• Upcoming trips

    Feb 3 - Feb 13 Caribbean cruise May 1 to May 14 London vacation. (Hotels and details later). Hope to see you all then.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    December 7. Went to the Met to see the abridged version of “The Magic Flute”. We have seen this production before and still the charm of the great puppet characters keeps the children in awe and their parents happy with their parenting. An amusing interlude.

    December 9. Saw the Manhattan School of Music’s production of “Cendrillon” by Nicolo Isouard at the Florence Gould Hall. The MSM is having both its concert halls renovated and is using outside premises like the Alliance Francaise’s hall. The School and its talented young students put everything they have into this production; Scenery, lighting, costumes and acting was superb. As was the directing and conducting. Refreshing also, was that the cast was of the age to be convincing in their parts.

    December 10. The first of the “Peoples Symphony Concerts” this season (Their 118th year!). “The Variation String Trio” did the honours accompanied by guest pianist: Orion Weiss. Their programme included a new work by Nina Young (b.1984) Very interesting, but not, I think, a world-beater.

    December 31 Went to the Kaye theatre at Hunter College  to see the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of “H.M.S. Pinafore”. Cast and orchestra captured the high spirits of the musical romp and the sets were surprisingly professional. Reminded me of the old Sadlers’ Wells days,

    January 2, 2018. Saw the Met’s “The Merry Widow”. During the first act, the acoustics left a lot to be desired and words were difficult to hear, even in English. But all went well in the second and third acts; the Russian style dancing was rousing and the sets were spectacular. There are usually only six ‘Grisettes’ (Can-can girls) on a regular stage, but the Met’s vast space seemed to be full of them; three, even, descending from the top of the proscenium arch! All with their frilly knickers a-shaking

     

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The Juilliard String Quartet – Strange happenings at Washington Irving

This is a post I would normally confine to the widget on the right, except for two  happenings. One very odd and the other of considerable concern to all.

On Saturday, February 25th, we went to the Peoples’ Symphony Concert at Washington Irving High School and heard the incomparable Juilliard String Quartet play a programme of Stravinsky, Janacek and Mozart. As usual  the ensemble held the audience in  complete and concentrated  thrall. Hardly a cough was heard. During the Stravinsky, however, the patron sitting next to me opened a box of watercolour paints and began to finger-paint on the  pages of a sketch book! This odd activity did not endear him the the concert-goers around him and, during an interval he agreed that it was not a good idea. A musician himself, it turned out that he was not painting the musicians on the stage, but rather the impression of their music on his own conscienceness! He allowed me to see his sketch book and was as suprised as I when I correctly attributed the source of one of his more chaotic patterns to Rakhmaninov!  There used to be a note in the programme saying that ‘knitting during a performance was distracting to fellow patrons and was not allowed’. Why, I wonder is it becoming necessary for the human mind to multi-task these days?

The second happening was not at this concert but it will affect those in the future. Washington Irving High School is one of  the so-called “under-performing schools” and is destined to be closed by the education authorities. Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, an institution founded in 1900 “to bring the best music to students and workers at minimum prices” have been held in the Washington Irving for many, many years. Ethel talks of attending concerts there when she was just a young woman.  Washington Irving  has a wonderful auditorium with great accoustics and, seating, I guess, more than 500, I doubt whether such a hall would be available elsewhere at rates the current patrons could afford, if at all. The seats are somewhat hard and poorly numbered, but a little hardship is quite in order for the proper appreciation of great music. During the intermission, the topic was on everyone’s lips. Anxiety was everywhere evident. For a great many of the ageing concert-goers, this institution has  been a mainstay of their lives; many having to overcome painful physical obstacles in order to attend. There is little concrete information about the problem posed by the school closing.  I spoke briefly to Mr. Frank Salomon, the dedicated manager of  the Peoples’ Symphony. He is working on the problem and is optimistic of its resolution. We wish him success not only for ourselves but for our concern that great music might be lost to future generations if it were not for institutions like the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts.

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