Archive for October, 2010

Amanda After Artisans Gallery

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Artisans Gallery featured the work of more than 80 local and regional artists

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This month marked the closing of Artisans Gallery. It was the largest in Idyllwild, showcasing the work of more than 80 local and regional artists. Some of their work in painting, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, photography and fabric art can still be seen at www.idyllwildartisans.com.

“It was a good run,” said Amanda Taylor, the gallery’s owner. “But the economy forced me to quit.”

Amanda sat among the clutter that comes after all the paintings and sculptures have been taken from the walls, tables and stands. Her neighbors in Oakwood Village, Bob Cox of The Vintage Shoppe and Frank Bruynbroek of Oh My Dog Gallery, were there to keep up her spirits and take “extras” for their own shops. George, from the Acorn Gallery, walked away with three pedestals and a display rack.

“I’m going to miss her a lot,” said Bob. “She did a great job here, but we’ll stay in touch.”

Amanda is an accomplished artist who makes jewelry and jeweled scuptures

The Artisans Gallery closing came on the heels of a death in the family, and months of supplementing the gallery rent with her own income.

“I always enjoyed the customers,” Amanda said wistfully of her client base. “I told myself that I would close down if that ever happened. But the economy happened, and I’m forced to close. It’s time to go.”

She’s not wasting time dwelling on the past.

An accomplished jewelry designer, Amanda plans to spend next spring in Nantucket, near Cape Cod. She received an artist residency at the Nantucket Island School of Design and Art, after submitting a portfolio of her work. The Nantucket work study lasts five months, but Amanda will likely stay only three.

There, she plans to do a large installation, a “crazy quilt” made up of beads and stones.

“A crazy quilt is generally made up of material scraps, mostly the odd shapes left over from making a uniform quilt,” Amanda explained. “There is no uniformity to a crazy quilt, except the outside shape.”

Amanda plans to make a crazy quilt of stones from the Cape Cod area, and glass seed beads. However, it’s not going to be an easy feat logistically. The beads and the thread have to be as strong as the stones that they’re covering and bonded to, or it won’t work.

Last summer, Amanda had another art residency in North Carolina. There, she spent two months creating a beaded sack around an 11-pound rock.

“Three days later, it broke,” Amanda admitted. “So then I constructed the beads tighter around the waist. For these kinds of installation, the construction is your limit.”

For her Nantucket crazy quilt, Amanda will only partially cover the stones with beads.

“I love to show the rocks because they’re natural objects,” she said.

Amanda's beaded condom over a Jeffrey Pine Cone. Photo courtesy Artisans Gallery.

On her personal web site, beadbybeadbybead.com, Amanda has a “Mountain Series” of sculptures from Idyllwild in which she covers acorns, Manzanita wood pieces and pine cones with beads. The “Pine Cone Condom” shows a glistening and intricate beaded covering for a Jeffrey Pine Cone.

Although Artisans Gallery lasted four years, Amanda hasn’t given up the idea of having another art gallery in the future.

For more samples of Amanda’s jewelry and sculptures, visit www.beadbybeadbybead.com.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Hilarious Take on “Peter and the Wolf”

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

When Harry Shearer narrates and plays, laughter follows

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When Idyllwild Arts announced that Harry Shearer, the master of comic voices, would be narrating their first orchestra concert of the year, “Peter and the Wolf,” you knew it wouldn’t be ordinary, but hilariously extraordinary. The student orchestra stuck to Prokofiev’s 1936 music script, but Shearer turned the narrating part on its ear.

“That’s not the ‘Peter and the Wolf’ that I grew up with,” some of the music students said before yesterday’s (Saturday, Oct. 16) 4 p.m. concert during Family Weekend. “I don’t even recognize the words anymore.”

Without giving too much away for those who plan to attend today’s 2 p.m. concert, Shearer, who does most of the ‘Simpsons’ voices, turned Prokofiv’s masterpiece into a CNN “The Situation Room” news story. Affable talk show host, Larry King, from “Larry King Live” and tightly-wound newscasters Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper told the story in hindsight.

