Preview: Well, If You ‘Can’t Think Straight’….

Or even if you can, the movie “I Can’t Think Straight” is being presented by YONI KI BAAT multicultural women’s organization.

The movie is an award-winning lesbian romantic comedy (rated PG-13) that is a title quite common in LGBTQ culture. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve wanted to so many times. I know that other organizations have put it on, but I’ve always been too busy to attend. But not tonight!!! The film starts at 7:00 pm in Helmet Stern Auditorium in the UMMA (UofM Museum of Art). And here’s the kicker… Free Food and Free admittance. That’s right. Won’t cost you a dime. The event has been sponsored by the ever colorful Spectrum Center, the Michigan Student Assembly, and the UMMA. Don’t forget to stay for the Q&A with Women’s Studies Professor Sri Nair! You don’t have to recognize yourself as LGBTQ, the event is open to all allies, guests, and curious people looking to watch a modern romantic comedy. I hope to see everybody there!
When: Tonight, 1-6-10
Where: UMMA Helmut Stern Aud
Costs: Free admittance and Free Food
What: I Can’t Think Straight
Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

PREVIEW: Rosseels String Quartet

PREVIEW: Rosseels String Quartet

Date: Sunday, Dec 13th, 2009

Location: Michigan League – Room D (3rd floor)

Time: 8:30pm

Tickets: free!


String Quartet in a minor, Op. 51 #2 ——————————————————-Johannes Brahms

String Quartet in g minor, Op. 10————————————————————Claude Debussy

Performers: Paula Muldoon and Christopher Jones, violins

Jarita Ng, viola

James Jaffe, cello

Though the Rosseels Quartet is the official “Graduate Student Quartet” at the University, some of them are only undergraduates! This talented group will perform a dramatic piece by Brahms and a dreamy, impressionistic piece by Debussy. Only an hour long, this program will be the perfect study break to clear your mind of the stress of exams and prepare you for a long night of studying.

A reception with delicious cookies with follow.

Review: The date with Messieurs Thibaudet and Ravel

Saturday, Dec 12th ’09

I buy my concert tickets ahead of time and earlier today morning, I thought that I would be losing precious time at a concert when I should be really working on the zillion other things on the to-do list. But then I had a “”brain freeze” (when you can’t think anymore and the brain is just dead -something like  sleeping  with your eyes wide open) and I could no longer stare at the code I had been working on the whole day! So the concert proved to be a blessing and a nice break .

I am comparatively recent to the world of Western Classical music and as I go to various performances, I get to learn more about the composers and their music.  So today, it was an introduction to French Composer Ravel and his music.It also included a taste of the work of Brahms from his younger years.

French Compose Maurice Ravel
French Composer Maurice Ravel

Ahhhh… the French! They are so different from the rest. Their language, cuisine, culture, style and of course, music- it ees something deefferent (trying to speak french in eengleez and that seems to be an attempt in vain). They stand a class apart as does M. Thibaudet’s superb playing.

The evening’s performance made it clear that Mr.Thibaudet loves Ravel. Contrary to what I had posted in the preview, his love for Ravel was majorly influenced by his teacher, Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. As for M. Ravel himself, he is like a painter who evokes these images with a certain sensitivity of a poet. There is such a complex arrangement in his music and it is so full of color. Let me try to explain this more. Some directors show violence blatantly (for example, you can actually see a guillotine chopping off a person’s head  and the head with the eyes wide open with terror falls down with a thud in the wicker basket). Other directors just hint that something gruesome had happened (they show the blood spatter on the guillotine and a wicker basket covered with a blood-soaked rag) and leave it to the audience to picture the violence. And the second approach proves so much more effective (and often gets the Oscars!). Similarly, Ravel falls in the second category. His music just leaves so much to the  listener to interpret and the result is brilliant.

The first piece “Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) was very different in the sense that I would start forming  a certain opinion about the mood of the piece and then suddenly, there would come an unexpected string of notes that would make me change my mind about it. The music felt as if the composer was trying to portray one’s wavering mind. I loved the ending of this piece as it just felt conclusive as if someone had finally made a decision. This is one of  the pieces that  just grows on you.

The second piece,  Ravel’s “Miroirs”, a suite of musical portraits was something I was looking forward to. It  just turned out to be fabulous. Each movement was so beautifully executed. I loved the third movement, “Une barque sur l’océan (a boat on the ocean) the most. Here’s my interpretation. There was a slow melody (like the red wave in the picture below representing the movement of the boat  as it goes over the large waves) and then a complicated faster melody(like the green wave representing the rocking of the boat).As for the picture, maybe my mathematical mind wasn’t completely switched off yet. But, somehow, it seemed as if the  composer was looking at this boat and was trying to portray the emotions of  the oarsman as well.  This movement was definitely the highlight of the evening for me.

Underlying theme for Ravel's third mvmt in "Miroirs"- my interpretation!

I feel that the skill of a pianist lies in how well he can create a distinction between the various sounds that can be made on a piano- for example, like pianissimo and fortissimo. M. Thibaudet  is definitely one of those truly gifted pianists who can do this really really well (you should have heard him play the fifth movement, “Valley of the bells”). At the end of  the pieces that called for a soft ending, M.Thibaudet would press the sustain pedal and you could hear the dying sounds so well. The clarity was amazing (I was seated in the third row, yeah!) and as for the staccatos and the legatos, they were so perfect that I wanted to just run to the stage and hug M. Thibaudet. Ravel’s work is very complicated  and it is not for the faint. M. Thibaudet pulled it off with perfect grace.

The next program was Brahms’ sonata No.3 which Brahms had composed when he was still in his late teens (Wow,what a genius! It makes me feel so small and insignificant). This piece showed the difference between German and French music clearly. Brahms’ sonata was so full of a sort of authoritativeness  and had a clear underlying structure and there was heaviness mixed with doses of high energy! Ravel’s music, on the other hand,  had this fluidity to it and a certain grace that only the French know how to do ( You see this in Monet’s paintings and can hear it in Ravel’s music). The musical difference is as distinct as differences between the German and French languages themselves.

Somehow, in spite of Brahms’ excellent “teen” work and M. Thibaudet’s flawless playing, I wasn’t particularly attentive to this piece. Could be that I was so used to Brahms (I listen to his symphonies and concertos on a regular basis) and you know, “familiarity breeds contempt” or in mycase, “inattentiveness”.  Isn’t that so strange that when we are tired, something novel immediately gets our attention and yet we always crave for the familiar during other times? Ok, that didn’t make sense to me either. Still in my “brain freeze” stage, people!

Anyway,the encores (one other piece from Brahms (which was more uplifting ) and Chopin’s Nocturne(Oh, I love this one)) left me so content and satiated.

At concerts like these, I just wish I knew more to comment intelligently as the great music critics do and I feel so small and stupid when I realise how little I know about Music theory and the technicalities of Western music.

As I walked back from the Hill against a gale of wind that threatened to blow me away, there was a car that went past  that  “honked” Jingle Bells (it was very good) and I just had to smile!  And I had this epiphany that  the real purpose of music is just to please the heart and sometimes it is okay to listen with the heart and not be a “cerebral” listener. At the end of the day, the arpeggios or the cadenzas or the 101 techniques the artist had employed don’t matter. What matters is the euphoric feeling with which you leave the concert.

From the heart ,

Krithika, [art]seen reviewer

Preview: This music will make you wanna ‘GROOVE’


If you dig percusion or love music similar to that of STOMP(who by the way get my vote for being one of the most creative and are great!) , then this show by GROOVE  is for you!

GROOVE” is University of Michigan’s very own high energy percussion group that combines use of traditional as well as non-traditional instruments (like garbage cans, poles, toothbrushes (really? ))  to bring out their own unique brand of music.

GROOVE in action!
GROOVE in action!

I watched their Polynesian Warriors on youtube. You might say that it is not an entirely original act as this has been done before (oh yeah, they say that are inspired by STOMP and use some ideas from them- especially the act with the poles, trash cans, et al). BUT,  I guess the way they meld their different sounds, the rhythmic arrangement and the choreography makes it different and refreshing. They do provide good entertainment!

When I think of percussion groups,  the traditional Japanese Kodo (these drummers are just so so fabulous!) and  Safri Duo (love their “Samb Adagio”) are my personal favorites . More recently, I watched the unique Keith Terry and the slammin’ all-body band and thought they were pretty good. Alas, I did not get to see ” The Blue Man Group” live when I was in Vegas. 

What I luuuuuuuv about percussion groups is that they are always so full of life and their enthusiasm just gets to you. You just can’t escape the rhythm and  it leaves you with a feeling similar to a runner’s high! I have huge respect for percussion groups. Nothing like attending one of those shows to get a quick dose of energy.

