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




 

La Mujer Detrás Del Antifaz
Saturday, January 24, 2015


antifaz.
(De ante- y faz).

 1. m. Velo, máscara o cosa semejante con que se cubre la cara, especialmente la parte que rodea los ojos.
Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados




La mujer detrás del antifaz
Julianne  Austin

Buenos  Aires


 
Emma Bourke es una de esas mujeres que, gracias a su atractivo, -si es que lo tiene oculto debajo de su anticuado estilo-, pasa desapercibida totalmente.

Emma es secretaria desde hace tres años de Tristan Cole, su jefe y uno de esos hombres que, definitivamente, cualquier mujer con ojos en la cara se voltearía para ver.

Tristan es guapo por donde se lo mire; divertido, galante, seductor hasta el hartazgo, y también un mujeriego sin remedio. Y Emma, inexorablemente, se enamoró de él casi desde el mismo día en el que fue contratada por Cole Publicists...

Pero tal parece que Tristan tiene ojos para cualquier modelito que lleve faldas... o pantalones bien ajustados. A decir verdad, él tiene ojos para cualquier fémina alta, delgada, rubia y hermosa, use la ropa que use... Pero nunca alguien como Emma Bourke.

Es en el baile de máscaras que organiza la empresa, a beneficio de un hospital materno-infantil, que Emma decide por una sola noche, dejar su ropa pasada de moda y lucir prendas seductoras.

Tristan se ve atraído por aquella diosa de curvas dignas de provocar un infarto y se dedica toda la noche a seducirla, aunque en ningún momento puede averiguar la identidad de la mujer detrás del antifaz.

Emma supone que las cosas para Tristan seguirán como siempre: conquista, noche de pasión, un ramo de flores al otro día y después, ¡si te he visto, no me acuerdo!
 
 




We Wear The Mask That Grins And Lies
Friday, January 23, 2015





We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!
Emily Dickinson



It was not death for I stood alone
The Music in the Violin Does Not Emerge Alone
I tend my flowers for thee
Lavinia Norcross Dickinson
Pray gather me anemone! 
Ample make her bed
His caravan of red 
Me-come! My dazzled face  
Develops pearl and weed

But peers beyond her mesh
Surgeons must be very careful
Water is taught by thirst
I could not prove that years had feet
April played her fiddle
A violin in Baize replaced
I think the longest hour
The spirit lasts
http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2014/03/i-left-them-in-ground-emily-dickinson.html
http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2014/01/i-felt-my-life-with-both-my-hands.html
http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2011/03/currer-bell-emily-dickinson-charlotte.html

http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2011/06/i-could-not-see-to-see.html
http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2011/06/blonde-assasin-passes-on.html

http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2012/12/you-almost-bathed-your-tongue.html

 






Bullet Catch - A Wonder Of An Ilusión
Thursday, January 22, 2015


Rob Drummond - Ilusionista


Bullet Catch a one person (not all the time) play written and performed and co-directed (with David Overend) by Rob Drummond (a Scotsman from Glasgow) runs from January 15 to February 7. I attended the official opening, at the Revue Stage on Granville Island,  his last Wednesday, January 21. Since Mr. Drummond gets shot by a 9mm Beretta by the end of the show you must suppose three things:

1. Rob Drummond has good life insurance.

2. He somehow survives this ordeal and is able to catch a previously marked bullet between his teeth.

3. No theatrical institutions, in this case PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and the Arts Club Theatre Company who co-present Bullet Catch would take the chance of having an empty theatre for many days if the star, Rob Drummond were not to survive the almost point blank shooting.

Like many presentations by PuSh Bullet Catch cannot be cornered into a category. I will not proceed here to give you any further information on what it is or isn’t. Suffice to know that the slightly longer than 60 minute show is funny, entertaining but best of all it is about a man who believes in the goodness within us all in spite of all the pitfalls of our history until now.

But I must warn you. We can be lucky and thank the heavens that Mr. Drummond does not sell, door to door, in Burnaby, Electroluxes and Encyclopaedia Britannicas with a side gift of steak knives. You would not have a chance to say, “No.” And pity anybody going to Kingsway or Marine Drive to buy a used car. Mr. Drummond would saddle you with the worst car ever made, a Chevrolet Epica.

Somehow this would-be wrestler could sell you anything with his disarming smile and manner. I was sold, satisfied with my current Malibu and Hoover (a canister).

What makes Bullet Catch special is how in an age of special effects where we must be wowed more and more with escalation in order to be amazed, this show brings back the idea of magic and not knowing how these effects are done. I would like to call Mr. Drummond not an playwright/actor/magician but a playwright/actor/illusionist. Good magicians are best defined as illusionists as we all know (or do we?) that magic does not exist.

I love how different languages define and use similar words. In Spanish ilusión is much like illusion in English.  But there is a secondary definition in Spanish that is far more important and more used. An ilusión is a combination of a hope/desire that you may daydream about.

