Oregon Bach Festival 2015

Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Brahms

Johannes Brahms

Last night I attended an Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) concert at the Hult Center. The OBF is an annual University of Oregon event that celebrates the works of composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

This year the festival runs from June 25th through July 12th with a fantastic variety of summer concerts and guest artists, including non-Bach-related programs. The OBF focuses on a choral-orchestral repertoire and educational activities such as a conducting master class with participants from all over world and a Youth Choral Academy.

Bruckner

Anton Bruckner

The concert last night was spectacular!  It featured the music of three composers – Anton Bruckner, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johannes Brahms. The Bach and Bruckner pieces featured several guest soloists, Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, and the Berwick Chorus of the OBF. Matthew Halls was brilliant conducting the orchestra. Each piece of dynamic music was performed beautifully!

The OBF began in 1970 led by German conductor Helmuth Rilling and Royce Saltzman, former president of the American Choral Directors Association. Initially, it was an informal series of classes and concerts at the University of Oregon. The concerts expanded to include full-scale choral-orchestral performances.

Matthew Halls

Matthew Halls OBF Artistic Director

In 2007, the festival included concerts throughout Oregon, including Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Bend’s Tower Theatre. OBF collaborates with other regional arts organizations, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Eugene Ballet. The festival is a joyous event and an amazing venue for a small city like Eugene.

Berwick Chorus

Berwick Chorus of the OBF

In 2014 British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls succeeded Helmuth Rilling as OBF’s Artistic Director. Halls has made “significant conducting debuts with the Houston Symphony, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Washington D.C. National Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, and Frankfurt Radio Symphony, as well as founding and leading the pioneering Retrospect Ensemble”. Halls has an impressive career and these are but a few of his engagements in North America, Canada, and worldwide.

Halls is known for “probing, vibrant interpretations of music of all periods”. In his mid 30s, Halls is one of the most brilliant and interesting conductors I have ever observed. His passion and talent is visible and it’s such a joy to watch him conduct.

Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy

Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy

Masaaki Suzuki

Masaaki Suzuki Bach Collegium Japan

The OBF is donor-supported with activities primarily at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts and at the University of Oregon’s School of Music & Dance, Beall Hall. This June the OBF launched a new HIP orchestral academy led by Matthew Halls and guest director Masaaki Suzuki (founder/director of the Bach Collegium Japan). The three-week orchestral program is open to students and young professionals between the ages of 21 to 35.

Next week I’ll attend another dramatic OBF concert featuring a suite from Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Mozart’s Symphony No. 25, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Masaaki Suzuki conducts the symphony and it’s sure to be another thrilling performance!

Home Again

From the Hammock

From the Hammock

This is the place that I love the best,
A little brown house, like a ground-bird’s nest,
Hid among grasses, and vines, and trees,
Summer retreat of the birds and bees.

The tenderest light that ever was seen
Sifts through the vine-made window screen–
Sifts and quivers, and flits and falls
On home-made carpets and gray-hung walls.

All through June the west wind free
The breath of clover brings to me.
All through the languid July day
I catch the scent of new-mown hay.

The morning-glories and scarlet vine
Over the doorway twist and twine;
And every day, when the house is still,
The humming-bird comes to the window-sill.

In the cunningest chamber under the sun
I sink to sleep when the day is done;
And am waked at morn, in my snow-white bed,
By a singing bird on the roof o’erhead.

Better than treasures brought from Rome,
Are the living pictures I see at home–
My aged father, with frosted hair,
And mother’s face, like a painting rare.

Far from the city’s dust and heat,
I get but sounds and odors sweet.
Who can wonder I love to stay,
Week after week, here hidden away,
In this sly nook that I love the best–
This little brown house like a ground-bird’s nest?

My Home – Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Rhodadendrons

Rhododendrons

Home in Oregon for a few weeks now. Surveying the surrounding summer landscape it feels like living in a tree house. The only word that comes to mind is “green”. The deer, raccoon, squirrel, and wild turkey populations increased substantially during the 6 months I was traveling in South America.

Sadly none of them made it to the photo shoot this morning! At last count there were about 20 little turkeys following their mother and a large raccoon family with several new babies.

Entry

Entry

Woods Behind

Woods Behind

Claudia Svetliza Artista Buenos Aires

Claudia Svetliza Dancers

Claudia Svetliza Dancers

Claudia Svetliza Café San Telmo

Claudia Svetliza Café San Telmo

Edmundo Rivero

Edmundo Rivero

After checking out several street fairs, including San Telmo and Retiro, I found paintings in Recoleta at Plaza Francia. Along with paintings from Peru and Chile, they will be great additions to my home gallery!

