Thursday, August 31, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Amicare Ponchielli (1834-1886)
Alma Mahler (1879-1964)
Ifor James (1931-2004)
Wieland Kuijken (1938)
Itzak Perlman (1945)
Daniel Harding (1975)

and

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
William Shawn (1907-1992)
William Saroyan (1908-1981)
Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986)

Memorable quote from William Shawn: "Falling short of perfection is a process that just never stops."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874)
George Frederick Root (1820-1895)
Buddy Rich (1917-1987)
Regina Resnik (1922-2013)
David Maslanka (1943-1917)
David Schiff (1945)
Simon Bainbridge (1952)
Dimitris Sgouros (1969)

and

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)
Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
R Crumb (1943)
Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Oregon Bach Festival terminates the contract of artistic director Matthew Halls

The Eugene Weekly and the Register-Guard report that Matthew Halls has has been fired from his position as the artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival. Halls was only in the second year of a four-year contract with the festival; so the news is quite stunning. In a press release, the OBF states that it is switching to a programming that will be guest-curated.  Guest-curators can certainly be less expensive than an artistic director, but they can also be very hit-and-miss with no real vision for the festival and its future. The departure of Halls must surely be a blow to the Berwick Academy, a high-level period-music-institute for young professionals, especially in light of the fact that the Academy will be opening the doors to its new building in October.

Today's Birthdays

Helge Rosvaenge (1897-1972)
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
Charlie Parker (1920-1955)
Norman Platt (1920-2004)
Gilbert Amy (1936)
Anne Collins (1943-2009)
Lucia Valentini Terrani (1946-1998)
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)
Kevin Walczyk (1964)

and

John Locke (1632-1704)
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894)
Karen Hesse (1952)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)
Alfred Baldwin Sloane (1872-1925)
Ivor Burney (1890-1937)
Karl Böhm (1894-1981)
Paul Henry Lang (1901-1991)
Richard Tucker (1913-1975)
John Shirley-Quirk (1931-2014)
Imogen Cooper (1949)

and

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
John Betjeman (1906-1984)
Rita Dove (1952)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Eric Coates (1886-1957)
Lester Young (1909-1959)
Barry Conyngham (1944) Ann Murray (1949)
Sian Edwards (1959)

and

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
C. S. Forester (1899-1966)
Ira Levin (1929-2007)
William Least Heat-Moon (1939)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Willem de Fesch (1687-1761)
Luis Delgadillio (1887-1961)
Arthur Loesser (1894-1969)
Humphrey Searle (1915-1981)
Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013)
Nicholas Braithwaite (1939)
Sally Beamish (1956)
Branford Marsalis (1960)

and

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
Lee de Forest (1873-1961)
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Julio Cortázar (1914-1984)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Robert Stolz (1880-1975)
Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972)
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
José Van Dam (1940)
Keith Tippett (1947)
Elvis Costello (1954)

and

Brian Moore (1921-1999)
Charles Wright (1935)
Martin Amis (1949)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Marcello (1669-1747)
Théodore Dubois (1837-1924)
Bernhard Heiden (1910-2000)
Niels Viggo Bentzon (1919-2000)
Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)
Carlo Curley (1952)

and

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013)
John Green (1977)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1456 that the first edition of the Gutenberg Bible was bound and completed in Mainz, Germany. The Gutenberg Bible was the first complete book printed with movable type. The press produced 180 copies of the Bible. Books had been printed on presses before, in China and Korea, with wood and bronze type; but Gutenberg used metal type, and made a press that could print many versions of the same text quickly. His contributions to printing were huge: he created an oil-based printing ink, he figured out how to cast individual pieces of type in metal so that they could be reused, and he designed a functioning printing press. But others before him had come up with similar ideas. Probably the most important thing that Gutenberg did was to develop the entire process of printing — he streamlined a system for assembling the type into a full book and then folding the pages into folios, which were then bound into an entire volume — and to do it all quickly. The techniques that Gutenberg refined were used for hundreds of years, and the publication of the Gutenberg Bible marked a turning point in the availability of knowledge to regular people.

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1968, Czech conductor and composer Rafael Kubelik launches an appeal to world musicians to boycott performances in the five nations which invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20-21 until their military forces evacuate the country. The appeal was joined by Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Otto Klemperer, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Arrau, and others.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925)
Ernst Krenek (1900-1991)
William Primrose (1903-1982)
Constant Lambert (1905-1951)
Carl Dolmetsch (1911-1977)
Mark Russell (1932)
Brad Mehldau (1970)

and

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)
Edgar Lee Masters (1869-1950)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1934, the Berkshire Symphonic Festival in was founded in Stockbridge, Mass., by American composer and conductor Henry Hadley, with the participation of the New York Philharmonic. The Festival later became associated with the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Josef Strauss (1827-1870)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)
Ivry Gitlis (1922)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)
Tori Amos (1963)

and

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
Annie Proulx (1935)

Monday, August 21, 2017

List of reccommended concerts in The Oregonian

My article on recommended concerts for the fall is can be read on Oregonlive here. It will be in the printed edition this weekend.

