Monday, September 27, 2010

Anasazi help for the Azteca!

Ladders to the Alcove House
You never know when a past experience will come to your aid in the future. I remember some years how amazing it was to see the Anasazi villages in Chaco Canyon and Bandelier National Monument. The ancient ones, ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, that left their mark in the dwellings, pottery and rock art across New Mexico and the Southwest.

It's easy to lose yourself in time, walking in the footsteps of those who were here before and imagining what life would be like living  in a circular village on the flats or a cliff dwelling built into the volcanic hillsides. Or entering spiritual life inside a Kiva and hearing music from flute and drums. Seems so enchanting but distant from modern American life.

One of the treats at Bandelier National Monument is to climb 140 feet of ladders up to the Alcove House. The ladders end and you find yourself  on a ledge eroded into the mountain with some house ruins and a restored Kiva. The view across the valley and circular village is lovely  and, notably, very inaccessible except from the  ladders. In order to protect themselves the Anasazi could climb up the ladders, then pull the ladders up after them and no one could follow them to the house.

Putting such romantic ideas aside and getting back to daily life ...

 A few weeks ago I was looking up at the Azteca Marquee and was shocked to see the letter "T" missing from the AZTECA sign. As I  looked closer I realized the "T" was hanging out perpendicular to the wall. How could that happen? Were those pigeons making a balcony?  Pesky critters. Looked like I'd have to investigate.

Using the Anasazi security  technique to fix the sign
No matter, better correct it before it completely fell off. I scrounged up some  various size metal screws and hand tools and considered the logistics. I need to get myself  about 25 feet above the ground to upright the letter and reattach it to the wall. But I only had about 16-feet of ladder.

This would take some figuring. After considering hanging from ropes or getting a longer ladder, there was just one way. Inspired by the Anasazi!

I leaned the step ladder against the marquee and climbed up from m the sidewalk. 
Once there I hauled the ladder up with me on the marquee.  Just like the Anasazi, with ladder up and no one can reach me. Except the pesky pigeons!

There have been several times I have stepped off the top step of a ladder to do repairs and wondered if the street hooligans might steal it and trap me up there. But not this time!

I lay the ladder up against the sign and climbed up to fix the sign to the wall.
If  I were more romantic I could report that I could hear the frustrated Apache people below, as I scampered up the ladder, but it was really antic-climactic to do the repair without further incidence.

My  trash can was open by the street and did a little cleanup around the marquee.  I took some 20-foot jump shots with trash and pigeon litter. Made some of them too :)

A few years ago I accidentally dropped pile of  pigeon dung on a the shoulder of a passing street addict who was not paying attention to the fact that he walked under a ladder with a trash can.  He was not very happy but he forgot about it right away. I thought he might bump my ladder.
I wondered if the Anasazi threw trash down on to their enemies.
More likely big rocks to avoid repercussions!

I lowered the ladder off the marquee, hoping  I would not hit a passerby below or knock a bicyclist of his stead. No such circumstance and all went well.

Another  repair completed at the Azteca.    Thanks to inspiration from the Anasazi!


The Anasazi were located in the Four Corners region of the U.S.
( Northern New Mexico west of the Pecos River, southwestern Colorado, southern Utah, and northern Arizona south to the Little Colorado River).

They are thought to be the ancestors of modern Indian tribes like the Hopi, the Zuni and the Pueblo.
The earliest Anasazi probably settled in the plateau area because water was more available, which may also be why they disappeared when water was less available.

They disappeared about 800 years ago, long before the first europeans discovered their ruins in 1849.

Circular village in Bandelier National Monument

Alcove House Kiva, Bandelier National Monument

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cotillion Waltz from Fresno's own Patrick Contreras

Another great song from Patrick and Omar

Uninvited by Alanis Morisette,
performed by Patrick Contreras, violin
Omar Nare, Piano

Beautiful Waltz "Cotillion" 
by Fresno's  most versatile and  popular violinist 
Patrick Contreras with Omar Nare.

