Category Archives: Music’s Greatest

SALASTINA MUSIC SOCIETY; BRAHMS: Complete String Sextets- Part One

Some speak often of lofty things, while others just make them happen. Such is the latter case of the Salastina Music Society. Headed and co-founded by the incomparable Maia Jasper and Kevin Kumar, the Salastina Music Society brings to the culture of our times, the timeless classical works of the worlds greatest composers, in a quaint, intimate setting, absent of pompousness or pretension. On this relaxed evening, The Hollywood Sentinel had the pleasure to attend the Salastina Music Society special performance of Brahms: Complete String Sextets- Part One, held at the Calvary Presbyterian Church in South Pasadena, California.

A minimalist church, sparsely ornamented, moderately lit, and painted in several neutral Earth tones, filled with a near capacity crowd of predominately older, yet some younger, astute, affluent and educated crowd, were treated to an opening introduction by Brian Lauritzen, the familiar voice to many in Los Angeles, from Classical KUSC’s 91.5FM who took the podium to introduce and host the event, opening the first twenty minutes with a charming back story of Brahms personal life, and anecdotes concerning the radio producers critique of Johannes’ tones, moods, and melodies within his four movements of his string sextet works. A likable personality with a friendly voice, Brian directed the sextet to play segments of each piece as discussed, which proved to be whimsically entertaining, allowing some as I, reminiscence of days back in college during music theory class.

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The DJ and music producer departed, and The Salastina Music Society then tuned their stringed instruments once more, delving immediately into the ‘four piece movement of Brahms,’ beginning with ‘Allegro ma non troppo.’ ‘Andante’ was next, followed by the short ‘Scherzo: Allegro Molto,’ and lastly, the longer ‘Rondo” Poco Allegretto e Grazioso. ‘Andante’ here proved to be my favorite, a dark, brooding piece full of mournful passion, mounted with a stirring climax of redemptive hope. Masterfully performed, The Salastina Music Society are world class performers comprised of Peter Myers, Hana Hwon Kim, Clive Greensmith, Merideth Crawford, Kevin Kumar, and Maia Jasper.

Playing Violin, Maia Jasper (co-founder and co-artistic director of Salastina) has played on scores with Academy Award winning composer Alexandre Desplat (one of my favorites), and Danny Elfman, among others. With honors from Yale, she is a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra among more. Hailing from Stanford and Columbia University, Salistina Co-founder and co-artistic director Kevin Kumar (violin and viola) has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic among others. He also has scored works for numerous motion pictures. Merideth Crawford (viola), who also has a BA in English Literature, regularly performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic among more, while not teaching. Clive Greensmith (cello) has performed with Midori, The London Symphony Orchestra, and London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra among others. Peter Myers (cello) has served as musical director for the American Contemporary Ballet, and also played with Midori among others. Hana Hwon Kim (violin) from South Korea, holds a Masters Degree, and began studying in London at the age of 13. She is a member of the Gaia String Quartet in Los Angeles.

Lacking arrogance, the charming, gracious and kind co-founders Maia Jasper and Kevin Kumar thanked the crowd for their attendance, meeting and greeting many of the concert goers after the performance. A brief and casual reception for all followed, served with white wine, strawberries, coffee, tea, chocolates, and other treats.

Lending to a perfect night, The Salastina Music Society delivers concert goers top flight, world class entertainment of the greatest calibre in the world of classical music, in quaint, intimate performances very rare of this great quality. Maia Jasper, Kevin Kumar, Merideth Crawford, Clive Greensmith, Hana Hwon Kim, and Peter Myers are masters of their craft, and seeing and hearing them perform live is captivating, allowing one to momentarily forget all else in the world and become immersed in the greatness of their passion for the music, their expert skill, and the refined taste of their repertoire. Indeed, a must see group for any aficionado or mere curioso of the classical world. For more information on this outstanding group, and for tickets to their upcoming performances in the Southern Californian area, visit their official website here: http://www.salastinasociety.org/

– Bruce Edwin

This content is copyright, 2015, 2016, The Hollywood Sentinel / Bruce Edwin, all world rights reserved.

Top Ten Divas: Amy Winehouse

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This article is about Amy Winehouse the diva, Amy Winehouse the soul, Amy Winehouse the icon. Though it is impossible to separate Amy from her pain and sorrow, we will attempt here to remember her with respect and focus on many things she did exceptionally well.

Katia Vaz-Hollywood Sentinel

Style. She understood the time she was in. Amy knew how to innovate, and how to hit a nerve with audiences. Amy understood the idea that “it’s all been done before,” and that the original choices an artist can make today involve original pairing, the mixture of ideas that have not been mixed before, rather than new ideas, which are arguably impossible, or a new rehash of old ideas. And so the risks Amy took were with style and also with the level of intimacy she bared in a world that has seen it all. Her extreme vulnerability still impacted us. While her tattoos screamed “biker chick” and her torn jeans “punk,” her giant beehive of black hair, red lipstick and nails, and black eyeliner were straight up borrowed from The Ronettes. A carefully chosen palette. Amy used red and black, bold colors, to accent her bold sound.

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Brass. Amy knew how to use a big brass band. Backing your vocals with a wall of brass takes a lot of chutzpah, and Amy was a jazz siren for all ages.

A heart of gold. “Ask Amy, she’ll do it,” was the word among London’s charities; her list of contributions is lengthy, and her family is currently involved in the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse among tomorrow’s artists.

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And most of all, Amy had soul. The voice is the exterior manifestation of an intentional internal vibration of the organs against the bones. While musicians learn to play their chosen instrument, a vocalists uses the body and nothing else. Amy’s voice suggested power, vulnerability, a raspy weariness, confidence, swagger, defiance and submission all at once. It is in her voice we hear the part of Amy that was untouched, at first, by all her troubles.

This content is ©2015, The Hollywood Sentinel.