Review in Opera magazine

My review of Monteverdi's madrigals as produced by Portland Opera in "Songs of Love and War" from February appeared in the August edition of Opera magazine (page 1043).

Today's Birthdays

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
Count (William) Basie (1904-1984)
Tommy Reilly (1919-2000)
Willhelm Killmayer (1927)
Gregg Smith (1931-2016)
Dame Janet Baker (1933)

and

X. J. Kennedy (1929)
Robert Stone (1937-2015)
Ellen Hinsey (1960)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jacopo Peri (1561-1633)
Mario Bernardi (1930-2013)
Dame Anne Evans (1941)
Maxim Vengerov (1974)

and

Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950)
Paul Tillich (1886-1965)
H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)
Eero Saarinen (1910-1961)
Jacqueline Susann(1918-1974)
Heather McHugh (1948)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Henry Fry (1881-1864)
Georges Enescu (1881-1955)
Allan Monk (1942)
Gerard Schwarz (1947)
Rebecca Evans (1963)

and

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
Frank McCourt (1930-2009)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Salieri (1750-1825)
Benjamin Godard (1849-1895)
Basil Cameron (1884-1975)
Ernest MacMillan (1893-1973)
Dame Moura Lympany (1916-2005)
Goff Richards (1944)
Tan Dun (1957)

and

Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809)
Margaret Murie (1902 -2003)
Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-2008)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of Italian-born Viennese composer Antonio Salieri, born in Legnago, in the Republic of Venice (1750). Although he was quite popular in the 18th century, he probably wouldn't be well known today were it not for the movie Amadeus (1984). The movie was based on Peter Shaffer's play by the same name (1979), which was in turn based on a short play by Aleksandr Pushkin, which was called Mozart and Salieri (1830). These stories all present Salieri as a mediocre and uninspired composer who was jealous of Mozart's musical genius; Salieri tried to discredit Mozart at every turn, and some versions of the story even accuse him of poisoning his rival.

But Salieri was a talented and successful composer, writing the scores for several popular operas. He had a happy home life with his wife and eight children. And because he had received free voice and composition lessons from a generous mentor as a young man, he also gave most of his students the benefit of free instruction. Some of his pupils included Beethoven, Franz Liszt, and Franz Schubert. He was the Kapellmeister — the person in charge of music — for the Austrian emperor for 36 years. He and Mozart were competitors, but their rivalry was usually a friendly one; Salieri visited Mozart when he was dying, and was one of the few people to attend his funeral.

After the turn of the 19th century, Salieri's music began to fall out of fashion. "I realized that musical taste was gradually changing in a manner completely contrary to that of my own times," he wrote. "Eccentricity and confusion of genres replaced reasoned and masterful simplicity." He stopped composing operas and began to produce more and more religious pieces. He suffered from dementia late in his life and died in 1825. He had composed his own requiem 20 years earlier, and it was performed for the first time at his funeral.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival - this weekend

From the press release - note that the concert on Sunday is already sold out -

Portland, Ore. – July 5th, 2017 – After its sold out inaugural 2016 season, the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival is pleased to announce its second season in August of 2017. This year, the festival features world-renowned composer, Gabriela Lena Frank, as composer-in-residence, and will highlight several of Frank’s works alongside masterpieces by Beethoven, Corelli, Mozart, Dvorak, Brahms and acclaimed Oregon composer Kenji Bunch.

By bringing world class chamber music into one-of-a-kind, intimate winery spaces, the Festival is bringing together extraordinary wine and music, creating a unique concert experience that enhances the beauty and craft of both. In 2017, the Festival is again partnering with J. Christopher Wines and Elk Cove Vineyards to present performances and wine pairings that celebrate the creativity and beauty of each.

Performance Details
• Friday, August 18th at 8pm at J. Christopher – we’ll feature music of Corelli, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Dvorak
• Saturday, August 19th at 4pm at J. Christopher – we’ll include music of Mozart, Frank, and Beethoven followed by an added bonus of food, wine and an evening jazz performance in the winery’s newly completed tasting room and beautiful terrace featuring J. Christopher owner and wine maker Jay Somers on guitar with his jazz trio.
• Then, on Sunday August 20th at 2pm, we’ll be nestled back into the gorgeous hillside vistas of Elk Cove to bring you vibrant works by Gabriela Frank and Kenji Bunch, and Brahms’ gorgeous G Major string sextet.

