Category Archives: Music

Pasadena Tonight with Our Family and Uncle Sam

Tonight our family gathered in Pasadena at the Levitt Pavilion to hear the Chambers Brothers and to have a visit with my brother Sam, who is visiting from Tennessee. This was a picnic in the park and Rachael and Ariel, Liz, Sarah, Gregorio, Luna and Nico joined Ray, Sam and me. (Ron had a prior commitment.)

Needless to say, I am happy to have my brother in town. It is quite a treat. Tomorrow, his girlfriend, Jaime, is coming so we’re planning a family dinner minus Sarah’s family. She has to begin two weeks of nights at the hospital beginning tomorrow nights.

Here are some photos of our evening:

Grandma and Nico

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Rachael, Ariel, Sam, Sarah and Nico

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Liz, Luna, Ray, Cordie, Frankie and Gregorio

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Sarah, Nico and Rachael in the background

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Holbrook, AZ and The Tedeschi Trucks Band

It’s 11:30 at night. We left Sherman, Texas this morning at around 9:30 am; just arrived in Holbrook, Arizona for the night. Of course, we are tanked up on coffee and wide awake…uh oh. Not good. Our goal is to arrive in Ojai around 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, which means we’ll be getting up at 6 am to drive. That sounds like a lot of activity, but do keep in mind that we are just sitting for hours and hours while we’re driving. It’s quiet and restful with great scenery and lots of great satellite radio. I am always up for a road trip. It’s just part of some gypsy blood that I must have.

Tonight we heard Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller’s radio show – which is awesome – and he interviewed Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi who have just released a new album. I haven’t heard of this couple before but I appear to be in the minority. They won a Grammy for best blues album in 2012 and are both consummate musicians. Susan has an amazing voice and Derek is an impressive lead guitarist. The cuts on their newest album were fabulous. Here is an example of a song from the 2012 album that will knock your socks off:

Okay, I am going to try to slow down this caffeine buzz by taking a shower. We are getting up early for the rest of the trek.

I hope you’re having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

I’ll be checking in with you again tomorrow.

Holy Week, Family and Thoughts on Christianity

We are moving into Holy Week and life is going to get hectic around here. There is Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and I am serving as an acolyte in three of those four services at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Hollywood. Not to mention that the Great Easter Vigil on Saturday evening will span at least 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Despite the length, this is my favorite Mass of the year because it starts out in darkness with everyone holding candles and then after many readings, much singing, loads of incense and then riotous bell ringing, the candles are extinguished and the lights slowly come on all over the church. It is exquisitely beautiful, but not for those who are attending church primarily to please their mother. The Easter Sunday 10:30 Mass is better for that group of individuals.

On that note, I am happy to report that two of my beloved daughters will be coming with their boyfriends to the 10:30 Mass on Easter Sunday. (Sarah will have worked all Saturday night at the hospital so she, Gregorio and Nico will not be attending.) However, granddaughter Luna will be spending Saturday night with Grandma and Grandpa so she can go to the church Easter egg hunt Sunday morning and then sit with Grandpa and the rest of the family during Mass. I am serving as sub-deacon up at the altar so I’ll get a good view of my beautiful family out in the congregation. (This makes me exceedingly happy, by the way.) Grandpa is already planning to take crayons and paper for Luna’s amusement and has graciously offered to go outside and sit with her just in case she gets restless. (Such a saint, my husband.)

The upcoming week is the most sacred in the Christian church’s calendar and is filled with particular meaning for me. I am always deeply touched by the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. The world then is no different from the world today – a deeply fractured place where “the other” is often humiliated, ridiculed and killed. Being reminded that love, service, and tolerance are the right ways to live could not be more relevant. I am happy to have a vivid example of how love and compassion can triumph over hatred and ill-will. All religions teach these truths. Holy Week is when the Christian faith demonstrates these tenets in the embodiment of Jesus Christ. This is a gift to those of us of this faith – it offers solace for all the suffering in our world; it lightens the darkness.

That is why I love the Great Easter Vigil.  Darkness is overcome by light.  I suspect the symbolism is intentional.

For those of you who live in Los Angeles and are interested in attending Holy Week services, St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood offers a truly Anglican, high church experience.  This means there are copious amounts of incense, beautiful music and high church ritual, which can also be described as having “all the bells and smells.” Here is the link to the church’s website with the days and times if you are interested: http://www.saintthomashollywood.org/html/

randy

 

The Magic Flute Tonight – A Completely Unique Production

Ray and I were the lucky recipients of tickets to see Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, tonight at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This rendition was staged as a silent movie with graphics that flashed on a huge screen on the stage. The performers appeared via doors that swung open and closed for their solos. This was a completely different approach to opera than I have ever seen. The graphics that were projected on the screen were vivid and engaging and certainly kept my attention. The production was picture perfect as were the voices. Quite an evening. Since we are not regular opera goers, it was eye-opening that opera can stray from the standard form. That was fun to see.

