The legendary Kolisch Quartet had the singular distinction of playing its entire repertoire from memory, including the impossibly complex modern works of Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, and Berg. Eugene Lehner was the violist for the quartet in the 1930’s. Lehner’s stories about their remarkable performances often included a hair-raising moment when one player or another had a memory slip. Although he relished the rapport that developed between them without the encumbrance of a music stand, he admits there was hardly a concert in which some mistake did not mar the performance. The alertness, presence, and attention required of the players in every performance is hard to fathom, but in one concert an event occurred that surpassed their ordinary brinkmanship.
Osaka, Japan, is usually off the radar of most tourists. It is Japan’s second largest city and contains many of the advantages of Tokyo on a slightly smaller scale. The food scene is one of the most exciting in Japan, with local specialties such as okonomiyaki (a version of a Japanese pizza cooked on a griddle with your choice of ingredients), unusual fish from the ocean nearby, and small restaurants that present Kushikatsu cooking of seemingly endless ingredients grilled on skewers.
The arts scene is also important, with three local symphony orchestras, lots of chamber music, and local theatre and opera such as Bunruku which combines traditional music with life-sized puppets in 500 year-old stories.
The Edifice Complex continues to rear its head — yet another new performing arts building is conceived with little thought to the art that will reside inside and outside. Juxtaposed articles in The Scotsman demonstrate clearly how a new building can exacerbate local problems with little interaction with local artists and the community’s music education institutions.
The Edifice Complex demonstrates the income inequality problems of the developed world that have evolved over the past few decades. Wealthy patrons in many cities want to justifiably indicate the maturity of their cultural scene through the construction of a world class facility for the performing arts or a museum to show their collection of priceless treasures.
At times of natural disasters, such as the recent hurricanes in Florida, Texas and the Caribbean, and the earthquakes in México, tragedy becomes personal when you have friends or family in harm’s way. We have many contacts around the globe who cause us worry when we read about threats to their countries. Luckily everyone is safe this time and we send our best wishes that life will return to normal as soon as possible.
With this blog post, I look forward to introducing you to some of our other dear friends with whom we have collaborated over many years, and continue to enjoy making music together. The artistic vision of Southwest Chamber Music, the ensemble my husband and I founded in 1986, has always included a commitment to diversity, reflecting the reality of the population of Los Angeles.