Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day Dawning in America

"Behold, America! (and thou, ineffable guest and sister!)
For thee come trooping up thy waters and thy lands;
Behold! thy fields and farms, thy far-off woods and mountains,
as in procession coming."

---Walt Whitman from "Song of the Exposition"

---Zoe Strauss "Matress Flip"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Brooklyn Bridge

In a cab from Brooklyn to the upper east side Saturday night, I was swept up in the stunning urban pleasures of crossing the East River at night and flying up the FDR, city scintillant, gracefully curved edges belying its gridded rigors.

The crowd of us musicians who toil in the mid-town temples of classical music or the theaters of Times Square can easily become provincials, traversing the straight, underground pathway from the upper west side into various orchestra pits (also underground) rarely seeing the city seductively reflected in the river or curving north under girded bridges.

"way out; way in; romantic passageway
first seen by the eye of the mind,
then by the eye. O steel! O stone!
Climactic ornament, a double rainbow..."

---Marianne Moore from "Granite and Steel"

"O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,--

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path--condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms."

---Hart Crane from "To Brooklyn Bridge"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Please, Read

Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction: It Must Give Pleasure

by Wallace Stevens

To sing jubilas at exact, accustomed times,
To be crested and wear the mane of a multitude
And so, as part, to exult with its great throat,

To speak of joy and to sing of it, borne on
The shoulders of joyous men, to feel the heart
That is the common, the bravest fundament,

This is a facile exercise. Jerome
Begat the tubas and the fire-wind strings,
The golden fingers picking dark-blue air:

For companies of voices moving there,
To find of sound the bleakest ancestor,
To find of light a music issuing

Whereon it falls in more than sensual mode.
But the difficultest rigor is forthwith,
On the image of what we see, to catch from that

Irrational moment its unreasoning,
As when the sun comes rising, when the sea
Clears deeply, when the moon hangs on the wall

Of heaven-haven. These are not things transformed.
Yet we are shaken by them as if they were.
We reason about them with a later reason.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Please Read

Bruce Haynes
"A Period Performer's History of Music for the Twenty-first Century"

Haynes has produced the essential text for understanding musical performance style today. Every page, I think, "finally someone has said this, and so persuasively."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Affect in Music

"And since instrumental music has, without words, to express different passions and to carry the hearer from one to another, as well as vocal music; we can readily see that to do that, and supply it in the absence of word or human voice, the composer and he who performs the music must alike have a feeling soul, and one capable of being moved."

Joachim Quantz, 1752
On Photography

"Photography, though not an art form in itself, has the peculiar capacity to turn all its subjects into works of art." --- Susan Sontag

What can it mean for photographic subjects to be turned into works of art? Do they remain so after leaving the photographer's gaze or the photograph's frame? Does artistic meaning alter the viewer's memory and so live on?

Garry Winogrand said, "I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed."

The following images are corners intersected by morning light. I wanted to see how they looked photographed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nicholas Carone

"I start immediately with paint. Just get involved with that. Because I feel that it's all one. I don't separate drawing from painting. I don't separate organizing the surface from really drawing. I think that's drawing. Drawing to me is designing space really, organizing it. It's not just rendering a particular form . . . calling that drawing an arm or a head or a figure."

Oral history interview with Nicholas Carone, 1968 May 11 - 17, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Nicholas Carone (B.1917)
"Untitled" (1961 - 1964)
oil on paperboard
18 x 20.2 in
signed 'Nicolas Carone'
oil on paperboard

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Issa in the mail box

I was so pleased to come home today and find three copies of Issa's new CD in my mail box. I popped it in my stereo and found I was hearing entirely new work in a language I knew—but didn't know it could say these particular things, in this particular way.

I am fortunate to know Issa, and to have worked with her on this project, and others. Time with Issa surprises with joy!

"May the first word on our lips in
thankfulness be ...


Monday, January 05, 2009

Hitting Home

Sad news tonight.

It was just announced that the Miami City Ballet could not raise enough money to pay the live musicians they had contracted for their New York debut at City Center in a few weeks. The company, accustomed to working with live music, will dance to canned music, and the musicians will not work that week.

Of course, we were alerted to this possibility in the Times a couple weeks ago, but the personal impact on each musician and the diluted artistic impact of the performances underscores the cultural price exacted by our economy's plight.