Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Moon will be full tonight after Cine Club

Look up when you come out of Cine Club's Turkish film tonight even if you don't stay for the whole film--this one's three hours long. This cycle of international films is NOT at the usual place but at the Principal instead.
Starts at 4 & 7:30.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Good news for me . . . and I hope my readers

As some MEXIGUANA readers know, I publish online. Today I received an acceptance from Mad Scientist Journal for a fake classified ad for a past-o-tron. I'll even get a token payment. The ad will appear in the summer edition of this witty webside that parodies science writing every week..

A reprint of my flash fiction story, The Revenge of the Pasta, is due online later this month on Indiana Voice Journal. I sneaked in because my family vacationed in the Indiana dunes one summer...

My story Dr. Octopus, that I read locally at an open mic night here, will appear mid-month on Short Fiction Break..

Sunday, February 01, 2015

European Clown Yann (Jan) Costa at the Juarez tonight 7pm

One of my favorites. Here's a photo I took of him at the Off-Cervantino a few years ago. The event tonight is probably free; part of the Festival of Urban Actors.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cine Club UPDATE: Tonight's Leviathan (Russia) starts at 4:30, 7, 9:30

Note the times. This long movie received eight stars on IMDB . The.main character, who lives in northern Russia by the Barents Sea, attempts to keep his repair shop despite the bureaucratic cards stacked against him. Said to have wonderful cinematography and two slow scenes but mostly fast-paced. Without music except two pieces by Philip Glass.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

University of Guanajuato Cine Club's Annual International Film Festival

UG’s Cine Club annual International Film Festival is underway in the small theatre Euquerio Guerrero at the back of the patio between the main UG building and the Compañia church.

Image result for Ida film images

After looking at the program notes online, my top pick is, Ida, a Polish film shown to a small audience during the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) last summer.At the time, I was told the film would start a half hour late; when I returned in twenty minutes, I had already missed the beginning. 
I plan to go to this powerful movieagain on Sunday, February 1--and not just for the part 1 missed.. 

As the producer explained at the Juarez in July, getting the film funded took years; no one wanted to back a film to be made in black and white. The producer and director stuck to their guns, resulting in this film with its period feel. It has two intertwined themes, the decision facing a novice nun who learns her Jewish family brought her to a convent when she was a baby to shelter her from the Nazis, and the bitter look backward by her aunt, who took part of the harsh Communist regime that controlled Poland after the Second World War.

Shooting the film in black and white (blanco y negro in Spanish) was an inspired decision. A leading Polish actress plays the aunt. The young woman playing the nun is on screen for the first time.

The festival ends February 7, with each film shown for  one night. Showings generally start at 5, 6, & 9.
For a complete schedule of the festival, go to www.extension.ugto.mx.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keeping warm in Colima

"And everyone dancing"
After the Feria del Libro in Guadalajara, a massive event that I have never mastered, I went on by bus to Colima, one of my favorite places to visit in Mexico. Like Guanajuato, the state and the city share the same name. But there most similarities end..The city is flat and tropical, with three plazas strung out along the main street. One of them has swan fountains spurting at each corner. I was so taken with the swans the first time I visited the city, I wrote a short poem:about people dancing in the plaza at night surrounded by the fountains. When I went back this time on a Sunday evening, there was a CONACULTA dance event happening in front of the handsome city hall with six hundred in the audience.

During the hot  part of the day I walked to the Regional Park with its round swimming pool and shaded picnic area with zoo and nature signs, my favorite park so far in Mexico.

Comala boy and his horse
From Colima, I went uphill to Comala, the place whose name Juan Rulfo borrowed for the ghost town in his acclaimed novel Pedro Paramo.  I don't know how it looked after the Cristero Wars, but nowadays the streets are lined with trim white houses topped by red tile roofs, a uniformity I associate with Purepecha cities like Patzcuaro. I learned that because this is festival time in Comala, weekend visitors from Colima stay away. So first I went across the bridge over the flowing river, then ate in solitary splendor at the splendid restaurant Piccoli Suizo opened five weeks ago by its Swiss chef who recently relocated from el DF at the request of his Colima-born wife.

So does Colima have a down side? Several: hard to get to, three hours or more by bus from an international airport, a siesta almost necessary in the hot and humid climate.

This bowl of onion soup cost more than
I usually pay for a comida in Gto. The buttery
rolls made on site were delicious
I've only touched on a few of
Colima's delights as a place to visit..

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Morelia Music Festival's Magical Flutes

Mind-expanding. the phrase may be trite but  the saturating effect of hearing four flute-players perform contemporary and Baroque music on a variety of flutes was anything but banal. The four flautists were Alejandro Escuer from Mexico, Claire Chase and Camilla Hoitenga from the United States and Giovanni Antonioni from Italy.

If you went to Luminico in the Juarez earlier this month, you saw and heard Alejandro Escuer playing his flutes. Yes, plural--nowadays flute players play several, often changing from one to another during a single piece. Or to put it another way as Escuer does. says "My breath is my instrument.
Playing a long flute wiith notes an octave lower
than on a usual C flute. (FMM photo)

When asked whether children like hearing contemporary music, the extroverted, innovative musician-academic grinned and mimed their dancing. He went on to explained that the flute is an expressive instrument similar to the human voice, He reminded us that flutes and drums are instruments, which go well together, are the instruments with the longest history and are found in every culture. (in face although he didn't say this, archaeologists think a pierced bone may be a flute dating from prehistoric times.)

