Posts Tagged ‘Fleming Museum’

painted word poetry series

October 28, 2009
Antonello Borra (r) and his translator, Dr. Blossom Kirchenbaum

Drs. Kirchenbaum (l) and Borra (r)

Tonight held the second of three poetry events planned at the Fleming Museum this fall. The first was on September 30th (with Sue Burton & David Cavanagh) and the next one is coming up on November 18th (featuring readings by Caroline Knox, Dorothea Lasky, and Dara Wier).

The Painted Word Poetry Series guests for this evening’s readings were Jill Leininger, a former poetry resident at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, and UVM Assoc. Professor of Italian Antonello Borra with his translator Dr. Blossom Kirchenbaum.

The poems ranged from reflective and deeply personal (Leininger) to offbeat and whimsical (Borra, in animated renderings  from his new collection Bestiario) with a lot of emotional and descriptive ground covered between the two styles.

Leininger opened her reading with a short, wincing account of the recent loss of all of the poems she had been working on for her second book. “Mac meltdown” was the description of the incident, and as a result the verse she shared all came from her first manuscript.

Inspiration can come from surprising places. Once Leininger’s considerable loss is a little less fresh, it occurred to me that as much as it wiped out the material for her second book , perhaps if she’s able to redirect that emotional energy the incident could also prove to be a fertile springboard for new poems.

throw a stone, you can’t miss

October 12, 2009
On Church Street

Last week on Burlington's Church Street

The thing about music in Vermont is that it’s everywhere.

Same with poetry, visual and performance art, and literary and learning events of one kind or another.

On a recent September Monday I reviewed the evening’s options and realized within an hour’s drive I could participate in an equinox stargazing party at a local library, see an internationally-recorgnized author speaking on worldwide food production, hear a piano trio performing Beethoven, or attend a reading of Robert Frost’s autumnal poetry.

Many days are like that.

Autumn’s already shaping up to be rich with offerings,  a few upcoming suggestions are below. You’ll notice most of these take place in Central/Northern Vermont. It’s because that’s where I live, and these are the ones I have the best chance of actually experiencing.

There are an equal number of  events and performances taking place in other areas of the state, so by all means look to your local arts/cultural scene and don’t just stop here!

Oct. 13, 8-10pm @ the Bluebird Tavern, Burlington: guitarist Jim Stout  and the Queen City Hot Club in an evening of gypsy jazz and gourmet cuisine. A fabulous combination.

Oct. 20 @ the Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College: Indian classical musicians, Ravi and Anoushka Shankar

Oct. 23 @ the UVM recital hall (part of the Lane Series): German keyboardist Andraes Staier, whose Bach will make you wonder how you ever listened to that music before Staier came along.

Oct. 23-Nov. 1 @ Palace Nine Theatre, South Burlington: the Vermont International Film Festival

through Oct. 25 @ the Shelburne Museum: Nature by Design, an exhibit highlighting Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Art Nouveau creations

through Oct. 25 @ the FlynnSpace in Burlington: Opus – a play about what happens as a string quartet prepares for their highest profile performance ever, as the group’s personal dynamics create as much tension as there is on any violin’s bridge.

Oct. 25 @ Langdon Street Cafe in Montpelier: local blues man Dave Keller hosts a tribute to blues legend Koko Taylor

through Oct. 29 @ Club Metronome, Burlington: New Orleans’ own trombone funk band, Bonerama as the artists-in residence Thursday evenings through October

Oct. 30 @ the Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College: the Ying Quartet in the final concert of their weeklong residency

all month (October) long @ the Black Door, Montpelier: pick a night, any night

Nov. 1 on the Flynn Main Stage: the extraordinary jazz/blues singer Dee Dee Bridgewater in a tribute program to Billie Holiday

Oct. 13-Nov. 25 @ the Fleming Museum: (exhibit) Cuban Artists’ Books and Prints, 1985-2008

the whole season at Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph: especially noting pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s Vermont return with an all-Bach program on January 23


bilingual +

April 30, 2009

One of the most meaningful concert experiences I’ve ever had was a few years ago with the LA Opera: a rare staging of Arnold Schoenberg’s unfinished operatic masterpiece, Moses und Aron. Austere and deeply stirring in its musicality, it relies primarily on text from Exodus to tell the story of the two brothers whose sacrifices and symbolic identities (of ‘righteousness’ and ‘peace’, respectively) lie at the foundation of Judaism.

"more than bilingual" exhibit brochure

"more than bilingual" exhibit brochure

The opera’s backstory is just as interesting. It’s the work of a displaced German Jew who returned to his faith in 1933 just after he finished work on the opera, even as the drums crescendoed with the advance of the second World War. It’s thought that Moses und Aron represented Schoenberg’s attempt to work out the problems of a Jew in the modern world*.

Today I visited Burlington’s Fleming Museum for “more than bilingual“, the new collaboration between poet Major Jackson and Peruvian visual artist William Cordova. There is a natural affinity in their work, and I found it to have the same kinds of dynamics at work as those in Moses und Aron. The obvious comparison here would be the juxtaposition of Major Jackson’s spoken words with William Cordova’s visual narrative, much as Moses’ spoken role in the opera is offset and complemented by the fluid artistry of Aron’s singing tenor.

But the comparison also works on another level, and that’s with the common underlying themes of cultural memory and disenfranchisement, societal labels, and racial identity.

One panel of Cordova’s 25-piece grid Sangarara is covered by the repeated single word “Landó”, the West African music/dance form that came to South America with slaves in the 1800s. The piece is paired with Major Jackson‘ s poem ‘Toro Mata‘, itself named after the classic (landó) Peruvian folksong, and referencing the makeshift instruments the slaves created to disguise their music in the face Spanish prohibition. Can’t use drums, because they’re too resonant of the African music from home? Alright then, how about a Spanish shipping crate rigged to work as a drum? Enter the cajón, the box drum that’s now a staple of the Afro-Peruvian sound.

Literature and music, words and art. Whether it’s Moses und Aron or poetry paired with paintings, there are infinite connections to be made – and found – in the name of artistic pursuit.

More than Bilingual runs through May 10th at Burlington’s Fleming Museum.

—-

* Aaron Tugendhaft, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron

For listening:

Novalima: Coba Coba – Cumbancha, 2009

Peru Negro: Sangre de un Don – World Connection, 1999  *includes “Toro Mata”

Schoenberg: Moses und Aron – Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Georg Solti/Decca 00994102


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