New Music for Old Instruments - Pleasantly Challenges Me
Saturday, January 28, 2017
|Los Dos Amigos - Alexander Weimann & Reginald Mobley|
In many an Early Music Vancouver sponsored concert, Executive
& Artistic Director Director Matthew White poses the question, “What is new music?”
I think both of us (he
the trained musician and countertenor) and this amateur that new music is not
century or 21st
century music. It is not 17th
century baroque. It is all of them if you have not heard them before.
|Los Dos Amigos - Bramwell Tovey & Alexander Weimann - Christ Church Cathedral January 28 2017|
All of them bring the anticipation (before you hear them
performed) of what they will be like? What
surprises will be in them? And so on.
What you hear for the first time is not always easy. You
have to be exposed to it longer and immerse yourself in it. Thelonious Monk
sounded odd the first time I listened to him in early 60s. Bruckner seemed
longwinded and much too complex for the first time (and I must admit for a few
times after). That Vancouver punk band the Subhumans’ “Fuck You” seemed all
noise at first but not any longer.
So my Rosemary and I attended with some measure of “what is
in store for us?” this last Saturday’s second variant of New Music For Old
Instruments at the sonically challenged Christ Church Cathedral whose sound man
should have been excommunicated on the spot. I will stop my rant right there!
Let us hope that we will be able to listen to this truly new
music from composers Jocelyn Morlock, Linda Caitlin Smith, André Ristic,
Patrick Giguere, Emily Doolittle, Thierry Didrow and Rodney Sharman again so
that it will perhaps grow on us.
|Los Cuatro Amigos Alexander Weimann, Bramwell Tovey, Rodney Sharman & Reginald Mobley|
This concert confirmed my suspicion that I have been going
to EMV and Pacific Baroque concerts with the idea that I am going to listen to
something that is comfortably predictable, within the confines of this amateur who
might not entirely understand what scordatura is all about. These wonderful
baroque concerts, now stressing the composers, once sort of unknown in the
latter part of the 20th century, were comfortable. But many became blurs
in my memory moments after leaving the concert venue.
Matthew White, in conjunction with composer Rodney Sharman,
and the wonderfully unsatisfied in his milieu keyboardist and Artistic Director of
the Pacific Baroque Orchestra Alexander Weimann
got together with the blessings
of Vancouver Symphony’s Artistic Director Bramwell Tovey
to happily attempt (and
they succeeded) our level of predictable comfort.
I cite Alexander Weimann who can also play a mean jazz piano
about the positive attitude of being unsettled and unsatisfied in what one does
(and he does lots) and the impetus to (that almost hackneyed political
expression) to move forward.
|Konstantin Bozhinov & Reginald Mobley|
I cite the third piece of Saturday’s program by composer
Thierry Tidrow (b. 1986 when you could finally drink without eating at a
Vancouver restaurant!) Ricercar in which
French-Canadian Noemi Gagnon-Lefrenais (am I sexist to point out she is
especially lovely and my baroque bassist friend Curtis Daily would concur)
which was a solo piece for her violin.
After the concert I chatted with concertmaster Chloe Meyers
and told her that the first two movements had been much too quiet for me to
discern but that the third movement had loud passages and interesting stuff I
could appreciate. With a smile Meyers told me that Ricercar had no three
movements but a complex turning of pages which is why I had thought to the
|Reginald Mobley & the Pacific Baroque Orchestra|
I want to hear Ricercar again and listen to all of it. I
want to be challenged and adopt the unpredictable. Thanks to White and company
I think more of this will happen in the future.
I want to also listen to Jocelyn Morlock’s Golden
which I have heard
before performed by that Pacific Baroque Orchestra (just like Saturday) but
with soprano (she of the red hair) Phoebe McRae
. This time we had countertenor Reginald
Mobley ( Mob pronounced like those experts on cement feet and not spats) doing
his wonders. The lovely piece has some water-filled glasses that were played by
Mobley ( we all call him Reggie). Weimann had the orchestra play extra
pianissimo so this man in his sonically challenged ( a black hole pocket
perhaps) very good 7th
row seat could hear them!
|Alexander Weimann & Bramwell Tovey|
Mobley sang some jazz standards (does anybody besides me
know that he took lessons with Ella Fitzgerald?) arranged by Sharman and
Weimann and a trio of songs Obsessions, Liebesleid/Lovepain and Songs from
Faust that satisfied my desire to listen to new. And I could not finish here
without also mentioning the presence of Bulgarian lutenist (it was a theorbo
wasn’t it?) Konstantin Bozhinov (who also is a master of the accordion) playing
with the orchestra but also in Rodney Sharman’s piece for voice (expressly
written for Reginald Mobley’s countertenor voice) and lute She Walks in Beauty.
All in all it was an evening of challenging and truly (as it
should be) challenging music that pushes borders.
And yet so many people left right after the concert and
did not linger for the best served wine of the evening. Bramwell Tovey and
Alexander Weimann performed jazz on the piano separately and then together.
This will be a concert that will not blur from my memory.
The most pleasant woman on the far right of this panoramic, Sarah Ballentyne objected (rightly) to the clacking noise my Fuji X-E1 did when I took (and it was stitching) this one (the only one I shot that evening). I apologize to her but I do believe that the noise was worth the trouble. And you might note that Ms Balllentyne is smiling!
The Woman In Red & Glenfiddich Scotch & Sodas
Friday, January 27, 2017
My friend, writer Les Wiseman and I worked together at
Vancouver Magazine from the late 70s until sometime in the early 90s. We also
did stuff for TV Guide while it had money to pay contributors.
