Monthly Archives: May 2014

Summer Music From Greensboro

smfg logoWe are pleased to welcome a new ticketing partner, Summer Music from Greensboro. For more than 35 years they have brought together the greater Greensboro community for a five-concert series of diverse types of music from all over the country and around the world.

The Cavatina Duo - ”the best flute and guitar duo in the world today.”
The Cavatina Duo – ”the best flute and guitar duo in the world today.”
Dmitry Kouzov, with Julia Kouzova, piano
Dmitry Kouzov, with Julia Kouzova, piano
Lewis Franco and the Missing Cats
Lewis Franco and the Missing Cats
The nationally acclaimed Poulenc Trio, with pianist Irina Kaplan, oboist Vladimir Lande, and bassoonist, Bryan Young.
The nationally acclaimed Poulenc Trio, with pianist Irina Kaplan, oboist Vladimir Lande, and bassoonist, Bryan Young.
The St. Petersburg String Quartet
The St. Petersburg String Quartet








The Bolshoi Ballet – Live From Moscow

For the 5th consecutive year, The Bolshoi Ballet returns to cinemas with 6 ballets including 4 satellite broadcasts from Moscow and 2 recorded shows.

The greatest ballet company in the world offers a spectacular new 2014-2015 season on the big screen featuring magnificent classics including The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and unreleased ballets including The Legend of Love, captured live and broadcast to cinemas on the same day of the performance.

Audiences across the globe will be able to enjoy these outstanding performances with the Bolshoi principals, soloists and corps de ballet, in cinemas only.

1BOL-official web- THE LEGEND OF LOVE ©Damir Yusupov ZOOM 2BOL-official web- THE PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER ©Damir Yusupov ZOOM 3BOL-official web- LA BAYADERE ©Damir Yusupov ZOOM

Legend of Love – Sunday, October 26, 12:55pm, encore Tuesday, November 4, 7:00pm

The Pharaoh’s Daughter – Sunday, November 23, 12:55pm, encore Tuesday, December 2, 7:00pm

La Bayadere – Sunday, December 7, 12:55pm, encore Tuesday, December 16, 7:00pm

The Nutcracker – Sunday, December 21, 12:55pm, encore Tuesday, December 30, 7:00pm

Swan Lake – Sunday, January 25, 12:55pm, encore – Tuesday, February 3, 7:00pm

Romeo and Juliet – Sunday, March 8, 12:55pm, encore – Tuesday, March 17, 7:00pm

4BOL-official web- THE NUTCRACKER ©Damir Yusupov ZOOM

5BOL-official web- SWAN LAKE ©Damir Yusupov ZOOM6BOL-official web- ROMEO & JULIET ©Damir Yusupov ZOOM





Gloomy Sunday

Tonight I walked all over the place looking for someplace to eat — and wound up back at thw Botanic Inn juat a block away. They have good meals, and a pint is just one pound extra.

Sunday was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right, but it all worked out for the best in the end. First of all, I was short on sleep, so after breakfast I took a long nap. It was sprinkling and gloomy, and I was in no hurry to get going. My goal was another play, at the MAC — another art center; but when I got there I learned I was at the wrong place — I had gotten different venues confused in my notes — I was supposed to be at the Lyric Theatre, and by this time the only hope of getting there on time was to take a cab. So instead, I opted to stay in the Cathedral District downtown. [I Discovered today That The Lyric Is Just A Stone’s Throw From my Guesthouse!!]

The MAC is a modern, high-tech center with several galleries, so I felt quite at home visiting their exhibits.

Next, off to St. Anne’s Cathedral (Anglican/Church of Ireland). I walked around for a bit, but they were getting ready for an afternoon sevice; I thought I’d stay for a bit, but wound up remaining (near the back) for the entire service. The processional was nostalgic for me, and reminiscent of my younger years. The choir was quite good, and some of the service was chanted in a foreign language. The carillon and organ played a dandy recessional, which I recorded. The cathedral was constructed in the early 1900s, as were most of the congregants.

