ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra is performing a free Chamber Concert this Saturday, March 30, at Sherith Israel, San Francisco

Members of the striking San Francisco Symphony Orchestra have organized a free concert Saturday evening (March 30, 2013) at 8 p.m. at Sherith Israel, 2266 California Street (at Webster), San Francisco.  This concert will feature a brass ensemble, wind ensemble, and string ensemble.  The hall has seating for 1400 but plan on arriving early to find parking. 

The program —

Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morton Lauridson (BRASS)

Samuel Barber “Summer Music” (WIND Quintet)

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky “Serenade for Strings” (in C Major, Op. 48)  (STRINGS)

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March 30, 2013 Posted by | Chamber Music, Symphony | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Arthur Miller’s quiet classic “The Price” is brought to life by Charles Siebert, at Cinnabar Theatre through April 7, 2013

Charles Siebert (front left), Samson Hood (rear) and John Shillington (right) in Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” at Cinnabar Theatre through April 7, 2013.  Photo: Eric Chazankin

Charles Siebert (front left), Samson Hood (rear) and John Shillington (right) in Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” at Cinnabar Theatre through April 7, 2013. Siebert shines as a perceptive 90-year-old Central European-Jewish antique dealer, who ends up brokering a lot more than the relics in the family attic. Photo: Eric Chazankin

Cinnabar Theatre has another winner in its 40th anniversary season line-up—Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” from 1968, a haunting story of two long-estranged brothers who meet to divide up their dead father’s estate and come to terms with hard choices they made as young adults that defined the separate courses of their lives.   Miller, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for his “Death of a Salesman,” crafted another remarkable drama in the lesser known “The Price,” which director Sheri Lee Miller brings to life on Cinnabar’s intimate stage.  Renowned actor, Charles Siebert, who now resides in Healdsburg, literally steals the show—he shines as an old, sentimental and very wise antiques dealer, Gregory Solomon, who has been called upon to make an offer on the lot of furniture in an old attic.  The story is about a struggle all of us face—how to thrive as healthy individuals and follow our dreams as we negotiate family relationships and obligations.  Central to this drama are two brothers, Viktor and Walter Franz, who are joined by antique dealer Gregory Salomon and Victor’s wife Esther.  Viktor is a hardworking cop, barely scraping by financially, while Walter became a successful and highly-respected doctor.  Everyone is looking back and asking “How did I get to where I am right now?  In the course of an evening, perceptions are shifted dramatically as facts are revealed about  the choices the brothers made long ago.  “The Price” perceptively probes the intangibles of family relations, asking what, ultimately, do we owe each other and ourselves.

Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” at Cinnabar Theatre, is the story of the estranged Franz brothers and an attic that has to be cleared.  The drama centers on irreconcilable attitudes about the value of self-sacrifice in a society which pits every person for himself.   Here, Walter (John Shillington) (Left) explains to Viktor (Samson Hood) and his wife, Esther (Madeleine Ashe), that he grabbed an opportunity and made the most of it while Walter’s self-sacrifice was for nothing.  Photo: Eric Chazankin

Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” at Cinnabar Theatre, is the story of estranged Franz brothers and an attic that has to be cleared. The drama centers on irreconcilable attitudes about the value of self-sacrifice in a society which pits every person for himself. Here, Walter (John Shillington) (Left) explains to Viktor (Samson Hood) and his wife, Esther (Madeleine Ashe), that he grabbed an opportunity and made the most of it while Walter’s self-sacrifice was for nothing. Photo: Eric Chazankin

Cast:

 Madeleine Ashe………….Esther Franz

 Samson Hood……………..Victor Franz

 John Shillington………….Walter Franz

*Charles Siebert….Gregory Solomon   *Member Actors Equity Association

Production Team:

Directed by Sheri Lee Miller

Details:  Cinnabar Theatre is located at 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA.  Remaining performances of “The Price”:   Friday, March 29 at 8 p.m.; Saturday March 20 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 31 at 2 p.m.; Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 2 p.m.  Tickets: $15-$25 with discounts for Seniors 65 and over and Youth 22 and under.  Tickets and information: www.cinnabartheatreorg or 707.763.8920

March 29, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | Leave a comment

Finally! The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco announces a New Director, Colin Bailey, from the Frick Collection

Colin Bailey, deputy director and chief curator of the Frick Collection in New York, is the new director of the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco.  He starts on June 1, 2013.

