Archive for May, 2010

‘Happy Hour’ with Flute and Trumpet

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

(from L) Yeon Jung & Young play a duet

Tonight, Monday, May 17, there was a “Happy Hour” starting at 7:30 p.m. at Idyllwild Arts. For nearly two hours, two classical music seniors, Yeon Jung, a flautist, and Yi Ling, a trumpter, gave one of the best performances of their young lives, and everyone who came, left happy.

Not only are they good friends, but both are going to the Boston Conservatory of Music in the fall.

First up was Yeon Jung, who wore a long, strapless black form-fitting gown. Her long hair was pulled back from her face, and she wore no jewelry. But, it didn’t matter, because her flute was golden.

Jacob, a saxophone player from the Jazz Department, said that her flute was made of gold, and that it had a rose-colored coating on top.

“That flute is really amazing,” he said. “And William got to play it.”

“That flute has a sweet sound,” said William, another flute player in the Idyllwild Student Orchestra. “I got to play it last week, and it creates a wonderful sound. You can definitely tell the difference.”

Yeon Jung could hit high C

To start, Yeon Jung played a short piece, “Sonate in E Minor, BMV 1034,” by Johann Sebestian Bach. Anni Cao, another music student, was her piano accompanist.

Yeon Jung played with her music stand and sheet music in front of her. Yet, when she played, she moved to the music. At times,  she would move closer to the music to clearly see the notes, then sway from side to side, enjoying the sound coming out of her instrument.

Yeon Jung’s second piece was longer, “Concerto,” by the French composer, Jacques Ibert. It was more intense than the first, with many scales up and down the register. In the “Allegro” part of Ibert’s “Concerto,” she hit a high C, and stood on her tippy toes to reach it.

Jacob, who also plays the flute, was impressed.

For her third piece, Yeon Jung played a duet with Young, a classical guitarist, who had his recital last week (see ‘A Night with the Young Masters’ blog from May 13, 2010). Young sat with his guitar, while Yeon Jung stood.

They played a short piece, “Bordel 1900,” History of the Tango, by Argentine composer Piazzolla. When Yeon Jung would play, Young would respond by playing a few notes, then tapping a beat on the outside of his guitar. It sounded more like a drum, yet had a nice, commanding effect.

The flute and guitar seemed natural together, and Young played soft as a good accompanist. Although it was a lively, short piece, it was memorable, especially the final note.

“She held it for a long time,” Jacob said, obviously impressed.

For anyone who has ever played the flute knows that its hard to do–because you’re blowing across a hole all the time. Yeon Jung had great lung control throughout her 45 minute recital tonight.

Yeon Jung’s final piece, “Suite of Three Pieces, Op. 116,” by B. Godard, was broken into three sections, allegretto, idylle, and valse. Naturally, living in Idyllwild, the “idylle” section interested me. It actually sounded like mountain music, with low notes and trilling that sounded like birds.

Yeon Jang's flute teacher came from Redlands

After her recital, two of her friends came forward with bouquets of flowers. Her flute teacher, who came all the way from Redlands, was complimentary, and posed for pictures.

After a brief intermission, it was Yi Ling’s turn. He was impressively dressed in a black suit that had ribbons around the lapels and pockets. His good friend and accompanist, was Ie-Seul, who also wore a black jacket and pants.

“Sonata in C,” was Yi-Ling’s first piece, by Purcell. It was short and a good warm-up. At the onset, you couldn’t help but notice the clear, confident sound coming from his trumpet.

For his second piece, Yi-Ling was accompanied by his trumpet teacher, David L. Scott, onstage.

Yi-Ling and his teacher, David Scott, play a duet

The two, with their silver trumpets, created such a loud sound, that those in the front row could feel their teeth rumble. Imagine playing next to them in an orchestra? Yet, their duet, “Concerto in C for Two Trumpets,” by Vivaldi, was so rewarding, that it was worth it. One would lead, then a half beat later, the other would follow.  They played clearly, and effortlessly, like two seasoned musicians.

For his third piece, Yi Ling played, “Sonata for Trumpet and Piano,” by Kent Kennan. But before he played, Yi Ling spoke for the first time.

“I’d like to thank you all for coming,” he said shyly, then thanked his trumpet teacher, his friends, family, accompanist, and even his van driver, Ron St. Pierre, for taking him to music lessons.

“I’d like to thank my teacher, David Scott, for 4 1/2 years,” Yi-Ling said. “It’s really been an honor.”

After all of his thanks, Yi-Ling got a little choked up and teary eyed before he began his next piece. Perhaps the fact that he was going to graduate in less than three weeks was starting to hit him.

(from L) Ie-Seul on piano and Yi-Ling on trumpet were a commanding duo

For his “Sonata for Trumpet and Piano,” Yi-Ling placed three trumpet mutes on the stand next to him.

“They’re straight, harmon and tap,” Jacob offered. He knew about trumpet mutes because his good friend at school, Caleb, is a jazz trumpeter.

Not only did Yi-Ling have to play a long, complicated piece, but he had to add the mutes at different times. Each mute created a different sound.

The mute that Yi-Ling used on his last piece, “Trumpet Concerto in A Flat Major,” sounded the best. In fact, this piece, created by Arutunian, was Yi-Ling’s commanding finale. He spoke again.

“This is the perfect piece to express myself,” he told the audience of classmates, faculty and friends. “It’s a good piece to end my recital because I’ve learned new things, and grown up a little bit. Thanks again for coming.”

“What a sweet guy to thank us for coming to his recital,” Mariya, a bassist, said.

The concerto, was a workout for the Ie-Seul, the pianist, too. But it wasn’t beyond her realm.

“That pianist was a student?” Ron St. Clair, Yi-Ling’s driver, asked later. “I thought she was a teacher. Wow.”

Towards the end of the piece, Yi-Ling added one of his mutes, and Ie-Seul stopped playing all together. All alone, Yi-Ling and his trumpet sounded like Miles Davis playing “Sketches of Spain.”