Ror the launching of Escuer's new CD  Flying, composer-musician Rodney Sigal, music critic ]Juan Arturo Brennan and Sergio Vela (for a while the director of the Cervantino, now the Morelia festival's director) spoke, followed by the flautist playing four of the pieces, including one by Gabriela Ortiz, composer of a piece Ana Cervantes' commissioned for Vuelos de la Monarca.

Camilla Hoitenga and Claire Chase played works by the Festival's honoree, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho the concluding weekend of the Festival. Saariaho achieves with percussion and harp. At her press conference, when asked how she composes, Saariaho the composer explained that she writes from her imagination, of course using the thorough knowledge of instruments learned during her training.

I never imagined I would hear work by a Finnish composer not named Jan Sibelius..

Claire Chase, musical entrepeneur
as well as flute-player
Chase's ensemble ICE (international Contemporary Ensemble), played Saariaho's Terrestre, along with several other of her pieces. Six Japanese Gardens for percussion and synthesizer mesmerized me, as did a piece for at least a dozen percussion instruments.

Camilla Hoitenga (Saariaho says Hoitenga knows
just how to play her pieces
The composer who worked closely with Camilla Hoitenga on parts of Aile du Songe, the concerto for flute and orchestra, which she then dedicated to Hoitenga. The flute player,.wearing a dark blue gauzy dress perfect for the bird-themed Aile du Songe, performed Saariaho's concerto with the National Symphony for the first part of the closing concert.

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as the final part struck me as as incongruous as pairing a butterfly with an elephant. I had difficulty shifting gears, but I admit the Festival director and his committee knew how to end the Festival with a bang.

Stepping back to the earlier concert of the final day,  recorder player Giovanni Antonini with the Italian Barroque orquestra Il Giardino Armonico received a standing ovation from chamber orchestra's delighted audience in the colonial patio of the Palacio Municipal. The ensemble at last responded to their chanting. I wouldn't have known from listening to the encore with closed eyes, but with them open I could see how tired Antonioni was.When I checked the age of this youthful-looking grey-haired musician, I found he was seventy-two. Flute playing isn't for sissies, although when the brother was twelve, he quit because some boys said that it was..
The group also included srings (one each),
harpsichord and triomba (above)


For me, the frosting on the cake was meeting Juan Arturo Brennan who used to write the OSUG program notes until, as he said, he was fired. If he were asked, it was clear to me he would love to start writing them again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Morelia Music Festival: Brodsky Quartet: Bartok and Late Beethoven + Other Tidbits

The four accomplished, affable British musicians who make up the Brodsky Quartet take pleasure in explaining the music they play, whether to the press or to their audience. After their rueda de prensa, I asked Ian Belton, the Second violinist, to explain the Quartet's Russian name. Forget the Nobel prizewinning poet, Joseph Brodsky. Instead the name honors Russian born Adolph Brodsky who was invited to Manchester at the end of the 19th century to be concertmaster of the symphony, then later directed the Royal College of Music in Manchester for a quarter of a century.
The others played standing, with the cellist on a platform,
her head level with theirs

Playing a program that led up to two of the greatest string quartets ever written, Bartok's Quartet #5 and Beethoven's late quartet, # 14, the Brodsky started with two short pieces from Bach's Art of the Fugue (for which Bach never specified instruments) and the haunting work Preghiera by the contemporary Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud.

Later, over a humdrum lunch, the eyes of a young travel writer shone as she expressed her excitement about hearing the rhythms and melodies of the Bartok. For me, the whole balanced program was a delight.

Violiinist Daniel Rowland holding the attention of the audience


Morelia Music Festival 26: A Sock to Shostakovich

The Moscow Quartet members left for the US at the beginning of the 90s
At their press conference, one of the four women comprising the Moscow Quartet explained that being a musician has nothing to do with gender, "not in our playing of the instruments, not in our lives." Even so, as part of the audience, I found hearing a quartet entirely made up of women gave me a special connection to the music. Hearing these Russian women put their souls into playing Shostakovich totally absorbed me.

I hadn't known how much muscle went into playing a Shostakovich quartet. So you can imagine my consternation when the gun-like sounds of fireworks pierced the walls of the patio of the Municipal Building for three minutes while the Quartet played the final movement of Quartet #3. The musicians, although clearly dismayed, kept playing. But, oh, what mindless scheduling by the Festival!
Sisters, the 2nd violinist and violist 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Aprons/Mandiles Expo-Venta Baratillo

You can still see some of the 20 aprons, each one different and a tribute to creativity in Gto. Barbara MacPherson and Kate DeLos were the hardworking organizers. Karenia Fernandez and Norma Carmona also took part in the inauguration last Saturday.

I loved the extra dimension the overhanging exhibit brought to the Baratillo. Looking forward to it again next year.
Real autumn leaves from the US used here

Apron made by a friend

Barbara, Kate, Norma & Karenia Fernandez

"Blue Moon" by Mexiguana