Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jo Sarzotti Reads Poems At Artists Space

On May 7, Liberal Arts faculty member Jo Sarzotti read with a group known as Poets of Playland in The Blue Room of Artists Space, 38 Greene St, a long-established experimental arts venue now branching into presentation of linguistic art. Members of the group include Catherine Woodward, Desiree Alvarez, Helen Ross, Emily Fragos, Karen Steinmetz, Bridget Talone, & Cynthia Cruz.

Below is one of the poems read by Prof. Sarzotti.


She spies on bees tucked in leaves,
Secluded in red alcoves steeped in sun,

In love with words swarming pages
Like sugar ants driven to sweetness, her hands

Break the bark of books long unopened, spines
Layered in her arms, stacked over her head,

Head disappearing, leaves spilling,
Her white dress a tree trunk moving

Through ancient heather, its folds & bows
Cleaving, molting, crackling -- winged

Imago, she soars over stone walls,
An Icarus, wax holding –

I stay behind of necessity,
The requirement of desert being

To be desert – in the west, sunset is simple,
Walk to where the land ends & look out.

Photo by Jo Sarzotti. Anselm Keifer, Frauenderantike, permission Catherine Woodward, Nelson Blitz.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Anita Mercier Tells The Life of a Cellist

Forthcoming from Ashgate Press

Guilhermina Suggia: The Life of a Cellist
by Anita Mercier

Born in 1885 in Porto, Portugal, to a middle-class musical family, Guilhermina Suggia began playing cello at the age of five. A child prodigy, she was already a seasoned performer when she won a scholarship to study with Julius Klengel in Leipzig at the age of sixteen. Suggia lived in Paris with fellow cellist Pablo Casals for several years before World War I; it was a professional and personal partnership that was as stormy as it was unconventional. When they separated, Suggia moved to London, where she built a spectacularly successful solo career. Suggia’s virtuosity and musicianship, along with the magnificent style and stage presence famously captured in Augustus John’s portrait, made her one of the most sought-after concert artists of her day. In 1927 she married Dr. José Casimiro Carteado Mena and settled down to a comfortable life divided between Portugal and England.

Throughout the 1930s, Suggia remained one of the most respected musicians in Europe. She partnered on stage with many famous instrumentalists and conductors and completed numerous BBC broadcasts. The war years kept her at home in Portugal, where she focused on teaching, but she returned to England directly after the war and resumed performing. When Suggia died in 1950, her will provided for the establishment of several scholarship funds for young cellists, including England's prestigious Suggia Gift.

Mercier's study of Suggia's letters and other writings reveal an intelligent, warm and generous character, an artist who was enormously dedicated, knowledgeable and self-disciplined. Suggia was one of the first women to make a career of playing the cello at a time when prejudice against women who played this traditionally 'masculine' instrument was still strong. A role model for many other musicians, she was herself a fearless pioneer.

Guilhermina Suggia: The Life of a Cellist will be published by Ashgate Publishing in 2008.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Poetry in Translation

The Juilliard Orchestra performance at Avery Fisher Hall on November 7 features Symphony No. 0 by Alfred Schnittke. Poems by Joseph Brodsky and Starets Siluan as well as the notes from the Dresden Philharmonic are translated by faculty member Harold Slamovitz for the Lincoln Center Playbill.

The Juilliard Percussion Ensemble recently performed Kaija Saariaho’s Trois Rivières. Harold’s translation of poetry by Li Po for the piece (see below) also appeared in the October issue of Lincoln Center’s Playbill.

Moonlit Night on the River

Softly the breeze rises on the river,
Sadly the trees shiver near the lake.

I go up to the prow in the calm, beautiful night.

The mats are spread out and the boat springs lightly forward.

The moon follows the fleeing of the dark mountains,

The water flows with the blue sky,

As deeply, upside down, as the celestial sky.

Nothing is visible, only the blended shadow of tree and cloud.

The road of return is long, long;

The immensity of the river is sad, sad.

I am alone, the orchid flowers disappear,

The song of the fisherman recalls my sadness.

The steep detour hides the shore behind,

The pale sand shows a reef in front.

I think of you, Lord, my sight no longer reaches you,

And my vision, lost in the distance muses on my regret.

Also known as Li Po, Li Bai is one of the most celebrated poets of the golden age of Chinese poetry. He lived in the first half of the 8th century, during the T’ang Dynasty.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

First Kaleidoscope Offering A Great Success

On October 18, the Liberal Arts Speaker Series was inaugurated as Carol Herselle Krinsky described for a fascinated crowd "How Midtown Manhattan Was Created." Aided by slides & a brisk delivery, Professor Krinsky explained the complicated, interwoven history of railroads, business & social planning that created midtown as we know it. Especially memorable were her descriptions & slides of Grand Central Station & Park Avenue as they developed in response to electric train technology, the demands of businessmen, & the pressures of a booming real estate industry. Liberal Arts Professor Greta Berman introduced the speaker & is pictured with her above. (Photo credit: Renee Baron)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Outstanding Liberal Arts Student Gets Rave Review For Her Met Debut

Isabel Leonard, a recent Juilliard graduate fondly remembered as an enthusiastic & committed Liberal Arts student, was praised in the New York Times for her performance in the role of Stephano in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Gounod's Romeo et Juiliette for "making her company debut with remarkable aplomb." She is described as singing "with the assurance of one who feels completely at home on the stage." The reviewer notes that "it is hard to make a splash in a pants role in a long opera on a night when Anna Netrebko is singing, but Ms. Leonard did." For the full review, see, September 27, 2007, "The Lovers of Verona, Swaggering and Soaring." The production runs through December 31.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Literature & Materials of Music Department Teams with Liberal Arts

A new course, Arts for the 21st Century, team taught by Greta Berman of Liberal Arts & Vivian Fung of L & M, addresses issues crucial to young artists today, including innovative programming of music and dance repertoire, as well as curating and collecting visual art works. By means of specific examples, the course investigates what is meant by the "canon" or "mainstream" in the arts, re-examining the justification for the consistent inclusion of certain artists and the exclusion of others. How does inclusion or exclusion affect their significance? Who makes the decisions? How can programming and curating address more creatively the interests of present and future audiences? Classes will include guest speakers, museum visits, and presentationswith slides and music.

Mitchell Aboulafia Considers Schools & Theories of Psychology

This new course examines the theories of major schools and figures in the history of psychology and social psychology. Traditions that may be addressed include psychoanalysis, functionalism, Gestalt psychology, behaviorism, symbolic interaction, and existential psychology. Among the figures who may be discussed are William James, Freud, R.D. Laing, B.F. Skinner, J.B. Watson, George Herbert Mead, Piaget, Rollo May, Lacan, Nancy Chodorow.