Colin Bailey, deputy director and chief curator of the Frick Collection in New York, is the new director of the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco. He starts on June 1, 2013.

After much anticipation, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)  named its new director today, filling the position left vacant since the death of John Buchanan 15 months ago.  Colin Bailey, currently associate director and chief curator of the Frick Collection in Manhattan and a noted curator and award-winning author will step into the position on June 1, 2013.  Bailey was selected after an exhaustive year-long international search by a 13-member selection committee of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees.  The announcement was made today at 1 p.m. at the de Young Museum at a highly attended press conference officiated by FAMSF president and board chair Diane B. Wilsey (Dede) with guest speaker San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.  At today’s press conference it was made clear that Bailey will initiate a new mandate “moving beyond the museums’ reputation as a home for blockbuster exhibitions to focus more on its permanent collections.”

Diane B. Wilsey said of Bailey, who did not attend today’s press conference, “we all agree that Colin has the qualities that will elevate the museums to the next level.”  She added that Bailey will keep “the focus on curatorial excellence, art historical relevance, and continued service to our community.”   She also added that John Buchanan had been a lot of “fun to work with” and that that Colin was also “fun.”   

Wilsey’s camaraderie with the late Buchanan was legendary and the two, whom ARThound dubbed “the dynamic duo” were responsible for the coup that brought the celebrated French Impressionism shows to San Francisco in 2010. (Read about that here.)   

Mayor Ed Lee spoke enthusiastically of Bailey’s selection, acknowledging the difficulty of the search process and thanking the Board of Trustees.  In a video shown at the press conference, (watch it below), Bailey said the appointment is “a dream come true,” and his purpose in The City will be “to conserve, to show, to educate.”

Normally, ARThound does not repost news from other websites or journalists but Janos Gereben, emailed me his article for the The Examiner (sfexaminer.com) about today’s appointment of Bailey and his reporting on his salary is excellent.  Janos has written a series of articles leading up to today’s appointment, which can be found at www.sfexaminer.com.  He shared with me that he got Bailey’s earnings at the Frick using old-school reportage—he looked up his tax records which are publicly accessible.  Here then quoting Janos…

FAMSF president and board chair Diane B. Wilsey announcing the appointment of Colin Bailey as the new FAMSF director.  Wilsey has run the FAMSF since the death of John Buchanan 15 months ago.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

FAMSF president and board chair Diane B. Wilsey announcing the appointment of Colin Bailey as the new FAMSF director. Wilsey has run the FAMSF since the death of John Buchanan 15 months ago. Photo: Geneva Anderson

“From a small but world-renowned private institution, Bailey is moving to a San Francisco city government organization, which is responsible for the de Young and California Legion of Honor museums.  He will manage 550 employees, some on The City’s payroll, most paid by the nonprofit Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (COFAM).  

Frick operates on a $22 million budget, has 330,000 visitors a year, against FAMSF’s 1.6 million visitors and $54 million operating budget.

Compensation, at least on paper, doesn’t reflect those differences in size: Bailey’s salary at the Frick was $235,000 in FY 2011, according to the latest IRS report available. 

His position here is “Director of Museums, City and County of San Francisco Classification 0963, Department Head III,” which has a base salary under $100,000; he is expected to receive additional funding and perks from private sources and COFAM.” 

Today’s press conference was scheduled for noon but began close to 1 p.m. due to late running Board of Trustees meeting, where Bailey was officially approved.  The scuttlebutt among the press, impatient for the show to get on, ran the gamut from speculation about the delay in announcing a new director to criticism of Wilsey’s leadership during the recent period of curator dismissals and staff resignations to the organization’s press relations team which has recently been in flux.  Several FAMSF curators were in attendance and they too seemed to eagerly await the announcement, one acknowledging that things had been “unsettled.”  

At the press conference, Wilsey explained that the board meeting was delayed until today, to give Bailey “the courtesy of talking his own [Frick] board, which he did yesterday.”  This, she said, enabled Bailey “to give proper notice.”   He will start at FAMSF on June 1, 2013.  She did not explain why the trustees’ meeting itself ran late. 

Colin Bailey, the new Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in an introductory video screened at today’s press conference

More about Colin Bailey:  Born in London, Bailey earned his doctorate in art history at Oxford University. He specializes in 18th- and 19th-century French art, was named Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1994 for his contribution to French culture and was promoted to Officier in 2010. He also held a residency under Henri Loyrette, the former president and director of the Louvre in Paris. He has been chief curator of the Frick since 2000, when he narrowly lost the competition for the museum’s directorship. Previously, he worked at the Getty Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kimbell Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada, where he was deputy director and chief curator. He is returning to California 30 years after a fellowship at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu.

