Tuesday, 07 February 2023

Arts & Life

Dr. Camm Linden. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Community and Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Camm Linden, will perform at the beginning of Lake County Symphony’s Fall concert this Sunday, as was traditional for the youth orchestra in the past.

The musicians will play several lively and well-known pieces, all arranged by Richard Meyer and all guaranteed to get toes tapping.

The Lake County Community and Youth Orchestra starts its performance with “Can-Can” by Jacques Offenbach, from the 1858 comic opera “Orpheus in the Underworld.”

Originally known as the “Infernal Gallop” it gained popularity when both the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere in Paris selected it as the music for their famous Can-Can dance.

The second piece is “Habanera” from Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” in which Carmen sings about “love being a rebellious bird that cannot be tamed.” It is perhaps the most famous aria from the 1875 opera.

The melody is based on the song “El Arreglito,” written by Spanish musician Sebastian Yradier.

Bizet thought he was borrowing from an old folk song, but upon learning the tune had been written just 10 years prior, he immediately acknowledged Yradier as the source in his manuscripts.

The last selection is “Radetzky’s March” by Johann Strauss, Sr. in honor of a heroic Austrian field marshal named Joseph Radetzky von Ratetz. It was first performed in 1848 by an Austrian Army band for a group of Austrian officers.

Apparently, it was an instant hit. The officers were so taken by the joyful and festive mood of the music they began clapping and stomping their feet to the rhythm.

It is an audience tradition that continues to this day.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

The title of the poem, “The Love Ridge Loop,” is, no doubt, something of a joke, an exaggeration built on irony. After all, the poem is an ironic love poem, and, at the same time, an anti-dog poem.

But it allows for something else, a poem about the unreliability of affection, of how, in love, we dare not admit to the animal danger in those we love or, at least, own in love.

Abbie Kiefer’s poem resonates nicely for those of us who view with deep skepticism the expressed assurances of our safety by pet-owners, while we walk among unleashed dogs in our neighborhoods.

The Love Ridge Loop
By Abbie Kiefer

In disregard of the signs,
no one bothers
with leashes,
dogs barreling unbounded
over every grooved path.
He’s friendly they yell,
50 yards back. Don’t worry,
he’s darling, a cuddlepie
of a pup. I’m never
not wary. Show me any person
who could call their dearest
unworthy. Who would warn me
Walk wide. He’s teeth and more
teeth. This creature I love
beyond my control.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2021 by Abbie Kiefer, “The Love Ridge Loop” from Nashville Review, August 1, 2021. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Andre Williams. Courtesy photo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Middletown Art Center presents the fourth and final “Sounds of Liberation” conversation, this time with singer, songwriter Andre Williams on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at Andre’s Lounge in Lakeport and on Zoom.

Williams, R&B vocalist, songwriter, producer and local entrepreneur, will be hosted by Clovice Lewis, composer, musician, educator and social justice advocate from Upper Lake in a conversation about race and music.

The evening includes an intimate performance by Williams and Lewis and an opportunity for audience questions.

Doors open at 5:15 p.m.

“This will be a ‘no-holds-barred’ conversation about how Andre's art has been molded by race, systemic racism, and social justice, and these forces in American culture. Please attend. It is important,” said Lewis.

A pure vocalist, Williams’ smooth, warm tenor sounds blend R&B and Jazz. In 1991 he joined MC Hammer’s World Tour, “Too Legit to Quit” as lead vocalist and continues to perform with Hammer to this day. Their performance credits together include The Arsenio Hall Show, the American Music Awards, Soul Train Music Awards and the video, “Bring Our Brother’s Home”. Williams has written or produced songs for musical artists including Dorothy Moore, The Pointer Sisters and The Whispers. “They Don’t Know” is his latest solo album.

A music and food entrepreneur, Williams has been in business and radio in Lake County since 1995 starting in the Clearlake area. He established Drinx Bar & Grill in Lakeport in 2015 to provide a performance venue for local or guest musicians and opened Andre’s Lounge, a jazz and piano bar, this past summer.

Sounds of Liberation is a collaboration between Clovice Lewis and the MAC that honors the Black experience as told through musical genres that have contributed to and influenced contemporary North American music and culture and the personal experiences of Black musicians living in Lake County.

The project launched on June 19, 2021, with a conversation between Lewis and arts and social justice advocate Sabrina Klein. Their conversation was followed by the inauguration of MAC’s annual Juneteenth Celebration.

The partnership between Lewis and the MAC was forged during A Community Call to Action: A Loving Response to Systemic Racism in America meeting.

The local action group, also known as CCA, was formed in response to the widely publicized and horrific deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

“This series of interviews and performances are based on my research on the role of African music as the music of liberation,” explained Lewis. “My central thesis is that most African American music is, in some manner, a reflection of the harm of systemic racism and oppression.”

