Monday, September 24, 2012

One foot in the past and one in the future

With intense nostalgia I read your blogpost. Dear Ravi. I attach one of my paintings of him in his prime. I was attempting to capture an elusive shimmering masterpiece. In this East meets West period, Yehudi was attempting something similar. He was there spiritually and of course technically he could do anything, but it was hopeless - somewhere too far down in his ancestral line. "I feel like a little dog" he once told me, "Ravi does something and I just follow him". He acquired this oil, one of several versions and many sketches I made of them during rehearsals at the Gstaad/Saanen Mehuhin Festival. One day they forgot a carpet, so I was dispatched up the hill to Yehudi's chalet to bundle the carpet (in my painting) into my Volkswagen so they could sit down. It was so heavy, I felt it was interwoven with layers and of complex rhythms. Sigh! Golden years.... Your piece makes me want to dig back into those musical treasures and bathe in them again. The strictly Protestant church governors of the Saanen were used to concerts with "straight Bach and sides" (Sorry :). It stretched their patience to make the audience sit and wait so long, during all this tuning of sitars or trying things out, or whatever these incense-burning guys were doing, But after 3/4 of an hour or so most were dosing off or in trance, without realizing that the "guys" were already playing part of their programme. "Hey, when did they start?!" Good question.
Classical music can learn a lot from how kinetic artist Norman Perryman has one foot in the past and one in the future. His account of Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin’s Indian summer arrived by email the same day that he posted on his own blog an account of performing Debussy, Scriabin, Murail and Benjamin with Pierre-Laurent Aimard and VJ Niek Das in Amsterdam. Writing of his appearance at “the coolest club in town” Norman reports how "I’ve never seen hundreds of young people so happy after listening/watching, entranced with classical music. Don’t tell me there isn’t a future audience for the classics – and we’re talking about modern classics too!" The golden years of the incense-burning guys may be in the past. But has classical music finally found its future contact high in kinetic performances?

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