Peter Askim introducing Shearer and the IA orchestra

Standing at a lit podium next to the conductor dressed in a pinstriped suit and red tennis shoes, Shearer set the stage with the one-liner, “I was going to sing the last piece, but I lost the coin flip.”

He was referring to “The Marriage of Figaro,” aria just sung by Samuel, a barritone at Idyllwild Arts.

After introducing the cast of characters and their instruments, Shearer’s Larry King introduced Wolf Blitzer (no relation to the wolf), who said there were no eyewitnesses to the story that just happened in a meadow.

“A meadow?” Larry King asked.

“Yes, a meadow, Larry,” Wolf replied. “Like a big, green space.”

When Wolf said that the bird was a friend of Peter’s, Larry quipped, “A friend with birds? Peter is a special kind of kid, isn’t he?”

There was perfect synchonicity between Shearer's narrating & Askim's orchestra

The Larry King and Wolf Blitzer back and forth banter from “The Situation Room” had the audience giggling and laughing out loud.

“Here’s where it gets messy, Larry,” Wolf said, retelling the argument between the bird and the duck.

“I always find duck to be messy,” Larry said.

Later on in the show, Shearer introduced another CNN newscaster, Anderson Cooper, who tells them how the grandfather finds Peter in the meadow, brings him back home and locks the gate.

Shearer’s mimicking of these well-known voices is dead-on. No kidding, you swear that you have your TV on during the concert.

When the gray wolf appeared, the duck squawked loudly and got out of the water, Wolf announced.

“Why would she do that?” Larry asked. “A duck is no match in a foot race with a wolf.”

“The lack of any feathers showed that the wolf swallowed the duck whole,” Wolf announced.

“I prefer the breast,” Larry replied, one of Shearer’s many references to Larry King’s high-profile divorces.

Throughout all of this comedic sketches, the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, under the direction of Peter Askim, provided professional-level classical music. Even Shearer said so.

Samuel, a baritone, sang an aria from "The Marriage of Figaro"

“What a thrill it’s been to be playing along with these wonderfully talented musicians,” Shearer said. “I’m not in the same league, or even in the same game.”

After “Peter and the Wolf,” Shearer, who is also a musician, played a bass duet with Marshall Hawkins, head of the Idyllwild Arts Jazz Department. It was a song from his group, Spinal Tap, that was rearranged for a solo with an upright bass.

Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra’s final concert of “Peter and the Wolf,” with the affable Harry Shearer, will be held at 2 p.m. today (Sunday, Oct. 17) in the Bowman Arts Building on campus. It’s free and open to the public, but you might want to come early to get a seat.

For more information, call Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Student Jazz Gig at Diner Tonight

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Walker, a jazz guitarist at Idyllwild Arts, will perform with his group at Mile High Cafe tonight

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Tonight, three jazz music students will be “singing for their supper” at the Mile High Cafe in Idyllwild.

“She can’t afford to pay us, but we can put out a tip jar,” said Walker, a junior from Idyllwild Arts, who plays jazz guitar. “Last time we played there, we made $8 dollars.”

They also get to order food from the menu that includes hamburgers and Korean BBQ.

However, Walker, who arranged the gig, is quick to say that it’s not about the tips or the food, but the practice that’s important.

“Even if we didn’t get paid anything, we’d still get in a couple of hours of practice,” he said. “And we get to play what we want, as long as it’s not too loud.”

Walker once got a $100 tip for playing on the streets in Provincetown

Walker and his jazz mates, including Luc, a senior drummer, and Lucas, a freshman pianist, will play jazz, blues and free improvisation tonight.

Drummer Luc plays with Walker twice a week anyway, because they belong to the same jazz ensemble at school.

“This weekend is also parent’s weekend, and some people want to hear me play,” Luc added.

It’s not easy for Idyllwild Arts students to get music gigs in town. They can only play on weekends when classes are not in session, and must rely on the vans to transport their amplifier and instruments.

However, Walker, who comes from Vermont, is not shy about setting up music gigs. He’s played on the streets before with his dad in Provincetown, near Cape Cod.