He has organized more than two dozen exhibitions, including the recent Renoir, Impressionism and Full-Length Painting at the Frick, many of which have represented new scholarship and have been praised for providing keen insights into individual artists. Other exhibitions include Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery; Renoir’s Landscapes, 1865-1883; and Rembrandt and His School: Masterworks from the Frick and Bailey’s many publications include The Loves of the Gods: Mythological Painting from Watteau to David; Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection; and Patriotic Taste: Collecting Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary Paris, the book that won the Mitchell Prize.

Diane B. Wilsey and Colin B. Bailey, the new director of FAMSF, who will start June 1, 2013.  Photo: Bill Zemanek

Diane B. Wilsey and Colin B. Bailey, the new director of FAMSF, who will start June 1, 2013. Photo: Bill Zemanek

Colin Bailey and his partner will be spending the Easter holiday here in the Bay Area, having Easter dinner with Wilsey at her home and finalizing the signing on a spacious apartment that the couple will share with their dog.  Details on the dog to follow…

ARThound’s most recent coverage of the Frick Collection— ARThound in New York: A Dresden goldsmith and court jeweler works his magic and catalogues it in small booklets—“Gold, Jasper and Carnelian” at The Frick Collection through August 19, 2012

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Art, de Young Museum, Legion of Honor | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Green Music Center announces its 2013-14 season….donors first dibs, then subscribers

She has been invited to perform on all the major opera stages of the world.  Renée Fleming will launch the Green Music Center’s second season with a special appearance Sunday, September 15, 2013 at Weill Hall.  Image: Decca/Andrew Eccles

She has been invited to perform on all the major opera stages of the world. Renée Fleming will launch the Green Music Center’s second season with a special appearance Sunday, September 15, 2013 at Weill Hall. Image: Decca/Andrew Eccles

On Monday, Sonoma State University (SSU) announced the concert lineup for its 2013-14 MasterCard Performance Series in Weill Hall at the Green Music Center.  An array of world-renowned classical, instrumental, vocal, and jazz artists has been assembled for the nine-month season that launches in September.

An opening night celebration – reminiscent of last fall’s inaugural festivities – will star soprano Renée Fleming, one of America’s most beloved vocalists. The unique rear wall of Weill Hall will be open to the terraced lawns and offers expanded seating for 5,000 additional outdoor patrons.

The festivities continue throughout the month with two additional concerts utilizing the outdoor seating of Weill Lawn, beginning with world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman on Sept. 21, and followed by jazz legend Herbie Hancock on Sept. 28.

Orchestral headliners of the season include the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in March, The English Concert performing Handel’s Theodora, Venice Baroque Orchestra with rising star counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, and returning holiday favorite Handel’s Messiah by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale.

Acclaimed sopranos Jessye Norman, Ruth Ann Swenson, and Deborah Voigt are featured in a phenomenal vocal lineup, that also includes baritones Bryn Terfel in October and Florian Boesch in May, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau on piano. “An Afternoon of Opera” in March pairs operatic sensations Leah Crocetto and David Lomeli, accompanied by Weill Hall’s resident orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony.

An array of award-winning instrumentalists is intertwined throughout the twenty- three concert season, beginning with a return performance by Chinese superstar Lang Lang. The season also features fellow pianists Garrick Ohlsson and Richard Goode, as well as acclaimed violinist Hilary Hahn, and a performance by The Takács Quartet.

Six jazz and world music concerts showcase an impressive range of artistry, including Portuguese fado artist Mariza, Spanish flamenco sensation Estrella Morente, the distinguished Silk Road Ensemble, the inspirational Bahia Orchestra Project, and rising jazz stars Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

Programming in addition to the MasterCard Performance Series includes a full season by Weill Hall’s resident orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony, led by music director Bruno Ferrandis and performing seven triple-sets of classical works and a variety of family and youth concerts.

The Grammy award-winning San Francisco Symphony returns to Weill Hall for a second year, featuring four concerts led by Michael Tilson-Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, Alexander Barantschik, and Charles Dutoit.

