Geneva Anderson digs into art

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 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

Site Specific: Sonoma State University’s art collection installed at the Green Music Center is up for viewing, along with 10 Christo collages in Weill Hall’s mezzanine

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Come early to the Green Music Center’s opening festivities this weekend.  You won’t want to miss the 10 artworks—4 sculptures (3 outdoors and 1 indoors), 1 oil painting and 5 photographs by artists Bruce Johnson, Robert Ellison, Stephen De Staebler, Jack Stuppin and Wolfgang Volz, in Sonoma State University’s art collection newly installed at the Green Music Center.  Also on display in the Weill Hall mezzanine are 10 collages by Christo, from the Sonoma County Museum’s Tom Golden Collection, on loan to the Green Music Center through December, 2012

Bruce JohnSon “Asia” installed on the north end of the campus, across from the Green Music Center Education building

Robert Ellison: “Bar Note Bench” is installed outside the  Green Music Center Education building.

Stephen De Staebler: “Winged Figure Ascending,” in front of GMC;  “Figure With Sandstone Head” installed in lobby of
education wing

Jack Stuppin: “Alexander Valley and St. Helena,” in the Founders’ Room off the Dwight Courtyard Gallery, which is the long hallway leading from Prelude restaurant to the Weill Hall

Wolfgang Volz: 5 photos of Running Fence, hung in Dwight Courtyard Gallery which is the long hallway leading from Prelude restaurant to the Weill Hall

Stay-tuned to ARThound for a feature on this new art collection.

Details:  The public is encouraged to visit the Green Music Center’s artworks.  General public viewing for the artworks inside has not been thoroughly mapped out.  The building is generally accessible throughout the week, as Sonoma State classes are ongoing.  On concert nights, however, only ticket-holders are permitted in the venue.   The 10 Christo collages from the Sonoma County Museum’s Tom Golden Collection are on loan to the Green Music Center through December, 2012, and are located on the second floor mezzanine.

September 29, 2012 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Green Music Center opens next Saturday with Lang Lang’s inaugural concert in the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Concert Hall—he’ll be playing the Center’s Steinway … AND you can still buy tickets for outdoor seating

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7 days and counting!  We’re all looking forward to Chinese celeb pianist Lang Lang’s concert Saturday evening at the Joan and Sanford I Weill Hall, officially opening the Green Music Center.  Lang Lang will play a Steinway piano owned by the center that he knows well.  The gregarious 29 year old prodigy, deemed “the hottest artist on the classical musical planet” by the New York Times, visited the hall at the invitation of Joan and Sanford Weill in January, prior to their $12 million donation in March.  Lang Lang was asked to test the hall’s acoustics by playing the center’s 9 foot concert series Steinway grand piano.  He recognized it.

The Green Music Center acquired the gorgeous ebony piano in 2009 when it was gifted by an anonymous Sonoma County donor.  Every Steinway grand piano is a numbered work of art with more than 12,000 individual parts and over 125 patented features. The GMC’s piano, #552, had previously been in Seattle and it came to the Green Music Center slightly used but in mint condition.  When Lang Lang checked its number, he confirmed that he’d played it before.  After playing the piano for nearly an hour, he gave both it and the hall’s acoustics a stellar thumbs up according to Kamen Nikolov, associate director of production operations at the Green Music Center.  Nikolov spoke to me during a tour of the 1,400 seat Weill Hall on July 10, 2012.   The Weill’s, who are great fans and friends of Lang Lang, wanted him to play the inaugural concert and wouldn’t take no for an answer.   In the video clips below, Nikolov talks about the Steinway and Lang Lang and he plays a Bach piece demonstrating the Steinway’s magnificient sound and Weill Hall’s stellar acoustics.

If you’ve never heard Lang Lang play before, you’re in for an utterly dazzling display of ebony and ivory, and bursts of color, outrageous color.  If you’re familiar with his talent, it’s rumored that he’s getting even better: the master classes he been taking of late have matured him and led him into a more authentic emotionality.   There’s only one Lang Lang and only one magical celebration of this opening of this lovely hall…so don’t miss out.