No rechaces tus sueños. ¿Sin la ilusión el mundo que sería?
Ramón De Campoamor

Don’t reject your dreams. Without ilusión what would the world be?

 
It was this double meaning of illusion that for me kept this show where firmly where it should be. It is a positive manifestation of the goodness in us all. And that this might be your coclusion after having a good laugh is worth the admission to whatever this play is or is not.

Warning: In this play Mr. Drummond reveals one of his magic tricks. While I was taking his picture he told me that a fine New York City firm had insured him. I wonder if it includes a provision for being done away by the Scottish Association of Magicians for revealing the trick. So when Mr. Drummond shows you how a particular trick is performed I suggest you take his advice and close your eyes. If not how can you keep believing in the power of magic?

My Rosemary and I, while living in Burnaby did succumb to the persuasion of a Drummond-like Italian who with the promise of free steak knives in our hands pulled a Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner from his hat and we ended up paying (in interest) twice the value of the machine. 



Haydn’s Seven Last Words – Crucifixion of the Earth
Wednesday, January 21, 2015



Don José Marcos Ignacio Sáenz de Santa María y Sáenz-Rico


Haydn’s Seven Last Words – Crucifixion of the Earth
January 24, 2015 | 8:00pm | Pre-concert chat with host Matthew White at 7:15
Orpheum Annex 823 Seymour Street, 2nd floor


In 1785 Josef Haydn wrote a chamber work based on the Biblical seven last words spoken by Christ on the cross. Traditionally, the words or phrases are spoken, followed by a meditation on those words, then by the music. EMV, in collaboration with Green College at UBC, have invited renowned BC poets Robert Bringhurst and Jan Zwicky to prepare poetry for each of the seven movements that stimulates a dialogue based on the universal human qualities in the text and also in Haydn’s deeply affecting music.


 


The above is all you need to know about this wonderful concert and I could leave it at that. But if you are slightly curious the events, ancillary and direct that led Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) to write the piece are most interesting and curious.

I have always found it fascinating to know that Haydn was a gifted soprano singer who because of his talent ended up as a boy-singer in the choir at St. Stephen’s in Vienna. George van Reutter the cathedral’s musical director had received a complaint from Empress Maria Theresa that Haydn, now 17, was losing his ability to sing the high notes. Van Reutter called in Mathias Haydn, Joseph’s father, and amateur harpist, and suggested that a surgical solution could save his son’s singing career. We can be thankful to Papa (the real Papa) Haydn that his son’s nether parts were kept intact and somehow they equipped the man to become a great composer.

We must go back to March 1519 when Hernán Cortés Monroy Pizarro Altamirano founded the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz in thanks for having arrived unscathed from battles with the local natives on Good Friday. To make sure his troops stayed Cortés burned the ships. From there he moved inland to Tenochtitlan and New Spain was eventually called Mexico.

Don José Marcos Ignacio Sáenz de Santa María y Sáenz-Rico a priest ordained in 1738 had been born April 25, 1738 in what was then called the New City of Vera Cruz. His father, Pedro Sáenz de Santa María y Sáenz de Almarza was an important businessman. In 1785 the priest’s father died and subsequently the businessman’s eldest son who was a marquis. This is how our priest (most important later on in dealing with Joseph Haydn) became, by inheritance a noble priest.

Around 1730 in Cádiz, Spain, there was a semi-secret religious group of saintly men (a cofradía) who met once a week in an unfashionable and probable zone of ill repute to discuss spiritual matters. The Bishop of Cádiz went in mufti to check them out. Seeing that all was in order (perhaps the men had been warned in advance) the bishop told them to continue their laudable indeavour but that they should do it not in a house but in a church. The place they found was called La Auxiliar del Rosario, a modest oratorio of the 16th century. The men then called themselves la Cofradía de la Madre Antigua. In 1756 they began repair work to spruce up the old oratorio. The oxen which were carrying out the construction debris sank in a hole on San Francisco Street. They found an underground cavern.

Now the year before there had been a catastrophic earthquake in Lisbon (read Voltaire’s Candide) which brought 30 meter tidal waves to Cádiz. It was suspected that was the reason for the hidden cavern. The Diario de Cádiz (newspaper) in 2004 asserted via the archaeologist Inmaculada Pérez that the cavern at one time had been the Phoenician temple to Astarte. Some say that Western Europe's oldest continuously occupied city is Cádiz. It was founded by Phoenicians who called it Gadir or Agadir.

Our noble priest Don José was assigned to be the spiritual leader of the Cofradía in 1771. He had inherited a fortune from his brother and nephew so by 1781 he decided to improve the cavern chapel which was now called Oratorio de la Santa Cueva (cave) but today is called La Iglesia del Rosario.

