27 September 2020

Sequestering Arts | A Little Music, A Little Theater

Illustration from
J. J. Grandville's Un autre monde (1844)
Sequestering Arts | About this intermittent series

With the world in lockdown due to Covid-19 (<-- link to the CDC info site), many people are struggling, practically, emotionally, and creatively. As a long-time creative & librarian I thought I might be able to help by doing what I do best: finding/sharing information. My goal is to provide links to interesting, comforting, & creative online resources that you can explore & enjoy while home- or place-bound.
  • Mary Pappert School of Music | Duquesne University
    Music on the Bluff - Virtual Series

    Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyejVSw0ivQBeIiC7wa2lN1nsBljMSIiB

    [From website] "Beginning in September, we will release a new Bluff Series video on the Mary Pappert School of Music YouTube channel that will feature the talents of Artistic Director and pianist, David Allen Wehr, along with our all-star faculty, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and internationally-renowned guest artists."
    • Sonata for Cello and Piano (Debussy)
      Fri Sep 18th - Thu Oct 15th 
    • Première Rhapsody for Clarinet and Piano (Debussy)
      Fri Oct 16th - Fri Nov 20th

  • Ralph Zurmühle | Composer & Pianist
    Live Recording Session at Little Big Beat Studios

    [Video description] "
    Video of the full program performed in the live recording session on the 19th of August 2020 at Little Big Beat Studios in cooperation with Tangente, Eschen/FL. There is a unique silence in such a recording session, a silence that is challenging, intense and at the same time extremely inspiring - one can literally hear the drop of a needle. The connection between performer and audience is intimate through the use of earphones and both journey together, moment by moment… with every key touched, every note played and every melody transmitted.

    [From website] "The Swiss composer and pianist was born in Zürich and grew up mainly in Liechtenstein. He graduated from the University of Zürich and lives in Spain. Ralph discovered his natural ability for the piano at the age of five. He fostered his talent over decades with jazz and classical music training in Zürich and Liechtenstein. Imbued with subtle changes of tempo and nuance, crossing various musical genres, Zurmühle’s compositions maintain the intuitive feeling of improvised music. With great sensitivity to touch, he combines fluidity and freedom with refinement and development, resulting in graceful melodies, sublime sound textures and introspective ambiences."

  • Beall & Finch
    Playlists: https://www.youtube.com/c/BeallandFinch/playlists
    [From website] "Jesse Finch and Rosalind Beall are two guitarists who enjoy playing classical music and also writing their own music (with classical, folk and singer-songwriter influences)."

* * * * *

 Procession of Characters from Shakespeare's Plays | Link/Info below

"I don't think people should bother to read Shakespeare.
They should see him in the theatre. Reading just reduces him to an examination subject."  

~ Sir Ian McKellen (Source info below)

  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre | Romeo & Juliet |
    Available: 9/28/2020 - Feb Half-Term 2021

  • Sadler Wells Theatre
    Sadler's Wells Theatre is a performing arts venue in Clerkenwell, London, England. Noted on 9/10/2020 (What's On Stage). They are set to reopen for public performances and will be releasing archived shows online. See their website for show info.

  • Cirque du Soleil | 60-MINUTE SPECIALS
    See their playlist of 1-hour specials here:
  • The Curve Theatre (Leicester, England) | My Beautiful Launderette
    Available until the Curve reopens
    Hanif Kureishi's play based on his Oscar-nominated screenplay, featuring original music from Tennant/Lowe of the Pet Shops Boys. Omar Malik and Jonny Fines star in the production, filmed at Leicester's Curve theatre in 2019.

  • Clock Productions (Chicago, IL, US) | Black Joy
    [From website] "BLACK JOY is a World Premiere featuring a variety of original scenes, songs, and spoken word pieces, all written and performed by Black artists. The festival will have a Facebook premiere on October 9th and also be available to stream here on the website from October 9th thru 23rd. Tickets are a Pay-What-You-Can donation.Adapted and Directed by Clock alumna Kayla V. White, BLACK JOY takes a physical and emotional journey through the seasons, sharing stories about being Black in America."