After our post about his rock violin following it is refreshing to hear a beautiful traditional piece.

And another great song from Patrick and Omar

Mad World
performed by Patrick Contreras, violin
Omar Nare, Piano

See more about Patrick on Facebook!/pcviolin

Okay, a secret dream ... to get Patrick and Omar booked  for a concert at the Azteca Theater...

Prerequisite Dream ...  to get it open for lots of people :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Classic Strings from Russia Grace the Azteca Theater with Friendship

Classics from Russia to the Azteca -  musical friends we have made along the way.
Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet 
Part of the varied journey for the Azteca Theater have been the various roadblocks along the way that sometimes opens other doors. A few years ago  the City of Fresno selected a master developer for all of Fresno's Chinatown. It placed a freeze on many of us in the neighborhood waiting to see how our plans would relate to the greater plan and if they would be blessed.  We are still waiting.  But for me it meant taking an opportunity to go to St. Petersburg, Russia and make  some small projects. It also resulted in a website,, with hundreds of tips for things to do in St. Petersburg, Russia, organized in a forum format. St. Petersburg is the cultural soul of Russia and the one must-see city to understand things Russian. Along with great museums, public art, authors and ballets, St. Petersburg is a great music center. Here are a few friends from St. Petersburg who now have enriched  the voyage for the  Azteca Theater.

The Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet

Excerpt from the second movement and the beginning of the third movement Night Journey, by Katia Tiutiunnik  and  performed by the Rimsky Korsakov Quartet of St. Petersburg, June 24, 2006 at the Dom Kompozitorov organized by Dr. Elena Kostyuchenko.
The Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet continues a long tradition of  classical music in Russia that began in earnest with Rimsky-Korsakov.  The list of students at  the N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory is quite impressive.

One of the  Quartet's CDs, is a collection of music based on the musical  Friday  afternoons Rimsky-Korsakov held with other musician friends to play their new works for each other and refine their compositions. It is a very pleasant CD of music not often heard. I have not seen it for sale here.

The Rinsky-Korsakov String Quartet performed in Ashland, Oregon in its first trip to the USA in 2003. They played in Fresno at a CSUF concert series during their second American concert tour in 2004. It was a pleasure to assist in the arrangements and meet them in the USA again after attending some of their performances in Russia.

Sergei Ilyin

Excerpt from the Russian premiere of "Tre Preghiere di Nabuccoduriussor" by Katia Tiutiunnik and performed by Sergei Ilyin on June 24 2006, at the Dom Kompozitorov, St. Petersburg, Russia organized by Dr. Elena Kostyuchenko.  Sergei heads up the St. Petersburg guitarist group in St. Petersburg and has written quite a few pieces himself. He is very generous with his knowledge and wonderful performer.

Peter Dyson

Listen with Mother: A piano duet by Peter Dyson, composer residing in St. Petersburg, Russia
 Aside from being a very interesting composer, Peter is also a personable person to know. To see him in his long beard one instantly thinks of the classic composers of  Russia and Europe of the past. However, his music is progressive and stimulating.

Savely Shalman

Savely Shalman instructs student Jessica
Savely Shalman has conducted scores of virtuoso violin workshops in Europe, Russia and in recent years,  the USA. I attended the recital of his students in St. Petersburg in the large Glinka Hall on Nevsky Prospect and it was standing room only occasion. They are that good!  Building on a foundation of good technique, Savely has great skill at bringing out the passion and emotion of music from his students.

Savely visited the Azteca Theater on the occasional of his first Master Classes held in California. Sitting  high above San Francisco on the headlands across from  the Golden Gate Bridge I shared some moments with Savely upon his arrival. For someone raised under the Soviet government it never seemed possible to travel to America.
Savely has since made numerous trips here hold master classes and meet with students and instructors.
Savely Shalman is Professor at the Special School of Music in St Petersburg and distinguished Russian violin teacher. He is the author of a number of books on the subject. He is a member of the International Secretariat of ESTA, and Chairman of the board of ESTA-Russia.

- David Owens, Azteca Theater