Best Bets: A requiem, a quest and classical guitar

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2002

Bob Dylan wrote about knockin' on heaven's door, but Gabriel Faure wrote about getting in.

Faure's Requiem is one of the highlights of this weekend's arts and entertainment offerings. The arts are picking up and this weekend three concerts, a barn dance, a live-action role-playing game and a studio art show mark the kind of opportunities available throughout the fall.

Juneau musician Bruce Simonson organized more than 40 musicians and singers for the Faure concert, which will be performed twice this weekend. In addition to the Faure Requiem, musicians will present one of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and one of his solo cello suites. A short work by Mendelssohn will be included.

In the Catholic Church, a requiem mass is said for the recently departed, and on anniversaries of their death. Many composers have set the requiem mass to music, for soloists, orchestras and chorus.

Simonson said a good friend had this opinion of musical requiems: "In the Mozart Requiem, you can see the gates of heaven; in the Verdi Requiem, you pound the gates of heaven; in the Berlioz Requiem, you beat the gates of heaven down; but in the Faure Requiem, you are in heaven."

"Some requiems feel gloomy and dark and this one doesn't," said pianist Laurie Clough, who will play organ and harpsichord for the concert. "To me it's inspirational, transformative and positive. Not dark at all. Not upbeat, but uplifting."

A variety of performers will be highlighted in the four different pieces, including vocalists Bill Garry and Wendy Brynes, cellists David Austin and Jane Albrecht, and violists Andrew Schirmer and Julia Bastuscheck. The performances will be at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The concert is a labor of love for Simonson. There is no admission charge but donations will be accepted. Simonson said in part he simply wanted to bring this wonderful music to an audience, but in part he wanted to offer an enriching, inspiring experience around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The singers and orchestra are enjoying putting it together," Simonson said. "It's not a flamboyant concert. It's more introspective, and these are things I find helpful a year after."

The community and do-it-yourself spirit that Simonson and his fellow musicians have shown seems to be in the air. Bill Thompson and a group of volunteers have put together a team-oriented role-playing game Saturday afternoon at Sandy Beach that Thompson called "a short walk with entertainment." Participation is free and open to the public.

Unlike Simonson's venture, this is flamboyant. The folks staging the game will certainly have as much fun as those playing. Thompson has enlisted armored creative anachronists in full battle regalia, Daughters of the New Moon in goddess finery and actors in face paint and costumes. See the story on Page 7 for more information about the game, or contact Thompson at 780-4160 or Sheila Griffin at 789-4781.

Sunday night classical guitarist Paul Galbraith will perform a solo concert at Chapel by the Lake. He played here in January with the excellent Brazilian Guitar Quartet, and this promises to be even better in some ways.

Because classical guitarists typically play unamplified, it was a little tough to hear the quartet last winter at the high school auditorium. Chapel by the Lake is a better venue to showcase the talents of a solo acoustic guitarist. Galbraith plays a unique instrument, a custom-designed, eight-string guitar with a special acoustic resonance box. It's an intriguing setup and this concert is the perfect chance to hear this unusual guitar in the hands of a virtuoso player.

The first barn dance of the fall season kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night. For newcomers to town, or newcomers to the dance scene, this is a prime introduction to the contra dance scene. Beginners are welcome, you don't need to bring a dance partner and the first half hour is devoted to a quick lesson. As always, the music is live.

Valerie DeLaune will be the caller and Henry Hopkins and Friends will play tunes. Check the events calendar for full details.

Juneau artist Rick Clair is hosting an art show and open house this weekend in his new studio on the corner of Third and North Franklin Streets. I enjoy Clair's colorful, imaginative paintings and he'll be showcasing new original works and new prints.

The Gold Town Nickelodeon is featuring a suspenseful, inventive, Euro-gangster flick, "Sur Mes Léveres," ("Read My Lips"). It centers around a winning alliance between two underdogs, an ex-con and a put-upon secretary who is hearing-impaired and lip reads. He figures out a way to put her talent to use in a caper. Reviews have been very good, calling it an impressive psychological drama in the guise of a romantic thriller, with generous references to Hitchcock and film noir thrown in. The film was awarded three Cesars, the French "Oscar," including best actress.

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