Monday, April 27, 2009

Symphonies of (De)Light

Symphonies of (De)Light
By Tom Wachunas

File this one under ‘reasons to be cheerful in Canton.’ As of this writing, my mind and heart are still unabashedly swooning over the April 25 performance of Puccini’s opera, “Madama Butterfly,” by the Canton Symphony Orchestra. I have never heard our astoundingly fine orchestra in better form. And in as much as the opera was a soaring and powerful end to the orchestra’s season, so too it provided an exclamation point to the historic “Kimono As Art” exhibit, featuring the Symphony of Light series of kimono by Itchiku Kubota, at the Canton Museum of Art.

Regarding that exhibit, I don’t mind telling you that one temporary consequence of seeing it was an overwhelming sense of futility in continuing my own work as an artist. For sheer compelling and excellent union of technique, form, and content, Kubota set an impossibly high bar, it seemed to me. I have sufficiently recovered from my depression just enough to be simply grateful that I live in a community that could offer such an exhibit as inspiring as this one was. Subsequently I am resolved to reach higher and keep practicing.

Back at the opera, I was particularly moved by Jacqueline Quirk in the key role of Cio Cio San (Butterfly) as she sang “Un bel di vedremo” (One Fine Day). Her deliriously beautiful voice transported me along into her joyous vision of anticipating the arrival of her beloved Pinkerton. Her life would surely be changed for the better. Interestingly enough, the moment echoed my own sense of anticipating both this opera, and of course the much-hyped Kimono exhibit.

While Butterfly’s hopes were tragically dashed, that is certainly not the case with the arrival of these two major artistic events in Canton. As a combined experience, I believe they herald significant and remarkable growth in Canton’s cultural profile. Our ship has come in, as it were, and we really are changed for the better. As an avowed “arts consumer,” the thought of waking up in the morning to Canton without its art museum and symphony orchestra strikes me as tantamount to discovering there is no food or oxygen.

My abiding wish is that more of Canton’s population would in turn continue to wake up to the refreshing, illuminating, and replenishing presence of these vital treasures in our midst, there for the asking, and always sweetening the very air we breathe.

Photo: Itchiku Kubota, “Rurikon / Emerald Moment of the Lake”, 1983, from the catalogue for “Kimono as Art” exhibition.

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