San Diego County Arts Writer

San Diego Symphony’s composer in residence has corralled another prestigious award.

Bernard Rands received first prize for orchestral compositions in the 1986 Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards last month in Washington. A jury selected his “Suites Nos. 1 and 2: Le Tambourin,” which were commissioned for the San Diego Symphony and premiered here in 1984 under his baton. Rands based the suites on six paintings and drawings by Vincent van Gogh.

The first-place award was split between Rands and composer Richard Wernick, who was cited for a violin concerto. Each received $3,000.

Rands received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for his song cycle, “Canti del Sole.”


Rands, who left his position at UC San Diego in 1985 to teach composition at Boston University, was to have conducted a cello piece for the symphony in February, but the symphony’s winter season was canceled last week. His stint as composer-in-residence will end after this non-season. Last spring, Rands conducted the San Diego Symphony in “Canti del Sole” and a new work, “Canti Lunatici.”

Established in 1978, the Friedheim Awards recognize compositions by American citizens or permanent residents, alternating each year between orchestral and chamber works.

Meanwhile, the symphony staff will be whittled down to 13 by Dec. 1. High staff turnover has been a criticism of the symphony, and the senior staff member is public relations director Nancy Hafner, who has been on board for just more than four years.

GRANT DECLINE: San Diego County received less grant money from the California Arts Council this year than in 1985. In 1985, the council awarded $426,180 to 24 San Diego area groups. This year, the figure dropped to $421,426, but the number of grants rose to 26.


A council official cited the increased number of requests and a change in grant standards as the reasons for the decrease.

There were a few significant changes in allocations. Key grants that dropped: the Old Globe, down from $115,500 to $95,000; the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, down from $28,704 to $24,451, and Mandeville Gallery, down from $6,808 to $4,557.

Not all of the awards decreased. Those groups with bigger grants include: San Diego Opera, up from $94,500 to $100,000; La Jolla Playhouse, up from $16,430 to $22,776, and Centro Cultural de la Raza, up from $12,900 to $15,961.

Sushi performance and art gallery doubled its grant from $6,020 to $12,011.


And the symphony received $50,000, a $20,000 increase, its first big comeback since 1982, when the orchestra’s grants began to plummet. In 1981, the symphony received a $132,900 grant. The following year it was awarded $70,500. In 1983, ’84 and ’85, council grants to the symphony were just less than $30,000.

But the $50,000 grant is in jeopardy because of the symphony’s canceled season. On Thursday, the symphony’s grant and appeals by groups that feel they should have gotten more funding will be discussed at a California Arts Council meeting at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

BORDER REALITIES: Sara Jo Berman, best known for her work with the Mexican-American performance art group Poyesis Genetica, debuts with a solo piece this week at Sushi. “Fly Me to the Moon,” a simultaneous look at the past, present and future of two women--Golda, 70, and a much younger, salsa- and disco-dancing Maria--draws parallels between the 1930s and the 1980s while directing attention to social, psycho-sexual and geopolitical borders. Berman, an actress and choreographer, is the author and director of the work. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and Nov. 28 and 29 at Sushi, 852 8th Ave.

ARTBEATS: The San Diego Opera Chorus will perform a benefit concert for the San Diego AIDS Project at 8 p.m. Monday at Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway. Tickets are $25. . . . The San Diego Unified Port District has moved ahead with its public art program. On Monday, the port’s Art Advisory Committee and two guest jurors will narrow 55 proposals to five in the competition to place a sculpture on Harbor Island. Each of the five finalists will receive $2,000. The winner will receive $75,000 to create pieces for one or two sites.