appreciation contemporary music

third angle and tba – ‘brilliant achievement’

Kudos to Ron Blessinger and his indefatigable fellow performers at Third Angle for what must have been a great spectacle on Sunday at the various Lawrence Halprin parks near Keller Auditorium (also known as the South Auditorium District).

Here’s an excerpt of the first review:

In the 1960s, people called them happenings, when artists broke down spatial and genre boundaries while raising consciousnesses and inviting their audiences to participate in a new performance experience. They were animated by a spirit of collaboration, experimentation and creative optimism–and that spirit was revived Sunday afternoon in “The City Dance of Lawrence and Anna Halprin,” a major event and brilliant achievement that closed the sixth annual Time-Based Art Festival.

Co-curated by choreographer Linda K. Johnson, Third Angle artistic director Ron Blessinger and architecture critic Randy Gragg, it brought together the movement influence of postmodern pioneer Anna Halprin in spaces designed by her landscape architect husband Lawrence, with music by some of her partners in the 60s San Francisco avant-garde. Along with its audience of well over a thousand, the performance progressed in four episodes through Lawrence Halprin’s public spaces in Portland’s South Auditorium district.

Here’s the complete Oregonian review.

And see photos and Ron’s own commentary at the Third Angle Blog.

Oh, and also check out Third Angle’s newly overhauled website, with details on the rest of the 2008 – 2009 season.

UPDATE: and this from Barry Johnson’s artscatter blog.

appreciation bloggers contemporary music portland seattle summer festivals

speaking in forked tongues?

My OSO colleague Ron Blessinger is also the artistic director of the acclaimed new music ensemble Third Angle, and this September his group and the t:b:a festival (Festival of Time-based Art) are presenting a huge multimedia project devoted to the work of landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and his choreographer wife, Anna within some of his groundbreaking public spaces in downtown Portland, Oregon.

The project has had some incredible energy and collaboration poured into it (as well as a ton of money), and looks to be the major event of the t:b:a festival this year.

Well, the Seattle P-I’s arts critic, Regina Hackett, picked up on a press release and wrote the following in her blog on the P-I’s website:

One of the things I love about Portland, Oregon: You can be anything. If I lived there, my business card would say, “Regina Hackett. Speaker in tongues.”

The subject came up while reading a release from Portland’s “The City Dance of Lawrence and Anna Halprin” with “The Third Angle New Music Ensemble.” At the bottom of the list of choreographers, Randy Gragg gets a credit.

Randy Gragg? He’s an art and urban spaces critic, formerly of The Oregonian and now editor of a fancy lifestyle magazine. It’s way beneath his talents but not his pay grade. (Newspapers are floundering; lifestyle magazines are in the pink.)

Working there makes Gragg a sell-out. The term was an insult during the heyday of the counterculture but became a compliment during the Reagan administration. I’m sure I’d sell out if there were anyone to sell out to.

Is it just me, or is this completely snarky and unprofessional “journalism”?  Why so vitriolic and transparently jealous and spiteful?  I can’t believe that the online editor (if there even is one) allowed this to make it to the web unchallenged.  It’s no wonder that print journalism is going the way of the dinosaur, with such low standards.

If you compare such a screed to what the Oregonian’s David Stabler writes on a regular basis in his blog on classical music, you’d see no relation whatsoever.  David writes professionally at all times – it doesn’t matter that his words are appearing “only” on a computer screen and not on newsprint, he writes as if everyone in the state will be reading his words, not just some on-line cognoscenti looking to see who will be skewered next in some oh-so-clever way.

Well, Ron took out his electronic pen and wrote back – you can see the exchange here.

chamber music contemporary music portland

landscape and dance: the halprin collaboration

pettygrove park
Pettygrove Park

Tuesday morning Heather and I went to Pettygrove Park, and small urban oasis set in a 70’s urban renewal zone largely characterized by monolithic, concrete apartment blocks.  It is one of three plazas in the area designed by renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, along with the Keller Fountain (formerly the Forecourt Fountain) and the Lovejoy Fountain.  We went there, instruments in hand, to check out the acoustics of the site for a planned installation of music and dance for the 2008 PICA TBA Festival (Festival of Time-Based Art).