Don José had a friend who was an avid art collector. He was Don Sebastián Martínez Pérez. He was a personal friend of Goya. Don Sebastián was also a doctor so Goya came to Cádiz for treatment. There is a portrait of Don Sebastián by Goya at the Metropolitan in New York City. Don José commissioned Goya to paint three works, The Parable of the Wedding, a Last Supper and the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes.

Cádiz is at the mouth of the Guadalquivir and higher up is the city of Seville famous for its Holy Week ceremonies. Cádiz had the tradition of holding a three hour long reading of Christ’s Last Seven Words on Good Friday. Between the words there were sermons so that it all lasted three hours. Don José through his his musician friends Marquis Méritos and Marquis Ureña contacted Haydn who was the fashionable composer of the time in Spain to write a musical work for the ceremony.

Haydn himself explained the origin and difficulty of writing the work when the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel issued (in 1801) a new edition and requested a preface:


Some fifteen years ago I was requested by a canon of Cádiz to compose instrumental music on the Seven Last Words of Our Savior On the Cross. It was customary at the Cathedral of Cádiz to produce an oratorio every year during Lent, the effect of the performance being not a little enhanced by the following circumstances. The walls, windows, and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large lamp hanging from the center of the roof broke the solemn darkness. At midday, the doors were closed and the ceremony began. After a short service the bishop ascended the pulpit, pronounced the first of the seven words (or sentences) and delivered a discourse thereon. This ended, he left the pulpit and fell to his knees before the altar. The interval was filled by music. The bishop then in like manner pronounced the second word, then the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion of each discourse. My composition was subject to these conditions, and it was no easy task to compose seven adagios lasting ten minutes each, and to succeed one another without fatiguing the listeners; indeed, I found it quite impossible to confine myself to the appointed limits.
 
The work, called “Las siete últimas palabras de nuestro Salvador en la cruz” was finished in the winter of 1786 and was inaugurated in Vienna  March 26, 1787 and in Cádiz on Good Friday April 14 of the same year. One of the instruments used was a Stradivarius cello made in 1720 and presently owned by  Mexican collector Carlos Prieto. Don José paid Haydn in a most unusual way - sending him a cake in which Haydn discovered was filled with gold coins
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) who was born in Cádiz said that as a young boy he attended a performance of the Haydn work and that it helped inspire him into his career in music.

In Spanish these are the last 7 words:

 
     1.    Padre perdónalos porque no saben lo que hacen. (Lucas 23, 34)

     2.    En verdad te digo que hoy estarás conmigo en el paraíso. (Lucas 23, 43)

     3.    Mujer, ahí tienes tu hijo, y al discípulo Juan: Ahí tienes a tu madre (Juan 19, 26-27)

     4.    Dios mío, Dios mío, ¿Porqué me has desamparado? (Mateo 27, 46)

     5.    Tengo sed (Juan 19, 28)

     6.    Todo está cumplido (Juan 19, 30)

     7.    Padre, en tus manos encomiendo mi espíritu (Lucas 23, 46)                                           

 

Those Spanish words are familiar to me. Since I could remember, when I was five (1946) my grandmother and mother would call me around 1pm from playing outside in the garden on Good Friday. On this day we did not turn on our radio to listen to music. My mother and I would kneel and my grandmother María de los Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena would read the above words to us.  We stopped the Good Friday prayers around 1952. In the beginning of the 60s my mother, my grandmother and I moved to in Veracruz. We lived on Calle Martín Alonso Pinzón. Martín Alonzo was the captain of La Pinta, Columbus's second caravel on his first voyage of discovery.


Alex with María de los Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena

There are further curious interactions of historical characters around this Haydn composition The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross.

In 1800 Lord Nelson and his mistress Emma Hamilton stopped in Vienna on their way (overland) from Naples. They were invited to visit the Prince and Princess Esterhazy. They were feted and served by 100 grenadiers (all 6 ft tall or taller) and they heard a performance of Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis, henceforth dubbed the Nelson Mass. Haydn and Nelson exchanged gifts, the pocket watch Nelson used during the Battle of the Nile and Haydn’s quill with which he wrote the Miss ain Angustiis. Emma Hamilton, who was a fine soprano, sang a Haydn choral work.



In the kind of connections (some might say blurry) that I adore I would like to finish here with these facts. Don José, our rich marquis was born in Veracruz. General George Meade who defeated Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg was born in Cádiz. During the 20-day siege of the Battle of Veracruz from March 9 to March 1847 in what came to be known as the Mexican/American War,  a young engineer, Captain Robert E. Lee  found a way around the city which prevented the city from being demolished in what was the United States’s first amphibious landing.

The battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, within sight of Cabo Trafalgar, meant that the Spaniards in Cádiz would have been witness to Nelson’s decisive victory.
 
Traditionally the last of the 7 words are from Luke 23:46. But Haydn chose Matthew 27:51ff. for an eighth movement (plus one more as introduction for a total of nine movements). Why? I have my suspicions but I will not elaborate.
 
