The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on November 21, 1973 · 13
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · 13

Baltimore, Maryland
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 21, 1973
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'r THE SUN BALTIMORE, Wednesday, November 21, 1973 II 1 Francis Boys 'merge with society' in their rock group r 1 . - r , i - V.V:::?l'-;', ' ?f v ,.: 5" is - . v. e - - n s Theater Films Music Television Art Comics ifc-x;: .y.'.'j By KAY Sun Staff Rome-Teenagers clapped in time to the music, grannies nodded bealifi-cally, and the ancient bones below Via Veneto's Capuchin church rattled to the rhythm of a unique rock group one recent Sunday morning in Rome. The group, the "Francis Boys", con-sists of seven Franciscan monks, most of whom are still engaged in theological studies. Four years ago, when the seven studied together in a convent in Viterbo, a medieval town just north of Rome, their common interest in music led them to form a playtime rock group to amuse their fellow friars. But the Francis Boys "We pinned several names to the convent wall and let our brothers choose the best" soon attracted attention outside the convent walls. So packing themselves and their instruments (an electric organ, three guitars, a trombone, a sax and drums) into a Volkswagen bus, the seminarians, whose average age is 24, toured hospitals, churches, local festivals and even some nearby concert halls. What had been little more than a hobby acquired a professional aplomb and a heavily booked schedule. More important, as far as the Francis Boys are concerned, it became a means of communication between laity and clergy. "Today, priests must be able to merge with society," said Father Sergio, 25, singer, guitarist, group leader and, conveniently enough, almost the double of Franco Zeffirelli's cinematic St. Francis of Assisi. "We thought of exploiting music in this way, as a means of communication." "The word spread, and we received other invitations from outside," added Father Bruno, 27, dark, bearded and bespectacled, the group's bass guitarist. A couple of movies lacking credulity By R. H. GARDNER I might have enjoyed "Charley Var-rick" more had not an incident, occurring at the beginning, undermined my belief in the central character and, therefore, everything that followed. The film, now appearing at quite a few Baltimore theaters, opens with the title character (played by Walter Mat-thau) driving up in front of a small New Mexico bank. A prowl-car policeman points out the no parking sign but, on seeing that Varrick's leg is in a cast, permits the woman at the wheel to wait until he has finished his business inside, A moment later, rolling along the street with his partner, the policeman recalls seeing the license number of the parked automobile on a stolen-car list. He checks with headquarters, which sends reinforcements. And, as the newly arrived officers start to question the woman, she shoots two of them and receives a fatal wound in return. Meanwhile, inside the bank, Varrick and two accomplices, having robbed the safe, are attacked by a guard, who kills one. After a hectic chase through the business district, the two survivors abandon the now-dead woman, along with the half-demolished car, in the brush outside the town. Only then do we learn that she was Varrick's beloved wife, whom he met long ago when they were both performers in a barnstorming airplane act. Now the problem: Varrick is shown to be no ordinary criminal but a man of keen intelligence and deep sensibilities who has taken to crime as a last resort after many unsuccessful years trying to make a living out of a small-time crop-dusting operation. Would such a man risk bis wife's life for a few paltry thousand dollars? For, since the bank they chose to rob was so small it was not even insured, that was all they expected to get. To their astonishment, when the WITHERS Correspondent Not that they accepted them all. Even the most modern of monks must draw the line somewhere. "We got an invitation to play at the Number One Club," Father Sergio said, leaving one to understand their reluctance to play in a nightclub whose main claim to fame so far is a far-reaching drug scandal. They did, however, play in some professional festivals, such as a pop concert in the industrial town of Terni and a youth festival in San Remo. But they returned disillusioned with the rat-race and the exploitation of the commercialized field. "(A well-known singer) asked to come to Mass with us," they explained. "But we noticed that he was bringing a host of photographers. It was all to be in terms of publicity, of photographs in the newspapers. We refused." They went back gladly to the simplicity of town squares, of parishes, of contact with the people. "We had nothing to say in San Remo," they say now. "They liked us, we aroused their curiosity, but we had no chance of building a spontaneous rapport with the public. We don't want to spout messages,, we have no great ambitions, but we