“Him playing alone was a nice effect,” said Karin Obermeyer, a literature teacher at Idyllwild Arts, who attends most of the recitals.

Ie-Seul came back briefly for the finale, which ended sooner than we all wanted that night. After his final note, everyone got to their feet.

When Yi-Ling thanked his teacher and hugged him afterwards, the emotions began to flow. Shi-Shi, a violinist, who came to the recital, began to cry.

Ie-Seul, who was the piano accompanist for nine of her friends, also felt the finality. “This is my last recital where I was an accompanist,” she said.

You would think that she’d feel relief, instead of tears. She wiped them away and smiled. Just like everyone who left the recital that evening. Another musical performance well done.

More senior recitals are forthcoming until the end of the month. Visit www.idyllwildarts.org, and hit “Academy,” and then “Center Stage,” for details, or call (951) 659-2171.

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Hobnobbing with Stars at Film Noir Fest

Monday, May 17th, 2010

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor, June Lockhart & Charles Schlacks at the Film Noir Fest

In 1955, he won an Oscar for his portrayal of a lonely, homely guy named, “Marty,” against Hollywood heavyweights Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra and James Dean. He starred as a gangster in “From Here to Eternity,” but Ernest Borgnine was best remembered for the 1962 TV series, “McHale’s Navy.”

On Thursday night, May 13, Borgnine attended the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival as its guest commentator. He’s now 93.

The B movie that starred Borgnine was called, “Pay or Die,” from 1960. He played a police lieutenant who battled extortionists in New York’s “Little Italy” neighborhood.

“Ernest Borgnine was bright, and funny and entertaining,” said Jeffrey Taylor, of Green Cafe in Idyllwild, who has attended the Film Noir Festival for the past 10 years. He was a good friend of the festival’s originator, Arthur Lyons.

“He came right up and shook my hand,” added Taylor. “He seemed more like 60 than 93.”

Anne Robinson gets cozy with Jeffrey Taylor of Idyllwild

Besides Borgnine, the Film Noir Festival’s lineup of guests included June Lockhart, Julie Garfeild, Ann Robinson, Don Murray and Tommy Cook.

The best part of the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival, added Taylor, was hobnobbing with the stars. They provided onstage interviews, autographs and cocktail parties. “Anyone who wanted to, could come up and talk to them.”

He said he’s been to other Film Noir festivals where the stars are secluded or wisked offstage right after the show.

“I hope they always keep that special element,” Taylor said.

At this Film Noir festival, he met and got autographs with all of them. Then he hangs the autographed playbills on the walls of his screening room in his office where he hosts weekly “Movie Night” that feature Film Noir films.

“I like everything about the festival,” said Rosemary Barnhardt, from Idyllwild and Palm Springs. Her comments were included in an article in the Palm Desert Sun newspaper on Friday.

Like Taylor, Charles Schlacks, Jr., an Idyllwild resident, considers spending all day in the Camelot Theater watching old crime dramas the best form of a vacation. He took four days from his printing business to come. He proudly wore a black T-shirt from 2008 that repeats Lyons’ favorite line about Film Noir, “It’s all in the story.”

Each day of the four-day event, there were star interviews and autograph signings. The first day was Borgnine, who was a big hit.

The next day, Friday, May 14, Alan Rode, head of the Film Noir Festival for the past two years, brought up Borgnine again.

“I got up early this morning to read the paper (the Palm Desert Sun), to see what they said about us, and who was already there, but Earnest Borgnine,” Rode said. “He was reading the paper and signing autographs for veterans.”

Setting up: June Lockhart and Alan Rode talk onstage at the Film Noir Festival

According to the imdb web site, Borgnine spent 10 years in the Navy after high school, and portrayed military personnel throughout his long career, namely “McHale’s Navy.” Apparently, he is still beloved by many of them.

“He wanted me to tell you that he had a great time last night, and really enjoyed himself here at the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival,” Rode said, as everyone applauded.

That Thursday, Anne Robinson was the special guest at the 1 p.m. show called, “The Glass Wall” from 1953. It was directed by Maxwell Shane, and starred Vittorio Gassman, Gloria Grahame and Robinson. It was about an immigrant who was wrongly denied his visa entry into New York City.

Later, June Lockhart was the special guest for the 7:30 p.m. show, “Bury Me Dead,” from 1947. It was directed by Bernard Vorhaus, and its cinematographer was John Altman, and starred Lockhart, Cathy O’Donnell and Hugh Beaumont.

After the show, Lockhart took the stage with Rode for a 15-minute interview. She was funny, witty, intelligent, and remembered many details of the show and its stars.

She said that the business suit that she wore during most of the movie was way too big for her, and they fixed it with lots of safety pins attached to her underwear.

June Lockhart signs Charles Schlacks' Film Noir book, as fans wait their turn

Lockhart remembered Altman’s lighting throughout the film, because he insisted on getting rid of all of the overhead lights.

“Some of them on the set didn’t like him because it put them out of jobs,” she said.

However, Lockhart especially liked Altman’s lighting when it changed on Beaumont’s face.

Towards the end of “Bury Me Dead,” when it was evident that Beaumont intended to harm Lockhart, Altman moved the lighting from Beaumont’s face to only his eyes. It had a sinister, werewolf effect.

Lockhart kept tabs on her co-star Beaumont, who died in 1982. Later on in his life, he became an ordained minister and grew Christmas trees.

When Rode asked her about her family upbringing, Lockhart surprised the audience by saying, “Thomas Edison introduced my mother and father.”

Rode asked her about her long career, which included some beloved TV shows, such as “Lassie,” and “Lost in Space.”

During “Lassie,” Lockhart said it was difficult at first to speak to the dog on camera.

“They would have a trainer with a treat on either side of you,” Lockhart said. “And when I’d speak my line, and then I’d have to wait until Lassie would speak and the trainer would give her a treat. But, after awhile, you’d learn to tune out the trainers.”