Claudia Svetliza Bandoneón Player

Claudia Svetliza Bandoneón Player

Artist Claudia Svetliza started selling her paintings at Plaza Francia 15 years ago. After a divorce she needed to support herself and decided to learn how to paint.

I bought two of her paintings. One is a street scene in San Telmo – Café Viejo Almacén (Old Warehouse). Café Almacén is a famous traditional tango parlor. It’s in the historical area of San Telmo on a corner that “harbors the soul of the mysterious city of Buenos Aires“.

Claudia Svetliza Tango Dancers

Claudia Svetliza Tango Dancers

The history of Almacén goes back to 1933 when a Russian woman nicknamed “La Volga” turned the building into a tango bar frequented by sailors. Argentine singer Edmundo Rivero started his career at Almacén.

The other painting from Claudia is of two elegant tango dancers. I bought one other piece – a beautiful pen and ink of a bandoneón player. The artist spoke zero English and he didn’t understand my Spanish, so there’s no background info. It’s a lovely piece with gorgeous details and will be a joy to look at every day.

Mercado de las Pulgas and Local Artists

Juan Carlos Castagnino

Juan Carlos Castagnino

Benito Quinquela Martín

Benito Quinquela Martín

The Buenos Aires Flea Market in Palermo is the largest antiques market in town and surely an antique dealer’s heaven. It’s a place where you can find unique furniture, paintings, collectibles, and more. I spent part of the day there but didn’t find what I was looking for – a painting by a local artist. I’ve seen paintings that I like at street fairs but wasn’t ready to buy. Now I am.

Antonio Berni

Antonio Berni

Carlos Alonso

Carlos Alonso

There are many talented artists in Buenos Aires and I’d rather buy directly from them, not through a gallery. I’m looking for a street scene that reminds me of this time in Buenos Aires.

On the way back to Recoleta, I stopped at the Dinamica Galeria in Palermo. Dinamica is a popular, stylish gallery. They process images using the latest methods.

Also discovered Galerias Witcomb in Recoleta, the oldest gallery in Buenos Aires. They feature some of the most talented and best known artists in Argentina:

Flea Market

Mercado de las Pulgas Flea Market

Horacio Politi

Horacio Politi

They gallery had some beautiful pieces. They’re preparing for a special Picasso show that starts on Monday, June 1st.

I will try the street fairs in Recoleta and San Telmo again this weekend and see what’s there. There’s one piece at the Whitcomb that’s of interest. Most of their paintings are over my budget.

The friendly dealer I spoke with at the Witcomb mentioned two interesting Recoleta museums. They are on the agenda for the weekend:

Día de la Revolución de Mayo Buenos Aires

Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Néstor and Cristina Kirchner

May 25th is important to the Argentine people. It’s the date in 1810 when a junta took over from the Spanish Viceroyalty and the country declared independence from Spain. I knew Buenos Aires would celebrate their independence day but didn’t know exactly what to expect.

La Cámpora Demonstration

25th de Mayo Marchers

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T-Shirts Néstor & Cristina Kirchner, Juan Peron

Monday morning I went into the city center to find a local artist – Bastién – and maybe buy a painting. It was quiet in Recoleta and I took the subway which was surprisingly empty. I figured people were hanging out at home taking it easy on the national holiday. Imagine my surprise (yikes) stepping out of the Cathedral subway station and being surrounded by thousands of people in the streets!

La Cámpora

La Cámpora

It wasn’t clear if people were getting an early start celebrating Argentina’s independence from Spain or reacting to current political events in Buenos Aires. This is an election year and there’s speculation about who will succeed President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. She has served the maximum two consecutive terms allowed by Argentina’s constitution.

Frente Para La Victoria

Frente Para La Victoria

Politicians from the Front for Victory proposed an amendment to Argentina’s constitution to allow unlimited re-elections. Opposition resisted the proposal and it did not pass in Congress.

As mentioned in an earlier post, an appellate court recently dismissed a criminal case against Kirchner and her supporters accusing them of “conspiring to hide Iranian officials’ involvement in a bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994”. The New York Times published an article about the controversy in March. It’s a sore subject in Buenos Aires.

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Near Plaza de Mayo

From observation, people in Buenos Aires either support Kirchner or vehemently oppose her. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. I don’t know which side has more advocates – those for or against her? I’m not familiar with viable opposition candidates for the presidency – if there are any – but intend to research it.

A large number of President Kirchner’s staunchest supporters are part of a “super-charged youth movement” composed of young, outspoken students who are advocates of Peronism. I’ve seen them passing out pamphlets on street corners and even chatted with one student who spoke English.