want to be men among men, trying to understand each other, perhaps through music." Messages or not, their repertoire leans heavily towards songs of commitment not necessarily religious. "We try to respond as much as possible to modern problems," Father Sergio said, "peace, nature, and so on." Despite their fears of commercial exploitation, they did make a recording for CBS. "The record gave us a chance to reach other people, to say something other than what one usually hears on records," Father Sergio said. They cut two semi-religious pieces entitled "Song WALTER loot is counted, it amounts to three-quarters of a million. Correctly concluding that the bank was a "drop" for illegal money on its way out ,of the country, Varrick-who is referred to ironically as "the last of the independents" prepares for the inevitable attempt by the Mafia to get it back. The means by which he outwits his well-organized adversaries makes for a generally engrossing film, to which Don Siegel's direction and Matthau's and Joe Don Baker's performances (the latter as a Mafia muscle man) contribute noticeably. But, because of that beginning, I had trouble believing any of it. As a book, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" struck me as a rather labored allegory on man's aspirations toward the infinite. The idea of a bird, trying to transcend the limitation of his species by flying ever faster and higher, had a temporary charm. But when he finally encountered the Great Gull, who spoke to him not in parables, but in platitudes, f I'M- ! , i - M . Vjt 1 i4s ' z.rj of the Creatures" and "I Love My Life," and they plan another recording of Christmas songs before the year is out. General reaction, both inside and outside the church, has been positive. In unknown localities, they usually check on whether the audience is "tuned in" to modern music before launching an all-out rock rhythm. So far they haven't MATTHAU the whole thing broke apart like feathers in the wind. Now Hall Bartlett, in collaboration with author Richard Bach, has brought "Jonathan" to the screen. And though the film, currently at the Towson and Westview I, abounds with beautiful translucent photography, unfolded to an effective Neil Diamond score, it fails to overcome the weaknesses of the book. We are treated to great lovely skyscapes and performances by birds, whose versatility before the camera recalls the excellent Walt Disney documentaries of the Fifties. But essentially all these birds can do is fly; and inspiring though gulls are to watch, as they soar gracefully and effortlessly through the ether, shots of their flights can, through repetition become monotonous. And the pretentious dialogue, provided by offscreen human beings, is even harder to take when put into the beaks of live birds. Still, I suspect that those who flipped over the book will do likewise over the film. ":;.5 :,r". . - v . - Franciscan monks play rock music had any complaints, at least not any serious ones. But "We were narrowly missed by some rotten eggs once," Father Sergio said. "We had refused the offer of a group of youths who wanted to play with us, mainly because once before a similar offer sent most of our audience away. So they retaliated." In traditionalist Italy, it was only to Concerts By EARL ARNETT A common complaint heard among people who first move to Baltimore is that the city offers little for families. In a specialized age devoted to demographic categories, entertainment managers pitch their efforts at specific groups, frequently ignoring the needs of families that include a number of different ages and sexes. Dr. Irene Grossman discovered, for example, that few public musical events seem appropriate for both the children and the adults in her family. They either appeal to teenage cults or to grown-up tastes. So she has decided to do something about it. "I have organized a new children's concert series," said Dr. Grossman, who teaches music at the day school operated by the Bais Yaakov congregation. "Being both a mother of two young children and a music educator, I have found only limited opportunities for fine musical experiences for our children. "When such concerts are available, as those presented by the organization, Young Audiences, they are generally offered as a single performance during the school day and through the school system. I feel that the children and their parents should be offered additional concerts in a series rather than just a single event. "I'm starting with the idea that more good concerts involving lecture, demonstration and audience participation should be made available to children with the option of having other members of their family share these experiences with them." Dr. Grossman grew up in the New York area but earned both her master's and doctor's degree in piano from the University of Maryland. She also lived a vear and a half in Israel while conducting research on Israeli piano music, the subject of her doctoral thesis. "My children are 5 and 7 years old," she said, "and many times don't