Author Archives: Susan Scheid

A First Visit to Stonecrop Gardens . . . to Music by Arvo Pärt

Stonecrop Gardens is fewer than thirty minutes south of us, yet we only recently discovered it.

It’s a very different sort of garden from Innisfree, which we visit several times a year.

Stonecrop’s design is as described here:

The gardens cover an area of approximately 15 acres and comprise a diverse collection of gardens and plants including woodland and water gardens, a grass garden, raised alpine stone beds, cliff rock gardens, and an enclosed English-style flower garden. Additional features include a Conservatory, display Alpine House, Pit House with an extensive collection of choice dwarf bulbs, and systematic order beds representing over 50 plant families. (From the website]

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Listening List

Another recent discovery, courtesy friend David Nice, was Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 3.

By the time Credo was composed in 1968, Pärt had come to the conclusion that the musical means he had been using so far had exhausted themselves. The composer then delved into early music because it was in Gregorian chant, early polyphony and polyphonic music from the Renaissance that he had previously found his musical examples, ideal sound combinations and techniques. This became the starting point for his eight-year period of searching for a unique musical language.

This silence was broken by Symphony No. 3, one of the first works that was considerably different from his earlier compositions and heralded Pärt’s new creative principles. The three movements of the composition follow each other attacca (i.e. without any break). The composer’s interest in monody and early polyphony is clearly visible here. The harmonic and melodic material brings to mind choir music from the 14th and 15th centuries, even though Pärt does not use any quotations. The polyphonic development in all movements of the piece do not emphasize the atmosphere from behind centuries, but rather, translate the thematic material into contemporary musical language. In Symphony No. 3 Pärt aimed to apply the notion of the movement of independent voices, imagining the entire structure of the composition as a metaphor for building a city. [citation]

David refers in a blog post to the BBC Proms performance of Symphony No. 3. While the performance itself is only available to watch on BBCPlayer if you are in the UK, a delightful moment from the rehearsal may be found here.


Credits: Sources for the quotations are at the links in the text. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.


July Miscellany, with music by Jaeger, Mattingly & Trapani & performances by Dhegrae & Contemporaneous

That’s Robert Louis Stevenson contemplating the proceedings, courtesy John Singer Sargent. The proceedings include, among other things, El café by Joaquín Torres-García and the Cabinet of Geology and Mineralogy from the announcement of a project by Mark Dion at Vassar College. Continue reading

Grant Wood at the Whitney

Young Corn (1931, detail)

Not something I’d ever though to see: an exhibit devoted to Grant Wood at the Whitney Museum in New York. Eons ago, I’d seen his work on his home turf. The impression it left was indelible. I’ve often wished I could see the works on display in Cedar Rapids once again. Continue reading

At the Independent Art Fair

Charlie Billingham

With at least three art fairs on offer one March weekend in New York City, the question was how not to become overwhelmed. A review in the New York Times pointed us toward the Independent Art Fair:

If, like me, you find the full-tilt art fairs a little overwhelming, the formally ambitious but modestly scaled Independent is a godsend. With just 54 exhibits, many of them solo presentations, arranged over four spacious floors at Spring Studios in TriBeCa, it’s like a leisurely all-star game: It’s not exactly representative of the year in art, perhaps, but it feels as if it ought to be. Continue reading