Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baroque Treats for the Eye, Ear and Soul

Angel Playing Zither, Angel Playing Bagpipe, and Angel Playing Timbrels, 14th century

Cultural immersion at its best

Under the gazing eyes of Lucas Cranach the Elder's depictions of Adam and Eve, and Hans Memling's panel painting of Christ Giving His Blessing, Harmonia Baroque Players will perform baroque chamber music, as well as medieval and renaissance-era pieces this Friday, July 25th, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Moreover, the concert will be performed with the use of period instruments and held in the museum's early- renaissance gallery. Sure, you could always bring your best iPod mix of Bach or Händel to the gallery, but there's something to be said about simultaneously contemplating the brilliance of notable masters of both sight and sound. Such a performance is a rare treat, indeed, so get there early if you want to get a good seat.

Also, while you're there make sure to stop by my favorite work at the Norton Simon, Francisco de Zurbarán's Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose. The only still life signed and dated by the artist, many scholars believe that this painting was executed by Zurbarán as a mystical evocation of the Virgin Mary. Find out about the work here. Whether you tend to read more into the symbolic qualities or metaphysical implications of this memorizing canvas (or simply enjoy a good still-life painting now and then), there's something for everyone to enjoy. I think that this is probably one of the most remarkable still life paintings in the U.S. The fact that a painting of such exceptional quality made it from Europe to Pasadena is truly nothing short of a miracle!

Harmonia Baroque Players at the Norton Simon Museum; 411 W. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena; Performance begins at 7:00 p.m.; (626) 449-6840; Admission $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, free for students with valid I.D. and patrons aged 18 years or younger; Concert is free with museum admission.