know what to do with themselves. There are not that many activities of high quality for children. Everyone I talked to about such a series said it was a terrific idea, but no wanted to do the work. So I've started it like a test run." Committing her own time and money, Dr. Grossman has engaged pianist Ann Heiligman Saslav; clarinetist Franklin Cohen and his wife Lynette, who plays bassoon and the Crofton Trio to play Sunday afternoons in the auditorium of the Langsdale Library at the University of Baltimore, 1420 Maryland avenue. Mrs. Saslav will begin the series at 3 P.M. December 2 with a recital-demon amidst the ruins near Viterbo. be expected that the church hierarchy would check on something as exotic as a seminarians' rock group. "We know the Sacred Congregation of Religious looked into us," Father Sergio said, "but they haven't stopped us so we take that as tacit approval." The Francis Boys say they are apolitical ("The Christian Democrats have asked us to play several times, but we for the entire family stration program especially geared for elementary school children. If enough tickets are sold for the relatively small auditorium, she will give a second program at 4.15 P.M. the same day. Mr. and Mrs. Cohen will perform as the second part of the series at the same time and place on January 20th. The Crofton Trio with George Orner on violin; Wallace Toroni, cello, and Arno Drucker, piano, will conclude the series on February 17th. These musicians, all of them intimately associated with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra either as players or friends, represent some of the best musicianship in the Baltimore-Washington area, said Dr. Grossman. Experienced in playing for children, they can not only perform the music with expertise but can also explain it at a simple Eat it first yourself By ERJIA There has never been a time in history when so many people want to help my hamburger. I counted 18 boxed variations on the grocery shelf the other day, each one promising to change my hamburger from an ordinary humdrum meal into a gourmet belch. The truth is, only one thing can help my hamburger . . . more meat. I've tried to drown it in tomato sauce, brown it as a topping, roll it into little balls with rice and call it porcupine, combine it with every starch and cheese known to man, and it still looks like a contestant on Let's Make A Deal. In fact, if Phase 4 has done anything, it has created suspicion among families and mistrust among close friends. The other night I placed a platter in front of my husband. He looked at the broiled legs and thighs heaped on the plate and with his fork poised in midair asked, "What kind of meat is this?" "It's chicken," I said flatly. "Why do you ask?" "Because I have never seen an inch and a half thigh before." "Would you believe it was the runt of the litter?" "No." have always refused") and do not consider themselves priestly rebels. They consider themselves in line with what they describe as "the liberal traditions of the Franciscans." "We simply believe people have something to teach us," they say, "and we have something to teach them. We be-: lieve in the possibility of an exchange of views." level that may enlighten parents as well. It is important for parents and children to share such musical experiences, said Dr. Grossman. She hopes the concerts will give families the opportunity to enjoy a high quality tone art together. If the series is successful, then hopefully it will expand under fulltime, professional direction, she continued. "I want to get it started and then watch it develop," she said. Tickets for the entire three concert series will cost $5, she said, and individual admission will be $2. All those interested should write her at 3810 Menlo drive in Baltimore or call 358-3221. "I hope they will be delightful learning experiences for everyone," she concluded, "and will lead to more concerts for the entire family." BOMBECK "Where's my hamster?" asked our youngest suddenly. "I told you," I explained patiently, "he escaped from his cage last week and is somewhere in the woodwork." "I don't believe you," he whined. "Look, gang," I said, "will you give me a break? We're living in a period of make-believe and synthetics. All I'm asking you to do is pretend the dressing is made from a bird instead of a box where you add only water. Pretend the gravy is from meat drippings instead of an envelope where you add only milk. Pretend the salad is from the earth instead of a hydroponic garden and that the cake came from a mixing bowl and wasn't baked in its own foil pan. "Pretend the milk is from a cow and the butter from a churn. Pretend you trust your mother." "Not until you tell us what it is," squinted my husband. "O.K.! O.K.! It's hamburger shaped like little chicken appendages." "Then you eat it first," they ordered. They think this is bad. Wait until tomorrow when they see my hamburger-soy bean turkey wearing Supp-Hose to hold it together. It'll blow their minds.

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