Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The gift of friendship

Family photo in Central Park. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018.  Sunny and cold in the low 40s, yesterday in New York with some forecasters predicting a snow shower.

Last night I went down to Carnegie Hall where Bruce Levingston was giving a concert in Zankel Hall. The box office at Carnegie Hall was teeming with fans picking up their tickets. There was more than one performance on the schedule. Zankel, while large, is more intimate than the main concert hall. Bruce is a friend and from the atmosphere as well as the applause when he took the stage, I could believe there were many friends of his in the room. Besides his artistry he has the gift of friendship as well.

The 90-minute program with a ten-minute intermission began with a sonata “From the Street” by Leos Janacek, the Czech composer who lived in the last half of the 19th and the first quarter of the 20th century. This particular sonata was composed in memory of an unarmed 20-year-old worker who was bayoneted to death during a peaceful demonstration in Byrno. Bruce explained this to us before he sat down at the Steinway to play, describing it as a “stirring memorial both to the tragic loss of life as well as to the composer’s own profound sense of humanity.”

This was followed by “Three Mazurkas” by Frederic Chopin. Again Maestro Levingston pointed out to the audience the political situation in Chopin’s world (Poland) to express is “profound sense of patriotism he felt when his homeland was overrun by invaders."

This was followed by a contemporary classical piece Bruce commissioned of composer David T. Little called “Accumulation of purpose” (six studies for solo piano). This piece was inspired by the Freedom Riders, civil rights activists who rode interstate buses across the American South in 1961 (the year of Bruce’s birth – in Mississippi), to protest racial segregation.

In the program, Bruce quoted the composer who wrote that the piece grew “out of the self-reflection that has occupied me in recent years concerning my privilege as a White male. At the core of this reflection was the question: how do I best engage in the social justice struggles of today within an institutionalized social structure that encourages me to easily and comfortably do nothing?"

This eleven minute piece was followed by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G-sharp minor, Op. 32, No. 12 and Etude-Tableau in D. Minor, Op. 39, No. 9.

Bruce completed his program after the brief intermission with C. Price Walden’s Sacred Spaces; Claude Debussy’s Poissons d’or; William Grant Still’s Summerland, and finally, Franz Liszt's “Vallee d’Obermann.”
The moment before Bruce sat down at the Steinway to play.
The evening ended with thunderous applause and a standing ovation for Bruce who is one of the leading figures in contemporary classical music. He regularly performs in many of the world’s most important venues including Lincoln Center, the Boston Opera House, the Royal Opera House of London and concert halls throughout Europe and South America.

His gift of friendship lends itself to these concerts; one feels one is participating (as audience) in a private concert among his many friends so that every note that is struck on the brilliant Steinway, is a personal gift of the pianist. Last night was no exception.
Bruce Levingston last night at Carnegie Hall.
Last night (and Sunday) at the Guggenheim, “Works & Process,” the performing arts series presented "Breaking Bread with Balanchine."

George Balanchine and the table of food he prepared for Easter supper. Photo: Martha Swope.
George Balanchine, the legendary choreographer, was also a great cook. Food scholar Meryl Rosofsky presented a "culinary biography" of the man, exploring how his relationship to food illuminates the cultural, geographic, and political forces that shaped him as an artist.

Joining her for a panel discussion following her slide talk were special guests who danced or dined with Balanchine, including famed former New York City Ballet (NYCB) principal dancer Edward Villella; Dr. Jeanne Fuchs, who tested Balanchine's recipes for The Ballet Cook Book by Tanaquil Le Clercq; and NYCB's longtime orthopedic consultant Dr. William Hamilton, who attended Balanchine's famous Russian Orthodox Easter celebrations.

Each told wonderful and intimate stories about their "artistic father."

Throughout the evening, NYBC dancers Zachary Catarazo, Daniel Ulbricht and Miriam Miller, and Ashley Laracey and Jared Angle, performed short excerpts from Balanchine's ballets Apollo, Prodigal Son, and the Emeralds section of Jewels.
Meryl Rosofsky presenting a "culinary biography" of George Balanchine.
Before the program on Sunday, and before and after the program last night, The Wright restaurant at the Guggenheim offered a special Balanchine-inspired menu, including kulich and paskha, which Balanchine made each year for his Russian Orthodox Easter feasts. (The program is timed to coincide with Russian Orthodox Easter.)

The menu, curated by Meryl Rosofsky, in collaboration with Chef Alejandro Cortez, also included blini and caviar; Grand Aioli Provençal, which Balanchine learned to make in his days with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in the South of France; and kotletki, bite-sized Russian meatballs Balanchine used to prepare with his late-life muse and close friend, ballerina Karin von Aroldingen, with whom he often cooked.
Meryl Rosofsky, Dr. William Hamilton, Dr. Jeanne Fuchs, Edward Villella, Miriam Miller, Ashley Laracey, Jared Angle, Nancy McDill, Daniel Ulbricht, and Zachary Catarazo taking their bows last night at "Breaking Bread with Balanchine," presented by Works & Process at the Guggenheim.
Last Monday, a week, Geraldo Rivera, celebrated his new book The Geraldo Show: A Memoir (published by BenBella Books) with a book party hosted by Sean Hannity & Friends at Del Frisco’s Restaurant. 

Geraldo Rivera with his new book The Geraldo Show: A Memoir. Click to order.
Among those attending besides the author and his wife Erica Rivera, and his friend and host Sean Hannity, were comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Fox and Friends hosts Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade, Fox-5’s Rosanna Scotto, rock promoter Ron Delsener, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News anchors Bill HemmerKimberly Guilfoyle, and Kennedy, comedian Joe Piscopo, General John F. CampbellLiz ClamanTiki BarberBo DietlCurtis SilwaTamsen Fadal, Al n Dershowitz, John Demsey, style maven Alina Cho, attorneys Gerald Lefcourt and Dan AbramsAndrew Stein, and John and Margo Catsimatidis.

On TV, Hannity and Rivera are sparring partners. Off camera, the two men spoke graciously of one-another’s qualities both professionally as well as off-screen.  In his introduction, Hannity described Geraldo as “the older brother I never had” as well as “a true patriot who took a tremendous pay cut and left his big desk job at CNBC after 9/11 to go to Afghanistan as a war correspondent for Fox News. He did it because he lost friends and neighbors that day.”

In responding Geraldo noted that, “As the Fox News experience has taught me, you don’t have to agree on every issue to really care for the other person. You can’t just be friends with people who are in lock step with you philosophically or politically. We disagree on a lot of issues, but Sean is my dear friend, one of my best friends on earth. I honor the fact that he trusts me to be on his number one rated program on a weekly basis.”
Arthur Aidala, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Joe Piscopo
Bill Hemmer Brian Kilmeade
Dan Abrams, Erica Rivera, Geraldo Rivera, and Ainsley Earhardt
Sean Hannity Tamsen Fadal
Erica Rivera, Geraldo Rivera, and Sean Hannity
Rosanna Scotto Kimberly Guilfoyle
General John F. Campbell, Geraldo Rivera, and Craig Rivera
Ron Delsener, Geraldo Rivera, and Gilbert Gottfried

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