Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Arts Academy’

Art-Inspired Songs at Friday Afternoon Student Recital

Friday, May 25th, 2012

(from L) Nick, Will and Corwin listen to Kevin play

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“It’s our version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition or Satie’s Sports et Divertissements,” said Kevin Michael Sullivan of his Honors Composition class recital at Stephens at 2:30 p.m. today, Friday, May 25.

It’s an all-student collaboration in which songs were inspired by art pieces. (See blog post, ‘Music Comp Collaborates with Visual Artists,’ dated May 9).

The three student songwriters–William, Corwin and Nick–will showcase their songs that were inspired by art created by Zoe, Inga and Josh (Lin Xuan).

They will be performed today by Dr. Jeanette-Louise Yaryan on piano.

After the performance, there will be a short Q&A session with Dr. Yaryan and the student composers and artists. Like all recitals at Idyllwild Arts, it will be streamed via UStream on the school website.

Over the last two years, Kevin said, the music composition students have composed works for solo oboe; art songs for baritone and piano with lyrics by members of the Creative Writing department; a string quartet; and a reed trio.

For one song, Nick will strum the exposed piano

The class has also created a closed Facebook group where they post links to music, articles, study scores and other resources and, most importantly, post drafts of the scores of the students’ compositions.

“I have invited composers from across the globe to join this group and take part in our discussions,” Kevin said. “This exposes the students to a variety of ideas, examples and compositional techniques and  approaches.”

The contributors included Stephen Serpa and Jessie Alexander Brown of the Harrt School of Music, Jason Gerraughty, SUNY Stony Brook,  Noam Faingold, Kings College London, and Josh Gates, NC School of the Arts/ The Tatnall School.

This will be the first time that the three student artists will hear the music compositions inspired by their art. Zoe’s photograph features two portraits blended together, Inga has an abstract landscape and Josh’s painting entitled,”Greedy,” features a pig eating another pig while other pigs watch.

(from L) Josh with Vita. His painting features pigs eating each other.

The art and music composition recital today is free and open to the public. Stephens Recital Hall is the first building to the left as you cross the bridge at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild.

For more information, call (951) 265-6755 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Berlin to Broadway: Composer Kurt Weill’s Musical Voyage

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

'Berlin to Broadway' poster

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The lights in the IAF Theatre were still on late Wednesday night. You could hear show tunes wafting from under the door, the clomping of dancing shoes, while orders were barked out throughout. These were the behind-the-scenes moments that the audience will never see. The final details of Idyllwild Arts last production of the year, “Berlin to Broadway,” being hammered out.

The 3-day show runs Friday and Saturday, May 18 & 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre, and closes on Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m.  Like all Idyllwild Arts productions, it is free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat.

“No one does Kurt Weill anymore,” lamented Howard Shangraw, head of the Idyllwild Arts Theatre Department as he was shopping late at Fairway Supermarket one night. “I miss all of those songs from ‘The Threepenny Opera.’ You remember Mack the Knife?”

I immediately did a shark imitation with my hand. Who doesn’t love that song? But who the heck is Kurt Weill?

Like most composers, we remember their songs, but know little about their lives. Not this time, however. ‘Berlin to Broadway,’ gives us a musical glimpse into the life and genius of Kurt Weill.

A German Jew, Kurt Weill married the famous Austrian singer, Lotte Lenya. As their life in Germany became more precarious, they fled first to Paris, then the United States, where they were a success in New York and Hollywood.

Weill’s biographical journey (as told by a narrator) offers songs that have become standards in our Modern American Songbook, such as Mack the Knife, Lost in the Stars, Surabaya Johnny, September Song and My Ship, among others.

Lyricists Weill worked with include Bertolt Brecht, Alan Jay Lerner and Ira Gershwin, The student cast sings and dances excerpts from The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, Lady In The Dark, Street Scene, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and more.

All in all, there are more than 30 songs that are showcased in “Berlin to Broadway.”

