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Review: Pittance Chamber Music

Pittance Chamber Music and the Chambers of the Heart


Leticia Marie Sanchez

All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Founder's LA Opera

Chamber Music comprises music that can be played in a large room or chamber, or as denoted by the French “chambre.”

This week’s concert by Pittance Chamber Music suggests a second meaning: music that penetrates the chamber of the heart.

The ensemble evoked a raw immediacy and poignancy through their talented performance and moving repertoire. Particularly moving were the pieces set to verse. Ralph Vaughan William’s “On Wenlock Edge” was set to “A Shropshire Lad” by A.E. Housman while Benjamin Britten’s “Folk Songs,” included the verses of 18th century Irish Poet Thomas Moore. Tenor Arnold Livingtson Geis sublimely captured the nuanced shades of love, death, loss, and humor in the verses which were simultaneously rooted in nature and soaring in spirit. The intimate setting allows the audience to witness first hand the the rapport between the musicians, a dimension and unquantifiable variable of palpable electric energy which enhances the appreciation of performance. A second benefit of the setting is the inescapability of the music itself. A few feet away from the performers, one more intensely absorbs the music and the layers of meaning in the program.

As Housman wrote: “Here of a Sunday morning/My love and I would lie/and see the coloured counties/and hear the lark so high/about us in the sky.”

What a privilege to listen to an an ensemble that can make the spirit soar like the lark in Shropshire.

All Photography: Founder’s Room. The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  Pittance Chamber Music. March 26, 2017

Founders LA Opera 3Founders Day 2

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Beethoven: In a Stew Over Beef?

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

According to Norman Lebrecht, author of “The Book of Musical Anectodes” (Simon & Schuster, 1985), Beethoven flew off the handle when a waiter at the Viennese restaurant “The Swan,” brought him the wrong meat dish. Some artists are particular about their piano benches (Gould) while others are particular about their beef.  An outraged Beethoven hurled the dish, gravy and all, over the waiter’s head.

Just as the wrong meat could turn him into a raging bull, the right one could turn him into a loving lamb.  When his friend Ferdinand Ries sent him a particular type of roast veal, Beethoven kissed and embraced him, telling him “never had anything given him such pleasure as the roast veal, coming at the very moment when he so greatly longed for it.” (Lebrehct, 81)

Beethoven also adored bread soup, which he ate religiously on Thursdays. Woe to the chef who did not prepare it properly. He or she would have to duck from Beethoven-hurled Eggs Bombs. Yolks on the Cook!

Beethoven obviously felt all of his senses, including his gastronomical ones, intensely. Perhaps that is why the wrong cut of beef could put him into a stew.

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March Highlight- Pittance Chamber Music- Free-Music Center Founder’s Room

A delightful Cultural Cocktail recipe: An infusion of R. Vaughan Williams+ a shot of Britten+ a dose of Korngold= a TOP PICK!

And, it’s free!

Sunday, March 26th 3 pm

Pittance Chamber Music

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Presents Members of the L.A. OPERA ORCHESTRA with ARNOLD LIVINGSTON GEIS, tenor and PAUL FLOYD, piano

Program: On Wenlock Edge,  R. Vaughan Williams; Selected Folk Songs, Benjamin Britten; Sextet, Op. 10, E.W. Korngold

Admission is FREE

Seating is first-come, first-serve

Founders Room Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. 135 North Grand Avenue, LA, CA, 90012

During LA Opera’s Open House

Above left: Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams

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At the Descanso Gardens

All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

“Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

CCH Tulips 3

CCH Tulips 2


CCH Tulips 1



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Outside of the Broad Museum…

All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

 “It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”- Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring Broad


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Sibelius and the Cigar Royalty

According to Katerine Bakeless, in her book “Story Lives of Great Composers,” Jean Sibelius received minor ducats for one of his most famous compositions, Valse Triste. The payment for his work? A small sum and a box of cigars. Meanwhile, Valse Triste went on to be performed internationally, over and over. Yet, Sibelius did not receive one dime of royalties on the work he had composed. Bakeless revealed, “Years afterward, when Sibelius visited America, he remarked to his hostess, with tears in his eyes, that he could have used that money when his family of daughters began to grow up. “(39)

The payment of a box of cigars for the beautiful, dream-like waltz, is, in fact, tres triste.

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Salvador Dalí and the Scuba Diving Fiasco



by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Salvador Dalí, surrealist extraordinaire, decided to lecture at the 1936 London International Surrealist Exhibition dressed to the nines in scuba gear.

He commenced giving his speech, Fantomes paranoiaques authentiques (authentic, paranoid, phantoms) when suddenly, he could not breathe.

As Dalí waved his hands for help, the audience laughed uproariously. The more he suffocated and gesticulated, the louder they laughed. The audience mistook what could have been a tragedy for slapstick comedy. Luckily, Dalí was able to unscrew his scuba helmet without losing consciousness.

