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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Apparition hat trick


Anyone who spends as much time looking at Facebook status updates as I do may already know that I concluded my recent trip to New York by partying just a wee bit too hard Monday night, missing my flight Tuesday morning, leaving my cell phone behind in the East Village, spending the next eight hours paying fines, sleeping, eating and crying a little in JFK Terminal 4 (I really know how to party).

Today, a trio of consolation prizes. The first I found randomly on YouTube - a slickly produced two and a half minute documentary about the Apparition of the Eternal Church screening that took place in Trondheim, Norway (at the notorious Church of Our Lady) in September of last year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe2rYg2blQo

Thanks to the collective brain otherwise known as Facebook, particularly the node of it belonging to Diana Anders, I have this translation of filmgoer commentary (tentative where followed by the question mark):
"It was not provocative, no, but it was fascinating - there were some odd people in that!"
"Surely each of us here had a different experience of the piece - there are so many ways to interpret this."
"Some people might find it blasphemous (?), but I liked it."
"It was very high quality."
- that last comment certainly a reference to Squeaky Blonde's famous bong hit.

Then, today, this showed up in Unquiet Thoughts, Alex Ross's new New Yorker blog:
Two other Messiaen films worth seeing: the DVD of Pierre Audi’s Netherlands Opera production of “St. Francis of Assisi,” with a magnificent lead performance by Rod Gilfry; and Paul Festa’s mind-bending documentary “Apparition of the Eternal Church.”
If my Juilliard education taught me nothing else, it taught me that a mind is a terrible thing not to bend (thank you Albert Fuller).

I started this blog entry as "Apparition double whammy," but then, searching on YouTube for the Trondheim link, I found two videos of three young people videotaping themselves listening to
Apparition of the Eternal Church (the organ piece) through headphones. Say what you will about the results (I rated them "awesome"), but as far as I'm concerned this was one of the most gratifying manifestations of the whole Messiaen project to date.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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