Slide Soft Your Silver Floods With La Rêveuse
Friday, March 27, 2015
|March 27 2015|
Slide soft you silver floods
And ev'ry Spring
Within these shady woods;
Let no bird sing,
Slide soft you silver floods
And ev'ry Spring
Within these shady woods;
Let no bird sing,
But from this grove a turtle dove
Be seen to couple with his love:
But silence on each dale and mountain dwell,
Whilst that I weeping bid my love farewell.
You nymphs of Thetis' train,
You mermaids fair
That on these shores do plane
Your seagreen hair,
As you in trammels knit your locks
Weep ye, and force the craggy rocks
In heavy murmurs through broad shores tell
How that I weeping bid my love farewell.
Henry Lawes - 1595-1662
|English Cavaliers - Left the American Jeffrey Thompson & right the Frenchman Bertrand Cuiller|
Sometime in 1962 I heard Jazz Samba with Stan Getz and
Sometime in the 1980s I played a new cassette tape
featuring Pablo Casals directing a super quick interpretation of Bach’s Second
In 1964 in Buenos Aires I was offered a taste of marvelous peach
Tonight I heard an Early Music Vancouver
Songs of an English Cavalier
French group La Rêveuse
featuring American tenor Jeffrey Thompson at the
All of the above are first times. First times
love and many more firsts) by definition happen only once and if the experience
is a pleasant one they can only be topped with new ones.
One who would disagree is La Rêveuse harpsichordist,
Bertrand Cuiller who has played versions of tonight’s concert many times. He
told me that he never gets bored and every time is almost a first time as he
discovers new insights that he might have overlooked in previous concerts.
I am not too sure of this but since I am not a musician I
will believe him. I can assert that as a photographer who has taken thousands
of photographs, every time I point my camera on a human subject I experience a
thrill that almost matches a first time.
|Bertrand Cuiller, Florence Bolton, Benjamin Perrot & Jeffrey Thompson|
The concert opened with a grand, everybody-on-stage
pre-concert talk moderated by Early Music Vancouver Artistic Director MatthewWhite
Since White is an extremely reputable counter tenor he knows
about singers and singing. He can identify with other baroque singers and can
ask the right questions or interject with smart stuff.
As I heard this active panel (a super excited Jeffret
Thompson) and the more staid Frenchies I thought of Jesuit Pierre Teilhard deChardin’s
Phenomenon of Man which I read sometime in 1964 in Buenos Aires. In
it Chardin explains how Darwin’s evolution works in a special way. He says that
you must picture a dense wall with a small round hole. At the hole you throw a
small ball. The chances that the ball will go through it are slim. But if you
have a bagful of balls and you throw them all at once a few will get through.
Evolutionary progress works in that manner.
In my years in Vancouver I have noticed a steady slide of
excellence into mediocrity. You rarely get large examples of passion and
virtuosic performance. And when it happens few will be aware as our media has
retracted to near oblivion.
What has transpired is an anting up of quality and
performance. We are getting the best performers from around the world and local
musicians, some very good ones are following suit.
In short the musical standards in our city have notched up
because these men (and the women who perform in these orchestras) demand
Last night’s Songs of an English Cavalier was a night that
amply proved my suspicions. And before I forget I must add people like Emily
Molnar at Ballet BC and Arty Gordon at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company and our
theatrical directors like Bill Millerd
at the Arts Club Theatre Company and
at Bard on the Beach who are doing the same anting up at dance
Jeffrey Thompson sang like nobody I have ever heard
before. He was theatrical, he was lyrical, and he gestured with passion and
even shouted some of the lines while his smiles and laughs became contagious.
Watching the three French musicians, the elegant harpsichordist, the quietly
passionate viola da gambist and the theorboist playing all those favourite
grounds (while Thomson rested for his next song (when he sang on his bench it
was romantic or sad. When he stood up there were fireworks in the performance).
The panel told us that the English composers (mostly Henry
Lawes, 1595 -1662) were at a crossroad between the polyphonic Renaissance
period and the monophonic Baroque. Just like other crossroad (transitional)
composers like Haydn and Mozart (neither Baroque nor Classical) can be boring
if performed in some standard manner, many think that Hawes and company in the
same vein. “Not so,” say Mathew White and Jeffrey Thompson. With attitude and
passion Hawes and Haydn are exciting and fresh today as when their music was
To me it is ironical that here we had a concert of rare (to
a Vancouver audience) English music played so well by a French group and sung
by Rochester-born American Thompson. Part of the irony was explained by
Benjamin Perrot who mentioned that the fortunes of lutes and lutenists had
suffered a decline in the 17th century in England until it all
changed with the arrival of French lutenist Jacques Gaultier to England in
1617. The lute and lute playing became a new craze.
I must point out that rarely can you hear the sounds (the
beautiful sounds) of a theorbo (a very big lute) as it is usually drowned out
by violins and cellos. But with Cuiller’s laid back harpsichord and Florence
Bolton’s viola da gamba (and that special small treble viola da gamba) this was
a real trio and
treat to my ears,
especially so since I was up front next to the stage.