That last movement is labeled by Haydn:
 
Il terremoto (Earthquake) in C minor – Presto e con tutta la forza.
 
Here is the Mathew 27:51ff from my father's King James Bible:
 
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened ; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.
 
When I listen to this last movement I will also imagine oxen falling into a hole on San Francisco Street in Cádiz.

Below is the illustration being used by Early Music Vancouver to promote Saturday's concert. Early Music Vancouver Artistic Director Matthew White saw in my rose scans (roses from my garden scanned on my Epson Perfection V700 Photo) good uses for illustrating the programs and calendar of EMV. He asked me what we could possibly do for Haydn's Seven Last Words – Crucifixion of the Earth. We walked around the garden to my very large and sprawling Rosa 'Albertine' which had finished blooming. It blooms profusely but only once. I  pointed at the thorns. "These brutal thorns (some of the most vicious of all roses) represent the suffering and crucifixion of our Lord. The emerging young shoot is His resurrection." And that was that.







 
 
 
 

 

 

 



Little Dancer Aged 14 Grows Up
Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Sandrine Cassini

When I just turned 14, I moved to Paris to see if my dream could become my life. I was struggling with anorexia, I was full of doubt and fears...then I met an angel...my dance teacher became my dance mother, taught me more than steps but a philosophy, a method, a different approach that made me stronger than I could have imagined. I learnt how to love myself again and never ever follow when all was asked for was blending in.
Today is the saddest day... she became a star in the sky, after being a star on earth. Forever I will try to follow your steps Wilfride and make you proud, now that you are watching from above.

Sandrine Cassini
Wellington, New Zealand



Civitas, New Music, Bramwell Tovey, Sean Rossiter & Don Harron
Monday, January 19, 2015

Don Harron 1924-2015 - Bramwell Tovey 1953 - Sean Rossiter 1946-2015



On Thursday January 15 I attended a memorial for multi-tasking writer Sean Rossiter who died on January 5. On Saturday January 17 former CBC Radio man, Don Harron passed away. Beginning January 15 and ending January 18, I attended the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival (the second one). In two days, January 15 and yesterday January 18 Musical Director Bramwell Tovey made it a point to harangue (in a nice way as only he can) the destructive repercussions on music and thus on our cultural life by the dismantling of the CBC as it “devolves into irrelevancy “ [that’s my choice of words and not the maestro’s]

 
It is for this, and some of you who might have gotten this far, that the three men are above and I am not in the least hinting that the only one living and standing is about to die. Of this I hope not as Mr. Tovey is an underappreciated gem of a man whom we only deserve if we have a small collective inclination to head toward an excellence that until now has defied us and defined us for lacking thereof. 

On my left by my computer monitor is my copy of Thomas Cahill’s Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea – Why the Greeks Matter. I have been thinking plenty about the Greeks (the ancient ones) since Thursday’s memorial to SeanRossiter at Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden.



I attended something similar in 1991 after the death of Harvey Southam a man I had worked with when he edited his local business magazine Equity. I went to his memorial at Christ Church Cathedral knowing what I would experience. It was a memorial in which I did not see anybody who was not white and the minister talked eloquently about summers in Qualicum. I knew then that our city had changed.

On Thursday I noticed one black woman, Constance Barnes and one Chinese man, architect Joe Wai. I saw a South Asian man whom I did not know. The rest at the event were all mostly aging white men and women. It was definitely one day that did not have to predict a different and rapidly configuration of the polis.

 
 

I use that Greek word on purpose. I could never live or retire in the country. I am a city man used to living in big cities, Buenos Aires and Mexico City, old cities, Veracruz and new cities, Austin. I have yet to make up my mind about Vancouver.

It is patently obvious that the first humans who lived in caves could not have a city. But their social activities made the men group together to hunt while the women (who had yet to predict the birth of Gloria Steinem) stayed in the cave to weave and cook. The city as what we know as a city had to wait for these folks to domesticate animals and plant grains. Then they stayed put and cities happened.

 

For the Ancient Greeks, particularly the Athenians, there was no such thing as a country or a homeland (it had to wait for that uncouth not-quite Greek, Alexander to do so). They lived in their polis or city-state. To quote Cahill:

 …Athens was a city not a country; and the Greeks never thought to unite all Greeks [Do we want Albertans with us?] speakers in one political union. Because each Greek gloried in his singular excellence and each Greek clan gloried similarly – it was hard enough to unite a city. Each city or polis – from which came our words politics, politician, metropolis – thought itself unrivalled in some essential quality and revelled in its reputation…

The continual buzz of conversation, the orotund sounds of the orators, the shrill shouts from the symposia – this steady drumbeat of opinion, controversy, and conflict, could everywhere be heard. The agora (market place) was not just a daily display of fish and farm goods; it was an everyday market of ideas, the place citizens used as if it were their daily newspaper, complete with salacious headlines, breaking news, columns, and editorials. For more formal occasions, there nestled besides the Acropolis the hill of the Pnyx, where thousands of citizens voted in the Assembly. They faced the bēma (speaker’s platform) and, behind the speaker, the ever-changing backdrop of Athens itself. Though there were wooden benches, set into the steps of the hill, participants were too taken up by the proceedings to bother to sit down. The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklēsia , the same word used in the New Testament for Church (and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word, which connoted equal participation in all deliberations by all members, came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia - which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times, who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.