My next stop was Belfast Exposed — a photographic gallery with studios, dark rooms, classes, etc., on two floors. The current exhibit is entitled “How we Learn,” and there were some especially interesting photos of children, with the objects of their attention (such as a computer or a garndparent) digitally removed. Since their Sunday hours were new, there were some sponsor promotions. I received one for a discount at a cafe in nearby St. Anne’s Square, where I enjoyed the most decadent and rich brownie I’ve ever known to exist, along with a cappuccino.

There were other stops and events, but I won’t bore you with the details, because the best part of the day turned out to be one of those rare treats which happen only unplanned and unexpectedly. I found the Duke of York Pub in a little lane off Donegal Street, and at Susanna M’s insistence I felt I had to try it. It’s full of historic memorabilia, and is rich in history. Because “Guinness is good for you,” that was the order of the day — and no, it is not served at room temperature! The place was quite crowded, but I eventually became aware that the music I was hearing was actually live, and coming from the other end of the main room. The closer I got, the better it sounded. Here was a handful of fellows all seated around a round table, singing and playing Irish and Scottish fok tunes — guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bodhran. But my jaw dropped when I heard the main singer — a strong, clear, pure tenor voice, which could be heard over all the noise of the bar. I moved in as close as I could to take some videos, which I do hope turn out o.k. I noticed that occasionally someone would sit in with them, and they would sometimes shift and share instruments.

I was enthralled, and couldn’t get over how good they were. So as I left I asked one of the bartenders if they were more than just amateur locals from the neighborhood. They turn out to be a group called The Rapparres, with three CDs, and they’ve toured all over the world (including the U.S.). The fellow with the fine voice is Joe McKeague, who has been described as “one of Ireland’s finest ballad singers.”

Imagine…they were just sitting informally around a table at the old Duke of York, and was I ever lucky to have missed the play at the Lyric!


“Here it is Monday, and I’ve Still Got a Dollar”

Hello everyone…

Hard to believe it’s Monday already. I started out to write this on my private terrace (some would mockingly call it a “fire escape”), but it began to sprinkle. In fact, the day started with rain, and I got a bit soaked going downtown. But I did notice that the large section of Shaftesbury Square which was closed for last evening for repaving as I came through, had the complete first layer down, and the lines had been repainted by this morning. St. Johnsbury could take a lesson here!

My Saturday adventure began with my second day on the tourbus, but I made the mistake of trying to pick it up near my hotel — not thinking that I would have to wait nearly 2 hours for the first departure to make it to this point! But I struck up a conversation with a nice father and daughter from Florida, who had evidently made the same error.

First stop: the Titanic museum, which is massive (“titanic”) in every respect. They begin with a history of the growth of business and industry in Belfast. For example, it was once the largest manufacturer of linen in the world. [I subsequently learned that the growth of this business was due in large part to the American blockade of cotton exports from the Confederate South…intersting, huh?]

The shipyards of Belfast grew to be the largest in the world, and the company which built Titanic launched nine or ten other ships the same year. You will be as surprised as I to learn that that company (Harland anf Wolff) is still in business today, though is quite diversified. It was also astonishing to learn that by 1912 the White Star Line was a wholly owned subsidiary of an American company, which was financed by J. P. Morgan! The museum building contains a wonderful ride, which takes the visitors down into the depths of recreated iron works. It was here that I learned Titanic was the largest single object ever moved by man up to that point. The building and museum have several interesting aspects; not only is it exactly at the end of the drydock where the boat was launched, but each corner of the building represents the height of the main deck from the water.

Now here’s a novelty from Belfast, and you can say you read about it here first! After walking the length of the Titanic, from the museum to the water’s edge, I saw something which is surely to catch on in the U.S. At the water’s edge was a pole, atop whcih was a pulley with a double cable, similar to a washline off a tenement porch. It ran across the expanse of water to the other side, where there was another tall pole and pulley. Get the picture? In the water was a kid in a wet suit with handles and cable similar to a waterskiing tow rope, except the cable was attached to the cable between the pulleys. His feet were in a cross between a snowboard and a surfboard — wide like a surfboard, but short and curved front and back like a snowboard. I believe that he controlled everthing from his hand grip, as when he seemed ready, the cable (clothesline) would start to run, and up he would go like a surfer! In case you don’t get the complete idea, I’ll post something on YouTube when I get home.