This first time will have a close second time. As I drive on Sunday morning on my way to photograph virtuoso baroque violinist Monica Huggett in Portland I will be listening to the dynamic quartet's music on my car radio. This second time will be helped by the images of the four as they performed last night. The music will provide me with fine memories. But as John Irving wrote in The World According to Garp
, "Imagination is better than memory."
That Frenchman from Calvados, Bertrand Cuiller would smile and agree.
|the viola da gamba|
|The treble viola da gamba|
|the treble viola da gamba|
A Thousand Ships To A Thousand Ports
Monday, March 23, 2015
I had a slightly embarrassing moment last Sunday when I
attended a matinee performance of Iceland
at the Presentation House Theatre. After
the show, a lovely woman with an equally lovely smile said to me, “How are you
Alex?” It took me a while to figure out she was Emma Slipp whom I had
photographed a few days before (see links below). My initial excuse (while my brain worked
overtime attempting to remember) was to utter, “I have consumed lots of drugs and
alcohol. My memory is spotty.” But in a short time (that seemed centuries) I
was able to ask, “How are you Emma?”
Generally I have more than an average ability to recognize
faces, even faces I have not seen for many years. I explained to Slipp that her
face was much like that of a chameleon and it could change at will for anybody with an
ease that would defy credulity.
I thought of the many films of Marilyn Monroe (Slipp and
Monroe share salient features that are mostly of the curvaceous kind) and how
in each one of them her face was different.
I do not of any other actresses whose faces I cannot recall at an instant.
One could be Paulette Goddard.
Iceland - A Non Sequitur For Modern Times
Sunday, March 22, 2015
|Munish Sharma, Lindsey Angell & Georgia Beaty - March 22 2015|
What does the play Iceland
(directed by Kathleen Duborg) written by Ottawa-born Nicolas
Billon set in Toronto, modified to reflect Vancouver have to do with
real-estate, Allen Ginsberg and a new modification of the expression, the non sequitur? And what does is say about race relations in this city of immigrants?
Plenty if you take the plunge, cross one of the bridges
to North Vancouver and see the play at the Presentation House Theatre and then
visit the show of the photographs of Allen Ginsberg upstairs at the
Presentation House Gallery
I was lured to see this play with my North Vancouver
friend Ian Bateson as the excuse to cross that bridge. I told him of the wonderful actress (I am old-fashioned)
Lindsey Angell who often appears in plays that push the comfort zone (Venus in Fur
). In this day and age of low media exposure of plays and other activities
of the arts I knew of the play because I happen to be on Angell’s email list.
Thank you Angell for that!
My friend Ian found certain parts of the play odd.
Perhaps this was so as the play is not exactly linear and rarely do any of the
three actors (Lindsey Angell as Kassandra, Georgia Beatty as Anna Godwin and
Munish Sharma ad Halim) interact with each other.
Another interesting feature of this show is the
increasingly evident use of choreography (I first noticed this some years back
in a play
by the Electric Theatre Company
that listed Crystal Pite
choreographer). The actors first move onto the stage occupied by two plastic
chairs and a long white sofa. They move back and shift their positions with the
grace of modern dancers and so it goes until the end.
Somehow this play brought in the Vancouver housing
situation as if I were reading it in the newspapers. The play is about two
immigrants and the token white person from here (Anna Godwin). Halim is the un-turbaned
East Indian (is he from India or Pakistan?). Kassandra is the cliche hooker
from the former Soviet Union (Ukraine, perhaps?) who is not, as she is from
I will not go any further to explain the plot except that
the “aha! moment” happens when Kassandra from her vantage point of being in a
tub in underwear(?) as she tells her story mentions that Anna Godwin enters the
bathroom and reaches for the toilet paper on the wrong side.
You are warned by an extremely English young man (with
whom I shared little of my language that I call English) before the play opens
that we will listen to foul language that is appropriate to the plot. A warning
to those who might be shocked but it does involve a meticulously folded
American 100 Dollar bill slipped into a woman’s tongue after swallowing.
By the standards of the more staid Arts Club Theatre
productions the language in Iceland is indeed foul. But in the mouth of Halim,
as played by Munish Sharma it almost sounds normal. He is a charmer you would never want your daughter
to ever meet nor would I ever buy a used car from him.
From my vantage point of first-row-centre the three actors were intense. In the darkness they would stare (I thought at me) and I would uncomfortably move in my seat. No matter how easy it is supposed to be I am always amazed when an actor (Lindsey Angell in this case) cries on demand. As she was uttering a long ramble in Estonian the tears were smearing her eye makeup. Georgia Beaty in her very red hair was a sight to behold as she held on to her hands struggling to tell us her story of a lost home.
I photographed the cast in their dressing room explaining
that I have been doing this sort of pseudo selfie
for a while. I did not know
that once upstairs I would find that indeed I have this penchant for mirror
selfies to have had a parallel with Allen Ginsberg.
I first and lastly heard Ginsberg recite his poetry (and
play his awful concertina) sometime in the late 70s at the PNE. I was with
(coincidence) Ian Bateson. I did not like Ginsberg and his companion Peter
Orloff even less. Perhaps it was my distancing from the American conflict in
Vietnam as I thought no Canadians had anything to do with it. Orloff seemed
to be angry and obsessed with Vietnam. And of course now we cannot afford to distance ourselves from
conflicts in other parts of the world.
Just like in the 70s I hated any classical music that was
not baroque I found no connection with the beat poets, etc.
And of course with age comes a bit of tolerance and the
broadening of horizons. Perhaps it was my love for the books of Charles
Bukowski that brought me closer to the beats and helped me appreciate them. It
was my friend William Gibson
who informed me his writing had been inspired by
William S. Burroughs. It was the Life Magazine
photographer Harry Redl
, who befriended me a couple of years before he died, who
told me of his many photographic sessions with the beat poets that brought me
And I have Allen Ginsberg to thank for my love for one of
my favourite Canadian poets, Gerry Gilbert
. He was the warm-up act at the PNE.
His voice, a matter-of-fact sort of voice, his rhythm and his language simply
charmed me to appreciate poetry. From Gilbert
it was easy to move to WilliamCarlos Williams
And thanks to Iceland, my trip to North Vancouver exposed
me to the wonderful photographs (better photographer than a concertina player)
of Allen Ginsberg. There are photographs of people I have read like R.D. Lang
and of photographers that I admire, Robert Frank, a killer photograph of Lou
Reed of Richard Avedon and another of Yevtushenko
It is interesting to note here that almost every
photograph has a wide lower white border on which Ginsberg explains in great
detail what you are looking at. It seems that his idea came from his friend,
photographer Berenice Abbott.
As for anything that leaves you in a quandary and without
explanation just say, “Iceland” and nobody will understand your meaning. If you
want to find out be aware that the play runs until the 29th
|Allen Ginsberg - Self-portrait|
Is there a connection between Ginsberg and Iceland? I found many. Below is one.
Allen Ginsberg & translation into Icelandic with
Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl on Wednesday 28.1 at 18:00
Dear friend of Arkadia, You are warmly invited to join a
talk on the American poet Allen Ginsberg with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl and Mathias
Rosenlund on Wednesday 28.1 at 18:00. Eiríkur has recently translated and
published into Icelandic selected poems by Ginsberg. Among other topics he will
discuss with Mathias the difficulties of translating English poetry into
uniform Icelandic as well as the complexity of translating the legendary
opening lines of Ginsberg’s poem Howl. He will also explain how Ginsberg’s poetry
has influenced his own writing. Welcome! Warm regards, Ian Bourgeot P.S:
Entrance is free and green tea will be served Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl was born in
Reykjavík on July 1st 1978. He finished his secondary education in Ísafjörður
in the Westfjords in Iceland in 1999 and later studied German in Berlin in
2003. As well as being a writer, Eiríkur has done a number of jobs through the
years, taught at grade school, done painting jobs at a ship yard, been a night
guard at a hotel, worked at homes for handicapped people, been a caregiver at
old people’s homes, a cleaner at a cruise ship and a chef at a day care center,
to name some. He is one of the founders of Nyhil, a publishing house that
focuses on writings by young people and also organizes various cultural events.
Mathias Rosenlund is working on a Master’s Degree in Nordic literature at
Helsinki University. He has a particular interest in 20th century Central
European and American literature.
Why Are We Here?
Saturday, March 21, 2015
|Christopher Staats, Shelina Kent, Gary Taylor, David Kent and Susanne Tabata washing her hands|
My days of going to loud establishments, even when the bands
playing are extremely good, are over.
I picked up Susanne Tabata at her home and we rendezvoused
on Commercial Drive. We were greeted by the indomitable shark
(like a shark he can never sit still) Gary Taylor
who confessed to me, “I have
a short attention span.” With us at the table were brother and sister Shelina
and David Kent. The former was a luminous dancer in the 70s and early 80s, the
latter a renowned anaesthesiologist
who works and teaches in Alberta.