Stay tuned to ARThound for several articles this coming week exploring the Green Music Center and Weill Hall, including an interview with Nolan Gasser, the acclaimed Petaluma composer whose Sonoma Overture was especially commissioned by Santa Rosa Symphony for its inaugural concert in Weill Hall on Sunday.

Thrilling!  Weill Hall Acoustics: Kamen Nikolov plays Bach Prelude in C Major

Lang Lang’s Program for Saturday’s Inaugural concert:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Piano Sonata No. 5 in G major, KV 283

Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, KV 282

Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, KV 310


Frédéric Chopin:

Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op 23 in G minor

Chopin Ballade No. 2 Op 38 in F Major

Chopin Ballade No. 3 Op 47 in A flat

Chopin Ballade No. 4 Op 52 in F minor

Read ARThound’s review of Lang Lang’s performance at Davies Symphony Hall, January 18, 2011 here.

Lang Lang teaches Mozart: click here for Ben Chan’s April 11, 2012 Piano Sage blog post showing video of Lang Lang teaching a piano master class in Mozart, explaining the nuances of Mozart.

Lang Lang takes a master class on Beethoven:  

Outdoor Seating for Lang Lang’s concert Saturday is Still Available:  As of Friday at 4:30 p.m., the tickets sales office reported that there was still ample outdoor lawn seating at $25 per person (767 seats had sold with a total capacity of 2,700) and outdoor table seating at $55 per person (668 had sold with a total capacity of 1648)

To purchase tickets online, click here.

If you encounter difficulty with online purchases, tickets can purchased by phoning the Box Office at (866) 955-6040 open Monday–Thursday 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or In Person at the Green Music Center Box Office (same hours as above).

Don’t Miss Out on the rest of the Opening Weekend!

Sunrise Choral Concert, Sunday, September 30, 2012, 7a.m.:  Watch the sunrise through the windows of Weill Hall while marveling in the vocal splendor of local choral ensembles and soloists. This free choral concert, which will run about 40 minutes, features original compositions by Jeff Langley and Amanda McTigue, performed by members of the community including the Sonoma State University Chorus and Chamber Singers, Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus, Maria Carrillo High School Chamber Singers, Cantiamo Sonoma and The Sunrise Chamber Players.  Vocal soloists include Carol Menke, Jenni Samuelson, Christopher Fritzshe, Kevin Baum, and Thomas Hart.   There will be a reception in the lobby afterward.  Completely Sold Out!

Santa Rosa Symphony’s Orchestral Opening Concert, Sunday 2 p.m.:  The Santa Rosa Symphony will proudly step over the threshold of its new performance home as Resident Orchestra at the Green Music Center on Sunday, September 30, celebrating 85 years of music making and recognizing three individuals who helped usher in this new era: Conductor Emeritus Corrick Brown, Conductor Laureate Jeffrey Kahane and current Music Director Bruno Ferrandis.

Maestro Brown will conduct Beethoven’s overture, Consecration of the House as an appropriate beginning to the 2 p.m. concert and Maestro Ferrandis takes the podium for the remainder of the program—Ravel’s Bolero, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, performed by Kahane, and Copland’s great Canticle of Freedom, featuring the 100-voice Symphony Honor Choir.

World Premiere Composition by Nolan Gasser:  The Symphony has commissioned an orchestral work by Petaluma resident and critically-acclaimed contemporary composer Nolan Gasser. His Sonoma Overture evokes the natural beauty of Sonoma County, and recognizes the energy and dynamism of its cities, industries and people.  The piece will introduce the second half of the concert.

Seating Indoors is Sold Out;
Lawn and Table Seating is Still Available:
Outdoor Table Seating on the Weill Terraces (many have a good view inside the hall) is $25 per person.  Outdoor lawn seating is complementary but you should reserve your tickets in advance.  Tickets for outdoor seating will be available at the door, subject to availability.   The outdoor lawn seats do NOT have a stage view but large outdoor viewing screens will be installed and a sound system should deliver very high quality sound.  If you go for the outdoor option, remember to dress for the chill and bring blankets or something to sit on.  Low chairs are allowed.

