Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Arts’

NY City Principal Jock Soto’s Piece Performed Friday

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Jock Soto came to Idyllwild to choreograph a Native Arts dance

By Marcia E. Gawecki

To close off Native American Arts Week at Idyllwild Arts, two faculty dancers will perform a piece choreographed by Jock Soto, retired principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, during his visit to Idyllwild Arts a couple of months ago. The Pas de Deax will be performed at 7 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on campus.

When Jock Soto retired after 25 years as principal for the New York City Ballet in 2005, he wrote a book about his life and career for Random House. He said that he was fortunate that he was able to learn dances quickly so that people liked to work with him. He credits his mother, the first female hoop dancer, with giving him strength.

He still teaches ballet at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York where he learned how to dance professionally.

Tonight, Soto’s piece will be performed by his friend, Jonathan Sharp, and Ellen Rosa, from the Idyllwild Arts dance department. It features original music by Laura Ortman, a White Mountain Apache, who is a musician and composer from Brooklyn. The Cahuilla Birdsingers also will perform.

Over the years, Jock worked with many choreographers, including George Balanchine, who personally asked him to join the New York City Ballet.

Jock said that he enjoys choreographing dances, like the Pas de Deux that he will be performing with Laura tonight at 7 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on campus. Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, it is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 265-6755.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Casey Abrams’ Album Release Set for June 26

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Casey Abrams latest album will be released Tuesday. Banner art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“American Idol” heartthrob Casey Abrams’ first self-titled album is set for release on Tuesday, June 26. Already several web sites have showcased his entire album, including the Hollywood Reporter and Amazon.

Not to spoil the fun for anyone who hasn’t heard the album yet, I’ll speak in general terms. Casey is singing about his life in real time. About living the simple life, falling in and out of love, longing and not changing his personality in spite of fame.

One fan said on the MJS big blog site, that he’d surely buy Casey’s album for it’s great music, but the themes of rejection and longing for the unattainable reminded him too much of his own “loser teenage years.” Yet, “Hit the Road Jack,” a duet with Haley Reinhart, was well worth the album price (Amazon presale: $9.99).

Most of the upbeat, Bob Marley-type tunes, were likely written by Casey because they are clever. You’re tapping and singing along, dancing along even, and then he throws a few zingers that shows he has a soul or at least lived a few lifetimes already.

The three tunes that I can mention (because Casey has already released them as singles on You Tube) are “Get Out,” “Simple Life” and “Stuck in London.”

“Simple Life” (studio version) could be about living his high school years in Idyllwild. Casey sings about unplugging his laptop, cell phone and TV, and enjoying the simple life. He injects a bit of humor by stating that he should never had dumped that hand-me-down from dad (Ira Abrams from the Idyllwild Arts Film Department). What was Ira’s hand-me-down–clothes, a Cadillac or a musical instrument? Casey never says.

His “Get Out” lyrics are heartbreaking, even though they are sung in an upbeat way: “Lately, I’ve been going crazy/ cuz I want you, baby/but you don’t/ so get out, get out, get out, get out of my heart!/

So sometime over the past year or so Casey fell in love. Ten to one it’s not Haley, because she’s just as busy as he is promoting singles and scheduling public appearances. Could it be Bianca King, the young actress from The Philippines who was hell bent on meeting Casey during the “American Idol Live” tour? She turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass (see Idyllwild Me post, “Casey’s Expanding Fan Base,” dated Jan. 15, 2012).

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch with Casey banner outside Cafe Aroma. Art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

Why I guessed Bianca is because Casey sings a lot about eating mangoes in a mango tree in “Stuck in London.” Well, mangoes grow naturally in The Philippines, and he was visiting there for a couple of days. But is that long enough to fall in love?

Ira Abrams is careful not to give too much away about his son’s personal life. But he admitted that many young Filipinos are crazy about Casey.

“Did you know they hang banners from buildings with quotes from Casey?” Ira said outside Fairway a few weeks ago. “Some quotes are mundane like ‘I sometimes watch TV.'”

