Mozart’s magic to mend regrettable U.S.-Cuban cultural rift


A truly inspirational story on the cusp of Inauguration Day comes from Sony Classical music. It’s a new album release, April 21, by pianist Simone Dinnerstein playing Mozart concerti with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. In June, the Orchestra will also make its American debut in a series of concerts, the first time an orchestra of this size has traveled to the U.S. from Cuba since the revolution.

The recording project, undertaken by the accomplished Dinnerstein in collaboration with Havana Lyceum Orchestra founding music director José Antonio Méndez Padrón, hearkens to the pianist’s very roots as a musician. The New York-based pianist gained critical acclaim with her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, released in 2007 on Telarc. Slate called her a “throwback to high priestesses of music Wanda Landowska and Myra Hess.” But her first significant teacher, at age nine, was Solomon Mikowsky, a Cuban émigré with whom she continued her tutelage at The Juilliard School.

Traveling to Cuba to work with local musicians, Dinnerstein found in Havana “a city profoundly different from any other I knew, with warm appreciative audiences who had a deep engagement with music.” We have been bereft, for way too long, from the joy of direct contact with Cuban musicians.

Playing at a 2015 festival, Dinnerstein was deeply impressed. “[The Cuban’s played [Mozart] with thoughtful sensitivity and sensual beauty, despite the fact that in some cases the materials they were using were inferior. Their sound clearly came from inside them, not their instruments.”

At this auspicious moment, when the wheels of our resilient system inexorably turn, arrives this message of global hope. It reminds us of the power of the arts to help people connect across cultures, across borders and across the centuries. Mozart smiles.  

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Los Angeles in freeze frame, courtesy of photographer Michael Grecco

Visual arts

Michael Grecco, an award-winning purveyor of commercial photography, fashion spreads and film direction is exhibiting, as part of LA’s month of photography, a new body of fine-art photography at the Leica Store LA.

Printed larger than life, the viewer feels as though they can step into the photographs, and thus, into another realm into Los Angeles.

After the Audition is the latest series, a subset of Urban Landscapes that were captured on the fringe, guerrilla style, leaping over fences and climbing atop buildings to seize the most iconic and emotional image possible. A series of panoramas reveal Grecco’s reverence and passion for photography and induce visceral reactions to light, space, and our city.

The Leica Store | West Hollywood Design District | on now

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‘Hollywood a Go Go’ mystery dancer ‘backs’ Marvin Gaye

Dance · Music

Boogieing with insouciance, without so much as a glance at the performing artist — that would be Marvin Gaye — is arts·meme friend Steve Vilarino.

Steve has his moment in the Zelig world as a studio dancer on Hollywood A Go Go, the short-lived television teen dance program dating from the mid 1960s.

Steve’s aged 15 in the clip, but looks ever more mature in his smart white suit and ‘Madmen” narrow black tie.

Somehow, Steve winnowed his way close to the stage as Marvelous Marvin lip-synced his way through “Can I Get a Witness.”

Steve first shows up at 0:50, his back to Marvin Gaye. Go, Steve, go!

Next up, same jacket, same black tie, same cool-guy attitude, Steve Vilarino does the pony, jerk and mashed potato to Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” — a Marvin Gaye query to which we reply, yes it most certainly is!

Steve, the dancing Zelig, pokes through at 01:26.

From Wikipedia:

Hollywood A Go-Go was a brief-running (52 episodes) Los Angeles-based music variety show that ran in syndication in the mid-1960s. The program originated as a local series, Ninth Street West, on KHJ-TV (Channel 9) in 1964. As Hollywood A Go-Go, it was syndicated in early 1965 and ceased production in 1966, with some television stations airing the show as late as the summer of 1966. 

Love it! So will our friend Julie Malnig, the NYU professor, a cultural historian of theatre and dance performance who is researching teen dance shows and their ilk. Julie, enjoy.

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Boss talk on Strip in ’60s by Priore

Architecture & Design · Featured · Music
Culture historian Domenic Priore, author of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood, promises a “boss” time at his upcoming talk on the “Sixties on the Sunset Strip” on February 8. The illustrated lecture, free to the public, targets a specific moment between 1965 and 1966 when West Hollywood absorbed, then advanced, ...

Fierce women of dance bring ideas, performance to West Coast

Dance · Featured · Language & ideas
We all heard Meryl Streep tell it like it is at the Golden Globes awards. Yes, we did. A courageous woman. We are similarly slated to hear from a group of courageous women of modern dance — they talk with both brain and body. In August 1960, Anna Halprin, at right, taught an experimental workshop ...

Get good weather in a painting @ Pasadena Museum of California Art 1

Visual arts
It’s crappy and cold and rainy out and I don’t even recognize the weather in L.A. anymore: the whipsawing temperature, the nasty edge we rarely felt even in rainy season. That is your arts·meme weather report. Whiny. One solution might be In the Land of Sunshine: Imaging the California Coast Culture at Pasadena Museum of ...

The George & Barrie show at the Barn

Architecture & Design · Dance · Film
We call it “The Barn.” Only in Los Angeles could a barn occupy dead center of a huge city! It’s the home of Hollywood Heritage, the esteemed group of film aficionados who gather in the historic structure where Cecil B. DeMille and his partner, Jesse Lasky, shot Hollywood’s first feature film, “The Squaw Man” circa ...

At Dances for a Variable Population, ‘Movement Speaks’ 2

Remember “Bend and stretch … reach for the stars?” the guiding anthem of kindergarten class? Well guess what. You haven’t graduated kindergarten yet. Moving your body and staying physically active is a lifelong occupation, not just the task of six year-olds. As the population ages, and many of us pass our days glued to a ...

Dance & film co-mingle for a happy 2017

Dance · Film
We’re ringing in a Happy New Year with a movie friend, Rudolf Nureyev, who stars in the Ken Russell biopic, “Valentino” (1977). Nureyev looks smart, doesn’t he, in his tuxedo pictured (above) alongside his festooned co-star, actress Carol Kane. But I also enjoy seeing Rudi sans tux — casbah-style — putting the iron grip on ...

Live it, with Elaine Stritch

Merry Christmas, Elaine. We’re still here too.