ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Pounce!—additional screenings of 4 of the most popular films at Mill Valley Film Festival just added

Based on a real-life Victorian-era scandal, “Effie Gray” is a period drama that has its world premiere at the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct 3-13, 2013.  Dakota Fanning (right) is Euphemia ''Effie'' Gray, a teen who fights to escape a loveless marriage to celebrated art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise).  Emma Thompson (left) wrote the script and plays Effie's confidante, Lady Eastlake.  Dakota Fanning will attend.

Based on one of the Victorian-era’s most notorious sex scandals, “Effie Gray” is a period drama has its world premiere at the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct 3-13, 2013. Dakota Fanning (right) is 19 now and plays Euphemia ”Effie” Gray, a teen who fights to escape a loveless marriage to celebrated art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) and be with pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. Emma Thompson (left) wrote the script and then underwent a horrific legal battle to release the film. She plays Effie’s confidante, Lady Eastlake. Dakota Fanning will attend and is the subject of a special spotlight program on Saturday, October 12.

There’s something SO satisfying about seeing an Oscar-buzz film long before it opens in theatres.  Lucky day!  The Mill Valley Film Festival, which starts this Thursday (Oct 3) and runs through Sunday, Oct 13, has just added several additional screenings of its most demanded films.  These are the ones that were well on their way to being sold out to California Film Institute (CFI) members before tickets were made available to the public.  Now up for grabs−− the world premiere of Richard Laxton’s period drama Effie Gray (Emma Thompson, Dakota Fanning, Claudia Cardinale) ; the U.S. premieres of John Wells’ August: Osage County (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis) and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto) and the California premiere of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbinder) .

The film titles below all carry hyperlinks to detailed film descriptions and a link to purchase tickets online.  If these films sound interesting, don’t dally, as they will sell out.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB     Friday  Oct. 11 – 9:15pm – CinéArts@Sequoia

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY    Saturday Oct. 12 – 9pm – CinéArts@Sequoia

12 YEARS A SLAVE   Sunday Oct. 13 – 11am – CinéArts@Sequoia

EFFIE GRAY   Sunday Oct. 13 – 8pm – Smith Rafael Film Center

Details:  The festival’s homepage is hereAdvance ticket purchase is essential for all films as this festival sells out.  The full film list with scheduling information and link to online ticket purchase are online here.  Most tickets are $14 and special events and tributes are more.  Tickets can also be purchased in person at select Marin ticket outlets.  The closest outlet to Sonoma County is located at 1104 Fourth Street, San Rafael, right next to the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.  Hours: 5 to 9 PM until October 2;  during the festival Oct 3 to 13, Mon-Thurs 11 AM to 15 minutes after the last show starts and Fir-Sun 10 AM to 15 minutes after the show starts.

Rush tickets: If seats become available, even after tickets have sold out, rush tickets will be sold. The rush line forms outside each venue beginning one hour before show-time. Approximately 15 minutes prior to the screening, available rush tickets are sold on a first-come, first serve basis for Cash Only.)

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September 30, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kendall Jackson’s 17th Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival—we came, we ate, we learned!

THE sandwich of the day at the 17th Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival—peanut butter, banana, roasted pork belly and heirloom tomato jelly— people came back in droves for thirds and fourths and fifths!

THE sandwich of the day at the 17th Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival—peanut butter, banana, roasted pork belly and heirloom tomato jelly— people came back in droves for thirds and fourths and fifths! Photo: Geneva Anderson

With all the events we pack tightly into the remaining weekends of our wonderfully warm fall, what happened yesterday can easily become a blur.  Saturday’s Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is well worth mentioning.   It sold out, as it always does, and those 3,000 lucky enough to attend were in for some culinary treats.  This year’s festival was bigger and better than ever and featured some amazing and instructive pairings of wines and flavorful heirloom-tomato centric foods.  Most of the food vendors gave out recipe cards explaining how to recreate the heirloom tomato marvels they’d whipped up.  Those who didn’t have cards were happy to chat.   I attended an interesting seminar on the nuances of tomato growing and came away with a plan for enhancing my end-of-season yield—cut off the blossoms and cut back the plants so that all energy goes into the fruit on the vine now.  A confession: before hitting the festival in the early afternoon, I dropped by the Apple Store in Santa Rosa to buy a Nike Fuelband which a lot of my friends are wearing to track their activities and help them manage their weight.  The madness inside the store—the new iPhone—was just insane, so I drove straight up to the festival and right into some HEAVY duty temptation.  With no one watching, I managed to find some outrageously delicious and creative tomato treats.  A special call-out goes to Fiorello’s Artisan Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Gelato….it was cool, refreshing and so satisfying.  Every year, San Rafael-based gelato company outdoes itself and comes up with yet another mouthwatering gelato that draws long lines and big smiles.   Many of the delicacies served were intentionally low-fat, and used sliced fresh juicy heirlooms as their prime ingredient….but volume is my downfall.  Today, I’m on the wagon!

A great idea!  A popsicle made of tomato water is refreshing, delicious and low-cal.

A great idea! A popsicle made of tomato water is refreshing, delicious and low-cal. With a serving team like this, it verged on theatre of the tomato. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The ever popular heirloom tomato tasting table is just one of the ways that Kendall Jackson celebrates the heirloom tomato—a chance to taste over 150 varieties all side by side and decide which ones are just right for you.

The ever popular heirloom tomato tasting table is just one of the ways that Kendall Jackson celebrates the heirloom tomato—a chance to taste over 175 varieties all side by side and decide which ones are just right for you. This year, there were several rare varieties of green heirlooms to sample. Photo: Geneva Anderson

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Photography in Mexico” from SFMOMA at the Sonoma County Museum—opening reception Saturday, September 28; two talks in early October

For over four years, Mexican photographer Yvonne Venegas was permitted to document the family and home of Maria Elvia De Hank, wife of millionaire Jorge Hank Rohn, the former mayor of Tijuana.  “Nirvana” from the series “Maria Elvia De Hank” points to the early roots of the exhausting and contradictory life of privilege. 2006; inkjet print; 19 1/2  x 24 in.; Collection SFMOMA; © Yvonne Venegas

For over four years, Mexican photographer Yvonne Venegas was permitted to document the family and home of Maria Elvia De Hank, wife of millionaire Jorge Hank Rohn, the former mayor of Tijuana. “Nirvana” from the series “Maria Elvia De Hank” points to the early roots of the exhausting and contradictory life of privilege. 2006; inkjet print; 19 1/2 x 24 in.; Collection SFMOMA; © Yvonne Venegas

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) holds one of the world’s most distinguished collections of photography from Mexico, which is part of an unprecedented statewide tour of works from SFMOMA’s photography collection while the museum building is closed for expansion through early 2016.  The Sonoma County Museum is the first host for Photography in Mexico from the Collection of SFMOMA which opens with a festive reception on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 6 to 8 PM.   Featuring approximately 100 photographs, Photography in Mexico reveals a distinctively rich and diverse tradition of photography in Mexico and includes works from Mexican photographers as well as foreigners who lived and worked in the country for years.  The show begins with works from the medium’s first flowering in the wake of the Mexican Revolution (1910–20) and goes on to explore the explosion of the illustrated press at midcentury; the documentary investigations of cultural traditions and urban politics that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s; and more recent considerations of urban life and globalization.  The exhibition includes work by Lola Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Carrillo, Alejandro Cartagena, Graciela Iturbide, Elsa Medina, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Edward Weston, and Mariana Yampolsky, among others.  Many of the photographs in the exhibition are recent gifts from Los Angeles collectors and philanthropists Dan Greenberg.

