Sunday, February 26, 2012

celestial affairs

Well, my little Powershot at least registered the shape of the crescent moon, and that's either Venus or Jupiter visible nearby. (In other attempts last night, the moon was just a white blob.) For the last few nights -- after the sun has gone down and early in the evening -- the sliver of the crescent moon has been lining up with bright Venus and Jupiter in the western sky.

Here's a post with more information on the Baltimore Sun's Maryland Weather blog. And Mars is coming closer to us in March! You remember that the Martians waited for this circumstance in H. G. Wells' novel?


moon venus jupiter google image results -- some better photos from around the world, the scene with different atmospheric conditions and features on the ground. (A nice one from the India Times!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snoozing 2

If Ollie can do this still, he must be doing well. End of February marks 4 months since the vets found the first growth in Ollie's colon. Recent X-ray showed the cancer all over his intestine, but new food, prednisolone, Miralax, Tylan powder and hypoallergenic treats and lots of love are helping him carry on. He's crazy about those treats -- they might be helping more than I know.

Snoozing 1

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pick your seat for "The Crucible"

Well, if I can't offer production photos here, at the very least I can post a copy of the seating chart for the Peabody Conservatory's Friedberg Hall. Peabody Opera's next venture in American opera will be Robert Ward's The Crucible, based on Arthur Miller's play about the Salem witch trials. Performances will run March 14-17 (in Friedberg). Regular tickets for Peabody Opera are $25.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Going to Candlelight Concerts ~ the Gryphon Trio

If you live in the Town Center area of Columbia, Maryland, you're almost right next door to a prestigious chamber music series, Candlelight Concerts. I remember heading over here from Anne Arundel County to hear some of the world-class ensembles and performers -- Emma Kirkby, Pifarro, the Emerson Quartet -- featured on the stage of Candlelight's home, the Smith Theatre at Howard Community College. Now I live in the neighborhood, and the Smith is part of HCC's new, modern Horowitz Performing Arts Center. Regular tickets are $30 each (and they take credit cards at the box office), and parking is free.

My current situation at home surrounding care for a beloved cat ill with cancer made me reluctant to go out in the evenings for full-length concerts. I'm getting more comfortable with that situation, though, as its own routine has developed, so last night I finally ventured out to HCC just a few minutes' drive away on the other side of Town Center. I notice the shuttle bus taking Vantage House residents to the same destination when I go to Candlelight -- one day I might have need of a residential situation with a service like that. When I came home later after the concert, about 10:30pm, my cat met me at the door as usual, carrying on as though nothing were wrong with him. (An evening concert in Baltimore would mean getting home much later.)

I regretted missing some recent Candlelight events and debated over going to last night's because of that home situation, but the promise of hearing fine chamber music in Candlelight's very comfortable theater won over my worries. Last night, we heard the Gryphon Trio from Toronto in the start of Candlelight's cycle of Beethoven's music for piano trio. The Gryphon's program:

Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1, No. 3
Piano Trio in B-flat major, WoO 39 (without opus 39 -- it was a one-movement work written for a patron and not published until after the composer's death)
Variations on an Original Theme in E-flat major, Op. 44
Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97, the Archduke

The Gryphon's pianist, James Parker, talked to the audience in introduction and between pieces, giving us interesting insights into the music and its history. Haydn, for example, advised withholding No. 3 of Op. 1 from publication because of startling angry passages that would have been shocking to listeners of that era. Piazzolla's "Autumn" provided an encore and, perhaps, its own shock, coming so soon after hearing the Archduke.

Links: Candlelight Concerts ... Gryphon Trio

///Thanks to Candlelight Concerts for the comment and for linking this post on its Facebook page.///

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hunting for bats?

This was Friday night a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't seen him up there for a very long time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Orphee" by Glass at Virginia Opera

Hurrah for Virginia Opera for making this venture. Wellsung attended and gives notice of an opera company doing something different and daring.

This is Philip Glass' operatic spin on Jean Cocteau's movie, "Orphee". I like some of the instrumental music, including film scores, by the composer, but I have to give his vocal music another chance. The Criterion Collection edition of Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" (La Belle et la Bete) has an alternate track with Glass' opera version of that movie. I tried it once but couldn't enjoy the sound of the human voice singing Glass' music, though I must have another listen and hear how Glass treats scenes without singing such as the father lost in the forest. (Georges Auric's original score for the movie is a wonder among film scores and can be found in a modern recording on a Naxos CD.)

When the Baltimore Opera Company was still around, director Michael Harrison revealed in an interview (Baltimore Sun?) that he would have loved staging Glass' "Beauty and the Beast" in Baltimore. Perhaps that's part of my problem with enjoying or not enjoying it on the DVD track: It needs to be seen in its own production separate from the original movie.

