Sunday, October 10, 2010

Heights Arts: TENacity

A decade: A tenth anniversary is something to celebrate at any time, but in the current economy with arts organizations struggling -- and disappearing -- it's that much more rewarding to see one make it to 10.

This evening Heights Arts took 10.10.10 to celebrate just that: Their 10th anniversary. Though Heights Arts's mission covers the entirety of arts in the heights in ways that I'm having trouble fully enumerating: Public art, poetry, music, temporary installations, unique applications, local artists, a small gallery... tonight featured a rich sampling of some of the great things Height Arts contributes to the community.

Tangible Art: A silent auction offered a wealth of items and experiences from the local arts community...from beautiful jewelry and glasswear to framed art to the "experience" items yours truly won: A tour of the highlights of CMA's permanent collection with Chief Curator Griffith Mann and a in-home performance of Bach by Cleveland Orchestra Cellist Tanya Ell (as I've noted in earlier posts on the Heights Arts House Concert Series, I am quite fond of Ms. Ell's talent)

House Concert: After appetizers and light dinner a mixed group of long-time attendees and first timers assembled...
Mozart: Grand Sestetto Concertante (An 1808 arrangement of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major for Viola, Violin, and Orchestra, KV 364)
Dvorak: Quintet for 2 violins, viola, cello and piano in A major, Op. 81.
Mari Sato, Isabel Trautwein, violins; Kirsten Docter, You Jin, violas; Tanya Ell and Josue Gonzales, cellos; Carolyin Gadiel Warner, piano.
At the Rawson and Cowap Residence, Shaker Heights.

Tonight's performance was for chamber music what last night's Cleveland Orchestra concert was to orchestral performance. Mozart's Grande Sestetto Concertante was lovely: The first and third movements stuck me as light and a bit playful with each instrument being treated to a bit of time in the limelight, while the slow middle movement was dark and deep in rich color. From my seat, behind Ms. Trautwein and Ms. Docter I could not only see the intricate complexity of the notes on the page, but the musicians fingers dance across the fingerboards of their instruments from an angle not typically seen by mere mortals.

Following a brief poem (see below) was Dvorak's Quintet (Opus 81). At any given moment if you ask for a favorite composer there's a good chance I'll blurt out Dvorak's name--and a 50/50 shot that my brain will slip and I'll mispronounce his name. The two works that I'm most familiar with, Symphony 9 (From the New World) and String Quartet No. 12 (The American), have unambiguously American influences. Opus 81 -- dating from 1887, some 5 years before his stay in America, those influences are conspicuously absent taking instead a far more bohemian flair.

According to body language experts, one of the signs of an engaged listener is a forward body posture. I consciously try to remain upright, but in the case of tonight's concert I was so engaged--and leaning so far forward--as to practically be drooling on the shoulder of the patron seated in the row ahead of mine. Beautiful and energetic, opening with Ms. Ell's lyrical cello theme over beautiful piano -- a first for me in the "house concert" format -- In the third movement I had no trouble at all envisioning a folk dance, and the finale was quite spirited and light making it a perfect fit for the evening.

I almost neglected to note that Owen Lockwood, son of Mari Sato opened the concert by performing von Weber's Country Dance and Dittersdorf's German Dance with Ms. Trautwein. As a relatively newcomer to the instrument myself, this 8-year-old's skill was impressive.

Poetry: Cleveland Heights is one of the few American cities to host an official Poet Laureate -- Gail Bellamy -- who dedicated a wonderful piece to the event.

More Music: Following the concert, cake was served and the beautiful evening air outside was filled with the sounds of Mo' Mojo with a great mix of bayou music. Particularly ear catching was the electric violin -- the versatility of an instrument that minutes before was deep in the lush melodies of European composers now moving the lively beat of zydeco.

Heights Arts first 10 years have sure made an impact...I eagerly look forward to what the next 10 have in store. But first, I'm going to get some sleep.

(The image above is the back of my right hand)

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