“Not only does it demonstrate Weill’s extraordinary melodic gifts, but also his ability to transform his style to fit different environments,” Howard wrote in the program. “His music reflects both the influences around him and the moods of the times in which he lived and composed.”

Starting Friday, you’ll get the chance to know one of America’s most influential composers via “Berlin to Broadway” through songs and dances by the musical theater students. Then you’ll know why Howard liked him so much.

For more information, call (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org. The IAF Theatre is located on the Idyllwild Arts campus at 52500 Temecula Drive in Idyllwild.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Teen Dancers Try Out for Royal Caribbean Cruise

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

(from L) Maddy and Cheyenne

By Marcia E. Gawecki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maddy as Cinderella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Student Gets Real World Jazz Experience

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

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

By Marcia E. Gawecki

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

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

Inigo, a junior from Brazil, played there once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Glass Fixer Knows About Film Crashes

Friday, April 6th, 2012

A cracked windshield can obstruct a driver's view

By Marcia E. Gawecki

In 2005, Doug Shelby, owner of Shelby Auto Glass in Hemet, got a call from one of the film students at Idyllwild Arts. The teenager was thinking of putting a car crash in his short film, and he wanted to know about breaking windshield glass.

Doug doesn’t remember who it was, but likely it could have been Alexis Echavarria, who won the “Audience Choice Award” for “18 Minutes,” a short film about the last 18 minutes of sunlight on earth.

The 16-year-old student died before the screening at ShortFest 2009 in Palm Springs, but a student award has been set up in his name.

In one of the scenes in “18 Minutes,” a young couple pauses on the street for a moment to kiss, while another car hits them head on. The teenage girl goes through the windshield, while the teenage boy survives. A dramatic scene ensues, showing the boy picking her up and cradling her in his arms, just moments before the world ends.

“I don’t think a head-on collision at low speeds, with one car parked would cause someone to go through the windshield,” said Doug. “Windshields are too tough now.”

In 'The Vow,' a woman goes through the windshield and gets amnesia

Doug explained that most car windshields are made of two panes of glass with a thin layer of plastic in between. That combination of glass and plastic is super strong, and makes it hard for anything to go through it, especially a person.

“You would have to be traveling about 90 mph straight into a brick wall to go through the windshield,” Doug said.

But teenage filmmakers are not the only ones who don’t get the windshield thing right.

A few weeks ago, Doug and his wife, Debi, went to see “The Vow,” a true love story about a married couple who get into a car crash. It’s the same premise. The two park momentarily at a stop sign to kiss, and then are rear-ended by a 14-wheeler. The woman, played by Rachael McAdams, goes through the windshield and survives, but gets amnesia.

“I leaned over and said to my wife, ‘That would never happen,'” Doug said.

Too bad director Michael Sucsy didn’t have Doug on the set to advise them about the realities of windshield glass.

Doug just shrugged and said, “That’s Hollywood!”

Many windshields crack in Idyllwild due to the weather

Shelby Glass is located at the bottom of the hill in Valle Vista/Hemet. Doug’s son works in their mobile unit that services Idyllwild businesses, including Idyllwild Arts.

“Shelby Glass is the best,” said Tucker McIntyre, head of Transportation at Idyllwild Arts. “We’ve used them for years because they’re reasonable and they come up to us for no extra charge.”

Shelby’s free mobile service covers Idyllwild, Beaumont, Banning, Hemet, and San Jacinto, among other cities.

For more information on Shelby Glass, contact (888) 298-7125, (951) 927-9810 or visit shelbyautoglass.com. The shop is located at 45457 Hwy. 74 in Hemet.

And to view Alexis Echavarria’s ’18 Minutes,’ visit www.alexisechavarria.com. (Video takes some time to download, so please be patient).

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Parallax Student Magazine Now Online

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

(from L) Whitney, Editor-in-Chief, and Cali, celebrate the launch of Parallax online

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Jan. 16, Parallax launched its online literary magazine and the Idyllwild Arts students had a big party to celebrate.