I retraced some of the Friday’s route on the tourbus, as I wanted to see a bit of the Peace Wall again. Here are a few interesting facts I’ve picked up about the city:

–Two-thirds of the world’s whiskey was once made here, but U.S. Proibition nearly killed this industry.

–The portable defribillator was invented here. At the same time, Belfast has the highest incidence of heart disease in the U.K. (or was it Europe?) “Basically,” the guide said, “If you can fry it, we’ll eat it.”

–Milk chocolate was developed here.

–There was a small Jewish community in Belfast, and the second President of Israel was from here.

In the evening I attended a play just up the street in the black box theatre of the Crescent Arts Centre — very similar to Catamount, except on a grander scale, but without cinema. The play was “The Trials of Oscar Wilde,” with a cast of just three fellows, who played all the roles. It was quite cleverly acted, funny in some parts, but overall serious. The lead actor (John Gorick) has done a lot in England, and there’s a very funny skit with him on YouTube:

It’s fun to hear people’s response when I tell them I’m from Vermont (only after they ask). The fellow at the information office said he’s been in A.A. for many, and he knew that the founder was from Vt. (And I surprised him when I told him that the Dr. Bob house is in St. Johnsbury.) Last night one of the performers at a pub said “That’s in Canada, right?” To which I replied “almost.” A guide on the Belfast Barge said he knew Vermont because “that’s where they made ‘White Christmas.'”

Well, enough for now. I’m heading out for some supper, and it’s just stopped raining.



Friday – Hello From Belfast

Hello  again  from Belfast…

A beautiful day — sunny, warmish & breezy.  I am currently writing from the front steps of Pearl Court Guesthouse with a bottle of Smithwick’s Pale Ale.  Nearly 9:00 PM and the sun is shining brightly.

I started out downtown with a ticket for the city tour bus, and once I found the departure location, I waited in line for 40 minutes, before being told I was waiting for the wrong bus!  Consequently, I got a rather late start.  We went through the newly developed area, which includes a 10,000 seat domed stadium; we were told that it was here that Belfast’s latest new sport was introduced: ice hockey!  Then, on to the Titanic Quarter, where one of the original buildings now houses a BBC production facility.  It was here that “Game of Thrones” was developed and produced for HBO.

Then, on to Belfast Castle, high over the city with beautiful gardens, trails, etc.  I spent some time here walking a couple of the trails and taking pictures.  Relatives will be interested to know that the last owner was the Earl of Shaftesbury, who gave the estate to the city in the 1930s.

Next, on through West Belfast, where much of the unrest in the 70s and 80s came to a head (3700 were killed during this period).  We drove along a portion of the Peace Wall, which separates Catholic neighborhoods from Protestant, then through one of the gates (which is still closed at 10:00 PM) and along Falls Road, which was Ground Zero during that period.  Our guide reassured us by saying that Belfast has been named the safest city in all of Europe — I think he said it was judged by the U.N.  Several murals were pointed out, commemorating groups, political movements, etc.  There was an especially noteworthy mural devoted to Bobby Sands.

A somewhat amusing anecdote (if there could be such a thing during this period) was that the Europa Hotel had signs in the elevators welcoming guests to the most frequently bombed hotel in the world; the signs finally came down when they were challenged by the Holiday Inn in Beirut!

My next stop was PRONI — the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland — where I spent about 2 hours, in the hope of finding something of my Bryan ancestry, since has still not yielded anything encouraging.  It was not a very fruitful 2 hours, although I did find some small bit of information from County Armagh, which may lead to more positive results.  If I go back on Monday with my passport, I can have full access to all documents.

Then back to the city centre, where I had a discount coupon for the Hudson Pub in Gresham Street.  A quirky atmosphere, especially in their outdoor beer garden, where I enjoyed live music and a pint of Yardsman Lager — “Industrious Past–Refreshed Future”!