“We were just jamming, and one guy came up and said he liked our music,” Walker recalled. “Then he gave us a $100 bill.”

Walker said that he used the money to attend the Idyllwild Arts Academy this year.

“I’m mostly on a jazz music scholarship, but our family has to pay about $5,000,” Walker said. “The $100 was a drop in the bucket, but it was my contribution.”

He also said that he learned firsthand about jazz students at Idyllwild Arts by reading this blog, Idyllwild Me.

“I kind of wanted to know what it was like to be a student here before I applied,” Walker said.

He had read an article about Jacob, a jazz sax player.

Walker added that he hopes to continue to play at the Mile High Cafe and other places around Idyllwild.

Nam, the owner of Mile High Cafe, likes music and plays the piano herself. She used to run a piano school in Korea and had as many as 200 students. Sometimes, she plays the piano for her customers, but is generally busy making sushi and running the restaurant.

Music students "sing for their supper" at the Mile High Cafe in Idyllwild

Timmy, a classical pianist at Idyllwild Arts, who won the “Spotlight Award” in 2008, has also played at the Mile High Cafe.

“He only played once this semester, but got busy applying for colleges,” Walker said.

Walker’s jazz ensemble (comprised of guitar, piano and drums) will play tonight, Saturday, Oct. 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mile High Cafe, located at the corner of Hwy. 243 and Saunders Meadow Road in Idyllwild.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Illegal Target Shooting on Hwy. 243

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Rocky terrain along Hwy. 243 near Banning was the site of potential target shooting recently

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Mile High diner’s sandwich board along Hwy. 243 read, “Welcome Hunters,” and outlined a few specials. Welcoming hunters seemed out of place for a tree-hugging town like Idyllwild that’s situated in a national forest. Yet, it’s legal to hunt deer this time of year–in restricted areas–which means away from civilization, and certainly not from the road.

Still, coming around a bend towards Banning, a hunter appeared in dark camelflage gear with a rifle slung over his shoulder.  He had the bearing of a military man (trim with good posture) and wore a camelflage hood, instead of a cap. He was walking towards his car parked in the pullout. There was another guy in the driver’s seat.

For that split second when I passed, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of that gun. It had such a long bayonet, almost looked like a sniper rifle. It scared me a little because it was broad daylight and I had teenagers from China in the car. I didn’t want to field any questions of why a strange man was carrying a rifle along the road.

Certainly it was legal to hunt in these parts, but this guy was hunting (or scoping out his territory) at 1 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon about a half mile from the Zen Mountain Center, a buddhist retreat, and a popular RV park a little further beyond. It didn’t seem right, so I called the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Banning.

They immediately connected me to the Riverside County Sheriff’s dispatch operator. She wanted to know what the hunter looked like, what he was wearing, his race, the make of the car, who was with him, and how long ago that this happened. Of course, I couldn’t remember much because I was so mezmerized with that rifle.  All I know was there was another guy with dark hair driving, and the car was pointed in the direction of Idyllwild.

A buddhist retreat is located 1/2 mile from where the hunters were spotted

However, one good thing I remembered was mile marker 2o:15. A CHP assigned to Idyllwild once taught me to look for mile markers when reporting accidents or anything along highways. Better than landmarks, it helps them pinpoint where events have happened.

I asked the dispatcher if it was legal to hunt there.

“Yes, in certain parts,” she qualified. “But not from the road and certainly not near civilization.”

She said she’d send someone right out to investigate.

On my way back from LA the next evening, I saw a neon Caltrans sign by the Zen Mountain Center flashing these warnings: “No Target Shooting, and no campfires in yellow posts.”

Out of curiosity, I pulled over in the same pullout by mile marker 20:15. The sun was just setting and there was still some light left.

Looking over the edge of the pavement, I was shocked. The terrain below was so rocky and steep that not even a Bighorn Sheep could make it through there without difficulty. There were piles of rocks and sharp, yucca shrubbery. The few, bare trees were still blackened from the fire that swept through there three years ago. Anyone with any sense would never attempt to walk through that terrain. You could twist an ankle and easily lose your footing and fall a ways down.