Parallax, which means, “a displacement in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight,” is often used by astronomers to measure distance. It’s also a cool name for a student literary magazine featuring multiple viewpoints.

Parallax has been published in a printed form since 1997, but just two years online. It showcases the writing of Idyllwild Arts students, mostly from the Creative Writing Department, but also from other majors, including Interdisciplinary Arts (IM), theatre, dance, music and moving pictures.

The students have expanded Parallax online to include submissions from other high school students worldwide.

Isaac, one of the editors, said the criteria for submissions was basic.

“We’re looking for good writing,” he said. “On our web site, you can expect high-quality literature.”

He went on to say that Parallax is not just a web site for writers.

(from L) Isaac receives congrats from Kat Factor, Idyllwild Arts poet-in-residence and head of the IM Department

“It’s an online literary journal,” Isaac. “It’s a collaboration.”

Well, you can see for yourself at www.parallax-online.com. It showcases the poetry, short stories, screen plays, theatre plays and essays. And some of the best visual images, photography and comics by visual artists at Idyllwild Arts. The combination is colorful, edgy, earthy and pretty terrific.

“Who says that high school students can’t write seriously, or that our voices can’t spark conversation within the literary community?” asked Whitney, the publication’s Editor-in-Chief.

“We think it’s possible. In fact, we know it’s possible. It’s what we’re doing. Parallax is a springboard into the writing world for serious young writers, and we want to hear from you.”

Some of the poems and story excerpts now featured online were recited on the night of the online launch. One by one, students came up to the “stage” before the fireplace, and recited their works. There was no microphone, and probably a predetermined time limit, but the works were high caliber and could match up to any Chicago “Poetry Slam.” The audience of 100, made up of students, faculty and staff, was enthusiastic and respectful.

It also helped that there was good hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes.

“The next raffle prize is a bunch of Jesus post cards,” quipped Rebecca, as she called out the winning number amongst the holiday lights and decorations.

Some of the Creative Writers were theatrical in their recitals, like Isaac, who transferred from the Theatre Department last year.

“It’s easy for me to talk in front of others,” Isaac said. “But you don’t have to be a good speaker if it’s good writing.”

Isaac read a poem that he had written from a daydream. “Tearing open my abdomen like sand out of me/Doves of the dirt/It keeps coming/Mounds into mountains/Puckering the whites of my eyes.”

Branford dressed for the occasion and told a chilling tale of murder, mystery and lab rats.

Branford, a tall, lanky guy who was dressed up in a suit for the occasion, was the most theatrical with his loud, deep voice as he read his excerpt from “Door 29.” It was a graphic journey about lab rats, and an audience favorite, including Tima’s 12-year-old son, who wants to be a writer.

“He was the best,” the boy said.

Branford’s “Door 29” is a murder-mystery that occurs at a laboratory, with a bit of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” thrown in. Here is an excerpt:

“You want to go up to them and warn them. Tell them to run. Fear paralyzes you. You cannot move. Your tongue lies limp in your mouth. It reminds you of one of Doctor Octopus’s severed bionic arms. You wish you were a superhero in this moment. Wish you were more than a boy trapped inside a man’s body. You wish you could scream and tell them to run.”

Whitney recited “Cain’s Lament,” a modern poem about Cain and Abel, that was set to music by Arik, and sung by Samuel, fellow music students, at “Idyllwild Arts Day in LA” last year. (You can hear Arik and Samuel’s version sung before the printed piece at Parallax online).

“I just love this,” whispered Andrew Leeson, an instructor from the Creative Writing Department.

Here is an excerpt from Whitney’s “Cain’s Lament:”

Over dinner God told us he was an atheist. He spelled it out for us: A-T-H-E-I-S-T. Christ admitted to being agnostic. “What happens,” my brother asked, “when you don’t believe in yourself?” God put an arm around him, led him to the edge of the wine glass, directed his clean eyes upon the World.

"We're looking for good writing," exclaimed Isaac, a Creative Writer.

