Archive | November, 2009

Cultural Outing: Opera de Montréal

Our second cultural outing, beautifully organized by Louise de Tonnancour, was a backstage tour of the Opera de Montreal. General and Production Director Pierre Dufour led our visiting group through the labyrinth workshops, sets, and costume racks behind the scenes.

Thanks to Louise for the wonderful photos, captions…and of course the memories.
General Director Pierre Dufour begins the tour

The costume workshop, a real Alibaba’s cavern

A smiling Pierre Dufour has plenty of reasons to be proud.

“Producing an opera is a very long procedure. It can take up to five years.”

Sometimes, new fabrics get to be aged, in this little corner

Costumes everywhere!

Props. It takes what it takes!

Isles and isles like this one..each well identified. Rest assured we did not loose anyone.


Mark Abley

Mark Abley gave an absolutely terrific talk on November 17th…which I unfortunately missed out on, but I have heard rave reviews from everyone who was in attendance. He spoke about his travels and all the interesting encounters he has had with English around the world.

Much thanks to Lily Goldman who took these photos for our blog.
Mark Abley and Hans Möller, who organized the literary talk

Louise de Tonnancour introducing Mr. Abley

Mark Abley

Hans Möller and Frances Balogh in the audience

Hans thanking Mark Abley

A lovely photo of our president, Leslie Cohen



Mandolinata’s program was quite eclectic, ranging from the lovely Partita Antiqua to ragtime to Vivaldi as well as Japanese and Italian melodies. Musical director Johanna Hebing first started playing in her native Holland and has continued performing and teaching here in the Montreal area.
Pre-concert bustle in the auditorium

Johanna Hebing and Adele Lafrance preparing
WASM member Carol Thom plays the Mando Cello with Mandolinata
1st Mandolin: Johanna Hebing
2nd Mandolin: Adele Lafrance
Mandola: George Evers
Mando Cello: Carol Thom
Guitar: Pierre d’Etcheverry
Mando Bass: Ernest Zuidinga
Johanna Hebing introducing a piece
Carol Thom, Ernest Zuidinga, Pierre d’Etcheverry
Adele Lafrance
An Italian mandolin
Ann Chippendale thanks Mandolinata for their performance
I had a second concert riding home on the Metro!!

Rita Briansky — "What is Jewish Art?"

Sometimes there are traffic jams in our lives, and so I am playing catch-up with WASM blog postings. A cancellation for November 10th lecture had a very happy outcome when Annette Wolfstein-Joseph, on short notice, managed to get Montreal painter Rita Briansky to deliver a talk on Jewish art.

In one short hour, Rita covered the history of Jewish art from Biblical times up to the present time. Early Jewish culture was dominated by religious tradition, with its prohibition in the visual arts of what would qualify as graven images. In the ghettos of Europe it was even illegal for Jews to create art, and Jewish artists were relatively rare until they lived in assimilated European communities beginning in the late 18th century. And yet, Jewish artworks are rich and varied; creative expressions of Jewish life are found in mosaics, murals, manuscripts, illustrated Haggadahs, micrography, papercuts, graphic arts and paintings. Contemporary Jewish art is vital, and perhaps, the most prolific in all of Jewish history.

Annette Wolfstein-Joseph presenting speaker, Rita Briansky

Rita Briansky

Jewish artists of the Modernist period incorporated current visual language (cubism) into traditional subjects

During the early 20th century Jews figured particularly prominently in the Montparnasse movement, including Marc Chagall.

and Amedeo Modigliani

Felix Nussbaum’s famous Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card (1943). He perished in the Holocaust.

Ben Shahn, a painter of the Diaspora, was known for his involvement in

social causes. Below is his painting Sacco and Vanzetti.

Ben Shahn, synagogue

R.B. Kitaj, If Not

R.B. KItaj, Jewish Rider

Larry Rivers, Portrait of Primo Levi

Post-war American artist Barnett Newman, Black Fire

Rita tied Newman’s abstraction to medieval illuminations like the Sarajevo Bible.

Mark Rothko, another of the great post-war abstractionists.

Jewish art comes full circle, one could say

Rita presented slides of many of the renowned Montreal painters of her generation.

Below, a scene by Jack Beder

Louis Muhlstock, rue Ste. Famille

Sam Borenstein, Winter Scene

Sam Borenstein, Summer

Rita Briansky, from her Kaddish series

Rita Briansky, Prayer Shawl, from her Kaddish series

Rita Briansky and Annette Wolfstein-Joseph after the lecture


A funny thing happened on the way to the McCord…

On my way to last Tuesday’s art talk, as I crossed McGill College Ave, this is what I saw. Being of a curious nature (and also arriving somewhat ahead of schedule for our lecture) I decided to check it out.There were crowds cordoned off and waiting, journalists and photographers jockeying for position. But why were all these people waiting in front of a bank building? My neighbor enlightened me — Jean Charest was receiving a royal visit! I whipped out my camera, which just happened to be in my bag, and staked out a spot along with the other fans lined up behind the orange tape. Here are the fruits of my chance encounter with The Royal Visit.

In my next post I’ll get up the photos from Rita Briansky’s art talk.


Pascal Yiacouvakis — Complexity of Weather Forecasting

Complexity was certainly the mot du jour for Pascal Yiacouvakis’ talk, but let me add the word engaging. His lively observations and well-organized presentation made this topic, so close to Canadian hearts, one of our most popular ever.
Pascal Yiacouvakis setting up for his talk

Taking care of the shop — Shirley Cohen and Ann Chippendale
receiving ornaments for our Christmas Tree at the MMFA

Great hats department! Rose Raba and Frances Balogh before the lecture

Veronica McDermott and Deanne Hall-Habeeb

The basics from Pascal Yiacouvakis. Here he explains “thermal justice”, how the too-hot and too-cold spots trade off energy

If you look carefully at this slide, you can see the gigantic computer
(bottom photo) that tracks global weather information

Complexity in action. All the different souces of weather data.

A satellite photo of Hurricane Katrina. To collect information, planes,
Hurricane Hunters, fly over the storm and right into its eye.

This lovely photo is the first satellite photo ever taken, in 1960.

Pascal Yiacouvakis and Louise de Tonnancour who organized the talk

Lots of questions for Mr. Yiacouvakis, during and after the lecture