Monday, April 27, 2009

The Peregrine Falcons of San Francisco and San Jose

A peregrine falcon defends the nest on banding day
image copyright 2006, Glenn Nevill

Glenn Stewart of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group will give a talk and slide show about the peregrine falcon population in San Francisco and San Jose on Sunday, May 3 at 2 PM in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library of San Francisco. He will discuss the recovery of the peregrine population and will have a falcon with him.

In conjunction with this program, there is a display of falcon photographs by Glenn Nevill and Mary Malec on the 4th floor of the Main Library. This exhibit will be available to view through the end of May.

Photographer Glenn Nevill has been photographing the falcons of San Francisco for several years. See his website for more photos:

Mary Malec has been following raptors as a volunteer with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory for several years. Please see her website at for
additional photos.

All library programs are free and open to the public. The Peregrine Falcons of San Francisco and San Jose is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and is part of the library’s Green Stacks program.

A reading list for falcons and falconry:

A Rage For Falcons by Stephen Bodio, illustrated by Jonathan Wilde. (Pruett Pub. Co., 1992).

Falcon Fever: A Falconer In The Twenty-first Century by Tim Gallagher. (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008).

Falconry Basics: A Handbook For Beginners by Tony Hall. (Swan Hill Press, 2003).

The Falcons Of The World by Tom J. Cade, with paintings by R. David Digby. (Comstock / Cornell University Press, 1982).

Traité de fauconnerie, par H. Schlegel et A. H. Verster de Wulverhorst. (Chasse Publications, c1973).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Celebrating The Mastery of Polish Classical Music

Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872)

Celebrating The Mastery of Polish Classical Music is an exhibit presented by the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation and the Art, Music and Recreation Center in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon room on the 4th floor of the Main Library. This exhibit runs from April 4 through June 4, 2009.

This exhibit looks at the lives of two 19th century Polish composers, Frederyk Chopin and Stanisław Moniuszko. While Chopin established his fame as a pianist and composer through the capitols of Europe, the lesser-known Moniuszko worked primarily in his native Poland.

Stanisław Moniuszko was born in 1819 in Ubiel, near Minsk in present-day Belarus. His interest in music became evident early in his childhood. His formal music education took place in Berlin in 1837 where he studied composition and choral conducting. Several of his songs composed during this period were published by the firm of Bote & Bock and were favorably received by the music critics.

After returning from Berlin, Moniuszko obtained a post as an organist in Vilnus. He began composing intensively, writing his first operas, other stage works, and sacred music, as well as secular cantatas. Moniuszko wrote fifteen operas in Polish and is regarded as Poland’s greatest operatic composer. The composer’s engagement as an opera conductor at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw followed in 1859. Beginning in 1864 he also taught harmony and counterpoint at the Musical Institute there.

As noted in the International Dictionary of Opera “he has become associated above all with the concept of a national style in opera, and to some extent he himself fostered this idea.” His music, although stylistically distinct, incorporates many national motifs: Polish dances popular among upper classes such as the polonaise and mazurka, and folk tunes and dances such as kujawiak and krakowiak.

Moniuszko died on June 4, 1872, in Warsaw.

The San Francisco Public Library has two scores of Moniuszko’s music. The most beautiful Moniuszko [Najpiękniejszy Moniuszko] (Polskie Wydawn. Muzyczne, 2006) is an anthology of his short piano works. We also have a set of parts for his First String Quartet (Polskie Wydawn. Muzyczne, 1999).

Two library databases, Oxford Music Online and the Biography Resource Center, include biographical entries about Moniuszko.

For those who can read Polish, there is a full length biography Stanisław Moniuszko: Dziedzictwo, Zycioys I Muzyka: Zarys Biograficzny‎ by Bolesław Wilczyński (1900) available through Google Books.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Balalaika: A Resurgence Of Russia’s Musical Tradition

San Francisco Public Library’s International Center, in conjunction with the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, and the Russian Cultural Centre of Washington, D.C., presents Balalaika: A Resurgence of Russia’s Musical Tradition, a cultural and musical program on Monday, April 20. The bilingual program and performance will be held in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., from 2 to 4 p.m.

Balalaika is the term for a stringed instrument that is the symbol of Russian folk culture. The traditional balalaika’s popularity peaked in the 18th and 19th centuries and was referenced in the works of Russian classics including Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. A vanishing folk tradition, it is now being revitalized in the modern balalaika performance incorporating elements of folk, popular and classical music.

The Library program will feature the popular folk music group Balalaika from Syktyvkar, Russia. The group presents an imaginative musical fusion that spans from Russian folk songs to Tchaikovsky to country and western.

All programs at the San Francisco Public Library are free and open to the public.

For balalaika lovers, the San Francisco Public Library offers the following scores:

Mel Bay's Complete Balalaika Book: A Comprehensive Guide & Tutor by Bibs Ekkel. (Mel Bay Publications, 1997).

Balalaika Playing Technique: Scales And Exercises: Method For All Levels [Техника игры на балалайке : гаммы и упражнения : методическое пособие для ДМШ, ДШИ, ССМШ, музыкальных училищ] compiled by I. Inshakov, A. Gorbachev (Muzyka, 2006).

Russkiĭ Orkestr: Pesni Sovetskikh Kompozitorov [Русский оркестр : песни советских композиторов] sostavil i orkestrovai A. Dorozhkin. (Gos. Muzykalʹnoe Izd-Vo, 1947) - a collection of songs arranged for an ensemble of domras and balalaikas.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cut the Couture: I'll Do It Myself

"In these hard times — Dress Up! Do it yourself," proclaimed couture designer Vivienne Westwood in a hand-scrawled note reproduced for the 25th Anniversary of London’s Fashion Week. Included in the manifesto were her own unique suggestions, such as making clothes from “shawls, blankets, table cloths, curtains, towels, or a meter of beautiful fabric,” using “kerchiefs worn as knickers (good for disco or the beach) or tied up as a bag,” and to create a “necklace out of safety-pins.” While Westwood's statement was not entirely unexpected from a founder of punk rock fashion, it was either an excellent self-promotion stunt or an indicator of the cultural shift in favor of hand-making clothes over shopping.

The Art, Music and Recreation Center invites you take Dame Westwood’s challenge to heart and to ‘Cut the Couture.’ On exhibit in the Art, Music and Recreation Center’s wall case is a selection of D.I.Y. clothing books to instruct and inspire you. The projects presented range from ‘punk-rock’ and urban influenced designs (see books below), to ones encouraging material reuse and restructuring, to more artistic pursuits such as silk painting.

To view the exhibit or for the complete bibliography, please visit the library.

"Cut the Couture: I’ll Do It Myself" is an adjunct exhibition to House of Nat: Fashion Tips from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor in the library's Skylight Gallery. It will be on display through the end of May.
Vivienne Westwood by Claire Wilcox. (London: V & A Publications, 2004).

Pretty in Punk: 25 Punk, Rock, And Goth Knitting Projects by Alyce Benevides and Jaqueline Milles; photographs by Rob Benevides. (San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2007).

Subversive Seamster: Transform Thrift Store Threads Into Street Couture by Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meng, Melissa Rannels; photographs by Matthew Carden. (Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 2007).

Punk Knits: 26 Hot New Designs For Anarchistic Souls And Independent Spirits by Share Ross; Photographs by Bam Ross. (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007).