Arts on the Horizon – December 2020

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By Rodger Skidmore

Old White Men

  No, we’re not talking politics. Instead, the topic is something that is actually a bit more relaxing – music. But first, let’s address an important question. Why are so many of the composers we hear in today’s concerts old white men – specifically dead old white men? Is it sexism? Well, yes and no. Not sexism – in that a lot(?) more music directors and conductors are woman, so the works of more female composers are being performed each year. But yes, sexism – in that not many women were composing back before the start of the 20th century. So, blame it on old sexism, not (necessarily) the sexism of today. Also blame it on money and laziness. If a concert contains a really modern piece, whether by a man or a woman – royalties need to be paid. Thus, some really nice compositions are not heard. But, you say, there are many older (some even dead) 20th century female composers for whose works royalties are no longer due. Well, consider this: All music schools have books full of old white men’s music. New books with music by people with whom no one is familiar cost money. And students who have paid good money for more music than they will ever play don’t want to buy more either – especially if they have not been exposed to it in their music schools (self-perpetuating sexism). So, money and laziness. Also, the laziness of concert and opera goers who say, “I’m not going to ‘that’ concert because I’ve never heard the music before.” A final reason that this old music continues to be played is that it really is good.

Speaking of old white men, Beethoven is now 250 years old, and his 4th and 10th String Quartets (C Minor and E-Flat Major) are being performed by members of the Sarasota Orchestra on December 10th – 13th at Holley Hall. These 4 evenings will be a wonderful time to zero in on the individual elements of his music as Daniel Jordan and Chris Takeda, violins; Rachel Halvorson, viola, and Nalalie Helm, cello, bring out the lasting beauty of Beethoven’s quartets. Already booked to binge watch season 4 of The Crown that weekend? That’s OK, you can watch/listen/enjoy the streaming edition of this concert December 17 – 22. 

Also interested in some warm and pleasing tunes to bounce around in your head during the holiday season? How about orchestral arrangements of favorites like We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Custer’s Chanukah Festival OvertureCarol of the Bells (a Ukrainian carol), O Holy Night, and Silent Night. Or more pop oriented works made famous by Mannheim Steamroller (Bring a Torch Jeannette, and Isabella); Leroy Anderson’s Suite of Carols, or that old movie favorite, the theme from It’s a Wonderful Life – live December 17-20 at Holley Hall, and streaming on the 24th – 29th. Info at Sarasotaorchestra.Org (including info on a string quartet by Caroline Shaw coming in January). Live performances have limited seating so book early.

Timely reminder

Get those tickets! What tickets? The tickets for the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota presentation of Dick Hyman’s Jazz Masters sextet performing at Selby Gardens at 3 PM on Sunday, December 6th. Listen to/watch the concert, smell the flowers, and see the sunset – please all of your senses in one outing. Tickets and info at

Knock-your-socks-off performances

Not just your socks but take your shoes off too – to watch an evening of ballet. Ballet at any time of the day or night can be enchanting, especially if it is the World Famous Sarasota Ballet. And that “World Famous” business is not just small-town big puffery. When the New York Times sends reviewers to Sarasota to cover our “local ballet”, and Jacob’s Pillow invites the Sarasota Ballet to dance there (twice), it means that this is a big-time dance troupe. 

But admit it, not every item on a ballet program is better than both the one before as well as the one after. Really, there has to be a favorite. So, here’s the question: What would it be like to see the best performances from a number of evenings – all on the same night. Remember when, in late April, 2016, you watched Christopher Wheeldon’s The American danced by the Sarasota Ballet at the Sarasota Opera House? What, you missed it? Or slept through it because it was the third ballet on the program (you do remember it was choreographed to a string quartet by Dvořák, right?)? Well, now’s your chance to see it again for the very first time. Earlier that same year the Sarasota Ballet, at a high-ticket-price gala, performed Peter Wright’s The Mirror Walkers after having done his Summertide a few months earlier. Which one did you prefer? Why not jog your memory by seeing them both again? And after viewing Summertide, with music by Mendelssohn, why not check out Kenneth Millan’s Concerto, choreographed to Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto? Don’t just critique the dance – which of those stand-a-lone musical selections was best suited as a vehicle to portray the choreographer’s ideas? These gems of dance along with 4 other equally fine pieces choreographed by Bourne, Walsh and Graziano will be streamed December 18 – 22 on Sarasota Ballets Digital Program 3. More info at

Climb every mountain

The fun thing about landfills is that they get filled up. All those old bedsprings, nacho bags, coffee grounds, and empty mayonnaise jars get covered over with good clean dirt. And, then like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, they become beautiful green semi-demi mountains. One such unsightly site that has outlived its old usefulness is Rothembach Park (just east of I-75 where Bee Ridge crosses Lorraine). On entering the park area there is parking off to the right, along with a nice playground, and restroom facilities. Back across the entrance road there are two trails leading to the south which go around a small lake.

There are birds and rabbits to see along the way. These two trails actually form a loop, so going on either one brings you back to where you started. At the far end of that loop another trail branches off to the east to take you on a pleasant stroll around the entire mountain.

The total for this look is about 3 miles. What makes it pleasant is the fact that there are 16 benches along the way. The mountain itself (admittedly, more of a nice hill) is covered in a luscious green carpet of grass. There are two types that go for this kind of walk. The early risers who go out before the day heats up and love to be invigorated before their day starts – it gets them going. The others go in the late afternoon when day is cooling down and the breezes are starting up again. Besides the lovely walk, they get to see those fawn-colored creatures called fawns. Also, their mothers and aunts which are so dear to them. And, as an added attraction, the sunset over the trees off to the west.

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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