January 25th, 2010
Another movie week in diverse ways. Seeing AVATAR—great blue people with predictably racist fundamentals: white boy saves ‘natives’. But lots of fun and wonderful minutes when flower flora move off the screen, magically holo-morphed in front of you back in the 14th row. It was crowded, went with Nicolas and Meena, two affiliated Fellows. Walked through city on sunny day, Nicolas showing us special places, throughways and byways, stopped for coffee on return---still jumping over tree roots free-handed in the tropic fogs of Navi land and Carpenter's undersea-influenced imagination.
Working on RIDING THE TIGER, mailing out a new version with three voices. Yael comes from Paris next week to help—hopefully solve remaining issues as my professional consultant. So and now back to THE PURSUIT. Other fellows here are writing on Byron; the Villa Aurelia is available and ready for use. We shot a wonderfully lush sexy bed scene Monday in my bedroom with light-sprinkled, staccato, drifted/imprinted on the bed, wall, linens—having 'Mary' (Eileen) and 'Claire'(Aurelia) roll over 'Shelley' (Nick) —and roll in on over him again. The TV camera was going the whole time so got some lovely rising up to the camera and circling back as well. I hope the film looks as magical as it looked shooting. The whole first reel was more over lit---diffuse light of morning pouring in. Then the sun moved round to angle through the shades and it became visual porous ambiguous exciting!
Weather has turned. It is rain, drear, not as cold as NYC in winter but wearing my heaviest turtleneck sweater —the one I would be wearing in Nova Scotia. Even for yoga we wear lots of clothes till 10 minutes in when we finally warm up. There's been 4 free classes a week here, two teachers, both quite different from each other. IT's a regular dojo [though that can't be the correct name; more an Aikido name...]
Nono, the 20th century avantgarde composer festival was last week. At the French Academy with its hyper realistic l7th century tapestry copies—in which colonialism is celebrated (!) in bold colors: continents represented by flora and fauna of their areas: lions and tigers and parakeets and fishes and peacocks spreading their tails. Lisa B., our erstwhile Fellow sings to recorded tape of voices, noises, urban crowding—out of the holocaust, the people’s cries. Another all recorded piece, again voices, dissonant, classical dissonance, I felt. The last the most marvelous to me, seemed more to the future —Lisa concurred saying it was the most recent work of Nono from the 80s (the other pieces from the 60s as I might have guessed). This last, a tuba player—big beautiful santa claus figure blowing tones, strong, soft, an Asian quality to it, very subtle modulations of tone. With gorgeous score---bars across a long double page; bottom half with drawings and arrows. Post post modern. Interpretation of text seemed as Zorn’s in ways-here are 'head lines', but with perhaps more directions as to time. Lisa concurred again.
Then the following night back at the Villa Aurelia, we heard PMCE—Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble perform a fantastic piece by Lou Harrison (1917-2003), Song of Quetzalcoatl for four percussionists (1941). Very Californian, obvious influence for Reich and Riley, tonal, danceable, wonderful! Then a set of short pieces by Eliot Carter, from early to 2009 (that to my dyslexic mind kept being 1999—how can he be composing this wonderful stuff at 100?!). Loved the latest Tintinnabulation, another percussion piece to bookend the concert. The group was wonderful, the instruments sculptural to look at, Carter continuously “elbowy” to my mind: cerebral in his choice towards dissonance and the unexpected. I felt close to him aesthetically, even when I was uncomfortable within his sounds—amazed actually at his public success—for this is difficult music (at least in these selections). Notes chosen for assertiveness (one might say aggressive qualities), for oddity (one might say precarious), thoughtful and fierce—the result a kind of strong beauty. They say he wrote some of his most famous work in his 70s (the 80s decade) here at the Academy: that his 70s are his ‘mid-period’. Now that’s what I would like my 70s to be so considered!
To music then and the muse of mastery!
This week there is an Arvo Part festival on—so we are off to the Auditorium Parco della Musica designed by Renzo Piano. We have been there before with its fabulous mushroomy silhouettes and spectacular cafes. For now—