Mar 8 Sun Canterbury Choral Society Performs A Spring Festival of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Not all was sunshine in this composer's world

Not all was sunshine in this composer’s world – at least till his later younger love came along

Sunday, March 8, 2020 at 4pm
Canterbury Choral Society Performs A Spring Festival
featuring the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Toward the Unknown Region, Dona nobis pacem, Sancta Civitas with full orchestra and organ; and Steven Graff performing the Piano Concerto in C

Vaughan Williams Festival
Toward the Unknown Region (1907) — Choral and orchestral work using the words of the poem “Darest thou now, O soul” from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
Two years before Vaughan Williams composed his famous Sea Symphony, he premiered this beautiful choral-orchestral work uses the words of the poem “Darest thou now, O soul” from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. This short, poignant work exhibits the craft of tone, phrase and melodic line that is emblematic of the composer’s beautiful choral writing.

Dona nobis pacem (1936)—for chorus and large orchestra, with soprano and baritone soloists
During World War I, Vaughan Williams was an ambulance wagon driver in France and Greece. The untold suffering he witnessed had a profound impact on his life. For many years after the war he struggled with composing. Then from 1921 to 1936 he returned to conducting, teaching, and composing, producing dozens of works. In 1936 he completed Dona Nobis Pacem as a plea for peace by referring to recent wars during the growing fears of a new one. His texts were taken from the Anglican Mass, and from three poems by Walt Whitman, a political speech, and sections of the Bible.

Sancta Civitas (1926) — oratorio based upon texts from Revelation.
Although its title is in Latin, the libretto is entirely in English, based upon texts from Revelation from several translations, including Taverner’s Bible. Late in life, Vaughan Williams called Sancta the favorite of his choral works. It is scored for a full orchestra with organ, as well as a mixed chorus, a semi-chorus, a “distant chorus” of children (accompanied by an offstage trumpet), a baritone solo, and a tenor solo. The text of the work paints a picture of the battle between good and evil, and of humankind’s destructive nature.

Piano Concerto in C [1933] The Piano Concerto in C is from Vaughan Williams’ post-WWI era of composition, using the piano both for its virtuosic potential and as a profoundly percussive instrument with thick textures and tones, evoking the music of Ravel, Bartók and Hindemith.
Tickets at CanterburyChoral or at the door $25, $20 for seniors.

More on lives of composer, conductor and soloist

Ralph Vaughan Williams

was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.

Vaughan Williams was born to a well-to-do family with strong moral views and a progressive social outlook. Throughout his life he sought to be of service to his fellow citizens, and believed in making music as available as possible to everybody. He wrote many works for amateur and student performance. He was musically a late developer, not finding his true voice until his late thirties; his studies in 1907–1908 with the French composer Maurice Ravel helped him clarify the textures of his music and free it from Teutonic influences.

Vaughan Williams is among the best-known British symphonists, noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to tranquil, from mysterious to exuberant. Among the most familiar of his other concert works are Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) and The Lark Ascending (1914). His vocal works include hymns, folk-song arrangements and large-scale choral pieces. He wrote eight works for stage performance between 1919 and 1951. Although none of his operas became popular repertoire pieces, his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing (1930) was successful and has been frequently staged.

Two episodes made notably deep impressions in Vaughan Williams’s personal life. The First World War, in which he served in the army, had a lasting emotional effect. Twenty years later, though in his sixties and devotedly married, he was reinvigorated by a love affair with a much younger woman, who later became his second wife. He went on composing through his seventies and eighties, producing his last symphony months before his death at the age of eighty-five. His works have continued to be a staple of the British concert repertoire, and all his major compositions and many of the minor ones have been recorded. Wikipedia

Steven Graff

Since his concerto debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which he has appeared nine times so far, the Chicago-born pianist Steven Graff has been the recipient of numerous awards and glowing critical praise. None of these accolades, however, can match the appreciation of Canterbury Choral Society, where he has served as rehearsal accompanist for the past 20 years. His most recent appearance as soloist in a Canterbury concert was in March 2018, when he performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2.

Mr. Graff is at home on stage, over the airwaves, and in the classroom. His appearances on the Nickelodeon Channel and onboard the QE2 enlightened audiences with his interpretive performances, and his recent tours have thrilled concertgoers in cities in Norway, Japan, Italy, Israel, and across the U.S.

As a sought-after recitalist and chamber musician, he has performed in New York at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and Bankel Hall; at Hunter College’s Lang Recital Hall and Kaye Playhouse; and at Merkin and Alice Tully concert halls. His performances have been broadcast in New York on radio stations WQXR and WNCN, and in Chicago on WFMT.

Mr. Graff studied at The Juilliard School where he received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees as a Petschek scholar, and he won a Doctorate of Musical Arts from The Graduate School of CUNY. He currently serves on the faculty at Hunter College and at The Macaulay Honors College of The City University of New York. He is a Steinway Artist. More at steven L. Graff

Conductor and Artistic Director Jonathan De Vries

JONATHAN DE VRIES is an educator and Conductor in New York City. He is Artistic Director of Canterbury Choral Society and the Upper School Choral and Musical Theater Director at Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Mr. De Vries made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut in November 2017 leading Gustav Mahler’s choral-orchestral Eighth Symphony (his monumental “Symphony of a Thousand”) and the world premiere of Bound for Glory by Rollo Dilworth. Previous Canterbury seasons under his baton have included such major works as J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, and Benjamin Britten’s cantata Saint Nicolas. He has also led operatic productions including Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, Robert Chauls’s Alice in Wonderland, and Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. His programming for Canterbury’s 68th season, 2019-20, consists of two masterworks from the sacred canon—J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on November 24, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor on May 17—and a March 8 Vaughan Williams Festival including that composer’s choral-orchestral works Toward the Unknown Region, Dona Nobis Pacem, and Sancta Civitas along with the Piano Concerto in C featuring Steven Graff as soloist.

Mr. De Vries holds an MS in Music Education from Queen’s College, CUNY, and a BA in Vocal Performance and Conducting from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He studied conducting with David Xiques, Panni Kovács, James John, Howard Slenk, and Merle Mustert; completed levels I, II and III of the Kodály method at NYU Steinhardt Summer Institute; and trained at the International Kodály Seminar held at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Kecskemét, Hungary.

Next Canterbury Performance
Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 4pm:
Mass in C Minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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Feb 20 Thu Molly Barnes invites Don Christensen to Talk About his Life in Art

Molly Barnes Brown Bag Lunch Talk at the Roger Smith Hotel 501 Lexington Avenue at 47th street on Thursday February 20 starting promptly at 12 noon With Artist Don Christensen

TOP 40-2013, a work by Don Christensen, being hung, top, for the exhibition “Artists Choose Artists” at the Parrish Art Museum.

TOP 40-2013, a work by Don Christensen, being hung, top, for the exhibition “Artists Choose Artists” at the Parrish Art MusTOP 40-2013, a work by Don Christensen, being hung, top, for the exhibition “Artists Choose Artists” at the Parrish Art Museum.eum.

Don Christensen From Drums to Colors on Wood Stools Hung on Wall

Christiensen Talks at Molly’s

Proving artistic expression knows no bounds for the talented, the teen Don Christensen in Nebraska took up drumming and appeared with popular bands, then studied painting in art school, went back into music for a couple of decades, then took up painting again and explored subtle but always somehow optimistic color tones on discarded wood, including wooden stools which he ended up hanging on the wall.

His slides showing the course of his adventures in color tones all had the immediate appeal of a consistent upbeat emotional flavor allied to the subtle depths of alliance and contrast between them, an interest which was explained by his respectful answer to what sounded like a too simplistic question from Molly, who asked if he favored one color or another: “Well I don’t have a faorite color because to me a color by itself doesn’t exist, it only comes into being when set beside another!”.

Wood with Cross in 1990s

Don’s life in art story: I began painting in 1990. I had been doing free lance carpentry jobs and for some reason unknown to me, I was collecting small pieces of lumber from the jobs and the demolition sites. When the opportunity came for me to paint it seemed rather obvious why I had been collecting this wood. To this day I still ‘find’ wood and paint on it.”

Regarding works from the early 2000s, he says, “These works are constructions made up of painted pieces of wood glued and “bisquited” together. The lumber is often “found” material, all the pieces are painted before the picture is put together. The pieces have a presence somewhat like quilts as they aren’t strictly flat and it is very evident that they are composed from many smaller pieces. Nevertheless, I think of them as paintings.

