Monday, July 12, 2010

Havertown Studio Open House, May 2010

For two days in early May 2010, sculptor Christopher Cairns, painter Nicholas Cairns, and composer Michael Hersch hosted an art and music open house in Chris’s 9,000-square-foot studio in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

The event, which attracted people from as far away as Massachusetts and Washington, DC, featured sculpture, painting, drawing, film and music.

On display in the multi-room studio were 25 paintings by Nicholas Cairns—including Dies Irae (2009) and Wreckage of Flowers (2009)—20 small prints and about 10 drawings.

                                          Installation, Nicholas Cairns

                                          Installation, Nicholas Cairns

Christopher Cairns presented a near-final version of his Rochbergtorium, an installation honoring his late friend, the composer George Rochberg.  Arranged in a 250-square-foot, skylit room, the Rochbergtorium included 25 sculptural heads of the composer in assorted sizes, styles, and mediums, a 12-minute video interview of Rochberg by Peter Cairns, and a small desk with scores, books and photos.  A recording by Peter Sheppard Skaerved of Rochberg’s Caprice Variations played on a continual loop.


Elsewhere, Peter Cairns’ 2009 film about an NGO in Haiti, made just five months before the 2010 earthquake, played in a makeshift screening room in one corner of the cavernous studio.

Prints, drawings and watercolors by Alexis Cairns (yours truly) capped off the largely family affair.

A highlight of the event was the May 1st performance of Michael Hersch’s Sonatas No.s 1 and 2 for unaccompanied cello, played by frequent Hersch collaborator Daniel Gaisford. Of Gaisford, Jay Nordlinger wrote in 2008, “In Daniel Gaisford, Hersch has found an ideal interpreter, an ideal exponent . . . Gaisford has a formidable technique and a formidable mind.  He can make a hundred sounds: fat, thin, spiky, lyrical, rich, sickly, piercing, warm, and Hersch’s sonatas call for a great many of them.”

                                                   Gaisford and Hersch

In a surprising coincidence, a review by Vivian Schweizer of the recording of Hersch’s cello sonatas, played by Gaisford, was printed in the New York Times on May 2nd.  It read:

Michael Hersch’s Sonata No. 1 for unaccompanied cello is one of his earliest published works, written when he was 23, in 1994 . . . The sonata’s profoundly solitary, rhapsodic first movement veers between yearning lyricism and agitated outbursts. The reflective second movement, a showcase for Mr. Gaisford’s rich, penetrating tone and searing musicality, ebbs and flows into the harmonically rich final movement, with its virtuoso challenges and almost brutal intensity . . . Mr. Gaisford, who, to judge from this recording, deserves greater recognition, also offers a mesmerizing performance of Mr. Hersch’s seven-movement Sonata No. 2, composed in 2000.

                                                     Daniel Gaisford

The intense 70-minute performance took place in a 2,500-square-foot room in the center of the studio building, in front of an audience of about 75.

Artists who attended the open house included Pat Badt, Rick Bechtel, David Carrow, Bruce Colburn, Hilarie Johnston, Steve Larson, Michelle Post, Scott Sherk, Charles Stegeman, Kevin Tuttle, and Elizabeth Wade.

                                     Kevin Tuttle and Michael Cairns

NOTE: the Havertown Studio Open House (now called the Havertown New Music and Art Series) has become a regular event.  Join The Artist Profiles Project on Facebook to be notified of future dates.
For more photos of the open house please visit our Flickr page.

Photos above by Richard Anderson (from top, 1 & 2), Margo Cairns (3, 6, 7), and Kevin Tuttle (4 & 5).

1 comment:

  1. The performance by Gaisford of Hersch's music was stupendous.
    Words alone can hardly describe the deep inner vibrations resonating throughout our bodies as we listened.
    Is spirituality physics and biology?