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October 17, 1989 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-17

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ARTS
Tuesday, October 17, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

Rare birds sing
Vocal group Chanticleer ruled the roost Sunday

BY GREGORI ROACH
There is bad choral music and
there is choral music that could be
considered OK or even pretty good,
but a performance of world class
standards is a somewhat rare thing.
Well, like a sighting of Halley's
Comet or finding truffles in your
backyard, a performance of this cal-
iber made it to Rackham Auditorium
Sunday night thanks to the group
Chanticleer.
True to their reputation, their
concert repertoire spanned from the
16th Century to a piece composed in
1988.
The first half of the program got
off to a shaky start when partway
through Domine, ne in furore
(Psalm 6), the four part polyphony
stumbled upon itself and took a few
measures to straighten out - but
that was the only real glitch of this
two hour aural delight. Their inter-
pretation of Tallis' Tunes for Arch-
bishop Parker's Psalter was genius
with diverse tempi and dynamics for
the nine different tunes, all the while
keeping the ensemble tight and well
balanced.
The true musicianship of the
group was revealed in Three Psalms,
set by the contemporary English
classical composer Kenneth
Leighton in 1974. The structure of
the settings was almost hymn-like
in style but the harmonies were in-

tense and somewhat dissonant. The
delicate shifts from chord to chord
were precise and artfully executed,
leaving no doubt that this was ex-
actly what the composer had envi-
sioned.
Highlighting the evening's per-
formance was the presentation of a
new piece commissioned by Chanti-
It traversed from the
sublime to the ridiculous
to the deathly serious all
in a ten minute frame,
and the only thing that
overshadowed the
imagination of the work
was the performance it-
self.... Strange things
were happening in
Rackham Sunday night!
cleer, the Plymouth Music Series,.
the Gregg Smith Singers, and the
Oratorio Society of Washington
with a grant from the National En-
dowments for the Arts. (How does
Senator Jesse Helms feel about con-
temporary music?!) With a Poet's
Eye consists of five poems written
by five poets on five different pieces
of visual art (sort of like Mus-

sorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition,
but not really). It traversed from the
sublime to the ridiculous to the
deathly serious all in a ten minute
frame, and the only thing that over-
shadowed the imagination of the
work was the performance itself.
Slight but timely dramatics left you
knowing what the composer thought
of the poets' work and what the po-
ets thought of the original artists.
Strange things were happening in
Rackham Sunday night!
On the lighter side, the renditions
of the English folk song
Oh,Wally,Wally and the spiritual
Steal Away, with their respective
counter-tenor solos, were almost sur-
real in their beauty and texture. King
Chanticleer brought the house to an
uproar with the story of the King of
the Barnyard, a quite cocky rooster,
and the hysterical imitations of his
subjects. Out of This World and the
encore Let's Do It were high spirited
vocal jazz numbers that swung with
the likes of Glenn Miller and left ev-
erybody on an upbeat note.
The only complaint heard float-
ing through the lobby of Rackham
after the concert was that the 12 men
who are Chanticleer responded to the
standing ovations with only one en-
core, but all this seemed to confirm
that on their next tour through Ann
Arbor, the lines for tickets may be a
bit longer.

A Wild Sheep Chase
by Haruki Murakami; trans-
lated by Alfred Birnbaum
Kodansha International
Hardcover/$18.95
"It was a short one-paragraph
item in the morning edition." So
begins A Wild Sheep Chase. This
doesn't have much to do with the
rest of the novel.
"This has all got to be, patently,
the most unbelievable, the most
ridiculous story I have ever heard."
So it goes about halfway through.
This is more like it.
First, there is the title -
shouldn't it be a wild goose chase?
Second, there is the subject matter
- a sheep with a star on its back, a
sheep that does not exist, and even if
it did exist, wouldn't be living in
Japan. There is the hero: 30 years
old, an unambitious partner in an
unambitious advertising firm. There
is his girlfriend: totally unremark-
able except that her ears stop the
spinning of the earth and cause the
plaster in a French restaurant to rip-
ple. There is the Rat, the Sheep Pro-
fessor, the Sheep Man, "the girl
who'd sleep with anyone," the chauf-

