Saturday, February 21, 2009

Volume 11. The Voice

I wonder how many of you out there are aware that this girl can swing! Like Jazz swing! Many years ago I heard of this rather rare and unusual recording of Bjork performing jazz. Then around 10 years ago when I was in Amsterdam I hunted it down. It has been a treasured part of my collection ever since. I remember bopping down Istanbul's İstiklal caddesi one beautiful spring day with this on my iPod. What a wonderful marriage of scene + sound! Bjork sings standards here mostly in Icelandic. A couple in English. She's accompanied by trio Gudmundar Ingolfsson. There are works by Hammerstein & Kern, Leiber & Stoller, Rogers & Hammerstein that you will recognize. It's really all a lot of fun that you shouldn't miss.

Another couple of events that should not be missed...

Washington D.C. often has many great things going on in the Arts. With all the museums, concert halls, galleries etc... one can always find something interesting to do. As you may recall I have attended and recommended concerts by some of our Estonian friends (ie Tonu Kaljuste leading The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir). Here is a notice I recently received from the US Friends of Estonian Culture:

Dear Friends of Estonian Cinéma,

For the first time ever, the Embassy partner organizations (World Artists Experiences and the International Division of Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State) from the state of Maryland giving you a unique opportunity to discover the unseen documentary Headwind Hall about the charismatic conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. Producer and co-writer of Headwind Hall, Artur Talvik, offers a light-hearted summary of the film. Headwind Hall is a documentary film about the conductor Tõnu Kaljuste and his crazy idea of building an opera house on the estate of the past inventor Schmidt in Naissaar; an island which even today has no regular ferry line, no electricity and only one permanent resident.

In order to carry his idea through, Kaljuste must face situations bordering on the absurd, involving potential investors, snobby bureaucrats, construction workers, and the general public. He transports construction materials and other necessities to the island with his own small boat. The press and the representatives of different institutions cannot refrain from gloating - what is he trying to prove? The idea is almost as crazy as inventor Schmidt's erstwhile headwind ship that used the energy of headwind in order to move ahead with double power. However, in the summer of 2006, the Nargen Opera is completed and the first performances are carried through. This amusing and dynamic film follows the activities of Tõnu Kaljuste during a period of five years. The building of an opera house may not strike most people as a subject for a very dramatic film. Notwithstanding, sometimes the most extreme circumstances can be the setting for the most compelling stories.

The charismatic conductor Tõnu Kaljuste resigned his position as music director and chief conductor of the world renowned Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in late 1999 and set out on a quixotic quest to build an opera/concert hall on the island of Naissaar, located about 12 miles north of Tallinn (the Estonian capital). Naissaar, also known as the Island of Nargen, was once the family home of world renowned telescope and optical lens inventor Bernhard Schmidt (1879-1935) among whose other theoretical inventions was a wind-powered sail/propeller boat which used the force of the wind to sail directly into the wind itself. The idea of this "against the headwind ship" becomes the metaphor for Kaljuste's dream to realize the construction of his opera/concert hall despite all the forces of bureaucracy, financing, and common sense working against him. Naissaar Island had no electrical supply, a barely functioning harbor, and only one or two permanent residents at the time this story begins. How Kaljuste overcame nearly endless adversity and ultimately achieved his goal is shown in this exhilarating film.

Headwind Hall ends with the pop hit Minu inimesed [My People] by the Estonian rap/dance-club performer Chalice (the stagename of singer Jarek Kasar) and provides a musical benediction to Kaljuste's efforts. At the same time, composer Arvo Pärt declares on-screen that "the Estonian people can't begin to appreciate the trouble that Tõnu has gone through". Thanks to director Priit Valkna's triumphant film, audiences get the chance to see it and appreciate it for themselves. Headwind Hall was given standing ovations at the 2007 Nordic Film Days in Lübeck. The film runs 60 minutes. Success in Maryland helps the film rollout to the rest of the country!

Production: Ruut,Faehlmanni 10,10125 Tallinn, EstoniaTel: +372 697 7079Fax: +372 697 7077E-mail: film@ruut.comContacts of film producers:
director Priit Valkna
skype - priit.valknacell: 372 5091966email

International Film Series to Debut Statewide World Artists Experiences and the International Division of Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State, in conjunction with Frostburg University, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Salisbury University, and Towson University, invite the public to attend free screenings of documentary Headwind Hall from Estonia. The Bridges to the World International Film Series is a statewide, month-long initiative in recognition of the State’s global reach and a reflection of those connections in Maryland. The series will run from February 16 through March 13 at four venues throughout the state and feature films chosen by the embassies of the respective countries. Each film will be introduced, screened, and followed by a discussion. Presentations begin at 7:00 p.m. The schedule is as follows:

Towson University, Van Bokkelen Hall Auditorium Friday, February 27 – Headwind Hall (Vastutuulesaal )

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis
Wednesday, March 4 – Headwind Hall (Vastutuulesaal ) (Estonia)

Frostburg University, Lane University Center
Tuesday, March 10 – Headwind Hall (Vastutuulesaal ) (Room 201)

Tickets are not required for these free screenings; however seating is on a first-come basis.

Contact: Betty McGinnis, WAE president, 410-647-4482;
Mary E. Nitsch, Director, International Affairs, Maryland’s Office of the
Secretary of State, 410-260-3865;

I think this film should prove to be fascinating!

And as we consider treasure from Iceland, and from Estonia...

How about some that is local?!

Maris Wicker has a keen eye (programming Bernstein, Weill, Arlen etc...), and a lovely voice. When she performs, you should be lucky enough to be there! Here is notice of a wonderful program she's put together for you. Don't miss it!

Dear Friends,

I hope you can join Lonny Smith, Mary Sugar and me when we present "Lenny, Kurt & Harold" in the Indigo Room of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Even if these names aren't all familiar to you, we're sure that much of the music will be. "Lenny" was Leonard Bernstein, the true Renaissance man of 20th century American music, who wrote, among many other works, the music for "West Side Story." "Kurt" was Kurt Weill, who wrote the cutting-edge music for "The Threepenny Opera" in his native Germany before coming to the U.S. where he had a string of Broadway hits. And "Harold" was dear Harold Arlen, whose voluminous works include the music for the movie "The Wizard of Oz." We love their music and we're sure you will, too.

"Lenny, Kurt & Harold" will be the featured performance in an exciting "Voix de Ville" variety show evening. When ordering tickets by phone (202-399-7993), please be sure to specify the Indigo Room "Voix de Ville" show on Fejbruary 28. If ordering online, ( click on "tickets", then "Indigo Room", then "February 28".Hope to see you on the 28th! If ordering online, ( click on "tickets", then "Indigo Room", then "February 28".

Be there or be square.

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