Arts & Culture
Music protesting war and violence takes many forms — from 20th century songs like Metallica’s hit “One” and Sting’s “Russians” to earlier expressions by Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, and Joan Baez. And long before John Lennon and Pete Seeger made their mark, classical composers were objecting to conflict; for example, Benjamin Britten with his War Requiem and Krzysztof Penderecki with his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.
English composer, teacher, writer, and conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams brought his own style of protest and commentary to his interpretation of the Roman Catholic Mass, Dona nobis pacem (“Give us peace”). Written in 1936 and 1937, the cantata uses text from the Bible, a parliamentary speech by British statesman John Bright, and verse by Walt Whitman.
“Dona nobis pacem was written in the dark days of the late 1930s as another European war loomed,” explains MusicaNova Music Director Warren Cohen. “Although the last section ends hopefully, the quiet ending suggests that perhaps he [Vaughan Williams] saw that things were not so hopeful in 1936.”
The six-part work includes martial drums and bugles followed by the mourning of a movement titled “Dirge for Two Veterans,” and through it all a solo soprano voice rises in entreaty. “This plea for peace is emotionally direct…[and] can be seen as a plea for sanity,” says Cohen.
This evening, he leads MusicaNova Orchestra in a performance of Dona nobis pacem and other vocal works in a program called And Open to All: Opera, Oratorio, and Song at Central United Methodist Church. The combined choirs of Arizona School for the Arts and Central United Methodist Church join the orchestra (full disclosure: I’m one of the musicians).
Soloists include singers from a newly-formed Valley organization called Opera Revolution, an offshoot of the music advocacy group Classical Revolution Phoenix, which offers casual, free performances in non-traditional venues as well as the annual Classical Revolution Phoestival. The performers include Karen Hendricks Crawford, Daniel Kurek, Susan Hurley, Andrew Briggs, Joyce Yin, John Cleveland, and Robert Altizer.
“This concert is an exploration of diversity within vocal music,” says Cohen, who has a very personal interest in song since he’s married to a soprano. He chose not only the large, introspective work by Ralph Vaughan Williams but also an assortment of art songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as a classic operatic scene.
“The songs represent five separate and distinct visions of the subject of desire and love,” he continues, describing works by Richard Strauss, Hugo Wolf, and Aldo Finzi. “From the expression of lost love in ‘Allerseelen (All Souls’ Eve)’ through the psychopathic manipulation of ‘Der Rattenfänger (The Rat-Catcher)’ – based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin — to the glow of ‘Morgen (Tomorrow),’ the anxious puppy love of ‘Cäcilie,’ and the longing of ‘Catharine,’ each song represents a radically different take on the subject.”
The program’s operatic excerpt is an ensemble scene from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, set at a party hosted by Giovanni himself, who hopes to seduce the country girl Zerlina in the course of the evening. They’re joined by Zerlina’s fiancé, Giovanni’s servant, and three masked strangers who secretly seek revenge against the seducer.
Musically, the scene features multiple voices and three instrumental ensembles, and at one point three different dances — a waltz, a quadrille, and a minuet — overlap in carefully engineered chaos “as Mozart anticipates the experiments of Charles Ives by 125 years,” says Cohen, whose adventurous programming has won him an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL).
“[It’s] a tour-de-force of complexity,” he concludes. “The seven voices appear in the guise of soloist, duet and trio partners, and ensembles, sometimes tripping over each other as the various operatic conventions run almost simultaneously.”
If you go:
When: Thursday, April 25, 7:30PM
Where: Central United Methodist Church sanctuary, 1875 N. Central Ave.
Music and art—they seem to go so well together. It just sort of rolls off the tongue: musicandart, artandmusic.
For some of us in grade school, they were even taught at the same time and maybe even by the same teacher. If you were good at one, there was a good chance you might have been good at the other.
Then maybe you go to college, or maybe you don’t, but either way a person ends up traveling down a path that is predominantly music OR art. Somewhere in this process, a person might keep ties to both and some people even manage to integrate it seamlessly with the work they do, but most lean to one side or the other.
The artist stares longingly at the violinist, remembering what it used to feel like to labor over a solo. The violinist attends art openings to vicariously sense the feeling of creating a new body of work.
How did we become so separate?
I will admit that I am one of those people. I used to play flute and bass guitar and believed that I could really be amazing at both music and art but at some point, I felt I had to choose to make one or the other better or risk being mediocre at both. The word “dilettante” kept jumping to mind.
Maybe this explains a phenomena I have troubling understanding in our sunny city: the Grand Canyon of a divide between the art and music communities. I discovered this after meeting my partner who came from a music background into multi-media artwork. It seemed like a natural progression. I assumed we would have a lot of friends in common. But, it turned out that we knew virtually none of the same people. How could this be?
Artists and musicians share a lot of the same struggles: attempting to make a living while doing the thing you’re good at; fitting in time to practice while managing the making a living part and all of life’s other sundries; determining whether to go the more commercial or more independent route; and fielding all of the inquiries from family members/friends/acquaintances about what you really do. It seems we’d have a lot to talk about with each other.
It also seems as though we’d have a lot to collaborate on. While we’re working at putting together new multi-media pieces and staging impromptu events in vacant lots, members of both communities could step outside of their familiar zones and try something that lands in the middle. In the process of brainstorming, we might even realize that our creative processes are very much the same. John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg collaborated often in the 1950s to 1970s, generating multi-faceted pieces that would have been very different had they been coming from a solo perspective.
Mingling of these worlds surely occurs from time to time but, as both communities struggle for audiences, respectability and a place in the cultural landscape of Phoenix, we could benefit from joining forces more often. Each group brings its own audience that is likely unknown to the other’s. By intertwining mediums and people, we broaden the artistic landscape for both. Downtown Chamber Series has managed this successfully with their performances that take place at various art spaces downtown. They can promote the show and their own concert—promising their audience a dynamic experience that they may not have sought out alone. Before long, both audiences could potentially double while also adding something new to our experience of culture here.
