arts·meme goes to ‘The Circus’


It’s the eternal cliche … .fun for kids of all ages. But hey, half the experience comes from watching a show with little ones. And they are a great audience.

Legendary puppeteer Bob Baker‘s “The Circus,” a classic marionette revue now on at Bob Baker Marionette Theater, has been specially restaged for summer viewing — obviously great for families but we oldsters had a ball at the Saturday matinee too. The show just revels in innocent fun.

It’s a soft parade of hip-hopping, frolicking, dancing creatures, many of them four-legged. They skitter (and even skateboard) around their comfortable playing ground at Baker’s, whose building is also Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark #958.

Carnival barkers, jugglers, a calliope, and a few finely feathered ostriches find their way into the mix. The hour-long spectacle includes 100 puppets on view. It is a torrent of joy.

My favorite was the splendid tightrope walker, seen in the photo with arts·meme‘s Debra Levine. Animating this brave puppet is the senior-most of Baker’s agile, fleet-footed marionette artists, with sixteen years of shadow-dancing behind puppets under his belt.

Show is enlivened by a fun soundscore including “Send in the Clowns.”

Highly recommended.

The Circus | Bob Baker Marionette Theatre | tickets | now on

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Lauridsen’s ‘Lux Aeterna’ centerpiece of rich Master Chorale program

Music · Reviews

Editor’s note: A guest author on the blog today, Patrick Scott, who shares his observations of Thursday’s performance of the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

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Twenty years ago Morten Lauridsen‘s “Lux Aeterna” became an enormous game changer for American choral music. Last night the Los Angeles Master Chorale, hosting the annual Chorus America conference at Disney Hall, celebrated this landmark work performing the orchestra version ravishingly conducted by Grant Gershon. Throughout, the massive chorus shone as the pre-eminent such ensemble in the US. The works on the program’s first half would not likely exist, but for the great success of “Skip” Lauridsen, a member of Jacaranda’s Advisory Council. The heart of the piece is the extraordinarily beautiful a capella setting of “O nata lux,” which justly has a separate life and can be effectively sung by smaller groups.

Three years ago Mark Alan Hilt and I fell hard for the austere but radiantly colored “Iri da Iri” by Esa-Pekka Salonen that opened the concert with great clouds of tiny intervals shifting miraculously.

Commissions by LA favorites Billy Childs and Moira Smiley followed. The former recalled the classical choral writing of Aaron Copland and William Schuman, while the latter added a mostly textural collage of pre-recorded inter-generational conversations to cross-genre-inspired choral writing.

Salonen’s sort of compositional rigor returned with Eric Whitacre‘s “I Fall”, but infused the music with deep emotion. The marriage of text and music was as deft as it was overwhelmingly effective. Whitacre is a composer I have admired more than liked — this work changed all that.

Hard act to follow though it was, LAMC member & resident composer Shawn Kirchner‘s “Heavenly Home: Three American Songs” brought the first half to a rousing and riveting close. The chorus embraced it with soulful gusto and delivered a perfectly paced triptych that burned its way into the hearts of a cheering, stomping standing room only crowd.

Announced at the concert was the wonderful news that the Master Chorale has been inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. What a glorious night!

Patrick Scott is the Artistic & Executive Director of Jacaranda, a concert series based in Santa Monica launching its 15th season October 21.

Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/AB Images, courtesy L.A. Master Chorale

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Bravura triple opening at Hauser & Wirth July 1

Architecture & Design · Featured · Visual arts

In a theatrical, nearly madcap, gesture, international art gallery Hauser & Wirth is throwing a big art party to simultaneously launch three shows: Takesada Matsutani, Paul McCarthy: WS Spinoffs, Wood Statues, Brown Rothkos and Monika Sosnowska.

The open-to-the-public event will take place on the holiday weekend, July 1, on the campus of the private gallery’s massive digs — the art world equivalent of a football field. With a sprawling 100,000 square feet of space (venue is a repurposed former flour mill) there is sufficient space to bundle three shows, groovy sounds by KCRW DJ Mathieu Schreyer and food and drink from Manuela, the resident restaurant located in the gallery’s marvelous inner courtyard.

Art revelers can nosh-and-canoodle, schmooze-and-saunter through galleries that celebrate the splendid explorations with polyvinyl acetate adhesive, vinyl glue, on canvas by Osaka-born, Paris-based Matsutani, with big bulbous eggy-shapes; Los Angeles homeboy/badboy McCarthy’s furthering of his Disney/Snow White series, twelve figurines, crazy sculptures created by a digital mapping process and painstaking labor; and the beautiful minimalist sculptures wrought from industrial materials and objects by Sosnowaka, a Polish born artist well known in New York.

Triple Opening | Hauser & Wirth | Saturday July 1 – 6 – 9 pm

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Architecture & Design · Fashion · Featured · Film · Language & ideas · Music · Theater · Visual arts
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Dance · Featured · Language & ideas
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Herb Alpert to be honored with prestigious UCLA Medal

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