Eva Peron

Eva Perón (Evita)

Juan Peron

Juan Perón

Héctor José Cámpora.

Héctor José Cámpora

Maximo Kirchner, son of Néstor and Cristina, created the political youth organization known as La Cámpora. The group is sometimes called “Cristina’s soldiers”. La Cámpora supports the governments of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The group formed in 2003 and was named after former Peronist President Héctor José Cámpora.

La Cámpora became politically influential in 2010, after President Néstor Kirchner died of a heart attack. There are interesting articles about La Cámpora including one from the Southern Pacific Review based in Santiago, Chile and another from The Bubble, a local Buenos Aires news organization.

Fireworks Plaza de Mayo

Fireworks Plaza de Mayo

Never thought I’d get caught up in a demonstration. In all my travels I’ve tried to avoid them. One close call was while visiting Athens in May 2013. My hotel was near Syntagma Square, the frontline of Greek European Union austerity protests. The sight of riot police in full gear and the sound of thousands of demonstrators is unforgettable.

Getting unexpectedly caught up in a large group of excited people happens quickly. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Once I got swallowed up there was no way out. If you exited the Cathedral subway station at the wrong time, like I did, you were swept up in the crowd whether you wanted to be or not.

Tango Dancers 25th Mayo Celebration

Tango Dancers 25th Mayo Celebration

Maximo Kirchner

Maximo Kirchner

Kirchner’s supporters were raucous. They belted out chants while being egged on by their leaders. There wasn’t any violence, at least I didn’t see any. It was the sheer number of people and their intense passion that was scary. I kept hoping things would calm down, but they got louder. The number of people in the group was increasing. They just kept coming.

Families were dealing with young children who were crying and terrified of the growing crowd. The largest gathering was near the main square and government buildings between Avenidas De Mayo and Rivadavia. These major avenues intersect near the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace), the State Intelligence Bureau, City Hall, and Plaza de Mayo.

25th Mayo Celebration

25th Mayo Celebration

25th de Mayo Celebration

La Cámpora formed a human wall around their demonstrators who were carrying banners mounted on bamboo poles. After about an hour, I spotted an escape route and sneaked away.

Around 7:00 p.m. President Kirchner addressed the Argentine Nation from Plaza de Mayo. After her speech, the “Party of the People’s Nation” continued until midnight with music, fireworks, and other festive activities. Over one million people attended.

I’ll think twice before exiting another subway station ;o) but what an interesting day!

Notorious Jazz Club Buenos Aires

Notorious Jazz Club

Notorious is a popular jazz club in Buenos Aires. From the outside it looks like a CD store. Once you’re inside, the storefront leads down a corridor to a jazz club and restaurant in the back. The club is on Avenida Callao (pronounced cashhou) a few blocks from my apartment in Recoleta.

Notorious Jazz Club

Notorious Jazz Club

I stopped by to check it out and bought a ticket for last night’s jazz session. Notorious is open every day of the week, from 9:30 p.m. onwards. Tickets are necessary for the early performance but a late show begins at around 1:00 a.m., no ticket required.

A few groups are regular performers at Notorious. La Fusa de Vinicius De Morales is a group of Brazilian and Argentine musicians led by singer Josi Dias. They play the music of poet and Brazilian musician Vinicius de Morales. Morales is a primary figure in Brazilian contemporary music.

The legendary album Vinicius in La Fusa, recorded in Buenos Aires, is the biggest selling album of Brazilian music in Argentina. Morales collaborated with many Brazilian performers, including popular Brazilian singer and guitarist Toquinho.

Jorge Anders

Jorge Anders

I bought a ticket to hear the Jorge Anders Jazz Orchestra. Jorge Anders beautifully recreates the music of Duke Ellington’s swing band. Anders composed arrangements for the Duke Ellington Orchestra between 1982 and 1987. He made his début in Buenos Aires and then moved to New York where he and his quartet became part of the mainstream jazz scene.

Anders released albums in the United States and Argentina. The Jorge Anders Jazz Orchestra consists of 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, an alto sax, 2 tenor saxophones, a baritone sax, piano, double bass, drums, and a female singer from Brooklyn New York. The pieces they played last night highlighted the incredible skills of each member of the orchestra.

Jorge Andes Jazz Orchestra

Jorge Andes Jazz Orchestra

It’s awkward going out alone at night but since the club is near my apartment it seemed a great idea. It was one of the most pleasant evenings I’ve spent on this trip. You couldn’t ask for a mellower group – the artists performing and the fun audience. The sold out performance was an eclectic crowd in age and appearance – 20s to 70s. The music was flawless – fantastic group of musicians who played impeccable, incredible jazz!

