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November 07, 2001 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-07

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The Cult Heroes...
Glamn-funk meets metal
tonight at the Blind Pig.
10 p.m. $3 ($5 under 21).

ARTS

michigandaily.com /arts

WEDNESDAY
NOVEMBER 7, 2001

5

'Arms of Strangers'
the incredible tale
. of Kindertransport

Netherlands Choir
transcends opera

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
Academy award winning films
"Schindler's List" and "Life is

Into the
Arms of
Strangers
Natural Science
Auditorium
Tonight at 7:30 p.m.
have not been so

Beautiful" both
told beautiful,
sad and inspi-
rational stories
from the Holo-
caust.
While narra-
tive Holocaust
films like these
have been seen
by a great
number of the
viewing public,
many remark-
able documen-
t a r i e s
concerning the
same topic
widespread in

the Arms of Strangers: Stories of
the Kindertransport."
In commemoration of Kristall-
nacht, the Night of Broken Glass,
the Conference on the Holocaust
and Celebration of Jewish Arts
present this film tonight at 7:30
p.m. at the Natural Science Audi-
torium. Following the film, several
local community members who
were saved from the Holocaust
because of the Kindertransport
program will speak about their
experiences and take questions.
The film presents the moving
and inspirational story of a human-
itarian effort that saved 10,000
children from the fate 1.5 million
of their peers were unable to
escape.
Mark Jonathan Harris' accom-
plished film is concerned with the
"Kindertransport," a rescue opera-
tion that took place shortly before
the outbreak of World War II.
Great Britain took in over 10,000

their audience. One of these films
is the 2001 Academy Award win-
ner for Best Documentary, "Into

Kinder plays the violin on the train.
Jewish children from Germany,
Austria and Czechoslovakia in
order to protect them from Hitler,
and both Jewish and non-Jewish
parents, did all they could to save
their children from the dangers
they foresaw ahead of them. These
children were placed into foster
homes and hostels, hoping their
real parents would one day meet
them in England. In the United
States, Congress did not pass a bill
that would have allowed similar
entry to the young refugees
because they decided that "accept-
ing children without their parents
is contrary to the laws of God."
The documentary is composed of
original interviews with Kinder-
transport participants (survivors
and foster parents), old newsreels,
newspaper and private photos and
home movies. All footage is of the
highest quality, and it is the mix-
ture of old and new that make the
documentary an incredibly moving
and riveting piece of work. Acade-
my Award winner Judy Dench's
narration is also of note, bringing a
final beautiful touch.
The story of the Kindertransport
is not well known, and this film
brings the amazing stories to light.
In addition to the importance of the
subject, the documentary is also

By Autumn Brown
Daily Arts Writer
Not many students have heard of
Felix De Noble and far fewer know of
the world-renowned Netherlands
Chamber Choir. This should be a prob-
lem as the Holland-based choir has a

faced very difficult times when
reuniting with their original parents
after spending years away with new
families.
Others were not so lucky to see
their families again, and first per-
son accounts show all sides of the
War and its aftermath. One espe-
cially affecting passage comes
from survivor Hedy Epstein, "I
think on some level I knew my par-
ents didn't survive. I just wasn't
ready yet to accept the fact that I
no longer had parents - that I
hadn't had parents for a long time."
Student coordinator of the event
Courtney Rangen thinks that all
should try and see the poignant
film, especially following the trag-
ic events of the past months: "I
hope this Kristallnacht commemo-
ration will allow our community to
find comfort in one of the greatest
humanitarian efforts of the past,
and simultaneously be an inspira-
tion for each of us to stand up and
be counted in the future." She also
points out that the world is faced
with a similar situation as the
world of the film during World
War II, whether "to embrace those
who now and in the coming
months will no longer have a place
to call home or to let indifference
take over."
The film is free for students and
$5 for non-students.

history that spans
Netherlands
Chamber
Choir
St. Francis of
Assisi Catholic
Church
Tomorrow at 7:30 p..