TICKETS AND BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:

Advance subscription sales for the 2013-14 MasterCard Performance Series begin Monday, March 25 at 1pm, marking the start of a one-week priority period for donors who have given $1,000 or more to the Green Music Center Annual Fund. Past subscribers and MasterCard cardholders are eligible to purchase subscription packages beginning Tuesday, April 2 at 8am. Subscription tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, April 22 at 8am.

Six preset subscription packages are available for purchase at 15% off single ticket prices. Four of these packages are classically focused, featuring an assemblage of instrumental, choral, orchestral, and vocal performances. Two packages separately consist of jazz and world music offerings.

Package prices for three-concert sets range from $78 to $204 and four-concert bundles range in price from $138-$336.

An additional “Pick 6” package allows patrons to select any six performances from the season lineup at a discount of 10% off single ticket prices.

Ticket purchases can be made online at www.gmc.sonoma.edu, or, over the phone with the Sonoma State University Box Office at 866.955.6040. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm.

Single tickets go on sale later this year. SSU students receive a 50% discount on all tickets (limit one per student per event) and SSU faculty and staff receive a 20% discount (limit two per employee per event).

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Green Music Center | Leave a comment

In Lawrence Wright’s “Fallaci,” which has its world premiere at Berkeley Rep, the legendary Italian journalist, Oriana Fallaci, casts her fiery spell, contradictions and all

At Berkeley Rep, Concetta Tomei (Right) and Marjan Neshat (Left) star in the world premiere of Fallaci by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright.  Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

At Berkeley Rep, Concetta Tomei (Right) and Marjan Neshat (Left) star in the world premiere of Fallaci by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

It is rumored that when the Italian writer, Oriana Fallaci, learned that she had cancer, she didn’t ask the oncologist how much longer she had left to live, she asked, “How many books do I have left to write?”  And write she did, creating some of her most controversial work at the end of her life.  In the wake of 9/11, she argued violently and passionately in two best-selling books that our (Western) civilization and radical Islam are fundamentally incompatible and her book, The Rage and the Pride, drew accusations of inciting hatred against Muslims.  

Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright’sFallaci,” which has its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, is an intense and captivating look at Oriana Fallaci, “la Fallaci,”  the internationally acclaimed journalist, war correspondent, interviewer, and novelist who made her reputation in the 1970’s with a series of unforgettable interviews with autocratic figures in their homelands—the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini, Gaddafi, Castro, Kissinger.  This petite Italian dynamo said what she wanted to say and asked what she wanted to ask of the world’s most fascinating leaders.   She seemed capable of taking any political tiger by its tail and then kneeing it right in the crotch as she got her subjects to admit things publicly that later caused them much grief.  “Don’t you find,” she asked Henry Kissinger during Vietnam, “that it’s been a useless war?” “On this, I can agree,” said the then Secretary of State.  He later admitted that this interview was the “single most  disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press.”  By the time her cancer was diagnosed, Fallaci had literally done it all, everything her profession could offer.  For people like me, who became foreign correspondents, she was our end and be-all.   Wright’s play has been on my radar for over a year now and it did not disappoint in any way.

 In “Fallaci,” the tables are turned on Oriana Fallaci (played by Concetta Tomei) as she is interviewed by a young Iranian-American New York Times journalist Maryam (played by Marjan Neshat).  The play is set in 1990’s, when Fallaci became increasingly reclusive and divided her time between her apartments in Manhattan and Florence.  What emerges is a captivating portrait of a strong, rough, grieving—and thoroughly glorious woman—who fights tooth and nail to have her truth her way, despite the facts.   The play stands on Wright’s marvelous script which provides an engaging commentary on the ethics of journalism as well as a made-to-order platform for Concetta Tomei to play Fallaci’s contradictions to the hilt. 

A distinctive and controversial feature of Fallaci’s writing, which has both fascinated and enraged journalists, is the way in which she blurs the interface between factual reportage and fiction.  Charlie Rose took her to task on this in a compelling live interview in December 7, 1992 that is, for lack of a better word,  magnetizing.  When he asks her about her editing, about her “painting the picture as she saw it,” about filtering through her “own imaginative process”…”not putting words in people’s mouths but choosing what words to include and more importantly, what context and what words to leave out”  she famously replied– “When you write an article, a reportage, you have to stay within the limits of what has happened, what has been said.  You must be very rigorous in reporting without inventing, without distorting, without manipulating.   But the better I was in being so rigorously faithful to events, the more I felt like writing with handcuffs.  You cannot move, you cannot open your arms you cannot say more–concepts for instance.  What literature does is it universalizes the truth and people can recognize it in that story.”  Wright cleverly explores this through Maryam’s successive interviews with Fallaci in which Fallaci is shown to have given dramatically different versions of the truth at various points in time, defending them all as fact. 