The added attraction was the handsome and hilarious waiters who danced their way back and forth to the tables they were waiting. There wasn’t room for dancing but some people were dancing in their chairs!

La Boca Neighborhood Buenos Aires

Street Art

La Boca Street Art

laboca-caminito

Street Scene

La Boca

La Boca

La Boca is one of the last neighborhoods I’ve explored in Buenos Aires. It’s a long walk through traffic and crowded streets. None of the subway lines go there, so I had to overcome a hesitancy to take Buenos Aires buses. The packed buses are sporadic and it’s hard to find the pickup points – some marked, others not.

Yesterday I hopped on the number 29 which passes from Recoleta through Monserrat, San Telmo, and La Boca. The first time I caught the 29 it took almost an hour to maneuver through bottlenecked traffic and get across town to La Boca. By the time we arrived it was late afternoon and almost dark outside. Yesterday I went earlier and the trip was painless and faster.

Tango Dancers

Tango Dancers

La Boca isn’t my favorite part of Buenos Aires. It’s unique but very touristy and a bit dangerous. It’s a poor area rich in history and creativity. The 29 bus had a strong vibe. Some of the people were scary. Others had worn faces and tired looking eyes, maybe indicating a hectic day or a hard life.

On the first bus ride to Boca I sat next to a woman holding a small child – both seemed to be fast asleep. Magically they woke up the moment the bus arrived at their stop.

Yesterday I waited for the bus with a group of people including four friends who were entertaining everyone at the bus stop. They were funny and even with malo Español I caught a few of their jokes. Everyone was laughing.

It’s a holiday weekend in Argentina. Monday, May 25, is Argentina’s Independence Day. Major plazas are blocked off for festivals and streets are teeming with fast-moving pedestrians.

Benito Marti

Benito Marti, Artist

La Boca is on Riachuelo River, a small inlet of Rio de la Plata. The port of Riachuelo and a railroad, Vuelta de Rocha, are key elements of the neighborhood. Most La Boca residents are descendants of Italian immigrants from Genova. They speak with a Genoese or Xeneize dialect.

Genoese immigrants settled in La Boca in the early 1900s. They built their houses on high sidewalks to protect them from river flooding. Many of the buildings have wrought iron balconies and the people painted their homes in bright, spectacular colors using leftover paint from the dockyard.

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Building Art

La Boca is a popular area for local artists. One of the most visited and photographed tourist spots is Caminito, a street with colorful murals and graffiti. Many artists display their work there. Caminito is famous for markets that sell art, souvenirs, and other local merchandise. Leather goods at La Boca markets are cheaper than anywhere else in Buenos Aires.

Puente Nicolas Avellaneda

Puente Nicolas Avellaneda

Along the river boardwalk are the Foundación Proa, a modern exhibition center, and the Fine Arts Museum of La Boca. Foundación Proa hosts six contemporary art shows a year featuring works from Argentina and abroad. They also conduct art workshops, courses, conferences, and concerts. The Fine Arts Museum displays the work of beloved artist Benito Quinquela Martí, considered a “son of La Boca neighborhood”.

In 1890 nuns found infant Benito opposite the door of the House of Abandoned Children, an orphanage. He lived at the orphanage until a family adopted him. As an artist Martí worked on Theater La Ribera and Bridge Nicolás Avellaneda, named after Nicolás Avellaneda president of Argentina 1874-1880.

Churches in La Boca include beautiful San Juan El Evangelista and the Sanctuary Nuestra Señora Madre de los Emigrants which pays tribute to immigrants who arrived in Argentina from different countries. You see statues and caricatures of Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, throughout La Boca. The people of Buenos Aires are very proud of their Cardinal who became Pope.

La Boca has abundant tango studios and Italian taverns. Dancers often perform in cafes and on the street. The restaurant where I stopped for lunch had fantastic live tango and flamenco dancers. After their performances the dancers circulated throughout the restaurant to talk with people and collect tips.

Soccer is a major force in La Boca. Soccer highlights are the popular Club Boca Juniors soccer team and La Bombonera (chocolate box) stadium. Boca Juniors is regarded as the club of Argentina’s working class. Many famous soccer players, including Juan Román Riquelme and Carlos Tévez, came from Boca Juniors. La Bombonera stadium holds 50,000 spectators and is also used for concerts. The Museo de la Pasion Boquense monument idolizes the famed La Boca soccer team.

It was an interesting day and I learned many new things about Buenos Aires!