Enrique Metinides worked as a crime photographer in Mexico for over 50 years capturing murders, car crashes, and catastrophes for the nota rojas, Mexico’s infamous crime magazines.  “Rescate de un ahogado en Xochimilco con público reflejado en el agua,” (Retrieval of a drowned body from Lake Xochimilco with the public reflected in the water), 1960; gelatin silver print; 13.75 x 20.75 inches; SFMOMA, Anonymous Fund purchase; © Enrique Metinides

Enrique Metinides worked as a crime photographer in Mexico for over 50 years capturing murders, car crashes, and catastrophes for the nota rojas, Mexico’s infamous crime magazines. “Rescate de un ahogado en Xochimilco con público reflejado en el agua,” (Retrieval of a drowned body from Lake Xochimilco with the public reflected in the water), 1960; gelatin silver print; 13.75 x 20.75 inches; SFMOMA, Anonymous Fund purchase; © Enrique Metinides

“I am most interested in the lesser known contemporary work that illustrates the enormous divide of rich and poor,” said photographer and teacher Renata Breth, who will be giving a walk-through on October 10.  Breth won a large local following when she gave an engaging talk about the contextual history of Gregory Crewdson’s large-scale photographs in January at the Sonoma Film Institute.  “Hector Garcia and Enrique Metinides are photographers whose work and lives are fascinating.  Metinides, who for fifty years has photographed crime scenes and accidents, recently had a retrospective of his work at Aperture gallery in NYC.”

“It is a tremendous privilege to make these photographs available to a wide range of new audiences and forge fruitful relationships with institutions throughout the state,” says Corey Keller, SFMOMA curator of photography, who organized the tour. Photography in Mexico will also travel to the Bakersfield Museum of Art (September 11, 2014–January 4, 2015); and the Haggin Museum, Stockton (dates TBD).

9.Questions of land use and urban development pervade the work of contemporary Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena.  The stillness belies the violence that has a vice-grip on Mexico’s northern cities as the drug war has relocated to the suburbs. “Business in a Newly Built Suburb in Juarez,” from the series Suburbia Mexicana, 2009; inkjet print; 15 3/4 in. x 20 in.; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Alejandro Cartagena

Questions of land use and urban development pervade the work of contemporary Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena. The stillness belies the violence that has a vice-grip on Mexico’s northern cities as the drug war has relocated to the suburbs. “Business in a Newly Built Suburb in Juarez,” from the series Suburbia Mexicana, 2009; inkjet print; 15 3/4 in. x 20 in.; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Alejandro Cartagena

Exhibition Programming at the Sonoma County Museum

Thursday, October 3rd at 7 pmRevolution and Change in Mexico, Gallery talk by Tony White, SSU

Tony White will provide the historical background for the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the major political, social, economic changes in Mexico through the 1980s, and its transformation  into a modern urban, industrial country in recent years.  Since the Revolution led to a cultural renaissance beginning in the 1920s, he will also discuss the major developments in art, mural painting, literature and music.

Tony White is Professor Emeritus in History at Sonoma State University, where he taught Latin American History for 37 years.  He holds a Ph.D. in History from UCLA and is the author of Siqueiros, Biography of a Revolutionary Artist (Book Surge, 2009).  He has lived in Santa Rosa for 45 years. Click here for tickets.

Thursday, Oct. 10th at 7 pm—Photography in Mexico, Gallery talk by Renata Breth, SRJC

Renata Breth will highlight several of the photographers in the SFMOMA’s Mexican Photographer’s exhibition calling attention to unique Bay Area connections, influences and political aspects of the dynamic images.

Renata Breth, who grew up in Vienna, Austria, received her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in filmmaking and photography. She has lived in Sonoma County since 1985 teaches photography full-time at Santa Rosa Junior College. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and received numerous awards.  Click here for tickets.

Details:  Photography in Mexico from the Collection of SFMOMA has an opening reception, Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 6-8 PM.  The exhibition ends January 12, 2014.  The Sonoma County is located at 427 7th Street, Santa Rosa, CA.  Street Parking.  Hours: Tues-Sun 11 AM to 5 PM.  Admission: $7 adults; $5 65 and older; free for children under 12.  Information:  707 579-1500 or http://www.sonomacountymuseum.org/.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | SFMOMA, Sonoma County Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Great Film Festivals North of the Golden Gate Open in Early October—get ready!

Brian Percival’s film adaptation of Markus Zusak’s New York Times best seller “The Book Thief” (2013) is one of two films opening the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival, October 3-13, 2013.  Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson star as a couple raising a young German foster child (Sophie Nélisse) and hiding a Jew from the Nazis during World War II.

Brian Percival’s film adaptation of Markus Zusak’s New York Times best seller “The Book Thief” (2013) is one of two films opening the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival, October 3-13, 2013. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson star as a couple raising a young German foster child (Sophie Nélisse) and hiding a Jew from the Nazis during World War II.

The fall film festival season we’ve been waiting for kicks off in early October with three film festivals North of the Golden Gate—the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct 3-13, 2013), the 18th Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival (Oct 3-Nov 21, 2013) and the 5th Petaluma International Film Festival (Oct 11-13, 2013).

Stay-tuned to ARThound for detailed coverage, but below are the bare bones and ticketing information on each.  The three-day Petaluma International Film Festival overlaps with the final Fri-Sat-Sun of the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival and Mill Valley Film Festival both share an October 3 opening, With some planning though, you can easily see plenty of films at each of these festivals.

Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct 3-13)

Heading into its 36th year, the acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF36) kicks off Thursday, October 3, 2013 in high style with the Co-Opening night films Nebraska, from director Alexander Payne, and The Book Thief from director Brian Percival.  Bruce Dern and Will Forte will be in attendance for the Bay Area Premiere of Nebraksa at CinéArts@Sequoia in Mill Valley and Academy Award®-winner Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nélisse and Brian Percival will be in attendance for The Book Thief at the Century Cinema Corte Madera in Corte Madera.  An Opening Night Gala at the Corte Madera Town Center will follow the Opening Night Screenings where guests will enjoy delicious local cuisine and wine and music.

