Paganini, the Devil and Corey Cerovsek
Saturday, March 11, 2006
In 1987 both Saturday Night and Vancouver Magazine asked me to photograph the 15 year-old child prodigy violinist Corey Cerovsek. Saturday Night requested I try to capture that scary devil-like virtuosity that many people thought Nicolo Paganini had had. I tried to impress the young man by playing a tape of Lalo's Symphonie Espagnol in my studio. When Corey arrived, in a very offhand way, he told me that my tape deck was off by so many revs per minute because b flat was ....... The young man had perfect pitch. For Vancouver Magazine I was given free reign so I decided to make Corey look like the boy he was. Unfortunately my vision of him included a striped T shirt and he had none. I brought one of mine which Corey liked so much that I give it to him. In October 1996 Corey returned so I asked him if I could photograph him again with the f holes in his hand. Before the shoot we had a beer in Yaletown. Corey reminded me, again in an offhand way, that the violin under the table was insured for millions of dollars. The violin Corey plays now is the "Mianollo" 1728 Stradivarius which at one time was played by Nicolo Paganini.
Corey Cerovsek plays the Elgar: Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61 this weekend with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.VSO
Friday, March 10, 2006
Thinking about Uruguay has further accentuated my longing for the open space that is the Argentine pampa. My parents would send me every January, during the school holidays of the Argentine summer, to estancias
(ranches) in the province of La Pampa or once to a little one called Glen Rest in the somewhat hilly country of the province of Córdoba. Be it it pampa or the hills, wherever there was a fence post, I would see the ubiquitous baker-oven like nest of the the Hornero or Furnarius rufous
commonly called the Ovenbird. To protect its chicks the Hornero builds what really is an adobe structure with dirt, straw and lots of saliva. The nest has a twisty nautilus-like entrance that is supposed to ward off snakes and other predators. In another bout of Argentine nostalgia I decided to photograph the exquisite (and Argentine) Linda Lorenzo as an Hornero.
Uruguay at the Ian Tan Gallery
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Uruguay is one of the great forgotten countries of the world. My guess is that more people know of the existence of Paraguay than of Uruguay. Its official name is La República Oriental del Uruguay
. We Argentines call them orientales
. They are Oriental because their country is on the banda oriental
or eastern side of the Uruguay River. In 1942 Domingo Tortorelli, a vegetable shop owner, ran for president (and vice president, senator, and representative!) and promised that if he were elected:
1. He was going to build a highway from Montevideo to the port of Colonia that was going to be downhill both ways.
2. Each neighbourhood corner would have tap of free milk (for children) and one of wine for adults.
3. A special roof was going to soar over Montevideo to protect its inhabitants from rain.
But it is in Uruguay, like in my native Argentina where one can go to the pampa and look at the horizon in a 360 degree sweep without the horizon being broken except for a clump of trees that indicate some sort of dwelling. As a little boy I would take my slingshot to the campo
in the hopes of downing a rhea (the South American relative of the ostrich). I would get chunks of concrete from the estancia
(ranch) because once I was on the pampa there would not be a pebble or a stone to be found. When I saw this painting (done only with a palette) by Uruguayan artist Erika Toliusis I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia for my country and for Uruguay. There is a show of her work at the Ian Tan Gallery beginning on March 11. Above is Erika Toliusis's Surrounded 2005Ian Tan Gallery
Don Giovanni, The Preacher, The Musical Director & The Real Estate Agent
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Tuesday night I went with Rosemary to a Vancouver Opera performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni. We arrived in time (the opera begins a half hour earlier now, at 7:30) for The Preacher of the Opera's
(Doug Tuck, right) always interesting pre opera chat. Without having any Spanish blood that I know of, baritone Brett Polegano seduced all the women on stage and most of us in the audience. At the intermission I went to the orchestra pit. I was surprised to see that on Jonathan Darlington's podium there was an exquisite red Craig Tomlinson harpsichord. More surprising still, Ray Nurse, Vancouver lutenist, lute,etc maker, baritone, music schollar, etc was carefully tuning it. I had forgotten that the English musical director of the Vancouver Opera (top left) likes to play the harpsichord for Mozart operas while also conducting. Craig Tomlinson is a successful West Vancouver real estate agent who makes the most beautiful and colourful harpsichords I have ever seen. Ray Nurse says their sound is exceptional, too. Don Giovanni will be performed again on the 9th, 11th and the 13th. There is still an opportunity to feast your eyes on that instrument. Doug Tuck's chat is at 6:40.