Programming Inspiration
This year’s programming explores the connections between time and place, evoking the many
ways winemakers draw on vintage and terroir to shape fine wines. From the Italian Baroque of Corelli to the romanticism of Dvorak’s “American” Quartet and the Peruvian-spiced innovations of Gabriela Lena Frank, listeners (with glass in hand) will be taken on a moving journey of sight, sound and taste.

Performances will showcase internationally acclaimed musicians, including violinists Sasha Callahan, Greg Ewer and Megumi Stohs Lewis; violist Kenji Bunch; and cellist Leo Eguchi. Tickets and more details are available now at www.wvchambermusic.org. $40 general admission and $20 for members of each hosting winery’s wine club. Tickets for each concert include a three-wine tasting paired with each program.

“Oregon is a special place, one that sparks incredible creativity and craft in countless places and forms,” said Sasha Callahan, violinist and festival co-founder. “In no place is that more evident than in the Willamette Valley, one of the most fertile and beautiful parts of Oregon. Our vision is to complement and add to the incredible wine and food that’s grown here with a series of concerts that allow people to experience wine and music in informal, intimate settings.”

“Music, like wine, comes to life in unique ways when enjoyed live, in the company of others,” said Leo Eguchi, cellist and festival co-founder. “Yet it’s not often that audiences are given an opportunity to savor them together. That special sense of community inspired this festival and we’re excited to bring world-class music and performances to Oregon wine country again this summer.”

Today's Birthdays

Henri Tomasi (1901-1971)
Abram Chasins (1903-1987)
George Melly (1926-2007)
T.J. (Thomas Jefferson) Anderson (1928)
Edward Cowie (1943)
Jean-Bernard Pommier (1944)
Heiner Goebbels (1952)
Artur Pizarro (1968)

and

Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957)
Mae West (1893-1980)
Ted Hughes (1930-1998)
V. S. Naipaul (1932)
Ted Hughes (1930-1998)
Jonathan Franzen (1959)


and from the Writer's Almanac:

On this date in 1982, the first compact discs for commercial release were manufactured in Germany. CDs were originally designed to store and play back sound recordings, but later were modified to store data. The first test disc, which was pressed near Hannover, Germany, contained a recording of Richard Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, played by the Berlin Philharmonic. The first CD commercially produced at the new factory and sold on this date was ABBA's 1981 album The Visitors; the first new album to be released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, which hit the stores in Japan — alongside the new Sony CD player — on October 1. The event is known as the "Big Bang of digital audio."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861)
Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937)
Jacinto Guerrero (1895-1951)
Ralph Downes (1904-1993)
Bill Evans (1929-1980)
Sarah Brightman (1959)
Franz Welser-Möst (1960)

and

Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679-1749)
William Maxwell (1908-2000)
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)
Albert Spalding (1888-1953)
Jaques Ibert (1890-1952)
Leon Theremin (1896-1993)
Lukas Foss (1922-2009)
Aldo Ciccolini (1925-2015)
Oscar Peterson (1925-2007)
Rita Hunter (1933-2001)
Anne Marie Owens (1955)
James O'Donnell (1961)

The Woodstock music festival began on this day in 1969.

and

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859)
Edna Ferber (1885-1968)
T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935)
Julia Child (1912-2004)
Benedict Kiely (1919-2007)
Denise Chávez (1948)
Stieg Larsson (1954)

and from the Composers Datebook:

Today Johannes Nepomuk Maelzel (1772-1848), German inventor credited with the creation of the metronome, was born in Regensburg. For a time he was the friend of Beethoven and collaborated with him on various projects.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988)
Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1955)
Jan Koetsier (1911-2006)
Ferruccio Tagliavini (1913-1995)
Georges Prêtre (1924)
Yuri Kholopov (1932-2003)
Cecilia Gasdia (1960)
Beta Moon (1969)

and

Ernest Thayer (1863-1940)
John Galsworthy (1867-1933)
Russell Baker (1925)
Danielle Steel (1947)
Gary Larson (1950)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sir George Grove (1820-1900)
John Ireland (1879-1962)
Luis Mariano (1914-1970)
George Shearing (1919-2011)
Louis Frémaux (1921)
Don Ho (1930-2007)
Sheila Armstrong (1942)
Kathleen Battle (1948)
Gregory Vajda (1973)

and

Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)
Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690)
Heinrich Biber (1644-1704)
Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929)
Porter Wagoner (1927-2007)
Buck Owens (1929-2006)
Huguette Tourangeau (1940)
David Munrow (1942-1976)
Pat Metheny (1954)
Stuart MacRae (1976)

and

Robert Southey (1773-1843)
Edith Hamilton (1867–1963)
Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959)
Donald Justice (1925-2004)
William Goldman (1931)
Anthony Swofford (1970)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Today's Birthdays

