Arts News: May 2007 Archives
Moog is still vogue
"The Asheville Symphony Orchestra will honor the late Moog synthesizer creator (and Asheville resident) Robert Moog in a performance Saturday of Gustav Holst's 'The Planets.' In the orchestra's final Masterworks concert of the season, music director Daniel Meyer will lead a performance that features six Moog 'Little Phatty' synthesizers, which will execute the choral harmonies in 'Neptune, the Mystic' typically performed by a six-woman choir."
Thanks to Paul Clark of the Asheville Citizen-Times)
A beautiful eulogy to a guitar god no one's heard of
"Some prayers never reach the sky. Some wounds never heal. Sometime Friday night, maybe early Saturday morning, the World's Fading Man, proudly unreconstructed, got caught in life's fading twilight. There was nothing left in his field of vision, no curtain to block out the storm that had been raging for years. He could no longer see the exceptionally long shadow that he cast. He had done his job for 40 years. He did it better than most, indeed, a master of his craft. And he had served well, a natural-born man of merit and cool, the quintessential desperado under the eaves. But he was tired. It was time to retire. A sunnier clime beckoned. Sam Moss, 54, died on the couch in his living room. He was surrounded by books, music, memorabilia, guitars - all the personal treasures and manifestos of an extraordinary life led with passion and taste."
(Special thanks to Ed Bumgardner of the Winston-Salem Journal)
Piercing the veil of bling-bling
"Who is Daniel Johnson? His MySpace bio reveals a 28-year-old Florence label owner and prolific rapper heavy on intelligence and light on frills. But Johnson's identity is more complicated than that. The intricately woven tales on 'In the Face of Danger,' Johnson's latest CD, invite listeners into the minds of dueling personalities, one -- called Danger -- acutely maniacal, the other -- Dan Johns -- as cool as a beach breeze. On the CD, which will be released Thursday with a show at Group Therapy, it seems Danger and Johns have shaken hands and agreed to co-exist. Because he's away from the chain popping, champagne drinking and arrests of mainstream hip-hop, all Johnson has is his identity. Let the introductions begin."
(Thanks to Otis R. Taylor Jr. of The State)
Spend a day with a bunch of harpists and learn something
"Since the (American Youth Harp Ensemble in Richmond, Va.) formed as a nonprofit entity in late 1999, these young musicians have seen the world. The list of venues in which they've played includes Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and European equivalents in London, Paris and Rome. A trip to Japan is tentatively scheduled for next year. Graduates of the program have attended Peabody, Oberlin and Shenandoah conservatories, among other schools. Still, the harp? Isn't that what Harpo Marx would play during those musical interludes in Marx Brothers movies? 'It has the potential to be more expressive than people would think,' Ediger-Kordzaia says. 'It's a surprising instrument. People don't realize how powerful it is. They're not sweet and pretty.'"
(Thanks to Dean Hoffmeyer of the Richmond Times-Dispatch)
The underbelly of an opera house
A writer finds there's more to this venue than music. "The Wortham Theater Center in Houston has a few quirks . . . The three-hour opera ("Aida"), featuring sets and costumes by British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, was riveting. But it can be a little seat-numbing. So midway through the first act, I removed the thick wallet from my back pocket, placed it on the floor of the center's Brown Theater and settled in for the rest of the performance. At intermission, I reached down to retrieve the wallet and accidentally pushed it through an air vent in the floor. While it was a stupid thing to do, it helped to discover I'm not alone."
(Thanks to Clifford Pugh who wrote this for the Houston Chronicle)
Avant-garde opera is popular in Augusta, Ga.?
Innovative productions of familiar operas are fueling an uptick in attendance, said Les Reagan, artistic director of the Augusta Opera, before a performance of "La Boheme." "The National Endowment for the Arts most recent survey of public participation said that opera audiences grew by 46.6 percent between 1982 and 2002. That's 20 years of growth, and Les credits innovators in the field. Theater and opera companies aren't modernizing the productions, like producers did when they based the hit Broadway musical 'Rent' on the centuries-old storyline and music. They're simply presenting them in new ways or making them more accessible for modern audiences."
(Thanks to Stacey Hudson of the Augusta Metro Spirit)
The case for negative thinking
A psychologist debunks the so-called law of attraction recently embraced by the likes of Oprah Winfrey. "According to this made-up law, your thoughts attract whatever they focus on - literally. Focus on Britney Spears' thong, feel what it would be like to have it tied around your face, prepare to receive it - and it will soon be smothering you! . . . Indeed, one could reasonably argue that it was George Bush's blind optimism and reliance on his 'gut' that allowed him to invade Iraq without listening to those who anticipated failure. The refusal to consider the negative has mired us more deeply than ever in the negative."