As he gasped for air, Dalí exclaimed,” I just wanted to show that I was ‘plunging deeply’ into the human mind.”  

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Massenet and the crossed phone line: Dial M for Murder

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

French opera composer Jules Massenet once experienced an untimely mix-up in phone lines at the precise moment he was dashing off the finishing lines to an opera.  Stuck on the last scene of his opera Thérèse he called up his collaborator from a hotel phone to brainstorm together. Unfortunately, the lines got crossed, and a terrified eavesdropper listened in on their conversation. Katherine Bakeless related the anecdote in her book, Story-Lives of Great Composers:

“The last scene didn’t come out right. He called up his collaborator who had written the words, and said:

‘Cut Therese’s throat and it will all be all right.”

The wires had crossed, and some total stranger heard him. The strange voice said,

 ”Oh, if I only knew who you were, you scoundrel, I would denounce you to the police.”

The collaborator answered Massenet: “Once her throat is cut she will be put in the cart with her husband. I prefer that to poison.”

The strange voice shouted, “Oh that’s too much! Now the rascals want to poison her.”

[Bakeless, 138]

Unfortunately for Massenet, SKYPE had not yet been created.Or else the suspicious citizen could have seen with his own eyes that the “murderer”on the other line was, in fact, famous French composer Jules Massenet who was having a bit of trouble with his opera and that newly invented machine: the telephone.

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Review: “Bouchardon: Royal Artist of the Enlightenment”- a MUST SEE Exhibit at the Getty Center

Review: “Bouchardon: Royal Artist of the Enlightenment” at the Getty Center

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

 All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

This Enlightening Cultural Cocktail recipe includes: Splashes of Sculpture and Infusions of Drawing!

Juxtaposition is the name of the game at the Getty’s exhibit on Edmé Bouchardon. Sculpture and Drawing. The Sacred and the Profane. Aristocracy and the Common Man. Juxtapositions work seamlessly in this vast exhibit, co-organized by the Musée du Louvre, providing a window into an artist of the Enlightenment, who was truly a Renaissance Man.

The son of a provincial sculptor, Bouchardon first studied under his father and then under sculptor Guillaume Coustou. Winner of the Prix De Rome, Bouchardon lived in Italy for a decade. His Italian sojourn proved to be a formative part of his career; Bourchardon immersed himself in classical works, refining his technique while copying the masters. While in Rome, he gained a commission to sculpt the bust of Pope Clement XII. Bouchardon worked in the orbit of Europe’s elite, from the Pope to Louis XV, although the Versailles court did not always appreciate his talent.

Despite his associations with the powerful, Bouchardon found inspiration in nameless street vendors. In addition to Bouchardon’s august sculptures, the exhibit includes his drawing series on humble street merchants, Les Cris de Paris.In The Woman with a Headscarf  the voluminous folds in the sitter’s headscarf have a sculptural quality, imbuing the anonymous street peddler with dignity and gravitas. Bouchardon’s virtuosity in each medium not only informs his work, it elevates it.

Bouch 6

Edme Bouchardon,

Head of a Woman Wearing a Headscarf

Red chalk

The journey through the exhibit includes renderings of noblemen and street vendors, as well as interlaced images of the Sacred and the Profane.Right around the corner from the Virgin of Sorrows is a mischievous mythological schemer: Cupid Carving a Bow from Hercules’s Club. Slowly viewing the exquisite sculpture from a 360-degree vantage point enhances the experience, as do Bouchardon’s red chalk drawings in which he prepared his sculpture for a three dimensional viewing.  Bouchardon’s Cupid is especially brazen, having pilfered the weapons of the God of War (Mars) as well the club of the strongest hero (Hercules) The self-satisfied grin on the visage of the naughty Cupid contrasts with the pathos of the Virgin of Sorrows. Bouchardon evoked atmospheres of tragedy and mirth with equal finesse. Similarly, he created works in sculpture, drawing, and coins with dexterous aplomb.

Bouchardon Cupid 3

Cupid Carving a Bow from Hercule’s Club 1750,

Edme Bouchardon, marble.

Musée du Louvre,

Département des Sculptures, Paris.

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Virgin of Sorrows (detail)


Edme Bouchardon,

tonnerre stone



Bouchardon’s contemporary, art critic Charles-Nicolas Cochin, hailed Bouchardon as “the greatest sculptor and the best draftsman of his century.”

This MUST SEE exhibit brings to center stage a relatively unknown artist whose work- in all mediums- is truly enlightening.

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Valentine’s Weekend at the Getty


Bouchardon Valentines

All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Bouchardon’s “Cupid” Stole My heart!

Look for an upcoming review on

Bouchardon: Royal Artist of the Enlightenment


Cultural Cocktail Hour

Glorious day, post-tempests in LA:

Getty Valentine's 1Getty Valentine's 2Getty Valentine's 5


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