For tickets, purchase (or reserve) online at  OR by phone (707) 546-8742 OR in person at the Symphony Patron Services Office, 50 Santa Rosa Avenue (first floor, off elevator lobby), from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Selling out the HOUSE!!!!   Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas: Sunday, September 30, 2012, 7:30 p.m.:   The capstone of the Grand Opening weekend celebration is the band The New York Times hails as “the most popular and accessible bluegrass act in the country.”  Alison Krauss’ remarkable career goes back more than a quarter century. In 2000, she gained legions of new fans with her performance on the soundtrack of the Coen brother’s hit film, O’ Brother, Where Art Thou. She has won 27 Grammys, the most of any female artist in history, and has collaborated with Robert Plant, James Taylor, Phish, Dolly Parton, Yo-Yo Ma, and Bonnie Raitt.

Seating Indoors is Sold Out;
Lawn Seating is Still Available:
As of Friday, 4:30 p.m., there were 32 tickets, $25 each, left for Outdoor lawn seating.  To purchase tickets online, click here.  If you encounter difficulty with online purchases, tickets can purchased by phoning the Box Office at (866) 955-6040 open Monday–Thursday 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or In Person at the Green Music Center Box Office (same hours as above).

September 23, 2012 Posted by | Classical Music, Green Music Center | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Field Days–Jonah Raskin’s Year-long Odyssey to find the Perfect Local Farm Yields an Abundant Harvest. Photographs on view at Sonoma State Library through April 2010

Several months ago, I was given a feast–Jonah Raskin’s memoir Field Days, A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking in California.  His writing is elegant, the content substantial and the story is moving–one of personal growth through re-connection with farming the land—our land, here in Sonoma County.  While busily harvesting my own garden, I found myself reading a chapter or more a day of Field Days and underlining like crazy, which I did not do with Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  Pollen gave me so much to think about factually that it was overwhelming and his writing, while excellent, didn’t really stir me.  With Field Days, not only did I learn about the local organic farming movement around our community of Sonoma through the well-told stories of involved individuals and passionate local farmers,  I witnessed Raskin’s transformation as well.   In the course of a year, as Raskin digs into this project and embraces the locavore lifestyle (a locavore is a person who shops locally), we witness his reconnection to the earth and ultimately to himself.  It almost seems that he is channeling Thoreau.

 Jonah Raskin is a well-published author, poet and journalist who is chairman of the Communications Studies Department at Sonoma State University.  He is proud of his activism and status as a 1970’s counterculture radical and his previous books reflect that.  He has written about marijuana, Abbie Hoffman, Alan Ginsberg and imperialism. In recent years, he has published poetry and begun to explore Northern CA writers—The Radical Jack London, Writings on War and Revolution (2008). 

Jonah Raskin speaking at Windrush Farm, Chileno Valley, August 2009 by Geneva Anderson

Field Days is immersive reporting or participatory journalism at its best—it springs from Raskin’s curiosity about the renaissance in local organic farming in Northern California– from a sociological and personal health and happiness perspective.   Raskin grew up in Long Island in the 1940’s and 50’s with free thinking parents who grew all their own food.  As suburbia encroached, the family relocated to the bohemian haven of Occidental and again found their rhythm.  Raskin lived in the family home until a few years ago and fondly recalls his fruit trees.  At age 65– after surviving a life-threatening health situation—he realized it was time to refocus and to get around to some things he’s been meaning to do—learn how to live in real harmony in this magical and historic place Sonoma that the rest of the world calls paradise.