(Thanks to Cliff Bostock, columnist for Creative Loafing Atlanta)
What audiences really think
The Birmingham News conducted a poll of regular attendees to the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to see how its new maestro, Justin Brown, fared by the end of his debut season. "Superlatives being relative, it's safe to say that a mutual admiration society has sprung up between Brown and our panelists, all of whom are regular concertgoers and none of whom have a stake in the ASO as staff or board members."
(Thanks to Michael Huebner of the Birmingham News)
How to (righteously) piss off a certain kind of Southerner
One day artist John Sims decided to create a work of art in which he dangled a Confederate flag from a noose swinging from a gallows. He called it "The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag." It got some attention. The Sons of the Confederate Veterans demanded the work be removed from the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee. The museum demurred. The story doesn't end there, though. Flushed with confidence, Sims has invited performance artist Karen Finley to put on a seance to evoke the voices of the past to comment on the ole Stars and Bars. "I told her she should call up some African slaves and see what they have to say," Sims said. "I'm excited to see what happens and who turns out for this."
(Thanks to Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat)
More than framed posters of flowers and trees
A new hotel is downtown Memphis is using original artwork to enhance its decor. "The people at Westin thought about art from the very beginning," said Mark Weaver, an architect with Hnedak Bobo Group and lead designer for the project, as he showed a reporter through the building that bustled with activity. "They want a hotel that addresses all the senses, and art is a big component."
(Thanks to Fredric Koeppel of the Memphis Commercial Appeal)
Yet more attempts to seduce those elusive 'younger people'
Hoping to nurture a new crop of concert-goers, the San Antonio Symphony has launched an advertising campaign, along with programs and events, catered to teens and young adults. "Successfully appealing to young people could mean survival for the nation's orchestras. With that in mind, local symphony leaders have launched the rock 'n' roll-style ad campaign this season and, among other efforts, added audio clips to their Web site and started a 'Future Stars Competition' that will culminate today with three students joining the orchestra."
(Thanks to Michelle Koidin Jaffee of the San Antonio Express-News)
It's never too late to start
"At 25, Walter Kovshik reached a crossroads: Would his career be in music or business? He chose business. He faced a similar choice at 50. Did he want to continue his work as a fundraising consultant or revisit the world of classical music? This time, music won out -- at least temporarily. At the end of May, Kovshik will fly from Orlando to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the Fifth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation. He will be competing against 74 other pianists from around the world."
(Thanks to Jean Patteson of the Orlando Sentinel)
Putting it on the line in high school
Talk about kids taking risks: For an end-of-year fundraiser, they're doing a talent show fund-raiser featuring Broadway songs about teenagers. The audience gets to vote on the winners.
(Thanks to Lori Holcomb of the Battle Creek Enquirer)
Finding New Spaces
After the owner of their performance space was murdered in February (during a run of the ironically named world premiere, "Fatal Error"), Icarus Falling needed to find a new space for the rest of their season. They landed in a conference room of a local Internet services provider. It somehow seems apropros for a group whose season was themed "dot human."
(Thanks to Mike Hughes of the Lansing State Journal)
Sometimes it takes a person
Perhaps it is the nature of art itself that arts communities so often thrive on the work of individuals. It is usually the passion of individuals rather than the corporate underwriting or governmental support that makes the arts scene flourish or wither. In Aurora, one person with that sort of passion is gallery owner Dan Hites. "Hites believes Aurora already has a vibrant arts scene, and it just needs some nurturing. He sees himself as a facilitator -- that's what he did with Dreamerz in Wicker Park, he said, by giving away second floor space to theater groups and poets, and featuring local bands on his stage; that's what he hopes to do with River Breeze."
(Thanks to Andre Salles of The Beacon News)
Don't sit in the front row for this performance. At least, don't sit there unless you're OK with being the target of inflatable people and flaming torches. "The show is unique in its dizzying combination of magic, ballet, juggling, bad jokes, physical comedy and the inflatables. At one point, Garbo -- a Maine native who has performed this show for 17 years -- climbs inside a large orange inflatable box and moves around on stage, oozing into the audience every chance he gets."
(Thanks to Benjamin Ray of Hillsdale Daily News)
Ballet Company turns 20
In a city currently obsessed with its returning American Idol finalist, the local newspaper hasn't forgotten its local ballet troupe, a company that turned 20 this year. It's a story in which dancers share some of their fond memories as they celebrate their anniversary with their spring concert.
(Thanks to Carol Azizian of The Flint Journal)
Reaching Out to Smaller Towns
Lansing is far from a metropolis, but its Wharton Center for the Performing Arts is certainly one of the largest performing arts venues in Michigan and in the top ten centers (at least as far as box office is concerned) in the country. According to this Traverse City article, they're now reaching out to bring their programs into communities around the state.
(Thanks to Traverse City Record Eagle)