So those hunters must’ve been survivalists to come up from that terrain. And what could they possibly shoot from there? No deers are out mid-day, and it’s particularly bleak terrain. There would only be ground squirrels, snakes and hawks around. However, quail and doves could be a possibility, but they usually like to be around water, and there was none in sight.

A Caltrans "No Target Shooting" sign went up immediately near the Zen Center

Target shooting is likely, but reckless so close to a highway and near people in the canyon. The road to the Zen Mountain Center was clearly visible from the pullout, and you could see the large water tower from the RV park nearby.

Now I know why the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department acted so quickly to apprehend those hunters, and order the Caltrans sign. Naive or arrogant hunters need to know the rules around here. The terrain is dangerous for them, and their recklessness disregard is dangerous for us.

For more information on hunting in Southwest Riverside County, visit the California Department of Fish and Game’s web site at www.dfg.ca.gov. There is a 64-page “California Hunting Digest” that outlines all the rules and requirements. For reference, Idyllwild, Palm Springs and Hemet are located in the D-19 hunting area, while Banning, Morongo Valley and Joshua Tree fall into the D-14 hunting area.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Dolphin Demonstration in LA Today

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Although the LA rally is miles away, there's support for Taiji dolphins in IdyllwildBy Marcia E. Gawecki

Today is the “International Save the Dolphins” Day. A peaceful demonstration will be held in front of the Japanese Consulate-General, located at 350 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles from noon to 4 p.m. This is part of a worldwide rally that involves as many as 17 other U.S. cities and 25 countries.

Ric O’Barry, an activist from the Academy Award-winning documentary, “The Cove,” orchestrated the event that hopes to call worldwide attention to the dolphins’ plight.

Besides demonstrations in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, there also will be a demonstration in Taiji, Japan, where the dolphin focus began. Starting in September each year, 20,000 dolphins are killed for meat that is riddled with mercury. A small portion of the dolphins are saved and sold to animal parks around the world.

“Most of the Japanese don’t know that this is going on,” said Ric O’Barry in his blog site, savejapandolphins.blogspot.com.

The reason that the demonstrations are happening today, he said, is to let everyone know that the Japanese government will be handing out  23,000 permits to Japanese coastal communities who want to kill more dolphins.

Only a few dolphins are sold (at a great profit) to aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs. The rest are slaughtered for meat that is inedible.

“The (dolphin) meat is contaminated with large amounts of mercury, which exceeds the Japanese government’s own health limits”, Ric wrote. “This is a human rights issue as much as an animal welfare issue.”

Julia Ramsey, who is leading the demonstration outside the Japanese Consulate-General in LA today, sent out instructions to demonstrators via e-mail and Facebook. Since the Japanese consulate is located on the 17th floor of the Deloitte-Touche high-rise, Julia suggested that demonstrators bring their signs and stand outside on the sidewalk.

“Free speech activities cannot take place on private property without advance consent from the owner, which we do not have,” Julia said in her memo. “So, I ask that we please stay on the sidewalk directly in front of the building.”

Blocking a city thoroughfare, sidewalk or street can result in a $250 fine.

Julia also instructed dolphin demonstrators to wear their “Save Japanese Dolphins” T-shirts and bring their own signs. However, she said that the language needs to be respectful.

“Although we are indeed angry about what is happening to the dolphins in Japan, we do not want to portray anger or hate,” Julia wrote. “We will not tolerate any “Anti-Japan/Japanese” or otherwise hateful banners, posters, signs, or comments from picketers. This is utterly disrespectful and is not at all the way to win the support and hearts of spectators.”

Idyllwild Me editor will attend the rally, along with her hand-painted “Save the Dolphins” T-shirt, sign and camera to capture the essence of the LA demonstration.

The LA “Save Japan’s Dolphins” rally will be held today from noon to 4 p.m. outside the Deloitte-Touche building located at 350 South Grand Avenue. For more information, contact Julia Ramsey at ramseyjulia@gmail.com, or visit Ric O’Barry’s blog site, www.savejapandolphins.blogspot.com.