Whether Casey is singing about Bianca is nobody’s business. But it sure makes the song more interesting if we know the juicy details. Remember when “You’re So Vain” was released by Carly Simon in 1972? Well, her self-absorbed lover wasn’t husband James Taylor, but Warren Beatty, the actor from “Shampoo” and “Reds.” (Wikipedia stated there was “much speculation” about three men, including Mick Jagger, Nick Nolte and Warren Beatty).

However, all that speculation may have helped “You’re So Vain” reach no. 72 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time” chart. So, to help boost Casey’s record sales, someone needs to find out if Bianca has eaten mangoes in trees before.

Casey with Caleb Hensinger at an Idyllwild Arts film event.

Probably the only song that Casey didn’t write in this latest album is the tune popularized by Ray Charles. “Hit the Road Jack” is a spanky little duet with Haley Reinhart. You’ve got to admit it, those two have chemistry. He’s classy, and she’s brassy. He growls, and her voice has range.

But he’s a great jazz musician and could actually make it in the movies, if he wanted to. And singing duets with Haley has boosted her popularity since he took her under his wing in “American Idol’s” Season 10.

This is not the first duet for Casey and Haley. So far, they’ve sung “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Moanin,” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

It’s not Casey’s first album either. Casey released “Like a Mirror,” in 2005 and “Oh, You Kid!” in 2010. He probably funded the first two, while Concord is taking credit for this one.

You can purchase all three of Casey’s albums on Amazon. Or you can sample “Oh, You Kid!” on Casey’s web site, www.caseyabrams.com.

“Give him a Grammy already,” said another Casey fan after reviewing his album. “I love every song on this album!”

To preview some of Casey’s hit singles, visit You Tube at www.youtube.com or go directly to Amazon, and buy the album for $9.99.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Banners of Casey Abrams by Marcia E. Gawecki are now on display at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs.

 

Idyllwild Arts Academy ‘Paints its Wagon’

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts paints its wagon

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Paint Your Wagon,” is more than just a musical or a Clint Eastwood western, it’s good business advice.

In 1920, the founders of Snap-on, a tool company which has grown into a $2.9 billion Fortune 500 enterprise, advised its franchisees to “paint their wagons.” Paint your truck, van or any moving vehicle to help market your products, they said. And if you live in a big city with skyscrapers, paint the top of your vehicle too.

What Snap-on innovators Joseph Johnson and and William Seidemann preached nine decades ago still holds true today. Besides advertisements, social media outlets, and the like, it’s still smart to “paint your wagon.”

To get the word out locally, Idyllwild Arts Academy recently wrapped one of its GMC vans with its marketing message. They got professional help from Monster Media of Riverside.

“We print big!” claims Monster Media’s web site, which is an expert on large format printing. Monster Media received the artwork from a design company working with the academy, and wrapped the van.

'Your child deserves the best art education in the world,' is the message printed next to Paulina

“We can’t take credit for the design,” said Mark from Monster Media. “But we definitely did the wrap.”

Monster Media changed the all-white GMC van into a moving billboard for Idyllwild Arts. Most of it is covered in the school’s signature green showcasing five Idyllwild Arts students.

The images are larger than life, but tell the story of Idyllwild Arts in an instant. There’s Angelo, from Moving Pictures, behind his video camera; Paulina, from Theatre, singing in a red sequinned dress and a plastic wig; Alex from the Music Department, playing his viola; Paul, a fashion designer, building a dress on a mannequin, and visual artist Dean painting at his easel.

Next to Paulina’s image, there’s a message to parents: “Your child deserves the best art education in the world!”

"Can I wash the windows?" asks Raj from the Shell Station in Valle Vista. Monster Media said the wrap should last five years or longer.

When one of the drivers brought the van back from Monster Media, several students cheered and walked around the van, looking at the images.

“Dean doesn’t go to school here anymore,” noted Kevin, another visual artist. “Why did they pick him?”

The wrapped van is a prototype, and images on future vans (if they decide to do more) may change.

A special phone number and web site is listed on the van to help the Marketing Department track the progress.

Although it is certainly colorful on the outside, the inside looks like the other school vans with tinted windows.

Chuck Streeter, who normally drives No. 4, the wrapped van, said it’s no different than from before. The only difference is the attention he gets on the road.

