By Rodger Skidmore
Last tango in Sarasota
Well, maybe not the last, but certainly the latest. The origins of the tango show that it has always lived between two worlds. Between the sacred and the profane, the classical and the improvisational, and between cities on either side of the Rio de la Plata. This dance started out in the bars in the port cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Montevideo (Uruguay) where the sailors impressed the ladies that frequented those establishments, with their gyrational prowess.
The roots of the music, the dance movements, and even the name itself, are variously attributed to Niger, Spain, Cuba, the Congo, and Poland. But once the tango moved from the river bars to the nightclubs of the big cities, the hands of great composers molded the pattern of the notes into what we hear today. Not just as tunes to lift your spirits but as spiritual masses played in churches and cathedrals across the world; including in Sarasota on Sept. 23 at Church of the Palms.
Bandoneonist Ben Bogart and pianist Winnie Cheung are back again in Sarasota, along with four dancers of the traditional tango. They will whisk you from Bee Ridge Road to those nightclubs of Argentina as they present Misatango, Martin Palmeri’s six-movement Latin mass blending the rhythms, harmonies, and sensualness of the tango with the voices of the Key Chorale.
The nuevo tango style, following the model of Astor Piazzolla. includes elements of church music with extended fugues in the opening and closing movements of the mass. The melding of mezzo-soprano soloists, Amy Connours and Stephanie Jabre with the mixed choir, brings an additional dimension to the presentation.
Want even more tango music? Stay seated, there will be works by Astor Piazzolla, Osvaldo Pugliese, and Juan de Dios Filiberto.
The world’s first Oktoberfest was held on Oct. 12, 1810 when Ludwig, king of Bavaria, got married and invited everyone in Munich to hoist a few. We will be celebrating that occasion with beer and bratwurst in a biergarten after binging on three days of Bach – Oct. 13 through 15.
The Bachanalian festivities, held at the Church of the Redeemer, start off on the 13th with the Key Chorale Chamber Singers performing an all-Bach program beginning with the Brandenburg Concerto. The next day begins with a lunchtime organfest on Sarasota’s largest pipe organ. Music continues that evening with selections from the time of Bach played by a baroque chamber ensemble using period instruments. That concert concludes with Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude.
The Bachtoberfest on the 15th features soprano Mary Wilson and trumpeter Aaron Romm, both hitting their high-Cs on Cantata No. 51 followed by the entire chorale celebrating the 300th anniversary of Bach’s Magnificat. Afterwards all get to celebrate in the church biergarten while being serenaded by Bill Milner’s Oompah Band — kinda, sorta like what happened in 1810. Full info at keychorale.org/concerts.
Not rock ’n roll
As the Joan Jett song goes, “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” but what about just the rocks themselves? Some, when referring to a diamond ring say, “Wow, look at that rock” and, according to Marilyn Monroe, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. With the right cut, diamonds can glisten, sparkle, and catch your eye with their brilliant reflections of light. But, after staring at one of them for a moment or two, aren’t they a wee bit boring? Besides, even though diamonds may be called rocks, they aren’t, they’re crystals made of one substance — carbon — how boring can you get?
Real rocks are, by definition, aggregates of two or more minerals, thus can be of any size, and come in many colors and shapes. Special ones are formed when hot or cold liquid material flows or seeps around another and hardens into something that can hold your attention when looked at from different directions.
During the Song dynasty, back before you were born (960-1279), the Chinese started collecting small stones of interesting shapes which they called “gonshi” or spirit stones. Some, shaped like distant mountain peaks, were thought, as mountains were the meeting place between heaven and earth, to bring the owner of such rocks closer to the gods.
As the physical shape of a spirit stone could invoke an image in one’s mind, so could the juxtaposition of the elements from which it was made. In such a stone, while one might see a chrysanthemum, another could see an angry parrot biting an outstretched hand, or an eagle beginning to land, or all three. Rural peasants might not be able to afford a painting but all could find an interesting rock. The more interesting ones can wind up in the hands of series collectors and scholars, and ultimately in the collections of museums — like the Ringling. It hosts Mountains of the Mind: Scholars’ Rocks from China and Beyond through June 23, 2024.
The Ringling has also dug deep into their archives to mount a photography exhibition which explores how a labor-saving device called the camera showed how the labor-saving devices of the industrial revolution, and labor itself, have developed since the invention of the camera. Working Conditions through March 3, 2024. Info at Ringling.org.
Sit back and relax
There’s nothing like leaning back, relaxing, having a sip and a bite, and listening to some good sounds. Of course, the type of food, drink, and music must be in your zone of ultimate contentment for all of this to work.
There is music six nights a week (Monday through Saturday) at J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Café out on Packinghouse Road. There are quite a few different groups that perform there from month to month. On the 21st the Ron Kraemer’s Trio (guitar, bass, and drums) will be providing blues, jazz, and swing tunes. Bluestar with Johnny Guitar is all blues but with added keyboard and sax – a real nice vibe on the 23rd. Mixing it up on the 27th, with Beatles tunes and other contemporary and pop songs, will be vocalist Paul Dudrich on acoustic guitar.
To cover the taste side of your enjoyment palette there are award winning burgers (voted best in Sarasota), Cuban sandwiches (top 10 in Florida), wings, and a whole lot of other good stuff. And, of course, a variety of beers, wines, and softer drinks. More info on food and music groups at Packinghousecafe.com.
If you’re an early to bed, early to rise type of person then you might enjoy both the music and food at Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse. Good grub (SRQ-Best Local Barbecue) and music (pop rock, country, and blues) at various scheduled times throughout the afternoon and early evening (Wednesday through Monday). Info at Stottlemyerssmokehouse.com.