Cleaning Up for Society

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Construction crews along Hwy. 243 appear normal

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Be Prepared to Stop,” a familiar bright orange sign, warns motorists of a construction crew ahead. CalTrans, Idyllwild’s savior during inclimate weather, is preparing the roads for the rain and snow. Today, Oct. 12, there’s a slowdown on Hwy. 243 from Idyllwild to Hemet for about a three-mile stretch (from mile marker 74:53:25 to mile marker 74: 55:50).

The wait lasted approximately seven minutes, however, it must’ve seemed like eternity for the group that was waiting to go next.

You see, I was the last car in the caravan behind the “Follow Me” truck.  Just for fun, I lagged behind so that the car ahead was well out of sight. By doing this, I made more than a few motorists wait longer, I probably made a few guards sweat.

Where is the last car? Why is she taking so long? Why did she wave at the prisoners? Is she really taking pictures?

Wait a minute, what prisoners?

Dressed in neon orange and green, looking just like CalTrans workers, are select members of the Bautista Fire Crew. They’re not construction workers or firemen, but inmates from the Larry D. Smith Correctional Center in Banning. They travel in a bright red fire truck that has “Bautista Fire Crew” printed on the side. They are heavily guarded by wardens from the same prison, also dressed in neon green and orange and impersonating CalTrans workers, except that they’re carrying radios and rifles.

“Nope, they’re just CalTrans managers,” you might argue. “Look at the logo on the trucks!”

That’s right, when the Bautista Fire Crew is working, there are always lots of CalTrans trucks around. Most of them are situated at various points along the road, not to observe the work in progress, but the convicts.

Long lines of motorists wait patiently for the clean up crews

Are they whacking the weeds like they should? Are they talking to any motorists? Are they going to escape?

If  you want to make those “CalTrans” guards nervous, try taking pictures of the Bautista crew as you drive by. After all, you’re a citizen, and it’s a free country! You can take pictures of the scenery, and anyone working in it if you’d like. But those guards are likely having silent fits (and memorizing your license plate number!)

In exchange for manual labor, such as weedwacking, shoveling, raking, or even fighting fires, these guys likely will get a reduced sentence. Keep in mind, these are not hardened criminals who have killed anyone or set any place on fire. They’re awaiting arraignments, hearings, trials, and sentencing, or they’ve been sentenced to serve a county jail term.

These are inmates from a medium-security prison that are deemed eligible to work and interact with the public.

Because for a brief moment, when you drive by today, you’re interacting with them. Dressed up in their neon CalTrans vests, these 15 prisoners look like normal workers. But normal workers don’t look right into each car, and straight into your eyes as you pass by. They’re busy working on the road. But these guys, for their free labor and payback to society, are also checking you out. Because, for a very long time, all they’ve seen are the same bunch of guys from the same correctional center.

There’s been a long history of inmates working along Hwy. 243, according to the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility web site. In fact, it proudly mentions that prison chain gangs built Hwy. 243 in the 1930s.  That makes sense now. As you loop back and forth along Hwy. 243, from Idyllwild towards Banning, you can’t help but get a scenic view of the prison every time. It’s as if the road was paying homage to it.

The first time I heard of the Bautista Fire Crew was about three years ago when I covered a brush fire on Hwy. 243. I was a freelance writer for the Idyllwild Town Crier at the time, and eager to please. Covering a midnight brush fire was front-page material, I thought.

There must’ve been 15 trucks in all. The fire was under control, but still burning a little. I reported on what I saw, took a lot of dark pictures and even talked to some of the firemen. In the last paragraph, I mentioned that the Bautista Fire Crew, that was still battling the blaze, appeared to be working the hardest.

Motorists obediently follow the "Follow Me" truck past the convicts

The next day, my editor took out the reference.

“Why did you do that?” I asked. It didn’t seem fair that the other firemen should take all of the credit.

“Because no one wants to read about convicts,” she answered.

I walked away in silence, shocked that the state would use convicts to fight fires.

“But, why not, if they’re willing?” I reasoned later.

Apparently, a lot of people in Idyllwild know about the Bautista Fire Crew, and are OK with it.