Another modern American opera in live performance this afternoon in Baltimore: Domenick Argento's "Postcard From Morocco" done by Peabody Chamber Opera at Theatre Project (links in my post yesterday). I don't have a ticket in hand but hope to get one at the box office for this last performance.

update on Ollie ~ successful movie night

For friends of Ollie who have been looking here for photos and updates about him: I'll try to continue posting photos, but this is just a quick post without a photo. In spite of cancer all over his intestine now (and who knows where else), he is doing very well. Friday, I decided to have an impromptu movie night that evening and contacted a few friends on very short notice that day. Three came over, and we made it a pizza night, too. We watched the 1939 "Stagecoach" in the recent Criterion Collection DVD release. Ollie, of course, loves having visitors and he's great at parties. He was in top form Friday night. On the bad side, I couldn't let him sit in their laps because of his condition, and the smell of forbidden pizza was a torment for him (so I plied him with a few of his safe treats -- and not to worry: Ollie still gets plenty of time on my lap).

One evening earlier in the week, Ollie drew my attention to a bat hanging behind a curtain in a spare room upstairs. Last thing I need now is a bat in the house with Ollie in his compromised condition. I had to "get rid of it" quickly, and it might have been dead already, for all I know. (This was the second bat we've found in this house, the first one a couple of years ago being carted off alive but in a weakened state to an animal shelter.)

There might be more movie nights with Ollie, though I have to keep an eye on how he's doing and invite people on short notice.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

links: Argento's "Postcard From Morocco" at Peabody Chamber Opera

Palm Courtyard poster from Peabody's site.

This almost slipped by me thanks to non-musical distractions in personal business, but the production continues tonight at 7:30pm and tomorrow at 3:00pm at Theatre Project in Baltimore. The links:

Tim Smith has a favorable review on Clef Notes (Baltimore Sun) and mentions an Argento celebration coming in April at the University of Maryland.

Peabody's Postcard from Morocco page

Theatre Project

Sunday, February 5, 2012

movies: a wild wild boar hunt

"Home From the Hill" (1960) stars Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker, George Peppard and a very young George Hamilton possibly in his first film and reminding some of us of how slim and endowed with hair we once were. Early in the movie, we see Hamilton as Mitchum's teenage son, Theron, with hounds and gun in pursuit of a dangerous wild boar. Never personally interested in guns and hunting, I was still on the edge of my comfy chair during this sequence. My heart was in my throat at the end of it, and this scene is merely foreshadowing of things to come in a story of tortured family history in a southeastern Texas town.

The score composer was Bronislau Kaper, a new name among film composers for me. Rich and romantic, the score has a great main theme and certainly builds up the excitement during the pursuit and confrontation with that boar.

Mitchum must have been busy around that time: He had to go to Australia with Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov to film "The Sundowners", also released in 1960. This is a very absorbing story of a sheep drover family on the move through lovely Downunder scenery lush with white gum trees. The composer here is a little more familiar: Dimitri Tiomkin, employing and developing at least two Aussie folk songs in his score.

(My copies of the DVD issues are part of a Robert Mitchum collection from Warner Brothers, found at Daedalus Books here in Columbia.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

cat toys ~ playlist

Sitting around on tissue paper and watching a cat toy spun by his human companion -- two old pleasures combined a couple of evenings ago.

Don't forget the free Chopin recital and talk by pianist Brian Ganz tomorrow at Sundays At Three here in Columbia.

I started to post last night, but a waiting cat was looming out of the corner of my eye. This morning there was to be a return to the vet for an ultrasound to see if the cancer is in an especially dangerous area -- the spleen -- however, I canceled after learning late yesterday that Ollie should go without food starting the evening before the appointment. I don't want to put him through that again. Let's see what we can do about the ultrasound and the spleen later. He's looking fine now and continues to eat and be active. Friends and neighbors, many with cat care experience, have been helping and offering support. In addition to that, last week I found another network of cat lovers, some with lots of experience taking care of cats with various cancers. Their stories and advice on how to know "when it's time" have been a great comfort and help. Some of them might be looking here at pictures of Ollie, so thanks for looking and just click on the "Ollie is your host" label if you just want to see posts with his photos. Clicking on a photo will get a larger view.

I'm making it to a concert now and then. It seems that with Ollie in his current condition and the need to be around to administer medicine with food in the morning and late afternoon or early evening, I'm more comfortable with going to afternoon events rather than evening.

Some recent listening at home:

~~ works for viola and orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams and John McEwen (1868-1948). A new release from Hyperion with violist Lawrence Power and Martyn Brabbins conducting the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.
~~ Symphonies and Overtures by Franz Berwald (Swedish, 1796-1868). Roy Goodman conducts the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra on Hyperion Dyad (1995).
~~ The Capricorn ensemble plays Glinka's Grand Sextet and Rimsky-Korsakov's Piano and Wind Quintet on Hyperion's budget reissue label, Helios (1984/2004).
~~ All three of Tchaikovsky's piano concertos and his Concert Fantasy. Pletnev with Fedoseyev and the Philharmonia on Virgin Classics (1991/1998).
~~ Camerata Bariloche (the Chamber Orchestra of Argentina) play music by Astor Piazzolla, Jose Bragato and Rodolfo Arizaga on the "Tango!" album in the Dorian label's Music of Latin American Masters series (1994).