Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Early Music

Early December 2012. 

This is Royce Hall , the symbol of UCLA
This is the Powell Library. It faces Royce Hall. Note the illuminated clerestory filled with early voices.

There's a new collaboration: Will I. Am with Brittany Spears called "Scream and Shout". Is that really new? I guess. I haven't heard it but December 1st I sat in the Rotunda at the Powell Library, UCLA and heard people singing. I mean singing, no vocoders, without microphones, not even a musical instrument and it was quite wonderful. I'll tell you what else was wonderful: the Powell Library. That's not new. It's been wonderful since 1929 when it opened.

At the end of the performance a little audience participation involving Perrier bottles lead by this fellow.

Upon closer inspection I felt I saw Maya influence in the tile. Could that be?
Elisabeth Le Guin on the right, a founding member of Philharmonia Baroque.

Now here you get a better sense of the space. The dome is 45 feet high.

These are the windows throwing off light that you see in  my exterior shot  (above).

In typical southern California fashion the architecture of UCLA is a mish mash of styles but the Powell Library and Royce Hall are dominated by a Northern Italian Romanesque influence. Yes, you'll find Byzantine and Spanish Moorish notes but it all really blends quite nicely and fittingly. The Architects, George W. Kelham and David Allison got the Italian vibe from the L.A. basin and that became their guiding principle. You may know our climate here is Mediterranean like Italy and there are so many natural vistas throughout the state that could easily stand in for the Italian peninsula.

I stayed long enough to see the space cleared of chairs and people and took a few more shots.

I wandered across the hall to the main reading room.

I thought this was pretty special. The dome in the main reading room is decorated with  antique printer's marks.
This is a diagram showing some of the marks.

Like many blogposts this one is a kind of failure. I can't reproduce the experience of hearing marvelous voices filling the acoustically brilliant rotunda and I've only got a cursory selection of photos to share with you. But the Powell Library has been included on lists of the most beautiful college libraries in the world so you can find of photographs of it elsewhere. And just for your information the program listing for the night's entertainment:


UCLA Early Music Ensemble and Contempo Flux:

'Ad Te Levavi'

Saturday, December 1

6 p.m.

Directed by Elisabeth Le Guin, Joshua Fishbein, and Gloria Cheng, these two ensembles will unite to present early music by Hildegard of Bingen, PĂ©rotin, and Guillaume de Machaut, which sonically resembles contemporary works by Frank Ferko and David Lang.

In the center that's Gillian Wilson, curator emerita of the Getty.


Now, tell me. What have you been up to?

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