Stravinsky

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It’s been awhile since I chronicled my adventures in the Big Apple so these span a rather large period of time.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Scott Mathews and his band play at the Glasslands Gallery. I hadn’t been to the venue before and I fell in love with the pure whimsy of the place; it feels like a fort out of Peter Pan’s Neverland. B’s friend Eugene, who I’ve mentioned in his role as DJ Eugene Tambourine, is part of the band; he and another band member opened as their side project- The Readers. It was their first show as The Readers and while they’re clearly not confident yet you can tell that they have talent. Scott Mathews on the other hand is the consummate performer- no lack of confidence there. He backs it up with interesting lyrics and a lot of raw emotion. They’re on tour in Europe at the moment but I would recommend checking them out upon their return.

Scott Matthews at Glasslands

Scott Matthews at Glasslands

 Later that week I attended a very different sort of musical performance; I saw the St. Matthew Passion at BAM. S and I had stage seats, which was a really unique experience. I was close enough to touch the violinist in front of me and there was the somewhat disconcerting feeling that the whole audience was watching me; I was afraid to fidget throughout the 3 hour performance. This was the Jonathan Miller (Director) version – semi-staged, in the round, two choruses, two orchestras – sung in English (translation by Robert Shaw) (for more info on the St. Matthew Passion click here). The vocalists were incredible and I think the director’s choice to have them wear street clothing really added to my ability to connect with the piece. I couldn’t take pictures once the performance began but here’s a shot from the stage as people were taking their seats:

BAM Harvey Theater before the start of St. Matthew's Passion

BAM Harvey Theater before the start of St. Matthew Passion

Last week I saw Brit Boras and the Cavalry play at Spike Hill. All four of them are incredibly talented musicians. I expect their performance will feel a bit tighter when they’ve played together more but you can already see that they have a huge quantity of potential. Brit has a very big voice for such a petite girl; it takes you by surprise. Liam Veuve is wonderful on the cello and both Alex Beckmann and Jay Goodmann bring talent to the table. They’ll be playing again May 24th at Mercury Lounge and I would definitely urge you to check them out.

Brit Boras and the Cavalry

Brit Boras and the Cavalry

This past Saturday my grandmother and I saw our first ballet of the spring season- Concerto Barocco (Bach/Balanchine), Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine), La Valse (Ravel/Balanchine) and Symphony in Three Movements (Stravinsky/Balanchine). I vastly enjoyed all four though the Pas de Deux was definitely my favorite; I just adore how pairs of dancers move together.

Later that day I met up with JBM & Co. at the Bell House to watch the Kentucky Derby in style. It was hellishly crowded but many of the ladies were properly decked out in enormous hats, which made them amusing enough to tolerate the lack of breathing room. There wasn’t anything quite as fabulous as Audrey Hepburn’s hat in My Fair Lady, but hey, they don’t make hats like they used to…

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady

I’m looking forward to attending another event there sometime soon.

On Monday I went to Solas for the St. Mark’s Bookshop reading I mentioned in my first post this week. Andrei Codrescu was vastly amusing and while I’m not sure I’ll read his book I certainly hope to see him read/perform on another occasion.

Please check out my roster of events for the week and my recent additions and stay tuned for my weekend post!

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This past weekend I took a break from The Big Apple and visited G up in Boston. It was a relief to have someone else doing the planning for once and G certainly planned a beautiful weekend.

Thursday night we had a fantastic dinner at Upstairs on the Square while enjoying the musical talents of the Winiker Orchestra. I loved that they mixed up their repertoire with contemporary tracks from artists like Kanye West; I’m ready to say that only Kanye himself could do it better.

Friday afternoon we wandered over to Symphony Hall to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform a wonderful program including pieces by Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky. I particularly enjoyed the violin solo during Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2; the soloist, Lisa Batiashvili, is an incredibly gifted musician and I hope to hear her play in NYC the next time she’s in town. The space itself is very beautiful and it was the perfect way to spend a day away from the office. 

Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall

On Saturday we took advantage of the warm weather and drove into New Hampshire to climb a small mountain- Mt. Monadnock. We hiked up the ‘White Dot Trail,’ which was pleasant, if a bit muddy, at the start and then progressively steeper as we ascended. There was still a good deal of snow on the ground, which was problematic once we were above the tree line, however it wasn’t too strenuous a hike and the view from the top was well worth the effort. It was fantastic to be outside and out of a city for a little while; there are many hikes within easy distance from NYC and I definitely recommend taking a day trip of this variety.

Part way up Monadnock

Part way up Monadnock

From the Top of Monadnock

From the Top of Monadnock

Sunday morning we had brunch at The Elephant Walk before I hopped the Bolt Bus home.  Their ‘Cambodian Bloody Mary’ was good enough for a New York brunch and the crepes were classic.

Be sure to look into all this week’s events (see posts below) and stay tuned for my weekend post!

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I just got home, having called it a night a bit early given my growing sleep deficit. Friday night was fantastic! K and I  had a reservation at Satsko but when we got there we discovered (through some surreptitious glancing around the streamers/curtains) that it was frighteningly empty. No decent place should be that empty on a Friday night so we wandered down to Spitzers instead. Of course we had to wait for 45 minutes but we munched on truffle mac and cheese and drank Tanqueray and tonic and all was well. K and I both have a real thing for truffles. I kind of want them on everything… they’re actually a good reason to sell your soul to corporate America- more money means more truffles (and shoes). After a vastly satisfying meal we walked down the street to The Slipper Room to enjoy the aforementioned Hot Box Burlesque. We were pleased to partake of acts featuring Bunny Love, Bambi, Peekaboo Pointe, Queen Laquifa and Tigger.  This was an excellent representation of burlesque. I was very pleased because K and I had three burlesque virgins with us. There was comedy, there were absurd costumes, there were dollar bills all over and there was a drag queen. Perhaps the most exciting performer ’sang’ the national anthem with her thighs. Yes. She put the microphone between her thighs and scrunched them to play the national anthem.

