Saturday, 25 February 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - JEREMY CAVATERRA

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

Contemporary “serious” music (i.e. music based on formal models of the classical tradition) can be a minefield to navigate. There are many significant contemporary composers the world over who are busy producing music – concertos, sonatas, suites, symphonies, operas, however, when one listens to it all it’s hard to pick up the truly talented, original voice through all of the avant-garde “noise” and attention-seeking trumpet-blaring of the composers’ own trumpets. My personal experience has shown that people still like to relate to music that is tuneful, emotionally involving and creates a world that is inviting and fulfilling on a sentimental (in its best possible meaning!) level.

Several loooong minutes of jangling noise played fortissimo by a full orchestra in jarring, cross-rhythms with no form, no harmony and no melody will find few fans (except perhaps the poseur music critics who wish to appear knowledgeable and forward-looking, and who rave about it in appropriately tall ivory towers). Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t like the direct opposite: Saccharine sweet “classical muzak” suitable for playing in shopping malls and lifts. You know the kind, either maudlin, romantic, schmaltzy stuff, or jolly, falsely jocose stuff that is so plastic! Many recent films are filled with sorry examples of the latter two.

I am fortunate enough to count amongst my small circle of friends a contemporary composer who is talented, hard-working and genuine about the music he writes. I have known him for many years and I admire his work (incidentally not only his music, but also his writing and his art, as he is multi-talented in that way!). He is Jeremy Cavaterra, currently residing in California, USA. 

Jeremy Cavaterra (1971–) was born in New York City, where he studied at Manhattan School of Music. His music has been performed by soloists, chamber groups, and orchestras internationally. As a pianist he has appeared as both soloist and collaborative artist with ensembles, instrumentalists, and singers, often performing his own work. He is Composer-in-Residence for The Salastina Music Society, based in Los Angeles.

Recent performances include The Aquarium with The Young People’s Symphony Orchestra; and Nemeton, featuring Pacific Symphony oboe principal Jessica Pearlman Fields (November 2016). Early in 2017, Mission Chamber Orchestra of San Jose will perform the world premiere of Lost Coast, a work commissioned by that ensemble.

Jeremy has been commissioned to compose a cello concerto for Los Angeles Philharmonic principal Robert deMaine and is now working on that (as well as continuing his other creative pursuits in many fields!). Here is Jeremy Cavaterra’s Lost Coast, performed by the Misson Chamber Orchestra of San Jose, conducted by Emily Ray.


You can hear more of Jeremy’s work on his YouTube channel here.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

POETS UNITED - NOSTALGIA

“Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.” - Elie Wiesel 

The theme for this Midweek Motif at Poets United is “Nostalgia”. This is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past and the word is derived from the Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’. But is it nostalgia when the memory of the past is bitter and the remembrance of it carries with it only pain? Painful memories of a painful period in the past: Maybe we should call this “Antinostalgia”? 

Antinostalgia 

A flashing neon sign illuminates on the street
The few yellow leaves spinning aimlessly
(In endless circles),
And dead paper carried in the whirls of the wind eddies.
The night air is cold, sharp, clear,
While in the emptiness
Only my hollow steps resound.

Brought to me by a gust of wind,
A snatch of melody
(A few familiar notes),
Just enough to remind me of you.
It hurts me to remember how
That song always used to make me cry,
But now only a couple of half-heard notes
Of just another love song,
Carried pointlessly by the wind...

Acrid smoke stifles my bitter breath
Bringing with it solace;
An opiate to soothe away the pain
(Of your remembrance).
I used to love you with such fire,
Now only ashes and wisps of smoke
From a dying cigarette.
The song that’s drifting in the wind
Meant all that you had silently confessed
But now only a faded keepsake
Pressed tightly between the pages of my closed heart.

A song of love.
An empty street.
A frozen heart.
A never-ending night.
(And as always, my footsteps only
Resounding hollow on the dreary cobbles...)

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #67 - IZMIR, TURKEY

“The hours of folly are measured by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure.” - William Blake

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us.

Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only. Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
İzmir (Turkish pronunciation: [ˈizmiɾ]) is a metropolitan city in the western extremity of Anatolia and the third most populous city in Turkey, after Istanbul and Ankara. It is the second most populous city on the Aegean Sea after Athens, Greece. In 2014, the city of İzmir had a population of 2,847,691, while İzmir Province had a total population of 4,113,072. İzmir’s metropolitan area extends along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmir and inland to the north across the Gediz River delta; to the east along an alluvial plain created by several small streams; and to a slightly more rugged terrain in the south.

In classical antiquity the city was known as Smyrna (Greek: Σμύρνη Smyrni), a name which remained in use in English and other foreign languages until the Turkish Postal Service Law (Posta Hizmet Kanunu) of 28 March 1930, which made İzmir the internationally recognised name. İzmir has almost 4,000 years of recorded urban history and even longer as an advanced human settlement. Lying on an advantageous location at the head of a gulf running down in a deep indentation, midway on the western Anatolian coast, it has been one of the principal mercantile cities of the Mediterranean Sea for much of its history.

İzmir hosted the Mediterranean Games in 1971 and the World University Games (Universiade) in 2005. The city of İzmir is composed of several metropolitan districts. Of these, Konak district corresponds to historical İzmir, this district’s area having constituted the “İzmir Municipality” (Turkish: İzmir Belediyesi) area until 1984. With the constitution of the “Greater İzmir Metropolitan Municipality” (Turkish: İzmir Büyükşehir Belediyesi), the city of İzmir grouped together initially nine, and more recently eleven, metropolitan districts, namely Balçova, Bayraklı, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçe, Karabağlar, Karşıyaka, Konak and Narlıdere. In an ongoing process, the Mayor of İzmir was also vested with authority over additional districts reaching from Bergama in the north to Selçuk in the south, bringing the number of districts considered as being part of İzmir to twenty-one, two of these having been only partially administratively included in İzmir.