The primary goal of the Sounds of Liberation project is to create environments that support public exploration of challenging questions about systemic racism in America through music. Linkages between Big Band, R & B and rap will be explored during this Sounds of Liberation event.

Join Clovice Lewis and Andre Williams in-person at Andre’s Lounge in Lakeport, or on Zoom. Seating at Andre’s Lounge is limited and Zoom pre-registration is required.

Tickets are available by donation, no one turned away for lack of funds at www.middletownartcenter.org/sounds-of-liberation.

Community members of all ages are welcome and invited to join. Andre’s Lounge is located at 150 N. Main St. in Lakeport.

Sounds of Liberation is made possible with community support and with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more at www.calhum.org.

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday to Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment by phoning 707-809-8118.

The current show on view is “Belonging.”

Learn more about the MAC and ways that you can support their work weaving the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Symphony performs music by Wolfgang Mozart, among others, in the 2022 “Amadeus in Autumn” Fall Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Lakeport’s Soper Reese Theatre.

Other featured composers in this concert are Camille Saint-Saens, Jean Sibelius, Christoph Gluck and Felix Mendelssohn.

The concert begins with a performance by the newly combined Community and Youth Orchestra playing several energetic and recognizable pieces that are guaranteed to create some noise from the audience.

After things quiet down, Conductor John Parkinson starts off the main concert with “March Militaire Francaise” from the Algerian Suite, Op. 60 by Saint-Saens. (1835-1921).

A French composer, pianist, organist, and conductor of the Romantic period, Saint-Saens was a child prodigy who was giving concerts by age 10. Saint-Saens composed more than 300 works that included operas, symphonies, oratorios, cantatas, and piano concertos. He also witnessed the beginnings of 20th-century music and was the first musician to compose for the cinema.

Saint-Saens visited Algeria for the first time in 1875 and developed a life-long love of the country. He wrote his “Suite Algerienne” in 1880. This work was written in four movements; the last movement became very popular on its own, and is the movement featured in this concert.

“Finlandia,” by Sibelius (1865-1957) comes next in the concert lineup.

Sibelius was a Finnish composer who is widely regarded as his country’s greatest composer. His rousing and turbulent piece is often credited with having helped Finland develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.

“Finlandia” premiered in July 1900 in Helsinki and had to be performed under alternate names at various musical concerts to avoid Russian censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous and often confusing.

Next is “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” by Gluck (1714-1787) which is from the second scene of Gluck’s opera, “Orfeus and Euridice,” the most popular of his works. Patricia Jekel, principal flute player for the Lake County Symphony, is the soloist. This piece has been called “pastoral” and “tranquil,” which some find surprising in an opera about Orpheus’ journey to Hades, the realm of the dead, in search of his departed wife.

The first half of the concert ends with “The Hebrides Overture” by Mendelssohn, (1809-1847). Although called an overture, the work is conceived in Romantic-era fashion as a stand-alone piece. Mendelssohn was the offspring of a wealthy German family and was considered a prodigy on the same level as Mozart. He wrote this piece after experiencing a strong emotional reaction while visiting the Scottish islands at age 20, during his “grand tour” of Europe.

In a letter to his sister, he shared the first few measures of the piece with her. He wrote, “In order to make you understand how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there.”

Following intermission, the Symphony performs two pieces by Mozart, (1756-1791) one of the most prolific and influential composers of the late Baroque-early Classical period. Kelsey Wiley, principal horn player (first chair) of the Lake County Symphony, is the featured soloist in Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-Flat major.

The final piece in the concert is Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 “Haffner.” He created this piece in response to a request from his father for a new symphony to honor Sigmund Haffner, a family friend who was being elevated to nobility. But he felt rushed (his life was hectic at the time) and thought the piece wasn’t up to his usual standards.

So, when Mozart reviewed the score a while later, he was amazed at its quality. He decided to convert it into a symphony. First performed in Vienna in 1783, it was well received and financially successful.

Tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are $25 for general seating and $30 for premium and are available for purchase on the Soper Reese website.

LCSA members receive a $5 discount. Please arrive 30 minutes early when buying tickets at the door for the regular 2 p.m. concert.

The 11 a.m. dress rehearsal performance costs $5 for adults and is free for those for those under 18. Please arrive extra early to ensure a seat.


There’s something oddly humorous about a dysfunctional family engaged in the practice of family law.

That’s exactly what happens when attorney Abigail Bianchi (Jewel Staite) ends up unwillingly having to work at her father’s firm on a probationary basis.

The new “Family Law” series on the CW network opens with Abigail dozing in her car outside a bar after a night of heavy drinking. It’s morning and she wakes up with only minutes to make it to court before her case gets dismissed.

Stumbling into the courtroom where a group of students are filming on their phones, Abigail can barely steady herself before vomiting right into the lap of her startled client. Of course, the student videos go viral and Abigail proves to be toxic.

Apparently not a novice boozer, Abigail is suspended from practicing law and can only redeem her career through a mentorship with a seasoned lawyer. The only person willing to take the assignment is her estranged father Harry Svensson (Victor Garber).

An old-school lawyer, Svensson runs a top family law firm, which also employs Abigail’s half-siblings Daniel (Zach Smadu) and Lucy (Genelle Williams), the firm’s psychologist. That Abigail had never met her half-siblings before adds to tension at the office.

Harry walked out on Abigail’s mom Joanne (Lauren Holly) when their daughter was only seven, and fathered two more children that Joanne refers to as the “rainbow-colored siblings.”

As the oldest of the three Svensson offspring, Abigail is rather condescending to Daniel and Lucy, belittling their accomplishments and status as a coping mechanism for her low standing in the office.

Eager to jump into a case, Abigail is almost certain to run afoul of her father’s condition that she stick to menial office tasks and not make waves or interject herself into litigation.

Before the first episode lays bare all the family dysfunctions, Abigail plunges into the case of a teenager desperate to find her biological father who was a sperm donor found on Craigslist.

The unaware father turns out to be a successful developer who ends up being sued for 13 years of child support, and during the trial Abigail veers off into a tangential diatribe against her own “lousy parent, an emotionally stunted and unavailable human being.”

Abigail has other issues to deal with, namely that her husband Frank (Luke Camilleri) tossed her out of the house, and her teenage daughter Sofia (Eden Summer Gilmore) remains aloof while younger son Nico (Brenden Sunderland) is more forgiving.

Since “Family Law” is a pickup of a Canadian series that’s been announced for a third season, we’ll see if it has staying power with an American audience.


The CBS network has an affinity for procedurals, and “So Help Me Todd” might fit into that category if it could figure out whether it is a detective drama or a comedy about a dysfunctional family relationship.

Show creator and executive producer Scott Prendergast informed critics during the summer press tour that the show is based on his own true story about his mother’s husband disappearing and how he helped find him.

That personal inspiration is the foundation for the first episode in which Marcia Gay Harden’s Margaret Wright, a lawyer in a Portland firm, enlists the help of her wayward son Todd (Skylar Astin) to track down her missing spouse (Mark Moses).

Todd is first seen in a supermarket stalking a single mom suspected of insurance fraud on a phony disability claim. He’s relegated to this grind after losing his private investigator license for illegal surveillance work.

Even worse, he’s living in his sister’s (Madeline Wise) garage, and his mother Margaret thinks it’s time that her errant son needs to get his professional life back on track.

There may be doubts about Todd doing investigative work for a law firm, but he soon proves his worth in unorthodox ways beyond locating a vanishing spouse.

At the firm, Todd is reconnected with old flame Susan (Inga Schlingmann), now engaged with a huge rock on her finger. He’s also sparring with overbearing researcher Lyle (Tristen J. Winger) who is more uptight than Tony Randall ever was as Felix Unger in “The Odd Couple.”

According to Scott Prendergast, his main inspiration was the quirky private detective agency in “Moonlighting,” and he counts his new series as a throwback to classic procedurals like “Hart to Hart” and “Remington Steele.”

Like others in the genre, “So Help Me Todd” has a new case every week, with plenty of red herrings and twists, and the end of each episode brings a big resolution, and Todd will be goofy at times and skate close to the edge.

Above all else, “So Help Me Todd” is a show with a light touch wrapped into a series of mysteries that work best because Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin are a great team thoroughly invested in the humor and frustration of the generational divide.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Perhaps we are too close to the monumental moment in history to fully appreciate just how to approach it in poetry, but the poets are writing about this pandemic in the way that poets must — to find language to chart the sentiment of the time.

“April Moon,” by Cathy Song, fixates on the need for genuine tenderness between those who are surviving — an act of choice and control, in the midst of the uncontrollable swirl of loss orbiting about us.

“Grace willing,” she writes, “we will remember.”

This seems like a fitting epitaph for a poet in these times.

April Moon
By Cathy Song

The moon tonight is closer to us
than it will be
for the rest of the year,
grace willing, the year
we will remember as the Great Pandemic.
Pulling us closer into its orbit,
shining the light of its fullness into the room,
we turn to hold in our hands
each other’s face as if
for the first time,
and the last—
Pink Moon, Egg Moon, Moon of New Grass.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2022 by Cathy Song, “April Moon” from The Academy of American Poets, Poem-A-Day, January 3, 2022. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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