Any time I write about our experiences Mr. Wiseman points
out that my memory of things stretches strict and ethical journalism. My only
defence, a two fold one, is that I am older than he is so my memory is spotty
and that in fact I am not a journalist but a photographer. During our tenure at
Vancouver Magazine a couple of writers (I will not name them even though if I
did Mr. Wiseman would not question their validity) championed “creative
What you may read below should be taken with a grain of
In the last few days I have become obsessed in remembering
in the middle of the night more photographs (for my blog here
) in my files of women with red
A last one was one whose name
escaped me. If I cannot remember a name I cannot find the photographs in my
I appealed to Mr. Wiseman who instantly answered with his
accurate journalistic memory that the woman in question was Cassandra Peterson
better known as Elvira – Mistress of the Dark.
With the name in my head again I remembered the
circumstances of how it was I took her photograph in 1987.
During those 80s Mr. Wiseman and I were often dispatched to
media junkets that included paid hotel rooms in very good establishments. The idea was
to lure us into writing and taking photographs that would then appear in Vancouver
One of those junkets was a yearly trek to Whistler, BC for what was called (I believe!) the Whistler
Celebrity Ski-athon. Mr. Wiseman, no great skier insisted on going with the
every year promise from the organizers that Brooke Shields would attend (she
never did even though the carrot was dangle many times).
In 1987 when we arrived at our Whistler hotel, Mr Wiseman
suggested we seek the comfort of a good drink. We sat in the bar and a lovely
woman came to us and with an “ah shucks” sort of voice told us she was new and
from Newfoundland after we ordered or Scotch and sodas. I have to admit that
what came to my head involved us taking advantage of a woman with a pure soul.
I asked her if she could pour Glenfiddich into our drinks. She did not seem to understand
what that was so I asked her to bring the bill with our drinks. When she did I
noticed what I thought would be the case that we were being charged for a
cheaper bar Scotch. You can imagine that we took advantage of this during our
stay at the hotel. Some have criticized the cardinal sin of diluting
Glenfiddich. My only defence is that indeed it makes a very good Scotch and
The evening of that day (it could have been the next, I am
not going to worry about the facts!) we were sitting at a table with a woman I
had no idea who she was except that she was an apparition of beauty and sex.
Her name was Elen Bry. When I took her pictures in b+w ,(Alas! none In colour)
so I have no recollection if she wore red lipstick) using my Hollywood style
pseudo George Hurrell lighting I had an uncomfortable time looking straight
into her eyes.
Mr. Wiseman recalls (I am sure with exactitude) that I told
Bry and subsequently embarrased us as we were not savvy journalists that we (both Wiseman and I) did not know who a woman in red was. She was
sitting at another table.
I was able to photograph Elvira in colour and indeed she was
wearing red lipstick.
Red - Rojo - Carmesí - Crimson - Colorado
Thursday, January 26, 2017
This blog is about the colour red and in particular about
red lips. It will meander. Right off the bat when I posted it, Canadian Poet George Bowering
". Of course he is right. In Spanish it means red wine.
In March I am taking my wife and granddaughter Lauren, 14,
to Buenos Aires. I firmly believe that Lauren’s ability to read music (she is
studying the violin and the clarinet) plus she dances at Arts Umbrella (all by
her choice and not by parental pressure) puts her at an advantage in our
increasingly strange times.
To me just being able to read music opens some spot in her
brain that makes her think differently and with a better scope on reality.
Unfortunately she did not do well in French at school so she
speaks only one language. But now she suddenly has an interest in her grandfather’s
Spanish and is busy with Rosetta Stone on the computer.
How the above will somehow lead into this blog about red
lips might tempt those who are reading at this point to trust me that it just
might be worthwhile.
If Lauren were here in my oficina now I would tell her that
in English you have the colour red and if you are ever so sophisticated you
might know of the word carmine, or the French Rouge. I do recall that favourite
film of mine, The Crimson Pirate and
that some of my red roses are described as being crimson. In Spanish we have the
same words for those colours. There is rojo and there is colorado. My Argentine
compatriots consider rojo to be low class and only use colorado! And there is carmesí (crimson) and carmin.
Just citing poetry would give you a many more chances of
rhyming in Spanish or in English if you
were thinking of the colour red.
My mother liked to use bright red lipstick. I recall that
her choice was Revlon. My preference for and delight of bright red lips has to have come
I noticed red lips (which confirmed my choice) on the cover
of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Jazz Red
Hot and Cool in the early 60s. The
cover is a beautiful photograph taken by Richard Avedon. Somehow I was told by
someone that the model on the cover was wearing a lipstick called Jazz Red Hot
& Cool. I have confirmed that in my Wikipedia:
The cover photograph used for this record was taken by
Richard Avedon at hungry i nightclub
in San Francisco and was done in partnership with the Helena Rubinstein
cosmetics company. It took its title from a new shade of lipstick Rubinstein
introduced in the late 1954. According to the liner notes by Brubeck’s long
time producer George Avakian, while the cosmetics company launched an advertising
campaign in major fashion magazines in different full-page advertisements, the
ladies who bought the lipstick also got a copy of Jazz Combo Tool; a small
Columbia six inch, red-orange vinyl record in 78 rpm speed which included
excerpts from Eddie Condon and Turk Murphy on its Jazz Combo Hot side, and Pete
Rugolo and Brubeck on its Jazz Combo Cool side.
Ever since that cover I have looked out for women who use
red lipstick. Alas the one woman who had the reddest and juiciest lips I ever
saw, Madeleine Morris I photographed mostly in black and white except for a few
of which you can see here.!
Red lips are hardly ever subtle but I eschew those
photographs of tacky boudoir where the photographer has lipstick and nails to
match, perhaps with added red pumps. Red cannot shock (as it should) if it is
so evident. Look at the pictures here and decide.