over 60 years and
therefore
deserves a closer
look. The
Netherlands
Kamerkoor, as it
is called in its
native country,
was created to be
used solely for
Dutch broadcasts
in the late 1930s.
Many would
find it difficult to
imagine that a
virtually
unknown choir
would transcend
the abyss of radio

unmoved in its commnitmnent to present-
ing live a cappella music spanning five
centuries. "The remarkable thing about
the Netherlands Chamber Choir is that
the singers have so perfectly attuned
their sound to one another that they
seem to form one instrument together,
even while each individual is separately
audible ... it seems to happen so effort-
lessly, and illusion that can only be
brought about by great technical con-
trol," said NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch
newspaper.
Tonu Kaljuste is the present choral
conductor and is best known for his
associations with the Grammy nominat-
ed Estonian Philharmonic Choir in
1996 and 1997. Kaljuste has been with
the Netherlands Kamerkoor since 1998
and this will be his third engagement
with the University Musical Society.
Additionally, Kaljuste has been voted as
"Musician of the Year" in his native
country of Estonia.
The 26 member choir wil lbe per-
forming "Sestina Madrigals" (1614),
"Cinq Rechants" (1948), "Choral
Dances from Gloriana" (1953), "Five
Songs of Ariel from Der Sturm" (1950)
and "Harmony of the Spheres No.2"
(1944-2000). As an added bonus,
Kaljuste will be conducting a workshop
with University graduate conducting
students, which is open to observers.

shows and opera houses and command
its own following, but the offer of a
government grant in 1951 did in fact
propel the choir into an enviable promi-
nence.
This is not to say that the choir's
ascent to the top has been without tur-
moil. In 1972, in lieu of health consid-
erations, Felix De Noble was forced to
abdicate from his position of conductor
of the choir. In addition, the turbulent
1970s bred its own set of problems; as
the remaining vocalists doubted the
new conductors who did not rule with
an iron fist as De Noble had done. Then
there was the presence of younger choir
members who came with different
expectations and artistic aspirations.
Remarkably, the Netherlands
Kamerkoor emerged unscathed and
more powerful than ever before by the
beginning of the 1980s.
Presently, the choir is an independent
musical ensemble known for setting a
stellar example in the music industry.
The choir has recorded several award
winning albums and yet remains

Courtesy o Warner Bros.
Kinder prepares to leave Berlin-Charlottenburg station.

absorbing
ple as it

because it is not as sim-
seems. Some Kinders

Conductor Tonu Kaijuste.

Fox's 'Borrowed' tells
amusing, keen memoir

~: L :\ F' ..-% .~,'
~K..' A.

" " R

A F

First Flanagan novel a
witty attack on music

FINEFR Y

By Andrew Field
Daily Arts Writer
While reading Paula Fox's keen memoir,

"Borrowed Finery,"i

0

Borrowed
Finery
Paula Fox
Grade:A
Henry Holt & Co.

it is amusing and heart-
ening to recall that Fox
is an award-winning
author of children's
books. (She's also writ-
ten six novels, most of
which are back in print
now.)
There aren't many
goodnight-moon's or
fuzzy stuffed animals
to cuddle up against in
her new novel. It
seems, if anything, that
cold truth - and not
any delusion of Nor-
man Rockwell-like
family life - is the

ultimate slayer of sentimentality. It is also
the best - though often the most difficult -
way to forge any real understanding of our-
selves. Get rid of the rose-colored glasses,
Fox seems to be saying; since our memories
shape who we are, they should not be taken
lightly.
Like the fragmentary paragraphs that
compose "Borrowed Finery," Fox's child-
hood was unceasingly dannting and rocky.
She is constantly fending for herself on
treacherous waters. So Fox's ability to
observe and remember so much - with
such knife-sharp intensity and a dizzying
memory - seems doubly astounding, con-
sidering that most of her childhood was
spent struggling just to keep her head above
water.
This is no easy task, and Fox tells a
remarkable, somewhat bewildering story.
Each chapter, with the exception of the last,
is titled after a location where Fox lives,
oftentimes more than once, and usually

briefly; her relocations are seemingly end-
less. For two years Fox lives with her grand-
mother in Cuba; she spends time in
Montreal, Florida, New Hampshire and New
York, and even drives to California with a
middle-aged alcoholic woman, an acquain-
tance of her stepmother's. Since the book
brings us up to Fox's early twenties, it is
important to keep in mind that much of her
early years are spent with nearly no guid-
ance. It is up to the reader to view this as
detrimental, beneficial, neither or both. Not
accidentally, there are no easy answers. This
breathless feeling, not knowing exactly
where or with whom you'll end up, is one of
the strange pleasures in reading "Borrowed
Finery."
The memoir begins in Balmsville, New
York, where a five year old Fox lives with
her Uncle Elwood Corning (not her real
uncle), the minister of a church and a literal
saint of a man. Corning has taken Fox into
his household after Fox is abandoned in a
Manhattan orphanage by her parents, res-
cued by her grandmother (who must soon
return to Cuba) and then taken on a honey-
moon to Virginia by a newlywed friend of
her real uncle's. Now the reader can catch
his/her breath. For a few years, Paula has
some happy constancy in her life with Uncle
Elwood. Quickly her parents come and
snatch it away.
Her parents, Paul and Elsie Fox, are out-
wardly glamorous and excessive, in the same
vein as the Fitzgeralds (F. Scott, among oth-
ers, has a few cameos), devoted passionately
to their drinks, cigarettes and madcap out-
ings. This does not leave much time for their
daughter. Besides Paula, they are the heart
and soul (though Elsie often seems to lack
both) of the memoir, and their behavior
towards their daughter ranges from hysteri-
cal to brutal. Paul is a writer, an alcoholic
who wrote the script for "The Last Train
from Madrid," a film that Graham Greene