In an instant, people can see what students like Alex do at Idyllwild Arts

“Chuck said that he gets a lot of looks,” said Tucker McIntyre, head of Transportation at Idyllwild Arts.

I even drove it around town the other day, and he’s right. It really attracts attention,” Tucker added. “I like the way it looks.”

Tucker even encourages his drivers to park the wrapped van where the public can see it.

During a field trip to Mulligan’s Fun Park in Temecula on Saturday, June 16, driver Wayne Parker, noticed that a family was gathering around the school van, admiring it. The mother was putting the contact information into her cell phone.

“That’s what we like to see,” Wayne said.

Raj, a worker at the Shell Station in Valle Vista, where Idyllwild Arts fills up, smiled broadly at the new wrap.

“That is really something,” he said, as he grabbed his squeegee to wash the front window.

“Is it OK to wash it?” Raj asked.

Mark from Monster Media said that the wrap should last five years or longer. He advised to wash the van as normal, even adding wax.

Paul, a fashion design major, dresses a mannequin.

“Just watch the seams,” said one of the Monster Media workers, as he sat eating his lunch. He and the others had put the wrap on the Idyllwild Arts van in one day.

The only thing that may wear out first is the words on the hood, Mark said.

“You see, the sun is beating down on the hood, and there’s also heat coming up from the engine,” Mark said.

“Idyllwild Arts” is printed on the hood in reverse letters.

“We put it in reverse, so that drivers can see it clearly in their rear view mirrors,” Mark explained. “That’s how ambulances do it.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

A View of the Highland Fire from Hemet

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Smoke from the Highland Fire reached Hemet

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At the Target shopping center in Hemet, people were talking excitedly in groups, looking up at the smoke coming from the Highland Fire which began Saturday night, June 16.

According to news reports, the Highland Fire, which is beyond the Banning side of the mountain in Beaumont, reached 2,000 acres by 8:30 p.m., and was 10 percent contained.

An air tanker flew onto Hemet Field, which was on the other side of the Target store.

“I’ve seen the air tanker come in and land three times,” said Wayne Parker, an Idyllwild Arts van driver.

He had been there for about 20 minutes, waiting on ESL students to come out of Target.

“There must be water tanks with hoses on Hemet Field,” Wayne said. “But I can’t see over the store, which is blocking my view.”

The tanker took off and headed back towards the fire. Red and orange flames could be seen from the distance.

“The tanker’s doing a number on that fire,” Wayne added. “It’ll probably be contained by the time we reach Idyllwild.”

This crew from Mountain Center had just returned from fighting a blaze in Palm Springs

The ESL students, from China and Korea, were on their way home from a field trip to a fun park in Temecula. They were concerned about the smoke, but when they got to Hemet, they could see that the fire was a long distance from Idyllwild and relaxed a bit.

“I’m not afraid,” said William, an ESL student from China who is studying film.

Currently, nine of them are taking makeup classes at the academy for 8 weeks. However, today was a fun day, away from their studies.

Charles Schlacks, an Idyllwild resident, who returned from a film event in Orange, said the smoke from the Highland fire could be seen as far as Riverside.

“I was on the 215, and could see the smoke from there,” Charles said.

Wind was a big factor in other blazes around Idyllwild Saturday night.

At the Shell Station in Valle Vista, a fire crew from Mountain Center (BDF 56) was filling up and cleaning their windows. They looked tired, but said they weren’t returning from the Highland Blaze.

The brush fire they had been battling in Palm Springs was about five acres.

“Wind was a big factor today,” said one of the firefighters.

When asked about the Highland Fire, the firefighter said they had heard about it, but didn’t know why they hadn’t been called to assist.

“Maybe we’ll be called later on,” he said, as he put away the squeegee.

According to news reports, as many as 300 firefighters are are battling the blaze, including ground crews, helicopters and air tankers.

He laughed when someone asked if the Highland Blaze would be contained soon.

Smoke caused a haze over the setting sun. Mountain view of Hemet. Photo by William Liu.

“Not likely,” he said.

Driving up the hill towards Idyllwild, the smoke was casting an eerie haze over the setting sun. Several motorists had pulled over in one of the pullouts to take pictures.