  • St. Ann's Warehouse (Brooklyn, NY)
    • Julius Caesar | October 9–15
      [From website] "Harriet Walter, Jackie Clune, and Jade Anouka star in Phyllida Lloyd's all-female production of the Shakespeare play, filmed in December 2016 at the Donmar Warehouse King's Cross in London."
    • Henry IV | October 16–22
      [From website] "Harriet Walter plays the title role in Phyllida Lloyd's all-female production of the Shakespeare play, filmed in December 2016 at the Donmar Warehouse King's Cross in London."

Other posts in this series can be found via this link.


Source/Image Credit
  1. The Telegraph. "Sir Ian McKellen: Don't bother reading Shakespeare." By Patrick Foster,  27 Oct 2015.
  2. Procession of Characters from Shakespeare’s plays, c 1840  | William Shakespeare | Signature from Last Will  

02 September 2020

Cool Book: The Four Profound Weaves: A Birdverse Book by R.B. Lemberg


The Four Profound Weaves Book Cover

My review of R.B. Lemberg's The Four Profound Weaves: A Birdverse Book  has been updated and moved to my author website: J.A. Jablonski. You can link to it here:

A Reader with Serious Attitude

Face | Artist: J.A. Jablonski
May not be used without permission

It is likely that I am not the person many writers of books would want as a reviewer. I am, as I describe myself to myself, an angry reader. I am not out to attack anyone when I read, nor am I looking to punch down or up or any which way. Simply put, I wish to be taken, persuaded, challenged, entertained (if fiction), and informed (if non-fiction) and I want it to be done with grace, style, and some measure of verbal power. If this does not happen, due to the vagaries of my psychological and intellectual wiring, my immediate response is the emotion of anger.

I spent many years reflecting on why this is so. It boils down, ultimately, to my two pet peeves: of having my time wasted and of seeing what could have been done well not done well. And I’ve learned how to use this anger, to harness it, be patient with it.

As a long-time writing instructor (of undergrads, master’s and PhD students) I’ve noted that when I am angry it is a sign to back away for a moment then come back with teacherly questions: Why am I angry at this moment? Is it a badly constructed sentence? Awkward phrasing or word choice? Is it a sloppily thought-out concept? Does the thesis or core idea lack credible support? Would I have stated it differently? Do I simply disagree? I am never angry at the person, it is the words, the thinking, the approach that riles me. I use these questions to guide the feedback I give and corrections I suggest. My students have told me they found my commentary always helpful.

As an academic in the Humanities and Social Sciences--a teacher of literary criticism and information organization, an academic librarian (and professor), a one-time theater major, an artist, and a long-time, wide ranging reader--my emotional response to non-student work is more nuanced. I recall telling someone that I find watching live theater so very difficult. If I see a crack between canvas flats in the scenery that should not be there, a hem on a skirt that’s fallen and not been caught for repair by the wardrobe crew, an artifact or prop that does not match the era being staged, or an actor pulling too hard for an audience reaction, I find myself pushed out of the imagination bubble that the play and players want to create for me.

It’s not that I want perfection. Lord no, there are few things that achieve that. 

I saw a play once where an actor, who was to open a scene with the main character, apparently missed his cue, leaving the main actor alone on the stage for nearly 3 excruciating minutes. The onstage actor didn’t miss a beat. He broke the fourth wall and began talking to the audience, in character, explaining why the other character was late, harkening back to the first time they’d met, then detailing how he’d learned about that little personality quirk. On the spot, he created and performed a backstory that didn’t take the audience away from the play and kept them within the bubble of belief. (When the other actor did appear, the audience broke into applause for this little narrative gift, much to the latecomer’s confusion.)

Most importantly, I save my anger as a reader for me. It is my response alone. What it gives me, though, is a sense of immediacy, of intimacy, with the story. What I want is a sense that the person(s) creating the thing are utterly present, that they have seen beyond the bones of plot, of setting, of description, and of character. 

I want to trust the author and, in return, I want them to trust me back and leave me alone with their story and their words. In the end, and I know this as a writer and creative myself, the thing made is no longer yours. The thing viewed, read, or heard by the person at the other end is theirs to be cherished or not, valued or not, remembered or not. The interpretation is theirs. 

The author/artist is something of an angel, certainly they are a gift giver. I like to think my anger honors that. What it does do, is serve as fuel for my respect for those who create in any realm, a respect most profound.

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