Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Corpus Christi", controversial passion play by Terrence McNally, has performance canceled at a Texas college

The Fort Worth Star Telegram has a disturbing story about the cancellation of a performance of Terrence McNally’s “Corpus Christi” at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas recently. The story, by Greg Trainor, is here.  The play was said to be a class project, and this performance was said to be somewhat abbreviated.

Terrence McNally wrote “Corpus Christi is a play about God's unconditional love for all men and women, even those who would prevent you from seeing it.. Gay men and women have taken their place at the table of faith, and they are not giving up their seats to anyone. I am proud the students at Tarleton State University wanted to perform my play; I am saddened the administration chose not to support them.”

I saw the play in Minneapolis in 2002 near the University of Minnesota campus (Gray Space Theater, Cedar Riverside Peoples’ Center), directed by Bryan Cole, with Stephen Frethem as Josh, the Christ character, who sometimes (like the young Clark Kent in “Smallville”) yearns to be “normal” rather than the Son of God. There is a “disco-like” scene later, and the final crucifixion “shows all”, and I can understand how some people are “offended” by the “concept(s)” of the play (especially if performed at a “public” university). Wikipedia also characterizes one scene as a gay marriage between two apostles performed by Jesus.

MidNightRider has an earlier YouTube video about the anticipated Stephenville production before the cancellation.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture from downtown Corpus Christi Texas where the playwright was raised (he was born in Florida).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Andres tone poem played by Yale Symphony (YouTube); "DC Swing" brings back the boogie woogie of WWII days

Following up on a report of a concert on May 14, 2009, visitors might want to watch a performance of a composition “Bathtub Shrine” by Timothy Andres, performed by the Yale Symphony Orchestra April 18, 2009, conducted by Toshiyuki Shimada, a tribute to C. William Harwood. The ten minute composition, mostly in slow tempos, evokes memories for me of Britten (some of the “Death in Venice" music), Copland, and a little late Mahler. The title is intriguing (somehow it reminds me of Warhol, since I visited his museum in Pittsburg in 2007).

In September 2013 Timo reminded listeners that the composition was composed in memory of conductor William Harwood, who died of AIDS in 1985 (early in the epidemic) at age 36, link here. The title apparently refers to Woolsey Hall at Yale.
The YouTube video from Yale Symphony follows.

The visitor may want to go to the March 13, 2010 entry of the composer’s blog (link) for a bizarre snow object picture, from the late February New York “snowicane” blizzard, bringing back images of the Blair Witch Project.

My own picture above is of “DC Swing” from SLDN’s “Freedom to Serve” event tonight at the National Building Museum in Washington. They played jazz music from the WWII period, including “Bugle Boy”.

Update: March 27

Check out the March 22 entry on Andres's blog (piano pedals and feet), and the info from Nonesuch Records on his new album "Shy and Mighty" (paradox? irony?) due out in May, here.

In the days before CD's, like the 70s, Nonesuch (Elektra) was well known as a low-medium price lable with unusual classical offerings.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Deep brain stimulation helps Minnesota concert violinist resume career

A violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra, Roger Frisch, underwent novel brain surgery (“deep brain stimulation”) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and actually played the violin (Bach) during his surgery.

The ABC “World News Tonight” (March 18) story by Lara Salahi, Lana Zak and Darria Long is here, with title “Musician Plays Violin as Surgeons Operate on His Brain: Cutting Edge: Treating Tremors Through Deep Brain Stimulation”.

The International Essential Tremor Foundation website is here.

Picture: Near the Minnesota Orchestra on Marquette Ave, downtown Minneapolis (taken 2003). I think the piano music is Ravel, but I'm not sure. Does someone know what the music is?

I worked as a caller for the Minnesota Orchestra (the Guaranty Fund for the Young People's Concerts) from April 2002 to June 2003, before coming back to VA.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

CBS "60 Minutes": Pianist Derek Paravicini: improvisations

On Sunday, March 14, CBS 60 Minutes presented a segment about British pianist Derek Paravicini. At 30, he has recently given his first major concert in London, playing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with orchestra, and improvising jazz on his own. For Lesley Stahl, Derek improvised on the notes C-B-flat-F-sharp.

Derek was born premature and profoundly disabled: blind, with some learning disabilities similar to autism. He was taught piano, however, and developed the abilities of a savant.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

CBS also mentioned the book by Adam Ockelford, “In the Key of Genius” about Derek. I found the item only in Kindle format on Amazon, from Cornerstone Press, link here, ASIN: B0038LB4R6. CBS says it is also published by Random House.

On my movies blog on March 12, I reviewed a film, Kimberly Reed's "Prodigal Sons," where a man (Marc McKerrow) disabled by head injury demonstrates a similar talent on the piano.

Monday, March 08, 2010

"Musiccorps" brings music ensemble playing to underprivileged kids in four cities

NBC Nightly News, on Monday March 8, aired a “Making a Difference” report about a “Musiccorps” program in four cities (Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans) assisting grade-school children in poor neighborhoods to learn to play in musical ensembles. A few months ago, there was a report of a similar private program in Miami. Both could have been inspired by Gustavo Dudamel's work with youth in Venezuela.

The report emphasized the idea that “connection between people” in teamwork is part of musical expression, a concept that may seem alien to composers working alone. But the composers must work with others when presenting their music.

Teaching musicians to work together in a team (an ensemble) is quite different from teaching piano or violin individually. I recall that in one of the last episodes of the WB show "Everwood", the character Ephram (Gregory Smith), having skipped the audition to Julliard because of a dispute with his father, wound up giving music classes at the age of 18.

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Earlier in the show, NBC also reported that opera singer Placido Domingo, 69, is recovering from colon cancer surgery and is expected to recover completely.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Ethan Bortnick appears on NBC Today with "We Are the World"

On Sunday February 28 NBC Today show presented the nine year old piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick, from Florida. Ethan played an improvisation on Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World” (1985) on the Today Show Sunday Feb. 28. According to Wikipedia, he was the youngest of 70 artists in making the recording as a benefit for Haiti. In general, in his materials, the emphasis seemed to be on fun rather than classics in the usual sense.

I still recall the "We Are the World" event in downtown Dallas in 1985.

This YouTube clip comes from "Melody Street".

Ethan appears to have two websites, this link, and then this.

Picture (mine): Boca Raton, FL, 2004.