 
Sean Rossiter and his involvement in the Vancouver Urbanarium Society (a very active civic institution that fizzled out in the late 90s, brought architects, city planners and politicians to discuss civic issues that mattered to all as citizens. Many of these lectures or symposiums happened in a lovely auditorium called the Judge White Auditorium which was inside what was then the Robson Square Media Centre. That auditorium disappeared from public view when the University of British Columbia decided it needed a presence in our city. This presence is either unknown by most of the citizens of this city (who are patently aware of the active participation of Simon Fraser University not only in what used to be the Sears department store by the waterfront, but also in what was Woodward’s) or as evanescent as the development of jet packs to liberate us from land-based congestion.

Sean Rossiter brought to us an understanding of what was going on in City Hall from 1975 until 1991 in his Vancouver Magazine column 12th & Cambie.

While I was a friend of this man who made me feel part of the city I never discussed his taste for music, art, theatre or dance. We shared stories about the city as a liveable place. It was he who called me up one day to recommend (I obeyed) to tell me that urbanist Jane Jacobs was in town and that I should photograph her.

When I arrived in Vancouver with my Canadian wife and two Mexican-born daughters it was CBC Radio and Television that informed me on the correct pronunciation of Newfoundland. It was CBC TV that first exposed me to the wonders of Guy Lafleur. Working as a stills photographer at the new CBC building on Hamilton Street helped me feel I was part not only of a city but of a country.

The best source of information about Canada came to me in my darkroom in the morning when I listened to Don Harron’s CBC Radio program Morningside. I had a particular liking for his delicate good taste and charm. Harron filled in the huge gaps I had about Canada.

Years later I was invited into a trailer booth to watch a man direct all the cameras of a Hockey Night in Canada game. This seemed more complex (it surely was) than being an air traffic controller. At about the same time my friend CBC cameraman Mike Varga, during a trip I made to Edmonton to photograph doomed Vancouver Canucks Bill LaForge for article for Vancouver Magazine, invited me to sit inside his camera booth by the ice. The man on the other side sitting on a bench stared at me (I had photographed him a few months before) was Wayne Gretzky. It was then that I began to feel Canadian.

The polis of the Greeks wasn’t all about politics and civic duties (for those few, we have to admit, who were citizens in a city-state full of slaves) it was also about drama and music and dance. The Greeks had yet to put the arts into compartments. It was all art.

Going to the four-day New Music Festival, the second one,  at the Orpheum put me into that exciting contact into a very active arts scene full of Canadian composers who in spite of their excellence somehow make their music accessible and non-alienating. It is a wonder to watch and listen to so many musicians who could play anywhere in the world (and many do) but choose to stay in Vancouver.

It is Bramwell Tovey, much adored in New York City who chooses to stay in this city even though we all know and he made us patently aware that our CBC, our Mother Corporation, has aged into irrelevancy. We long lost the Radio Orchestra. It was in 2008 that Canadian violinist James Ehnes won Canada's first Grammy for best instrumental solo performance (with orchestra) for his recording with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra called Barber/Korngold/Walton: Violin Concertos. It was produced by Denise Ball and the very famous (for those of us who know him) sound engineer Don Harder for CBC Records. Since 2008 there has been no further collaboration. Mr. Harder these days is more often seen playing the bagpipes in his lovely kilt- an obvious loss to the musical framework of our city.

CBC Radio (and what follows is the personal opinion of this Philistine) now is a radio scape of middle-of-the road, eminently forgettable popular (un?) music, banal programs with the exceptions of the excellent  Ideas and the most intelligent program in radio The Debaters. The rest come me via on the hour or half-our news when I am in my car. The only reason for ever watching the local news on CBC TV, was to listen and to enjoy the presence of Gloria Macarenko. Was she moved aside to bring in ethnic talent from the East?

The continuing slide of our once fine daily, the Vancouver Sun, seems to mimic the CBC as it, too, is becoming irrelevant in spite of still having some very good and serious columnists. Gone recently is my friend Rick Ouston whom Malcolm Parry at Vancouver Magazine used to assign to write about the state of newspapers in our city in what is now a distant past.

Watching Tovey conduct, watching him enthuse about the music we are about to listen to, seeing how he is championing real Canadian musical talent using an accessibility based on wit and charm is a pleasure that more of us should value and appreciate.