Izmir Clock Tower (Turkish: İzmir Saat Kulesi) is a historic clock tower located at the Konak Square in Konak district of İzmir, Turkey. The clock tower was designed by the Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Père and built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II's accession to the throne (reigned 1876–1909). The clock itself was a gift from German Emperor Wilhelm II (reigned 1888–1918). It is decorated in an elaborate Ottoman architecture style.

The tower, which has an iron and lead skeleton, is 25 m high and features four fountains (şadırvan), which are placed around the base in a circular pattern. The columns are inspired by Moorish themes. The clock tower was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 500 lira banknotes of 1983-1989. In the former Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire, particularly in present-day Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin towns such as Belgrade, Prijepolje, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Gradačac and Stara Varoš, similar Ottoman era clock towers still exist and are called Sahat Kula (derived from the Turkish words Saat Kulesi, meaning Clock Tower.)

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

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Monday, 20 February 2017

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 1, THE PANTHEON

“All religions must be tolerated, for every man must get to heaven in his own way.” - Epictetus 

Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals, which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians’ interaction with many deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the forces of nature. Rituals such as prayers and offerings were efforts to provide for the gods and gain their favour. Formal religious practice centred on the pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who was believed to possess a divine power by virtue of his position. He acted as the intermediary between his people and the gods and was obligated to sustain the gods through rituals and offerings so that they could maintain order in the universe.

The state dedicated enormous resources to Egyptian rituals and to the construction of the temples. Individuals could interact with the gods for their own purposes, appealing for their help through prayer or compelling them to act through magic. These practices were distinct from, but closely linked with, the formal rituals and institutions. The popular religious tradition grew more prominent in the course of Egyptian history as the status of the Pharaoh declined.

 Another important aspect was the belief in the afterlife and funerary practices. The Egyptians made great efforts to ensure the survival of their souls after death, providing tombs, grave goods, and offerings to preserve the bodies and spirits of the deceased. The religion had its roots in Egypt’s prehistory and lasted for more than 3,000 years. The details of religious belief changed over time as the importance of particular gods rose and declined, and their intricate relationships shifted.

At various times throughout Egypt’s history, certain gods became preeminent over the others, including the sun god Ra, the creator god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. For a brief period, in the theology promulgated by the Pharaoh Akhenaten, a single god, the Aten, replaced the traditional pantheon. This short period of monotheism was rapidly quashed and the return of polytheism lasted until Egypt’s decline as an imperial power. Ancient Egyptian religion and mythology left behind many writings and monuments, along with significant influences on ancient and modern cultures.

Over the next few months, every Monday, I shall be featuring a series of posts, which will look at Ancient Egyptian mythology and the many deities and demons associated with this ancient civilisation and its religion.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

ART SUNDAY - LEE LAWRIE

“Great buildings that move the spirit have always been rare. In every case they are unique, poetic, products of the heart.” - Arthur Erickson 
Lee Oscar Lawrie (October 16, 1877 – January 23, 1963) was one of the United States' foremost architectural sculptors and a key figure in the American art scene preceding World War II. Over his long career of more than 300 commissions Lawrie’s style evolved through Modern Gothic, to Beaux-Arts, Classicism, and, finally, into Moderne or Art Deco.

He created a frieze on the Nebraska State Capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska, including a portrayal of the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. He also created some of the architectural sculpture and his most prominent work, the free-standing bronze Atlas (installed 1937) at New York City's Rockefeller Center. Lawrie’s work is associated with some of the United States’ most noted buildings of the first half of the twentieth century.

His stylistic approach evolved with building styles that ranged from Beaux-Arts to neo-Gothic to Art Deco. Many of his architectural sculptures were completed for buildings by Bertram Goodhue of Cram & Goodhue, including the chapel at West Point; the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.; the Nebraska State Capitol; the Los Angeles Public Library; St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York; and Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago.

He completed numerous pieces in Washington, D.C., including the bronze doors of the John Adams Building of the Library of Congress, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception south entrance portal, and the interior sculpture of George Washington at the National Cathedral.

The Rockefeller Center is a large complex consisting of 19 highrise commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89,000 m2) between 48th and 51st Streets in New York City. Commissioned by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the centre of Midtown Manhattan, spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Rockefeller Center represents a turning point in the history of architectural sculpture: It is among the last major building projects in the United States to incorporate a program of integrated public art. Sculptor Lee Lawrie contributed the largest number of individual pieces – twelve, including the statue of Atlas facing Fifth Avenue and the conspicuous friezes above the main entrance to the Comcast Building.

A large number of artists contributed work at the Center, including Isamu Noguchi, whose gleaming stainless steel bas-relief, News, over the main entrance to 50 Rockefeller Plaza (the Associated Press Building) was a standout. At the time it was the largest metal bas-relief in the world. Other artists included Carl Milles, Hildreth Meiere, Margaret Bourke-White, Dean Cornwell, and Leo Friedlander.

A true icon of the Art Deco style, Lawrie's bas-relief “Progress” is allegorical, has bold and flat geometric shapes, strong colours and stylised forms, and, above all, is decorative. The main character is Columbia, the traditional female symbol of America. Here, she is a large athletic figure wearing a simple peasant dress, her face composed and devoid of emotion. She holds the flame of divine fire in one hand, an olive branch, the symbol of peace, in another. The mythological horse Pegasus, the symbol of inspiration, is placed behind her, while an eagle in the foreground symbolises power. It is situated above the 49th Street entrance to the building complex.