A scene from Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” (2013), one of two films opening the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival, October 3-13, 2013.  Bruce Dern plays a father who receives a sweepstakes letter in the mail and goes on a road trip across America’s heartland with his son Macgruber, played by Will Forte, to claim the prize. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

A scene from Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” (2013), one of two films opening the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival, October 3-13, 2013. Bruce Dern plays a father who receives a sweepstakes letter in the mail and goes on a road trip across America’s heartland with his son Macgruber, played by Will Forte, to claim the prize. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

On the heels of the prestigious Venice and Toronto festivals, MVFF has the proud distinction of presenting Bay Area premieres of the last five Academy Award-Winners for Best Picture—Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, The Artist and Argo—and festival organizers Mark Fishkin and Zoe Elton expect no less this year.  Aside from its array of big premieres, big nights, stars and luminaries, and tributes and awards, the carefully planned 11 day festival offers over 150 films and events that fit the informed, progressive and Bohemian zeitgeist of Northern California.  A few of the special interest categories include—animation, animal rights, Asian, Central Europe, Children’s Festival, comedy, environment/nature, fine arts, food, health, history, human rights, indigenous peoples, women, world cinema, and war.

There’s a huge buzz about Judy Dench’s performance in Philomena Steven Frears’ heart-tugging adoption story starring Dench and Steve Coogan.  Philomena tells the story of a down-on-his-luck journalist (Coogan) who teams up with older woman (Dench, 78 in real life) whose son was taken away after she became pregnant as a teenager and was forced into a Catholic convent cum slave-labor home for unwed pregnant girls run by Northern Irish nuns. The movie is based on a true story of Irish woman Philomena Lee’s 50-year struggle to find her son, who was sold for adoption in America, as told by Martin Sixsmith in his 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty-Year Search.

Because MVFF makes ticket available to California Film Institute members in advance of the general public, many of the films and special tributes are nearly sold out before they are publicly available. (For a list of films currently at rush,  click here.)  I’ll be pointing out several films over the next few days that still have availability and are unlikely to screen elsewhere, or, that have special programming combined with their screening that make them a must-see at Mill Valley.

Details:  The festival’s homepage is hereAdvance ticket purchase is essential as this festival sells out. To purchase tickets online for MVFF screenings, browse the film listings—the full list and scheduling information are online here.  Most tickets are $14 and special events and tributes are more.  Tickets can also be purchased in person at select Marin ticket outlets.

Rush tickets: If seats become available, even after tickets have sold out, rush tickets will be sold. The rush line forms outside each venue beginning one hour before show-time. Approximately 15 minutes prior to the screening, available rush tickets are sold on a first-come, first serve basis for Cash Only.)

Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival 2013 (Oct 3 – Nov 21)

The Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County presents the 18th annual Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival (SCJFF) which opens Thursday October 3, 2013 at Rialto Cinemas, Sebastopol, and ends November 21, 2013.  The festival conveniently runs on Thursdays at 1 PM and 7:30 PM and presents seven carefully selected films from Israel, France, Germany, Austria and the USA.  “You don’t have to be Jewish to love these films,” says Ellen Blustein, Film Festival Director who emphasizes their great stories. “We’re committed to providing high quality, entertaining, independent films to our loyal audience – after all – they are our community.”

Alice Taglioni and Patrick Bruel in Sophie Lellouche’s romantic comedy “Paris-Manhattan,” which opens the 18th Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival on Thursday, October 3 at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas.  Photo: courtesy SCJFF

Alice Taglioni and Patrick Bruel in Sophie Lellouche’s romantic comedy “Paris-Manhattan,” which opens the 18th Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival on Thursday, October 3 at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas. Photo: courtesy SCJFF

Opening the festival is Sophie Lellouche’s debut film, the romantic comedy Paris-Manhattan (2012) screening Thursday, October 3, at 1 PM and 7:30 PM Alice (Alice Taglioni) is beautiful, successful pharmacist in her 30s who is obsessed with Woody Allen and his films.  In lieu of a manly shoulder, she spills her secrets to an iconic poster of Woody that hangs in her bedroom.  She even prescribes his films to her customers who need advice and guidance beyond the traditional medicine she dispenses. France, 77 minutes, French with English subtitles.  click for trailer. Screens with Woody Before Allen, Short film, USA, 13 minutes, English.

The SCJFF always has a special event and on Thursday, October 31 presents a screening and a special musical performance.  The evening begins with music—a quartet from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will perform for the first time ever in Sonoma County.  Then, Josh Aronson’s acclaimed documentary Orchestra of Exiles (2012) will screen—the suspenseful chronicle of how one man, Bronislaw Huberman, helped save Europe’s premiere Jewish musicians from obliteration by the Nazis during WWII.  This densely layered story of the creation of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra (which in 1948 became the renowned Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, now conducted by Zubin Mehta) involves key characters including the high Nazi official, Goebbels; renowned conductors, Furtwangler and Toscanini; a future head of state, Chaim Weizmann; the families of victimized Jewish musicians who made up the ranks of orchestras across central Europe and Albert Einstein, who was an amateur violinist who liked to read music with Huberman.  The film features the music of Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell and others.  After the screening, there will be a reception where audience members can mingle with the musicians.  Details:  Click here for tickets and information about the entire festival or call 707-528-4222 or visit the Rialto Cinemas Box Office. Ticket prices range from $10-$20.

Petaluma International Film Festival (Oct 11-13)

5th Annual Petaluma International Film Festival (PIFF) runs Friday, October 11 through Sunday, October 13th at Petaluma’s Boulevard 14 Cinemas.  Organized by Saeed Shafa who founded the popular annual Tiburon Film Festival in 2002, PIFF’s programming also reflects a strong emphasis on international points of view and great storytelling.  The festival offers six screenings daily, starting at noon and running till about 11 PM, each time slot allocated to a full-length film and at least 1 short (30 minutes or less) for a total of 17 full-length films and 23 shorts. This year, filmmakers and/or films span the globe from Athens to Kosovo to remote Papua New Guinea to Senegal to Yemen.

Opening Day: The festival opens Friday, October 11 with a noon screening of Hermann Vaske’s Balkan Spirit (2013, Germany, 80 minutes).  Vaske and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek explore the cultural, philosophical, political and artistic renaissance that is literally breathing life into this amazing region after decades of war and stagnation.  The engaging film features Angelina Jolie, Isabelle Huppert, Emir Kusturica, Dušan Makavejev, Abel Ferrara, Jasmila Zbanic and many other who will be forever on your creative radar.

5 Films by Sonoma Flimmakers, Saturday October 12, 6 PM—PIFF will present a collection of films made by Sonoma County filmmakers in support of the community’s rich and diverse talent.  All the filmmakers will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.  On the program- Greg Blatman’s Kitty Litter (2012, 9 min, shot in Petaluma); Beth Nelson’s The Sky is the Roof (2013, 30 min—historical overview of pre-colonial Napa Valley); Laura Owen & Aron Campisano’s Chocolatés (5 min); Bret Smith’s Rat-Face Burattino (2013, 5 min) and Paul Winston’s The World is My Stage (2013, 26 min).

Salem Salavati's documentary The Last Winter (Zemestane akhar) (Iran, 2012, 95 min) won the FIPRESCI  Prize at the Yerevan International Film Festival and screens Sunday, October 13, at the 5th Petaluma International Film Festival.  With beautiful cinematography, it tells the story of rural family in a remote corner of Iran and, like many Iranian films, it employs allegory to make a larger statement the threatened culture of Iranian Kurdistan.