Next, on to the Belfast Continental Market — a 5-day festival on the grounds of City Hall, with an enormous variety of food tents from around the world.  I could have had anything from paella to kangaroo burgers; I opted for Italian ice cream.  By far, the busiest (and loudest) stop was the German beer tent, which seemed a bit too crowded for me.

This is becoming quite the international city, with languages on the street ranging from German to Italian, to Arabic.  There are many Asians attending the University, and I have seen women in Muslim garb on the street.

Supper was fish & chips at Bishops on the way back to my residence,  where at 9:35 it is still light out, and there are still a few swallows left of my Smithwick’s…so I’ll relate another amusing anecdote.  It seems that when Prince Charles officially opened the new Belfast Hospital a few years ago, he called it the ugliest building he had ever seen (and it truly is)…and ever since then the locals have called it “The Camilla.”

Good night, all.

Martin’s First Full Day in Ireland

Hello everyone…

Well, I don’t have use of a computer after all, but Patrick at work lent me his wireless keyboard — which is much easier to use with the tablet than the touchscreen.  I’d say it’s no more challenging to use than the French keyboard!

Belfast is quite the city!  All hustle and bustle, and they drive like maniacs.  The architecture is a mixture of Victorian, 1930s, and modern, with a few earlier components in the mix.  Many streets downtown are now pedestrian walkways, and the area is becoming more trendy.  Practically everyone on the street and on the bus has some sort of hand-held device, and smoking is quite prevalent.

I began my day with a lovely cooked breakfast, accompanied by my personal French Press coffee carafe.  The guesthouse is in the “Queen’s Quarter” of the city — that is, the area around Queen’s University.  A bit upscale and trendy, with many older buildings in the neighborhood.   Just outside the window of the front room where I am writing is a small garden with a beautiful azalea in bloom.

After showering, I headed off to the Ulster Museum, which is quite large and has three main “zones”: Art, Nature, and History.  There were special displays of Irish pottery, glass, and silver, along with a mixture of paintings.  A temporary exhibit dealt with historical images of wild beasts.  The Nature floor covered everything from extinct animals to geological studies — and everything in between.  Too much to take in all at once, but I was pleased that their treatment of evolution was from a scientific standpoint.  The History section included much ancient history of Ireland, and I learned that the Irish were building stone burial tombs 1000 years before the pyramids were built.  But again, I reached overload.

The most powerful exhibit is a new one called “Art of the Troubles,” which contained many disturbing images and installations, although here and there were symbols of hope.

I then meditated on what I had seen by strolling through the adjacent Botanic Gardens– many beautiful flowers and trees in bloom, a Victorian Palm House, spacious lawns, birds, and a bowling green.

It was such a lovely day (sunny, breezy, and in the 60s), that I decided to walk to my 2:30 appointment at the Grand Opera House:  a full-fledged professional production of “Singin’ in the Rain.”  What a production!!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it — truly over the top, and the singing and dancing were superb (from England’s Chichester Festival Theatre).  The sign out front states “12,000 litres of water at every performance” — and did it RAIN!

The Opera House was built in 1895 with a Moorish decor and is quite large.  The “Gods” section of the balcony goes higher and steeper than anything I’ve seen before.  What a treat.

It’s time to go out for some food and refreshment.  I think I’ll try Ryan’s Pub, down a side street, which was recommended by one of my hosts.

Oh, funny thing…I had reset my watch yesterday (it’s five hours later here), but thought surely I must have made a mistake when it was still quite light out at 9:00 PM.  Apparently Ireland is on the western edge of the time zone, making for extended daylight!

Cheers to all!

Visitors – A Review (Faces Reassuring)

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

            visitorsI’m not familiar with Godfrey Reggio’s work, but looking him up, he’s an acclaimed documentary filmmaker who likes to make movies that have no real plots and instead relies on silent videos and images, set to usually very haunting music. Visitors seems to continue that trend by making a movie that from a visual perspective is fascinating to look at, but from a sit down and watch perspective is a little harder to view. In many respects, this film is basically a challenge to watch, but I don’t regret seeing it, because after watching this film, I’m more interested in looking up this man’s work than I ever was before.

            Visitors has no real plot. Instead it is a film that tries to reveal humanity’s “trace-like” experience with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects that are far beyond human reach. The film uses footage in black and white of people and places to try and get a particular feeling from the audience.

            The films opening should be a warning for the audience. It features a shot of a gorilla played to dramatic music that slowly pans to a shot of what looks like the moon. The first ten or so minutes of the movie is shots of people, but they are very still. It’s an impressive feat, considering these are real people, and not trained professional actors. Despite this they manage not to move a muscle, back or forth.

            The film has recurring motifs. Shots of the outside of a building are shown ten times or more. The film also has interesting ways of shooting; a slow motion shot of a man yawning, a closeup of kids on what appears to be a merry go round, going back and fourth, a shot of just three heads and so on. There are a lot of fascinating things to watch from a film fan perspective.

            The music can go from being slow and mystical, but then it becomes very overpowering, and in some ways, interrupts the film.

            Visitors is an interesting experiment. Out of the all of the films I’ve seen this year, this is probably the most bizarre and surrealistic of all them all. No plot, but the film pulls me in, because of how it is made. I can’t really recommended this film to everyone, but I can say, if you’re interested in watching a movie that is basically images and music, then go right ahead.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: A Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

budapestIf I told a film fan that a film directed by Wes Anderson was basically a live action cartoon, would they be surprised? Well, I don’t think so.  So it came as no surprise to me when I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, that it had one wacky scene after another. With The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson has made another masterpiece of comical proportions. A film that is so absurd and yet so greatly made, it has to be seen to be believed.

            The Grand Budapest Hotel continues Wes Anderson’s ridiculousness. As a director, Anderson has made quite the career for himself. He’s a true auteur, having a distinct style that is apparent in all of his films. Most of them are about depressing characters, and they feature black humor; lots and lots of it. The Grand Budapest Hotel, as its title would suggest, is about a hotel located in Europe. The film actually takes place in about three different time periods. Though they never say it, the film opens in the present, and then flashbacks to 1985 and 1932. The present scenes concern a girl. While the scenes in the 1982 concerns a young writer (Jude Law) who visits the hotel and encounters Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who recalls about a story about when he was a lobby boy working under the whim of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) at the hotel, and how the two ended up getting involved in a crime involving murder and theft.

            This film seems to have a lot going on. At the same time, it’s played out at such at a silly pace, that I can’t help but smile. There is a lot to laugh about in this film. From the prison escape scene, where Gustave and company stands on really high places just to escape, to the snow chase with Gustave and Zero attempting to get Jopling (Willem Dafoe), this film is a riot. The characters in this movie are played to such extremes; that they are fun to watch, in spite of the problems they seem to be facing. Although this film deals with not so friendly themes, it never takes itself too seriously, instead opting to put into the “Anderson world”, where physics and reality take a back seat to extreme shenanigans.

            This movie is helped very much by its actors. Anderson has brought back some of his old cast, in addition to some new people. Returning favorites include, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson, but we also meet such newcomers such as, F. Murray Abraham, and the film’s newcomer (the actor had actually been in a movie and some TV shows), Tony Revolvri all bring their A game to this Wes Anderson’s jam. Although the majority of the actors in this film take a back seat too Fiennes, most of them seem to fit right in with Anderson’s nonsensical style.

            The actors all play different roles. Ralph Fiennes is the hotel’s strict but likeable owner, Adrien Brody is one of the villains of the story, and tries to make his voice deep and menacing, but comes off as silly, which seems to be intentional, given the tone of the film. Tilda Swinton brings her acting skills to a nothing role, where she spends the majority of the film as a corpse. Edward Norton does well as a serious officer, despite limited screentime. Bill Murray has a thankless but important role. Jason Schwartzman appears at the beginning as one of the people working at hotel in 1985 and then disappears for the remainder of the film. Willem Dafoe is playing his usual slimy, creepy character, a killer, and Jeff Goldblum plays a deputy who delivers a lot of expression, but gets a moment to shine (Goldblum and Dafoe have a chase scene, which is interesting, when you consider that the two have only worked with Wes Anderson once before, in the same movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). Saoirse Ronan is nice and calm in her role as a young woman who falls for the bellhop. Speaking of the bellhop, in his film debut, Tony Revolori shows a lot of energy for someone who is new to acting, especially when compared to the other actors in this film. The actors in this film are very much essential to what makes this film work. They are the glue to Wes Anderson’s script. Their wacky and sometimes calm performances fit in very well, here.

            The film has plenty of funny moments. Quotes such as “The rest of this shit is worthless junk”, had my audience cracking up. Anderson certainly knows how to write good dialogue. Additionally, the film uses a classical score, much like most of Anderson’s films, with things such as violins and pianos being heard in the background.

            The Grand Budapest Hotel is an experience in many ways. It’s a film that I have a lot interest to go back to see, over and over again. The actors, the directing, the humor, it just all somehow works, to make a wondrously silly film, that is deserving of the Wes Anderson name. With this film I’m reminded of why I’m such a big fan of Wes Anderson, he makes the kinds of movies I would want to make, if I was making a feature films right now.

And people say there is nothing to do in St. Johnsbury…

As I was working on next weeks event calender for our weekly email, I realized again just how much goes on in this sleeply little town that Catamount calls home.  Here is a preview of just one day, Saturday, May 10, from our upcoming calendar. If you’d like to receive our weekly emails, you can sign up here.

Sat., May 10
Met: Live in HD “LA CENERENTOLA” 12:55pm Catamount Arts Center
Live Performance “VT ALL STATE MUSIC FESTIVAL – CONCERT BAND & ORCHESTRA” 2:00pm St. Johnsbury Academy Memorial Gymnasium
Live Performance “VT ALL STATE MUSIC FESTIVAL – CHORUS” 4:30pm St. Johnsbury Academy Memorial Gymnasium
 “VISITORS” 5:30pm, 7:30pm Catamount ARts Center
Film “THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL” 5:30pm, 7:30pm Catamount Arts Center
Live Performance “CATAMOUNT BLUERASS JAM w/ HAZE SMITH” 7:00pm Catamount Arts Center
Live Performance “BOEING BOEING” 7:30pm Haskell Opera House
Live Performance “A FEW GOOD MEN” 7:30pm St. Johnsbury School Auditorium

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

streitchElaine Stritch is a Broadway sensation and legend. Considered to be one of the finest American performers of her generation, she is a talent to behold. Elaine Stritch is a feisty character, and “larger than life”. In this documentary, we follow Ms. Stritch as she prepares for her one-woman show; filming an episode of the television show, 30 Rock; her talk about aging; her struggles with alcohol and diabetes; and her personal interactions with her friends, and her assistant, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka. In many ways, the film is structured as a “day in the life of” or “an inside story”, but this film surprised me in many ways. Going into it, I expected to see another average documentary about the life of a celebrated person of the arts. Instead, what director Chiemi Karasawa has managed to do is not place so much emphasis on the “clips” as most documentaries do. The “clips” are used within the film, but the film is really about Ms. Stritch as a person, not just as an actress and stage performer, and it really humanizes her as a person, despite her bossy personality.

The interviews with the cast from 30 Rock focus on how great a talent Ms. Stritch is and each of the interviewees (Alan Baldwin, Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, James Gandolfini and Tracy Morgan) give their own opinion on how they view her as a performer and a person. Using clips from both on stage and off stage, as well as these interviews, Karasawa is able to make the ultimate tribute to an actress. In terms of her direction, there’s much to enjoy: seeing Ms. Stritch travel to her hometown in Michigan where she performs at a theater gives us a glimpse of her early life which is very personal and seeing her become sick before a performance showed us the struggles she goes through to this day. And, despite being eighty six years old, Elaine Stritch still has a lovely singing voice.

            Prior to this film, Karasawa was a script supervisor and producer. Her directing debut is a very well done documentary that celebrates the career of a stage legend. The film not only showcases Stritch’s many talents, it shows us how she is as a person outside of her stage life. Ms. Stritch is very fascinating to watch, has no interest in retiring, and continues to enjoy life to its fullest.