Firefighters are expected to work though the night.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Dick Halligan to Perform in LA June 21

Monday, June 11th, 2012

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Remember the old Blood, Sweat & Tears favorites, “God Bless the Child,” and “Sometimes in Winter?”

That was the genius of Dick Halligan, composer and musician, who lives part time in Idyllwild and Italy.

Dick also arranged  “Variations on a Theme” by Erik Satie, for which he received a Grammy nomination. The rock/jazz band, Blood, Sweat & Tears dominated the Billboard charts in the early 1970s and won the Grammy’s Album of the Year in 1970, over the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Dick also wrote musical scores for 15 films, including “The Owl and the Pussycat” from 1970, starring Barbara Streisand and George Segal, and “Fear City,” from 1984, starring Tom Berenger and Melanie Griffith.

Next week, Dick will be taking his grand piano on the road with a June 21 concert at the Cornerstone Music Conservatory in Los Angeles.

“Dick Halligan: A Man and His Music” reveals his fascinating musical influences that lead to a rewarding musical life as well as personal challenges with focal dystonia, a debilitating nervous system disorder. Rod Menzies is directing the show. Tickets are $20 or only $15 if you order by June 14.

Dick attended a recent musical at Idyllwild Arts

Several weeks ago, Dick held his solo debut in Idyllwild, but many missed it.

“I think he’s a genius,” exclaimed Jessica Schiffman, a friend of Dick’s who is an Idyllwild artist who shows at the Bill Anson Gallery in Palm Springs.

Dick and other local writers would meet monthly to read their works out loud at Jessica’s home. At that time, Dick talked about writing his memoirs. An unassuming guy, he had a lifetime of successes to write about, including time with Blood, Sweat & Tears, and composing jazz and classical music as well as film scores.

He told the group how his musical career started in high school when he got a band together. He was playing an accordian at the time.

Over the years, he learned to play the trombone, piano and flute. He was playing trombone when he first started with Blood, Sweat & Tears.

All of his experiences are written down in his memoir, that he completed within three months. Dick wrote it all out in longhand, while his wife typed it up.

Dick brought the finished manuscript to one of the writer’s group meetings at Jessica’s house. He read a few pages from the beginning.

“We all looked at each other in amazement,” recalled one writer. “Dick doesn’t mess around. When he says he’s going to write a book, he does it.”

Well, most people would think that a memoir written in three months is pushing it a bit. But for Dick Halligan, three months was all it took.

His memoir was well written with clarity and humor. When he gets it published, it will be a bestseller.

It also served as the basis for his solo show.

“All I’m missing now is some good pictures,” Dick said. “I wished I would have kept some over the years.”

Blood, Sweat & Tears played at the famed 1969 Woodstock concert.

“Yeah, I was there, and everyone talks about how great Woodstock was,” Dick said. “But they must’ve been in the audience. From the stage, all I could see was black.”

Dick, the musical genius and the regular guy will be revealed on stage. He spoke excitedly about it while attending the final musical, “Berlin to Broadway” about the life of composer Kurt Weill on June 20 at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Dick said that he never thought much about Kurt Weill’s work, but enjoyed his later tunes showcased in the 2-hour student show.

“Kurt Weill showed a lot of sensitivity and his love of America came out in his work,” Dick said.

“Dick Halligan: A Man and His Music” will be held Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cornerstone Music Conservatory located at 12121 West Pico Boulevard (one door West of Bundy) in Los Angeles.

Cornerstone Music Conservatory is on the 2nd floor next to The Party Store. There is plenty of free parking in the lot. Tickets $20 (or just $15 with reservations by June 14th).

To order tickets, contact Jeannine Frank at Jeannine@FrankEntertainment.com or call (310) 476-6735 or (310) 666-9066.

Photo courtesy of Dick Halligan.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Student Hopes to Win ‘Voice of the Valley’ Saturday

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts vocal student Nicky leaves a rehearsal at the Hemet Theater

Once you fall off a horse, the best advice is to get right back on again.

That’s what Idyllwild Arts vocal student did when he was eliminated recently for the NBC TV talent show, “The Voice.”

“I got a callback and screwed it up,” Nicky said. “I was looking into a camera and not a live audience, and started worrying about my image, you know, and what people might think.”

