April on Art and Music
In the Palm Beaches and Beyond
It started with an argument. My friend of mine insisted that Hellenic art was far superior to Hellenistic art. A teacher in the humanities, she was talking about classical Greek art produced when city states like Athens flourished. Of course, I had to admit the Acropolis is beautifully proportioned...But overall, I had to say, "No," to her infatuation with classical Greek sculpture. "Maybe the drawings on Greek vases are lovely," I added. "But nothing can compare to certain Hellenistic statues. At least not until the Renaissance produced Bernini. Just take a look at the Dying Gaul created in Hellenistic Greece, Alexander the Great's time."
To prove my point, I searched online for the original of this statue, shown here, and actually a Roman copy of the Hellenistic statue. It is magnificent. And it is the reason I was so, so disappointed when I saw a lesser version three years ago. It was in New York City where the Metro Metropolitan Museum of Art had opened its blockbuster Pergamon exhibition July 2016. They actually bragged that the exhibit included the Dying Gaul--with no admission that it was a "copy of a copy" with very little of the emotional force of the original (at least to me.)
Just go back and look at the original at the top of my blog post. There is an elegance to the young man. He is wearing only one thing, a torque--a stiff metal neck ring worn by Celtic nobles who went into battle. The statue captures our hearts as see life fading out of this heroic man's beautiful body. Just examining it catches our breath and reminds us of the shortness of life; how life can end suddenly, even when at its fullest and most magnificent as personified in the beautiful body and spirit of this warrior.
Audiences are transfixed by her singing. When Jones sang Lucia in "Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," the Houston Review called her voice "full of dazzling radiance." Last year her career took a big step forward when she won a Grammy in the Best Opera Recording category for her soloist role as Christine Brennan in "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs" with the Santa Fe Opera. Check out my article in the June/July issue of the Boca Observer to read more about this fascinating young opera singer. bocaratonobserver.com/observed/la-vida-boca/on-a-high-note/
.Triumphal trumpets surprised us; kettle drums stirred us. It was the Te Deum by 17th c. French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier--a glorious piece of music. I heard it Saturday March 29th at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach. It was the centerpiece of an Early Music Concert beautifully conducted by John Weatherspoon (conductor/artistic director of the expressivosingers.com).
There were echoes of Handel in this glorious piece of music. But rather than religious overtones, Charpentier's famous polyphonic motet sounded secular, at least to my ears. That may have reflected the fact that many believe it was composed to celebrate a French military victory--the Battle of Steenkirk in August, 1692. Three hundred years later this composition still stirs minds and souls!
Palm Beach Atlantic University
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