Friday, May 21, 2010

Chihuly Exhibit, Meijer Gardens - 5/12/10

The Dale Chihuly blown glass exhibit at Meijer Gardens is spectacular. We viewed it last week on a cloudy, cool day, well after the heavily-attended opening. Our plan was to take the tram to view the scattered works of art but we were informed at the Conservatory that we would not then be able to see every sculpture. So we took the brochure listing the site locations, and went back to the main desk for the standard Garden guide that showed those locations.

Volunteers posted at each exhibit were very helpful and we asked each time for the optimum route to the remaining sculptures. When we consulted our guide at Hekman Pond for the next best direction, she pulled out a map that showed the Chihuly exhibits with their locations. Just a minute now - why isn’t that available for visitors? It’s only in the hands of the volunteers, which is nice for them. But regardless, we did manage to get to each work, on foot, and without the ultimate location brochure.

The name of the exhibit, “A New Eden,” is maybe a little over the top but the works are magnificent and are wonderfully placed in beautiful settings. Various shapes rise up from the ground, towers ascend to the sky, colors float on water, plants spring up in the conservatory, and light explodes. The only site that was underwhelming was “White Belugas”; we missed it the first time as it looked like white garbage bags on the far side of a pond.

This exhibit is well-worth seeing and continues until September 30. If nothing else, it provides impetus to appreciate the beauty of Meijer Gardens, where art becomes one with nature.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Grand Rapids Symphony - 5/8/10

The closing concert of the season presented us with one title: Verdi’s Requiem. When I hear “Verdi,” I think opera (e.g., Aida, Rigoletto) (and the soprano soloist in particular was quite dramatic). But this was an impressive non-opera production. Orchestra, two choirs, and four soloists performed this glorious version of the Latin mass. The chorus was a combination of the Grand Rapid Symphony Chorus and the Calvin Capella Choir, and the soloists and choirs were in fine voice.

The program notes described each part of this Requiem beautifully. Roman Catholics would be familiar with the text; all others should have been impressed by the powerful music. The soloists frequently sang with each other in duets or trios, and their harmonies, along with the backing orchestra and chorus, put one in awe of the composition.

The program stated there would be no intermission; the 8 ½ x 11 libretto handout indicated there would be a 15-minute intermission, and there was, after the dramatic “Dies Irae.” Before resuming, David Lockington did his end-of-year acknowledgments for symphony members celebrating anniversaries: 10 years, 20 years, and 30 years.
Following along with the libretto was helpful at times but at other times detracted from being fully immersed in the music (it was also a bit noisy as people fiddled with the paper). The conclusion was compelling, with the soprano and the chorus begging God for deliverance on Judgment Day.
The four seats behind us were vacant so no Ritz cracker eaters tonight, and the sleepers to our left were also absent - nice. Looking forward to next season...