Closing the gap between these two worlds doesn’t have to mean jumping to the other side. It could simply mean acknowledging that we’re both really after the same things. We’re not so different, after all.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
WHAT: Arizona Science Center is celebrating the culmination of the Chew on This! film and lecture series with the first annual Grow Phoenix Festival. In addition to educational and interactive activities hosted by Arizona Science Center, the event will feature informative demonstrations by members of the Phoenix culinary community, with a focus on food sustainability in the Valley. A variety of food trucks will join the festival, with a popular local band providing entertainment.
Cooking demonstrations will happen every hour on the half hour (starting at 10:30 a.m.), and will include the following:
- Chef Jon Clancy from M Catering
- Chef Joshua Herbert from Posh Improvisational Cuisine
- Chef Nathan Hirsh from Whole Foods
- Chef Eddie Matney from Eddie’s House
- Chefs Sammy & Zach Sleman from North Italian Farmhouse
Festival-goers who need refreshment will be able to choose from an array of food trucks, which will be onsite between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. They’ll include Island Logo, Burgers Amore!, The Chef Genie, Kona Ice, frufrupops and Paletas Betty. Local band Peppermint James will provide musical entertainment between noon and 2 p.m. (whenever there is not a chef demonstration on stage).
Scientists from Arizona Science Center will be on hand with fun activities for the whole family, including T-shirt design stations, solar manicures, eco-weave projects, a “Calculate Your Food Mile” challenge and much more.
The event is free and sponsored in part by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Whole Foods and M Catering by Michael’s.
WHEN: Saturday, April 20; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
WHERE: Heritage & Science Park (in front of Arizona Science Center), 600 East Washington St.
WHY: Arizona Science Center and Chipotle both share a commitment to the local community and raising awareness of important food-related issues. Chipotle has a track record for changing the way people think and eat fast food through its Food With Integrity vision, including through its own ingredient sourcing, seeking out the most sustainable sources for everything from beans to lettuce and meats. Specifically, Chipotle will serve more than 10 million pounds of locally grown produce this year. Additionally, Chipotle serves naturally raised meat – from animals that are raised in a humane way and never given antibiotics or added hormones – as well as dairy from pasture-raised cattle. Chipotle and Arizona Science Center both wanted to provide a learning platform for all ages, and the Chew on This! film and lecture series provides the perfect, fun way for families to start thinking differently about food, where it comes from, how it was raised and how it will affect the environment around them.
INFO: More information about the event and Arizona Science Center is available by visiting azscience.org or by calling (602) 716-2000.
Saturday’s Feast on the Street was epic. The event succeeded in turning the simple notion of breaking bread with one another into a spectacular festival.
Thanks to the event’s sponsors (including ArtPlace, National Endowment for the Arts, The Steele Foundation and many more supporters), the volunteers, restaurants, food trucks, musicians and, yes, beer vendors for making it a great party.
Should we fast before we feast? Or maybe proper training includes stretching our stomachs so we can better enjoy the community/gastronomic event that is Feast on the Street.
Whatever your strategy, get the scoop on this first-ever “Urban Harvest Festival.”
What: Feast on the Street
When: Saturday, April 13, from 2 to 9 p.m.
Where: Downtown Phoenix, in the Evans Churchill/Roosevelt Row Neighborhood. First St. will be closed to car traffic to make room for the half-mile long dinner table from Taylor St. to Margaret T. Hance Park.
Admission: Free. Everyone is invited to stroll and enjoy the activities, but you will be paying for the food and beverage you consume. There is also a VIP ticket option that will give you access to a comfy indoor lounge.
Who’s Serving This Feast? It’s a veritable smorgasbord of eats featuring several downtown restaurants and food trucks. Step right up and order, then be sure to sit for the 6 p.m. dinner seating (see below).
- Angels Trumpet Ale House
- Athenian Express
- Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
- Breadfruit & Rum Bar
- Carly’s Bistro
- Giant Coffee
- Hsin Café
- Jobot Coffee Shop
- Matt’s Big Breakfast
- Phoenix Public Market
- Pita Jungle
- Portland’s Restaurant & Wine Bar
- Potbelly Sandwich Shop
- Song Bird Coffee & Tea House
- Squash Blossom
- Tammie Coe/li>
- The Turf Irish Pub
- Welcome Diner
- Plus Food Trucks parked along First St.
Scheduled Highlights (be sure to check out the FULL schedule of events):
The Kick-Off Salad Toss
A “massive” ceremonial salad toss by Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel’s Chef Brian Archibald. Yep, a giant salad will be tossed using a tarp. Guests will gather around a recipe of fresh and local ingredients, typically discarded due to their bruised appearance.
- When: 2:15 p.m.
- Where: Intersection of Pierce & First Street
A “Mobile Garden Parade”
Gardens in buckets, some on wheels, including trucks, wheelbarrows, and bikes, will be led by Bad Cactus Brass Band.
- When: 3:15 p.m.
- Where: Begins at Garfield Street, marching north to Roosevelt and looping back to Garfield
Formal Dinner Seating
Take a seat! Break bread with hundreds of your closest and new-found friends at the half-mile long dinner table.
- When: 6 p.m.
- Where: The dinner table on 1st St.. stretching from Taylor St. to Margaret T. Hance Park
A formal toast to reconnect urban dwellers with a focus on the importance of the sun’s changing position and schedule in agricultural life.
- When: 7:33 p.m. – to be exact. (The official time of Sunset, April 13, 2013.)
For more, visit FeastontheStreet.org.