J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954)
Ginette Neveu (1919-1949)
Raymond Leppard (1927)
Alun Hoddinott (1929-2008)
Tamás Vásáry (1933)

and

Louise Brogan (1897-1970)
Alex Haley (1921-1992)
Andre Dubus (1936-1999)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936)
Douglas Moore (1893-1969)
Leo Fender (1909-1991)
Marie-Claire Alain (1926-2013)
Edwin Carr (1926-2003)
John Aldis (1929-2010)
Alexander Goehr (1932)
Giya Kancheli (1935)
Bobby Hatfield (1940-2003)
Dmitri Alexeev (1947)
Eliot Fisk (1958)

and

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
Joyce Sutphen (1949)
Mark Doty (1953)
Suzanne Collins (1962)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947)
Solomon Cutner (1902-1988)

and

Izaak Walton (1593-1683)
John Dryden (1631-1700)
P. L. Travers (1899-1966)
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)
Adolf Busch (1891-1952)
André Jolivet (1905-1974)
Benny Carter (1907-2003)
Josef Suk (1929-2011)
Jacques Hétu (1938-2010)

and

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953)
Valerie Sayers (1952)
Elizabeth Tallent (1954)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Today's' Birthdays

Henry Litolff (1818-1891)
Sir Granville Bantock (1868-1946)
Karel Husa (1921)
Felice Bryant (1925-2003)
Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-1977)
Garrison Keillor (1942)
Ian Hobson (1952)
Christian Altenburger (1957)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)
Mary Carr Moore (1873-1957)
Karl Ulrich Schnabel (1909-2001)
Udo Reinemann (1942-2013)

and

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Marc Antonio Cesti (1623-1669)
Leonardo Leo (1694-1744)
Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896)
Hans Gál (1890-1987)
Erich Kleiber (1890-1956)
Betsy Jolas (1926)
Stoika Milanova (1945)
Mark O'Connor (1961)

and

Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)
Conrad Aiken (1889-1973)
Wendell Berry (1934)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1978, the citizens of Patowan, Utah, decided to name a local mountain Mr. Messiaen, in honor of the French composer, Olivier Messiaen, who spent a month in Utah in 1973 an composed a symphonic work, "Des canyons aux etoiles" (From the canyons to the stars), which glorified the natural beauty of the region

Friday, August 4, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Henry Berger (1844-1929)
Italo Montemezzi (1875-1952)
Albert W. Ketèlbey (1875-1959)
Louie "Satchmo" Armstrong (1901-1971)
William Schuman (1910-1992)
David Raksin (1912-2004)
Arthur Butterworth (1923-2014)
Jess Thomas (1927-1993)
David Bedford (1937-2011)
Simon Preston (1938)
Deborah Voigt (1960)
Olga Neuwirth (1968)

and

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Raoul Wallenberg (1912-1947?)
Robert Hayden (1913-1980)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1705, in Arnstadt, J.S. Bach and a bassoonist named Johann Heinrich Geyersbach cross paths late a night and an argument ensues. Geyerbach threatens Bach with a stick and Bach draws his sword. Both are hauled up before the city magistrate and reprimanded for their behavior

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Louis Gruenberg (1884-1964)
Antonio Lauro (1917-1986)
Tony Bennett (1926)
James Tyler (1940-2010)
Simon Keenlyside (1959)

and

Juliana Horatia Ewing (1841-1885)
Ernie Pyle (1900-1944)
P. D. James (1920-2014)
Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)
Diane Wakoski (1937)
Marvin Bell (1937)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1668, German composer Dietrich Buxtehude marries the daughter of Franz Tunder, retiring organist at St. Mary's Church in Lübeck, as a condition to succeed Tunder in his position at St. Mary's. It is thought that both Handel and J.S. Bach were both interested in the position - but not in Tunder's daughter.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Portland Opera posts uneven double bill of works by David Lang

Photo by Cory Weaver
Portland Opera’s presentation of two works by David Lang was an uneven affair on opening night (July 28) at the Newmark Theatre. While Jerry Mouawad’s direction of “The Little Match Girl Passion” was convincing and enhanced the music and communicated the story brilliantly, his staging of “The Difficulty of Crossing a Field” ran into a rut that didn’t elevate Lang’s repetitious score. Both productions benefited from high-caliber singing that would have been more effective if it weren’t for the very dry acoustic of the hall.

