Monday, October 5, 2015

Free choral concert Oct. 7 opens St. John's First Wednesday series

The U.S. Army Chorus

The United States Army Chorus will usher in this season's First Wednesday Concert Series at St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, at noontime Wednesday, October 7.

Formed in 1956 to accompany the U.S. Army Band, the U.S. Army Chorus regularly sings with the National Symphony Orchestra on Memorial Day, Independence Day, at other patriotic events, and for visiting heads of state. It performs with many symphonies across the U.S.

Also called "Pershing's Own," the chorus is one of the few professional male choruses in the nation, and its members speak more than 26 languages and dialects. Most of the singers hold advanced music degrees. 

In their repertoire are traditional military music, pop, Broadway, folk, and classical tunes. 

Next year the singers will celebrate their 60th anniversary with former members, many who have successfully transitioned to Broadway and opera stages around the world.

Accompanying the singers at St. John's will be organist and Staff Sergeant Dan Campolieta. Captain Curtis Kinzey will direct.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Photo by Patricia Leslie

St. John's is known to many Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square, and often called the “Church of the Presidents.” Beginning with James Madison who was president from 1809 to 1817, every president has been a member of St. John's or has attended services at the church. A plaque at the rear of St. John's designates the pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by the church during the Civil War.  

Last weekend St. John's began a year of celebration in honor of its bicentennial.

First Wednesday concerts begin at 12:10 p.m. and last about 35 minutes. Food trucks are located at Farragut Square, two blocks away, for those on lunch break.

Who: The U.S. Army Chorus

What: First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., October 7, 2015

Where: St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square (White House exit), Farragut North, or Farragut West

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's associate organist and choir director, at 202-270-6265.

Future dates and artists of the First Wednesday Concerts are:

November 4: Saxophonist Noah Getz and organist Michael Lodico will present Esprit de la Lune by Andrian Pertout.

December 2: Madrigal Singers from St. Albans & National Cathedral schools will sing seasonal music.

January 6, 2016: Concert organist Janet Yieh will play works by Brahms and Widor.

February 3: Bob McDonald and Friends will sing to celebrate the crooner's centennial in "Sinatra Turns 100."

March 2: The Lafayette Square Duo composed of Rebecca Smith on harp and Michael Lodico on organ will play a composition by Peter Mathews. 

April 6: Soloists from St. John's Choir will sing.

May 4: The U.S. Air Force Strings Chamber Orchestra with harpsichordist Brandon Straub will play Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

June 1: Concert organist Roderick Demmings, Jr., will play virtuosic works by Bach, Wammes, and Widor.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The last 'Rainy Day' in Washington at the National Gallery of Art

Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, The Art Institute of Chicago.  This work anchored the exhibition at the National Gallery of Art.

Dear Readers, I regret to inform you that I am late posting about this magnificent show ending today at the National Gallery of Art, and I can only hope this brief description will provide a glimpse of the French artist, Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)  the man who would be lawyer,  engineer, collector,  feminist, and an Impressionist realist artist himself whose works increase in stature, interest,  and reputation with every passing year. 

Fifty of Caillebotte's paintings prove it in The Painter's Eye.

Family money allowed Caillebotte to collect art, and that he did, at a time when Impressionism was in its infancy and still quite controversial.  He bought art by Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Manet, and Cezanne, among others, and gave many to museums and to the French government which vetoed some of his gifts.  (Years later, when the government came calling, Caillebotte's sister-in-law refused to give the government the art pieces it had initially rejected.)

Caillebotte did not need to sell his own works to eat, and he seldom marketed his paintings.
Gustave Caillebotte, Luncheon, 1876, Private Collection.  

Caillebotte drew Luncheon not long after his father died.  The viewer becomes a guest at the table where Caillebotte's younger brother, Rene, dives into his food, not waiting on the butler to finish serving his mother.  A year later, Rene was dead at age 25 which led Gustave to write his will early, including disposition of his art collection.
Gustave Caillebotte, Self Portrait, 1888-1889, Private Collection
Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875,
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Gift of Caillebotte's heirs through the intermediary of Auguste Renoir, 1894

The Floor Scrapers, a scene the painter may have drawn from his own studio and considered Caillebotte's first masterpiece, was rejected by the Paris art establishment in 1875 because the workers were considered "vulgar," and not acceptable as representatives in art of the working class.  Only peasants and farmers were sanctioned.
Gustave Caillebotte, Man on a Balcony, Boulevard Haussmann, 1880, Private Collection.  In 2000 this sold for more than $14.3 million.
Gustave Caillebotte, Interior, Woman at the Window, 1880,  Private Collection 

I like to think of Mr. Caillebotte as a feminist.  Compare Man on a Balcony with Interior, Woman at the Window.  Note the man's cavalier stance, his debonair position of strength and confidence as he gazes out upon the Paris scene below.  "Harrumph," he seems to complain:  "What manner goes here?  I do not know if I approve." Perhaps there are too many floor scrapers idling at lunch, 

Meanwhile, in contrast is the woman, above, in funereal garb, standing in her "cage," the railing which is much higher than the man's, mind adrift, thinking, perhaps, "what if?" while looking out beyond to the figure in the window across the way.  Adjacent there in the chair is her keeper and bored husband:  "Shhhh!  Can't you see I am reading?" his position suggests.

The Gallery wall label says these two paintings may have been a pair. 
Gustave Caillebotte, Interior, a Woman Reading, 1880, Private Collection 

And what in the world do you make of this little shrimp of a man lying on the sofa, about half the size of the woman in the chair?  He reminds me of The Incredible Shrinking Man, and maybe that's what he is to his mate.  The same couple pictured in Interior, Woman at the Window (above)? As the length of their relationship grows, his importance diminishes.
Gustave Caillebotte, The Bridge at Argenteuil, 1883, Private Collection
Gustave Caillebotte, The Fields, a Plain in Gennevilliers, Study in Yellow and Green, 1884, Collection of Frederic C. Hamilton, Bequest to the Denver Art Museum

You see what you missed!  

Alas, not all is lost, however, since a fine catalog, Gustave Caillebotte:  A Painter's Eye of almost 300 pages is available, and you may wish to see the show at
the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth where it opens November 8 through February 14, 2016.  The Kimbell and the National Gallery co-organized the exhibition.