You wouldn’t necessarily recognize Concetta Tomei even if you’d seen her in her recent stand-out performance as Valerie in A.C.T.’s world premiere of Cary Perloff’s Higher at the Children’s Creativity Museum in February 2012.  There, she played a wealthy widow who was cunning, strong, very manipulative and funny and, like Fallaci, a part of her was very remote and lonely.  At Berkeley Rep, she literally sores as Fallaci and is utterly and convincingly Italian.  She plays Fallaci as a diva, one who needs to be coaxed by someone worthy into spilling her fascinating stories and accumulated wisdom and regrets. 

Oriana Fallaci is the subject of Lawrence Wright's new play "Fallaci," which has its world premiere at Berkeley Rep.

Oriana Fallaci is the subject of Lawrence Wright’s new play “Fallaci,” which has its world premiere at Berkeley Rep.

Wright also steeps us in Fallaci’s intrepid interview style by having Fallaci dramatically relive some of her most glorious moments with Maryam.   Perhaps her most famous interview was with Kohmeini, in 1979, when, after waiting for 10 days in Qum (Iran) for him to agree, she donned a chador and questioned him relentlessly about the treatment of women in his new Islamic state.  “How do you swim in a chador?” to which he replied–“If you do not like Islamic dress, you are not obliged to wear it…” at which point she yanked off her chador and said “I am going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.”  When she returned the next day to conclude the interview, he smiled and laughed and Khomeini’s son told Fallaci “I think you are the only person in the world who made him laugh.”

Marjan Neshat, who played Nawal Marwan in A.C.T.’s production of Wajdi Mouawad’s play Scorched, last February, is New York Times journalist Maryam and, again, she is embroiled in a difficult situation.  She initially visits Fallaci as a naïve obituary writer, there to extract information from Fallaci before she is felled by her rumored cancer.  Initially, Fallaci seems guarded, weakened and tired but, instinctively, she knows when to assert herself to maintain the upper hand.  As she leaps to her feet to defend a point or shouts over Maryam to make herself  heard, we get why there is only one Fallaci.  Maryam proves very quick on the uptake though and manages to impress this war horse.  Maryam returns three years later, post 9/11, to find Fallaci still very much alive.  They discuss Fallaci’s controversial The Rage and the Pride in which the author broke her ten year silence to produce a scathing indictment of Islam. Throughout the course of play, Maryam’s character transitions dramatically.  She ultimately becomes a controversial and highly-respected journalist known for her reportage on contemporary Iran. She also attains the savvy and confidence to go head-to-head with Fallaci.  By the time the ladies have their last meeting, they are more or less equals, supportive and tender with each other.

 After experiencing Fallaci, I went home and pulled out my tattered edition of her magnificent Interview with History I can well understand Wright’s enduring fascination with Fallaci.   Her questions, more authoritative statements than questions, prompted some of the most compelling discussions on record. 

 Fallaci is completely absorbing and I am going again.

 Fallaci runs 90 minutes without intermission.

Details:  Fallaci  runs through April 21, 2013.  Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre is located at 2015 Addison Street, Berkeley (near the intersection of Addison and Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley, CA 94704. Performances: Tuesday-Sunday, with additional weekend matinee performances. Tickets: $29 -$89.  Call box office at 510-647-2949 or purchase online at www.berkeleyrep.org

Parking: paid parking is readily available at over 5 parking garages as close as one block from the theatre. The Allston Way Garage, 2061 Allston Way, between Milvia and Shattuck, offers $3 parking Tuesday–Friday after 6 PM or all day on Saturday or Sunday when your garage-issued parking ticket is validated in the theatre lobby.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CAAMFest 2013—Jin Dan’s masterpiece “When the Bough Breaks,” examines upward mobility’s downward emotional toll on a Chinese migrant family as days, months, years pass

Two young Chinese girls from a migrant family that has relocated to a big city struggle to earn money to pay for their brother’s schooling and are forced to abandon their own studies, putting their futures in jeopardy in “When the Bough Breaks,” directed by Ji Dan, one of China’s preeminent female documentary filmmakers.  Image: CAAMFest