Although Lockhart appeared in 200 episodes of “Lassie,” Rode said its director wasn’t too pleasant to work with.

“He was gruff, and not always kind,” Lockhart admitted. “He”d always say, ‘Get the dog and the girl.”

After the interview, fans crowded around Lockhart to speak briefly to her and get her autograph. Many of the photos they had her sign were from her “Lassie” and “Lost in Space” days. Schlacks had her sign a Film Noir book, and Taylor had her sign his playbill.

As luck would have it, a woman walked right in front of my camera as I was taking a shot of Lockhart and Taylor.  He turned around, “Did you get it?”

I moved around trying to get a better position as Taylor stood next to her. The flash didn’t go off. I motioned to Schlacks to sit next to her.

“What’s happening here?” Lockhart asked, as I fumbled with my camera. I asked if she’s pose for a picture since  I missed it earlier. I changed my batteries, said a silent prayer, and snapped the picture.

“Oh no, you don’t,” Lockhart teased. “I wasn’t ready. I think I was looking down.”

So I took it again. “Now, make sure that you’re happy with it, or we’ll take it again,” Lockhart said. “There’s no rush.”

I looked at the photo, and it was perfect. I glanced around at the others who were waiting patiently, and bowed out quickly, blushing all the way.

I think she meant what she said. June Lockhart was not only a smart, beautiful and talented women, but she was also incredibly nice.

For those who like hobnobbing with really nice stars from the old B movie crime dramas, be sure and come to the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival next year. For more information on its lineup, visit www.filmnoirfest.org and www.greencafe.com.

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The Brains Behind 13 Dances

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

leva portrays an inmate in a piece choreographed by Ariann

Whenever, I’d see a dance performance, whether it be at Idyllwild Arts, RedCat or somewhere else, I would always focus on the dancers.  Can you blame me? They were strong, attractive, and created “poetry in motion.”

But, I never thought of the message, or the brains behind the piece. I was only looking at the end result. But someone had to come up with the concept, with the ideas, and the dance steps.

It’s like when we see a movie, or a play, or an article, we don’t think of the originator, only the message. Well, it’s time that we thought about the dance choreographer. He or she is the one who starts with a blank page, or an empty dance floor, and fills the space with movement, sound and beauty.

Kayla dances to leva's piece

Tonight, Saturday, May 15, Idyllwild Arts celebrated its student choreography night. Each of the juniors and seniors in the Dance Department had to create one piece. Generally, it lasted three to 10 minutes. They had to come up with everything from start to finish, including the message, dance steps, costumes, lighting and music.

As if that wasn’t enough, then they had to dance in two or three other pieces that their classmates choreographed. There were 13 pieces in all, and each was unique in their own right.

Only Ellen Rosa, head of the Dance Department, knew the message behind each of these pieces.

Tonight was the last night of a three-night run that began on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Most of the parents came that night. There was so many people in the Fisher Dance Studio that they had to turn some away, one student said.

Tonight, there was an enthusiastic crowd of 150 friends, classmates, family members and folks from Idyllwild who like dance. Some, like Tucker McIntyle, head of the Transportation Department, had never been to a dance performance before.

“We take these kids in vans everywhere, but I never saw what they could do–until tonight,” McIntyre said. “I was really surprised and pleased with what I saw.”

Of the 13 pieces, I was only able to see six of them–only those that came after the intermission.

But, just because I wasn’t there, doesn’t mean that those first seven pieces didn’t count. They meant a lot to those who were there. They included: “Hypnotic,” choreographed by Dakota Bailey; “Stamina Break,” by Kayla Tuggle; “XOXO,” by Olivia Jones; “Irritated,” by Geneva Winters; “Balletic Randomness,” by Tramayne Pauillac Johnson; “Between the Folds,” by David Strong and Kayla Tuggle; and “Maple Rain” by Cyndi Huang.

Like searching through the channels on a radio dial, some of the choreographed pieces were techno, others classical, and still others rock n’ roll. And I’m not talking just about the music, but the mood.

It began with “All I Want,” choreographed by David “DJ” Strong, one of the few male dancers at Idyllwild Arts. He’s here on scholarship, and plans to go to college in the fall. His piece was surprisingly sentimental and romantic. The music by Ahn Trio, set the tone. Dancers included himself, Kayla, Allison, Macarena, Ellen and leva, all in black sports bras and tap pants.

The dancers moved back and forth across the stage, in a cat-and-mouse approach of chasing, then letting go. It reflected a male-female courtship, and DJ did a nice job of keeping our interest.

The second piece was created by Ellen entitled, “Empty Soul. ‘Be Good to Yourself-ASM.'”  With that title, one can’t help but think there’s a secret message there. Who is ASM? Anyway, it was a wonderful piece in its simplicity. It showcased the ballet talents of twins Gina and Giovanna. One was dressed in a gown, while the other in babydoll pajamas.

Although it was ballet, and beautiful to watch, you couldn’t help but see the turmoil, the trauma, and finally, the resolution between the two. Who were they? Lovers? Brothers and sisters? They would come together, break apart, hug each other, hurt each other, chase one another, then finally come to some resolution of sorts.

It reminded me of the start of “Peter Pan,” when the children, all innocent and dressed in their night clothes, were looking outside. You just knew that something was going to happen, and they would never be the same again.

“Who Cares What They Think?” was choreographed by leva Navickaite with music by Yann Tiersen and Apocalyptica. The dancers were Anna, Kayla, Allison, Adrianna and Dakota. The lighting was red, which, like the glib title, set the tone. Each of the dancers formed a line, and performed robotic movements. As props, leva used three boxes, that were used as stands, and crawl spaces by the dancers. At the end, they were stacked on top of each other.

In the beginning the music was rhythmic, and gave the impression that everything and everyone was the same. There were no individuals, only robots doing what they were told. One couldn’t help but think this piece may have been a commentary on life as a teenager, with too much uniformity, and not enough freedom. Or it could have been a sharp look at student classes at Idyllwild Arts, maybe even dance classes?