“They get out of prison for the day, and California gets some free labor,” they’ve said. “Who else wants to whack weeds and shovel dirt along the highway?”

So now you know. The next time you see one of those bright orange “Be Prepared to Stop” signs along Hwy. 243, you’ll be looking at the situation with new eyes. Where you once only saw CalTrans workers, you’ll now notice the guards, the inmates and the trucks.

It’s not prudent to lag behind the “Follow Me” truck, or take pictures of the convicts. The CalTrans crew, or prison guards, won’t like it. And you don’t want to make those carrying guns nervous.

For more information, contact the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility, located at 1627 S. Hargrove Street in Banning, (951) 922-7300.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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A Woodpecker in the House

Monday, October 11th, 2010

A young woodpecker clings to my ceiling beam at midnight

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At midnight, I came home to find a bird hanging from the inside curtain of my front door. Since it’s so close to Halloween, I was afraid to open it.

I had also seen too many horror movies in my day. The ax murder finds something or someone that you hold dear, such as your family pet or best friend, and then kills it to psychologically destroy you. Who could ever forget the bunny boiling scene in “Fatal Attraction?”

Did someone kill a bird to get to me? My mind was racing. After someone had put sugar in my gas tank recently  (which nearly killed my car’s engine) I’ve been on edge. Was this the next step in my own psycho-nightmare?

I didn’t want to see a dead bird. I absolutely love all kinds of birds!  Every day, I work hard to keep them hanging around my Idyllwild home. I regularly change the sugar water in my hummingbird feeder. I put out pellets and bread crusts out for the birds, but it’s the bluejays who get most of them. Three years ago, I planted a Fuji apple tree, which finally bore seven apples this year, and didn’t say a word when the bluejays poked holes in all of them.

But with four cats, there’s no way I could have a domestic bird. Remarkably, my cats are also tender-hearted because the birds, mice and lizards they bring to me as “gifts” are still very much alive. They are scared, ruffled and shaken, but still alive. Then it’s up to me to capture them and put them back outside where they belong.

I turned the key, opened the door slowly, and quickly flipped on the light.

The junior woodpecker, as it turns out, was still alive!  He flew from the curtain to the ceiling beam (where I couldn’t resist taking his picture). He was beautiful, with a bright red crown, and white and black markings on his feathers.

Now, how do you get a scared bird out of your house at midnight?

After putting the four cats in the bedroom, I opened up all of the windows and doors. But the little guy didn’t budge.

He just looked at me, as if to say, “Don’t you know I can’t fly at night? Only bats can do that!”

So I started toward the kitchen to unpack my groceries, absent-mindedly turning on more lights. That’s when Woody Jr. took flight. But it was painful to watch. He flew towards the back door, bumping his head on the ceiling four or five times.

I wanted to shout, “Don’t go up, go ooooooout!”

The young woodpecker lost a feather

He ended up behind my refrigerator, scared to death. So I unplugged it, and risked ruining a few things. But the refrigerator buzzing annoys even me, so I can’t imagine how a young woodpecker could stand it all night. So I shut the windows and doors, and went to bed.

Laying in the dark, I remembered an old wives tale: “If a robin flies into your home through an open window, death will soon follow.”

I shook off the death notion. It was a woodpecker, after all. And it was likely dragged in through the window by one of my cats.

The next morning, while I was making toast, I saw him again–clinging to a wine bottle that had colored wax dripped all over it.

“Does the wax resemble tree bark to him?” I wondered.

He kept nervously darting his head back and forth from behind the bottle. So I opened up all of the windows and doors again, warning him to watch the ceiling this time.

Again, he didn’t budge.

So I got out my camera to take another picture, and he flew towards the ceiling. He landed on a picnic basket on the top shelf.

So that’s where I left him to go run errands. I figured my presence was making him nervous, but I was also taking a risk leaving my house open during a recession.

“Come on, in and take whatever you’d like, just make sure you leave the doors open so the woodpecker can get out!”

When I returned, Woody Jr. was gone.  I missed his farewell flight, but was glad that he was back to his normal life in Idyllwild.