Salem Salavati’s documentary The Last Winter (Zemestane akhar) (Iran, 2012, 95 min) won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Yerevan International Film Festival and screens Sunday, October 13, at the 5th Petaluma International Film Festival. With beautiful cinematography, it tells the story of rural family in a remote corner of Iran and, like many Iranian films, it employs allegory to make a larger statement the threatened culture of Iranian Kurdistan.

Shafa has a passion for the great poetic of film.  This year’s gem from Iran is Salem Salavati’s documentary The Last Winter (Zemestane akhar) (Iran, 2012, 95 min), an elegant parable about the threatened culture of Iranian Kurdistan told through the story of a family who is unable to change and to come to terms with a tragedy. Salavati’s documentary is an expanded version of his previous short Snowy Dreams with the same picturesque winter scenery, calm, realistic life style and culture of Iranian Kurdistan.  Screens with the short Double Occupancy at 6:15 PM on Sunday, October 13, 2013.

PIFF Details: Tickets are $11 for all PIFF screenings and are available in person or for online purchase at Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas, 200 C Street, Petaluma.  All inclusive festival pass is $150 and can be obtained by phoning (415) 251-8433 or by emailing info@petalumafilmfestival.org.  Full schedule here.  Film descriptions here.

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wet juicy tomato-inspired bites…Kendall Jackson’s Heirloom Tomato Festival is Saturday, September 28, 2013

Japanese Black Trifele (truffle) is a 3 to 4" inch long pear-shaped, deep purple-black Russian heirloom tomato with gorgeous green shoulders and an unforgettable rich deep smoky, chocolaty flavor.  More than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes will be available for tasting, along with tomato-inspired dishes from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants, chefs, and food purveyors at the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Japanese Black Trifele (truffle) is a 3 to 4″ inch long pear-shaped, deep purple-black Russian heirloom tomato with gorgeous green shoulders and an unforgettable rich deep smoky, chocolaty flavor. More than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes will be available for tasting, along with tomato-inspired dishes from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants, chefs, and food purveyors at the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Those of us lucky enough to grow heirloom tomatoes know that absolutely nothing beats the exquisite sensation of biting into a sun-ripened juicy fruit in its peak.  For those of us in the Bay Area, tomato time is now!  As we pursue the great tomato hunt, there’s one stand-out event, the annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, which returns on Saturday, September 28, 2013, for a one-of-a-kind celebration of Sonoma County’s seasonal bounty.  Now in its 17th year, the popular festival has a cult like following, attracting tomato lovers from all over the West Coast.   Highlights include—a tasting table with more than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to sample (grown in the Kendall-Jackson culinary gardens); Heirloom
Tomato Grower’s Competition
; a chef competition featuring Bravo’s Top Chef® contenders; and tomato-inspired dishes from nearly 50 prominent wine country and Bay Area restaurants chefs and food purveyors. Guests will also enjoy wine tasting, live music and educational wine and garden seminars.  The event, which utilizes nearly 10,000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, benefits the Cooking With Kids Foundation, founded by uber-celeb chef Guy Fieri in 2010 to encourage youth to cook.

ARThound’s favorite part of the day is engaging complete strangers in tomato talk —what’s the best tasting heirloom tomato? What’s the best way to grow them?  Of course, it’s foolhardy to even attempt to answer these questions but it’s the kind of talk that happily engages any tomato fanatic—for hours.

NEW THIS YEAR:

VIP event package: This year, Kendall-Jackson is introducing a VIP event package featuring exclusive wine and food pairings and limited production reserve wines poured by the winery’s Master Sommelier.  Additional privileges include access to a private lounge tent, valet parking and a special entrance to the event.  Tickets for this extra special VIP experience are $150 per person.

Tomato tasting tent replaced!  For the first time, the event’s popular heirloom tomato tasting, which normally takes place in a huge central tented area, will take place in the gardens to celebrate these just-picked tomatoes fresh from the source.

Black cherry—a perfectly round cherry tomato that resembles a dusky purple-brown grape.  It has an irresistibly delicious classic black tomato flavor, sweet, yet rich, smoky and complex.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Black cherry—a perfectly round cherry tomato that resembles a dusky purple-brown grape. It has an irresistibly delicious classic black tomato flavor, sweet, yet rich, smoky and complex. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Tour KJ’s expanded gardens: In addition to wine and food, guests at the 2013 Tomato Festival can discover the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate’s recently expanded culinary and sensory gardens. Culinary gardener Tucker Taylor will lead tours throughout the day to reveal the captivating garden transformation, including an exploration of the garden’s wide variety of organic specialty produce and beautiful design enhancements.

About Kendall-Jackson Winery: Kendall-Jackson is one of America’s most beloved family-owned and operated wineries.  Founded by entrepreneur Jess Jackson and now led by his wife Barbara Banke and their children, Kendall-Jackson is based in Sonoma County and offers a range of acclaimed wines grown on the family’s estate vineyards along the coastal ridges of California.  A leader in sustainable vineyard and winery practices including solar cogeneration, water conservation, and natural pest control, 100% of Kendall-Jackson’s vineyards in California are SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice).  Learn more online at http://www.kj.com, and follow KJ on Facebook. Engage in this year’s Tomato Festival conversation on Twitter via @KJWines and #Kjtomfest.

Details: The 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 11AM to 4 PM.  Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens are located 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton CA  95439.  Advance ticket purchase is essential as the event sells out every year.  Purchase tickets online hereGeneral Admission tickets: $95; VIP Package $150. Wear Sun Protection to this outdoor event.

Directions:  From Highway 101 going NORTH, take River Road exit.  Come to stop light and turn LEFT going over the freeway.  Travel approximately 1 1/4 mile to first stoplight, which is Fulton Road.  Turn RIGHT at Fulton Road.

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens is less than 1/2 mile on the LEFT side of the road.  (If you go over the Hwy 101 overpass on Fulton, you’ve gone too far.)

From Highway 101 going SOUTH, take Fulton Road exit.  The FIRST driveway on the right is the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens.