HousNM from the early 2000s

Christiensen says “Painting on canvas has occupied most of my studio time recently but I am still making the wood constructions and I have been painting on stools and tables and hanging them on the wall also.”

South Of The Park 2009

On June 13, 2015, I presented an exhibition of new paintings entitled PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS (For David) at ILLE Arts in Amagansett, New York. They are small paintings on wooden panels that I fabricated. With these works I decided not to avoid imagery and that decision was exciting and nerve-making at the same time. I’m happy to say that stepping out of one’s comfort zone is indeed a good thing to do while engaged in a creative endeavor. Below are the works from the exhibition.

Garfield Table 2015

More on Christensen

Don Christiensen's Web Site

Don Christensen Bio On Tone Zone

“A Pretty Tough Beat”
Like his fellow Raybeats, Don Christensen didn’t spend his youth soaking up the rays and riding the waves – after all, there is no surf in Nebraska. But, he did spend a good portion of it pounding out surf music on the skins of his drum set. Prior to that, though, he entertained the thought of going the way of Bob Dylan.
“There was a big folk music scene going on, and I was caught up in it for a while,” Christensen remembered about that time period in the early 1960s. “I went to a music store to buy a banjo and I ended up walking out with a set of drums.”

Don Christensen beats the skins

Apparently, his interest in the folk scene wasn’t as sincere as he originally thought, but his interest in rock ‘n’ roll was certainly evident. Within three months of purchasing his drum kit, he could play “Wipe Out” better than any other drummer in the area, making him a favorite catch for local bands.
After finishing high school, he attended the Kansas City Art Institute, where he worked on his painting and explored his musical horizons.
“I lived in a boarding house on the fringes of the black neighborhood,” he recalled. “Most of the tenants were jazz musicians. We used to have jam sessions in the living room. That’s where I learned about playing backbeat. It was different than playing in a cover band in high school.”
He spent a couple of years playing with a white blues-rock band that went under a variety of names, the Cadillacs and the New Action Army among them. According to Christensen, they were dubbed “the MC5 of Kansas City.” Because of their affinity for playing “black” music, they were given an opportunity to perform at a rally to generate support for the release of an incarcerated Black Panther (which one, Christensen can’t recall). It was a move that didn’t come without a price: In a day when musicians’ unions were still segregated, they found themselves unable to join either of the local musicians’ unions – the black musicians’ union wouldn’t accept them for the obvious reason of skin color, and the white musicians’ union blackballed them because of their appearance at the rally.

Don with the Raybeats, early 1981

Despite the blackballing, Christensen’s band found themselves at one of the Kansas City Art Institute’s spring festivals opening for blues legend Muddy Waters. “To this day,” Christensen said, “that’s still one of the highlights of my music career.”

Despite the fun he had making music, Christensen didn’t view it as a way to make a full-time living. He was still interested in art when he ventured to New York City in the summer of 1971. Half of his drum kit was stolen upon his move to the city (he was in the process of moving it into his apartment when it was heisted), which may have diminished his interest in drumming if not for an ad that ran in the Village Voice: “It said, ‘Guitar player looking for his Keith Moon.’ I’ve never been a Keith Moon fan, but I answered the ad.” And he was back in the drummer’s seat again.
A few years later, he met a cab driver from Florida named Bob Musial who had a band called the Loose Screws. Many of the musicians were brought to New York from Musial’s native Florida, but the guitarist and bassist, Jody Harris and David Hofstra, respectively, were from Kansas. The latter-named gentlemen, Harris in particular, would play important roles in Christensen’s musical undertakings over the next several years. After the dissolution of the Loose Screws, Christensen found himself working with Harris in a band led by James Chance, a founding father of the No Wave scene.
“At the time, I was playing in a rock ‘n’ roll cover band, and James came down to see us perform,” Christensen recalled. “During a break, he came up and asked me, right in front of all the other members of the band, if I wanted to join the Contortions. I said, ‘Yeah.'”
Christensen was once again reunited with Jody Harris and he found a new ally in bassist George Scott, someone he had actually met before that at a record store where Scott worked. He viewed Scott as a musical “visionary,” a great collaborator who was very supportive of new musical endeavors, including Christensen’s.

Christensen's first impLOG single, "Holland Tunnel Dive"

“It was because of George that I did the impLOG singles,” Christensen said in reference to the trio of discs he did in the early 1980s on Lust/Unlust Records, the first being a solo venture called “Holland Tunnel Dive.” “I was messing around on a four-track with a drum machine and guitar boxes, just doing crazy stuff for my own amusement. When I played it for George, he said, ‘You gotta make a record!’ So I did.”

Scott also invited Christensen to help him form the Raybeats. It was a project that would keep Christensen busy for the next five years, four years beyond Scott’s death.
Following the dissolution of the Raybeats, Christensen scored soundtracks for approximately fifteen short films by Faith Hubley. He helped found the recording studio the Living Room, eventually selling out his part of it. His long-time association with Philip Glass led him to help build The Looking Glass Studios in Lower Manhattan, and, for the past several years, he has been running Orange Mountain Music, a record company created for the purpose of helping those who study Glass’s music.

Don Christensen poses on the beach, It's Only A Movie photo session, 1983

Also, in the early 1990s, Christensen got back to one of his early loves: painting. He has had exhibits in New York, Miami and Philadelphia, and he has a painting studio in Brooklyn. And, to top it all off, he has, in many respects, come full circle musically. He occasionally gigs with a reunited James Chance and the Contortions; they did a summer tour of Japan in 2005. Then there’s the Band of George, a group that includes Christensen’s Loose Screws’ alumnae Bob Musial, Jody Harris and Dave Hofstra, that gigs about once a month.

Christensen enjoyed his time in the Raybeats. Among other things, it provided him with an opportunity to work with some good musicians and explore some new horizons that instrumental music had to offer. And it also allowed him to win over a fan following so loyal that it still persists.
“To this day,” Christensen said, “people still come up to me — I may run into them at the grocery store or wherever — and tell me what a great time they had at one of our gigs.”
And to think he almost bought a banjo.


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Back to Bach! – WKCR’S Christmas Bach Fest Anchors The Spirit for 8 Days

Wall to Wall Bach Festival

But did Anna Magdalena write half of it?

Listen to Bach for eight days and contemplate whether Anna Magdalena wrote a lot of it!

Listen to Bach for eight days and contemplate whether Anna Magdalena wrote a lot of it!


WKCR announces the annual Bach Festival 2019, which this year is the 42nd anniversary of the BachFest tradition. For the eight-day period from 12:00 AM on December 24th through 12:00 AM on New Year’s Day, WKCR (89.9 FM and will dedicate all broadcasting to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

WKCR.FM, the Columbia University Radio Station at 89.9FM, has come to the rescue once again of all those living in the citadel of commercialism and capitalism on the East Coast, New York City, and around the world on line during the Christmas excess, and provided a calming restorative for the spirit beset by crowds, Christmas specials, Christmas trees, present wrapping and finally too much turkey and cranberry jelly and roast potatoes and the best available sherry, claret, and port, and started playing nothing but pure Bach 24/7 all the way from December 24th to the first hour of New Year’s Day.

In other words, a BachFest of Bach 24/7 for eight days straight, though this year there was a slight interruption at about 10pm on Christmas Eve when a special program for imprisoned immgrants and their families was played by special request to the station manager, who goes by the handle Son of Man.

Eight days of nonstop Bach may sound to some as indigestible as overdone Christmas turkey, but in fact you may find it is as we do amazingly easy to keep on and on playing on a decent quality radio or two without feeling overexposed to what the supreme composer of the West was able to do with the same thirteen notes per octave as all the composers before and after him in the history of music who somehow were not often able to come up with the same glorious result, where even the single keyboard of a harpsichord is able to yield music of enormous stature and sublime perfection of design, without imposing on the listener the smallest demand of unwanted adaptation to unfamiliar or unexpected style or key or harmony, simply because the paradoxical characteristic of Bach is that somewhat like Haydn however magnificent the result he never seems to stray too far from the universally acceptable and understood basic level of the musical material he plays with to bring us music which might sonically challenge or jar us, despite the many chords and harmonies which close analysts burrow in to highlight and find again only in the last century, but which Bach includes naturally as speaking immediately to us without them seeming radical at all, working them into something completely original and precious and perfectly beautiful within bounds of comfort that would straitjacket most modern composers into routine banality.

The fact that Bach was forgotten until Mendelssohn discovered his manuscripts wrapping fish in the 19th century probably reflects this almost unique quality of seeming to be always familiar and comfortable in vocabulary even though always very great. They just didn’t appreciate at the time how immensely vast and universal was his achievement, because it was so accessible.

Such is the attraction however, especially nowadays, of the constant ripple of rhythm that pervades and binds Bach’s every composition more than any other classical composer from solo cello to cantata and oratorio to Passion that it now seems that as long as newcomers are introduced to this music it will be played forever, and WKCR’s contribution with this annual Christmas BachFest is as essential and vital a contribution to world musical culture as the rest of its splendid musical programming, which includes such similar jewels in its crown as festivals of great jazz players when their work will be explored for a whole birthday or even for days by well informed hosts such as the always hyperinformative Phil Schaap, New Yorkers to whom many famous instrumentalists are or were family, during a period in this city when on the jazz front it matched Vienna in the classical era as a center where the greatest could be encountered live.

So listen all you want to this splendid unfurling of the greatest compositions of all in every mode and enjoy it without any fear that this river of aural delight will ever pale into staleness in the swamp of stagnant shoreline backwater of neglect and obscurity but will continue to pour into the wide sea of general attention, and quietly absorb it in the background or foreground of your consciousness with such a brimful of satisfaction that even the inevitable and rather abrupt and ruthless ending to it all after after an hour or so on New Year’s Day at 1 am or a little later will not seem so much like a rude truncation of something that should last a few days longer but will last days longer anyway in your mind as you digest the whole royal repast.

You can donate in gratitude to WKCR

Those who wish to back the unique quality and contribution of WKCR to musical life in the 21st Century should know that any donation they make will fill in a vital gap in the station’s resources, since it receives no financial support from the university apart from providing its premises and associated services and those among the students and other friends of the station who present the programs on air and help administer the library and run the equipment are unpaid volunteers, and there is a need for funds to rescue and repair sound equipment and add to the library where every dollar counts, particularly in an era where students are much more challenged than before by tuition costs and the college continues to neglect what should be acknowledged as a jewel in its crown, particularly in an era where classical repertoire is at a continuing disadvantage commercially.

In fact the new station manager Jeremiah Aviles plans an on air discussion on ways outsiders can benefit the station in the coming months.

Did Anna Magdalena compose much mighty Bach?

Meanwhile as listeners let this endless stream of marvelous music flow over them they might like to contemplate the possibility that much of it was actually composed by his second wife Anna Magdalena, a provocative idea that was launched a number of years ago by a scholar in Australia who noticed that much of the manuscript in her hand was evidently not laboriously copied from Bach himself but set to paper in a vigorous and masterful manner that suggests powerfully it came from her own mind free of all the simple carefulness that marks a page copied from another.

If you wish to note who the performers are at any point go to the playlists page at WKCR and choose the day and time, regardless of the section headings which may be unchanged from the normal programming titles for that time slot.

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John Kofol’s Cello Recital

The great tradition of private concerts in brownstones and Park Avenue apartments in New York has given way to modern pressures over recent decades, but a fine recent example of this rare privilege took place on Dec 19 Thu at Fifth and 95th, when John Kofol the cellist, who studied with Jason Duckles at Connecticut College and Alan Weinstein at Virginia Tech, and who has since played and taught in New York both cello and guitar and led bands, written and sung his own songs and improvised on both instruments in every venue from rock clubs to art galleries to classrooms, joined forces with his global performer teaching colleague, Moscow born Yelena Grinberg of Juilliard, Barnard and Columbia teaching staff with her lively and expressive piano to play a private concert for a small select audience of friends.

John and Yelena presented an ambitious set of six exquisite cello sonatas and miniatures to celebrate the Equinox and Christmas both with Bach, Brahms, Tchaikowsky, Anton Arensky, and Rachmaninoff, finishing with an accomplished rendering of Prokofiev and his most interesting and playful Cello Sonata in C Major.

That’s one of a number written with Shostakovich in mind, he being the cellist whom John admires most among the great players of the big and beautiful instrument, and a work he has mastered both in his honor and also in appreciation of the sense of humor that playfully appears in the remarkable and complex piece.

Yelena has her own apartment concert series and the latest will be Handel Sonatas in January

More details
From Yeena Grinberg

Dear Friends!

To kick off the Winter 2020 Season, on Sunday, January 12th, 2020, at 5 p.m., I am thrilled to invite you to my solo lecture-performance featuring 1720: HANDEL’S KEYBOARD SUITES I. Born the very same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti, George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was one of the most celebrated composers of the Baroque Era of whom Beethoven exclaimed: “Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived…I would uncover my head and kneel down on his tomb.” A German – and later British – Baroque composer, Handel spent much of his career in London where he quickly made a name for himself as both a composer and a performer. In addition to his numerous operas, oratorios, anthems, concerti grossi, and organ concertos, he also wrote sixteen majestic Keyboard Suites in two Volumes, of which The Harmonious Blacksmith (Keyboard Suite in E Major) is by far the best known. Composed in London in 1720 – exactly 300 years ago!!! – Handel’s illustrious first volume of Keyboard Suites takes us on a festive feast through eight stylized dance suites that bring together melodious and virtuosic Italianate style, florid French style, German contrapuntal style, dance-like elegance, joy, wit and humor that would have delighted both the avid amateurs and the cultured connoisseurs. Handel’s radiant Keyboard Suite No. 1 in A Major, HWV 426 attests to his extraordinary improvisatory gifts. It opens with a rhapsodic Prelude, followed by a lively Allemande, a French-flavored Courante with many zesty ornaments, and an exuberant, Hunt-inspired Gigue in 12/8 meter. In stark contrast, Handel’s melancholy Keyboard Suite No. 4 in E minor, HWV 429, reveals great pathos and instrumental complexity. It begins with a robust and very lengthy Allegro in a thorny fugal style, followed by a poignant Allemande, an energetic Courante, a stately Sarabande, and a powerful Gigue in learned contrapuntal style. With no designated dance movement, Handel’s sunny Keyboard Suite No. 2 in F Major, HWV 427 resembles a four-movement Italian sonata rather than a typical Baroque suite. It opens with a highly embellished Adagio, followed by an athletic Allegro, full of verve and virtuosity, a deeply heartfelt Adagio in D minor, ending unusually with a cadenza, and a scintillating fugal Allegro with some piquant chromatic progressions. Handel’s magisterial Keyboard Suite No. 3 in D minor, HWV 428 is one of his longest and most formidable Suites that opens with a tempestuous Presto Prelude, followed by a regal-sounding Allegro in French Overture style, a pensive Allemande with many unexpected chromatic surprises, an upbeat Courante, spiced with tricky cross-rhythms, a lavishly decorated Air followed by five increasingly brilliant variations culimating with the toccata-like Double 5, and, for the grand finale, a fiery Presto – a tour de force in contrapuntal craft and dazzling virtuosity that shows up in several of other Handel’s masterworks, including the Overture to Il pastor fido, Concerto Grosso No. 6, op. 3 and Organ Concerto No. 4, op. 7. Don’t miss this delightful musical journey through Handel’s 1720: Keyboard Suites I – and be sure to mark your calendar for 1720: Handel’s Keyboard Suites II on January 26/29!!

Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday, January 12th!

Warmest wishes for 2020,

Dr. Yelena Grinberg, founder and artistic director of the Grinberg Classical Salon Series

WHEN: Sunday, January 12th, 2020, at 5 p.m.

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.
There will be no late seating.
The salon will be followed by a food-and-wine reception with the guest Artist(s)

WHERE: Private Residence on the Upper West Side (West 90s)

You will be given the exact address after you have registered through Eventbrite


Admission price includes the wine-and-hors d’oeuvres reception
Attendance is limited to only 21 seats
Advance ticket purchase through Eventbrite is required

CONTACT: Dr. Yelena Grinberg –



All-Handel program –

Keyboard Suite No. 1 in A Major, HWV 426
Keyboard Suite No. 4 in E minor, HWV 429
Keyboard Suite No. 2 in F Major, HWV 427
Keyboard Suite No. 3 in D minor, HWV 428

For more information on Grinberg Classical Salon Series, visit:

Have questions about 1720: Handel’s Keyboard Suites I? Contact Grinberg Classical Salon Series

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Canterbury Season Starts With A Choral Masterpiece: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at Heavenly Rest

Celebrations start with Johann Sebastian Bach’s magnificent Christmas Oratorio

Sung in the original German by over a hundred Canterbury singers under the baton of Jonathan de Vries

Unique experience with the music accompanied on screen by artworks from the Metropolitan Museum

Canterbury matches Bach at his height

Sadly it is impossible to comfort those who had to miss last Sunday’s performance by the Canterbury choir of Bach’s supreme Weihnachts Oratorium or Christmas Oratorio at the Heavenly Rest, by saying kindly they shouldn’t worry too much because the performance wasn’t quite perfect, because even the very occasional flaws of tone or pitch from one of the admirable soloists or the richly resonant but occasionally briefly ragged 100 strong choir were not only inevitable from the effects of the sudden onset of winter but amid the perfection of Bach’s glorious work, brought along with untiring command by the baton of Jonathan de Vries, any such evidence of humanity simply took one back four centuries to Leipzig when these six Cantatas BWV 248 I-IV were first separately performed by a far smaller chorus and orchestra in the two churches of St Thomas and St Nicholas over the twelve days of Christmas, all of them hired and rehearsed by Bach himself but not always talented and struggling with handicaps such as the scarcity of copies of Bach’s scores composed only days before, as noted in the generously complete program notes by Jean Ballard Terepka, so hardly likely to match the degree of professionalism presented today, where for example the solo work of countertenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum was particularly outstanding, but all together were so gratifying and rewarding that at the after party in Darlington Hall reached by the corridor beyond the pulpit at least one audience member exclaimed to de Vries that it was the best performance she could remember, and the evidently triumphant conductor agreed that the variation in human performance was only one very good reason to attend live music, for “each time we do it it is unique and organic“, a freshness even for those who like himself rehearse the work beforehand, brought to renew a work four centuries old that is not only spiritually uplifting and bound to send everyone away in a more cheerful mood but so positively entertaining in its endlessly upbeat rhythms and familar tunefulness that one can indeed imagine the congregation who met it six times in the separate parts of its original presentation singing along from one church to another, and the puzzle remains unsolved as to why Mendelssohn had to rediscover Bach manuscripts wrapping fish a century later and especially that this superb musical feast went forgotten for 120 years till resurrected in Berlin with all six sections together, as on this Sunday, in yet another demonstration why Bach will endure forever in the hearts of all who are given the chance to hear and cherish what he wrote, especially in the soaring but acoustically well dampened environment of the packed to the balcony Heavenly Rest, and with the experience enhanced with the discreet but clearly visible sequence of great art illustrating the libretto from the Met chosen by singer alto Gertrude de G. Wilmers and projected on a screen behind the choir.- AL

Advance notice

Advent will begin with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium) performed by the chorus of Canterbury Choral Society in the original German, conducted by Jonathan De Vries with soloists and full orchestra.

The oratorio, written for the Christmas season of 1734, incorporates music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas, and is in six parts.

The Oratorio will feature artwork from the Metropolitan Museum illustrating the Christmas story as it is sung, projected on a screen in front of the altar of the soaring Church of the Heavenly Rest on 90th St and Fifth Avenue, alongside the Carnegie mansion and across from the Engineer’s Gate entrance to Central Park.

Soloists will include Blake Friedman, tenor, Robert Balonek, bass baritone, Jeffrey Mandelbaum, counter-tenor, and Carla Wesby, soprano.

“The Christmas Oratorio offers wonderful musical challenges,” according to Conductor Jonathan De Vries. “After nearly three centuries it still speaks to us with fresh power and insight.”

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio will be performed at 4pm on Sunday November 24th 2019. Tickets $25, $20 seniors, $10 students, can be bought online at Eventbrite or at the door.

Much more on Bach, the Conductor, the Church and the Singers

About the composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 –1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a musical family on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Thuringia, in what is now Germany. Known during his lifetime more as a great harpsichordist and organist (and for his knowledge of organ construction) than as a composer, Bach today is a figure of titanic stature, the most famous composer of the Baroque era and generally recognized as one of the greatest and most prolific composers in the history of Western music.

The BWV catalogue of Bach’s works number some 1,128 sacred and secular compositions. Bach composed vocal music in the form of cantatas, motets, masses, Magnificats, Passions, oratorios, four-part chorales, songs and arias. His instrumental music includes concertos, suites, sonatas, fugues, and other works for organ, harpsichord, lute, violin, cello, flute, chamber ensemble and orchestra. He is perhaps the most performed and recorded composer in history.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was composed in late 1734, some 15 years into his tenure as choirmaster and music director at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. As such, Bach oversaw all church musical activities, not only at St. Thomas but at three other churches as well. In addition to composing music for weekly services, assorted feast days, and special occasions, Bach hired and rehearsed musicians (instrumentalists and singers), taught music and singing to the children attending the St. Thomas choir school, and trained the choir singers at St. Thomas and the three other churches. Bach remained at Leipzig until the end of his life. He died in the summer of 1750, nearly blind and suffering from the painful complications stemming from a stroke.

During his life, Bach had a reputation as a competent, if old-fashioned, composer. After his death, his compositions fell into neglect until the 19th century. Bach had been influenced by the great composers of his day – Pachelbel, Frescobaldi, and Lully, to name a few – but the “Bach Revival” shed new light upon the composer’s mastery of form and his transformative skills of invention, founded upon a superhuman work ethic and an encyclopedic study of the music of his time.

Today, Bach’s music has become an essential part of the education for every serious musician; his influence has extended to such composers as Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev – even John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles!

JONATHAN DE VRIES is an educator and Conductor in New York City. He is the Artistic Director of The Canterbury Choral Society and the Upper School Choral and Musical Theater Director at Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Jonathan made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut in November 2017 leading Gustav Mahler’s choral-orchestral Eighth Symphony (his monumental “Symphony of a Thousand”) and the world premiere of Bound for Glory by Rollo Dilworth. Previous Canterbury seasons under his baton have included such major works as J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, and Benjamin Britten’s cantata Saint Nicolas. Operatic productions under his baton include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, Robert Chauls’s Alice in Wonderland, and Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde.

Canterbury Choral Society’s 68th season is filled with beautiful choral and orchestral repertoire, including presentations of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (November 24) and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (May 17) and a Vaughan Williams Festival (March 8) featuring the choral works Dona Nobis Pacem and Toward the Unknown Region and the Piano Concerto in C with Stephen Graff as soloist.

Jonathan holds an MS in Music Education from Queen’s College, CUNY, and a BA in Vocal Performance and Conducting from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He studied conducting with David Xiques, Panni Kovács, James John, Howard Slenk, and Merle Mustert. He completed levels I, II and III of the Kodály method at NYU Steinhardt Summer Institute and trained at the International Kodály Seminar held at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Kecskemét, Hungary.

With his “climactic high notes” and “powerful vocals” tenor Blake Friedman has wowed critics and audiences alike. A native of Chicago, Mr. Friedman recently received rave reviews for his role in Liebeslieder Walzer with New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, as Tenor Soloist in Van Gogh’s Ear at the Clark Institute, and in Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He will be making his Canterbury Choral Society debut in the title role of Saint Nicolas.

Blake has been cited by The New York Times for the “plummy fullness and dusky hue” of his voice and by New York Classical Review for his voice’s “buttery top.” He made his Carnegie Hall debut last season singing Anatol in the quintet from Barber’s Vanessa under the baton of Maestro Leonard Slatkin for the Manhattan School of Music Centennial Gala, and was also heard at Chautauqua Opera singing the role of Almaviva in both Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini and The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano.

Passionate about new opera, Mr. Friedman served as the resident tenor for American Opera Projects Composer’s and the Voice Symposium from 2015-2018. He made his Prototype Opera Festival debut last season as Jimmy Smith in the reading of Stinney: An American Execution by Frances Pollock. He has also performed at Dallas Opera, On Site Opera, LoftOpera and St. Pete Opera. Notable performances include his critically acclaimed portrayal of Irving Tashman in the New York City Premiere of Morning Star by Ricky Ian Gordon with On Site Opera and Iago in Rossini’s Otello with LoftOpera.

With Canterbury Choral Society, Mr. Friedman has performed as Nicolas in Britten’s St. Nicolas, Soloist in Bach’s B Minor Mass, Francis in the Oratorio di San Francesco, Jonathan in Handel’s Saul and Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. He has sung additional soloist engagements with New York Choral Society, New York City Ballet, Ensemble for the Romantic Century, Choral Artists of Sarasota, Key Chorale, and York Symphony.

Soloists will include Blake Friedman, tenor, Robert Balonek, bass baritone, Jeffrey Mandelbaum, counter-tenor, and Carla Wesby, soprano. Steven Graff and Anne Damassa, pianists, will also perform in Saint Nicolas.

A sought after recitalist and chamber musician Graff has performed widely in concert halls and on radio, including Carnegie Hall Lang Recital Hall, Merkin and Alice Tully Halls in New York and on board the QE2. His performances have been heard on WQXR, WNCN and on Chicago’s WFMT.

Ralph Braun, originally from Milwaukee, has had a long career in musical theatre including Broadway appearances in Music Man and Irene. He has sung with many choral groups and church choirs in the Tri-State area.

For this special concert, the Canterbury Choral Society will be joined by a Youth Choir composed of selected singers from St. Michael’s Church, New York City and St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School. Led by Music Director Jonathan De Vries, singers from both ensembles have performed with Canterbury on numerous occasions, including Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at Carnegie Hall and French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit pour Noel in 2011.

Tickets for the November 22nd Concert by the Canterbury Choral Society are priced at $25, general admission, $20, seniors and $10, students. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at the door. For advance booking visit or Eventbrite

Press release on front page was written by Rosemarie Deane, Press Officer, Canterbury Choral Society Press tickets are available on request and will be held at the door.

The Canterbury Choral Society‘s mission to present sacred choral masterpieces in sacred spaces with their full original orchestrations was entirely innovative and untried when the group began; its half-century-long success without any deviation from its original mission is unparalleled in New York City. Founded in 1952 by Charles Dodsley Walker, a musician, organist, and conductor, Canterbury’s concerts bring together a unique combination of volunteer, semi-professional and professional musicians. In 2014, Maestro Walker selected Jonathan De Vries, a long-time collaborator with Canterbury Choral Society and well-respected conductor and music educator in New York City, as his successor. After Maestro Walker’s death in 2015, the Board of Directors named Mr. De Vries as the new Artistic Director and Conductor.

The Canterbury Choral Society (CCS), initially a musical outreach project of Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City, was created “for the purpose of presenting programs of the finest sacred choral music, to be given in church and with the required instrumental accompaniment.” With three major concerts per season, the Canterbury Chorus is accompanied by professional instrumentalists, organists and soloists. Regular benefit performances at Carnegie Hall or Avery Fisher Hall have featured an expanded adult ensemble of 300, and local children’s choirs. Since its founding, more than 3,000 children have sung with the chorus during benefit concerts, many of them participating during the productions of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, the monumental “Symphony of a Thousand”. Canterbury has performed over two hundred formal concerts and Canterbury singers have participated in scores of theatre productions, ceremonies and services throughout the metropolitan region. Performances have included The Christmas Oratorio Bach, Full Freedom White, Second Sacred Concert Ellington, Bound for Glory Dilworth, Saul Handel, San Francesco, Oratorio de Ariani, Five Royal Compositions – I was glad when they said unto Me, Parry Five Royal Compositions – This is the Day Rutter, Mass in D Major – Luzany Mass Dvorak, Five Royal Compositions – Crown Imperial Walton, Five Royal Compositions – Like as the Hart, Howells Five Royal Compositions – Let all the people praise thee Mathias, Ein Deutches Requiem or German Requiem Brahms, Concerto No. 2 Chopin, Eighth Symphony Mahler, Elijah Mendelssohn, St. Matthew Passion Bach, Festival Te Deum : Britten Festival Te Deum, Mathias Te Deum ,Lully Te Deum, Laudamus in B-flat Stanford, Te Deum in C Haydn, Te Deum in G Williams, Gloria Poulenc, Requiem Durufle, Mass in B minor Bach, Mass in E flat Schubert, Choral Fantasy in C minor Beethoven, Samson Handel, Fantasia on Christmas Carols Williams, Hodie, A Christmas Cantata Williams, Lord Nelson Mass Haydn, Maria Teresa Te Deum Haydn, Exultate, Jubilate, K165 Mozart, Passion Bach.

Church of the Heavenly Rest is a wonderful, sacred space located on Fifth Avenue at 90th Street in Manhattan’s Carnegie Hill neighborhood. Canterbury’s regular rehearsals and performances are held here and help to amplify the outreach of this Upper East Side church, with whom the Choral Society maintains a special and treasured relationship.

Sunday, March 8, 2020 at 4pm: Vaughan Williams Festival
In March we will celebrate the British composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, by performing some of his most beautiful choral-orchestral works and his Piano Concerto in C [1933] This performance will feature Steven Graff as our soloist!

Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 4pm: Mass in C Minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This musical setting of the mass is considered to be one of his greatest works. He composed it in Vienna in 1782 and 1783. A large-scale missa solemnis, is scored for two soprano soloists, a tenor and a bass, and double chorus.

Our performance will feature Alistair Reid on the organ.

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CLIO Shows Extraordinary Range of Work Fueled by Undeniable Impulse

One of the more remarkable art shows in Manhattan took place recently on the ground floor storefront floor-through space at 11th Avenue and 29th Street when CLIO ran there from Thursday Oct 10 to Sunday Oct 13th, when dozens of exhibitors found generous wall space to show a quite inspiring range of paintings and sculpture of varying depth and meaning but all marked by one characteristic which seems a sine qua non of CLIO participants: the desire to do the art for itself and in itself regardless of reception, that is to say, without immediate regard to the approval of critics, the prospect of attracting buyers or the support of galleries.

Photographer Stanislaw “Slawek” Goc aims to play with images in shop windows and their reflections to achieve unexpected combinations, in this case titled “In Jewelry Store” a print on canvas 40×32 ($1,900)

Obviously such responses are very helpful and encouraging to any artist and many of the ones standing or sitting by their work, ready to talk about their lives at work and their output displayed beside their tables of handouts and guest books, boasted red dots beside their title labels signifying they had sold the work right there at the show. Some in fact had lists of galleries they had appeared in, as well as museums, even though CLIO is known for serving artists who have not been adopted by a gallery and need a place to show their work and talk about it to viewers.

Slawek poses beside his image playfully including himself in a trompe l’oeil which matches his work

But time and time again as we passed from one attraction to the next we found a level of dedication and passion for doing the work which was completely independent of monetary or social rewards, though there was always the energetic desire to help viewers understand the work and how it was done. There was everywhere the sense that the drive and determination to create was the core motivation and driving force, and that creating and giving was the purpose unalloyed at least in conversation with personal gain or rewards outside the process, a process which would continue as a top priority regardless of the material sacrifices that might get in the way or even the success that might ease it toward laziness or repetition.

The opening night party on Thursday October 10th included many well lined heavy hitters such as pizza magnate Michael Ayoub and his wife from 96th Street whose three upmarket pizza restaurants in Brooklyn make many of his neighbors wish he would find a location around the corner as well

In other words, to attend CLIO is to find oneself among artists and works in which there is very little distraction between those who do art and those who appreciate the result, with no interference from those who want to sell it or comment with supposed authority, and the experience provides a window into the world and souls of those who make art which can enhance the appreciation of what they produce with a completely direct connection unsullied by commerce, which like an open window can be illuminating and even inspiring in a way hard to find elsewhere in a world given over to buying and selling and investing in art, that obsession with fashion and price which has taken over art in Manhattan ever since Warhol and the sixties tsunami of the expansion of media coverage he somewhat ironically took over and surfed to success to a level of celebrity still unmatched.

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A Frick first: Florence’s earlier sculptor, instructor of Michelangelo, in Bertoldo di Giovanni: The Renaissance of Sculpture in Medici Florence show (Sep 18- Jan 12 2020)


Student of Donatello and instructor of Michelangelo, Bertoldo is redefined in terms of his distinct style and achievements

The Frick Collection presents the first exhibition to focus on the Florentine sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491). This monographic display of more than twenty statues, reliefs, medals, and statuettes will bring together the artist’s entire extant oeuvre and is exclusive to the New York City institution, which owns the only scul tural figure by the artist outside of Europe.

The comprehensive exhibition offers the first chance to fully explore longstanding questions of attribution, function, groupings, and intended display. The exhibition of Bertoldo’s artistic production in bronze, wood, and terracotta highlights the ingenuity of the sculptor’s design across media. A number of objects that share common iconography will be included,displayed in a way that will shed light on his creative process, which has puzzled scholars for the past century.

Bertoldo di Giovanni: The Renaissance of Sculpture in Medici Florence, follows a series of acclaimed Frick shows onRenaissance sculptors and is organized by Aimee Ng, Associate Curtor; Al xander J. Noelle, Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow; and Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator; with the assistance of Julia Day, Associate Conservator, who has been coordinating and conducting an extensive scientific analysis of the objects. This important project is the result of a creative partnership with a major to lender to the exhibition, the renowned Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence.

Hercules on Horseback, early 1470s, bronze, 27.2 cm high; Gallerie Estensi, Modena, Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Archivio fotografico delle Gallerie Estensi, photo: Carlo Vannini.

Hercules on Horseback, early 1470s, bronze, 27.2 cm high; Gallerie Estensi, Modena, Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali – Archivio fotografico delle Gallerie Estensi, photo: Carlo Vannini.

Bertoldo is little known today, often seen merely as a student of Donatello, an
instructor of Michelangelo, or a confidant of Lorenzo de’ Medici (called il
Magnifico) without deeper consideration of his own talents. The details of his life
and artistic output, however, indicate a figure worthy of public attention. Rising
from obscure origins as a child of a German immigrant family living in Florence,
Bertoldo developed his technical skills under Donatello, eventually inheriting the
master’s models and completing the pulpits in the Basilica of San Lorenzo
following Donatello’s death.

Bertoldo went on to gain the patronage of the most important political figure in Renaissance Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici. Their relationship developed over decades, with Bertoldo becoming a “familiare” of the city’s de-facto ruler, eventually moving into the Medici palace, and creating
numerous statuettes, reliefs, and medals for the Medici family. Bertoldo was responsible for much more than producing works of art, however; in addition to designing decorations for festivals, organizing architectural projects, and devising entertainment for the Medici entourage, he was also the curator of Lorenzo’s famed garden of antiquities near the church and convent of San Marco and instructed the city’s most gifted pupils who studied the sculptures.


One such student was Michelangelo, whose creative genius, according to Giorgio Vasari, flourished under Bertoldo’s guidance. While his connections to Donatello, Michelangelo, and Lorenzo de’ Medici are central to his narrative, Bertoldo and the crucial role he played in the development of Florentine sculpture in the second half of the fifteenth century warrant serious attention in their own right.

Historicaly one of the most elusive aspects of Bertoldo’s practice is the process he followed between design and production. While there are certainly “Bertoldian” stylistic elements that unify his statues, medals, reliefs, and statuettes, the works are at times markedly dissimilar in their execution. Having no known workshop of his own, it seems that the sculptor enlisted other Florentine artists to realize his designs. This theory is supported through documents and inscriptions on the objects themselves. Adriano Fi re tino, for example, cast Bellerophon Taming Pegasus, a statuette after Bertoldo’s design, and his concept for the frieze on the facade of the Medici Villa in Poggio
a Caiano was rendered in terracotta by the della Robbia workshop. In addition, Andrea Guacialoti cast the medals commemorating the Pazzi Conspiracy for Lorenzo de’ Medici from Bertoldo’s model.

By displaying these objects together for the first time at the Frick, the exhibition will elucidate the dynamic role of Bertoldo as a designer and collaborator. Extensive technical analysis has been conducted on almost every work included in the display, the first comprehensive campaign ever undertaken on the sculptor’s artistic output.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation and Mrs. Daniel Cowin in honor of Ian Wardropper. Additional funding is generously provided by Margot and Jerry Bogert, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Dr. Stephen K. Scher and Janie Woo Scher, and the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation.

A major scholarly catalogue, published with D Giles Ltd, will accompany the exhibition. This is the first book on Bertoldo in more than twenty-five years and only the third ever to focus on the artist, following James David Draper’s Bertoldo di Giovanni, Sculptor of the Medici Household: Critical Reappraisal and Catalogue Raisonné (1992) and Wilhelm von Bode’s Bertoldo und Lorenzo dei Medici: die Kunstpolitik des Lorenzo Il Magnifico im Spiegel der Werke seines Lieblingskünstlers Bertoldo di Giovanni (1925). After a general essay that will examine Bertoldo’s life, artistic development, and creative process, the thirteen essays in the Frick’s catalogue will be divided
into four sections: thematic, object-based, technical, and document-based. Full catalogue entries will be provided for every object in the show and a comp ete documentary appendix will reproduce all the known archival materials related to Bertoldo’s life and artwork (more than 100 documents, many published for the first time). In addition to the exhibition curators, such esteemed scholars as Peter Bell (Cincinnati Art Museum), Francesco Caglioti (University of Naples Federico II), James David Draper (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Caroline Elam (Warburg Institute, London), Scott Nethersole (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Neville Rowley (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin),
and Ilaria Ciseri (Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence), among others, will contribute to the catalogue. The fully illustrated publication will be by far the most substantial text on the artist ever produced.
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#338, December 3, 2018 (Updated January 9, 2019)
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Jun 11 Tues to 16 Sun New York’s 19th Bicycle Film Festival in Brooklyn Heights

Risk! Danger! Supreme skill! Independence! Confidence boosting! Bonding! Social impact! Global Community!

Bike Movies Fest Shows Many Dimensions of Bike Power, Vividly Portrayed

Audience Adds to Excitement with Shouts and Murmurs of Recognition, Empathy

Supportive Leadership of Steve Vaccaro Saluted by Founder and Applauded

A forest of bikes outside the Unitarian Church showed who the main audience was for the selection of many shorts and some long movies about bikers around the world shown there last night, in dozens of well executed portrayals of bikers and their worlds which had been carefully chosen by a panel of three from a thousand watched from December through April. Maybe that sounds laborious but as one of the judges, the festival producer Mandy, said, “the process is rather like dating”, in that winners and losers are quickly identified, and the real work is choosing “according to the themes we want to present.”

We caught 18 shorts in the last two programs from 8pm onwards, all of them vivid and dynamic presentations with themes to do with how serious biking brings health, confidence, recognition, bonding, community, social responsibility and reform, and even cash among many blessings even in countries with limited early participation such as Nigeria and Nepal, not to mention the danger of crashes, injuries and inevitably some deaths that go along with speeding with very little protection..

As can still be glimpsed at BicycleFilmFestival in the BFF 2018 COMPILATION on the front page there were indelible images galore from Canons and GoPros closely following rash bikers going all out in fast traffic hanging on to the sides and backs of trucks and SUVs, racing through lethal gaps between buses and vans without pausing, turning sharply and slipping past cars cutting them off with deadly carelessness, stopping dead so that the bike can be climbed like a standing sculpture, driving backwards and forwards up and down hills with the front wheel at right angles (No Rest Dir Matt Reyes), speeding through crowded city alleys or hurtling through woods and over rocks and down mountains with sheer abandon, and much other evidence that competitive foolhardiness in bikers reaches extremes to match the powered skateboarders who race down Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side through Lexington and Third Avenue cross lights as if protected by the Gods from inevitable self destruction.

Not that the videos left out the crashes and spills that bikers suffer in “the most dangerous sport of all” (Tenzin Dir Bob Blankemeier) which it seems their poor mothers often feel should be secondary to studying and looking for a job, including one in Nepal who desperately sold her teen son’s precious first bike for scrap but was unable to stop him welding pipes together to build another, on which he founded a career in cycle acrobatics and racing which saw him soon earn three times the most his parents had ever been paid (RJ Ripper Dir Joey Schusler).

But beyond all the fearless tempting of fate and tricks of consummate skill such as climbing half a tall wall as part of a show off trip around Lagos in Nigeria (Lagos BMX Crew Dir Fraser Byme) there were all the ways in which biking is enhancing and liberating the lives of young men and increasingly women (“Most people are more capable than they realise – we teach them to kick ass on a bike. We change their lives forever!” Ride Like A Girl Dir Jon Lynn) who might have no other worthwhile outlet for their energy and adventurism. All over the world it seems that expert biking is bringing social benefits to enhance the whole lives of dedicated participants. One group in London gets youths to put away their knives and join in biking to leave gang warfare behind (Knives Down Bikes Up Dir Dir Mike Dempsey).

Thus Nigerians pursuing BMX skills like climbing walls say “It makes me feel anything is possible! We have BMX to express our feelings. I feel real.” (Lagos BMX Crew Dir Fraser Byme); Indians find their city of Delhi beneath their pedals can be explored with unlimited scope – (“ganja cant show you the city, push the pedals and let your childhood take over!” Jimmy Jimmy Dir Anuj Khurana), and New Yorkers find independence and even international recognition in the bike messenger cultural scene (“I am not going to let the system stop me from doing what I want to do” – Speedwalking NYC Dir Matt Sezer)

Perhaps the most heroic figure of the night was Jacques Houotis, the 82 year old Frenchman who seemingly had nine lives and had broken every bone in his body at one time or another but surmounted all obstacles with merry laughter, supreme optimism and a catch phrase “No Problem” he’d use after every painful spill, attempted murder, heart attack and near drowning (caught in a car underwater he nearly gave up but his hand finally found the window lowering handle and his rescuers were able to press the water out of his lungs – “No Problem!”) who is just as Gung Ho at 82 to leap into the saddle and shoot off down a steep and snowy mountain side as he has been all his life, not to mention as likely to kiss or be kissed by every woman in his vicinity (The Frenchy Dir Michelle Smith). After all his close calls, he said, “everything I do is a bonus!”

In comments after the showings filmmakers expressed their appreciation of the risks involved in pushing bikes to the limit in traffic or mountainside but admired the achievement imnvolved nonetheless. “Yeah people risk their lives all the time but the worst last day of their lives won’t be meeting the person they could have been.” There was also blame for drivers: “Something I really fucking hate is losing friends to careless drivers”. White memorial bikes mark the deaths of bikers in New York City where 27 were killed in 2017. and there is a site at listing them (Fight To Live A Cyclist Story Dir Kenneth Sousie) But riding which can be “the loneliest thing in the world” is also the freest way to go or as one woman put it in that same video “I thought why am I getting paid nothing to sit behind a desk when I can get paid nothing and be on my bike!”

In a wrap up at the end the founder of the ever burgeoning festival Brendt Barbur said it was the best so far in 19 years and paid tribute to the lawyer Steve Vaccaro for his growing role in leading the biking community in New York as well as his role in fighting for compensation for bikers hurt and sometimes killed on their vulnerable trips around the city. But sometimes the injuries come without anyone to blame. We sat next to a young Jeff and his wife Canzia both cyclists who had had to deal with a faceplant by Jeff onto a road which had ruined his jaw and front teeth which had been very well repaired at Bellevue so no traces of the accident remained.

Bike Movie Fest Coming Up

Are you a fanatic, obsessive or plain appreciator of the virtues of getting on a bike and finding the exhilarating freedom and scope involved in peddling two wheels over city roads and mountain landscapes?

Make haste and attend the upcoming 19th Annual Bicycle Film Festival of 2019 at various venues including the First Unitarian Church 119 Pierrepont St Brooklyn for the mammoth screening of films on June 15 Sat (6 to Borough Hall and walk).

One sponsor we hear who is supporting the festival is the noted law firm of Vaccaro and White, of active cyclists Steve Vaccaro and Adam White. The remarkably athletic Vaccaro like his partner is an urban and international cyclist whose legal talents in acting for cyclists in New York City, and winning them compensation when they are the undeserving victims of accidents caused by dangerous drivers and other road hazards, are celebrated by his clients and feared by the companies he sues on their behalf.

Among the offerings:

Colombia, UK 2018 11 min.
Dir. Flavia Cappellini, Mike Deppe

The country has a secret obsession: its love for road cycling. Featuring Colombian cycling legends Rigoberto Urán, Lucho Herrera, Cochise Rodríguez, Luis Fernando Saldarriaga and Raúl Mesa

USA 2019 16 min.
Dir. Eben Hall

Who is the fastest cyclist on the planet? She is a woman named Denise Mueller. Great Big Story presents her journey to beat the land speed world record on a bicycle of both men and women.

Switzerland 2018 15 min.
Dir. Rugile Kaladyte

Lael Wilcox won the Trans Am Bike Race across the United States overall. She races her first ultra-endurance competition in Europe, the Navad1000, a 1000-kilometer-long self-supported mountain bike race that climbs 30,000 meters and crosses nearly the entire country of Switzerland

USA 2019 86 min.
Dir. Liz Canning

On her quest for a deeper connection in an increasingly isolated and digital world, director Liz Canning found an answer in cargo bikes. She shares this experience while exploring sustainability, consumption, and how something as simple as a bike can reshape ideas about transportation and freedom.

Colombia, UK 2018 11 min.
Dir. Flavia Cappellini, Mike Deppe

The country has a secret obsession: its love for road cycling. Featuring Colombian cycling legends Rigoberto Urán, Lucho Herrera, Cochise Rodríguez, Luis Fernando Saldarriaga and Raúl Mesa

Click for Many More Titles

UK 2017 82 min.
Dir. Finlay Pretsell

Time Trial takes us into the final races of cyclist David Millar’s career, leading up to his last encounter with the Tour de France. Millar, shrouded in darkness after receiving a suspension for doping in 2004, declares an intention to rise again, revealing how the human spirit is driven by a force deeper than success and glory. BAFTA award winning director, Finlay Pretsell gives us an exhilarating and terrifying place in the race, providing an immersive experience as close to actually competing as you will ever see on film. Scored by Dan Deacon.

Japan 2018 4 min.
Dir. Lee Basford & Daisuke Kitayama

A film exploring the city of Osaka from a local perspective with Truck Furniture’s Tokuhiko Kise who’s life and work merges and overlaps with indistinct lines. And grand tour photographer Kei Tsuji who explains “With the ocean to the west and mountains in the east, rides often lead me to explore the hills in-between – where a side street can unlock a small adventure to share with friends. For me, discovering Osaka has no limits.

Canada, USA 2019 4 min.
Dir. Claudia Kedney-Bolduc

Shop owner and enthusiast, Megan Arceneaux attempts to grow Lafayette, Louisiana’s bike culture – one recycled bike at a time.

Italy 2014 9 min.
Dir. Giorgio Bonecchi Borgazzi

On the background of a country in deep crisis, an office clerk decides to ride his bike to work even though he might be fired soon. When the chain of his bike suddenly becomes entangled, he is confronted by the only man around offering support: a homeless foreigner.

USA, MEXICO 2019 9 min.
Dir. Nicole Mackinlay Hahn

Ashley Lloyd Thompson, a surf shaper from Santa Cruz, California, traveled to Mexico with her husband and son in search of quiet surf breaks. Many of the best breaks are tough to access. Fat bikes made the most sense to enjoy these secret places. Along the way, she found some beautiful quiet moments with the ocean and with her family. These are the simple joys that life on a bike can bring.

China, USA 2017 5 min.
Dir. Noah Sheldon

Guo Jie is one of the estimated 277 million rural migrant workers in China. In Shanghai, she buys and collects styrofoam boxes from markets selling fresh produce and takes them to a seafood wholesale market where she resells them. She does one round trip a day, piling as much styrofoam on her bike as possible so she doesn’t have to go back and forth. Scored by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

USA 2018 15 min.
Dir. Michelle Smith

82-year old French snow-ski racer and mountain biker, Jacques Houotis is a local legend, an age-defying athlete and an incorrigible flirt. Houotis has survived some two dozen close calls with death, including avalanches, cancer, car accidents, a heart attack, drowning and even an attempted murder. Frenchy inspires us to stay positive today.

Nepal 2018 20 min.
Dir. Joey Schusler

The chaotic streets of Kathmandu may not seem like a typical breeding ground for world-class mountain bikers, but then again nothing is typical about Rajesh (RJ) Magar. Since learning to ride on a beat-up clunker, to becoming the four-time National Champion at age 21, RJ’s story is one of boundless childhood dreaming and unstoppable determination, forged from junkyard scraps and tested on the rugged trails of the mighty Himalayas. A Vimeo Staff Pick – Best of the Month.

UK 2018 3 min.
Dir. Matt Dempsey

London is currently experiencing a knife crime epidemic. In response to this crisis, some of London’s youths have banded together to start the Knives Down, Bikes Up movement.

USA 2019 7 min.
Dir. Mike Martin

An adeptly shot compilation of riding vignettes from some of San Francisco’s best street riders.

USA 2019 3 min.
Dir. Jon Lynn

Pittsburgh’s first indoor bike park, The Wheel Mill closed its doors to boys. This day “girls only”.

USA 2019 5 min.
Dir. Kenneth Sousie

A glimpse into the lives of two bicycle messengers, Dana Haberern and Mike Pach, as they show us the reality of what it is like to be a day to day cyclist in New York City.

USA 2018 5 min.
Dir. Matt Reyes

Nick McManus has been working hard to document his New York. With a strong connection to the underground, he captures group polaroid photos of attendees at secret parties, alley cats, art exhibitions, and spaces that are closing. As an ex bike messenger, you will catch him with a similar intensity flying from one event to next making an appearance at every spot that matters. “Uno Mas” he yells while he captures his second or third shot.

Russia 2018 3 min.
Dir. Phillipp Kurepin

Checkpoint. Coffee. Checkpoint. A speedy alleycat in St. Petersburg, Russia.

USA 2019 2 min.
Dir. Peter Sutherland

Go for a ride with pro-BMX legend and Manhattan’s Dah Shop owner, Tyrone Williams.

