Good morning! On this fine spring morning in Reno, I’m taking the opportunity to do a little looking back at the week or two that was. What’s coming in the future, in the way of blogging or reading or anything else, I haven’t really worked out yet. But I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out myself!
Although I haven’t been filling my blog with stuff recently, it isn’t from lack of activity. Much of the last week has been spent writing program notes for the last Reno Philharmonic concert of the 2012-13 season: Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. This was the first time I’d ever written about a Mahler symphony, and I quickly found that any attempt to do a detailed “play-by-play,” moment-by-moment description of the music is pretty much doomed to fail (even more so if you only have around 1,000 words to work with!) There’s just too much going on, too many interrelationships among themes and between movements, too many dramatic changes in mood and intensity. So my goal was simply to hit some of the musical highlights, and hope that this will provide at least a little guidance for listeners. Happily, this is my last program note writing for a few months – maybe now I’ll get busy on the blog!
Right before that I had the chance to spend a few days in San Francisco. Going in with the assumption that I wouldn’t be writing in any detail about my experiences gave me the freedom to simply enjoy them, which was a nice change of pace. One of the main reasons for my visit was art, not surprisingly. Several of the famous Terracotta Warriors are on display at the Asian Art Museum, and it was impressive to see them. They are at least life sized, even a little larger, and surprisingly detailed. The de Young also has some great stuff going: etchings by Rembrandt and his contemporaries, Dutch painting from around the same time (including Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, which is even more beautiful in person than in books), and forty or so pieces of traditional art owned by the Vatican and collected by missionaries over the centuries.
Another motivation for my visit was CAAMFest, the former San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (hosted by the Center for Asian American Media, or CAAM). I saw only three films from the event, sadly, but it was still worth the trip. One film that I must call to your attention, should you ever have a chance to see it, is Late Summer. It’s a re-imagining of the world of Yasujiro Ozu’s films, transplanted to modern day Nashville (luminously photographed) and featuring an African-American cast. Having read about this film beforehand, I had a sneaking suspicion that the concept was too much of a gimmick. But I was entirely mistaken. It’s a beautiful film, fantastically acted, and extremely moving – proving, as if such proof were needed, that Ozu’s way of looking at the world and his approach to film can still be inspirational, and emotionally wrenching. All kudos to writer-director Ernie Park and the fabulous cast. The trailer gives a nice sense of the film.