“A child was murdered quietly in a market. A soldier shot civilians in the street as they pressed their heads against the barrel of his gun. A king ordered his subjects to hang each other and one by one they twitched and were still. A nuclear bomb obliterated one-third of the world’s population, but no one happened to be looking that way just then.  God stepped away from the wine glass, brushing smears of human blood from his sleeve.

“Oh,” my brother said. “Oh.”

Becky, Scarlett, Ariel, Erin, Michelle, Freida, Dante, Callie, Ruth and Maria all read short stories, and poems, to end a remarkable evening, a literary celebration.

You can read them all online at www.parallax-online.com, or go to the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on Creative Writing and Parallax.

In other news, three creative writers–Scarlett, Becky and Maria–left for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference & Bookfair in Chicago today. They will be reading and attending the 3-day event that starts on tomorrow, March 1, at the Palmer House Hilton.

“Margaret Atwood is going to be there!” Becky exclaimed of the Canadian poet/essayist/environmental activist. “We won’t get to meet her or anything, but she’ll be there presenting. Maybe I’ll just follow her to the bathroom and meet her then!”

Other AWP presenters include: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jennifer Egan, Forrest Gander, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Philip Levine, Ed Robertson, and Jane Smiley, among others. For more information, visit www.awpwriter.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Liang Wang, principal oboist for the NY Philharmonic, is an Idyllwild Arts alum. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

One of Idyllwild Arts’ own came back last week not only to perform, but to spread good cheer. Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic, is living proof that an Idyllwild Arts high school education is key to acceptance in top schools that can eventually lead to a promising career.

At age 26, Liang is the youngest principal oboist in the history of the New York Philharmonic. He’s kept that slot since 2006, and you can bet he didn’t get it on his good looks alone. After four years of studying oboe at Idyllwild Arts, Liang was accepted to the coveted Curtis Institute of Music, where he won fellowships, grants and awards. Later on, he played for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony and worked his way up to the NY Philharmonic post.

“Liang gets to tell the other oboists what to do, and he’s much younger than all of them!” exclaimed Howard, a sophomore violist from Taiwan now studying at Idyllwild Arts.

Liang spoke to the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra after a rehearsal last week. He was candid about his time at the academy, including some mistakes he made (such as getting caught after curfew in the girls’ dorm). Most importantly, Liang offered the students some good advice.

“He said that he doesn’t get nervous onstage because he won some competitions, so he’s earned the right to be there,” said Tiffany, a senior who plays cello. “He looks so relaxed.”

Some of Liang’s achievements included a fellowship position at the Aspen Music Festival. He also was a second prize winner at the 2003 Fernard Gillet International Oboe Competition and a prizewinner at the 2002 Tilden Prize Competition.

Tiffany also said that besides thinking positively, Liang advised them to come to all of their performances prepared. And that means hours of practice.

“When you know your work, you’ll be confident in your playing,” Liang told them.

During his Dec. 3 and 4 concerts at Idyllwild Arts Academy, Liang performed Mozart’s “Concerto Oboe in C Major, K 314 (25d).” Advance press in the Idyllwild Town Crier, the Press-Enterprise, and the Idyllwild Herald, brought large crowds during both performances. The Sunday, Dec. 4 afternoon concert was standing room only.

(from L) Camille (with Mariya, an IA alum) was enthusiastic about Liang Wang's master class and the importance he's brought to the oboe.

The oboe concerto was lively, and Liang played most of the time, even to the point of flush in his cheeks. According to the program notes, the Mozart Oboe Concerto in C was composed in the summer of 1977, but the manuscript was lost until 1920. It had a striking resemblance to a flute concerto of Mozart’s. Finally published in 1948, it remains the least-known of Mozart’s entire concerto output.

The notes stated that the Oboe Concerto was rather French in style with cheerful outer movements.

In fact, Liang looked rather French and lively onstage, lifting his oboe like a horn to give the audience its full sound. He was also keen on taking cues from Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ music director. No prima dona he! You could tell that he knew that the fine performance was a group effort.