So getting back to the point, GROOVE will be performing  one such great show on  Friday, Dec 11th at the Michigan Theater @ 7 pm. Tickets are $5 and it is general admission.

Nothing like the some great drumming to  beat away your winter blues, huh? Get your GROOVE ON!

Krithika, for [art]seen

 Krithika is not practicing on her drum set only out of pure concern  for the well-being of her neighbors’ ears and for the minor fact that she doesn’t own one!   😉

Preview: Ready for some Ravel by pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet?

The noted French pianist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be playing at the Hill Auditorium on Dec 12th, saturday @ 8 pm. Mr.Thibaudet is very talented and has earned quite a reputation for himself, both as a soloist as well as a performer at a symphony orchestra. He is known for his unique interpretation and his superb mastery of the piano. He  studied with Aldo Ciccolini who was an ardent advocate for the piano music of French composers Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Erik Satie (courtesy Wiki). So we will be getting a taste of Ravel’s music.

The program for the evening includes two solo piano compositions by Ravel and a Brahms sonata.

Now, Ravel, a famous impressionist music composer, is known for his intricate and chiseled compositions that are so precisely arranged. The first of  Ravel’s works for the evening is “Pavane pour une infante défunte (“Pavane for a dead princess”). This slow piece is daunting and will test any pianist’s skills. It will be interesting to see how Mr.Thibaudet executes this!

The second Ravel piece is “Miroirs” (Reflections).  This is such an interesting ( and apparently very difficult) composition. There are five movements in the suite and each piece is intended to make us visualise a reflection when a certain person looked into the mirror (hence “reflections”). Ravel dedicated each of the movements to five people he knew. What an interesting poetic approach to music!  I am looking forward to listening to Mr.Thibaudet’s version.

Then we have Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 in F minor, another challenging work that requires a lot of skill. Brahms often found himself  in the shadow of Beethoven and this sonata, celebrates Brahms’ love for Beethoven as we can hear the motif from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Yipppeeeeeeeee…one of my favorites!) .

Tickets are available at the Michigan League Office or at the Box Office  before the performance.

I could do with some end-of-semester stress-busting and listen to some good piano music (even if it means braving howling winds and the treacherous black ice). What about you? 

Krithika, [art]seen reviewer

 Krithika is now listening to Strauss’s “The Blue Danube Waltz”

Preview: The story of Macbeth’s power lust unfolds @ the Power Center

‘Macbeth’ is Shakespeare’s most intriguing and bloody tragedies ever. It has all the elements for a perfect thriller. We have sinister witches with their equivocal prophecies, a power- hungry wife who eggs her husband on to get a crown that doesn’t rightfully belong to him, a war-hardened man who kills his way to the throne, visits from ghosts,  lots of bloodshed (like in Tarantino’s “Inglorious basterds’- this one’s not for the queasy too!), cunning plots and then of course, the tragic  and dramatic climax. Though it was Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, it was one that left the readers/viewers with shudders. No one can forget Lady Macbeth sleepwalking and lamenting thus- “Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!”

The U of M production of ‘Macbeth’ by the Department of Theatre & Drama and directed by Philip Kerr, is set in a military hospital during the early 20th century. ‘Macbeth’ is about the erosion of the soul by guilt and how one’s deeds will catch up with them eventually. War also ravages the soul quite a bit, often leaving everybody involved with a question as to its point  (if not convinced, see  “Saving Private Ryan”, my personal favorite among war movies) .  All things are fair in love and war – and in politics and in gaining power! So it will be extremely interesting to see how Philip Kerr’s production is staged and how they portray the story as this play has so much of potential for the actors to really bring out their talents.

They say that Shakespeare had used real witch spells and that “the Bard’s play” brings  bad luck to actors and the theatres, so much so that actors and other theatre people often consider it bad luck to mention Macbeth by name while inside a theatre. So people, don’t mention “Macbeth” inside th Power Center and bring a horseshoe for some extra good luck, ok?

Show times:

Dec 10th @ 7.30 pm; Dec 11th & 12th @ 8 pm; Dec 13th @ 2 pm- Power Center

Tickets @ the Michigan League Ticket Office (Students $9)

Yours truly,

Krithika  for [art]seen

P.S. Hmmm… did the weather in Ann Arbor get so bad because ‘Macbeth’ is playing and there was “Double, double toil and trouble;fire burn and cauldron bubble”?