One of “The Voice” judges told him to try again next year and go straight to Call Backs.

In the meantime, Nicky decided to try out for a local talent show, “Voice of the Valleys” and gain more experience. He made the cuts from 99 to 34 to nine. Now on Saturday, he’s going to try and win it.

The prizes are worth the effort of the many rehearsals over the last few weeks. He’s had to squeeze them in during finals, and make many trips down the hill. Until Saturday’s show, Nicky is staying over at his advisor’s house before returning home to San Francisco.

The first prize includes $1,000, a record deal and an audition at Disney.

Nicky said that he’s most excited about the record deal because it would allow him to showcase songs that he’s written over the years, which amount to more than 300. Recently, he wrote songs inspired by artwork created by fellow artists at Idyllwild Arts. For one modern piece, Nicky reached into the piano to strum the keys.

Nicky reaches into the piano to strum the keys

“It’s supposed to sound like a snake,” Nicky said. (see Idyllwild Me story, “Music Comp Collaborates with Visual Artists” dated May 9, 2012).

On Saturday night, Nicky is going to sing “I Want You” by Luke James. In the audience, will be his girlfriend, Paris, a dance major, her father, Ryan Zwahlen, music head, and Marshall Hawkins, head of the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts.

“Everyone’s really good,” Nicky said of the other contestants, who range from high school students to middle-aged adults.

“Luke James is a brilliant new R&B artist, and his arrangement of “I Want You” will take you by surprise,” Nicky said. “There’s a high falsetto that you don’t hear every day.”

(from L) Nicky, Will and Corwin listen to their instructor, Kevin Sullivan

He also has to sing a new vocal arrangement of “It was You,”written by James Below.

After that, Nicky will sing “Don’t Stop Believing” with the group and “Man in the Mirror” from Michael Jackson.

The “Voice of the Valley” Competition will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, at the Tahquitz High School Performing Arts Center, located at 4425 Titan Trail in Hemet. (Not at the Hemet Theater where they’ve been rehearsing).

Tickets are $25 and $15 for students. For more information, call 951-743-0872 or visit www.vov2012.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Student Films Target All Kinds of Love

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts alum, Gabe Harshman, acted in "Love Without End"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

All five shorts shown at the Student Film Screenings on Saturday, May 26, were about love.

They involved different themes, including a zombie apocalypse, teen angst, separation and death, gay marriage and restoring eyesight to Ethiopians. But the overall premise was about love — of self, your siblings, your parents, your friends, your spouse and your fellow man.

By the packed house (for the second night in a row) and the standing ovation at the end, the audience loved them all. Even a few tears were shed.

“Get ready to cry!” exclaimed Shanna, a visual art student, after intermission. “The next one is really sad.”

She was right. “Love Without End,” written and directed by Rosey, was a story about love and loss. It was produced by Harald, edited by Minori and filmed by Cyrus.

“No matter what kind of love you have, it never ends,” said Rosey, as she stood at the podium introducing her short film. By the dramatic pauses in her brief speech, it appeared that the film could be autobiographical.

"Life After Death" was more than just a zombie apocalypse movie

“Love Without End” featured two strangers sitting on a bus headed for a special stargazing place in the mountains. Richard, played by Gabe Harshman, an Idyllwild Arts theater alum, lost his wife to illness, while Jason, played by Jared Billings (a film teacher), never found his sister after his parents died and different families adopted them.

The two standouts in the movie were local youngsters, Brighton Dahleen, who played Jason at age 8, and Jennie, played by Elsie Fisher, from the Universal Studios computer animated film, “Despicable Me.”

“It just tore my heart out to see them separated,” Shanna said.

Gabe also got a callout in the thank you credits. He is best known as the louse with the powdered wig in “Learned Ladies.” While at Idyllwild Arts, Gabe also played in the “Laramie Project” and the “Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Now, after two years at Roosevelt in Chicago, he’s living in Los Angeles and taking improv classes with Gary Austin, founder of “The Groundlings.”

He’s also friends with Idyllwild Arts film alumni, Nick Caine and Sean Stromsoe, who helped edit the films.

“Gabe was great to work with,” exclaimed Lujie one of the crew. “He worked with us until midnight and never complained.”