I have considered myself a snob for too many years (to my detriment). I have championed baroque music and modern dance. I might tell you I refuse to go to another Nutcracker. But it took this last weekend, and particularly this Sunday, for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to teach me the value of the sound of 5 basses tuned down to a lower register, an explanation by Ottawa composer Kelly-Marie Murphy (Black Sand) as to what a lion’s roar percussion thing was composer and to enjoy a composition based on the feeling of touching sand glass (Sea Glass Music) by composer and bassist Frederick Schipizky. Furthermore in future night trips to Seattle as I drive as close to the speed limit as I can through that startling under-the-freeway-freeway in the city that I have not only the bridge crossing music crossing music of the Clash’s London Calling but most of Murphy’s composition with their nicely loud and fast tempos with definitive drum solos.

It was Jocelyn Morlock’s sense of humour that made her brand of new music (Ornithomancy , Concerto for Flute and Orchestra) seem like something I would like, which indeed I did.

And in the end it was Bramwell Tovey’s brand of cultural civitas that made me feel that there might be some hope for our city. After all, he has three more years to involve us in his city and make it also ours.

 
In the history of Rome, the Latin term civitas (plural civitates), according to Cicero in the time of the late Roman Republic, was the social body of the cives, or citizens, united by law (concilium coetusque hominum jure sociati). It is the law that binds them together, giving them responsibilities (munera) on the one hand and rights of citizenship on the other. The agreement (concilium) has a life of its own, creating a res publica or "public entity" (synonymous with civitas), into which individuals are born or accepted, and from which they die or are ejected. The civitas is not just the collective body of all the citizens, it is the contract binding them all together, because of which each is a civis.
Wikipedia

While I may sound positive so far I see in our immediate future a retreat of us all to our caves. Do we live in a city and take advantage of what our city can offer? Or do we live in our homes, indulge in social media, eschew actual human contact and listen to music on earphones all by ourselves? Do we listen to comfortable and predictable music while willing to indulge in the varied cuisine of Vancouver and not much else? Have we given up on our CBC, ready to see our Vancouver Art Gallery move with the detritus of stuff we are rarely moved to explore? Do we know who or current city Poet Laureate is? Are we willing to go to modern dance while appreciating the discipline of classical ballet?



Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response At The VSO
Sunday, January 18, 2015



Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli. The nature and classification of the ASMR phenomenon is controversial, with strong anecdotal evidence to support the phenomenon but little or no scientific explanation or verified data.
Wikipedia

The 2015 VSO Composer in Residence, Jocelyn Morlock told us on Saturday that her piece The Tingling Sensation had been inspired by the above reference in Wikipedia.

This second VSO New Music Festival (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and today) was full of such tingling.

Two Thousand and Fourteen for me was full of new music. I have resolved since I am an amateur and certainly not a music critic of any kind to re-define New Music.
 
For me New Music is any music I have not heard of or listened before. With that as my definition all that 17th century (very fashionable in Vancouver) music played by Stile Moderno, Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Early Music Vancouver is new music. So is the new music of the many concerts I attended in 2014 by the Turning Point Ensemble. That the Turning Point Ensemble played the music of Duke Ellington in a concert in 2012 (where else and by whom would you listen to Ellington these days) just confirms that fresh music can be old, particularly if you have not heard it before.

In the 80s and 90s as a magazine photographer I had a ready answer for two problematic and quite frequent phone calls. One was from Maclean’s Magazine that would want me to take a picture within hours, take the raw film to the Air Canada desk at the airport and be paid $50. The other would have been an invite to a photographer’s stag. Imagine being surrounded by drunken photographers and not a woman in sight!

West Coast Energy Hall
 
In this 21st century Vancouver try finding someone who will accompany you to a concert of early music, new music or even the symphonic music of Shostakovich.

As our population ages, arts organizations have seen their audience age. Soon, (perhaps not!) they will be avoiding all the arts programs of our city to play bridge in a comfortable home in White Rock.

So it is with my appreciation and all the rest of those who know in Vancouver to see someone like the VSO’s Music Artistic Director, Bramwell Tovey champion new music and take us from those blah doldrums.

You would think that any festival that would begin with a super sextet, Standing Wave and then combine it with another super sextet to play the music of Steve Reich could not possibly find something to match that. I thought that but I was wrong.


The first night I had the privilege position of being behind Standing Wave on a chair with a few other lucky persons inside the cavernous Orpheum Stage. Perhaps the most startling moment was seeing Allen Stiles's (Standing Wave pianist) four sheet display of Reich’s music. It looked all the same!

We heard music (becoming popular now) of Claude Vivier arranged by Michael Oesterle, Pulau Dewata (and more Vivier yesterday Saturday). This music is never boring and it keeps you alert. Not so, but equally wonderful was John Luther Adams’s The Light Within. This was music with no pause or silence of any kind. This piece and the Steve Reich Double Sextet featured a taped background drone-like track and the musicians (12 of them for the Reich) had special earphones to mark with click when they were supposed to enter. All this complex miking was done by ex-CBC sound engineer/genius Don Harder. Consider that his participation (not to record the Standing Wave and the second sextet) was solely for the purpose of audience enjoyment and you might understand Tovey’s disappointment of what he sees as a collapse (I strongly agree) of the erstwhile and most useful participation of the CBC in helping educate Canadians on the wonders of live music and exposure to the new music, particularly that of Canadian composers.