Karen Gerbrecht - the Anti Violinist
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
When I go to concerts of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra I take my special Pentax roof prism binoculars so I can focus them on Karen Gerbrecht, the associate principal second violinist. She has red hair and most often breaks all kinds of symphony dress codes. There is something about her that makes me suspect she is from the 19th century and came to us on a visit in her time machine. I have had the pleasure of taking her picture three times. Here we were thinking about and anti violin pose. Sort of, how to pose with a violin in a way that hasn't been done before. This was Karen's idea. You might just notice that she tied her wrists with a strap.VSO
Osmond Hudson Borradaile - The Man Who Found Sabu
Monday, March 06, 2006
I photographed Osmond Hudson Borradaile twice. In 1979 and in 1989. The second time around he told me he expected to live to be one hundred so he could receive a special letter of congratulations from the Queen. He was correct as when he died in March of 1999 he was 100. Tonight is Oscar night and I remembered that Bordie (as he was affectionately called by all who knew him) shared an Oscar with Georges Perinal for Four Feathers
. In 1934 Borradaile had done the exterior shooting of The Scarlet Pimpernel
Furthermore when I think of him I think of an obituary that Paul Theroux wrote for the New York Times when Graham Greene died. It was titled An Edwardian on the Concorde
. Born in Winnipeg in 1898 Borradaile worked in the film industry from the silent era to well into his 60's. Not mentioned in any of his bios is that he was freelance cameraman in Vancouver in his late 70s. He worked with Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson and shot the aerial footage of Howard Hughes' 1930 Hell's Angels
. It has yet to be determined who really directed the 1937 Elephant Boy
. Was it Robert Flaherty, Zoltan or Alexander Korda? What is known is that Borradaile spotted a nine-year-old boy in the stables of the Maharajah of Mysore. This boy became Sabu. And of course Borradaile did all the exterior work in the Sudan for Alexander Korda's Technicolor 1939 The Four Feathers
But what I remember best about Bordie are his exquisite and technically perfect 1930s photographs (taken with a Leica) of India and the story he told me on how he came to photograph Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Sellasie triumphantly entering a liberated Addis Ababa with Brigadier (Chindit) Wingate in 1941. Borradaile was shocked to see the state of the emperor's clothes. He told him he could not enter the city in that state. So Borradaile borrowed a uniform from Wingate. In the photograph here you can spot the picture of the proud Emperor in his brigadier's uniform.
The Two Williams and James Jesus Angleton
Sunday, March 05, 2006
|William F. Buckley
With my wife Rosemary in Victoria for a Perennial Study Weekend I indulged in reading while eating; not washing the dishes, and watching the DVD version of The Whistle Blower
, a spy movie I had seen when it appeared in 1987. With the CIA and El Busho's shenanigans of our present times the issues raised in this movie(the distruction of individuals to protect the questionable morality of the powerful) with Michael Caine and John Gielgud, seem to be hot off the press. Michael Caine is one of my favourite actors, specially when he plays secret agents. The Canadian connection here is that Christopher Plummer turned down the role of Harry Palmer in the 1965 Ipcress File
which subsequently Michale Caine made his own. After seeing the Whistle Blower
I thought of two American conservative authors, William F. Buckley(above) and William Safire (left). Both wrote an excellent spy novel. In 1995 I talked about Sleeper Spy - A Novel of Deception
with William Safire in a Seattle hotel room interview. While indulging in chocolate covered strawberries Mr. Safire told me all about the mysterious CIA head of counternintellingence, James Jesus Angleton. This novel was as good as William F. Buckley's 2000 novel Spytime
- The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton.
I must note that Mr. Buckley refused to pose for me at the piano bar of the Hotel Vancouver until I asked him to autograph my copy of his awful paperback novel, Saving the Queen
Saving the Queen
the Orchid Man