2013 Food Vendors

A La Heart Catering Nicasio Valley   Cheese
Agave Mexican   Restaurant & Tequila Bar Nick’s Cove
Applewood Inn &   Restaurant Opa Helmut’s Rub
Backyard Partake
Bay View Resturant Peloton Catering
Beehive Cheese   Company Rocker Oysterfellers   Kitchen + Saloon
Catelli’s Savory Spice Shop
Chole’s French Cafe Sea Thai Bistro
Cookie… Take a   Bite Shoki Ramen House
Costeaux French   Bakery Smash Foods
Duck Club at Bodega   Bay Lodge & Spa Sonoma Latina Grill
Equus Restaurant SooFoo
Fiorello’s Summerfield Foods
G & G Market/   Harris Ranch Sosu Ketchup
Heirloom Ketchup Sur La Table
Jackson’s Bar &   Oven Taverna Sofia
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September 20, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The remarkable jewels of Bulgari are the de Young starting this weekend—lecture by noted jewelry historian Amanda Triossi this Friday evening

On a break from shooting “Cleopatra,” Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton strolled along Rome’s via dei Condotti to Bulgari.  "Richard was so romantic that he'd use any excuse to give me a piece of jewelry," Taylor wrote. "He'd give me 'It's a beautiful day' presents or 'Let's go for a walk' presents. Over the years I've come to think of these as my 'It's Tuesday, I love you' jewelry."  When they married for the first time— his second, her fifth—he gave her this necklace whose 16 Colombian emeralds weigh in at 60.5 carats.  Bulgari bought the necklace back at the Christies auction in 2011 for $6,130,500.   Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

On a break from shooting “Cleopatra,” Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton strolled along Rome’s via dei Condotti to Bulgari. “Richard was so romantic that he’d use any excuse to give me a piece of jewelry,” Taylor wrote. “He’d give me ‘It’s a beautiful day’ presents or ‘Let’s go for a walk’ presents. Over the years I’ve come to think of these as my ‘It’s Tuesday, I love you’ jewelry.” When they married for the first time— his second, her fifth—he gave her this necklace whose 16 Colombian emeralds weigh in at 60.5 carats. Bulgari bought the necklace back at the Christies auction in 2011 for $6,130,500. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

While the renowned jeweler Bulgari is always associated with Italy, Rome in particular, the Bulgari family actually hails from the small Greek village of Kallarrytes in the Pindhos mountains of Epirus, not far from Albania, noted for its silver carvers.  The talented and ambitious silver chaser, Sotirios Bulgari, arrived in Italy in 1881 with roughly 80 cents but, with hard work and ingenuity, soon had a flourishing business.  The very first Bulgari shops, which opened in Rome in the 1880’s, carried fine jewelry and items of personal adornment including necklaces, rings and ornate silver buckles and objects.  It wasn’t until the decades following World War II that the house developed what would come to be known as the “Italian school” of jewelry design, reinterpreting forms derived from Greco-Roman classicism and the Italian Renaissance.  Bulgari became famous for mixing semiprecious stones with diamonds, mounting ancient coins in gold jewelry, and creating easy-to-wear pieces made with unusual color combinations.

The influences and glorious history of the house are presented in The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950-1990, at San Francisco’s de Young Museum opening this Saturday, September 21. The 150 pieces on view will be a revelation to both jewelry and design lovers.  The exhibition takes a decade-by-decade look at Bulgari’s innovations in jewelry design. It includes several pieces from their Elizabeth Taylor collection, heavy on emeralds and diamonds of astounding size and quality, that were reacquired at the famous 2011 Christie’s auction.  One piece, an emerald-and-diamond brooch that also can be worn as a pendant, sold for $6,578,500 — breaking records both for sales price of an emerald and for emerald price per carat ($280,000).

Guest Lecture Friday September 18, 7:15 PM: Amanda Triossi, Jewelry Historian, Author, and curator of the Bulgari Heritage Collection will give a talk and multimedia presentation about Bulgari’s rich legacy.

Triossi knows Bulgari like no one else.  Along with co-author Daniela Mascetti, she wrote the first ever book on the jeweler in 1996—Bulgari (Abbeville, 1996)—and also co-authored the revised version, Bvgari (Abbeville, 2007). I have been pouring over this book for days now—a luscious big art book with hundreds of dazzling pictures and sketches which tells the story of the famous family and traces the progression of the distinctive Bulgari style as well as the distinct architecture of the Bulgari shops all over the world.  She’s also co-authored, with FAMSF curator Martin Chapman, the exhibition catalog, The Art Bulgari: La Dolce Vita and Beyond, 1950-1990 just out for the de Young show.

(Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Tickets $3, free for members Reservations required.  Click here to make a reservation and purchase tickets.) The auditorium will open at 6:30 pm to ticket holders only.  Does not include museum admission or entry to the special exhibition The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990. Access to special exhibitions and the permanent collection requires additional fees and tickets.

“Tubogas” choker, 1974, two-color gold with Greek silver coins, 27.5 x 7 cm, Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 404 N607. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte

“Tubogas” choker, 1974, two-color gold with Greek silver coins, 27.5 x 7 cm,
Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 404 N607. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte

Details: The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990, opens to the public on Saturday, September 21 at the de Young Museum and closes February 17, 2013.  The exhibition opens to members on Friday, September 20, 2013.  The de Young Museum Adults $20–$22, seniors 65+ $17–$19, students with current ID $16–$18, youths 6–17 $10–$12, members and children 5 and under free. Prices subject to change without notice.is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Tickets: Admission: $20-$22 adults; $17-$19 seniors; $16-$18 college students with ID; $10-$12 youths 6–17. (These prices include general admission.) Members and children 5 and under are free. General admission is free the first Tuesday of every month.  Tickets can be purchased on site and on the de Young’s website: deyoungmuseum.org. Tickets purchased online include a $1 handling charge.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Art, de Young Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Francisco Symphony gets a visit from Hollywood—director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams are teaming up for a concert at Davies on Monday, September 16, 2013

Composer John Williams and Director Steven Spielberg join San Francisco Symphony for “Maestros of Music,” an evening of music and film celebrating Williams and Spielberg’s 40 year collaboration on Monday, September 16, 2013.

Composer John Williams and Director Steven Spielberg join San Francisco Symphony for “Maestros of Music,” an evening of music and film celebrating Williams and Spielberg’s 40 year collaboration on Monday, September 16, 2013.

We all love the movies!  Late summer always ushers in the film festival season, a slate of new films and a focus on things cinematic.  This year, San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) programing features a variety of concerts and film screenings that let us appreciate the brilliant composers whose melodies set the mood and atmosphere of our favorite films.  On Monday, September 16, 2013, SFS is going Hollywood when Davies Hall welcomes award-winning composer John Williams and acclaimed director Steven Spielberg for “Williams and Spielberg: Maestros of the Movies,” an impressive evening of music conducted by Williams and film screenings introduced by Steven Spielberg.

Williams and Spielberg have collaborated for more than 40 years on iconic Hollywood films including “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Schindler’s List,” and the “Indiana Jones” series.  Williams returns to conduct SFS in selections from those film scores and others from his celebrated career, such as the “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” series.

During the second half of the performance, Spielberg will join his longtime collaborator on stage to present selections from their work together, including film clips projected on a large screen. Williams, now 81, has composed scores for 26 of Spielberg’s 27 feature films to date.  He’s received 48 Academy Award nominations and has been awarded five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and 21 Grammys.

Program:  John Williams conducts San Francisco Symphony with special guest host Steven Spielberg

Richard Whiting (arr. John Williams) Hooray for Hollywood (with film)

John Williams Suite from Far and Away 

John WilliamsThree Pieces from Harry Potter 

John Williams“Dartmoor, 1912” from War Horse

John Williams Star Wars Main Title

John Williams Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (with film)

John Williams The Circus Train Chase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (with film)

John Williams “The Duel” from The Adventures of Tintin (with film)

John Williams Theme from Schindler’s List 

John Williams “Adventures on Earth” from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

     Concert Length: Approx. 2 hours, including intermission.

Steven Spielberg and John Williams discuss their collaboration in the AFI (American Film Institute) and TCM (Turner Classic Movies) “ART OF COLLABORATION” series with this 2011 audience “sit down.”

Part I

Part III

Part IV

Williams will do a seventh “Star Wars” score:   While the SFS concert is all about Williams and Spielberg, we can’t ignore his integral role in the Star Wars series.  In late July, it was confirmed that Williams, who scored all six Star Wars films, will return for the seventh installment in the series.  Star Wars: Episode VII has no name yet and is set to come out in 2015.  Williams has not been briefed on the storyline, but the movie will be directed by J.J. Abrams.  “I’ve loved doing the Star Wars films with all the fanfare and flourish,” said Williams  in a Lucasfilm video interview. “The galaxy far, far away — I feel like I’m still in it, like I never really left it.”

Spielberg Tops Forbes list:  There is hardly anyone in Hollywood who can compare to Steven Spielberg and that comes right from Forbes who recently declared him the Top-Paid Man in Entertainment, earning $125 million in the 6/2-12-6/2013 time-frame that the stats were collected for the 2013 honor.  At 66, Spielberg is still a vital force in Hollywood. Last year’s Lincoln was a critical and financial success, earning 12 Oscar nominations and $275 million at the global box office. Two new TV shows from his Amblin Television, Under the Dome and The Americans, are hits, and he’s an executive producer on the upcoming fourth film in the lucrative Transformers franchise.  There’s also the money he earns from his incredible history in Hollywood as the top-grossing director of all time.  He is a principal partner of DreamWorks Studios.  Among his myriad honors, he is a three-time Academy Award winner.

Other film projects of the San Francisco Symphony: SFS is presenting a number of other special film programs with orchestral accompaniment during the 2013-14 season, including a  week of Hitchcock films—Psycho, The Lodger, Vertigo, and Hitchcock!— all with live musical accompaniment, during the week of Halloween. The season also includes a two-night screening of the film White Christmas, A Night at the Oscars, Chaplin’s City Lights, and Disney’s Fantasia in Concert.

Details: “Williams and Spielberg: Maestros of the Movies” is Monday, September 16, 2013 at 8 PM at Davies symphony Hall, San Francisco.  Tickets and information: This highly-anticipated concert sold out long ago but a number of premier orchestra seats have been released for $139. Purchase at www.sfsymphony.org  or by phone at (415) 864-6000.

Getting to Davies: Davies Symphony Hall is located at 201 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street, in San Francisco’s Civic Center, just across the street from City Hall.  The main entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.  Driving to San Francisco and Parking: Be sure to allow ample time when driving into San Francisco on the weekend and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge—there is frequently a 15 to 30 minute back-up on Highway 101 South from Sausalito onwards due to congestion around the toll-plaza.  Arrive early at your parking garage of choice because those also fill up.  Recommended Garages: Two garages are very close to Davies— the Performing Arts Garage (1/2 block)(Grove Street between Franklin and Gough Streets) and Civic Center Garage (roughly 2 blocks) (McAllister Street between Polk and Larken Streets) (both have flat $15 pay cash as you enter policy on performance nights)

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Film, Symphony | , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Craig Wright’s “The Pavilion”—old lovers meet at a high school reunion and unload 20 years of baggage—at Cinnabar Theater through September 22, 2013

Sami Granberg (left) and Nathan Cummings portray old lovers who encounter one another at a high-school reunion in "The Pavilion," Craig Wright’s bittersweet comedy which opens Cinnabar Theater’s 41st season.  Photo” Eric Chazankin

Sami Granberg (left) and Nathan Cummings portray old lovers who encounter one another at a high-school reunion in “The Pavilion,” Craig Wright’s bittersweet comedy which opens Cinnabar Theater’s 41st season. Photo” Eric Chazankin

Can you turn back the clock on love and start over?  That’s just one of the questions raised in Craig Wright’s delicate drama The Pavilion, which opens Cinnabar Theater’s 41st season.   Emmy nominee Wright, who also penned episodes for TV shows like “Six Feet Under” and “Lost,” is no stranger to the difficult but endlessly fascinating state of human connection and creating characters that embody the walking wounded.  The Pavilion, written in 2,000 and directed by Tara Blau, delivers many laughs amidst the universally familiar pain and frustration of love gone sour.  The play’s psychological acuity represents a slight but welcome shift in Cinnabar’s programming.

The Pavilion is enacted by three main characters and is set around a 20th high school reunion in Pine City, a small town that feels a lot like old Petaluma.  Sami Granberg and Nathan Cummings portray old lovers, Keri and Peter, who encounter one another at a high-school reunion.  Keri is now married and her life as a bank employee who escorts people to and from their safety deposit boxes is as stagnate as her marriage.  Peter is a big beefy likable guy, a therapist who’s in need of therapy himself.  He’s in a relationship but has come to the reunion hoping for another chance at love with Keri whom he abandoned twenty years ago after getting her pregnant.  Peter’s betrayal of Keri altered both of their lives for the worse and he wants redemption.

As the Narrator, Jeff Coté starts the play off philosophically by setting its context as the slow forward march of time.  He also adroitly plays a surprising number of secondary characters at the reunion who nudge Peter and Keri through their interactions.  Aided by Coté’s mastery of gestures, these humorous encounters reveal a motley collective of broken and warped souls at the Pine City reunion.

Under the feigned joviality of reconnection, everyone wants something.  Peter is most honest about his sense of dissatisfaction about where life has led him.  He is desperate to salvage lost love which he has fantasized will be his only real shot at happiness in this life but he must first get Keri to talk with him.  The clock stopped for Keri emotionally when she made the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy.  Twenty years later, she is still childless and anguished, and she claims she wants nothing to do with Peter.  A bevy of push pull signals reveal otherwise though.  The burning questions—will reconnecting heal their old wounds or inflame them?  Will talking about what transpired and the mistakes that were made free them to move on with their lives separately, or, will they find happiness ever after with each other?

Cinnabar Theater’s Tara Blau directs an exceptional dramatic journey which is well worth the price of admission (which is about half of what you’ll pay elsewhere).  Joe Elwick’s set is a wonderfully simple slice of small town nostalgia— a wooden dance hall, the Pavilion, with just a few tables and mood-setting Japanese lanterns whose backdrop is a picturesque lake.  To one side, there’s a garden and swing.  The Pavilion, ironically slated for destruction right after the reunion, holds a special place in the hearts of those former students and suggests the fragility of the past.

In Wayne Hovey’s capable hands, the beautiful lighting becomes a vehicle of great transformation, capable of evoking a myriad of moods and the magic of shooting stars.

From the beginning of the play, the Narrator (Coté ) functions as an all-seeing poetic consciousness capable of tracking the movements of the universe, from the enormous cosmos right down to the development of the little pavilion that is human consciousness and further down to this particular moment in Pine City High’s history.  Philosophically, every person becomes a lens through which the whole reflects itself and every passing moment a unique outgrowth of this unique universe.  It’s impossible to erase the past and start over but Peter imagines he is entitled to happiness and begs the Narrator to intervene and stop the inevitable.

Jeff Coté (left) and Sami Granberg star in "The Pavilion", a romantic new play  that opens Cinnabar Theater’s 41st season.  Coté is the Narrator and he comically plays a number of secondary characters—male and female— at a 20th high school reunion.  Granberg plays Keri, who has been seething since high school over being abandoned when she got pregnant. Photo:  Eric Chazankin

Jeff Coté (left) and Sami Granberg star in “The Pavilion”, a romantic new play
that opens Cinnabar Theater’s 41st season. Coté is the Narrator and he comically plays a number of secondary characters—male and female— at a 20th high school reunion. Granberg plays Keri, who has been seething since high school over being abandoned when she got pregnant. Photo: Eric Chazankin

Petaluman Nathan Cummings steps into the role of Peter with ease.  Here’s a guy who screwed up royally years ago and Cumming makes him fascinating as he ruminates dreamingly on why he’s entitled to another chance and how he’ll become a better man through love.  His shining moment comes when he takes to the pavilion and serenades Keri with “Down in the Ruined World,” a ballad which he delivers with intention.

Sami Granberg creates a resonant Keri—in a red satin dress, she’s still a youthful looking woman but she is frozen in bitterness and resigned to her fate.

The Pavilion is one of the most engaging plays I’ve seen at Cinnabar.  The story is laced with the pathos of regret and there’s no easy answer to the emotional wreckage that has emerged…the acting is genuine and it all rings true.

Details:  The Pavilion ends September 22, 2013.  Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. Cinnabar Theater is located 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, at the intersection with Skillman Lane, Petaluma, CA 94952.

Tickets: $25 for adults and $15 for ages 21 and under. Significant discounts available as part of a ticket package.  Purchase tickets online at www.cinnabartheater.org, or call 707.763-8920

Monday through Friday between 10 AM and 3 PM.  Tickets may also be available at the door, but advance purchase is recommended.  Seating is general admission but the theatre is open about 30 minutes prior to each performance.

September 14, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Francisco Symphony performs with MTT at Weill Hall this Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grammy award-winning pianist Yefim Bronfman, or “Fima,” performs with SFS at Weill Hall on September 12, 2013.  No stranger to the Wine Country, the passionate pianist has a wine named after him—Fimasaurus—a blend of cabernet and merlot produced by John Kongsgaard in Napa Valley.  Chocolate, cassis, and saddle leather lead its aromatic profile. Photo: Dario Acosta

Grammy award-winning pianist Yefim Bronfman, or “Fima,” performs with SFS at Weill Hall on September 12, 2013. No stranger to the Wine Country, the passionate pianist has a wine named after him—Fimasaurus—a blend of cabernet and merlot produced by John Kongsgaard in Napa Valley. Chocolate, cassis, and saddle leather lead its aromatic profile. Photo: Dario Acosta

As an appetizer to the delights that await us at Weill Hall in its second year, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) heads North this Thursday, September 12, for “MTT conducts Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1,” the first in a four concert series at Green Music Center (GMC) scheduled for the 2013-14 season.  In his only GMC performance this season, Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), who became SFS Music Director in 1985, will lead SFS in a program that includes the highly-anticipated West Coast premiere of young Canadian conductor Zosha Di Castri’s “Lineage.”  Di Castri, 28, is the first recipient of a New Voices Commission a program conceived of by MTT in collaboration with SFS, the New World Symphony Orchestra and publishing house Boosey & Hawkes.  The headliner is renowned guest pianist, Yefim Bronfman, who joins SFS for Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, one of the musical icons of Russian Romanticism and one of Bronfman’s signature offerings. SFS also plays Prokofiev’s otherworldly, outrageous, and over-the-top Third Symphony, based on material from the composer’s daring opera The Fiery Angel.

Program—Michael Tilson Thomas conducts SFS, with guest artist Yefim Bronfman

Zosha Di Castri

Lineage (New Voices Commission)

Tchaikovsky

Piano Concerto No. 1

Prokofiev

Symphony No. 3

Concert is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, including intermission

Inside Music at 7 PM:   Composer Zosha Di Castri and Peter Grunberg, musical consultant to SFS and Musical Assistant to MTT, will give an informative talk.  Free to ticketholders.

Yefim Bronfman— Affectionately known as Fima, Yefim Bronfman has been a frequent guest of the San Francisco Symphony since 1984.  He last performed with MTT and the Orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall and the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in December 2012 in concerts of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Among his recent recordings is one of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 with Mariss Jansons and the Bayerischer Rundfunk (2007) on Sony. He performed Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, commissioned for him, with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic and released on the Da Capo label. This year The Wall Street Journal praised Bronfman as “a fearless pianist for whom no score is too demanding,” and added, “…a more poetic touch has lately complemented his brawny prowess.”

Zosha Di Castri talks with Jeff Kaliss of San Francisco Classical Voice about “Lineage.” Video by Beth Hondi

Zosha Di Castri— The inaugural New Voices composer, Zosha Di Castri is a Canadian composer and pianist living in New York. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in composition at Columbia University, studying with Fred Lerdahl and teaching composition, electronic music, and music history.  Her work has been performed in Canada, the US, and Europe by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie, L’Orchestre de la Francophonie, the NEM, JACK Quartet, L’Orchestre national de Lorraine, members of the L.A. Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Talea Ensemble.  She has participated in residencies at the Banff Center, Domaine Forget, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s Forum, and the National Arts Centre’s summer program.  She was named a laureate of the 3rd International Composer’s Competition for the Hamburger Klangwerktage Festival, won two SOCAN Foundation awards for her chamber music in 2011, and in 2012, tied for the John Weinzweig Grand Prize for her first orchestra piece Alba, commissioned by John Adams and Deborah O’Grady and premiered at the Cabrillo Festival in 2011. Recently, her work Cortège garnered her the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music.

Di Castri’s work includes interdisciplinary collaborations in the realms of electronic music, sound installation, video, performance art, and contemporary dance. Her latest mixed-media works include Akkord I for flute, piano, electronics, and large sculpture, and a collaboration with choreographer Thomas Hauert of the ZOO Contemporary Dance Company on a new piece for electronics and dance at Ircam in Paris. She is also creating a new evening-length work for ICE in collaboration with David Adamcyk for ICElab 2014.

 

Details:  “MTT conducts Tchaikovsky” is September 12, 2013 at 8 PM at Green Music Center. Tickets $156-$20.   Advance ticket purchase for SFS at Green Music Center must be made through the SFS Box Office Box Office at (415) 864-6000 or online here.  You can choose your seat yourself only by phone; if you purchase tickets in advance online, best available seating will be assigned.  Tickets can also be purchased on September 12 in person at the Green Music Center Box Office one hour before the performance.   As of Tuesday morning, there was amply orchestra seating available.

For more information about San Francisco Symphony, visit http://www.sfsymphony.org/index.aspx

For more information about the Green Music Center, visit www.gmc.edu.

September 9, 2013 Posted by | Green Music Center, Symphony | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rare British Museum Treasure—The Cyrus Cylinder—makes its first visit to the U.S. and is at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum through September 22, 2103. Talk this Sunday

The Cyrus Cylinder, 539–538 BCE. Iraq, Achaemenid period (550–330 BCE). Baked clay. © Trustees of the British Museum

The Cyrus Cylinder, 539–538 BCE. Iraq, Achaemenid period (550–330 BCE). Baked clay. © Trustees of the British Museum

At just under 9 inches long and shaped like a barrel, the 2,500 year-old Cyrus Cylinder is a relatively small baked-clay artifact that is one of the British Museum’s greatest treasures.  It’s severely cracked and missing bits and pieces, but this humble object bears an account, in Babylonian cuneiform, by Cyrus, the King of Persia of his conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C.  The Cylinder, commonly referred to as the “the first bill of human rights,” is able to stand with the Rosetta Stone and the Magna Carta as one of the great icons of civilization and human rights.  Its inscription, in remarkably vivid Babylonian cuneiform, looks like a series of scrawls and scratches to the untrained eye but encouraged freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire, which stretched from present-day Egypt to India in the day of King Cyrus.  Long been hailed as an international symbol of tolerance and justice, the Cylinder traveled to Tehran’s National Museum of Iran in 2010 where it was seen firsthand by about half a million people but it has never before been on view in the United States.  It is now on display at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum as part of The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning through September 22, 2013.

The exhibition also includes 16 other rare ancient Persian objects in the British Museum’s collection which provide a context for understanding the Cylinder’s cultural and historical significance.  Included are a solid gold armlet, in the form of a winged griffin-like mythical creature, and the seal of Darius I, showing the Persian king in his chariot hunting lions.  If you visit the exhibition, there are a number of talks (described below) by esteemed Persian scholars on the Cylinder and its context which will maximize your experience at the Asian.

Dating to 539 B.C., the Cyrus Cylinder was uncovered in 1879 at Babylon (in modern Iraq) during a British Museum excavation.  The original function of the Cylinder was as a foundation deposit—an object buried under an important building to sanctify it.  The Cylinder was buried beneath the inner city wall of Esagila, the Temple of Marduk, Babylon’s protector God, during the extensive rebuilding program undertaken by Cyrus the Great after he captured the city in 539 B.C.  While the Cylinder itself was never intended to be seen or used again, the its text was probably a proclamation that was widely distributed.

The Cylinder is vital for understanding how Cyrus presented himself and how the Achaemenid dynasty would be carried on.  In his defeat of Babylon’s rulers, Nabonidus and his son, Belshazzar, Cyrus proclaimed his continuation of the Neo-Assyrian empire over the muddled Neo-Babylonian empire.   The Babylonian empire reached its zenith the great Nebuchadnezzar, but fell into a state of chaos under his immediate successor, Nabonidus, who after ruling for only three years, went to the oasis of Tayma and devoted himself to the worship of the moon god Sin.  He declared his son Belshazzar co-regent and left him in charge of Babylon’s defense and, in a story chronicled in the Bible’s book of Daniel, Cyrus was able to enter the city, conquer Belshazzar and assume rule, thus greatly impacting the cultural legacy of the Near East.

The Cylinder’s inscription chronicles how Cyrus, aided by the god Marduk, gained victory without a struggle; restored shrines dedicated to various gods; and allowed captive peoples to return to their homelands. The text does not mention specific religious groups, but it is thought that the Jews were among the people who had been forcibly brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II (the previous ruler of Babylon) and then allowed by Cyrus to return home. The Bible chronicles that the Jews returned from Babylon at this time and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem.  Cyrus is revered in the Hebrew Bible because of the qualities of tolerance and respect documented in the Cylinder’s proclamation.  Such enlightened acts were rare in antiquity.

The Cyrus Cylinder is an object of world heritage, produced for a Persian king in Iraq and seen and studied for more than 130 years in the British Museum.  Today, according to John Curtis, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum, there are just a handful of experts who are actually fluent in ancient Babylonian cuneiform and able to read the Cylinder.  “The Cyrus Cylinder and associated objects represent a new beginning for the Ancient Near East,” said Curtis. “The Persian period, commencing in 550 BC, was not just a change of dynasty but a time of change in the ancient world.”

The values of freedom from captivity and freedom of religious practice proclaimed by Cyrus the Great are enduring ideas underlying ethical governance that have made the Cylinder a universal icon. Today, a copy of the Cylinder is on display in the United Nations building in New York City. The Cylinder appears on postage stamps issued by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it was seen firsthand by about half a million people at the 2010-2011 exhibition in Tehran.

Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum, said, “The San Francisco Bay Area is home to both the signing of the United Nations Charter and the birth of the Free Speech Movement, major pillars supporting human rights and civil liberties. The Asian Art Museum is proud to partner with the British Museum and our U.S. museum partners to bring the Cyrus Cylinder to San Francisco. This important object provides not only a foundation for understanding the ancient world, but also a touchstone for continued efforts to strive for common human freedoms.”

Sunday, September 8, 2013, 2 PM—Dr. David StronachNew Light on the Cyrus Cylinder—British archaeologist, David Stronach, Professor Emeritus of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley, speaks about new discoveries related to the Cyrus Cylinder.  Stronach, recognized as a pioneer of archaeology in Iran, graduated from Cambridge in 1957, and was made director of the newly founded British Institute of Persian Studies in Tehran in 1961, holding that post for some 20 years. During that time, he excavated at Pasargadae (1961-1963) and Nush-i Jan (1967-1968).  He is a leading expert on Pasargadae, the capital city of Cyrus, and the gardens and monuments of Cyrus and will talk about the Oxus treasure.

[ARThound’s previous (2011) coverage of Dr. Stronach “Ancient Iran from the Air:” acclaimed archaeologist David Stronach presents Georg Gerster’s forthcoming book on Iran, at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor this Saturday]

Sunday September 22, 2013 at 2 PM—Dr. Jennifer RoseFrom Samarkand to San Francisco.  Dr. Jennifer Rose, professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University, provides an introduction to the Zoroastrian religion, one of the world’s oldest surviving belief systems. From its origins in Bronze Age Central Asia to its evolution across three powerful Iranian empires, and its expansion to India, Europe and North America, Zoroastrianism has had a profound impact on surrounding cultures and religions.  Advance ticket purchase recommended.

Details: The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning is at the Asian Art Museum through September 22, 2013.  The Asian Art Museum is located at 200 Larkin Street (at Civic Center Plaza), San Francisco.  Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended evening hours every Thursday until 9 p.m.  Admission (Cyrus Cylinder exhibition is included in general admission): $12 Adults; $8 seniors, students; $8 youth 13-17 and free to 12 and under.   On weekends, admission is $2 more.  Parking: The Asian Art Museum does not have a parking facility, but it is served by the following parking facilities—all within walking distance of the museum: Civic Center Plaza Garage is the closest and most reasonably priced and has 840 spaces. From Van Ness, turn left on McAllister.  Entrance is on McAllister, between Polk and Larkin Streets.  Info: www.asianart.org.

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Art, Asian Art Museum | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment