Archive for the ‘Idyllwild Arts Academy’ Category

2nd Annual Student Oboe & Clarinet Recital

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

(from R) Camille and Jeanette take a bow

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For the second year in a row, Camille and Shen have hosted their classical music recitals together.

Their Idyllwild Arts senior recital, featuring oboe and clarinet, was held on Tuesday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall.

Each gave a lively performance and were happy and breathless afterwards. At one point, Camille thought she was going to pass out, but didn’t.

Camille and Shen are friends, fellow orchestra members and complement each other well, like Bogie and Bacall.

Shen hails from China, while Camille was born in Los Angeles to Chinese parents. Shen is gregarious and short with dimples, while Camille is aloof, brainy, and leggy.

They even share the same last name.
“Liu is a pretty common name in China, like Smith is in the U.S.,” said Camille.

Shen lost the toss, so Camille would play first at their recital. Going first is always better because oftentimes a majority of the audience leaves to socialize or study before their 10 p.m. curfew.

“I know that most of them will stay because Shen is really popular,” said Camille beforehand.

(from R) Shen with Nelms

This year, Shen won the Idyllwild Arts Concerto Competition, which meant he got to perform as a soloist along with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra.

Shen was also a prefect, or student advisor, during the year. In the fall, he will attend Juilliard School of Music in New York. Lake, a jazz bass player and Idyllwild Arts senior will join him.

Not to be outdone, Camille got more than 2200 score on her SATs, and will be going to Northwestern University in Evanston in the fall.

Camille will continue her musical studies, but is looking forward to Northwestern’s academic challenge.

Last year, during their junior recitals, both only had to play only :30 minutes each, but as seniors, they had to play :45 minutes each.

“I think mine went over 10 minutes, so Shen got cheated a little bit,” admitted Camille.

For her first number, Camille played J.S. Bach’s “Sonata in G Minor BMV 1020” with Jeanette Louise Yaryan on piano. It sounded like a mellow piece. At times, Camille’s oboe sounded more like a flute. But then the Allego gave way to fast fingers, and Camille gave a sigh of relief at its end.

“Concerto in C Major, K 314” by W. A. Mozart showed off Camille’s ability to play long notes. Benny Kleinerman accompanied her on piano.

For her third selection, Camille was reunited with bassoon player, Felix, and Nelm McKelvain on piano. Just weeks before, the three had played Francis Poulenc’s “Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon” at Felix’s Junior Recital.

“I’m helping her because she helped me,” said Felix as he headed for the dressing room.

It was the same piece, but somehow it sounded differently that night.

(from L) Brian Cohen talks with Camille's dad afterwards while her mom and Peter Askim listen in

“I think Nelms started out faster this time,” said Felix later.

The Presto, Adante and Rondo parts of that song reminded me of a flirtation or courtship. Like songbirds calling out to each other between the trees.

All three looked at each other for timing cues and sounded like they really enjoyed the piece. Nelms was smiling most of the time from behind the piano.

The recital ended with Camille Saint-Saens’ “Sonata in D Major, Op. 166.”

Even though her oboe teacher, Francisco Castillo from Redlands was not in the audience, he was there in spirit. Just the day before, Camille had a lesson with him  She’ll see him again before the fall.

“I don’t know how to say good-bye,” Camille said. “He’s been my teacher since I was ten.”

Music Director Peter Askim and Headmaster Brian Cohen spoke to Camille’s parents afterwards, and Peter and Music Department Head Ryan Zwahlen congratulated Camille.

“She did a great job,” said Ryan, who also plays the oboe.  “Everything she played was difficult. She’s really come a long way.”

Needless to say, not everyone in the audience left after intermission. In fact, a few more people came after the break to see Shen. It was a full house for both.

Camille was all smiles afterwards

Shen started out strong with a short and lively piece by Henri Rabaud, “Solo de Concours.” It showcased his ability to go up and down the scales on his clarinet with rapid accuracy.

Unlike Camille, Shen didn’t change piano players, but kept with Nelms McKelvain the whole time. Their next piece, “Sonatina” by Malcolm Arnold, showed the complexities of both instruments. At times, the music sounded frenetic.

Shen’s next piece, “Fantasia da Concerto ‘La Traiata’ by D. Verdi by Donato Lovreglio, was Peter Askim’s favorite.

“I really liked how you played the opera,” Peter told Shen afterwards. “It showed a lot of colors.”

From the look of things, it was a difficult piece to do because Shen was breathing heavy afterwards.

After that piece, Shen mixed it up with “Sonata” by Francis Proulenc. The audience, made up of mostly music students and staff members, whooped it up after that piece was finished.

George Gershwin’s “Preludes for Clarinet and Piano Accompaniment,” arranged by James Cohn, was an interesting end to Shen’s recital. It seemed more ragtime than classical.

“No Gershwin’s music is in the classical realm,” defended Camille afterwards.

The best part is that Shen looked like he was having a ball playing it. Maybe because it was his last high school recital, and he was savoring every moment.

(from L) Shen poses with Ryan

Shen, too, will find it difficult to say good-bye to his teacher, Yehuda Gilead, from USC, who has been more of a mentor than a clarinet teacher. Yehuda wasn’t there at the concert, but Shen went to LA the next day with the disk in hand to discuss the performance with him.

In the audience was YiLing, an Idyllwild Arts music alum, who now attends Boston Conservatory, and was on summer break.

“He did a great job,” YiLing said, as they posed for pictures afterwards.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Music Comp Collaborates with Visual Artists

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

(from L) Kevin, Julian, Will, Nick and Corwin gather around the piano

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Last year, Kevin Sullivan’s Honor Music Composition class collaborated with student poets and a vocalist. Those lucky enough to attend “Idyllwild Arts Day in LA” heard their interpretations live (see “From Music Comp Class to March 1st Recital” Idyllwild Me blog post dated Feb. 27, 2011).

This year, however, the three songwriting students–Will, Nick and Corwin–are collaborating with three visual artists, including Josh, Zoe and Inga.

“I thought we’d mix it up a little bit,” Kevin said. “Next year, we’re thinking of working with vocal music students again.”

Although the songwriting students have been hard at work for months and have seen the pieces by the visual artists, it was still a surprise to two of the artists.

“They’re writing songs about my painting?” asked Josh, a sophomore visual artist from Taiwan.

The one they selected of Josh’s is called “Greedy,” and features a pig eating another pig while other pigs sitting around a table are watching him. The painting is hanging on Josh’s wall in his dorm room.

He said it’s a statement about the human condition, and not necessarily about anyone in particular.

“The pig doesn’t even know that he’s eating himself,” Josh laughed.

(from L) Kevin gestures to Julian emphasizing his point

It wasn’t the first time Josh has used a pig in his artwork. He once painted a single pig with money coming out of it years ago in China.

“They’re still writing songs about our art?” Zoe asked, as she was preparing for the SAT. “That was months ago.”

Earlier this semester, Nick went through her portfolio and picked out the photograph, which features a blended image of Isaac, a writer, and Delilah, a former visual artist.

“I took the photograph right after a fashion show,” Zoe explained. “Delilah wore heavy makeup, and it was a nice contrast to Isaac, who was shot in profile and was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.”

Sometime this year, Zoe started cutting the photographs apart, and then weaving them together.

“It looks more like a bar code to me,” she said.”Photographs can be like math, so technical.”

“Yes, we’ve been working on these compositions for a long time now,” Kevin explained. “But they’ve gone through anywhere from 10 to 15 drafts. We also went on the USC Songwriter’s Tour, and there was Spring Break and such.”

Back at the piano in Kevin’s comp class, Will was listening to Julian, a fellow piano player, sight read his music. During most Thursday night classes, they critique each other, but tonight, Julian was adding his own comments.

The painting by Josh (shown with girlfriend Vita) features pigs devouring each other

“I asked Julian to play for us today to find out of there’s any ‘finger busters,’ in which a piano player has to twist his fingers in a weird way,” Kevin explained.

“It’s doable,” Julian said about Corwin’s version of  Josh’s painting, “Greedy.” However, he asked about the “voicing.”

Kevin explained that in jazz, “voicing” is the order of chords, and a pianist can play the same notes in many different ways, emphasizing different notes. He asked Julian to play it three different ways, which gave Corwin several options to choose from.

“You don’t want to leave it to the piano player to interpret your work, because then it will sound different each time it’s played,” Kevin explained.

After Julian played one of Will’s pieces, “Beneath the Window” for Inga’s painting, Kevin suggested that he and Julian play it again, splitting up the right and left hands.

“I wonder if there’s a way we can make it sound a little richer,” Kevin said.

“You need to write a good challenging piece. It makes it more interesting for the piano player,” Kevin added.

Nick reaches into the exposed piano keys to strum them

By the time they finished, Kevin, Will and Julian were pleased with with the results to “draft no. 11.”

“Now, it’s got a little more color and brightness, and not so grumbling,” Kevin told Will, who was nodding in agreement.

Nick wanted to show the others what he recently added to Zoe’s piece. With Will’s help, he took off the top of the piano, exposing the chords underneath.

Julian laughed. “Have you heard of ‘Macro Cosmos?'” he asked. “George Krumb had a woman shout, ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ into the exposed piano.”

Just for fun, Kevin repeated those words into their exposed piano keys, while Nick pushed the pedals. The result was an eerie echo.

Instead of sheet music, Nick was playing from his laptop screen. At the given moment, he reached into the piano and strummed the exposed keys. It sounded like a harp.

“It’s supposed to sound like a snake,” Nick said, pleased with the effect.

Kevin said that Janette, who will be performing their work, is interested in modern classical music, in which you do unconventional things like strum the exposed keys.

“We’re just glad that she’s willing to do this for us,” Kevin said.

Nick then demonstrated how his songwriting software plays back the song for him.

“You know instantly how it’s going to sound,” Nick said. “I can’t believe that Kevin actually sits in his room and writes all the notes out by hand. This is the 21st century!”

Just then,Kevin took over the piano and played a prelude (from sheet music that was written out by hand). It was beautiful, quiet and slow. Afterwards, there was a hushed silence among the student songwriters.

Then Nick said, “That’s why he’s our comp teacher.”

(from L) Will, Nick and Corwin embrace technology

In the next few weeks, the music comp class will finish each of their collaborations, and then present it to the visual artists and others who want to attend. In short, there will be four different views of each painting, including preludes.

The performance date hasn’t been set yet, and Kevin is scrambling to find an open spot with all of the junior and senior music recitals going on nearly every night.

Zoe, admitted that she was a little nervous.

“It’s going to be really cool,” she said. “But what can I say about my work? Sometimes, it’s just not all that deep and complicated. It’s just is.”

Josh was excited about hearing their work.

“Do you know the date yet?” he asked with a big smile. “I want to bring all of my friends!”

Will said they will likely give the musical pieces to the artists as gifts.

In the meantime, we’ll have to wait for the Music Comp performance until a date opens up.

Tonight, however, (Wednesday, May 9) Nick and Will, will be presenting a variety of songs they’ve written for their junior recital. It starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

NYC Ballet Principal Jock Soto Visits Idyllwild

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Jock Soto in Idyllwild

By Marcia E. Gawecki

More than 100 featured ballet roles were written for him.

For 25 years, Jock Soto was the principal ballet dancer for the New York City Ballet, and left when he turned 40 years old in 2005. Since then, he wrote a book about his dancing career (because Random House asked him to), including his mother’s strong influence.

She was the first female Navajo hoop dancer.

“She used hoops to mimic the movements of eagles and horses,” Jock said. ”

Random House asked Jock to write his memoir soon after his mother’s death.

“At first, I didn’t want to do it,” Jock recalled. “But then I realized it would be a nice tribute to her. But I also wanted ballet dancers to know that there’s life after dancing.”

Since he wrote the book, Jock has graduated from culinary school with a business degree. Jock still teaches ballet at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York where he learned how to dance professionally, but he is at Idyllwild Arts this week teaching Master Classes.

He reconnected with Jonathan Sharp, a dance instructor at Idyllwild Arts, through Facebook, and is now on tour teaching other students about ballet. As a promise to his mother, he went to Canada to teach indiginous students about ballet.

“They know modern, but surprisingly not ballet at all,” he said.

At Idyllwild Arts, however, the 35 or so dancers who live at the boarding school know about ballet. Many of them have been dancing since age 5, like he did. But he went to New York at age 13 to dance at the American School of Ballet (but there were no dorms back then), and ended up living in an apartment with eight other students.

“My parents didn’t want to live in New York, so I stayed and went to school there,” Jock explained. “Our apartment was in a nice area about three blocks from the school (SAB). I had just left Arizona and was pretty naive.”

Did bad things happen to him in New York? Many of them are outlined in his book, “Every Step You Take,” now available for $18.99 new (or $5 used) on Amazon.

Well, he gave up his high school academic studies, but not his dancing classes, and joined the New York City Ballet at age 16. By age 21, he was their principal dancer, the youngest in their history.

On the cover of his book, “Every Step of the Way,” it shows Jock leaping through the air. He was only 16 when the photo was taken. He looks like an angel in flight.

Jock said he became successful as a ballet dancer because he was quick.

“You had to learn about 100 different dances in a year,” Jock explained. “So if you could learn them quickly, people wanted to work with you.”

Over the years, Jock worked with many choreographers, including George Balanchine, who personally asked him to join the New York City Ballet. He said that he toured the world, and never wanted to leave for any other company.

Besides his memoir, Jock wrote a cookbook with Heather Watts, and PBS produced a documentary in 2008 called, “Water Flowing Together,” that takes you from his roots on the Arizona reservation to principal dancer at the New York City Ballet. Peter Martens said Jock had a “natural grace,” a remarkable career who left a terrific impact on the world of dance.

“I think they’re going to show the documentary at Idyllwild Arts this week,” Jock said.

You can view an excerpt of Jock’s video online at www.pbs.org.

As he drove up from Palm Springs to Idyllwild, Jock said that the area reminded him of Taos, New Mexico, where he has a summer home that he rarely gets to visit.

“This is just beautiful,” Jock said as looked down at the creek and up at the 100-foot pines. “I think I’m going to like staying here.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Student Artist Shares Spotlight

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Josh and Vita before the Spotlight Awards Ceremony. Photo by Josh.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Persistence pays off.  At least when it comes to high school art competitions.

For two years now, Vita, a Visual Artist from Idyllwild Arts, submitted photographs to the coveted Music Center of Los Angeles Spotlight Awards, but didn’t make the cut.

This year, however, Vita submitted a mixed media drawing and won an Honorable Mention. She was up against thousands of other art students from 100 other Los Angeles-area high schools.

“Photos are so subjective,” Vita said. “They can be interpreted in so many ways, so I submitted a drawing this year.”

Several of Vita’s paintings and drawings can be seen in the 2012 Spring issue of Parallax student magazine. You can pick up a copy for free at Bowman on campus.

Vita’s mixed media drawing that won the Spotlight Award is long and narrow, and architectural in nature. (Architecture is something Vita admits that she’s interested in). She couldn’t remember the name of the piece, because she only named it for the show.

As part of her winnings, Vita gets $250, and two tickets to the Spotlight Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 28, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. She brought her boyfriend, Josh, who is also a Visual Artist at the school.

“It looks like a building falling down,” exclaimed Josh.

Vita’s drawing looks like a skewed aerial view of the Los Angeles or New York skyline. How would you ever get that view? You’d have to take a helicopter that dives in between tall skyscrapers.

Vita's award-winning drawing was shown in a student show at Parks earlier this year

Vita said that she used several photographs as inspiration and put them together. The same piece was featured in an earlier art show at Parks Exhibition Center this year.

Before heading to the Spotlight Awards Ceremony, Vita and Josh ate outdoors at a Taiwanese restaurant. Both were dressed up, and Vita insisted that she wasn’t nervous.

“I hope they don’t make me go onstage,” she said.

At the ceremony, the two sat in the balcony, with hundreds of other supporters and well-wishers. In 2009, a caravan of Idyllwild Arts students and teachers took up two rows when Timmy Yu (piano) and Samuel Chan (voice) stole the competition.

Josh said he thought there might have been 5,000 people in the audience. After the music performances and videos, they showed Vita’s drawing on the big screen.

“That was a big moment,” she said, smiling.

Josh couldn’t take pictures because he said it was really dark in there and a flash wouldn’t go far.

“Vita deserves the recognition,” Josh said. “She works really hard.”

Vita mentioned that the other winners in the Visual Art category had shown their mastery of technique.

Spotlight Awards Ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

“In Asia, our teachers really emphasize technique,” Vita said. “But here I’ve learned to use my imagination and creativity more.”

She said the other winners’ images were deserving.

“But Dean would have blown them all out of the water,” Vita exclaimed of her classmate. “Dean doesn’t care about awards. He’s that type of artist who is so good all he wants to do is his art. Awards don’t matter to him.”

What they have in common is their love of perspective. Dean’s image on the April-June Idyllwild Arts Performance Calendar depicts a worm’s eye view (looking up) of an elderly African American woman smiling. Free copies of the calendar are available at Bowman.

"Dean's work would blow them all out of the water!" exclaimed Vita of Dean's painting (shown). "But he doesn't care about awards."

After her Cinderella moment, Vita was back to the studio getting ready for her senior class art show which opens at 6 p.m. tonight, (Friday, May 4)at the Parks Exhibition Center on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The four other Visual Art students featured in Friday’s show include: Caine, Jimmy, Yoo Jean and Ji.

For more information about events at the Parks Exhibition Center, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call Mallory Cremin at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

‘Taking Five’ With So Percussion in Idyllwild

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

So Percussion in Idyllwild (from L) Jason, Adam and Eric.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Every So often, you get lucky.

This particular Saturday afternoon, April 29, at 3:15 p.m., band members from the New Music group, So Percussion, were sitting on the steps outside of the IAF Theatre in Idyllwild.

They were “taking five” while the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra and music director Peter Askim were working with guitar legend, Richard Thompson, inside the theater.

It was like finding The Rolling Stones at Starbucks.

Jason Treuting, Josh Quillen, Eric Beach and Adam Sliwinski, were just hours away from the free New Music Concert with the student orchestra, featuring World Premiers of music by Richard Thompson, Chin Yi and Peter Askim, and Jason’s West Coast Premier of “Oblique Music.”

They were hanging out with Jason’s 15-month-old-daughter who had the same bright eyes.

“She likes it when we play,” Jason said. “But it’s hard to tell if she has any musical abilities yet.”

The group of Yale graduates, based out of Brooklyn, are causing a rage in the classical music world.

“The range of colors and voices that So Percussion coaxes from its manergerie is astonishing and entrancing,” claimes Billboard Magazine.

You can look on their web site for more accolades from the New York Times, the Village Voice, and even The Financial Times. We’re lucky that Peter Askim has brought this group to the attention of Idyllwild and folks on the West Coast.

According to their web site, So Percussion plays compositions by John Cage and Steven Reich, as well as their own works.

Jason with his 15-month-old-daughter

John Cage and Steven Reich are two pillars of percussion chamber music. Many of their once radical ideas are now widely accepted as part of America’s experimental classical music tradition. So Percussion has been playing their from the beginning, which also inspires their own original music.

Jason explained how New Music is different from modern music.

“After our concerts, I often talk to people who think that New Music is the same as Pop music,” Jason said. “They listen to Mariah Carey or Lady Gaga and believe it’s the same New Music that we’re playing. It’s not based out of classical music, and that’s a big difference.”

Jason said that he sometimes conducts a Q & A session after their concerts, and asks people what they think of their New Music.

“We ask them if there was anything they heard that they didn’t like,” Jason said. “And there’s this long pause. And then we say, ‘C’mon, there was probably something in the concert that you didn’t like.”

He said that once he gets audience members to admit there’s stuff that they didn’t like about So Percussion’s New Music, then they have a starting point.

(from L) Josh, Jason's daughter and grandma outside Bowman in Idyllwild

“With the onset of Social Media, we are becoming more attuned to our preferences, and don’t venture out of our safety zone,” Jason said. “It’s OK that you don’t like all New Music. You don’t have to like all of it, but the fact that people are open to new experiences is important.”

Sometimes, he said, the classical music fans feel like they have to love New Music or not.

“But it’s OK if they don’t love everything that they hear,” Jason said. “It would be kind of a bummer if all we listened to was things that we really like.”

He said that their repeat performances are always better accepted.

The same thing went with the members of the Idyllwild Ars Student Orchestra.
“At first, it was a little hard to get them to open up,” Jason said. “They hadn’t had much exposure to New Music. But Peter Askim is generating a lot of positive energy about New Music and it’s catching on.”

Jason said they played a little bit before the All School meeting on Friday afternoon, and that helped the orchestra to open up a bit.

“They’re a good group of kids, and I think we cracked the shell a bit,” Jason added. “Afterwards, we were talking and hanging out and it helped break down barriers.”

At the All School concert, So Percussion used a lot of tactile instruments, such as pipes, tin cans and flower pots.

“A lot of people associate us with the popular percussion groups, Stomp and Blue Man Group.” Jason said. “We wanted the orchestra students to see that we’re having fun and that we’re regular musicians just like them.”

Rong, a cello player, said the energy of their practice sessions changed when So Percussion came into town on Thursday night.

“Their energy was so great!” Rong exclaimed. “It was unbelievable!”

Also on the dock Sunday is guitar legend, Richard Thompson. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

So Percussion, Richard Thompson and the student orchestra will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday for their second concert on Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

Advance general admission tickets range from $10 to $20. Prices will be slightly higher at the door. Peter Askim hoped that the concert would be “sold out,” since it’s a fundraiser for the Willam M. Lowman Concert Hall on campus.

“Peter said that we made the LA Times,” Rong said before her orthodontist appointment Thursday. “The paper is saying that people should come see our concert. That’s kind of a big deal.”

The Barnsdall Theatre is a new venue for the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra and their New Music guests.

“The theater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” stated Adam. “I’ve always liked him as an architect, and I took my first girlfriend to Falling Water in Pennsylvania.”

Jason said that So Percussion has set up a concert two years from now.

“We’ll be playing the music of David Lang,” he said.

Setting up a gig two years out is nothing unusual, he said.

“My wife is also a musician, and we’re always talking about dates years into the future,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get a perspective on the here and now.”

So Percussion, Richard Thompson and the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra will be playing at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 at the Barnsdall Theatre, located at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. For tickets, visit It’s My Set at www.itsmyseat.com.

And to listen to selections from So Percussion, visit www.sopercussion.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

It’s About Time and Well, The Conways

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The set was spectacular with built-in bookcases and tall windows

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Since Time, with a capital “T” got top billing in the Idyllwild Arts Theatre Department’s last show, “Time and The Conways,” (written by J.B. Priestly) you knew Time was going to be a big part of the show.

In fact, Time already mettled with the normal story sequence .

The time warp was outlined in the program featuring a sand timer on the cover: Act One began in 1919 at Kay Conway’s 21st  birthday party where you get to meet all of the Conways and their lovers. Act Two takes place 18 years later (after the Depression) when things went emotionally and financially haywire for the Conways. Act Three jumped back to later that same night of Kay’s 21st birthday, which helped to explain things.

Act One opens with a family game of charades, with Mrs. Conway, the matriarch (Jessie), and her daughters, Kay (Gemini), Hazel (Sasha), Madge (Emily) and Carol (Celeste), and her sons, Alan (Zen) and Robin (Daniel). Everyone is happy, and looking forward to the future, but without their industrialist father, who had recently died.

Alan, the eldest, seems to be apart from the rest of the family. To me, he appeared to be “slow.”

“He was the father’s favorite son,” explained Kent-Harris, who played Gerald, the Conways’ attorney. “We talked about this. Alan fought in the trenches during WWI, and must’ve had some trauma from it. And he was also devestated by his father’s death. He wasn’t ‘slow,’ his priorities had changed.”

As it turns out, Alan who comforts Kay when she awakes from a moment’s rest and is now aware of the family’s not-so-great future.

“Alan also received slights from his mother, who had definite ideas on the hierarchy of the Conway family,” said Kent-Harris.

Kent-Harris greets well wishers after the final performance Sunday

For his part, Kent-Harris said that it wasn’t hard to play the future and jump back in Time.

“Well, we had different clothes on, for one thing, and we practiced it at least six times before the dress rehearsal on Thursday night,” he said.

Rosanna, who played Joan Heiford, Robin’s wife, said that her character changed a lot, so it was easy to go back in Time.

“At first, I played Robin’s girlfriend, and was naive and idealistic,” Rosanna said. “But then, after years with an absent and alcoholic husband, you could say that I became a bitter woman.”

Time was not Rosanna’s friend.

An outsider, Joan was tolerated by the Conways, but Ernest Beevers (Lewis) was never fully accepted by them. He was poor and lacked social graces, but turned out to be the biggest surprise. Kent-Harris thought that Hazel, a great beauty, didn’t marry Ernest for money.

“He didn’t have any money in the beginning,” Kent-Harris said. “He only had one share of an old run-down paper mill. I think Hazel married him because of his persistence.”

(from L) Chase, Jessie and Sasha get tearful about their last stage performance

It appears that money was the motivating factor for Hazel, however. At the beginning of Kay’s birthday party, Hazel calls Ernest “a disgusting little man” and was rude to his face. However, only when Ernest manages to get a private moment alone with Hazel, telling her about his financial ambitions, does she start flirting with him.

But for Ernest, Hazel was not a person, but a prize to be won. She was the great beauty of Newlingham, and to obtain her, would increase his social status and lead him to financial success.

And when Ernest turns out to be abusive, Hazel doesn’t leave him. Why not? Because of the money of course! Since day one, Hazel was expected to marry a rich man and travel the world. Yet, in reality, it’s not always that easy to grab the Gadsby’s of this world.  And maybe she “could hear her biological clock ticking,” so she settled on Ernest, but will not leave–until the money runs out.

“I wish the play had another weekend run,” said Kent-Harris.

He said it just got better and better each time they performed it. After awhile, the actors weren’t just reciting lines or waiting on cues, but felt like actual family and friends talking to each other.

“What I would say next came naturally because that’s what I would say if I was Gerald,” Kent-Harris said.

(from right) Jesse greets a well wisher

He thought the British accent wasn’t difficult because he heard it firsthand during summer school last year in London. He also learned a lot from British actors. And his uncle is a British solicitor, but he didn’t base his character on him.

The day after the show, Kent-Harris was going with his parents to a Democratic fundraiser hosted by Nancy Pelosi. He said he didn’t have any immediate plans to get into politics.

“My parents support my decision to become an actor,” Kent-Harris said. “However, if I can’t make it as an actor, I can always become a politician. They’re pretty much the same thing, right?”

It would be wrong to sign off without mentioning the stellar set designed and built by Bonnie and Todd Carpenter. The set consisted of one large drawing room. It was opulant, with floor-to-ceiling windows, built-in bookcases and furniture that matched the maroon and green color scheme. In fact, it wasn’t wallpaper on the walls, but stenciling.

“At one point, it looked like blood had splattered on the walls,” Kent-Harris said with glee. “So that changed things. Carol didn’t die of TB, but was murdered!  Alan was the only one who could have done it! Which explains, in a sick way, why he kept flowers on her grave all of those years.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Thompson’s ‘Interviews with Ghosts’

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Guitar legend Richard Thompson with string students during "Cabaret of Souls" last year Courtesy photo

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s hard to tell how long singer-songwriter-guitar legend Richard Thompson has been obsessed with ghosts.

Perhaps it started long ago, but it just hit Idyllwild Arts’ radar in November of last year with his “Cabaret of Souls” tour, which began at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

“Cabaret of Souls” is a talent show set in the Underworld (think of it as “American Idol” in Hell).  It’s part theater, part rock opera, featuring the talents of Richard Thompson, Harry Shearer (The Simpsons), Richard’s wife, Judith Owen, Deborah Dobkin, Pete Zorn and strings students  from the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, conducted by Peter Askim.

X-O, a cellist from China, was one of the students who performed “Cabaret of Souls” with Richard Thompson. She and the 11 other students had to wear campy outfits and learn about 30 new songs.

“But it was easy music,” X-O said, shrugging it off.

Stephanie, a violinist from Korea, said that it’s music that she’s never played before.

Stephanie said the music was old fashioned, but fun

“Peter said that it was kind of old-fashioned,” she said. “But I liked it.”

Dorie, a violin player from Bulgaria, had to wear a lacy outfit and a green wig.

“They painted our faces to look like ghosts,” Dorie said. “They wanted us to wear gloves, but it didn’t fit with our string instruments.”

According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, “Richard Thompson has been called the finest rock songwriter after Bob Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.”

“Last year, we helped Richard Thompson out, so this year, he’s helping us out,” said Camille, an oboe player talking about the upcoming New Music Concerts held in Idyllwild and Hollywood.

The Hollywood concert is a fundraiser for the new William M. Lowman Concert Hall, and pre-event tickets (from $10 to $20) are now on sale on the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

According to a recent promotional video, Richard said that “Interviews with Ghosts” is a short song cycle or song suite of three chamber orchestra pieces.

“It’s based on supposed transcriptions from ghosts talking to each other,” Richard said. “Depending upon if you think they exist or even talk to each other.”

Then Richard said he adapted these ghost transcripts a little bit, adding rhymes and worked with the orchestra. For the past several weeks, classical music students have been playing Richard’s New Music pieces. He will be singing and playing guitar along with the student orchestra.
Jo, a bass player, said it sounds a lot like Rock n’ Roll.

Will “Interviews with Ghosts” be like talking to Jacob Marley from “A Christmas Carol,” where he complains about the chain, the cold and the loneliness of walking through doors? Will there be a message in Richard’s piece about transforming our miserly ways? Will there be jokes about God, the devil and not being able to take our cash with us?

Time Out has called Richard Thompson’s performances, “Riveting, enlightening, witty, moving, provocative and entertaining – strongly recommended.”

Will the students have to dress up for "Interviews with Ghosts?"

Expect nothing less than fabulous with Richard Thompson’s “Interviews with Ghosts.” If anything, you’ll get the rare opportunity to hear one of the Top 20 best guitar players of all time play with our student orchestra on April 28 in Idyllwild and on April 29 in Hollywood.

Besides Richard Thompson, Chen Yi will be performing “Tone Poem,” a piece commissioned by the student orchestra and three composers from So Orchestra will be performing individual works, including “Oblique Music” by Jason Tretuing, “Credo in US” by John Cage and “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by Steve Reich.

Also on the docket is Peter’s brand-new piece, “Elsewhere.”

The first New Music Concert will be Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sunday, April 29 fundraiser concert will be held at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, or contact www.itsmyseat.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Teen Dancers Try Out for Royal Caribbean Cruise

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

(from L) Maddy and Cheyenne

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Go directly to college, or take six months off and dance on a cruise ship?

That was the happy dilemma for Maddy and Cheyenne, two Idyllwild Arts dance students, on Tuesday, April 17, as they headed for their audition at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Hollywood.

Maddy, who got accepted into five colleges, but not her top choices, was exploring cruise ship options, and Royal Caribbean sounded promising.

“On a cruise ship, you get to dance and travel the world,” Maddy said.

It would be a six-month commitment if she made the cut.

“I would have to defer my college enrollment, but then I could earn almost a year’s tuition,” she said.

During her time at Idyllwild Arts, Maddy was a straight A student who didn’t have much time for socializing.

“Every Saturday night, I was home studying,” she said. “Now I just want to have some fun and earn a little money so I don’t have to take out so many student loans.”

Maddy said that Royal Caribbean would pay anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per month, depending on your contract. Dancers would be expected to work every day, however, all living expenses would be paid, including room & board, meals and insurance. And for the 8-week training session in Florida, Royal Caribbean would pay for the airfare, food and hotel fees.

“They would also pay for your costumes, makeup and everything,” Maddy added.

For their 10 a.m. audition, Maddy and Cheyenne wore heavy eye makeup and black dance leotards. Instead of their normal tight bun, they let their hair down.

“Whatever you do, don’t stand in the back,” advised Cheyenne, who has entered beauty pageants. “They will never see you.”

The audition was held at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in N. Hollywood

On the web site, Royal Caribbean said that there could be as many as 300 girls at the audition. As it turned out, there was only about 100.

“That kind of competition kind of freaks me out,” Maddy said.

Other audition criteria included height and weight requirements. Dancers had to be a size 0 to 6, and be 5 foot to 5 foot six inches tall, and have 7 years of dance experience.

The two dancers had met all of the requirements, but Cheyenne didn’t think that the length of experience mattered all that much.

“At the end of the day, all they want to see is if you can dance,” she said.

The 100 dancers were cut to 30, and then to 10. Maddy made it to the second round, but then blanked out for a few seconds.

“I don’t know what happened,” Maddy recalled “I knew all the jazz steps, but I just froze. And when I stopped, the girl behind me stopped too.”

Cheyenne knew where she messed up too, but was glad for the overall experience. She noticed after the cut, there was a certain uniform look to the remaining girls.

“All the really short and tall girls were cut right away,” Cheyenne said. “And all the medium-sized girls with big boobs remained.”

She also noticed that she and Maddy were the youngest of the lot. There were mostly college girls, with some 30-year-olds mixed in.

Maddy as Cinderella

“There was one girl who had already been a dancer on a cruise ship, but she left early because her sister died,” Cheyenne said. “They didn’t let her back in because she broke her commitment. That was her sister! It seemed kind of harsh.”

Even though the instructor at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio announced they were looking for clean dance techniques, Cheyenne noticed that the ones who threw their legs up over their heads made the cut.

“They weren’t showing clean technique,” Cheyenne quipped. “They were just showing off!”

Cheyenne also met a girl who attended a school that prepped her for cruise ship dance auditions, and that girl made the cut.

Cheyenne said that probably won’t attend any more cruise ship tryouts, but Maddy was encouraged to try another cruise line.

“I heard that Carnival is looking for dancers,” Maddy said. “I felt good about this audition, and believe that I could make the cut next time.”

Maddy hasn’t ruled out college in the fall, but it all depends upon scholarships, and if she could gather enough flight money to visit a couple of the east coast schools. She feels like she needs to gain a better perspective before the May 1 deadline.

Neither Maddy nor Cheyenne knew about Debbie Reynolds, the actress and singer, who owned the dance studio where the audition was held.

“I know that she’s a good choreographer,” Cheyenne said. “I didn’t know that she was also an actress.”

Debbie Reynolds established her dance studio in 1979 so that dancers could have a comfortable place to rehearse. All of Debbie Reynolds’ movies included some type of dance. She is best known for “Singing in the Rain,” (1952) with Fred Astaire.

“‘Singing in the Rain’ and childbirth were the two hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Debbie Reynolds is credited for saying.

Her children are actress Carrie Fisher (Star Wars, When Harry Met Sally) and TV commercials director, Todd Fisher. Debbie gave up acting (because she didn’t want to take her clothes off), yet has kept her love of dance. The Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio specializes in hip hop, jazz, and tap.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Redlands Concert Reunites Oboe Teacher & Student

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

(from L) Nelms McKelvain, Liang Wang, Carolyn Beck and Sara Andon. Photo Peter Askim.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For most music students, saying good-bye to a beloved teacher is painful, and starting over with another can be scary.

“I’ve had the same oboe teacher since I was 10 years old,” exclaimed Camille, who is graduating from Idyllwild Arts this year.

She was talking about Francisco Castillo, principal oboist for the Redlands Symphony. He’s the same oboe instructor as the popular Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic.

Francisco was Liang’s first oboe instructor in the U.S. Last Saturday, April 14, Liang came for Francisco’s World Premier of his recent composition, “Rhapsody for Oboe, English Horn & Orchestra.”

“There’s Francisco, the big guy,” exclaimed Shen, a clarinet player from Idyllwild Arts, who attended the concert with music director Peter Askim and five other students, including Henry, Yoana, Elena, Suriah and Cynthia.

Francisco remained in touch with Liang, who graduated from Idyllwild Arts and the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia. In January, Liang visited Idyllwild Arts, taught Master Classes and played with the student orchestra (see blog post, “NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud,” dated Dec. 9, 2011).

“Liang has brought such prestige to our instrument,” Camille said.

Dr. Nelms McKelvain, piano instructor at Idyllwild Arts, drove down from Idyllwild to see Liang in concert.

“Liang was my advisee when he was here,” said Nelms. “I’d go a long way to see him.”

For the Saturday night concert, the students sat in the balcony in the Redlands Memorial Chapel, yet had a full view of the stage. Some of those around them had binoculars so they could see the performer’s faces.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts Supporters: Henry, Shen, Elena, Yoana, Cynthia, Suriah, Carolyn, Sara, William & Peter

After the Redlands Symphony warmed up with “Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Liang played “Oboe Concerto,” by Richard Strauss.

“Liang’s phrasing is so unique,” said Peter Askim, afterwards. “He phrases like a singer — so natural and pure. He never plays anything the same way twice. It’s like he’s discovering the piece for the first time – every time.””

During the first two songs, Co Boi Nguyen, the assistant conductor, led the orchestra. According to the program notes, Co Boi is an assistant professor of music at the University of Redlands School of Music, and she usually conducts at least one program during the regular symphony season.

After intermission, conductor Jon Robertson took over for the World Premier of Francisco’s work, “Rhapsody for Oboe, English Horn and Orchestra.” Liang and Francisco took the stage to great applause. Liang was playing his oboe, while Francisco had a much longer oboe with a lower sound, which is the English horn.

The two played well together, like father and son, carefully not upstaging each other. The piece was lively, and even frenetic at times, but was well liked by the audience. Both Liang and Francisco received a large bouquet of flowers afterwards.

According to the program, Francisco said his rhapsody came about in a funny way. While he was talking with Liang about what pieces he would play with the Redlands Symphony, Liang suggested that they play something together.

(from L) Carolyn, Francisco, Liang, Sara and Peter. Photo Peter Askim.

“I jokingly said that I didn’t want to play an Albinoni or Vivaldi concerto, and would prefer something more interesting and new,” Francisco recalled.

“Well, then, write something yourself!” Liang replied.

For inspiration, Francisco listened to oboe concertos by Mozart, Strauss, Pasculli and Piazzola. He also listened to favorite composers, Bach, Villa-Lobos, Charles Ives and Louis Armstrong, among others. In the end, Francisco turned to his oboe, English horn and computer to make something uniquely his own.

“As you listen, you will find some of my favorite musical ideas, including Polyrhythm, Latin folk melodies, simple harmonies, virtuosic, demanding, yet sustained lyrical passages, silly moments are at the same time dramatic and tense,” Francisco wrote in the program.

“However, if you are looking for a form, you won’t find it,” Francisco added.

“I really liked Francisco’s piece,” said Shen. “It wasn’t boring like the Hayden piece” (“Symphony No. 104 London” ended the evening.)

Camille, who was away at college auditions on Sunday, had heard a rehearsal of Francisco’s piece.

“It’s New Music, and it had a very Latin feel to it,” Camille said.

After the Redlands concert, the students and Peter went to the stage to meet and congratulate the performers.

(from L) Yoana and Elena, students from Bulgaria, enjoy a pre-concert dinner. Photo Peter Askim.

According to Peter, several principals from the Redlands Symphony have also taught music at Idyllwild Arts, including Todor Pelev, associate concertmaster/violin; Gail Cruz, violin; Carolyn Beck, principal bassoon; Sara Andon, principal flute; David Scott, principal trumpet and William Schlitt, principal timpani.

Francisco, who dedicated his rhapsody to Liang Wang, conductor Jon Robertson and the Redlands Symphony, was all smiles afterwards.

“This was the first time it was played before a live audience,” Francisco said. “It’s a good feeling.”

In other news, get your tickets now for the New Music Concerts featuring new works by Richard Thompson, Chen Yi and Peter Askim with the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra on Saturday, April 28 at the IAF Theatre (free) on campus, and on Sunday, April 29 at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Angeles. Pre-concert general admission tickets for the Sunday show are $10 to $20 and are available on the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org. Click on ‘Academy,’ then ‘Music’ and ‘New Music Concert.’

For more information, see Idyllwild Me blog post, “New Music: Dramatic Shift for Students” dated April 9.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.


 

 

 

Student Gets Real World Jazz Experience

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Marshall Hawkins gives his jazz students real world experiences. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At Idyllwild Arts, some jazz students get music gigs long before they graduate from high school. American Idol heartthrob Casey Abrams, and former grads Caleb Hensinger and Jacob Scesney (who now attend Berklee College in Boston), and currently, Lake, a guitar player, have all played with Marshall Hawkins and Paul Carman at Cafe Aroma.

Jazz students have also performed at public high schools, for competitions like Spotlight and the Berklee Jazz Festival, during auditions for summer music festivals, at weddings, country clubs and other gigs throughout the year. However, Cafe Aroma remains constant.

Inigo, a junior from Brazil, played there once.

“It was a great experience playing with Marshall,” Inigo said. “I learn so much from him.”

In fact, during that Cafe Aroma gig, Marshall threw Inigo a curve ball.

“We’re playing ‘Caravan,’ which had a 4/4 tempo,” Inigo explained. “He looks straight at his bass and says 6/8.”

Inigo wasn’t expecting that, and immediately had to speed up the tempo. He said later it was a good “real world” experience.

It also showed how intimately connected jazz players are. Sometimes, Inigo said, they only speak with their eyes.

For instance, at his Junior Recital at Stephens Recital Hall on Monday, April 9, Inigo said that the drummer had missed a tempo change, and the bass player stared at him, and he quickly recovered.

Oftentimes, jazz students play at Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild. Sachmo art by Marcia Gawecki.

“It happens all the time,” Inigo said “At school gigs, we are constantly looking at each other for cues.”

Inigo has eight more performances to go before the end of the school year in June.

“Last year, Caleb, a horn player, told me to accept all requests for being an accompanist,” Inigo said. “He said that you’ll learn something new from each one.”

So Inigo said “yes” to nine other students this year, including Randy, Kat, Walker, Tyler, Alex, Ken, Nick (vocal), Tiffany and Katy (who left the school).

He said he doesn’t always like their music choices or how they play them, but welcomes each new experience.

“Sometimes, I get to play some of my favorite jazz standards,” he said.

For his April 9 recital, Inigo’s play list included: Straight, No Chaser; Four on Six; Nica’s Dream; How My Heart Sings and Impressions.

In June, Inigo is going to Bangkok, Thailand, for the first time, with his girlfriend, Tierra, a Musical Theatre grad, who lives there. For three weeks, he’s going to play at the Maple Hotel, which is owned by her family.

(from left) Jacob and Caleb. Caleb advised Inigo to accept all student recital requests.

“Tierra said that Thai people are crazy about Boss Nova (Brazilian music), so I’ll be playing guitar and singing in Portuguese,” Inigo said. “I’m an average singer.”

When he returns to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the rest of the summer, Inigo will likely get his regular gig back. It’s at a small bar called O Barsinho, where he accompanies a singer.

“Alicia Santas is about 30 years old, beautiful and really nice,” Inigo said.

When Alicia first met him, she asked him what type of music that he listened to.

“I knew all of the songs that she liked,” he said. “So she said, ‘Perfect!’ and hired me on the spot.”

But when Alicia’s onstage, she’s all professional.

“She just turns around and announces the name of the song, and expects me to know it,” Inigo said. “I’ve been lucky so far.”

Their song set generally remains the same, but once when the crowd asked for an encore, Inigo was sweating bullets.

“I was just hoping that she’d request a song that I knew,” he said.

As it turns out, an audience member requested a song that he knew. This summer, he’ll keep building up his repertoire of songs.

Inigo said all of these performances at Idyllwild Arts and at Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild, at the Maple Hotel in Bangkok and at the O Barsinho in Sao Paolo, all help him build his confidence and gain ‘real world’ experiences as a musician.

“When you play, you’ve got to make it look easy,” he said.

He quoted famous jazz bass player Charles Mingus who said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple , awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

To view Inigo’s April 9 jazz recital, and others, check out the U Stream link on the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

Mark your calendars for the next Idyllwild Arts Jazz Concert on Tuesday, May 22 in the IAF Theatre.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.