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Despite flaws, ‘Prodigal Sons’ well worth reading

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Prodigal Sons by Sheldon Greene; self-published; 340 pages; no price listed.

By Norman Manson

Norman Manson

SAN DIEGO — This is a fascinating, suspenseful novel, replete with violence, intrigue and romance, but is flawed in several significant ways.

       
The main protagonist, Jan Goldberg, alias Horst Vogle, plays a variety of roles as this saga unfolds. Ostensibly an art historian and assistant curator at a major museum, he’s also a cold-blooded killer and nazi hunter, a guerrilla fighter during World War II, a soldier in the Haganah during Israel’s War for Independence and an accomplaished athlete, especially in tennis and soccer.
       
His family having been wiped out in nazi Germany’s onslaught in Poland,  Jan joins the Jewish Partisan forces as they try to sabotage German efforts on the Russian front. Surviving the war, he arrives in the future state of Israel aboard a ship that runs the British blockade. After fighting in some desperate battles defending a kibbutz against the invading Arabs in 1948, he settles briefly on the kibbutz, but finds this life not to his liking so accepts a chance to again fight nazis in Germany as a member of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence force. This means a new identity as Horst Vogle and a cover job as assistant curator of Munich’s Alte Pinakothek Museum   He had studied art history in Germany before the war. Read more…
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On Stephen Hawking, genius and music

September 28, 2010 1 comment

By David Amos

David Amos

SAN DIEGO–Most of us know about Stephen Hawking. He is no less than the greatest mind in physics living today, and has done as much as Albert Einstein in expanding our understanding of the complexities of the universe and theoretical physics. He is 68 years old, and since the age of 21, has suffered from a degenerative motor-neuron disease. 

In spite of his severe handicaps and almost total paralysis, he raised three children in his two marriages, and has written several best selling books on the subjects of time, and the size and nature of the cosmos.

On September 13, Parade Magazine ran an interview with Hawking, asking him interesting questions about space exploration, his abilities to explain deep scientific concepts to the general public, and his personal life.

I have always been intrigued by his genius, and the reading of this article connected me with some of his insights and how they relate to music and the arts. At first, it may appear to be far-fetched, but, read on.

Read more…

La Jolla Playhouse basks in Chaplin’s ‘Limelight’

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Limelight's Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin (Craig Schwartz photo)

 

 

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

LA JOLLA, California —  Right out of the gate…don’t miss Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin by Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan (book) and Christopher Curtis (music and lyrics). It is now in its world-premiere production at the Playhouse, where it  is directed by Warren Carlyle and Michael Unger. I am confident that there are big things in store for it, like a Broadway run. I never underestimate the powers of a really, really good show!

Let’s start off with Rob McClure who plays the inimitable Chaplin. He was recently seen as Princeton in Avenue Q in Broadway and the national touring productions.

When you’re good, you’re good and he good as in excellent. He is talented and has just the right look and stature of a Chaplin as he weaves his way through the Chaplinesque years and more. With Warren Carlyle’s choreography and Linda Cho’s perfect costume designs, McClure is at home as Chaplin.

He is nimble and quite adept at the silent film star’s antics of falling down, and that famous rolling up and prancing about in his duck like walk-shuffle. (“Tramp Shuffle”) with a cane that is as flexible as the star himself. Read more…

‘MiXtape’ and ‘The Full Monty’ enliven local theatre scene

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO–Recently I wove my car down to the Gaslamp District to catch the tail end of Lamb’s Players Theatre’s miXtape, a little 80’s musical review written by resident Lamb’s actors Jon Lorenz (musical arrangements) and Colleen Kollar Smith (she also choreographed) and directed by another long time resident player and staff favorite Kerry Meads. The young (at least to me) bouncy and energetic cast includes Louis Pardo, Season Marshall Duffy, Joy Yandell, Marci Anne Wuebben, Lance Arthur Smith, Leonard Patton, Spencer Rowe and Michelle Pereira.

The musical journey that they, as an ensemble and individually, take us through include songs from U2, Duran Duran, Amy Grant, Huey Lewis, Poynter Sisters and a few I recognized; Madonna, Michael Jackson (especially the dance number they did) and Billy Joel.

They embrace Generation X to its fullest giving us a flashback to the 80’s scene including MTV, big hair, leg warmers, workout outfits (“Let’s Get Physical”), a Richard Simmons look a like and an odd combination of period dress (Jemima Dutra) that, looking back was rather nondescript. (I had almost blocked that out of my memory). Read more…

Speaking at concerts

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

By David Amos

David Amos

SAN DIEGO–Recently, I was again involved in a lively debate on the subject of whether a conductor or a soloist should or should not speak to the audience before starting a performance. Opinions have varied from enthusiastic support, to comments such as “Never, a conductor should conduct and not say a word. It is not his place to verbalize what is obvious, and it detracts from what is to follow, namely, the music itself.”