If you look closely at the way that “Love Never Ends” was shot, the two men who play the leads were never face-to-face, but side-by-side (on the bus, on the rock). That’s because Gabe’s part was shot first, weeks before Jared’s part, that was added later.

“I take pride in taking direction,” Gabe said earlier. “I’m an actor, not a director or producer, whose job is to look at the big picture.”

He said it was great coming back to the natural surroundings of Idyllwild after living in LA.

“It was really peaceful looking up at the stars,” Gabe said. “I miss that.”

Film crew unloads on location in Idyllwild

For the first film shown Saturday night, “Life After Death,” was more about the love between a sister and brother, than a zombie apocalypse. It was written and directed by Armani, a sophomore film major. In his introduction, he keenly noted that not many sophomores got their films “green lit.” He thanked his leading actor, Quincy, for making the most of her big sister role. Armani also thanked his real-life sister for her inspiration and his mother for her loyalty.

“This film is dedicated to my mother,” Armani said. “For believing in me, even when I turned into a zombie.”

He also said that he was inspired by a book that featured zombies that were not just cold-blooded killers, but still showed signs of humanity.

The action-packed zombie short, featured realistic makeup on the battle beleagured Quincy and her boyfriend, Eric. In an instant, she left  her 5-year-old brother alone to go out with Eric. (In hindsight, it may not have made a big difference if she was home because the zombies were taking over the world).

The movie makes good use of TV news announcements and voice mail messages to convey the seriousness of the zombie apocalypse. In most of the scenes, Eric wielded a semi-automatic rifle, to fend off zombies, coming close to getting bit once.

When he shot one zombie in an abandoned home, the bloodstain left on the wall was digitally enhanced.

(from L) Juwan sings to Jared, as Caleb plays at the 2011 screenings. This year, Jared acted in "Love Without End."

In his opening remarks to “Life After Death,” Jared said that the special effects company has agreed to work with Idyllwild Arts students again next year.

“That says a lot about the professionalism of our film students,” Jared said.

“The Wingman,” a coming-of-age comedy, features two Idyllwild Arts alumni in the leading roles, Connor Farwell and Russell Bomgardner. It was written and co-directed by Gabby and her brother, Angelo.

“As a former theater major, I thought I’d escape acting,” confessed Gabby, in her opening remarks. “But then, I’m in the film, so Angelo directed me.”

“Wingman” was produced by Alyssa, edited by Paris, Alex and Gabby. It’s about Jace, played by Russell (Shortcomings) who is bullied by the overbearing Payton, until a tragedy happend. Connor is still self-absorbed, but Russell has changed. Gabby, as the angel that only Russell can see, helps him find his backbone and realize his true merits.

“We think Angelo is awesome,” exclaimed Ira Abrams, in his opening remarks.

As cinematographer, Angelo captured Idyllwild’s natural beauty, including scenes from Lake Fulmor, and meadows near the state park.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts alum, Russell Bombgardner (shown with Kathryn) plays the sidekick in "Wingman"

The “Assosa Eye Clinic” documentary, also showcased the talents of Idyllwild Arts alumni, Sean Stromsoe (film) and Charles Haysbert (theater). It showed the efforts of Dr. Samuel, the only physician for 200,000 people, and the Tropical Health Alliance, to help restore eyesight to cataract patients in Ethiopia.

Though mostly visuals and little dialogue, Sean and Charles tell a heart-warming tale about a father and son. Through cataract surgery, sight in one of the father’s eyes is restored.

“I can see you!” the father exclaimed as his bandages were removed. “This is my joy to see my son again. Thank God.”

“Perfect,” a 3-minute short-short, was written and produced by Anna, just days before the weekend film screenings. It featured a love-struck girl musing about her prom date. Then reality strikes when his mom drives them to the dance.

The final film of the evening took on a political tone. “A Family Like Mine,” is a documentary about children growing up with same-sex parents. It was written by Katherine, or Tia, whose single dad is gay. It was produced by Tirzah, filmed by Alex, and edited by Moira.

President Obama portrait by Marcia E. Gawecki, Idyllwild

Recently, President Obama has supported legislation that allows same sex couples to marry. It is landmark legislation and a big risk for an incumbent president, yet opposed by the religious right.