He left me a memento, though. A small feather that dislodged during his overnight stay.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Idyllwild Appeal of ‘Peter and the Wolf’

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Idyllwild resident Charles Schlacks, Jr. shows his rare album of "Peter and the Wolf"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Ever since Russian composer Sergei Prokofieff created “Peter and the Wolf” for children in 1936, it has had tremendous worldwide appeal. Now that the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra plans to play it on Oct. 16 &17, people are talking about it again, with smiles on their faces.

“Peter and the Wolf” tells the story of a young boy who wanders into the woods in search of a wolf, much to the dismay of his grandfather. Besides Peter and the wolf, the cast of characters includes a bird, a duck, a cat and some hunters. Each is identified by a different instrument.

“It’s a great way to introduce young children to classical music,” said Charles Schlacks, Jr., an Idyllwild resident for about 10 years. “They can easily pick out the different instruments.”

Charles is an avid record collector, to say the least. Over the past 30 years, he has amassed 44,500 classical records–of which 26,200 are stored in Hemet, and 18,300 reside in his Idyllwild home. One of his favorites is “Peter and the Wolf,” a 10-inch record, conducted by Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra with the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as narrator.

Charles said that he doesn’t know the circumstances surrounding Eleanor Roosevelt as narrator on his record, but, on the back, it states that it was recorded in only three hours in 1947 in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. The record was issued in 1952.

“Tanglewood is like the Hollywood Bowl,” Charles explained. “People can sit on the grass in the open air amphitheater with their families and listen to the music.”

They recorded “Peter and the Wolf” on a smaller, 10-inch record because it would only fit on one side of a 12-inch record, Charles explained, and they probably didn’t want to put anything else on the flip side. The entire piece only takes about 20 to 25 minutes.

The Idyllwild Arts Orchestra will play "Peter and the Wolf" on Oct. 16 & 17

Charles has two 10-inch records of “Peter and the Wolf,” which are worth about $95 each, according to the 2000 edition of the Canfield Guide to Classical Music. He doesn’t remember where he got them or what he paid for them, but he knows that it wasn’t $95. And he’s willing to part with one of them.

“I’d be willing to start the bidding at $60 or $75,” Charles said. “The cover is in mint condition, and the album doesn’t have any scratches or anything.”

He said that these “Peter and the Wolf” records are considered “rare” because not many of them were recorded, or are still in existence.

He plans to bring one of his “Peter and the Wolf” records to the concert on Saturday, Oct. 16th, to show people, if they’re interested.

Besides Mrs. Roosevelt, Koussevitzky also recorded “Peter and the Wolf” with Alan Hale, an American actor.

“British actor Sean Connery and George Raft, an American actor, have also narrated ‘Peter and the Wolf,'” Charles added.

Harry Shearer, from “The Simpson’s” fame, will be the narrator for the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra next weekend.

Chen, a junior at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, was chosen to play the role of the cat on his clarinet in “Peter and the Wolf.” He remembers performing it four years ago in China, when he was 12 years old.

Shen doesn't like cats, but he plays one in "Peter and the Wolf"

He said that the melody of the cat is pretty much the same throughout the entire piece, but he’s glad for the role. He also doesn’t like cats.

“They’re not as smart as dogs,” Chen said on his way to his music lesson at Colburn last week. “But the cat is gets away from the wolf by climbing up a tree.”

He added that he doesn’t have to like cats to play the piece, just has to know how they act.

Charles said that he always attends the Idyllwild Arts concerts, even though the acoustics are not the best at the IAF Theater in Bowman.

“The ceiling is low, so the sound isn’t great,” Charles said. “But it’s good for detail, especially when you’re listening to the various instruments.”

He said every time he hears “Peter and the Wolf,” it sounds differently. Even if you went to both concerts next week, they’d sound differently.

“It depends upon where the musicians are sitting, and the mood of the conductor that day,” Charles said. “Perhaps he’d want to speed things up, or emphasize the strings or brass.”

The Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra will play “Peter and the Wolf” with Harry Shearer on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. at the IAF Theater in the Bowman Arts building. All concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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