My opinions on the subject:

I have conducted many a concert where I felt that not a word was necessary. Let the music speak and communicate on its own. At other times, however, even when program notes were available in the printed handout, a few well-placed comments were apparently well received. Many times after the conclusion of a concert I have heard from enthusiastic concertgoers who told me that whatever I said from the podium provided them with additional perspectives on the music which followed.

Let’s admit it: we, the lovers of classical music, are in the minority and have become a sort of cult. Yes, a healthy cult; we love what we hear and we hear what we love, but we also tend to assume that most other people appreciate what we love. Or at the very least, the ones present at the concert surely know the standard repertory, the artists involved, concert procedure and etiquette, etc. Not so. It may surprise you to hear me say this, but there are concertgoers who may attend a program announced as a rendition of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and if the orchestra switched the program and did nothing else but Strauss waltzes, they may not know the difference! I do not mean a few lost souls in the audience with a minimum amount of brain cells in action, but far more people than you may suspect. This is not meant as a reflection of peoples’ I.Q.s, but as an assessment of the information, sounds, and traditions which you and I may have accumulated through the years, which we assume that everyone around us also possess.

The classical music world has alienated many potential listeners with attitudes of indifference, snobbishness, and closed minds. Even performing artists and composers for many years presented their music with the unspoken message which conveyed, “Here is my music. Take it or leave it; I really don’t care!” In recent times, more composers, artists, and presenters are “changing their tune”, welcome the public, and are grateful for their attendance. There is a greater effort to promote public concerts, with the continuing and alarming dwindling of audiences. Fewer and fewer relate to our precious classical music. Read more…

‘Tanya’ provides insight into Chassidic thought

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Tanya, the Masterpiece of Hasidic Wisdom: Sections Annotated and Explained by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, NY (Forward by Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi); ISBN 978-1-59473-275-1, ©2010, $16.99, p. 165, plus appendices,  Available in Kindle edition

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

Fred Reiss

WINCHESTER, California — Jews were the middlemen between the gentry and the underclass in seventeenth century Poland. On behalf of the noblemen, Jews, for example, administered estates, collected fees at the grist mills and fishing ponds, and ran the inns that sold liquor. It was only natural that any populist revolt would be directed against the Jews as well as the nobility. Cossack Bogdan Chmielnicki led such a revolt. He defeated the Polish army in 1648. As a result, serfs rose up against the nobility and their Jewish stewards.

With the defeat of the army, Chmielnicki and his rebels continued their ravenous attack on the Jews, massacring thousands in cities like Nemirov, Tulchin, Polonnoe, Zaslov and Ostrog and Pildava. The aggression did not end until the defeat of Chmielnicki in 1651, and the transfer of his allegiance to Russia. Three years later, the Russians invaded eastern Poland, White Russia, and Lithuania, which resulted in a substantial number of deaths as well as expulsion for the Jews. According to historians Margolis and Marx, the lowest estimate of Jewish deaths from these attacks between 1648 and 1658 is one hundred thousand.

The Chmielnicki revolt and its aftermath devastated the Jewish population of southeastern Poland and northwestern Ukraine. The uprisings destroyed Jewish institutions, decimated its intelligencia, and left Jews with only menial jobs and in a constant state of impoverishment.
Read more…

A Wynn, win happening in Vegas

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

La Reve~Las Vegas style

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

LAS VEGAS–If you’re looking for spectacular, eye popping, lip drooling, utter amazement and sheer pleasurable entertainment drop in at the Wynn Resort on the Vegas Strip in Las Vegas and catch La Rêve (The Dream). you won’t be disappointed.

Created by ex Cirque creator, Franco Dragone, the show is now in its fifth year and I can’t imagine anyone not seeing it on his or her next trip to Vegas.

Le Rêve is the ultimate underwater show in the round you will see in some time. Dragone whose prints are on  “Mystere”, and “O” has taken “Le Rêve” (this is not a Cirque show) to the next level and it is one engrossing and awe inspiring experience under Brian Burke’s nifty direction.

Le Rêve, which gets its name from a 1932 Picasso painting showing a woman sleeping on a chair starts off pretty much with a woman and her lover embracing. When they part, she walks off on to a platform, snuggles into a chair, and falls asleep. Before our eyes she is submerged into the water. (There is a million gallon tank that allows performers both sea and sky access). The show then proceeds to follow her through a series of dream cycles some of which are happy, some bizarre, some controversial, some sad and some pretty sexy.  Read more…