India 2018 4 min.
Dir. Anuj Khurana

Cycling in India has come of age. BMX in India is only getting bigger and better by the day. Jimmy’s run through Old Delhi expresses this.

USA 2019 8 min.
Dir. Matt Sezer

For the past 20 years, 59-year-old foot courier Kurt Boone has been documenting New York City bike messenger culture, all while walking 7+ miles every day. His passion and excitement for the culture brings positivity to the messenger community in the face of the bleak economic realities of courier work.

USA 2019 7 min.
Dir. Matt Reyes

In a city that’s always changing, the fixed gear community is thriving again in San Francisco. Everything is better together and if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.


Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brasil 2019 7 min.
Dir. Crihs Thormann

Native New Yorkers and excellent street riders Crihs Thormann and Toni Rodriguez explore the streets and the urban bike communities in Chile, Brasil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Nigeria, UK 2018 12 min.
Dir. Fraser Byrne

Starboy, KK Money, and S-King lead us through the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, to illustrate just what a difference riding bikes has made to their lives and what their hopes are for the future of the sport in their city.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Jun 11 Tues to 16 Sun New York’s 19th Bicycle Film Festival in Brooklyn Heights

May 3 Fri-Dec 8 Sun (PBS 13 Apr May 17) Brooklyn Art Museum: Magical Realism – Garry Winogrand’s Candid Leica 28mm Mastery of Body Language as Social Theater

Magical candid realism
PBS film shows why Garry Winogrand was the absolute artistic master of a candid Leica 28mm camera which literally had a life of its own in his unique hands, jumping faster than thought even while he was being interviewed by someone or had a child on his back to capture a million shots (literally) of real life body language as it was lived by the inhabitants of an almost camera-less land now long gone, instantaneously caught in the human to human communication dances of existence and blind to the lens that looked at them as they looked elsewhere, yet miraculously selected and perfectly staged in all their ambiguous social passions and quotidian impulses fleeting yet universal captured in moments that even the fastest digital Lumix street point and shoot today would still miss because it needs the superhuman reflexes and ceaseless coverage of the unmatched investigative genius of Winogrand!

You can still view this film with its superb selection of his stills in its entirety if you pay your $5 or so monthly fee to PBS which allows you to stream things you have missed on the Channel 13 pages for the next month (in this case) or longer. Well worth it because you can pause and gaze on each shot of a selection which almost always will make the mind gasp.- AL

Winogrand’s rare color shots are being shown on the walls of the Brooklyn Art Museum till mid winter, also.

Garry Winogrand: Color
May 3–December 8, 2019
Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th Floor
Garry Winogrand: Color is the first exhibition dedicated to the nearly forgotten color photographs of Garry Winogrand (1928–1984), one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. While almost exclusively known for his black-and-white images that pioneered a “snapshot aesthetic” in contemporary art, Winogrand produced more than 45,000 color slides between the early 1950s and late 1960s.

Coming from a working-class background in the Bronx and practicing at the time when photographs had little market value, Winogrand did not have the resources to produce costly and time consuming prints of his color slides during his lifetime. Yet, he remained dedicated to the medium for nearly twenty years.

The exhibition presents an enveloping installation of large-scale projections comprising more than 400 rarely or never-before seen color photographs that capture the social and physical landscape of New York City and the United States. On his numerous journeys through Midtown Manhattan and across the country, Winogrand explored the raw visual poetics of public life—on streets and highways, in suburbs, at motels, theaters, fairgrounds, and amusement parks. For him, the industrially manufactured color film, which was used by commercial and amateur photographers, perfectly reproduced the industrially manufactured colors of consumer goods in postwar America. By presenting this group of largely unknown color work, Garry Winogrand: Color sheds new light on the career of this pivotal artist as well as the development of color photography before 1970.

Garry Winogrand: Color is curated by Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography, Brooklyn Museum, with Michael Almereyda and Susan Kismaric.

Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust.

We are grateful to the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson, which houses the Garry Winogrand Archive and whose support made this exhibition possible.

American Masters -Garry Winogrand All Things Are Photographable – full film

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on May 3 Fri-Dec 8 Sun (PBS 13 Apr May 17) Brooklyn Art Museum: Magical Realism – Garry Winogrand’s Candid Leica 28mm Mastery of Body Language as Social Theater

Mar 29 Fri Jonathan Sandlofer at Molly Barnes Talks of and Reads From His ‘Widower’s Notebook’

An artist retrieves his life after tragedy

Starting with the sudden death of his wife in his arms in just ten minutes on a day when she had no symptoms of sickness after outpatient surgery on her knee the day before, a tragedy possibly due to mixed drug side effects, artist Jonathan Sandlofer described how he slowly emerged from his own emotional shutting down to find a way forward in writing his daily experience in a notebook, and how he applied his experience of writing five or six successful crime novels after an earlier career in painting to shape these notes into a much admired book, A Widower’s Notebook.

This work he never intended to publish but his new agent took over and even before publication it became the talk of the town and led to a “beauty show” of bidding by five publishers, which was won by Penguin, who launched it last year as a top best seller which is now his chief claim to fame, since it met with a tidal wave of acceptance which still yields some ten emails a day from people who are moved and helped by the work.

A Widower’s Notebook reveals Sandlofer as more than a crime writer – he took up the trade after a career as a painter. In fact he is an exceptionally fine painter in words of the real and live detail of felt experience, possessed with a natural story telling ability which captures every significant moment with fearless self awareness, and a noticeable lack of self-pity in describing his suffering. Wielding those skills he showed the meaning of therapist Carl Rogers’ principle that “what is most personal is most universal.”


Making the past present again

A remarkable feature of the book is the drawings he made copying photographs of his wife Joy, himself, his daughter Dorie, and his cat, which he said allowed him “to make something from my sadness”, by transforming the photos into art, for “a drawing has life because you put your hand to it”, including some of his cherished cat Lily, who he acquired in Yaddo Art Colony and which hated him at first for two days “but then we fell in love”. The drawings of his wife and daughter are like his writing imbued with such living presence that they seem to echo Ovid’s legend of Pygmalion and Galatea in bringing the two dimensional photos back to life.

He has given as many as eighty talks on his book so far he said and his best advice to anyone who suffers a such a tragic and overwhelming blow from fate is to “do anything – garden, cook… I had writing and drawing.” You will recover much more of life than you think when you put it in writing, he said. “The thing I discovered about writing is that you remember so much more than you expect when you are writing about the past.”

“Drawing from photographs allowed me to live again in those moments,” he said, such as the time when he and his wife first met in art school “After that we broke up, but then we married, and it lasted for forty years, quite successfully, though I don’t believe there is any marriage which doesn’t include the word ‘divorce’!”

Perhaps those occasional glitches in their enduring companionship arose from one unexpected mismatch – according to one line in the book Joy lacked a “{sense of humor”, whereas the now celebrated author is marked by so strong a sense of life as comedy as well as tragedy that his editor reported at one point as she read his manuscript falling to the floor with laughter.

The Book Slides of Jonathan's drawings for his book from photos

Keeping a Notebook

More from The Widower's Notebook (Click twice to magnify to read)
In his own words – how an artist who had turned from painting to thriller writing describes without self-pity the crime the universe perpetrated on him and his family

Drawings are “set in motion by the hand that draws them”

..”to not talk, to not think, to be distracted, to be oblivious”.


Fleeting glimpse of one characteristic of his wife – not “funny” – which dovetailed perfectly with Sandlofer’s truthtelling irony

Among the plaudits his book won, a rival, million seller crime writer Lee Child says it “makes the world a better place”.

The hospital has “lost” the autopsy record, the lower level staff insists, till a higher up intervenes, when they produce it in two minutes.

Realizing after years of misunderstanding that Joy and their daughter Dorie had looks and much in their psyches in common.

The final end of Lily is as moving as any scene in his book, and as thoughtful

At her wake, among the regrets he voiced was that he had ever asked Joy to take a single word out of what she wrote!

Penguin won his book manuscript in a bidding war and designed the cover to look like it – the notebook that he had edited to make a book.

Just how bleak and bereft and without motivation Sandlofer felt for a year afterwards was more devastated than grief: it was “unmoored” and “without an anchor.”

The moment his life and heart were torn into two

How in twenty minutes a life of joy and fulfillment turned into a husk

More Pics After the talk

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mar 29 Fri Jonathan Sandlofer at Molly Barnes Talks of and Reads From His ‘Widower’s Notebook’