The lyrics resounded of someone fed up with the responsibility of always doing the right thing and “cleaning up.”

“Why, Nancy?” was choreographed by Ella, with music by Why. The cast included DJ, Giovanna, Gina, Ella, Macarena and Kayla.

It was a frenetic, frenzied piece in which the originator was frustrated, mad, and spinning around. It was her reaction to a decision beyond her control. Earlier in the week, she confided that the dance was about the expulsion of her best friend, Ben.

The title, “Why, Nancy?” is not about a woman as you’d might think, but about a guy.

“Nancy was Ben’s nickname,” Ella said.

“I’m lucky to have dance as another form of self expression,” Ella said. “The irony is that Ben had never seen me dance. And now he’s got a piece named after him.”

Like most art, dance can be a haven, a sanctuary, a place to heal from the outside world. And to say something without using conventional words.

“Te Anuncio” was choreographed by Sofia to a Shakir music piece. It had red lighting, and tango dancers. It reminded me of Argentina, and the bold dance that started with men dancing with other men in the docks.

Dakota and DJ were the tango dancing pair, while Geneva, Tramayne and Paulina were the dancers. They were all dressed in black and red, with signature flowers in their hair. The couple continued front and center with their seduction for each other.

After all, tango is a very sensual, physical dance.

The final piece by Ariann was entitled, “Out of My Mind, Back in Five Minutes,” with music by Marc Kets, Associate Dean of Students. Before coming to Idyllwild Arts, Kets worked with many DJs.

The costumes, which were created by Jacob, a student from the Theater Department, were torn and tattered. Some crossed in the front, resembling straight jackets from an insane asylum.

In fact, the sign as backdrop behind the dancers read: “Idyllwild Pychiatric Hosptial.” Of course, there is no hospital here. Was she saying that going here was driving her nuts? As one might expect, the dancers were uniform at first, then others broke away and showed their individuality.

Adriann brought in the spoken word into dance. Some of the dancers spoke of why they ended up there. Some were accidents, others were traumas that never healed.

Like “Cookoo’s Nest set to music, “Out of My Mind” was a definite crowd pleaser, with over-the-top crazy sterotypes, with inmates with sunken eyes, straight jackets, sad stories with no hope and no place to go.

Ironically, Idyllwild housed a sanitarium at one time, where nice people cane to rest their nerves. It was also the summer resting place of the Cahuilla Indians, who came up from the desert to the San Jacinto mountains for the cooler weather. Legend has it that even the mountain lions laid with the deer up in Idyllwild. Wait, now that’s crazy!

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Portraits at Artisans Gallery Today

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Caleigh's portrait of Robert Towne, a screenwriter

“Her work is great, very strong, and we’re happy to have her in our gallery,” said Amanda Taylor, owner of Artisans Gallery.

She was talking about a teenager’s work that’s going to be featured at her gallery today, Saturday, May 15, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Caleigh, a senior at Idyllwild Arts Academy, is going to New York University for art in the fall. This is her first gallery experience. (See “Student’s Work at Artisans Gallery” blog from March 6, 2010).

When Taylor received Caleigh’s portrait of Robert Towne a couple of month’s ago, she immediately put in on the fireplace mantle, a place of honor, and the first place most people look when they enter the gallery.

According to the Imdb web site, Towne is a writer, director, producer and actor. He got his start working with legendary exploitation director/producer Roger Corman. Considered one of the best script doctors in Hollywood, Towne contributed crucial scenes to such films as “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Godfather.”

Although we cannot show you photos of Towne because of copyright infringements, we welcome you to visit www.imdb.com, and see how Caleigh got a good likeness of him. According to Taylor, Caleigh has met the famous screenwriter.

Caleigh’s 20 x 30 inch portrait of  Towne is a mixed media painting that appears to have writing mixed into the paint.

“See how she blends the oranges and reds into the painting,” Amanda pointed out. “That’s technique that adds a lot of warmth to an otherwise black and white painting.”

Another portrait by Caleigh is from her memory

“People’s reaction to Caleigh’s work has been positive,” Amanda added. “They really like her work.”

Caleigh will feature nine large-sized acrylic and mixed media paintings. She will be on hand from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today to discuss her work.

Artisans Gallery, located in the Oakwood Village Center, features paintings, pottery, fiber art, sculptures, photography, and jewelry of mostly local artists.

Artisans is located at 54425 North Circle Drive. For more information, call (951) 659-9091, or visit www.idyllwildartisans.com.

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A Night of the Young Masters

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Seann (L) and Young played a duet by Bach

Thursday night was the gala opening of the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival. And there was a dance choreography going on at the same time across campus at Idyllwild Arts. But for those who came to see Young and Sean’s senior audition on May 13, they were treated to a “Night of the Young Masters.”

“This is going to be the best recital yet,” said Chuck Streeter, as he waited for the event to begin. Streeter is the Idyllwild Arts van driver who takes Seann to his music lesson in LA every Wednesday. He’s also a retired firefighter.

At the onset, it was  apparent why both of these students were accepted to good music schools in the fall. Young was going to The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, while Seann was accepted at the Julliard School of Music.

“Young is going to a ‘guitar heaven,'” said A-Tao, a bassoonist.

At the time of his Peabody School audition, Young was “psyched-out.”

“I showed up for the audition and there were 36 other guitar students waiting there,” Young said. “I just wanted to turn around and go back out.”

To be accepted into a university of that stature, Young felt very lucky. However, he had to get through his senior recital first.

When the lights dimmed, Young just walked onstage with no introduction. He was wearing a dark, pin-striped shirt and black pants. When he sat down with his guitar, he rested his left foot on a small, metal stand. Apparently, it was to help him steady his guitar while he played.

Young's first piece was by H. Villa-Lobos, a Brazillian composer

The audience was made up of mostly classmates and music faculty at Idyllwild Arts. Some came out of friendship, but a lot came out of curiosity. Because Young is the only classical guitarist on campus. (There is one other student who plays electric guitar in the Jazz Department). Young doesn’t play with the student orchestra, and he’s rarely seen practicing in the practice rooms. More often than not, he’s in his room playing video games.

Young began with a short piece by Heitor Villa-Lobos, “Prelude No. 1.” Villa-Lobos, a Brazilian composer, has become the best-known and most significant Latin American composer to date. His music was influenced by both Brazilian folk music and by stylistic elements from the European classical tradition.

It was an upbeat, romantic and Spanish-sounding piece. Just for fun, I checked out You Tube and listened to H. Villa Lobos playing the same tune. The recording is scratchy, but it is wonderful to hear. By comparison, Villa-Lobos played it with a more delicate hand, but Young did a nice job as well.

Young’s next piece, “La Cathedral,” by Agustin Barrios Mangore, was the favorite of the night. It probably was more of a personal piece, therefore, Young put more of himself into it. Young was raised Catholic, and still practices his religion. Recently, his mother encouraged him to think about becoming a priest. Young just laughed it off.

Young is congratulated by friends afterwards

For his third selection, Young picked “Asturias,” by I. Albeniz. It started out fast-paced, with lots of fancy fingerwork, then strumming. Just when things were starting to pick up, it changed tempo again, and went very slowly. It was sort of a “seduction” with the audience, fast and slow, quiet and loud. When Young finished “Asturias,” he left us wanting more.

His fourth and final piece of the evening was a duet with Seann, the French Horn player. It was called, “P in B Flat,” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Seann walked out in a tuxedo and bow tie. He brought his shiny silver French Horn and began to play a thousand rapid notes to Young’s laid-back melody. I don’t think I’d ever put a French Horn and classical guitar in the same song. It was like pairing a songbird and an elephant.

Yet, after they played the Praeludium and Allamande, things got better, and we accepted the pairing. By the time they finished the Courante and Sarabande, Seann must’ve played a million rapid-fire notes on his horn, while Young played only a couple hundred.

“I think they worked out well together,” said Kurt Snyder, Seann’s French Horn teacher, who came all the way from LA for his recital.

“That Young is really a master on guitar, isn’t he?” Snyder said.

The two may have played a duet during their recital for more than just altruistic reasons. Sure, they liked each other.

“But they get credit for part of their 45 minutes,” said one of the music students.

So, each of them were going for time, not necessarily quantity. Because, after their “Partita in B Flat,” Seann only had two more songs to play.

Una, who travels with Young on the van to her music lesson every week, gave us a glimpse of what was going on backstage.

“Young would wait for four seconds, then say, ‘Let me out, I want to graduate,'” Una confessed later. Before his second bow, he was already packing his bags.

(from L) Martin, Seann and Daphne (partially obscured) played a strong trio

For his first number, “Fantasy for Horn and Piano,” by Frederic Strauss, Seann was accompanied by Linda, on piano. Both instruments seemed strong and well-matched. Sean stood up during this piece, holding his horn upright, without the help of any sheet music.

He spent a lot of down time, however, blowing spit out of his horn. Spit can cause a gurgling tone, which is a nightmare for horn players. However, all that spit blowing takes some getting used to. Especially with a handsome guy in a tux.

For Seann’s second and final piece of the evening, he chose “Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano, By L. Berkeley. He was joined onstage with fellow musicians Martin on violin and Daphne on piano.

At the onset, it was a long piece with many segments. It started out frenetic and serious that was both dark and enchanting. In my mind, I envisioned proud men on horseback running through the fields.

Martin played the violin part beautifully. He was neither overbearing or too subtle. You couldn’t help but notice him, however, with his cropped, red hair that jetted out and also hung in his eyes.

Daphne, an award-winning pianist, also played beautifully. She’s always hard to photograph, because she hides behind the piano. But her playing was strong, clear, and a perfect complement to the other two instruments.

For his part, I’m glad that Seann chose a piece that showcased the versstility of the French Horn. At times, it sounded like the roar of a bull elephant, while other times, I swore I heard Miles Davis on coronet. When that happened, even Martin smiled.

Only a master could make his horn sound like something else.

(from L) Seann and Kurt Snyder, his teacher

The audience knew it too. They gave Seann a standing ovation.

All I can say about this recital is that I’m sorry that it ended so soon. Sure, it was under the 2-hour limit for senior recitals. But these two young masters, left us wanting more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This weekend are more Idyllwild Arts events, including 13 student dance choreographies at 7:30 p.m. in the dance studio, and the final student art show at 6 p.m. in the Parks Exhibition Center. On Saturday, Caleigh has a one-man show of her paintings in the Artisans Gallery on North Circle Drive.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on “Academy,” and then “Center Stage.”

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Folk Songs & Classics at Piano Recital

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Rich played some lively Romanian folk songs. Photo courtesy Idyllwild Arts

As much as Kathryn’s jazz recital (on May 10) was roudy, Rich’s recital that same evening was subdued. Coming from Taiwan, China, it was not in Rich’s nature to be a showman or to stand out.

Not surprisingly, Rich’s six-song line-up included songs from the classical masters, Hayden, Bach, Chopin, as well as surprises from Bartok and Bolcom.

His first choice, “Sonata in E Major,” by Joseph Hayden was an upbeat, lively piece. It reminded me of the kind of music that one hears when the bridesmaids are walking down the aisle before a wedding.

His next song, “Romanian Folk Dances,” by the Hungarian composer, Bela Bartok, was a surprise. The six separate, short songs were both moody, moving and danceable. Their titles included: Stick Game, Peasant Costume, Standing Still, Song of the Mountain Horn, a Garden Gate in Romania and Little One.

According to various web sites, Bartok had a lifetime fascination with folk songs. It may have started with the changing borders of the neighboring countries. Bartók grew up in the Greater Hungary of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was partitioned after World War I. His birthplace, Nagyszentmiklós (Great St Nicholas), became Sînnicolau Mare, Romania.

A recording of various musicians playing these Bartok folk songs can be found on You Tube.

“I gave him those songs,” said Nelms McKalvin, his teacher. “We like to mix it up a bit.”

His girlfriend, Stephanie, especially liked them. She kept nudging her friends in the audience, and beaming. Stephanie’s former violin teacher in Korea was from Russia. And her recital earlier this year had similar songs from Eastern Europe (see post, “Fast Fingers at Junior Recitals,” from Feb. 23, 2010).

The next two songs by Frederic Chopin, “Mazurka Op. 6, No. 2” and “Waltz Op. 69, No. 2” were lively, interesting and sounded like they were being played on a harpsicord rather than a piano. The “Walz Op. 69, No. 2” was created after Chopin’s death.

For his final number, “Through Eden’s Gates,” by William Bolcom, was the one we were all waiting for: a duet with two grand pianos.

At intermission, Doug Ashcraft, head of the Music Department, and McKelvain moved in another grand piano, so they were side-by-side.

“It would have been better if they put the pianos end to end,” said Ieseul later. “The sound would have been better, but they couldn’t do it.”

“Through Eden’s Gates” was arranged for two pianos by  Bolcom, an American who is best known for cabaret songs, concertos, sonatas, operas and symphonies. It is part of  a Garden of Eden Suite that includes The Eternal Feminine, The Serpent’s Kiss, and Old Adam.

Rich received flowers from his girlfriend and sister. Photo courtesy of Idyllwild Arts.

At PianoFest earlier this year, seniors Ieseul and Daphne gave an impressive performance of Bolcom’s “The Eternal Feminine,” while Georgina and Jonathon gave their Yamaha’s a workout with “The Serpent’s Kiss.” (See “PianoFest” posting from January 22, 2010)

Most of the piano majors were sitting close to the piano, so they could watch their hands. But from across the room, it was difficult to tell who was playing what. Yet, “Through Eden’s Gates,” was a thorny, lively and wonderful duet by two friends.

After Ieseul and Rich took their bows, Stephanie and Rich’s sister, Una, gave him bouquets of flowers.

“We couldn’t be more proud of him,” said McKalvain afterwards to Rich’s parents who now live in Idyllwild.

“Now go home and celebrate,” McKalvain said to Rich, who was beaming. “I don’t want to see you here practicing tomorrow.”

Classical Guitar & Horn Recital Tonight

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Young, a classical guitarist, will perform at 7:30 p.m. tonight

Tonight, Thursday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m., there is a rare classical feast for you at the Stephens Center at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Young, a classical guitarist from South Korea, and Seann, a French Horn player from the U.S. will entertain and delight you with their music.

Although still in high school, these two young men are accomplished artists and have been accepted to good, if not great, schools. Young is going to the Peabody Institute, a musical arm of Johns Hopkins University.

“My family was so happy that I got into a university,” Young said.

Just three years ago, Young arrived at Idyllwild Arts from a boarding school in Canada, where he first learned how to speak English. You would never know there was any struggle, because the confident young man speaks fast, and got nearly straight As, except for one B in History.

He learned how to play classical guitar from a famous guitarist in Korea. After one of his concerts, his mother introduced Young, and asked him if he’d teach him how to play. At that time, the famous guitarist was only performing, and didn’t have any students.

“I think she was persistent, and convinced him that I would be a good student,” Young said.

He studied with him for years before going to Canada, then the U.S. As it turns out, the Peabody Institute was the place where his teacher studied too. He considers himself lucky for the connection, and the opportunity to learn at such a fine music school.

His play list was not available at press time. But, for a guy who was listed 16th in the world for being the fastest video game player, you can imagine how he can play.

Seann (far L) played in many recitals this year

Seann, the French Horn player, is just as serious a student. Earlier this month, he played in several recitals, including one for Mariya, a bass player, and A-Tao, a bassoonist.

“I like helping other people out,” Seann said. “It’s good practice for me to learn different pieces.”

For every recital, Seann would wear a white shirt, jacket and tie. Sometimes, the bow tie was borrowed from another student, but he looked professional just the same.

Each Wednesday afternoon, Seann would travel to the L.A. area, and Young to Pasadena, for their music lessons. Two and a half hours each way, plus an hour-long lesson, (then sometimes waiting for other students) made for a long day. However, like most music students, these lessons are the highlight of their week. Even when they return at 9 p.m., and still have homework to do.

Sometimes, Seann would talk to his teacher philosophically about his playing, his music choices, and also where to go to school in the fall.

“But with the help of a few good friends, and God, I decided to attend the Julliard School of Music,” he said.

Just for the record, getting into Julliard is not easy. They accept few students, and rarely give scholarships. However, Idyllwild Arts Academy now has two French Horn players attending there, including Kathryn, a senior from last year, and now Seann. They would have lessons together each week, and now they will be playing together again.

Although both Young and Seann are quiet, modest guys, their music is big and loud. This is their senior recital, their last moment in the spotlight in front of their peers. They’re going to be great. And anyone who gets a chance to attend tonight’s recital, you will be pleased to say the least.

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus. For more information, call (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org, and click under “Academy” and “Center Stage.”

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Hefty Jazz & Classical Recital

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Kathryn belts out a jazz ballad (at another event) while Hawkins plays bass

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For one fun-filled evening, audience members were treated to a hefty dose of jazz and then classical music. Monday, May 10, was the senior recitals for Kathryn, a jazz vocalist, and Rich, a classical pianist, in Stephens Recital Hall at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Kathryn’s roster of 10 songs included jazz standards, classical rock and some blues.

Dressed in a slinky over-the-shoulder short, black dress and a red flower in her hair, Kathryn looked like the ultimate showman. But looks were disceiving.

“She was really nervous before the recital,” said Marshall Hawkins, head of the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts. “But I wouldn’t hear none of it. I knew she was going to be fine.”

Kathryn’s first song was “Stepping Out” by Irving Berlin. She sang a duet with Everett, a classical vocals major.  They had fun and chemistry onstage, and the loud applause afterwards gave Schmidt the confidence that kept building until her last song.

For her next tune, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” by Cole Porter , Kathryn was by herself onstage. Just a guitar and microphone.

“I like doing acustical work,” Kathryn had said earlier in the day. “Sometimes, it’s just nice being out there by yourself.”

When she started “Use Somebody,” a popular rock song by Kings of Leon, Won Bin, shouted out, “I love this song!”

Kathryn played it slower than the popular version, but with just her guitar, and for the first time, we understood all of the lyrics.

By her fourth song, “Maybe,” Kathryn brought on her fellow jazz mates, including Hallie on vocals and piano; Mint on electric guitar; Alejandro on bass guitar and Nate on drums.

“‘Private Lawns,’ by independent artists A & J Stone, is one of my favorites,” Kathryn said as an introduction. And by the time she was done, it was one of ours too. She introduced two musical soloists, Jacob on flute and Caleb on trumpet.

“I just blew in from Chicago, where they have private lawns and public parks,” were the jazzy lyrics.

Grant Park, one of Chicago’s more famous public parks, features a free, four-day jazz concert each Labor Day Weekend. Residents pile in from the neighborhoods and suburbs all dying to hear the jazz greats. Some famous performers include Miles Davis, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Broxton, Lionel Hampton,  Betty Carter and Jimmy Dawkins, among others.

For her next song, Kathryn switched to rock n’ roll with the Rolling Stones’ classic, “Wild Horses.” You have to give her credit for taking on such a popular song for the Baby Boomer generation. At first when I heard the lyrics, all I could hear was Mick Jagger’s low voice, and Keith Richards’ electric guitar. But then I settled in and accepted Schmidt’s soprano voice and standard guitar.

For the next few songs, Kathryn went out of sequence from the playbill. For “Oreo Cookie Blues,” she sang a duet with Mint and her electric guitar. It was a fun, little song that made the favorite cream-filled sandwich cookie a bit sexy.

“I’ve got the chocolate cream-filled cookie blues,” Kathryn wailed. “It gets me higher than I get on booze. I couldn’t quit if I wanted to!”

(from L) Jacob on sax and Caleb on trumpet got some solo time at Kathryn's gig

The next tune, “Lift Me Up,” Kathryn said it was a Christine Aguilera song that she sang at a “Hope for Haiti” benefit. She played it with Hallie, and it was a slow, love ballad. “Just get me through the night,” she pleaded to an unseen lover.

For “Orange Colored Sky,” Kathryn brought on the entire jazz band, including Mint on electric guitar; Alejandro on bass; Nate on drums; Jacob on alto sax; Anthony on tenor sax, Hallie on piano and Caleb on trumpet.

With that many jazzmen on stage, one would think that they’d easily drown Schmidt out, but she held her own.

“I talked to them (the musicians) about it,” Hawkins said after the show. “You never want to drown out your singer.”

For her final number, Schmidt sang Aretha Franklin’s anthem, “Respect,” and brought the house down. She added backup vocalists Amenta and Allison, who “wooped” and danced and made everything fun. The interesting part is that Amenta is a theater major and Allison is a visual artist. Who knew that they could sing?

“It wasn’t happening for me at rehearsal,” Anthony confessed later. “But when Amenta and Allison showed up during the show, they really brought a lot of energy that we played into.”

By this time, Kathryn was in her groove. She grabbed the microphone from the stand and started walking around, and “talked” to the drummer Nate with her “doo, doo, doo’s.” She looked like the ultimate jazz showman.

When the Aretha anthem was over, everyone was on their feet, clapping and cheering. And Kathryn walked away with an armload of five bouquets.

For Rich’s review, look to the separate article, “Classical Piano Recital.”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Student Dance Choreography

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

leva and Justin (shown at another performance) will be showcasing their own work

Student Dance Choreography is happening again this Thursday through Saturday, May 12-14, at the Dance Studio on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

It’s a forum for the junior and senior dance majors to showcase their talents for three to 10 minutes onstage.

“Most of the pieces are modern, but there’s some ballet pieces as well,” said leva, a senior dance major. “Cyndi tried to choreogrpah a Chinese piece, but it didn’t work out, so she made it more modern.”

For weeks, the students have been getting ready by choreographing, practicing with their fellow dancers, making costumes and selecting their music.

“Each of the juniors and seniors have to choreograph their own piece, then they also have to dance in two or three other pieces,” leva explained. “It’s really fun to create one and dance in others.”

Cyndi Huang was interested in choreographing a Chinese piece

Her piece was modern, she said, and centered on dancing around three black boxes.

Anna, another senior dance major, said that her piece was modern too. Neither wanted to give too many details away before the performance.

“You’ll just have to come,” Anna said.

Everyone helps with the performances, even non-dancers. Jacobl, a junior theater major with a focus on costuming, is helping out with Ariann’s costumes.

“I saw her struggling with shedding the costumes, and I offered to help,” he said. “She was grateful because she needed to get back to the choreography.”

Dakota and Justin (shown at another event) will be choreographing modern pieces

Jacob simply cut the short dresses in strips and pulled and worked with the material. “It’s all about the material. The cuts needed to move freely when the girls were dancing,” he said.

The juniors and seniors that will be showcasing their choreography include: Adrianna, Sofia, Dakota, Cyndi, Ellen, Ariann, leva, Justin, Tramayne, Anna, DJ, Kayla, Ella and Geneva.

The underclassmen who will be performing include: Marianna, Gina, Giovanna, Macarena, Kira, Allie, Paulina and Hailey.

All shows are open to the public and start at 7:30 p.m. in the Dance Studio on the Idyllwild Arts campus. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

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Oversized Art at Student Show

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Bella Oh's oversized phone sculpture is set to contact aliens

From oversized phones that hope to contact aliens to a tea cup that only “Alice in Wonderland” could drink from, it was all about oversized art sculptures at the  Idyllwild Arts “Visual Art III” opening on Friday night, May 7, at the Parks Exhibition Center. The show continues through Friday, May 14.

The five seniors participating in the show are  Jasmine Marin, Yoo Bin Cha, Sana Liu, Bella Oh and Brent Terry.

Walking down to the Parks Exhibition Center from campus, the first thing you’d see is a large, lightweight sculpture of a phone. Not a cell phone, mind you, but just the handset of an old fashioned phone, made up of wood, wire and cheese cloth. This phone was mounted on the roof.

“Did you see the phone on top of the roof?” asked Rob Rutherford, head of the Visual Art Department at Idyllwild Arts.

“Bella (Oh) wanted to stay even after she mounted it up there,” Rutherford said. “She wanted to see if it would contact any aliens.”

Once you see Bella Oh’s series of alien drawings, everything fits together. Like an architect’s blueprint, Oh drew the phone sculpture to scale, including the mounting platform and attachments.

She printed her alien drawings on velum, because you cannot print large-scale drawings on paper, Rutherford explained. Architects used to, but nobody prints large scale anymore.

Oh also drew a rendering of a crop circle from the air, outlining all of the parts. Crop circles are large-scale circles created by flattening of crops, such as wheat, barley and corn. Skeptics dispute it, while alien enthusiasts believe they could be caused by freak meteorological phenomena or messages from extraterrestrials.

In another large drawing, Oh drew an alien, that looks like the ones portrayed in the movies, with an oversized head and eyes, and a slight body with elongated arms.

“Do you believe in aliens?” someone asked her the next day. She was surprised at the question at first, but “Yes,” was all she said.

Sana Liu (R) and friend pose in front of her oversized sugarplum tea cup

In the same show, there was another larger-than-life sculpture: a sugarplum and marshmallow tea cup hanging from the ceiling. It was created by Sana Liu, who said that it was part of her “Home Sweet Home” series.

“I was watching her create that teacup,” said Haley Kuhlmann, another visual arts student. “And she wasn’t using any glue at all. She just pushed the gumdrops and marshmallows through the wire.”

Half white miniature marshmallows, and half multicolored gum drops made up the tea cup’s design.

Everyone around it marveled at his size, and the amount of time it took to create it, not to mention the bags and bags of marshmallows and gumdrops.

Oversized modern art has been done by many artists over the years, including Cristo, who was best known for “wrapping” things, such as cars, buildings and canyons. However, Cristo also created 3,100 oversized umbrellas that he mounted on hillsides in California and Japan. These yellow and blue umbrellas measured 19 feet, eight inches high and measured 26 feet, 5 inches wide. Without the base, each weighed about 450 pounds.

During their 10-year exhibition, Cristo had some trouble with the umbrellas detaching in the wind, but Oh wasn’t taking any chances with her phone and Idyllwild’s tulmultous weather. On Sunday, May 9, Oh heard there was a 20 percent chance of snow, and took the phone down from the roof.

“It’s made of wood, wire and cheesecloth,” she said. “But it’s not that strong.”

Hopefully, she moved it inside the Parks Exhibition Center for everyone to enjoy.

Although not oversized, Brent Terry’s series of black-and-white photographs were an interesting character study.

“I annoyed a lot of people,” Terry said of his photography set-up in the campus bookstore. Like the opening of an industrial meat locker, Terry attached long plastic strips over the front door at the bookstore. Generally, the strips are used to keep the bugs out, and the cool air in.

“The cool part,” Terry said, “was that the bookstore kept his whole project  a secret.”

When students would walk into the bookstore, they had to pass through the strips, he said.

“It was disorienting and annoying to most of them,” Terry said, whose photographs portrayed mostly silhouettes of students with bowed heads, arms flayling. In one of Dakota Bailey, you can only see her dance tutu jutting forth.

Terry said that the idea came from a photography experiment that he did in New York. He had put the same plastic “meat locker” strips over a door in a flea market.

“But this time, I put myself in front of them,” Terry said.

Many of the students didn’t know their photographs were part of his senior art show until the opening Friday.

“Hey, that’s me!” several students said to Terry. It didn’t matter that they didn’t look their best, were obviously annoyed or distressed by the plastic barriers.

An observer looks at the watercolor and ink art labels of Jasmine Marin's ginger beer bottles

For those who came to the show late, they didn’t get to sample Jasmine Marin’s homemade ginger beer. She had made 28 bottles for the show, and they were gone quickly.

Haley Kuhlmann was one of the lucky ones. “It had a strong ginger taste, with a hint of lemon,” she explained.

“But it didn’t taste like gingerale, but more like a beer,” she said.

Jade Huggins, another visual art student, said that she tried a sample earlier in the week, and it was sweet.

Marin made the ginger beer for her senior show because she questioned the idea of art always having to be “pretty.”

“I want to make art that can be enjoyed by me and my friends,” she said.

There was a pretty element to the ginger beer installation, however. The brown bottles that were suspended on wires from the ceiling had small watercolor and ink drawings on them, along with French words.

On one of the bottles, there were portraits of women without faces. On another, there was a nude woman’s torso. Still another depicted a large, “Bumpstead-style” sandwich, with a tongue hanging over the side. Marin admitted to making great sandwiches.

“Something tells me that she’s also a good cook,” said one student. “Making ginger beer is an advanced cooking technique. I couldn’t do it.”

The last piece, or pieces, in the show were created by Yoo Bin Cha. They were Asian-style plates with feet on them. These plates are similar to sushi plates at a Japanese restaurant. However, instead of the standard black or white, Cha’s ceramic plates were painted in colorful greens, pinks and blues. Some had flower decorations on them.

It was hard to count how many plates that Cha created, but there were a lot. Some were even used to display the food at the reception outside. What type of food they had on them was not known, because, like the ginger beer, if you arrived after 6 p.m., the food is gone.

So Cha showed that her ceramic plates were not only colorful, but functional as well.

The “Visual Art III” show continues on display until Friday, May 14 at the Parks Exhibition Center. For more information, contact Morgan Satterfield at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251.

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