I'm getting ready to travel to West Africa Saturday Feb24, arriving in Dakar Sunday Feb25 at 6am, the day of the first round of Senegalese elections. Must admit I didn't realize this when booking my ticket a month and a half ago. Senegal has had two transfers of power since indepence in 1960, both peaceful for the most part. Senegal is the only West African country that has not had a coup since independence. There are 14 contenders for the presidency, the incumbent Wade and at least one major opponent, Idrissa Seck.
I feel fortunate to be staying with friends there who will meet me at the airport! And I feel fortunate to have received a Meet the Composer Global Connections grant along with my co-composer Willow Williamson to undertake a project with Dakar video artists and musicians culminating in a performance March 28. Much more about the project and all of my experiences in West Africa over the next 5 weeks as they unfold.
Been enjoying parts of two wonderful films, Buster Keaton's "Battling Butler" and Yasujiro Ozu's" Good Morning." "Battling Butler" is, amazingly enough, the first Keaton film I've seen. Hey, better late than never! His timing is extraodinary, and though the orchestrations are a bit over-the-top (oh, the xylophone as lead voice in small orchestral writing - nothing like sharp attack/decay wood to not blend on top of strings and clarinets!), I do love the pacing of the music, the simplicity of the themes, and the complete dependence a silent film has on its score to set mood and convey emotion. Toshiro Mayazumi's score for Ozu's "Good Morning" is also a lovely mix of indelicate and charming. In fact I'd be curious to see what happened if one watched "Battling Butler" with "Good Morning"'s score and vice versa! I think it could work. Ozu's film about a post-WWII Japan working class looks so gorgeous in stark technicolor. The only other Ozu film I've seen is "Late Spring," but so far I'm amazed at how completely different a world Ozu inhabits than his better-known colleague and fellow legend of Japanese cinema, Akira Kurosawa.