Here is the link to the LA Times review for more information:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-opera-magic-flute-review-20160216-column.html

Much thanks to our friend, Jano, for these great tickets.  We missed you!  You could have worn whatever you felt like for this event, my dear, since the hall was filled with folks wearing everything from evening gowns to rumpled blue jeans. Again, thank you for this gift.

Here are a few pictures from the evening at the former home of the Oscars.

Outside Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

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Another View Outside

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Inside at the pre-performance talk

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From our seats up in the balcony

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An example of the graphics

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Gold sparkled column inside

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Enormous chandeliers

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Near Perfect Evening in Downtown LA

We had the one of the loveliest evening tonight that I can remember.

We sneaked into The Broad Contemporary Art Museum, thanks to Ray Beaty’s quick thinking to ask the guard if we could JUST go to the gift shop. (The museum is free; it’s just there was a line at the front door.) Anyway, with some coaxing, our friend Jared and I were cajoled by Ray into the main museum. We agreed once we saw the guard didn’t seem remotely interested in where we were. Alas, the museum is fabulous – beautiful interior spaces and thought-provoking art – and I took lots of pictures. Unfortunately, my computer is messing up tonight and won’t let me download my photos so that will have to wait for another day.

The second part of this amazing evening was a superlative night at Disney Hall with the LA Phil. The pianist, Yefim Bronfman, was the soloist for the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major Op 15 and he had such a gentle touch on the keys that there were times when the entire audience was bending a collective ear to listen to the soft tones. He received four standing ovations and hence played another piece. I didn’t recognize it, but it was lovely.

At intermission, we ran into a former volunteer from The Breakfast Club; Charles and I have washed and rinsed many a dish together. It was great to see him and he said he hoped to return to volunteer again soon. That would be a treat. Also, we met two friends of his. We were all Episcopalians, just from three different churches. You can’t keep those Episcopalians out of Disney Hall!

The best part of the evening was the Mahler Symphony No 1 in D Major, which may have just become my favorite Mahler symphony. It was so absolutely gorgeous that at the end, everyone in the audience leapt to their feet and cheered. This was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, who received his own four standing ovations since we all simply kept cheering. Everyone was still energized as we filed out of the hall, abuzz with how emotional and touching the music had been.

I sat next to a fourteen year old boy who told me that he is a timpano player. He said that he would be attending Interlachen Center for the Arts in Michigan in the fall and that he was very excited about it. “Are you nervous or scared?” I asked. “Both,” he said. When I asked him what his aspirations were, he said, “To play right down there on that stage.” I told him I thought that could be a wonderful life. He was tapping his fingers all the way through the Mahler and was one of the first to jump up at the end. To have such focus at fourteen. Amazing.

Ray and I agreed this was a near perfect evening. Modern art and classical music. That’s a combo hard to beat, especially when it involves the incomparable LA Phil!

The Broad

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Third Floor of The Broad

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Disney Hall

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Esa-Pekka Salonen

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The Haunting Beauty of Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3

This morning, Ray put on Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 for us to listen to as we worked in the living room. Within minutes, Ray was sniffing and I had tears running down my cheeks. This music, which is also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, is so beautiful that it literally will make you weep.

Gorecki, who was Polish, wrote this symphony is 1976 and it is composed of three movements, each featuring a solo soprano. Each movement is about the relationship of a mother with her child. The first centers on Mary, the mother of Jesus and is a lamentation from the “Lysagora Songs” collection of the Holy Cross Monastery in the second half of the 15th century. The second is a daughter’s prayer to her mother inscribed on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II. The third is a folk song from the Opole region of Poland called Silesian and is about a mother searching for her son who has been killed in an uprising against the Germans. These uprisings occurred between 1919 and 1921. Each is hauntingly beautiful even without being able to understand the words, which are in Polish.

This recording was released in 1992 and features the London Sinfonietta conducted by David Zinman. Dawn Upshaw is the soprano soloist.  Anyone familiar with Ms. Upshaw knows she has one of the purest soprano voices on earth.

I have included the recording below.  There is a slow build-up, but it is well worth the wait. You may find yourself tearing up – or not – but in either case, I believe you will find this music gorgeously evocative.

Until tomorrow.