“When I came to Idyllwild Arts, I was surprised to learn how many people grew up like me,” Tia said.

In her film, several instructors from Idyllwild Arts told their perspective of gay families, including Shambo Carpenter, a philosophy teacher, and Melissa Wilson, an animation teacher. Also, the wife of Daniel Gray, who was pregnant at the time.

They spoke of confusion, pain and isolation growing up as children of gay couples.

“My brother and I decided once that we weren’t going to listen to or associate with people who didn’t understand our family,” said Shambo, who has two mothers.

Tia, whose father is gay, didn’t know the term until she was nine years old when another child told her.

Her father described how his own mother sent him to a psychiatrist when he was young, to see if he was gay.

"Gabe was great to work with," exclaimed Lujie.

“They put me in a room with all kinds of toys. I bypassed all the cowboy guns and went straight for the dolls,” Tia’s father recalled. “When my mother asked the doctor if I was gay, he said, ‘Regardless if he’s gay or not, he’s going to be a father.”

“A Family Like Mine,” showed Tia growing up, riding bikes and drawing with her dad. Tia is African-American, and her father is white.

“People on the street used to ask me where I got this child, and if I took her from someone,” Tia’s dad said. “I used to tell them that I was babysitting for Diana Ross.”

Through a multitude of conversations with gay parents, children of gay parents, priests and news clippings of the opposition, “A Family Like Mine” will help give an insider’s perspective to the same-sex marriage debate.

“People don’t realize that when they are attacking same-sex couples, they are also attacking the children of those families,” Tia said “People like me.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Student Film Screenings Tonight & Saturday

Friday, May 25th, 2012

A zombie screams

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Zombies and pilots are among the themes for this year’s Student Film Screenings held tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The much-anticipated event is free and open to the public.

Part of the zombie movie was shot next door to me in Idyllwild. I volunteered my neighbor’s house because frankly, my kitchen was a mess.

Maurice Mysenburg’s home was perfect because it was unoccupied (he lives in La Habra), it had a small Sherwood Forest in the back yard, and dark wood paneling throughout.

The script called for one actor to shoot a zombie dead against the wood paneling in the bedroom.

“I wonder if the blood will leave a stain?” asked Isaac, head of the Film Department.

Isaac and Gerald decided they needed to match the wood paneling so they could use it as an overlay. (I’m sure my neighbor, Maurice, wouldn’t want to live with zombie blood above his headboard.) As it turned out, however, they created the blood stain in post-production.

The film crew unloads all of the equipment

Outside, the film crew was unloading the lights, camera and equipment. I was just sorry that I wasn’t going to be around to watch them shoot the zombie film, “Life After Death.”

Before I left, one of the students asked to use my garden hose. I imagined that he needed it to fill up a fog machine or something.

As it turns out, he needed to hose down a zombie.

She had platinum blonde hair, and caked blood all over her face. She was a gruesome sight. And she stood there screaming. Why the zombie needed to be wet and miserable was unknown.

A zombie in full makeup

The zombie film was written by Armani, a sophomore film student at Idyllwild Arts, who insists that it’s got a decent storyline.

“It’s about a guy who convinces a girl to leave her 5-year-old brother at home so that she can go out with him,” Armani explained.

(See ‘Zombie Teen Flick” Idyllwild Me post dated April 10).

“‘It’s more about the story between the sister and brother,” Armani said.

Armani said that “Life After Death” is not autobiographical.

“My sisters didn’t leave me home alone until I was 10,” he said.

Most of the other short films, including “Wing Man” were shot in and around Idyllwild. Those who come to the Student Film Screenings tonight and Saturday night will notice many local sites.

Like all Idyllwild Arts events, the event is free and open to the public. But come early to get a good seat. For more information, contact (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Final Student Jazz Concert Tuesday Night

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Marshall Hawkins once played with Miles Davis. Image by Marcia E. Gawecki

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Four,” a song by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, is considered to be among the lineup for the final Idyllwild Arts student jazz concert Tuesday night, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowman Arts building.

It stands to reason that Jazz Chair Marshall Hawkins would pick a song from Miles Davis. As a jazz musician, composer, and band leader, Miles is considered to be one of the most influential jazz musicians of our time.

It is also well known on campus that Marshall once played with Miles.

However, the details of the experience haven’t fully come to life. The jazz students say it’s a cool fact, and perhaps Marshall’s esteem is boosted even higher in their eyes.  But they don’t push him for details.

(from L) Walker (guitar) and Randy (sax) will be performing

Hopefully, Marshall will write about Miles in his memoirs one day.

In the meantime, however, we’ll get to enjoy “Blue Haze: Four” as one of the songs that will be performed by Marshall and the students tonight. The key word is “possible” because the lineup and music selection changes all the time. Sometimes, the students don’t know the lineup until just shortly before the concert begins.

Jazz alumni Jacob (left) and Caleb will be playing at the concert

“It doesn’t matter,” said Randy who plays the saxophone. “We know the music already. It’s just a matter of which order Marshall wants to take it.”

Walker, a graduating senior who normally plays guitar, will switch to bass for Tuesday’s performance because one of the bass guitar players hurt her finger.

“It’s a totally different instrument, but I’m up to the challenge,” said Walker.

According to the Jazz Education web site, “Blue Haze: Four” was recorded in 1954, just after Miles had overcome his drug addiction. It features Horace Silver, Percy Heath and Art Blakey.

Interestingly enough, “Four” was usally attributed to Miles Davis, but it was actually written by Eddie Vinson for Miles Davis. Today, both are usually mentioned as authors. This is an interesting solo, as Miles articulates almost aggressively. Miles’ solo features a hard sound right from the pickup, which he was not known for before.

Idyllwild Arts alumni Caleb Hensinger and Jacob Scesney will be also playing at Tuesday’s jazz concert. Both attend the Burklee School of Music in Boston. Caleb will likely do a nice job with Miles’ “Four,” since he has a similar round sound.

Miles Davis image by Marcia E. Gawecki, Idyllwild

Caleb would play with Marshall and Paul Carman at Cafe Aroma on an occasional Tuesday night, and sometimes steal the spotlight.

“There was one woman in particular who would only come when Caleb was playing,” said Frank Fero from Cafe Aroma. “He really charmed the ladies.”

Another twist to the Tuesday night jazz concert will be a collaboration with a string quartet. The classical musicians include SaSa, Howard and Tiffany. The fourth one Randy couldn’t recall.

“Marshall is going to put us all on stage and build a symphony,” Randy said.

Whatever Marshall and company are up to will turn out to be a wonderful evening of jazz–with some surprises. Although the IAF Theatre in Bowman offers ample seating, it’s still best to arrive early Tuesday night.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Musical Storytime at Idyllwild School

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Tiffany (far right) will be playing her cello for grade schoolers at Idyllwild School

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Storytime will never be the same for grade schoolers at the Idyllwild School.

Today at 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., four students from Idyllwild Arts will be bringing a book to life with music and songs.

“The Story of Arly Rabbit,” was written by Jennifer Stevenson (a friend of Idyllwild Arts Music Chair Ryan Zwahlen), who is well known for her interactive musical stories for children and their families.

Jen is a composer, educator and clarinetist.

Her story has a local angle to it. It’s about a jackrabbit from Palm Springs who travels to Idyllwild.

The four Idylwild Arts students who will be performing “The Story of Arly Rabbit,” include Emma on flute; Lisa on violin; Tiffany on cello and Alex as the narrator.

Ryan's friend, Jennifer, wrote the musical story

Tiffany, a graduating senior, said that she was looking forward to the two performances today.

“The story is interactive, so when we’re playing our instruments, the students will be encouraged to do hand gestures along with the music,” Tiffany said.

In videos shown on Jen’s web site, she asks students to make bird flapping motions with their hands or climb an imaginary tree like a monkey.

Afterwards, the performers are going to demonstrate how to play their instruments and then play musical games with them, Ryan added.

The music collaboration between the two Idyllwild schools was made possible by an AEL grant of $1,000, that was awarded to Lisa, the violinist.

Ryan worked with Bob Boss from the Idyllwild School for this event. He said that it took about two months to finalize their schedules and all the details.

For more information on Jen’s Musical Adventures, visit www.tessellamusic.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.