30 April 2017

Haiku 2017/120

under open skies
a nesting bird still prefers
its tiny shelter

29 April 2017

Haiku 2017/119

The hot sun beats down.
Somewhere a dog barks and barks.
And my heart feels fear.

28 April 2017

Haiku 2017/118

the clock tower rings
chiming the merciless hours
we keep our heads down

fun stuff I may or may not get to: May 2017

the BART warning
Again we open with a warning about BART, our ineptly run but essential public transportation system: the tracks between Fruitvale and Lake Merritt Stations need to be rebuilt and therefore for several weekends into July trains will not run between the two stations; instead there will be a (free) bus bridge between them. Expect major delays throughout the system (and a ripple effect on traffic in general). And be sure to check the BART website for updates; just today* they announced that the semi-shutdown planned for 29 - 30 April was being moved to 6 - 7 May due to a possible Warriors playoff game this Sunday. In addition to 6 - 7 May, the current plan is for semi-shutdowns on 13 - 14 May and 27 - 29 May – yes, Memorial Day weekend, because why would anyone need public transportation then. BART! They're just so awful.

* Two days before the weekend in question.

Shotgun Players presents The Events, written by David Greig and directed by Susannah Martin, from 4 to 28 May.

At the San Francisco Playhouse, Noises Off continues until 13 May, and then The Roommate, written by Jen Silverman and directed by Wolff, runs from 23 May to 1 July.

The Oakland Symphony is presenting Frank Loesser's Guys & Dolls in concert at the Paramount Theater on 19 May.

Opera Parallèle presents Les Enfants Terrible, one of Philip Glass's Cocteau adaptations, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from 26 to 28 May. Brian Staufenbiel directs, Nicole Paiement conducts, and les enfants are sung by baritone Hadleigh Adams and soprano Rachel Schutz.

New Century Chamber Orchestra bids a fond farewell to departing Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg with a special three-concert festival: Concert #1, on 16 May, celebrates Salerno-Sonnenberg's Featured Composer Program by playing some of the new works produced during these residencies by an exciting line-up of composers including Derek Bermel, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Jennifer Higdon, William Bolcom, Clarice Assad, Mark O'Connor, Michael Daugherty, and Lera Auerbach; Concert #2, on 18 May, is a salute to Salerno-Sonnenberg, featuring her in Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Piazzolla's Seasons of Buenos Aires; and Concert #3, on 20 May, celebrates the 25th anniversary of NCCO with an all-Gershwin program, including pianist Anne Marie-McDermott as soloist in the theater orchestra version of Rhapsody in Blue and vocal selections by soprano Melody Moore and baritone Efraín Solís. All concerts are at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

The two big draws at the San Francisco Symphony are at the beginning and the end of the month: the Berlioz Requiem conducted by Charles Dutoit with soloist Paul Groves on 4 - 6 May, and Matthias Goerne in the Shostakovich Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, conducted by Manfred Honeck (along with the Tchaikovsky 5), from 25 - 27 May. But there's also some interesting stuff in between, like Dutoit conducting the Sibelius Karelia Suite, Falla's Three Dances from the Three-Cornered Hat, and Debussy's La Mer, along with Emanuel Ax in the Mozart Piano Concerto 22, from 10 - 13 May, and Roberto Abbado conducting the Schumann Violin Concerto with soloist Veronika Eberle, along with Busoni's Music from Turandot Suite (this is Busoni's Turandot, not Puccini's) and Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony, on 17 and 19 - 21 May.

The Berkeley Symphony closes its season with Shostakovich's Babi Yar Symphony, a setting of Yevtushenko's poem commemorating a massacre of Jews in Kiev during World War II, conducted by Christian Reif with bass soloist Denis Sedov, on 4 May in Zellerbach Hall.

The Golden Gate Symphony will be playing Mahler's Resurrection Symphony in Herbst Theater on 21 May.

Early / Baroque Music

Jeffrey Thomas leads the American Bach Soloists in Handel's glittering oratorio La Resurrezione, with soloists Nola Richardson (soprano), Mary Wilson (soprano), Meg Bragle (mezzo-soprano), Kyle Stegall (tenor), and Jesse Blumberg (baritone). Performances are 5 May at St Stephen's in Belvedere, 6 May at First Presbyterian in Berkeley, 7 May at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and 8 May at the Davis Community Church in Davis.

Volti closes its current season with Wie ein Kind by Per Nørgård, Consent by Ted Hearne, From Ivory Depths by Tonia Ko, Like a Strange Sigh by Jack Hughes, and Santiago, another movement from Joby Talbot's Path of Miracles, which Volti is planning to present in its entirety next season. There are two performances: 20 May at First Presbyterian in Berkeley and 21 May at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

The International Orange Chorale of San Francisco presents Freshly Squeezed: New Music by and for IOCSF, a free concert featuring works by David Avshalomov, Salvatore LoCascio, Bryan Lin, Elliott Encarnación, Elizabeth Kimble, Ivo Antognini, Joseph Gregorio, Frank LaRocca, and Josh Saulle; you can hear this abundance on 29 April at St Paul's Episcopal (114 Montecito in Oakland) and 13 May at St Matthew's Lutheran in San Francisco (3281 16th Street).