Thursday’s composition Theft by Jocelyn Morlock amply proved that this composer not only can read music but good Latin American Literature, too. Theft was inspired by her reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Rebeca, it soon becomes evident, is afflicted with an insomnia that also causes memory loss.

Without losing an iota of her memory perhaps Morlock takes advantage of her insomnia to write her music. Consider that Saturday’s That Tingling Sensation was finished this January - lots of sleepless night for her!

Jocelyn Morlock & Bramwell Tovey
 

I cannot end Thursday’s account without citing that not only is it special to listen to Steve Reich live I have to state here that during his Double Sextet and John Luther Adams’s The Light Within I distinctly could smell Cannabis sativa wafting to the back where I was. It reminded me of a concert in the late 60s in Mexico City’s Bellas Artes at a Ravi Shankar concert. I could not see the stage because of the cloud of smoke.

I absolutely cannot stand massed choral music. It may have begun sometime in the late 70s when I heard at the Luv-a- Fair a disco version of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus while watching moustachioed men dance.

But Saturday’s Choral Magnificence with the Phoenix Chamber Choir directed by Graeme Langager sprung some surprises that might eventually convert me to their cause. For one he had this strange way of rearranging his choir so that sometimes the men where in the back and the women in the front (conventional) and then he would mix them. In one of the most beautifully orchestrated manoeuvre I have seen from the hands of a conductor he gestured and the chorus moved into place as if they had been choreographed by Crystal Pite.

For me the justification for the evening was the collaboration between the Phoenix Chamber Choir, Bramwell Tovey and a VSO String Orchestra for Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Messe.

No matter how much I harp of the beauty of 17th and 18th century baroque music there is nothing like the low sound of 4 or 5 basses to bring ceremony to music. That I went to a Roman Catholic boarding school in the late 50s and that I sang Gregorian chant meant that for once I knew the lyrics of this beautiful Latin Catholic Mass. Thanks to Tovey I went to church on Friday!


Saturday was a day that I thought would be hard to follow after Thursday and Friday.

This was not so and part of it is that this New Music Festival has organized a music program (music before the concert and music after the concert) in the West Coast Energy Hall ( a pleasant lounge that serves booze and curiously you are not allowed to tip the friendly persons behind the bar) that features avant-garde stuff. Thursday it was pianist Bogdon Dulu playing compositions of Marc-André Hamelin, Friday the UBC Woodwind Quintet, and of Saturday more below. On all four nights jazz pianist Miles Black plays after the concert in the lounge. On Friday he played an exquisite version of one of my faves, Dave Brubeck’s homage to Duke Ellington, The Duke. It is my hope that tonight Sunday he just might surprise us with his syncopated rendering of John Cage’s 4’33”.

 

Saturday finally brought new music symphonic music up front. Two of the composers, Jocelyn Morlock and Ottawa’s Kelly-Marie Murphy are authentically of this century. Harrison Birtwistle and Canadian Claude Vivier are not. But remember new music is music you have not heard before. Birtwistle’s Night’s Black Bird (with lots of chimes (deathly bell-like sounds) and lots of bass was (as I imagined it) a funeral in a ghostly, dark and rainy little English town churchyard. It was lugubrious music that put me into a deep spell of depression (a pleasant experience when you know you can thwart it with Miles Black and liquor later). Kelly-Marie Murphy’s composition Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul (a concerto for violin, Nicholas Wright, and orchestra had as inspiration a neighbour of Murphy and her family in Dartmouth. He was young teenager with a fondness for pellet guns. It seems that he was a psychopath and he killed at least once. The composition was another, not quite so lugubrious (thanks to beautiful lyrical solos by Wright) piece, based on the psychopathic fluctuations of McGray. This piece left me drained and yes there were lots of bass and deathly chimes.

 
Claude Vivier’s Orion, complex the first time around (will I ever be able to hear it again?) was more lugubrious stuff that featured the trumpet (a pair in one place) with some innovative muting (a plumber’s plunger) helped along by that expert muter Jeremy Berkman (plays for the Turning Point Ensemble and has new music in his soul).



But I must end this with two citings of note. One is that the evening’s pre-concert concert featured Vern Griffiths’s  (Standing Wave, VSO percussionist) students playing works by Jordan Nobles(Constellation) and Jocelyn Morlock (Hatch) which were both played by the musicians being in different levels around and above the West Coast Energy Hall. The music (sounds) was coming from everywhere. But lastly they played John Cage’s 1941 (brand new to me) Third Construction which complete with a sea conch sounded almost like the soundtrack for that 1959 Brazilian film by Marcel Carmus, Black Orpheus. I wanted to dance and I should have had I known of the dark music to come.