“I’m in love with him!” exclaimed Camille, an oboist and senior at Idyllwild Arts. “He brought such notoriety to our instrument!”

Camille was among those who got to attend Liang’s master class that weekend. She said that Liang gave her lots of good input about her playing, which comes at the perfect time when she’s applying to colleges.

He even agreed to give Camille a lesson when she visits the Manhattan School of Music over winter break. He is currently on the faculty there.

Ryan Zwahlen, head of the Music Department at Idyllwild Arts who also plays the oboe, was instrumental in securing Liang’s performance at the school.

“He gets great reviews on his sound and control,” Ryan said. “Having him perform with our students will show them what hard work could get them in the future. It’s also a great recruitment thing for the school helping us to raise our profile.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 9, 2011 @ 11:57

 

Askim’s New Music Composition Revealed

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Viola Master Class with Ms. Kozasa. (from L) Sirayah, Alex, Ayane Kozasa, Kathy and Howard

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Tuesday, Nov. 8th afternoon concert at Stephens Recital Hall was limited to just a select few. Among those in attendance were student composers, poets, and musicians, along with a few teachers. What they were about to hear was a New Music composition by Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ award-winning music director and composer-in-residence. Not only were they going to hear a brand-new piece, but also the viola player was a winner.

“This viola piece called, ‘Inner Voices,’ was written for the Primrose International Viola Competition in Austin last year, but the winner is here tonight to play it for us,” said Peter Askim, and then introduced Ayane Kozasa, a senior music student at Curtis Institute of  Music in Philadelphia.

“There were viola players from all over the country playing this piece, which was a required piece,” Peter explained. “Everyone had to learn it at the same amount of time, and Ayane won the prize for the best performance. And in a minute, you’ll see why.”

Peter handed out a few scores of “Inner Voices” for those who wanted to follow along, as Ms. Kozasa walked to the front of the room. She was a pretty woman in a black shift dress, and boots that matched the snow outside. Her hair was cut short, perhaps so that it wouldn’t interfere with her instrument.

Looking around, I learned quickly the best way to listen to New Music compositions, was to close your eyes. To my right, Peter had his eyes closed and was leaning forward slightly. To my left, Andrew Leeson, an Creative Writing instructor, also closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. Across the room, Idyllwild Arts Headmaster Brian Cohen (who also plays the viola) had his eyes closed.

Ms. Kozasa shows Alex how to dance while playing his piece as Brian Cohen looks on.

I wasn’t sure why these guys were closing their eyes when there was a pretty coed onstage, but I guessed it was “all about the music” at this point.

From a past experience of listening to a New Music Concert at the Los Angeles Philharmonic last year, I knew that it wasn’t going to be like any standard music. It’s as if the composers crumpled it up and threw it out the window.

(from R) Peter Askim introduces Aane Kozasa to headmaster Brian Cohen

When the conductor started the New Music Concert at the LA Phil, I thought all of the musicians were still warming up. The piece had an unsettled, frenetic feeling about it.

“When are they going to start playing?” I asked the student next to me in the balcony. “Shh, they’re playing,” was my answer.

Now, sitting in Stephens Recital Hall listening to Peter’s  “Inner Voices,” I knew to expect the unexpected.

I breathed in slowly, resisting the urge to close my eyes and decided to focus on the young woman’s viola and bow.

What came out of her instrument was frenetic, and intense. Like someone running through the snow, but at a very fast pace. Maybe the person was running from the police? Who knows? But he was definitely running for his life.

Then I realized that it wasn’t likely an urban setting, but perhaps in Idyllwild. I imagined a person running through the forest. Since there aren’t any bears in these parts, perhaps the person was running from himself?

Then, after the intense part ended, the mood changed, and everything slowed down dramatically. Again, I thought of nature, and how everything seems calm after a rainstorm.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kozasa was putting on a nice performance for the audience who still had their eyes open. She moved across the stage, often times arching her bow as if it were a spear. Then she’d play the queer high notes with such delicacy that her bow barely touched the strings.