Courtesy of Henry no
called "the worst movie I ever saw." It is
hard not to like Paul, which makes him all
the more tragic in his failures; the scenes
between him and his daughter are fascinat-
ing. The same can be said for Elsie, who
seems less real and more like Cruella DeV-
ille disguised as a flapper. In one terrible
scene, Elsie chucks her full drink at Paula.
Fox writes, "For years I assumed responsi-
bility for all that happened in my life, even
for events over which I had not the slightest
control. It was not out of generosity of mind
or spirit that I did so. It was a hopeless wish
that I would discover why my birth and my
existence were so calamitous for my moth-
er."
In the book's final chapter, Fox describes
her first visit to Elsie after 38 years. By then
Elsie is 92 years old. In the same chapter
Fox relates her first meeting with her daugh-
ter, Linda, whom Fox had put up for adop-
tion when she was 21 and living in
California. Here, as in the rest of "Borrowed
Finery," Fox assesses these scenes through
painfully clear lenses,
without denying us the
pleasure of reading a
line like "plump middle-
aged women cavorted
like aproned elephants."
N~

'j ' c ,::a,:,,

By Ryan Blay
Daily Arts Writer
Imagine an episode of "Behind the Music"
about the music industry. A typical episode
full of adulterous sex, drugs (cocaine and
tons of pot), and music
occasionally thrown in.
It would probably look
a lot like how Bill Flana-
A & R gan sends up the indus-
try in his new novel
Bill Flanagan "A&R." As senior vice
Grade: A- president of VHI, Flana-
Random House gan has a wealth of expe-
rience behind the scenes.
Many of the scenes he
describes could be hap-
pening right at this
moment for all the typi-
cal music listener knows.
What every good work
needs is a troubled hero. In this case it is
Jim Cantone, the idealistic music executive.
Cantone is the head of "artists and reper-
toire" (the titular music division), in charge
of signing and nurturing new breakthrough
acts at Feast Records. But when he is offered
the A&R job at Wild Bill DeGaul's World-
Wide Records, he can't refuse. He manages
to woo his pet project, Jerusalem, to World-
Wide as well, making him an industry dar-
ling.
But of course Cantone can't leave for a
huge corporation without selling out a bit,
despite being only 30. He has o face the
hard realities of the business. He can't let
his childhood hero make a CD nobody will
buy. He slowly comes to realize his boss,

Jim "J.B." Booth, the actual power behind
WorldWide, is trying to force a coup against
DeGaul. All is not well at the company.
Little things keep happening to make Can-
tone's job even more frustrating. Zoey
Pavlov, a talent scout, resents him for scoop-
ing Jerusalem. She tries to undermine him,
with little success. Fights between Nashville
and New York cause complications for
potential country-pop crossover'Cokie Shea.
And of course Jerusalem, as cohesive and
thoughtful as they are, encounter tragedy.
The characters most enjoyable to follow
are the Machiavellian Booth - convinced
he is taking over for the good of the compa-
ny, and rationalizes that sleeping with Cokie
is OK since his marriage is essentially dead
- and DeGaul, a daredevil ganja-smoking
executive who built his company from noth-
ing and simply lets his trusted number-two
man do the dirty work. The slowly develop-
ing struggle between the two is classic
power politics in action.
Despite only having three non-fiction
books to his credit, Flanagan succeeds in his
first fiction. Numerous music insiders have
raved at the book, enjoying the inside jokes.
While the average reader may not be able to
pick up on them, it will be an enjoyable read
for most any reader. By letting the often-
catty characters run the show, Flanagan can
let the reader laugh at the goings-on.
Many fans of music would rather not read
about some big diva delaying her Christmas
CD because she is consumed by her crack
habit, but they would be missing one truly
funny send-up of the executives who control
radio and pop music if they missed this
book.

laT ea U
Play Team NN o

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