Friday, November 20, 2020


Tonight we were gifted with a fine and varied concert by television from TPT Channel 2. The concert occurred, as usual, on channel 243. Yes, I know, it’s a different channel in different parts of Minnesota. The music was broadcast, as usual, on MPR.

The program began with a fine String Quartet by Jamaican composer, Eleanore Alberga, a lovely piece featuring plucked strings, atonal passages, and strong dramatic passages. Sara Hicks was host of the program and provided her usual succinct commentary and interviews.

The second piece featured the new principal harpist, Margarite Williams on her impressive double action pedal harp. Ravel’s Quartet performed this evening with the harpist and six fine players in a semi-circle around her. Themes ranged from up tempo to moody, dark, and light. Overall it evoked in this viewer the memory of an early morning along the wooded shore of the Adriatic. There was a little too much camera work to try to isolate the fingering, but that was minor.

An enlarged stage allowed for the presentation of the full orchestra, clad in black masks and dress, with adequate separation, conducted by William Eddins. They offered a full-bore presentation of Beethoven’s First symphony, familiar, well-driven and a fine closing to a lovely evening.

As a bonus, viewers learned that scientists at the University of Minnesota are working with members of the orchestra to t race and record aerosols from the various instruments in order to advise the orchestra about distancing and air exchanges. All in all an excellent program.



Monday, November 16, 2020



By Franz Kafka.

The 1962 film is a brilliant adaptation of Kafka’s existentialist novel by Orson Wells. Kafka grew up in the Germany and Bohemia of the first decades of the Twentieth Century. Kafka was, at various times a self-declared anarchist, socialist, Zionist and atheist. His literature and his actual existence have become an integral part of Western literature and, to some extent, our life.

The story of this film I recently viewed is a monochrome rendition of the final months of life of a mid-range bank executive. Remember that the films period predates computers so bank records were typed by clerks in a large room. The scene is impressive.

Anthony Perkins plays Josef K, accused of an unspecified crime and follows his increasingly desperate attempts to learn what he is accused of, how he will be tried, who will be his advocate and what is the goal of all the people who seem to have some fingers in the pie, strangers who appear and disappear, almost as if in a  dream.

The dark film in incredibly visually complex sets can be seen as an indictment of the judicial system, a slap at society in general and a criticism of socially disconnected individuals. It follows Josef through more and more difficult attempts to learn the crime he’s accused of and who his legal advocate is to be. Josef is a strong, character, articulate, mostly even tempered but ultimately succumbs to the alarming complex and uncaring society which he cannot leave.

THE TRIAL has interesting views of a growing industrial society and may offer some viewers an alarming insight into our modern society.


Friday, November 13, 2020


So, there we were, side by side in our comfortable recliners. The television screen across the room displayed a legend suggesting that members of the Minnesota Orchestra were available. So I tuned up our high fidelity speakers and we tuned in another Friday night concert. Not the full orchestra and we were indeed at home, with wine and companionship. But in this time of pandemic and political danger, it was pleasant to do what we often did, attend Orchestra Hall for a classical concert.

Tonight, members of the Minnesota Orchestra entertained first, with a fine subtle piece by Sibelius. Sara Hicks is the host of this television series and without the program, my notes are insufficient but the piece was fine, even on an almost barren stage at Minneapolis fine Orchestra Hall. The lighting was…interesting.

Next up, after a brief interview with one of the artists, a percussion trio written by a Serbian composer. Having no written program is a definite detriment to one who would comment in some detail on the program.

Still, the performance was rich in nuance and complexities, of both rhythm and sound. The drummers effectively employed a variety of drums, sticks and metal gongs, along with subtle and rich rhythmic changes. A trio of black-clad, black-masked musicians against a plain wooden stage, only enhanced the presentation.

Next an interesting, nuanced piece by composer Louis Ballard called Ritmo Indio. A visually stunning, richly nuanced piece that evoked a wide range of emotional response.

The evening ended with Mendelsohn’s Octet for Strings, a varied, nuanced piece from a youth prodigy. The members of the orchestra performed brilliantly, the staging, minimalist with sometimes bizarre lighting and camera work, was excellent and it was just lovely to enjoy the supreme talents of members of our orchestra in excellent performances of a varied and stimulating program.