Bad ass VSO bassist & cellists
 

But it wasn’t all that dark thanks to Morlock’s fresh and brand new That Tingling Sensation.

And not wishing to embarrass her in any way, VSO violinist Karen Gerbrecht, and my fave red-haired violinist looked luminous.

Tonight's last day, Sand and Stars featuring the music of Kelly-Marie Murphy, Frderick Schipizky (not often do you hear compositions by bassists), Jocelyn Morlock, Marcus Goddard, Toru Takemitsu promises more tingling sensations and particularly as Morlock boasts that her Ornithomancy a concerto for Flute (Christie Reside) and orchestra is in her opinion her best work yet. I find it most interesting that I first met Morlock years ago when the Pacific Baroque Orchestra commissioned her to write a new work for a baroque orchestra. It just comes to prove that almost anything can be new music if you open your ears to it.

If you look carefully you might note that Maestro is wearing some new Fluvog shoes. Morlock finally convinced our hip musical director to be hipper.

Karen Gerbrecht
 


Miles Black


 


















Phoenix Chamber Choir






     

Previous Posts
Rosa 'James Mason' - All Potential & More

Jacqueline du Pré Returns & I Smile

You Have Guilt - I Have Sorrow - Children of God

Dazzling Movement in Cultch's Children of God

Linda Lorenzo & My Father's Flag

Linda Lorenzo - Nostalgia Ayer y Hoy

My Neighbourhood Tulpengekte

Three Mothers & One More

Santa Conchita del Molino de la Pampa & Fernet Bra...

Testing & Inspiration with a Lovely Roman - Silvia...



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6/15/14 - 6/22/14

6/22/14 - 6/29/14

6/29/14 - 7/6/14

7/6/14 - 7/13/14

7/13/14 - 7/20/14

7/20/14 - 7/27/14

7/27/14 - 8/3/14

8/3/14 - 8/10/14

8/10/14 - 8/17/14

8/17/14 - 8/24/14

8/24/14 - 8/31/14

8/31/14 - 9/7/14

9/7/14 - 9/14/14

9/14/14 - 9/21/14

9/21/14 - 9/28/14

9/28/14 - 10/5/14

10/5/14 - 10/12/14

10/12/14 - 10/19/14

10/19/14 - 10/26/14

10/26/14 - 11/2/14

11/2/14 - 11/9/14

11/9/14 - 11/16/14

11/16/14 - 11/23/14

11/23/14 - 11/30/14

11/30/14 - 12/7/14

12/7/14 - 12/14/14

12/14/14 - 12/21/14

12/21/14 - 12/28/14

12/28/14 - 1/4/15

1/4/15 - 1/11/15

1/11/15 - 1/18/15

1/18/15 - 1/25/15

1/25/15 - 2/1/15

2/1/15 - 2/8/15

2/8/15 - 2/15/15

2/15/15 - 2/22/15

2/22/15 - 3/1/15

3/1/15 - 3/8/15

3/8/15 - 3/15/15

3/15/15 - 3/22/15

3/22/15 - 3/29/15

3/29/15 - 4/5/15

4/5/15 - 4/12/15

4/12/15 - 4/19/15

4/19/15 - 4/26/15

4/26/15 - 5/3/15

5/3/15 - 5/10/15

5/10/15 - 5/17/15

5/17/15 - 5/24/15

5/24/15 - 5/31/15

5/31/15 - 6/7/15

6/7/15 - 6/14/15

6/14/15 - 6/21/15

6/21/15 - 6/28/15

6/28/15 - 7/5/15

7/5/15 - 7/12/15

7/12/15 - 7/19/15

7/19/15 - 7/26/15

7/26/15 - 8/2/15

8/2/15 - 8/9/15

8/9/15 - 8/16/15

8/16/15 - 8/23/15

8/23/15 - 8/30/15

8/30/15 - 9/6/15

9/6/15 - 9/13/15

9/13/15 - 9/20/15

9/20/15 - 9/27/15

9/27/15 - 10/4/15

10/4/15 - 10/11/15

10/18/15 - 10/25/15

10/25/15 - 11/1/15

11/1/15 - 11/8/15

11/8/15 - 11/15/15

11/15/15 - 11/22/15

11/22/15 - 11/29/15

11/29/15 - 12/6/15

12/6/15 - 12/13/15

12/13/15 - 12/20/15

12/20/15 - 12/27/15

12/27/15 - 1/3/16

1/3/16 - 1/10/16

1/10/16 - 1/17/16

1/31/16 - 2/7/16

2/7/16 - 2/14/16

2/14/16 - 2/21/16

2/21/16 - 2/28/16

2/28/16 - 3/6/16

3/6/16 - 3/13/16

3/13/16 - 3/20/16

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

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17