What I lost was not a mystery to me.  I had lost the world of my childhood… Before it was too late, before life passed me by, I wanted to be in touch with the earth again.  I wanted to regain something I felt I had lost, and to work alongside men and women who were cultivating the earth.  I wanted to eat as though for the first time, with a sense of newness.(page 13)

Organizationally, Field Day’s 12 chapters can each be treated like a short story, entertaining and fulfilling, with digressions here and there.  Raskin starts his quest by talking with his friends like Mimi Luebbermann (Windrush Farms, Chileno Valley).  Mimi is a farmer, herder, foodie and a transplanted Berkeley writer who has authored several best-selling cookbooks.  With the assistance of local photographer Paige Green, who documents his journey, Raskin explores the old rural life in his neighborhood.  He has been living in an old barn close to Sonoma State University.  His chats with his neighbor “The Bean Queen”– Sharon Grossi of Valley End Farm, Penngrove,  the largest organic vegetable grower in Sonoma County about her struggles.  He explores the concept of “local” with Lure of the Local author Lucy Lippard.  Lippard, originally from New York, found her special place elsewhere and put down roots, a process Raskin seems fascinated with.  Momentum builds as Raskin listens to Alice Waters advocate for small organic farms at Copperfield’s bookstore in Petaluma and understands that she and other restauranteurs depend on California’s small organic growers for their produce. 

Raskin starts interviewing “founding farmers,” along with field workers, restauranteurs, farmer’s market vendors, people at the Whole Foods corporation, and smaller grocers.  Particularly interesting are his profiles of the visionaries who spearheaded California’s local organic movement and infused those around them with an environmental consciousness– Warren Weber (Star Route Farms, Marin), Anne Teller and her family and colleagues (Oak Hill Farm), and farmer and teacher Bob Cannard (Sonoma, founder Green String Farm).  Later in the book, members of the work crews at Oak Hill farms, laborers who toil in the fields and are the backbone of the California farm, are brought to life.  Through these unfortgettable farmers and workers, Raskin builds a emotional landscape whose foundation—of hopes, dreams, visions, struggles, rivalries, extreme risk and hard work—is every bit as important as the physical environment he is exploring.

After six months of talk and research, he zeros in on his farm of choice, Oak Hills Farms of Glen Ellen, in the heart of Sonoma Valley, owned by Anne Teller widow of Otto teller, one of the founders of the environmentalist movement in Sonoma County.  Glen Ellen is comfortable territory for Raskin whose 2008 book explored Jack London’s life there.  Jack and Charmain London were among the ancestors of today’s organic farmers and ranchers and created a life for themselves in Glen Ellen that gave them a great deal of satisfaction, a satisfaction Raskin yearns for also. 

But even at first sight I felt enclosed and protected within the Oak Hill world that surrounded me, and I wanted to embrace it in return.  Of course, I didn’t blurt out my feelings on that first day.  I wanted to see if the place was really as spectacular as it seemed to be.  Was the beauty skin deep or was there also underlying beauty not immediately apparent. (page 64)

He describes his first meeting at Oak Hill’s Red barn store with a “locavore” –a person who shops locally.  The concept takes hold of him and he realizes that he has entered “the world of the locavores” and he digs it. 

Why not shop, cook, and eat what was available…expressing much the same attitude as Henry David Thoreau, who urged his contemporaries to “live in the season as it passes” and “open all your pores and bathe in all the tides of Nature in all her streams and oceans, at all seasons.”  (page 71)

Oak Hill’s owner Anne Teller, a passionate advocate for the responsible stewardship of the land, invites Raskin to wander around Oak Hill and take it all in.  By chapter 3, Raskin is in London, England, discussing farming there, but his heart is back in Glen Ellen.  When he returns, he sets up interviews at Oak Hill and soon he is working “like hell” in the fields, tilling, planting and harvesting right along with Mexican farm-workers whom he befriends and learns how to plant and harvest from.

