Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bach Choir of Pittsburgh Presents the American Premiere of David Chesky's The Agnostic

The Bach Choir of Pittsburgh has been performing a challenging selection of pieces over the last year. Each piece is tied to the overall theme "Journeys of Courage, Conviction and Conscience."

Last November, we performed Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, a vocal score to the famous silent movie classic The Passion of Joan of Arc. This event was part of the Three Rivers Film Festival.

In December, we sang Handel's Israel in Egypt.

In early April, we're performing the American Premiere of a very unusual piece, David Chesky's The Agnostic in collaboration with the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble. It's challenging both musically and thematically. If you'd like to hear a truly unique work, we're performing it at Carnegie Hall in Oakland on Wednesday, April 1 at 8pm. On Saturday, April 4, at 8pm, we'll be performing it at the Richard E. Rauh Theater, Shady Side Academy, Fox Chapel. See the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh Web site for more information. You can buy tickets for the concerts from ProArts (412-394-3353) or at the door.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

PARSEC Field Trip to the Warhol for The Vader Project

At the March meeting, Gary came up with a good idea - visiting The Vader Project exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum. A bunch of us said we thought that sounded like fun, so we met up on Sunday March 22 and toured the museum.

The Vader Project ( was the brainchild of the founders of DKE Toys, Dov Kelemer & Sarah Jo Marks. They worked with 100 artists from America, England and Japan to envision a full-scale Darth Vader mask in a variety of ways. Sadly, random museum visitors were not allowed to photograph the renderings of the Darth Vader masks, but some artists have put photos of them online (

The one I thought was the most creative and the most subversive was "Carmen Mirandarth" (, created by Melody Severns, Anne Walker, and Debbie Bruce of GirlsDrawinGirls. While many of the Vader helmets had a heavy metal or military theme, Carmen Mirandarth was a big blast of color and plastic fruit.

While most of the Vader masks were plastic, at least one person created a plushie.

Another artist built a Tatooine action figure display around a sand-colored Vader mask (

Sometimes, the simplest mask was the most interesting. One Vader mask and was painted "Candy Cobalt Blue," a rich shiny blue with some subtle gray designs faded in the background.

One big disappointment about the exhibit for me (beyond not being allowed to take photos) was that none of the artists who were invited to submit were science fiction artists. I believe most of the artists involved in this project were either toy designers or comic artists. A shame. I would love to have seen what someone like Bob Eggleton would have done to a Vader mask!

If you like Star Wars or have an interest in toy design, this exhibit is definitely worth the trip. If you are a member of the Carnegie Museums, you can visit the Warhol for free. Check the Warhol Web site ( for admission information. The Vader Project is due to be at the Warhol until May 3.

Now, what about the rest of the Warhol, you may ask?

It's an odd mixture of good news and bad.

The seventh floor was a particular waste of time. There was a loud video running constantly, and there was a strikingly bad exhibit called The End. So, if you go, do yourself a favor and skip the seventh floor.

Much of the museum displayed a small portion of Warhol's massive collection of celebrity ephemera. Some of the photos of celebrities might have been a bit more revealing than the subject intended. While his photo of OJ Simpson was taken in 1977, it looked oddly like the profile view of a mug shot.

There are also a few interactive exhibits, including a room with large fans and big silver balloons you can bounce off the ceiling.

After our trip through the Warhol, we went over to Soho (at the Marriott Springhill Suites) and had a late lunch. I walked into downtown to take photos of a large metal work at the corner of 7th & Ft. Duquesne Boulevard - It was a huge Transformer-ish sculpture comprised of the bridges of Pittsburgh:

Large Metal Sculpture in Downtown Pittsburgh

We enjoyed our field trip, and hope there will be more in the future.