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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: A New World at the Pasadena Symphony

          A New World at the Pasadena Symphony  by  Leticia Marie Sanchez Peter Adams’ painting, The Pools Above Sturtevant Falls, graced the entrance of the Pasadena Symphony on Saturday, April 18.  Mr. Adams’ painting of the cataracts  in Santa Anita Canyon beckons the viewer to take a dip in translucent aquamarine waters. The tempting pool, with its sunlight swirl, retains an air of mystery. Is the sun rising or setting? An evanescent moment, as ephemeral as a musical note. An invitation to enter into a New World. Mr. Adams’ painting heralded the theme of Saturday Night’s concert: A New World.  The program represented a new world of styles, techniques, and cultures in the music of Darius Milhaud, Felix Mendelssohn, and Antonin Dvorák. Darius Milhaud’s Le Creation Du Monde should be called A Frenchman in Brazil because many mistakenly believed that Milhaud’s piece

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Review: Rebirth at the Pasadena Symphony

Rebirth at the Pasadena Symphony by Leticia Marie Sanchez  A few months ago, the Pasadena Symphony unfortunately reported the cancellation of several concerts due to the recession. Good news Pasadena- Spring is on the Horizon. On March 14, the Pasadena Symphony, led by the ever-vivacious Jorge Mester, performed an uplifting troika celebrating “Rebirth.” The reinvigorating and thematically unified program was composed of Spring by Vivaldi, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland, and Spring Symphony by Robert Schumann.  Complementing the revitalizing music was the resurgence of community support on stage. Before the concert started, the Women’s Committee presented Mr. Mester with a $90,000 check to the Pasadena Symphony, a contribution that helped to make the March Rebirth and April New World concerts possible.  The revival of the Pasadena Symphony could be heard through the ebullient spring program. One of the liveliest pieces

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Review: Francis Alÿs’ Fabiola Portraits at LACMA

  The Fabulous Fabiolas At LACMA Through March 29, 2009 An overwhelming sea of red greets visitors entering the Francis Alÿs’ Fabiola exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts. The darkly colored room on the museum’s second floor houses a hushed shrine. The LACMA pilgrim entering the room is struck at first glance by the undeniable likeness between more than 300 veiled women, mostly in red, mostly in profile. Upon closer observance, however, the hundreds of Fabiolas play with the viewer, exposing their differences. Some Fabiolas stare ahead somberly. Other lips convey the hint of a smile.  One fetching Fabiola resembles a 40’s movie star. Another typifies a Plain Jane. One is etched onto velvet, while another is comprised of beans. The exhibit transports the sacredness of iconography into the profane territory of flea markets, ceramics, and beans.   Francis

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Review: LA Opera’s Carmen

Chiaroscuro in LA Opera’s Carmen Through a study in contrasts, LA Opera’s humanistic Carmen encompassed at once the passion, frailty, and psychological vulnerability of Georges Bizet’s tragedy. The unique set and color scheme, a soothing sea of pastels (as opposed to the standard bright red motif) and white walls conjured a Caribbean island, thus evoking a carefree mood. The peach palette of the set, designed by Gerardo Trotti, proved successful in providing a sharp contrast, thereby bringing the passion of Carmen to the foreground. The soft hues and blithe island atmosphere had a second positive effect: to cleverly lull the audience into a false sense of serenity so that the bloodshed at the end becomes that much more shocking. Carmen, as played by Viktoria Vizin, also proved a study in contrasts. Physically, Vizin looked every inch the part and moved

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Review- Inventiveness Reigns with Camerata Pacifica

Inventiveness reigns at Camerata Pacifica “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” -John Cage-       Innovation proved the theme of the night at Tuesday’s concert comprised of Ian Wilson’s Heft, for Flute and Piano, Franz Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata. D. 821, and Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G. Minor, Op.25. Each of these pieces embodies a pioneering attitude, uniting the program into a cohesive whole of creativity, ingenuity, and vision.  Franz Schubert wrote Arpeggione Sonata D. 821 for an unusual new invention, the Arpeggione, a cross between a cello, guitar, and viola de gamba. Although Tuesday’s performance consisted of the piece transcribed for viola and piano, Richard Yongjae O’Neill’s virtousic and subtle interpretation (one that has resulted in his recording of the piece going platinum in Korea) personified the innovation that

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During an economic downturn is Art a luxury or a necessity?

By Leticia Marie Sanchez   “When I get a little money, I buy books;  And if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”         ~ Desiderius Erasmus ~  The Los Angeles Times reports that the troubles of the Pasadena Symphony, Opera Pacific, and the Geffen Contemporary represent but a few examples of artistic collateral damage in Los Angeles. When the economy goes down, arts are the first to get slashed from any budget. People simply cannot afford the arts, that muse who sits too lofty on Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs. Or can they?        A quick observation of Pasadena’s Old Town on a recent Saturday evening reveals crowds with still-disposable incomes huddled inside the Cheesecake Factory waiting to spend their dollars on a caloric feast. Let them eat cheesecake. Lines of designer label-clad youth still line

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Review: Camerata Pacifica’s September concert

Apollo, Dionysus, and Camerata Pacifica In his groundbreaking 1872 work The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, Friedrich Nietzsche connects musical structures with two ancient deities, Apollo and Dionysus. The Apollonian and Dionysian framework allude to Apollo, the fair-haired Greek and Roman god of music, prophesy, and the sun. His errant half-brother, Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, held court as the god of wine, theater, fertility, and ecstasy. Apollo represents the paragon of classicism- order, harmony, and control, while Dionysius stands as the paragon of Romanticism- emotional expression, expansion of formal structures, and lyricism. The Camerata Pacifica, with their vibrant interpretation of Bach, Haydn, and Dvorák at the Huntington’s Friends Hall proved that this chamber music ensemble more than holds its own with both the sun and wine divinities. However, the ensemble’s powerful performance of Dvorák’s Piano Quintet

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Mingei East and West at the Pacific Asia Museum

East Meets West: The Mingei Exhibit at the Pacific Asia Museum The East and West have often been at conflict on the political stage. Even today, geo-political grandstanding mars the 2008 Summer Olympics in China as titans prove unwilling to give up an inch of their superpower. During the first half of the 20th century, the Pacific Rim was also a chessboard where the East and West fought for dominance. The exhibit Mingei East and West, however, evinces the power of art to transcend political borders. In a century when Japanese Americans lived in internment camps, and Americans lost their lives at the hands of Kamikaze pilots, the exhibit illustrates a unity of spirit and respect between artists on opposite ends of the Pacific. Mingei East and West shows the positive impact of Mingei on the California Arts and Crafts movement as well

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A bright candle for Peace

    Picasso, Dove of Peace, 1949     Pippa Bacca, an Italian performance artist on a mission to promote peace and cultural understanding was murdered during her journey last spring. Peace is one of the highest goals of art. May Pippa’s idealistic spirit always be remembered as well as her desire to bridge cultures. She did not see geographic boundaries as limiting; she saw the whole world as her home. As Roman author Gaius noted almost two thousand years ago, “Home is where the heart is.” Home is not simply our residence, our state, nor even our country. Home is a place where we can all live together in peace. For the full story read: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pippa31-2008may31,0,6381255.story

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Pandora

During the best of times and the worst of times, we must always remember that Hope was the last spirit in Pandora’s Box; she captured it just in time as a last refuge for humanity. “Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house,  she remained under the lip of the jar,  and did not fly away.”- Hesiod Here is Pandora and the eternal possibility of Hope.   Pandora. John William Waterhouse. 1896. Oil on Canvas. Private Collection 

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