Jonah Raskin planting at Oak Hill Farm by Candi Edmondson

Writing of the day the workers regarded him as one of them—

I had never worked so fast or so accurately.  No one had told us to work quickly, but we all did.  All I could see was the ground in front of me.  No one spoke; there was nothing to say.  No one had assigned individual tasks, but each of us assumed a responsibility and took turns doing what had to be done.  By now I had also lost a good deal of my self-consciousness and awkwardness.  The field was my home now, and I knew instinctively what to do.  I loved the earth, and it belonged to me. (page 161) 

Raskin also works at the local farmers’ market in the Sonoma Plaza and connects with people who embrace the farm to table lifestyle.  He begins to cook, eat and live  more consciously, sumptuously and passionately.  Inspired by Michael Pollan’s writing, Raskin flushes out the difference between local organic and Big Corporate Organic as he penetrates the Whole Foods chain via the Sonoma store and shows why the store and what it stands for is a bad fit for the town of Sonoma but a better fit for the towns of Napa and Sebastopol.  Now that the organic agriculture business has attained cultural legitimacy, it ironically has become a paradox—it has come so far from its anti-industrial food roots in the early 1900’s that it now fully embraces the logic of capitalism, specifically of California agribusiness.  Raskin, an old skeptic, does a good job of pointing out that eating ethically has become very complex.  Food choices are moral choices and we need to think about how we want our food produced and delivered. 

For Raskin, buying and eating foods grown locally and organically, with the chain from farmer to customer as small as possible, is a no-brainer from the perspective of taste and values.  His wish is that if we all could embrace this locovore lifestyle, we could be happier and healthier.  I thank my lucky stars that I reside in Sonoma County where farmers markets are plentiful and where for most of us, our political consciousness is backed by the economic means to eat largely what we want to eat.  The stark reality of the global situation is that not everyone can eat what they want or even regularly.  And for most consumers right now, even in California, the difference between big organic versus sustainably grown and locally produced organic is nuance.   For Raskin though, having thought these issues through, connected with the land and discovered the joy of eating locally and of a local network, it has made all the difference– 

A change had come over me at Oak Hill.  The more I went down to the ground, the further up my imagination and my spirit had soared.  The earth elevated me even as it held me in its embrace. … With my hands and face in the dirt I had been inspired. (p 285)

What would a book about food be without a mouthwatering feast?   Raskin delivers–to celebrate his year in the fields, he lovingly prepares a vegetarian dinner for 8 friends and serves it outdoors under the oak trees.  This rustic feast is comprised of the freshest local organic ingredients—tomato soup from slow roasted tomatoes topped with shaved Gruyère, a creamy risotto with his own reduced vegetable stock topped with grated Parmesan, a green salad dressed with a De Vero olive oil and rice wine vinegar, corn on the cob with Strauss Family Creamery butter, heirloom tomatoes, sautéed brightly colored peppers, fresh picked pears and peaches with dark Scharffen Berger chocolate.  The meal, which goes on for hours, is savored by all and documented by photographer Paige Green–the empty table becomes the cover shot for the book.  Of course, those friends gathered at the table must have also been celebrating the remarkable transformation they observed in their friend.

I felt local now, too, a part of the earth, attached to the barn, the contours of the land, the valley and mountains an these people…When I went home to my barn, I felt as happy as I had at any time in my life.  Feelings of happiness I had learned to distrust over the course of my life.  If something was good, it was sure to change for the worse.  I had learned that lesson early and well.  But this time I trusted the happiness; it felt a part of me—something inside and organic and I allowed it to surge. (p. 286)

Field Days makes an enormous contribution to the way people should think about where their food comes from and celebrates the local people who toil with passion to grow it.  I really love the way Raskin brings his poetic insight to our local history and shares his own journey of self-discovery.  Anyone who is interested in growing and eating really fresh food will enjoy this book.

The show “Field Days Search for a Sustainable Feast” at Sonoma State Library Art Gallery (on the second floor), through April 2010, pairs Raskin’s elegant passages from Field Days with photos taken by Paige Green and Candi Edmmondson.  Field Days, A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking in California, is a UC Press, Simpson Book in the Humanities, hardback, May 2009, ISBN 9780520259027, paperback September 2010, ISBN 9780520268036.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Book | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment