By Rodger Skidmore
Speaking truth to power
And sometimes truth itself is power, which is why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such a powerful orator. Dr. King became famous during the Civil Rights movement by speaking a truth that many people had seen but few had heard about. It is one thing to see something that is wrong and silently pass by, and quite another to have someone tell you about it in a clear strong articulate voice that commands your attention. It might seem that the Civil Rights movement consisted of just Abraham Lincoln and Dr. King, but there were many that came before King who brought the movement to its moment of creation and he was surrounded by many others that helped shape those events. But it was his vision and powerful voice that spread out over the land, as if flowing down from a mountaintop, that helped to carve a path towards where we all walk today.
But Katori Hall’s 2009 play, The Mountaintop, is not about the Civil Rights movement. Remember, “What is past is prolog.” This play is more like the beginning of Volume II of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s biography – the one that started after the “I Have a Dream” portion of his life. His leadership of the CR movement had taken place, had been accepted (grudgingly by some) and proclaimed a critical success by most. But rather than rest on his laurels, Dr. King then embarked on an expedition into uncharted territory – fighting both the Vietnam War and the poverty of blacks and whites, at the same time.
In fact, in his mind, both fights were inexorably linked. That there were conditions in America that created poverty, kept the poor (whether black or white) in that condition, and that resulted in the poor being the ones that had to fight and die in Vietnam, were what led Dr. King to spend a night in room 306, in the Lorraine Motel. During that afternoon Dr. King had given his Mountaintop speech at a rally supporting a strike by the sanitation workers in Memphis, and that night he was gunned down. What were Dr. King’s thoughts during the hours leading up to that fateful event? To find out what they might have been and how he might have felt at that time, why not attend one of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s performances of The Mountaintop between January 10th and February 18th. For more information, go to Westcoastblacktheatre.org.
Biggest month of the year
For the Sarasota Concert Association, January is the biggest month of the year. How big? Think Cleveland. Not the city, that’s not even so-so in size. We’re talking about the Cleveland Orchestra, which is big in quality of sound and how well they perform – as well as what they perform. This January 29th there will be an all-Beethoven concert at the Van Wezel with both his 2nd and 6th symphonies, as well as the Leonore Overture No. 3, being on the menu. Many opera conductors place Beethoven’s overture just prior to the 4th act of the opera (Leonore/Fidelio) as they feel it is too overpowering to perform before the action even begins. Perhaps this is why it becomes the finale of this concert.
Earlier in the month, on January 11th, Pinchas Zuckerman will be conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to honor Queen Elizabeth’s 65th year as monarch (Feb. 6th). The pieces selected for this tribute are Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz (the German opera, The Freeshooter), Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Dvorák’s Symphony No. 7. Description’s of Beethoven’s violin concerto usually drop off the “D Major” suffix as not needed, as it is the only one that has survived. His violin concerto in C Major was unfinished or mostly lost, as only a fragment of the first movement exists. Dvorak’s symphony premiered in London in 1885, when Victoria was queen.
While not officially part of January, February 21st is the date the SCA brings in Gil Shaham (violin) and Akira Eguchi (piano) to play an exquisite series of short compositions filled with an amazing amount of notes in astonishing sequences. They will start by performing Fritz Kreisler’s Preludium and Allegro, followed by Prokofiev’s Five Melodies, Franck’s Sonata in A for Violin and Piano, Bach’s Partita no. 3, Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and ending with Avner Dorman’s Nigunim.
Shifting the venue from the Van Wezel to David Cohen Hall, the SCA is hosting a free Music Matinee at noon on January 17th. Two members of ensemblenewSRQ, George Nickson (Percussion) and Samantha Bennett (violin) will be performing. This is not your normal drum and fiddle show, but an exposition of contemporary music being performed by the newest groups in town. For more information about these performances go to www.scasarasota.org.
Horace Greeley was famous for saying “Go West, Young Man” during the expansion of America in the 1850s. The Dabbert Gallery, known for fine contemporary art, has moved, not west, but north by an entire quarter of a block, from number 76 to 46, on S Palm Avenue, in its expansion into a larger space. More space means more art, and in this case, a more attractive display – focused lighting and white walls make art really pop.
Patricia and David opened their original gallery 13 years ago when this century was young (as we all were) and are pleased with the results of their expansion. The move has permitted them to add a number of new artists, including some additional international ones, as well as to show more works by their existing stable of contemporary artists. It is always pleasing to see the works of Bill Farnsworth. His paintings of south Florida bring out the softness and calmness of the landscape in quite a contemplative way. He brings that same touch to his street scenes of Europe on market day. Barbara Krupp is a painter of more abstract works who tends to favor the color red, perhaps because that color has a flair that suits her temperament. It is interesting to note that while her paintings are purely abstract, after reading her titles, one can almost see what she has referenced. Maybe that says more about the viewer than about the artist. Jeff Cornell works in pastel which adds a definite softness to his work. His sepia tones bring back memories of the photogravure process used in old newspaper supplements, except with more modern subject matter.
Thrya Davidson brings the third dimension to her subjects by being one of the sculptors that has their work displayed at the Dabbert. Ms. Davidson has brought out the serenity of each of the models that have posed for her. Joe Palmerio has been a resident of Sarasota for over 25 years and this shows in his knowledge of subject matter. Palmerio knows what Sarasota looks like and he knows how it should look in his mind’s eye – and paints it that way. Evenings on First Fridays are a great way to view the works on display at the Dabbert with more leisurely viewing during daytime hours. To view works of all their artists, please go to www.dabbertgallery.com