feur who knows God's phone num-
ber - which by some miracle of
modern telecommunications tech-
nology is never busy.
You get the picture. It's weird.
It's not particularly traditional,
either.
The setting is rootless, for one
thing - neither the hero nor his
girlfriend have names (recalling
Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, in
which the heroine remains consis-
tently and annoyingly unnamed;
classic or no, names are always
nice), and if it weren't for the
Japanese place names, they could be
anywhere, even Canada.
The hero is an average, unambi-
tious man. His wife has left him and
his life, for the most part, is excep-
tionally ordinary. His girlfriend is
beautiful beyond description when
she shows her ears, which is not
often. Life continues to be excep-
tionally ordinary until the hero is
summoned by an exceptionally ex-
traordinary man for an exceptionally
extraordinary mission. He is given
one month and several hundred thou-
sand yen to find a sheep with a star
on its back. The hero is led on a

wild goose - no, sorry, sheep -
chase to the island of Hokkaido.
There his girlfriend leaves him and
he finds... Well, let's just say, what-
ever it is, it's exceptional.
A Wild Sheep Chase is damn fun
to read. A little confused sometimes,
but certainly entertaining.
In terms of genre, the book wan-
ders all over the place. It is a mys-
tery, a romance, an adventure story,
a social commentary, a suspense
novel, a philosophical tale, and, ev-
ery so often, science fiction from the
Douglas Adams school of average-
person-gets-involved-with-some-
thing-definitely-not-average-and-pos-
sibly-from-outer-space writing.
There is one constant, besides the
utter unbelievability of the whole
escapade, and that is loss. The hero
loses his wife, his girlfriend, nearly
his sanity; he goes back to his
hometown to deliver a message and
discovers that the beach has been
filled in and replaced with apartments
and business complexes and artificial
turf. There is still an old jetty, but
what good is a jetty without an
ocean? Modern Japan, the hero says
sarcastically.
Sorry, Charlie, but reality hurts.

Perhaps that's why the book
spends some time trying to get away
from it.
But just when you think it has
gone completely over the edge and
beyond anything bearing any resem-
blance to reality, it jumps back to
modern life. The hero is, after all, a
real person, with real feelings and
real problems, despite one very un-
real sheep with an unreal coffee-col-
ored star on its broad unreal back.
And Hokkaido is a real place, with
real snow and real sheep farms and
real people in its real cities.
- Sheep is anchored in reality, but
still manages to float off into the
outer regions of strangeness once in
a while.
That's OK. It keeps us.sane.
There is loss, there is darkness,
there is an explosion on the moun-
tain in Hokkaido. A sheep dies. A
man dies. A cat lives. The book is
unreal, extraordinary, exceptional,
about average people and average
places and something else.
Murakami is probably unlike any
other Japanese author you've ever
read. Forget what you learned about
Mishima - this is different.
-Cindy Rosenthal

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Counseling Services Groups/ Fall Term, 1989
1. Adult Children of Alcoholic/Dysfunctional Families
Mondays, 3-5:00 p.m
2. Dream Focused Therapy Group
Tuesdays, 3-5:00 p.m.
3. Black Graduate Women's Support/Therapy Group
Wednesdays, 6-8:00 p.m
4. Black Graduate Male Support Group
Time to be arranged
5. Coping As An African American Student on the U-M Campus
Time to be arranged
6. Women's Eating Disorders Therapy Group
Mondays, 11:10-12:30 p.m
For further information or to join any of the
above groups, please call Counseling Services
764-8312. Enrollment limited.
Self-Help Groups meeting at Counseling Services
1. Campus Chapter of Alanon
Tuesdays, 12 noon
2. Campus Chapter of Overeaters Anonymous
Fridays, 12 noon

The "Green" starts at $5.00 an hour.
But there's more!

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