Based on a short story by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Match Girl Passion” tells how a girl, dies on the street during a cold New Year’s Eve after not being able to sell matches to support her family. Before dying she wonderful visions of her grandmother, warmth, plenty to eat, and a Christmas tree. Interspersed with the story line is reflective text that functions as commentary in much the same way that the chorales in Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion.”

Mouawad’s vision realized the story with the Little Match Girl (Max Young) as the center of attention with four spirits or angels (Lisa Williamson, Hannah Penn, Martin Bakari, and Christian Zaremba) nearby and four more (Cree Carrico, Nicole Mitchell, Ernest Jackson Jr., and Damien Geter) with two stationed on either side at the front of the stage where they periodically played percussion instruments. To play the townspeople and family members, Mouawad effectively used an ensemble of “movers” who pantomimed from the sides and whose shadows were projected on a very large sheet.

Designed by Shana Targosz, the costuming featured women singers in opulent robes and tiaras that reminded me a little of the Statue of Liberty. The male singers looked more medieval in their robes, probably because of the hoods. The singers evoked the mystical in contrast to the movers who wore traditional Nineteenth Century garb.

The singing was lusher and more radiant than I had expected – given the sparseness of the Lang’s score and the dryness of the hall. Conductor Hal France cued everything with grace, and the glorious ringing of the glockenspiel enhanced the image of the Little Match Girl joining her grandmother in a better place.
Photo by Cory Weave
Inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s one-page story set in the Antebellum South, “The Difficulty of Crossing a Field” offered a curious mixture of sung and spoken text to the accompaniment of a string quartet consisting of players from the Portland Opera Orchestra. The story concerns the disappearance of Mr. Williamson (Michael Streeter) while crossing a field in plain view of his family, neighbors, and slaves.

The libretto by Mac Wellman expanded upon the situation to relate how the witnesses understood (or not) what they saw. Mrs. Williamson (Hannah Penn) gradually lost her mind. Her daughter – the Williamson Girl (Cree Carrico) seemed to go even further by repeatedly asking about the mystery of the place where they live (Selma, Alabama). The Magistrate (Todd Van Voris) dismissed the testimony of Armour Wren (Allen Nause) and endured the demonstrative statements of overseer Andrew (Christian Zaremba). Boy Sam (Martin Bakari) became overwrought by the incident, but Virginia Creeper (Lisa Williamson), Old Woman (Nicole Mitchell), and the other slaves (Laila Murphy, Ernest Jackson Jr, and Damien Geter) felt that Mr. Williamson just entered another dimension (“It goes into a dark hole into the bottom of the sea”).

Wrapped up in the story were references to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and John C. Calhoun’s guidelines for how to brutally control slaves. There were repetitive lines about building a nation and an erasure (perhaps of slavery though that was not exactly stated). The Williamson Girl seemed to want to erase everything when she repeated denounced all of the “crap” that people said.

The singers made a strong case for each of their arias, but their words didn’t gain profundity each time they were repeated. The repetitive musical lines from the string quartet, which played very well, were not all that compelling either. Mouawad’s directions had the performers walking slowly around and back and forth across a sparse stage that consisted of a raised platform and chairs. The whole enterprise seemed to sink under its own weight despite the most energetic gestures of conductor Hal France.
Photo by Cory Weave
It should be noted that Penn used her considerable acting talent and rich mezzo to give her role as much depth as was possible. Bakari had several fine moments as well. Unfortunately, the acclaimed versatility of Carrico’s voice was stunted by the incredibly dry acoustic of the theater.

Bottom line: both pieces exposed the thin veneer of civilization, but “The Little Match Girl Passion” was much more effective in doing so than “The Difficulty of Crossing a Field.”

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)
Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-1963)
Marvin David Levy (1932-2015)
Anthony Payne (1936)
Gundula Janowitz (1937)
Richard Einhorn (1952)
Angel Lam (1978)

and

Irving Babbitt (1865-1933)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Isabel Allende (1942)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
Hans Rott (1858-1884)
Morris Stoloff (1898-1980)
William Steinberg (1899-1978)
Jerome Moross (1913-1983)
Lionel Bart (1930-1999)
Ramblin' Jack Elliott (1931)
Jordi Savall (1941)
André Gagnon (1942)
Jerry Garcia (1942-1995)

and

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Ernst Jandl (1925-2000)
Madison Smartt Bell (1957)