Two young Chinese girls from a migrant family that has relocated to a big city struggle to earn money to pay for their brother’s schooling and are forced to abandon their own studies, putting their futures in jeopardy in “When the Bough Breaks,” directed by Ji Dan, one of China’s preeminent female documentary filmmakers. Image: CAAMFest

It’s hard to top recent Chinese documentary masterpieces like Ghost Town (Zhao Dayong, 2008, 169 min), Fortune Teller (Xu Tong, 2010, 129 min) or Last Train Home (Lixen Fan, 2009, 85 min).  And yet Ji Dan’s latest film, When the Bough Breaks (2011), maintains remarkable dedication to its difficult subject: a family of five Chinese migrants living on the outskirts of a city, their fragile state worsening with time.  It ebbs and flows with high drama as well, pulling us into a family tragedy involving innocent children that seems informed by the great master storytellers.   

In China today, over 120 million migrant workers have sacrificed everything for a country that barely acknowledges them, gambling all their resources on the dream of a better future. China’s dirty little secret: it’s turning its back on these workers and choosing instead to focus on rapid modernization—at their expense.  To tell this story, Ji Dan focuses on two girls and their brother, all of whom desperately need and want an education and their parents, two trapped and defeated individuals who are unable to provide it.  

Ji Dan is one of the most important filmmakers in China today.  Her past works include Spirit Home (2006), Dream of the Empty City (2007), and Spiral Staircase of Harbin (2008), which won prizes at both the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and the China Documentary Film Festival.   To create such an intimate portrait of this fractured Chinese family living on the outskirts of Beijing, she spent three years following and getting to know them.  She even took up residence in the teacher’s dormitory of the school they attended.  The film screens today, Saturday, March 23, 2013, at the Oakland Museum of California at 2 p.m. (details here) as part of CAAMFest 2013’s final weekend.

Trash is an active metaphor. The family wades through trash heaps from dawn till dusk and the father collects and sells scrap metal, while family’s three vulnerable children fight against all odds – including their own parents – to continue their education and pursue a better future. But this is no ode to victory at the end of a long period of tribulations, it is instead a compelling examination of how life can leave one with a series of choices that all lead to undesirable outcomes. The parents, especially the disgruntled drunkard dad, do all they can to maintain some semblance of control, while the two pre-teen twin daughters struggle to hold the family’s long-term financial vision, though they too exhibit their father’s impatient proclivity for conflict. As the two headstrong girls try to negotiate a path to independence, security, and adulthood, the film reveals how some children are forced to make their own way in the world, assuming the responsibilities of adulthood long before they should have to.

Here’s what critic Brian Hu of PAC-ARTS (Pacific Arts Movement) said when the film screened at the San Francisco Asian Film Festival —Long, impeccably-shot verbal arguments that seem to into stretch into hours are riveting not so much for the yelling, but for the minutiae, in particular the silence of the son, whose fate motivates much of the conflict. Through it all is a sense of environmental doom: the weather, the military jets, the sounds of firecrackers in the distance. When the film comes to a close following a Lunar New Year unlike any other, a visceral transcendence is achieved that numbs the skin and pounds the heart.

Renowned Chinese artist Hung Liu, who currently has a retrospective at OMCA, “Summoning Ghosts, the Art of Hung Liu” canceled her appearance at today’s post-film conversation, but sent this statement about Ji Dan and her filmmaking—

As a filmmaker, Ji Dan spent a long time working with the family, not just on them. Her film is thought provoking and raises questions about family dynamics, personal and societal relationships, and class issues when people live physically and psychologically on the edge. The film shares a harsh reality and is truly moving. It shows us that there are many families living in isolation on the cusp of society, as if on an island. When the film was screened in Shanghai in 2011, several younger members of the audience asked why the film was long. In response, Ji Dan articulately and eloquently expressed her commitment to the need for longer documentary filmmaking in order to tell the full story. I was compelled to speak up and support Ji’s dedication in the face of Hollywood’s influence to train the viewer to absorb only shorter films. As I shared with Lori Fogarty, the Executive Director of the Oakland Museum of California, I am truly impressed with the dedication of women filmmakers from Beijing who challenge film industry standards with their engaging full—length documentaries. They are bold enough to tell dramatic stories about real life, about real people in the contemporary world. I think we must show that we care about humanity by watching and supporting these female filmmakers coming out of China. Ji Dan made an impression on me, and I hope to bring many female filmmakers and their documentaries to the attention of US audiences. With filmmakers like her, who follow a family for seven years to capture their story, we must respond with support. Hung Liu

Details: CAAMfest 2013 runs March 14-24, 2013 at 8 screening venues in San Francisco and Berkeley. Regular screenings are $12 and special screenings and programs are more. Click here to see full schedule and to purchase tickets online.

