A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

City Lights At The 85 Year-Old Orpheum With The VSO
Friday, November 09, 2012

Estrellita
(1912)
Manuel M. Ponce

Estrellita de lejano cielo
Que sabes mi querer
Que miras mi sufrir
Baja y dime si me quiere un poco
Porque ya no puedo sin su amor vivir

Tu eres estrella mi faro de amor
Tú sabes que pronto he de morir
Baja y dime si me quiere un poco
Porque ya no puedo sin su amor vivir


Bramwell Tovey
Music Director -VSO


One day, around 1951 in Buenos Aires my friend Mario and I (we were both 9) went to see a Tarzan movie at the Saturday series sponsored by our local Capuchin monks who were building a very large new church next door to the little community center and movie house. They charged us a token fee but we knew our money was going to a good cause. As we left after the show we were approached by a chubby Capuchin who asked us our names. He asked me to what church I went to. When he questioned Mario, Mario replied, "I don't go to church I am a Jew." I will never forget the Capuchin's smile as he placed his hand on Mario's arm and told us, "We share the same God and that is what is important." I thought about that for the rest of the day but I never confronted my grandmother, a staunch Roman Catholic with what to me was a clear difference of opinion.


That memory has lingered in me for years and it came back most suddenly this Thursday when Lauren (10) and I went to the Orpheum for a performance of the VSO, directed by Bramwell Tovey called How To Make Movies & City Lights. The latter, with the VSO playing the Charlie Chaplin score, was the better known of the two films projected on a giant screen above the orchestra. The other, a 1918 shorter film was accompanied by Maestro Tovey’s lively one man performance (fully improvised) on what looked like an ancient standup piano.

If someone had asked me if I had ever seen City Lights I would not have been sure to answer in the affirmative. But once the film began to run and I knew what was going to happen and recognized all the faces I remembered that in fact I had seen that film on a Saturday showing by the Capuchins perhaps not long after, or even before, Mario and I saw the Tarzan flick which I now remember having been one that featured Buster Crabbe. Memory is so strange. It poured in as Lauren and I watched the action unfold.

Every time the blind flower girl performed by Virginia Cherril appeared on screen the VSO played a tune that sounded suspiciously like Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce’s Estrellita which he composed in 1912 well before Chaplin’s masterpiece of 1931.




During the interval Lauren asked me about the one ton chandelier and we discussed not wanting to be below during an earthquake. We were up in the rafters so Lauren was able to gaze on the painted cupola. I remembered how on May 13, 1980 when her mother Hilary had been 11, we and her older sister Ale had been munching on a bag of fish and chips at the very place, the Orpheum Theater. John Eliot Gardiner was directing the CBC Vancouver Orchestra in a series called A Little Lunch Music. The program featured Bach’s concerto in D minor for 2 violins.

That year Gardiner had begun to verse the ensemble in baroque performance practice, and had introduced period bows and tuning. At the concert Gardiner showed us the difference in sound between the modern and baroque violins. I was hooked to the latter’s quieter but warmer sound. But I must add here, most emphatically that it is really hard to beat a musical director who can play jazz piano and improvize on a Chaplin film! Tovey is our very own.

During the performance Hilary’s eyes had gaze upwards to the cupola. Here I was with her daughter in the same place savouring very good music and a beautiful film.


The evening began with the surprise performance of Michael Dirk on the original 1927 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. The evening was dedicated to the celebration of the 85th anniversary of the Orpheum.

Thank you Maestro Tovey and the VSO for a splendid evening that I think will someday provide my little granddaughter with memories that will come back gushing when I am long gone. But we know that the Orpheum will still be there.

How about securing that 2000 pound chandelier?




Addendum: Some months ago after a Saturday night family dinner we sat down to watch Chaplin’s 1952 film Limelight with Claire Bloom. Both my granddaughters loved the film but Lauren was particularly interested in Bloom’s role as Lauren dances at the Arts Umbrella Dance Program on Granville Island.


After the Thursday VSO show she asked me if she could dress up as Claire Bloom in Limelight. I asked her sister Rebecca if she could handle the eye makeup. She did and not only that but she managed to style her perfectly.









     

Previous Posts
Jacqueline - Model

Jacqueline Times Four, Five...

Wally, Sylvia & J

Four & One - An Alexandria Quartet

Tying One On

Jacqueline & My Bell Curve

Linnaeus's Clam

Bill Millerd & Pancho Wish Us A Happy Halloween

Kathy Marsden - Psychiatrist

The Unplugging In Venice



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3/20/16 - 3/27/16

3/27/16 - 4/3/16

4/3/16 - 4/10/16

4/10/16 - 4/17/16

4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17