Singing with her thighs

Singing with her thighs

It was  pretty incredible and I will admit to being jealous of this talent. In fact by the end of most burlesque shows I tend to  feel compelled to perform burlesque. It’s not that I would feel uncomfortable with the nudity, what holds me back is really my lack of dancing skills and comic timing. Sigh…

Friday night finished up with my first bar brawl. This must have been in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there had been a good deal of drinking, dancing and burlesque and some short dweeby looking guy pushed K and she pushed back and then he really pushed her hard, almost knocking her off her pretty little heels. Then I was trying to beat him up and his tall, comparatively sober, friend was holding me back and it all could have gotten quite ugly (trust you me I would have won) but luckily the sober friend dragged the dweeb outside and K and I were able to feel triumphant.

This morning I had to be up at an ungodly hour to meet my grandmother for brunch at Petite Abeille. It’s a marvelous little Belgian place near Union Sq. but I’ll admit brioche french toast was not quite what I wanted first thing this morning. My grandmother is a fantastic woman and a true New Yorker. We go to the opera and the ballet together and visit all the museums and do a great deal of shopping and brunching. She spoils me dreadfully. This morning she bought me lots of pretty things. She has stellar taste and I would be at a loss without her. We trooped up to Lincoln Center in time for our matinée at The New York City Ballet. This afternoon they did a program of three short ballets:

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Choreography by Balanchine

Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Choreography by Balanchine

La Valse; my grandmother paticularly enjoyed this one because she’s been watching Philip Neal perform since the start of his career and she still thinks he’s “very handsome.”

La Valse/Ravel and Balanchine

La Valse/Ravel and Balanchine

And finally, West Side Story, which was interesting in this context because only some scenes were performed and the singing wasn’t always coming from the dancer playing the character, and the dancing is a bit different because the dancers are trained in ballet. On the whole it was not my favorite rendition of West Side Story but I did love their version of the dance where Tony and Maria meet. I was just bummed that they didn’t have the ‘I just met a girl named Maria’ song; I used to sing that in the shower all the time when I was about 12.

West Side Story/Bernstein and Robbins

West Side Story/Bernstein and Robbins

According to Playbill the revival of West Side Story will be opening on Broadway quite soon. Apparently the Puerto Rican characters will be speaking/singing in Spanish.

The production “will introduce the unprecedented element of selectively weaving Spanish throughout both the book and songs,” according to a July 16 announcement.

Laurents, who earned solid reviews (and a 2008 Tony nomination) for staging the current Broadway run of Gypsy, stated, “This show will be radically different from any other production of West Side Story ever done. The musical theatre and cultural conventions of 1957 made it next to impossible for the characters to have authenticity. Every member of both gangs was always a potential killer even then. Now they actually will be. Only Tony and Maria try to live in a different world…”

West Side Story has music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Laurents. The staging will retain the original choreography of late director Jerome Robbins, who conceived the project by using Romeo and Juliet as inspiration. As previously announced, the Robbins choreography will be restaged by Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely (The Boy from Oz, The Life).

I’m not sure how I feel about this innovation but I’m curious enough that I will probably try to find cheap tickets, or at the very least monitor the reviews. We really haven’t had much beyond revivals and Disney shows on Bway lately, which seems really unfortunate since I’m sure there are a lot of creative new projects that just aren’t getting funding. If ‘Cars’ becomes a Broadway musical I may have to set up a picket line.

Tonight I went with a few friends to see all the Oscar nominated short films at the IFC Center. First were the live action shorts:

  • Auf Der Strecke (On The Line): A bit disturbing, rather unsatisfactory ending, very little smiling.
  • Manon on the Asphalt: I am too much of a francophile to not have LOVED this. It’s tragic but so sensuous; I love the close-ups of her hair, the leaves above her, the dreamy way her thoughts travel amongst the people who are important to her. It’s a splendid death scene.
  • New Boy: There are Irish accents and a very charming teacher and a whole group of bright eyed children who learn to be friends with the new boy; I hope this one wins simply because it’s optimistic.
  • The Pig: This is sort of a comedy about two men who are in the hospital and a painting of a pig.
  • Spielzeugland (Toyland): I cried hysterically through most of this. It’s about the Holocaust. There are too many movies out right now about the Holocaust.

After a brief interlude, and the purchasing of popcorn, we sat through the animated shorts:

  • La Maison en Petits Cubes: We travel through the past by going further down in a house that has been built up over time as water levels have risen (environmental msg? not sure).
  • Lavatory/Love story: Too cute. Way too cute.
  • Oktopodi: Two octopuses are in love and rescue one another from various dangerous situations.
  • Presto: If you’ve seen WallE you’ve seen this one- magician vs. his rabbit.
  • This Way Up: Hard to describe, involves undertakers, clowns in hell and some other trippy trippy stuff.

There were definitely others that we saw today that weren’t actually nominated but I’ll admit that they’ve all blended a bit in my mind at this point. I have been told that all of the nominated shorts can be seen through iTunes and I highly recommend that you check them out at some point before the Oscars; it’s very fun to know what’s happening in those categories.

Tomorrow I am going to try to make myself get some work done but I will post about any particularly exciting events happening this week!

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