The Brandenburgs on a Desert Island
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Sometime in 1963 I discovered Bach through my mother's Concertgebouw Orchestra recordings of his six Brandenburg Concertos. My mother, Filomena de Irureta Goyena de Hayward (left), played the piano beautifully but chose to teach physics and chemistry in high school, instead. She told me that she could live happily on a desert island with only the Brandenburg Concerti for company. I have had a soft spot for them ever since. In 1964 I heard the Swingle Singers scat through Contrapunctus IX, Fuga á 4 voci, alla Duodecima. I wore my Phillips record out.
So I went to a special concert of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra this Friday, March 3, at St James Anglican Church (Gore and Cordova)with great anticipation. Both the fugue and the No 4 Brandenburg in G Major were on the all Bach program. The acoustics of St James were like Meldon Salt flakes on a vine ripened tomato. The program began with five fugues including my fave. Colin Tilney (a distinguished diet version of Santa Claus)made me almost want to like the harpsichord in Bach's Concerto in E Major BMV 1053. The second movement Adagio for the Trio Sonata in E flat Major was exquisite. Just when I thought it was over it managed to repeat twice more. The players played with such fun that I was jealous that all I could do was listen. The finale Brandenburg was a contrapuntal contest between Marc Destrubé's virtuoso violin (above) and Stephen Creswell's viola. For just a moment I thought the viola was going to spontaneously catch fire, with no joke intended.
The concert repeats today Saturday and Sunday.
PBO Concert March 4 and 5
Friday, March 03, 2006
In 1844 Spanish poet José Zorrila y Moral (1817-1893) wrote Don Juan Tenorio. This play is very popular today, particulary in Mexico, where it has runs during, before and after el Dia de Los Muertos in November. The legend of the lothario Don Juan began in 1600s Spain. Mozart's opera Don Giovanni is probably the best known of all the versions about the ladies' man who goes to a burning hell in the end. So when I was assigned by the Georgia Straight to photograph Canadian baritone Brett Polegato, who plays Don Giovanni in the Vancouver Opera's production this Saturday, I knew I had to bring in the idea of fire. Publicist Emma Lancaster told me she had the costumes but no wig was available. In the end I think this was a good as the fun Brett Polegato made an excellent contemporary tenorio. After taking ten pictures I selected one of the better negatives and lit it with matches so that the edges melted. The negative warped so that it cracked in spots. I scanned the sorry mess in my Epson 1640 SU flatbed scanner.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
To this day I can remember being kissed by my father. I can even conjure his smell. It was a combination of a long forgotten aftershave of the 50s, the Player's Navy Cut tobacco he smoked and the Old Smuggler's whisky he drank. I don't allow too many men to kiss me or do I kiss them. But here are two men who caught me off guard. One twice and the other four times. And I will never forget.
When I photographed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko(above) we found out we shared a language. I spoke my Argentine Spanish and he a fluent Cuban. We hit it off and he liked his pictures so much he kissed me, Russian style on each cheek in combination with a bear hug that almost collapsed my rib cage. But it was Mstislav Rostropovich (called the Human Cello by Yevtushenko in his novel Don't Die Before You're Dead
)who really surprised me. After a concert at the Orpheum I went to his dressing room to give him some of the photos I had taken of him. In the presence of many people he called me, "Maestro," and then proceded to kiss me twice and then again!
From "Goodbye Our Red Flag"
.. . . I didn't take the Tsar's Winter Palace.
I didn't storm Hitler's Reichstag.
I am not what you call a "Commie."
But I caress the Red Flag
Nicolás Guillén and the Switchblade
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
In 1967 my very Argentine but very communist aunt, Sara Lopes Colodrero de Irureta Goyena gave me three parting gifts when I left Buenos Aires. I shoved off in an ELMA (Empresa Líneas Marítimas Argentinas) Victory Ship
called the Rio Aguapey. She told me that on board a long voyage, stopping at many Brazilian ports, anything could happen. "You will need this sevillana
(switchblade) and so that it will open swiftly I am giving you this little bottle of whale oil. Whale oil is the best. And finally you will have plenty of time to read. I am giving you my copy of Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén's (1902-1989) Sóngoro Cosongo
." I lost touch with Tia Sarita and the whale oil is long gone. But I still have the sevillana and I often read Tú no sabe inglé
which is one of my favourite poems. I never had to use the switchblade on board the Rio Aguapey. I wasn't to know until 2000 that she had been built in North Vancouver.
tanto inglé que tú sabía,
tanto inglé, no sabe ahora
mericana te buca,
y tú le
tiene que huí:
era de etrái guan,
guan y guan tu tri.
Manué, tú no sabe inglé,
namore ma nunca.
(Motivos de son, 1930)
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
It is not often that Walter Mosley, below, poses without his hat. He probably never met English writer Jonathan Raban, left who always wears a hat. Raban told me once, "The quickest remedy for a bald head is a hat."
What struck me the most about Walter Mosley was his late-night/FM-Radio voice and his beautiful diction. He told me that even if all I did was change a coma on anything that I was writing, during a day, that was writing. "The next day comes, and the words are waiting."
The Blue Chow (Chow)
Monday, February 27, 2006
Many years ago my family doctor was Elliot Mintz. I took my daughter Ale, who had hundreds of warts on her knees, to see him. Ale was 8 years old. Mintz lay her down, and without telling me exactly what he was doing he put her in a trance. Then he told her to rub every wart (three times) with a magic penny (which he gave her) and to go home and bury the penny in a place where nobody would find it. Within the week the warts were gone. A few years later in January 1985 I was assigned by the then editor of Vancouver Magazine, Malcolm Parry to go to the PNE to shoot a dog show. It was there that I spotted Taibo,the blue chow puppy. He was the star of the show and the owner was, yes, Elliot Mintz. Mac decided to put the dog on the cover. If you ever see him and ask him about putting animals on the cover of a city magazine he will frown. Readership and sales always go down with cover pets of the animal kind. The good doctor sold his puppy for lots of money ($10,000 was the sum mentioned in the magazine article). It seems that many people now know what was only suspected then and that is that blue chow puppies lose their colour when they grow. And the art director, Chris Dahl damned me for not having correctly photographed the dog as one of his eyes got no catchlight. Since this was before Photoshop he had a competent retoucher air brush the second eye.
Frank McCourt -Teacher Man
Sunday, February 26, 2006
A few weeks ago I had the luck to be able to photograph Frank McCourt. Alas! I only have three things in common with this wonderful man.
1. We were born in August.
2. We taught high school.
3. We read Herman Mellville's Pierre Or, The Ambiguities.
"....and she fell upon Pierre's heart, and her long hair ran over him, and arbored him in ebon vines."