Lacuna Arts presents madrigals by Monteverdi, Orlando di Lasso, and Morten Lauridsen on 19 May at 544 Capp Street in San Francisco and 21 May at 1924 Cedar Street in Berkeley.

Paul Flight leads Chora Nova in sacred choral music by Rameau, Lully, and Delalande on 27 May at First Presbyterian in Berkeley.

Modern / New Music
Wild Rumpus presents a concert they're calling Four Kings for Lou Harrison, featuring works by Lou Harrison, John Luther Adams, Carolina Heredia, and Brian Baumbusch (with puppetry by Niki Ulehla). That's 5 May at St John's Episcopal in San Francisco. You can never have enough Lou Harrison in your musical life.

Earplay closes out its season with works by Kyle Bruckmann, Cindy Cox, John Liberatore, Eric Moe, and Toru Takemitsu; that's 15 May at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.

Other Minds continues its Lou Harrison centennial celebration with a concert on 20 May at Mission Dolores Basilica; Nicole Paiement will be leading La Koro Sutra and other gamelan-inspired works by Harrison.

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble closes its season with Francophilia, a concert celebrating French music and its influence on (some) American music; the program includes works by Debussy, Copland, Kurt Rohde (a world premiere, based on texts from Michel Foucault), Ravel, Dutilleux, Ned Rorem, and André Caplet, and that's 30 May at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music or 1 June at the Berkeley Piano Club.

Check out the calendar at the Center for New Music as well; some things there that catch my eye are pianist Thomas Moore playing Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories on 3 May; Modern Composers Celebrating Shakespeare on 6 May; pianist Sarah Cahill playing Lou Harrison on 7 May; the Refuse Project on 13 May; and Lou Harrison's Cinna as a shadow play on 18 May.

San Francisco Performances presents soprano Carolyn Sampson and pianist Joseph Middleton in a flower-themed recital featuring works by Purcell, Britten, Schumann, Schubert, Poulenc, Hahn, Debussy, and others; that's 17 May at Herbst Theater.

Javier Perianes makes his Bay Area recital debut at Herbst Theater, presented by San Francisco Performances. He will be performing Schubert, Falla, Debussy, and Albéniz on 6 May.

Cal Performances presents RIOULT Dance NY in a Bach-inspired program in Zellerbach Playhouse; some of the performances are sold out but tickets are still available for the matinee on 6 May and the evening of 7 May. (I'm not sure why RIOULT is all caps in the company name, as it is the last name of company choreographer Pascal Rioult.)

Cal Performances presents the Scottish Ballet in A Streetcar Named Desire, with choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and music by Peter Salem. That's 10 - 12 May in Zellerbach Hall.

Friday photo 2017/17

California poppies (with bonus nasturtiums), San Leandro, March 2017

27 April 2017

Haiku 2017/117

sitting on a train
nodding over an old book
late afternoon heat

26 April 2017

Haiku 2017/116

the season's last rain
only there is no rain yet
only clouds and mist

25 April 2017

Haiku 2017/115

waiting for the stars
first in the darkening sky
and then on the stage

24 April 2017

Haiku 2017/114

a view of a lake:
what more do you want besides
being at the lake

23 April 2017

Haiku 2017/113

the birds are singing
everything is blooming
so I guess it's spring

for Shakespeare's birthday

For Shakespeare's birthday: read a sonnet, or maybe go write one. This is one of my favorites. Since I have spent most of this month recovering from my second bout of flu this year, I don't have the time and energy to write an analysis, but I think it's pretty straightforward (insofar as these things can be straightforward; I guess I mean it's easy enough to get the gist of it). What's amazing is how clear and true the sentiments are, centuries after they were written.

Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare

22 April 2017

Haiku 2017/112

cut grass in the sun
a bird flies off with a stalk
the rest turn yellow

20 April 2017

Haiku 2017/110

so many hot days
are saved by a single breeze
rising to greet us

19 April 2017

Haiku 2017/109

O broad horizon,
how you mock me, stretching past
my office window

18 April 2017

Haiku 2017/108

light wind through the leaves
shadows jump, shifting, dancing,
then resume stillness

17 April 2017

Haiku 2017/107

I stay and listen
to a song I don't much like
from my younger days

16 April 2017

Haiku 2017/106

surrounded by books
automatic dream holders
drifting off to sleep

15 April 2017

Haiku 2017/105

sun following rain:
the hills turn green and then glow
with golden poppies

14 April 2017

13 April 2017

Haiku 2017/103

snail on the sidewalk
started crossing in the rain
finished in sunshine

12 April 2017

Haiku 2017/102

distant waterways
sparkle in the bright sunlight
like a starry sky

11 April 2017

Haiku 2017/101

the gathering clouds
a skyward burst of black birds
a quick sweep of rain

10 April 2017

Haiku 2017/100

from your high window
take the highest perspective

09 April 2017

Haiku 2017/99

as the days lengthen
so too the daily shadows
lengthen before me

08 April 2017

Haiku 2017/98

lying half awake
listening to the winds blow
restless through the night

07 April 2017

06 April 2017

Haiku 2017/96

such foreboding skies,
such gloomy clouds, such darkness,
such a bright flower!

05 April 2017

Haiku 2017/95

a stone in the sun
neither knowing at sunset
they're a day older

04 April 2017

Haiku 2017/94

the sun is too bright
the sidewalk glares up at me
the leaves are too green

03 April 2017

Haiku 2017/93

I hear the waters
murmur, gurgle, glide, and splash . . .
what do the fish hear?

02 April 2017

01 April 2017

Haiku 2017/91

in the early hours
halfway in the land of dreams
a cry in the dark

a poem for #WhanthatAprilleDay17

The first day of April is Whan That Aprille Day, a day celebrating "alle langages that are yclept ‘old,’ or ‘middel,’ or ‘auncient,’ or ‘archaic,’ or, alas, even ‘dead’" in the words of the day's founder, Geoffrey Chaucer Himself. Ignore all other holidays alleged to take place on this day. You may find the 2014 poem here, which has some internal linkage to other Middle English posts; check here for 2015, and here for 2016. I've posted Middle English poems a few other times; you can click the poesy label and read through all the poems, and honestly there are worse ways you could be spending your time.

In a further tradition, the Google machine is apparently unable to cope with the sophisticated typesetting I had in mind, in which the lines of the original Middle English, set in green and roman, are interleaved with a crib, set in black and italic. Only the color thing didn't quite work out and my attempts to fix it disappear no matter how many times I save, so: apologies for the confusion, but the lines in italic are my version of the lines above in roman. If any scholar wishes to dispute my interpretation, I will accept the rebuke gratefully and gracefully, as a true student should.

When the nightegale singes,
When the nightingale sings,
The wodes waxen grene:
The woods grow green:
Lef and grass and blosme springes
Leaf and grass and blossom spring
In Averil, I wene,
In April, as I expect,
And love is to min herte gon
And love goes to my heart
With one spere so kene:
With a sharp spear:
Night and day my blod it drinkes;
Night and day it drinks my blood;
Min herte deth me tene.
My heart grieves me so.

Ich have loved all this yer
I have loved all this year
That I may love namore;
So much that I can't love any more;
Ich have siked mony sik,
I have sighed many sighs,
Lemmon, for thin ore.
Sweetheart [leman], for your favors.
Me nis love never the ner,
But love has not come any nearer,
And that me reweth sore.
Which grieves me sorely.
Swete lemmon, thench on me:
Sweet sweetheart, think on me:
Ich have loved thee yore.
I have loved you for so long.

Swete lemmon, I preye thee
Sweet lover, I beg you
Of love one speche.
For one word of love.
Whil I live in world so wide
While I live in this big old world
Other nulle I seche.
I will seek no other but you.
With thy love, my swete leof,
With your love, my sweetest love,
My bliss thou mightest eche:
You would increase my happiness:
A swete cos of thy mouth
A sweet kiss from your mouth
Mighte be my leche.
Would be my doctor [leech, meaning doctor, as applying leeches was a frequent medical maneuver]

Swete lemmon, I preye thee
My beloved, I beg you
Of a love-bene;
For this lover's boon:
If thou me lovest, as men says,
If you love me, as men say,
Lemmon, as I wene,
Darling, then I expect,
And if it thy wille be,
And if you desire it,
Thou loke that it be sene.
That you shall see that it happens.
So muchel I thenke upon thee
I think about you so much
That all I waxe grene.
That my whole self grows green.

Bitwene Lincolne and Lindeseye,
Between Lincoln and Lindsey,
Norhamptoun and Lounde,
Northhampton and Lound,
Ne wot I non so fair a may
I do not know of so fair a maiden
As I go fore ibounde.
As the one I am bound to.
Swete lemmon, I preye thee
Sweet sweetheart, I beg you
Thou lovie me a stounde.
To love me, at least for a moment.
     I wole mone my song
     I will moan my song
     On wham that it is on ilong.
     To the one who inspired it.

Anonymous, Harley 2253

The speaker goes right from the lovely springtime renewal of the natural world into his (or her; I don't want to rule out that possibility) world of love-pain, though he (or she – from here on I'll stick with the masculine adjective but feel free to supply any other one you want) cleverly brings the waxe grene back in the end, this time in reference to his whole self: does this mean that thinking about love renews him? or that it makes him jealous (was green already the color of envy at this time?)? or sick, with the greenish tinge of anemia, hence the term green-sickness? I am utterly charmed by the declaration that the beloved is the fairest maiden between Lincoln and Lindsey, Northhampton and Lound – so much more discreet, sensible, and provable than proclamations about your beloved being peerless in the world.

This poem is from the Harley Lyrics, a manuscript now in the British Library and dating from the middle of the fourteenth century containing poems in Middle English, Middle French, and Latin. You may read more about it here, and you may see some pages of the manuscript here.

The Middle English text is taken from Middle English Lyrics: A Norton Anthology, selected and edited by Maxwell S. Luria and Richard L. Hoffman.