March 23, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CAAMFest 2013, expanding beyond film to music, food and a celebration of Asian and Asian American culture

CAAMFest continues it 11 day run through this Sunday, March 24, 2013.  This year, the fesitval has expanded its emphasis from mainly film to an 11 day celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.  Accompanying Monday evening’s world premiere of “Memory of Forgotten War,” by award-winning Berkeley filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem and Boston College professor emeritus, Ramsay Liem, was a captivating vocal performance by Amie Kim and the Korean drumming group, Jamaesori (Pronunciation: “JAH-mae-soh-rlee”).  Jamaesori is a Bay Area collective of women of Korean descent who use traditional Korean drumming to support social justice movements.  Their Pilbong style of Pungmul drumming is a centuries old participatory folk art tradition and was a rare treat.

Details: CAAMfest 2013 runs March 14-24, 2013 at 8 screening venues in San Francisco and Berkeley. Regular screenings are $12 and special screenings and programs are more. Festival 6-pack passes are also available for $60. Click here to see full schedule and to purchase tickets online.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Weekend of Cheese—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—7th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival at Petaluma’s Sheraton Hotel, tickets for many events still available

At this weekend’s 7th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival, in Petaluma, buffalo mozzarella, and Old World delicacy, from Craig Ramini’s fabled Tomales farm is served fresh.  At age 51, Ramini heard the call of the cheese and answered, leaving behind a successful career in Silicon Valley to pursue cheese-making in Tomales.

At this weekend’s 7th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival, in Petaluma, buffalo mozzarella, an Old World delicacy, from Craig Ramini’s fabled Tomales farm is served fresh. At age 51, Ramini heard the call of the cheese and answered, leaving behind a successful career in Silicon Valley to pursue cheese-making in Tomales.

Fresh mozzarella.  The innocence of childhood, summer evenings on a swing set flying through air scented with magnolia. New grass, slightly damp, soft against my cheek. A baby’s elbow: velvet, dimpled, full of hope. (Patricia)

There’s something about cheese that inspires people—to know more, eat more, celebrate its diversity, wax poetic, and ultimately go to its source.  This weekend, that means Petaluma and the 7th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival, which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Sheraton.   

While Friday’s ever popular farm tours sold out months ago, tickets are still available for most other events, and everything is priced individually.

Friday offers an inaugural Meet the Cheesemakers and Their Cheeses event ($35) where you can informally chat with cheesemakers and farmers and sample over 75 cheeses, and artisan wines and beers, to your heart’s content.  Saturday features a Grand Tasting and Cheese Competition ($75), from 6 to 9 p.m.  This popular roaming feast pairs leading restaurant chefs and cheesemakers using artisan cheese in a variety in dishes, from sweet to savory, creating scrumptious things to eat in order to win your vote.

There are 14 seminars, cheesemaking classes, and cooking and pairing demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday.  Cheesemaking classes are $95, all others $65.  Select authors will sign their books.  If a cheesemaking class sounds interesting, book it online NOW, as most of them have less than 4 spots available.

Friday’s farm tours include a visit to Weirauch Farm & Creamery, owned by Joel and Carleen Weirauch, (“why-rock”) who produce a variety of humane, organic, farmstead sheep cheeses and organic cow cheeses in the plush hills of Petaluma.  Pictured here: Tomme Fraiche and Carabiner cow’s milk cheeses.

Friday’s farm tours include a visit to Weirauch Farm & Creamery, owned by Joel and Carleen Weirauch, (“why-rock”) who produce a variety of humane, organic, farmstead sheep cheeses and organic cow cheeses in the plush hills of Petaluma. Pictured here: Tomme Fraiche and Carabiner cow’s milk cheeses.

Sunday begins at 9:30 a.m., with the Stark Reality Brunch prepared by chef Mark Stark ($115)—start the day with a glass of bubbly and an artisan cheese inspired sit-down brunch.  Attendees enjoy VIP access to the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace and can enter one hour early before it opens to the hungry masses.

Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace ($45) celebrates cheese under the big top.  Meet over 70 artisan producers and experience the best of local cheese, beer and other specialty foods.  Attendees receive an insulated bag for carrying purchases and samples of cheese, beer, wine and other artisan foods. 

Details: The 7th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival is March 22-24, 2013, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Petaluma’s Sheraton, 745 Baywood Drive, Petaluma.  Tickets $35 to $135.  Many events are already sold-out, so purchase tickets for all events now.  www.artisancheesefestival.com.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at Green Music Center this Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  Image: courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Image: courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center

Winner of nine Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records, the virtuoso trumpet player and composer Wynton Marsalis is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum, from New Orleans and bebop to modern jazz.  In 2011, Marsalis stepped in as artistic director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and his impact has been nothing short of monumental in both the creative and management realms.  Drawing from an extensive repertoire that includes original compositions by Mr. Marsalis, Ted Nash, and other members of the orchestra, as well as the masterworks of Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane, and other great jazz composers, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis concerts are internationally critically acclaimed.  Marsalis and the orchestra, composed of many of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, will play at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall this Thursday, March 21, 2013, at 8 p.m.   The concert has been sold-out since last spring, when tickets first went on sale for GMS’s inaugural season.

Prelude Restaurant Pre-concert dinner: Taste of New Orleans: An exclusive pre-concert event featuring true New Orleans-style cuisine, bluesy-jazz music, and the best wine and beer Sonoma County has to offer will be held from 6pm – 8pm (concert begins at 8pm) this Thursday at Prelude Restaurant at the Green Music Center.  Price $375 / person, including concert seating.   This is one way to get tickets. Contact: Caroline Ammann at 707-664-3517 or email ammannc@sonoma.edu by Thursday evening

Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform Wigwam at the XIV Festival Internacional de Jazz San Javier in 2011—

In 1997, David Frost interviewed Wynton Marsalis at his home and they discussed jazz, music and culture in general.  Marsalis, then 36, had already won a Pulitzer and several Grammy Awards and comes across as thoughftul and wise beyond his years.   What a wodnerful ambassador for jazz— 

In 1983, Wynton marsalis won Granny Awards in both the Jazz and Classical recordings,  and did this agian in 1984.  Here is his performance of selections from both genres in the 1983 national broadcast of the awards ceremony with John Denver hosting—

Details: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform Thursday, March 13, 2013 at 8 pm at Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park.  The concert is SOLD OUT.   Check for last minute returns at the Box Office in person, starting 1 hour before the performance or phone the Box Office at 7 p.m. at (866) 955-6040 to inquire about returns.  The Box Office closes at 4:30 p.m. but re-opens one hour before the performance.

Parking: As you enter the Sonoma State University campus from the Rohnert Park Expressway, there are multiple parking lots immediately to your right. Parking Lots L, M, N and O are available for parking for GMC performances.  Parking is included in your ticket purchase – no stub or receipt is needed to park.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Jazz Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Lawrence Wright’s “Fallaci,” which has its world premiere at Berkeley Rep, the legendary Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci comes gloriously alive

Legendary Italian journalist, war correspondent, interviewer, and novelist, Oriana Fallaci, comes roaring back to life in the world premiere of a new play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright.   In “Fallaci,” the tables are turned on Oriana Fallaci (Concetta Tomei) as she is interviewed by an Iranian American New York Times journalist Maryam (Marjan Neshat).  What emerges is captivating.    This petite woman, who grilled and felled the world’s most powerful men—the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini, Castro, Kissinger— is near the end of her life and will fight tooth and nail to have her truth her way, despite the facts.  The play stands on Wright’s finely crafted script which provides an engaging commentary on the ethics of journalism, the conflicts between the West and Islam, as well as a platform for Concetta Tomei to play Fallaci’s genius and contradictions to the hilt.  (full review to follow.)

Details:  Fallaci  runs through April 21, 2013. Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre is located at 2015 Addison Street, Berkeley (near the intersection of Addison and Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley, CA 94704.  Performances:  Tuesday-Sunday, with additional weekend matinee performances.  Tickets: $29 -$89. Call box office at 510-647-2949 or purchase online at www.berkeleyrep.org.

Parking: paid parking is readily available at over 5 parking garages as close as one block from the theatre. The Allston Way Garage, 2061 Allston Way, between Milvia and Shattuck, offers $3 parking Tuesday–Friday after 6 PM or all day on Saturday or Sunday when your garage-issued parking ticket is validated in the theatre lobby.

 

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , | Leave a comment