna, R. Michael Daugherty, US premieres from Frederick Schipizky and George Hatzimichelakis, a west coast premiere from Gene Pritzker, and works from Tom Flaherty, David Garner, J J Hollingsworth, and Gladys Smuckler Moskowitz.

As always, the Center for New Music has an interesting array of concerts, with new ones added frequently, so check their calendar for updates. Some things that catch my eye for June in the current listings: the Northern Lights Campout Music Party (part of the HUSH series curated by Julia Ogrydziak) on 2 June; Air: a Tribute to Cecil Taylor, a free concert on 10 June in honor of the late jazz artist, led by the Rova Saxophone Quarter; Nadia Shpachenko's Quotations and Homages CD release party on 20 June; Samuel Blaser and Marc Ducret on 24 June; and Visual Piano & Friends, featuring composer/pianist Francesco Di Fiore and video artist Valeria Di Matteo along with the ZOFO piano duo and saxophonist Michael Hernandez on 28 June.

Chamber Music
Old First Concerts presents the Farallon Quintet on 8 June, playing works by Mozart, Spohr, Heinrich Baermann, Tchaikovsky (arranged by Takemitsu), de Falla (arranged by Jose Gonzalez Granero), Glazunov, and Gershwin (arranged by S Silverman).

Cinematic
The Golden Gate Symphony, led by Urs Leonhardt Steiner, presents Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky with Prokofiev's score played live (with soloist mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Baker). The afternoon will also include the world premiere of Concert Music by their resident composer Jan Pusina and a new transcription by Stardust Doherty of the symphonic poem Mtsyri (The Novice) by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. That's 3 June at Herbst Theater.

The Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive has a film series from 7 to 13 July called The Luminous Legacy of Greta Garbo, and if you haven't seen Flesh and the Devil or Queen Christina then you should (which is not to say you shouldn't see all the other films as well, if you can).

Visual Arts
Opening just at the month's end is a particularly enticing exhibit at the Legion of Honor: Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters opens on 30 June and runs until 30 September.

28 May 2018

Museum Monday 2018/22


La Négresse, a bronze by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, currently on display in the special exhibit Agony in Effigy: Art, Truth, Pain, and the Body, running until 17 June at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive