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October 27, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-10-27

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, October 27, 1968

_Sa, coe 2,16

-- -- -r r

music
Bavarian Orchestra:
Old World finesse
By JIM PETERS
It would be inexcusable for me to make any mention at all
of quaint German cafes with beer and pretzels after listening
to the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra last night at Hill Aud.
Conductor Rafael Kubelik looks more like some Olympian deity
on the podium than any German band leader. And he has the
orchestra to prove it.
Set on the stage in the peculiar European style of first and
second violins on either side of the conductor with the celli placed
right in the center, the Bavarian Symphony performed very well.
Their style of playing is rooted deep in the Middle European
Musical tradition, and they do their best to keep that inheritance
great and strong.
The program was varied stylistically and historically. One of
Haydn's London symphonies, "No. 104 in D major," began the
concert. Kubelik's tempi were fast enough to keep the symphony
moving along. This is important because in the Haydn the sombre
heavy hand of the conductor toned down the frivolity and urbane
gaiety of this symphony.
Kubelik's manner of interpretation put substance into the
light Haydn -melodies, but if it weren't for the brisk tempo of each
movement,.I feel his heavy reins would have been disastrous.
The sound of the orchestra was warm and friendly, but there
was never that flash of excitement, even in the spirited finale. The
fire and drive were there all right, but it was tempered by Middle
European stolidness.
Despite this the Haydn sounded good. I liked especially the
andante movement and the 'trio of the menuetto featuring bright
strings over pizzicato. They winds sounded weak throughout the
first piece, poorly balanced against the massive string sound.
But with the piano's rise from the depths of Hill, the mood
changed. Bohuslav Martinu's "Double Concerto for Two String
Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani" divides the orchestra into two
choirs, separated by piano and percussion in the center. The piece,
composed in 1940,,is reminiscent of Bartok's "Music of Strings, Per-
cussion and Celeste," though Martinu seldom uses the antiphonal
techniques as does Bartok.
The piece rages through three linked movements, combining
the cursing bitterness of Bartok with often charming Prokofiev-
like bright sections. The piano has a mostly rhythmical role until
the second movement when it is featured in a long solo over soft
strings.
Cesar Franck's "Symphony in D minor" is a staple of the
orchestral library, and it takes a lot of restraint on the conductor's
part to keep away from the overblown schmaltzy sound which
sends the piece dissolving into sentimentality and overlooks all
the music.,
Kubelik took charge and the performance was brilliant. The
sombreness of his strict control kept everyone in line; the booming
crescendoes were loud and strong, but never saccharine. But 'the
brass didn't quite reach the general good sound of the rest of the
orchestra.
Franck demands brassy chorales with rich tones, but the Ba-
varian brass were too metallic; even the bite of the tuba and the
trombones was thin.
The brilliance of Franck's finale was easily handled by the
group, long sustained building sections exploding into smashing
cadences. Things would have been perfect if the brass had been
growling and deep in "the final chorale, but their sound had im-
proved since the first movement.
WVhen Kubelik conducts everyone moves; the orchestra, set
on stage, was never still. The players had the enthusiasm and drive
last night to perform expertly. Kubelik doesn't just interpret and
conduct, he motivates his group and they respond. Little wonder
things worked so well.

