Arts & Culture Blog
Britney, Gaga and Carmel-by-the-Sea Revisited
March 25, 2011
BACH ROCKS: Gentlemen (and women), start your harpsichords. Tickets for the Carmel Bach Festival’s inaugural season under the aegis of new music director and conductor Paul Goodwin are on sale starting Monday, March 28.
Highlights for the event, which runs July 16-30, include an opening night performance, “Joy Is In The Air,” featuring J.S. Bach’s “Suite of Sinfonia," compiled by Goodwin, pieces by Handel and F.S. Handel and a newly commissioned work, “Fancy on a Bach Air,” by American avant-garde composer John Corigliano.
Other, unexpected treats: “Bach, Jazz and the Spaces In Between,” featuring guest pianist Stephen Prustman, on July 21 (and the 28th) riffing on Bach, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Coltrane, and other modern masters, with a bow to music of the Mideast by Turkish composer Tamburi Bey.
The “St. John’s Passion” will be performed on Sunday, July 24th “and “Inside The Music: The English Spirit," on July 19 and the 26th, pays tribute to Goodwin’s countrymen Henry Purcell, Sir John Taverner, Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton.
There’s more—much more—including a gig by guest jazz tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano performing Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “A Man Descending,” commissioned specifically for Lovano, on July 22 and 29th.
But that’s just a taste: for more information, including the complete schedule and ticket prices, go to www.bachfestival.org or call 624-1521. Grandeur awaits.
ELIZABETHAN ERA: Speaking of grandeur, it seems only appropriate to add to the collective sense of loss about the last screen legend, Elizabeth Taylor.
In my last communiqué, I made joking reference to her appearance in “The Sandpiper,” shot largely in Big Sur. I doubt even Taylor thought the film burnished her well-earned film legend, but nevertheless, it was poor timing, and I regret it.
Re-reading the late New York Times movie critic Bosley Crowther’s moralistic notice of the picture, which in retrospect, seems like campy fun, made me regret dissing it even more.
“That shabby old Hollywood custom of pretending to a great piety while flirting around with material that is actually suggestive and cheap has seldom been more adroitly practiced than in Martin Ransohoff’s ‘The Sandpiper,’” Crowther sniffed. “Built up to give the impression that it is taking a disapproving view of an adulterous affair between a free-thinking woman and an Episcopal clergyman, it is really a slick and sympathetic sanction of the practice of free love—or, at least, of an illicit union that is supposedly justified by naturalness…. it uses the formidable Miss Taylor to rationalize values and views that are immature, specious, meretricious and often ridiculous.”
Kind of sounds like a Spiro Agnew – or Newt Gingrich speech, doesn’t it? Unsurprisingly, Crowther lost his position not too long afterwards for condemning “Bonnie and Clyde” (too violent) in much the same disapproving terms.
Taylor’s great love, Richard Burton, seemed to have a fine old time during his stay here, narrating a short documentary feature, “The Big Sur,” released to help promote the film, in which he quoted Robinson Jeffers extolling the natural beauties of these parts as “the noblest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Check out the feature, and listen to Burton’s eloquent Welsh tones (he also gives a nod to Henry Miller and Miller’s boho buddy Emil White), here:
And if you haven’t got enough of Taylor (and how could you?), here’s a segment from a delightful guest appearance she made on “What’s My Line?”
CARMEL CONTRITION: In the spirit of mea culpas, I’d also like to extend apologies to those involved in the recent screening of “Carmel-by-the-Sea” to benefit the Monterey Film Society and CSUMB film students, at the Sunset Center.
Least said, soonest mended. The showing of the film was at the request from CSUMB’s Teledramatic Arts & Technology program, not an attempt by the producers to promote it. I didn’t realize when firing off my screed that it was being screened with the implicit understanding that it was being shown for the Sunset Center Film Society supporters, not for review.
Director Lawrence Roeck and screenwriter Carlos de los Rios showed that they can roll with the punches when they sent in an email to the Weekly’s “Letters” section this week, inviting “Squid! You sexy slippery little cepephalopod” to audition for their next movie.
And “Carmel-by-the-Sea” producer Michael-Ryan Fletchall should be commended for offering the film to benefit the school’s programs at a time when CSUMB and all Cal State campus budgets are under attack.
We journalists like to say we stand by our story, and I can’t honestly say I think the movie will enter the annals of film history. But the filmmakers’ generosity deserved better than they got in this instance. I wish them well on the rest of their journey.
BRIT INVASION. Speaking of charitable causes, tickets for Britney Spears’ “Good Morning America” concert at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Sunday in San Francisco are reportedly being auctioned off to raise money for Japanese disaster relief. The GMA show—an interview with Robin Roberts, who one hopes has recovered from her close encounter with Chris Brown—airs Tuesday, the same day Spears’ new CD, “Femme Fatale,” is being released.
The gig was originally scheduled to take place in front of the Castro Theatre, but the weather, and perhaps security concerns, caused a change of venue.
The Bay Area seems to be the hot spot for rock goddesses these days; last Tuesday, Lady Gaga rocked the Oakland Coliseum, while putting on social media public relation blitzes at Google and Twitter headquarters (amid accusations that she stole “Born This Way” from the Korean band, Girls Generation, also known as SNSD. Sounds semi-coincidental, but take a listen and judge for yourself.
And be careful out there, Little Monsters.
Lady Gaga photo by Chris Spencer