Art Garfunkel, Bridging the Waters

Some very dear friends kindly took us to Art Garfunkel’s recent concert at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, WA. It was a delightful, very rewarding evening. His was the clear tenor voice that made possible the wonderful Simon and Garfunkel music that those of us of a certain age associate with our high school and college years. But this was not simply a series of old songs re-sung; this performance included newer songs with old favorites, interwoven with the artist’s delightful commentary on life, often in poetic form. (He protested applying that high-sounding term, poetry, to his writings, but since the English Department includes free verse under its definition of poetry, we will too.)

There is a spirit of mature melancholy in Garfunkel’s music and musings. Not the adolescent angst we knew so long ago, but the reflective thoughts and feelings of one who has experienced life, known great success and great loss and success returned again. “Artie” lost his voice in 2009 and labored diligently to regain it. He succeeded well. The result is not only a beautiful voice, but the sense of a great artist who is also humble, a rare and wonderful thing in our age of self-promoting demagoguery.

The greater losses, though, were of loved ones lost in death’s dateless night. Here Garfunkel revealed his love of family and friends: his beloved wife and children, also his intermittent relationship with childhood friend and youthful collaborator, Paul Simon. He also revealed his faith in God and devotion to the more important things of life. As a boy he served as a cantor, and included in the concert a too-brief excerpt of Hebrew a cappella. Even without the touch of echo added by the sound engineer, it was heavenly, an angel’s song.

Garfunkel’s concluding number was a rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Waters which he characterized as a “rehearsal” of a work-in-progress. There was no piano; all his accompaniment was by a very fine guitarist. Nevertheless, this adaptation of an old favorite was simply outstanding, very fine. Standing ovations generally are over-done, but in this case, I was happy to join the crowd in standing for a great artist in the humane tradition. Long may he perform.

Here is a link to his website where you may be able to find a performance near you:

http://www.artgarfunkel.com/

 

Best Wishes.

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“All the world’s a Stage,” but some stages are better than others: Returning to Shakespeare in Utah

Lisa and I first attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah, in 2003 on the recommendation of a friend. (It was called The Utah Shakespearean Festival in those days. I am glad they dropped the –an, which always bothered me. I usually dropped it myself anyway.) We were pleased at the consistently high level of professional theater we found there and promptly became area representatives for the Festival, those local people who talk it up when they can and distribute brochures with schedules and so forth. We went every year for a time, but the last few years work schedules prevented us until this past week: Ah! What a delight to be back!

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Again for logistical reasons, our playlist consisted only of comedies this year (we skipped Julius Caesar and Henry V) namely: Murder For Two, a wonderful production consisting of only two highly talented and versatile actors, one of whom in his time plays many parts; Mary Poppins, featuring excellent music and two remarkable 9 year olds playing the Banks children, and yes, Mary does a fine job of flying; The Three Musketeers, a well condensed edition of the swashbuckling novel; The Cocoanuts, a recent revival of the hilarious Marx Brothers/Irving Berlin musical filled with sight gags and puns (Aristotle notwithstanding, they are very funny); and Much Ado About Nothing, a perennial favorite, very well done and always a joy. Though quite different, the performances were uniformly excellent.

This is the inaugural year of the new Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, which houses the Utah Shakespeare Festival on the edge of Southern Utah University campus. It includes the Anes Studio Theatre, an intimate venue for theater in the round and experimental productions; the Jones Theatre, equipped with all the tools any stage manager and director could desire; and the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, recreating the feel of the 17th century without the smells. The latter replaces the Adams Memorial Shakespeare Theater, the future of which is unclear. Dear to our hearts, we walked around the old theater and recalled the happy and inspiring times we experienced there, one of which was meeting Fred Adams, the founder of the Festival whose vision led audiences from a temporary wooden platform on the grass in 1962 to the Adams Theater in the 1970s and now to the Sorenson Center. Well done Professor Adams!

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One regret. We missed seeing The Odd Couple, a Neil Simon play starring two of our favorites, David Ivers and Brian Vaughn. It will run September 14-October 22. They are artistic directors now, but we first saw them as actors in 2003 when both played in Much Ado About Nothing. We were immediately taken with their talent. In The Odd Couple they will alternate between the roles of sloppy Oscar and neat Felix, one night playing one, the next night the other. Hmm. Perhaps we will have to find a way to make a run to Cedar in the Fall. For at least two nights.

This is the 400th anniversary of cousin Will’s death. We are grateful his spiritual descendants are alive and well. For more information on the Utah Shakespeare Festival, go to http://www.bard.org/

 

Best Wishes.

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