We were served a sumptuous assortment of Falconetti sausages
with dipping sauce. They had red wine and I abstained.
During the whole evening (not a very long one) we kept voicing
this question, “Why are we here?” The answers were varied. But fun was had and
it was one of those moments that I savour as a photographer in meeting a former
subject after not having seen her (Shelina) for 35 years.
We ran into the seasonal Santa Claus and sometime Colonel
Sanders but very good-photographer-most-of-the-time, Wayne Wiens. I confessed
to the Filipino father of the daughter (as Taylor put it) who (the daughter of
the father) was the lead singer of a good band that my nickname was Supot. The
father of the daughter roared with laughter.
To cement an evening of fun I summoned Falconetti’s manager
Christopher Staats to clear the women’s bathroom so I could take my group
As I looked at the smiling faces of my companions I had to
point out that it was wonderful that we were all alive.
Why were we there?
Anne & Don't Call Me Annie - The Cop's Daughter
Friday, March 20, 2015
On April 8, my Rosemary and I are attending the opening
performance of Aaron Bushkowsky’s play Farewell My Lovely
which is an adaptation of
Raymond Chandler’s 1940 noir novel. It will be at the Arts Club Theatre’s
Granville Island Stage.
Ever since my mother and father took me to see noir films
from the 40s in Buenos Aires I have been fascinated will all things noir.
Around 1983 as I wrote here
I bought a worthless, red
leatherette collection of the novels of Raymond Chandler. I have read all at
least twice and my favourite, Playback
many more times.
Through the years I have attempted with my camera to take
photographs in the
spirit of the novels
of Chandler and Dashiell Hammett
|Mrs. Merwin Lockridge Grayle - Illust. Paul J. Crompton|
When I received, some months back, my little Arts Club
Theatre promotion card announcing the opening (after a successful run in
Calgary) of Bushkowsky’s Farewell My Lovely I got very excited.
My excitement went beyond expectation when I found out that
actress (sorry not actor and I am sure that Marlowe would agree) Emma Slipp was
playing Anne Riordan. In the novel she is not the flashy blonde femme fatale
but the kind of woman that Marlowe almost falls for.
I wrote to Slipp suggesting that we might shoot for fun with
the theme that she plays Anne Riordan.
I took my photographs yesterday ably assisted by makeup
man Ghassan Shanti. I am extremely happy with the results.
When I first photographed Slipp last year for the Georgia
Straight’s Fall Arts Preview, she had lustrous black and wavy hair. I was
surprised (and ever so slightly disappointed) that the folks in charge of
making the play did not suggest she dye her hair red as Anne Riordan is
definitely a redhead in the novel.
To prepare for the session I took our from Limelight Video
(if there is another copy of this film anywhere else in town I don’t know about
it) the 1975 Dick richards colour Farewell My Lovely
with Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling
(the only woman I would leave my wife for), that favourite Canadian actor John
Ireland, Harry Dean Stanton and a very young Sylvester Stallone.
The film is extremely good and I don’t care if people say
Mitchum is too old to play Marlowe. They are simply out to lunch. But the film
was shocking in that Anne Riordan was eliminated!
I also prepared for the session by re-reading Farewell My
Lovely with stickies. I placed stickies whenever Riordan appeared. For a couple
of blogs here and here I used these quotes.
But I want to stop all this and simply run many of the
pictures I took.
For the session I used a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD with a 140mm
lens and with two backs one loaded with Ilford F-P4 Plus and the other with the
long discontinued (but available in my fridge) Kodak Technical Pan. Both are b+w
films. On a venerable circa 1960 Asahi Pentax 35mm camera with a 55mm f-2 lens
I used Fujicolour 800 ISO colour negative film. When I scan this film which I
exposed to my flash’s tungsten lights (3200 Kelvin) and did not use the flash
the results will mimic the lurid Technicolor of the 1975 film. I also used my
digital Fuji X-E1. The pictures in this blog are only from that camera.
For most of the photographs I used three lights (with
flash and tungsten modeling lights). One was a circular, focusing spotlight and
the other two were equipped with grids to narrow the beams dramatically. If you
note in some of the pictures you will find that there are two catchlights in
Slipp’s eyes. One is from the spotlight (high above to cast that shadow under
her nose). The other is called a kicker and it fills in slightly the deep
shadow under Slipp’s face on her neck. Sometimes I omitted the spotlight (aimed
it at her hat) and used only the kicker light on her face. The ones with the
netting in front of her face were shot like that.
In between the long session we had good loose tea and
Rosemary’s store-bought (Safeway!) lemon cake.
You Didn't Have To Be Rough
Thursday, March 19, 2015
|Emma Slipp as Anne Riordan - Makeup - Ghassan Shanti - March 18 2015|