architecture
Reformed Church: Details inhibit aesthetic aim

By MARTIN ZIMMERMAN
Unfortunately, but not unsur-
prisingly, an architect of na-
tional reputation is ignored in
this University city. Of course
this should not come as too
much of a surprise after being
conditioned by such buildings as
University Towers, or the more
recent Administration Bldg. The
University Reformed Church on
Huron St. near the Rackham
Bldg., designed by the office of
up-and-coming architect Gun-'
nar Birkerts, is an exception to
all this.
The church clearly demon-
strates what talent and perse-
verance can achieve; it not only
shows a strong commitment to
satisfying functional needs, but
also elicits a concern for that
elusive ideal which is so cur-
iously out of vogue these days
-beauty.
The requirements of the prob-
lem were quite simple: the de-
sign of a church sanctuary seat-
ing 500, classrooms, offices and
a ,lounge. This all had to be or-
ganized on a long and narrow
site between Huron and Ann.
Since funds were limited, the
church is being built in two sec-
tions; the first is already com-
pleted.
The basic design decisions,
however, incorporated these re-
quirements into three primary
factors. First, the church's civic
importance as a communal
gathering place led to the deci-
sion to position it directly on
the center line of Fletcher St.
This also meant relating it to
similar buildings in the vicinity,
namely Rackham and Frieze, by
choosing a light colored but
massive material - reinforced
concrete.
Secondly, in order to link to,
the future classroom wing, the
narthex was placed in a neutral
point behind the nave and mid-
way into the site. Last and most
importantly, Birkerts chose to
blend 'these elements into one
unifying architectural motif. His
inspiration was not f o r m a 1
church doctrine, nor was it in-
herently acoustical, as in the
case of Alvar Aalto's Finnish
churches. Rather it was a love
for natural light and the effect
it can create-specifically, the
definition of space and volume
achieved through the play of
light on unadorned planar sur-
faces. This is the essence of thes
building, and it is on theset
aesthetic- grounds that one
must proceed to understand its
meaning and its worth.
From the outside, 4the church
has a certain purity and sim-

ing-structure sterility, w h i c h
was so objectionable to the con-
gregation that it has since been
whitewashed. It still has a cheap
coldness about it, however. The
exploitation of the aesthetic
surface effects of reinforced
concrete is still a relatively new
dimension in architecture and
can certainly stand more atten-
tion.
The side of the church has
basically the same problems of
material and scale. One won-
ders why, for instance, the brick
wall could not have been twice
as high and a good deal deeper.
(Again, it is worth noting the
wall defining the steps of the
General Library.) Monumental-
ity is again lost, due in large
part to the incessant rhythm of
the concrete skylight fins. Per-
haps above the walls, they ap-
pear neithertpurely decorative
nor structurally integral.
The inside of the church af-
fords some improvement and
some change. There is color and
the mood is warmer. Craftsman-
ship is thorough as Birkerts
seems more adept in handling
wood and brick, which are used
extensively here, than he is with
concrete.
The narthex is a generous
space-a generosity which over-
flows unsuccessfully into the
transition area between the
narthex itself and the nave. As
a consequence, the effect of en-
tering the nave is anticlimactic.
One wonders if the transition
perhaps could have been more
confined, even 'to the point of
drastically reducing the amount
of natural light.
In the sanctuary itself, one
wants to be awed and impressed
-but one can't be. Like the ex-
terior, the sanctuary does pos-
sess a degree of order, fullness,
and spacious repose. But there
is an adage that "God is in the
details," and the' space of the
sanctuary falls short in the de-
For instance, a taut and subtle
volume is created by the pat-
tern of the pews, but it acts to
shear off the concrete wall
planes of the chancel area at
their base'when viewed from the
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back. Several other details also
inhibit the continuity of the
concrete. The wood parquet
floors and pews reflect too much
light. Thus they compete rather
than complement the walls.
Similarly the pine ceiling re-
duces the effect of the beams
above to mere graphic, one-di-
mensional lines. And, along the
side walls, the natural light re-
veals a surface which looks eas-
ily fractured, fragile, and warp-
ed, like wet paper, rather than
the hard, durable, impenetrable
substance that it is.
Why then should one go to
all this trouble to decipher this
building meticulously?
Is it really that significant,
if it falls so short of fulfillment?

The answer is an emphatic
"yes." Even artists who are well
along the road to maturity (as
Birkerts' other work demon-
strates) are not exempt from
setbacks. Most important of all
is that in spite of its shortcom-
ings, the design of the Univer-
sity Reformed Church still
maintains a basic integrity of
intention. As such it strives for 6
something beyond merely "satis-
fying functional demands." This
has to do with expressing the
order common to both man and
nature - an order revealed by
light, planar surfaces, space and
volume. To ignore this is to ig-
nore architecture's unique and
enduring potential as the only
civic art form we have today.

SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

FOR THE FIRST TIME ON
THE GIANT SCREEN IN
BLAZING TECHNICOLOR !

MAURICE
EVANS,
JUDITH
ANDERS ON
in the GEORGE SCHAEFER producta
of WIWAM SHAKESEARF'S
maeet

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GEORGE SCHAEFER PHILC SAMUEL
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plicity, no doubt due to its
symmetry and use of one mate-
rial. But it also has its prob-
lems of scale and surface tex-
ture. The very important long
view of the front demands more
than is offered. Any pretense of
monumentality is dissipated by
the juxtaposition of wall planes.

-Daily-Eric Pergeaux
Not only are they staggered, but
this in turn causes shadows to
fall upon, rather than between,
planes. (Note how much more
"solid"° the General Library is,
where shadows fall back into
window voids.)
The outside surface itself or-
iginally had an uneven, park-

Tuesday
AND
Wednesday,
2 30, 4:40,
6:50, 9:00

COLUMBIA PICIURES PRESENTS
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'M

Opera Operation Head Start

By EDWARD MAHL

Most opera students graduate
from the music school with no
experience in "opera."
They practice singing with
private tutors, but there is no
way for them, to learn to per-
form. And opera requires many
skills, such as singing in ensem-
ble and acting'-,'movingt u
sic and developing a character.
Opera students are also han-
dicapped because practice deals
mostly with non-operatic mu-
sic - art songs, for example.
and students are not exposed
to much of the literature they
must eventually master.
The students do not learn the
importance of style in opera -
the difference between perform-
ing Mozart and Wagner (com-
parable to acting in Othello and
Hair.)
The department of voice is
attempting to solve the prob-
lem by establishing an opera
workshop. Lack of funds has
limited the size of .the program,
but this year for the first time
an informal opera workshop is
being offered for 15 students.
Presentlythere =sznoplan-
only hopes - to expand the
small class to a size capable of
handling all opera students.
More money- and, personnel
would be needed.'
Future expansion will depend
on the success of the workshop
and the availability of funds
explains Robert Luscombe,
one of the workshop's two
teachers. "It's really too early to
tell," he says.
Students in the opera work-
shop perform selections from
several operas under the direc-
tion of Luscombe and Theo Al-
cantara, conductor :of the Uni-

versity Philharmonia a n d
Chamber Ensemble.
Luscombe, new to the music
school ;this year, has a back-
ground in drama.
The course has begun by fo-
cusing on the neglected art of
acting. Students have perform-
ed aid discussed'a pantomime,
and are presently studying
scenes from non-musical plays
to learn how to create character.
As students learn roles as-
signed from the first act of the
Merry Wives of Windsor and
the "Quartet" from Rigoletto,
they will apply these techni-
ques, they will perform more
frequently before both instruc-
tors.
Some students will learn more
than one role in an opera -
one dramatic, the other comic,

I

for instance - to increase their
experience.
One important part of the
course is the'emphasis op criti-
cal discussions among the stu-.
dents about their performances.
There is very little opportun-
ity for any other participation
in opera production in the
music school. Freshmen per-
form as part of the Freshman
Chorus, but other students com-
pete with graduates and seniors
for the few principal roles in the
regular opera presentations.
Faced with this frustration,
students have reacted enthus-
iastically to the workshop. "It's
fantastic," one student said.
"We really need this. I hope the
program can be expanded so
more people can get into it."

THE AN RBOR
CIVIC THEATRE
October 30, 31, November 1, 2
8:00 P.M.
LYD)IA MENDELSSOHN THEATRE
ii:;::~:.Season Tickets Still Available
SATURDAY and SUNDAY
Directed by Rene Glair% 931
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"A Nous La Liberte in the field if movie
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Bosley Crowther (New York Times)
7:00 & 9:05 ARCHITECTURE
662-8871 C AUDITORIUM

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GUILD HOUSE
802 Monroe
MON.,OCT. 28 NOON LUNCHEON
25c
"150 Years of Poverty
Programs: WHAT WENT WRONG?"
PROFESSOR S. B. WARNER
Department of History
TUESDAY, OCT. 29-NOON LUNCHEON
MRS. MARJORIE BRAZER, Candidate for
Washtenaw County Board of Supervisors (2nd Ward)

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