PBS runs abridged version of “Manzanar, Diverted” on water issue; a review of Stenhammar’s symphonies

Manzanar, my visit May 2012

On Monday, July 18, 2022, PBS stations (POV) aired a 56-minute version of the film “Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust”, directed by Ann Kaneko, with Jin Yoo-Kim, and Tracy Rector.  IMDB lists the original film as 84 minutes, and I still wish PBS would present films in their entirety without completely repackaging and rebranding them. IMDB lists no other distributors.  The production company is Intersection Films. 

Manzanar, Diverted: Trailer

Manzanar had been one of the internment camps of Japanese civilian Nisei during World War II under President Roosevelt. I have visited the park once, in 2012. It is accessed on US-395 which runs from the Sierras, around Mammoth Lake, down the Owens Valley, dropping 3000 feet in one stretch, through the town of Bishop, before finally reaching a turn toward Los Angeles.  I have driven the 395 stretch several times, the first time in 1971 with ex Army and grad school buddies. 

UCI offers a talk by the director (embedding not allowed) on YT.

The film focuses on the diversion of dwindling water resources (an appendix to climate change) to Los Angeles.  There is legal and moral controversy over whether a distant city “own” their water. Much of it flows off the east slops of the Sierra Nevada.

QA on film at Cal Tech

The filmmaker does a brief comment at the end and says that the “land and water” are the protagonist, not an individual character.  There is some mention of the Nuumu Poyo trail.

I wanted to re-cover another music topic briefly, the two symphonies of Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar.

Here is a video with manuscript online posted by Inverted Ninth Chord of Wilhelm Stenhammar – Symphony No. 1 in F Major (1902-1903), Performed by the Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester, Conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov.  I don’t recall if this is the performance I have on a Records International or Marco Polo CD from the late 1980s.  The work runs 55 minutes in four movements and the heavy use of brass in a relatively “pastoral” key of F Major (the same key as Brahms Third, and yes keys seem to have personalities despite equal temperament) gives a Wagnerian, even Brucknerian feel, especially in the “sunrise” at the very end.  Furthermore, the slow movement (in A Minor) reminds me of the slow movement of Bruckner’s Fourth.  The Scherzo in B-flat however is very gentle.

Stemhammar Symphony #1

The same channel offers  Wilhelm Stenhammar – Symphony No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 34 (1911-1915), Performed by the BBC Philharmonic, Conducted by Vassily Sinaisky.

Stenhammar Symphony #2

The tone of the work (47 min) is almost Baroque, with Bach-like progressions taken to extreme.  The finale is another great fugue, possibly inspired by Bruckner’s 5th Symphony, although the movement as a whole, while 17 minutes, seems terse and drives toward its climax in an efficient fashion. The basic march theme (related to previous movements) will sound familiar.  Again, less well-known composers have contributed many everyday themes and melodies in our culture (especially for Hollywood).

(Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at 11 AM EDT)