During “Inner Voices,” there were many long pauses, in which I was tempted to clap before it was over. Yet, I resisted, and succommed to the tension of the piece, which ended with more of a light “pop” than a razor-sharp dramatic ending. That was rather nice.

“That’s amazing world-class playing,” Peter said, as he stood, clapping for Ms. Kozasa.

“Peter is the master of negative space,” Andrew exclaimed.

When Peter heard that comment repeated later on, he laughed.

Ms. Kozasa works with Howard on his piece

Ms. Kozasa said that it wasn’t a difficult piece to play, once she broke it down into sections.

Peter asked her to explain to the audience how she would approach playing a new piece such as this one.

“Well, I’d look at the bigger sections at first,” she said. “And then try and figure out the character of each part. It’s harder when its free form.”

Peter said that oftentimes, the students think about the fingerings and trying to get the rhythm right, but they have a hard time finding out the meaning of the piece.

Ms. Kozasa said that she tries to find out what the composer is trying to say within the fingerings of the piece. Whenever possible, she also researches other music from the same composer to help with the meaning.

Afterward, Peter said that he finished “Inner Voices” about this time last year, but it had nothing to do with nature or the weather in Idyllwild.

“I finished it in the winter, but started it in the summer,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the seasons.”

So much for my interpretation of a man running through the snow.

For the next hour, Ms. Kozasa held a Master Class in which sh worked with four viola players, including Howard, Alex, Kathy and Syriah. Each played a short piece for her, in which she gave input and suggestions. More often than not, Ms. Kozasa suggested the students become more physical and aggressive in their performances.

Ms. Kozasa makes suggestions to Kathy

For example, when Alex played a slow, Bach piece, Ms. Kozasa stated that it was a dance, and suggested that Alex take a few dance steps.

What?! Dance while he was playing? I tried to imagine what was going through that young man’s head!

“This piece is really about dances back then,” she said. “And the third step is really suspended in mid-air. Try and step while you play. Here, let me show you.”

And then she played the same song, but exaggerated the steps to an unknown dance as she moved across the stage.

Alex, likely eager to please, played the piece again, and moved as best he could to the ancient dance.

“That’s beautiful,” she exclaimed as he finished. “It feels more like a dance in which your whole body is moving to the music. Now, try and put character into each step. Don’t be afraid of making a huge dip.”

After all of the students had played, Peter and Ms. Kozasa stuck around at Stephens to record the piece. He said to look for it soon on iTunes.

For more information and to see a video of Ms. Kozasa at the June 5th Primrose Competition, visit www.peteraskim.com.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Nov 11, 2011 @ 1:28

 

 

 

 

Friday: Final Day for Student Art Show

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Dean's painting shows color, texture, detail and refection“I think this is the best first Visual Arts show that we’ve had,” exclaimed Peter, a senior art student at Idyllwild Arts. “A lot of new students came to our school, and they were already good.”

Today (Oct. 28) is the last day of the “Parents Weekend Student Art Show” at the Parks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The show is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jane's teapot and cup feature fingers as handles

Jane agreed with Peter about the show.

“Last year, we weren’t ready, and kind of rushed our projects during the last two hours or so,” Jane said. “This year, we all planned ahead, and it shows.”

Jane’s tea pot and cup aren’t your garden variety set. Her green, multi-layered glaze draws you over. At closer inspection, you see that the handles of the cup and pot are made up of human fingers. Even the spout is a finger.

It’s a little unsettling since we’re getting so close to Halloween. But my guess is that Jane was not going for the grotesque, but something deeper about the human condition.

Some of the new students that Peter and Jane might be talking about include: Yixuan known as “Maisie,” a 9th grader; Neil, another 9th grader and Niger and Dean, both 10th graders. Each has shown early mastery of their particular mediums.

Maisie's dinosaur drawing in drag show promise

Maisie’s drawing of a raptor or a large lizard in drag “pops” from the center of the page, while newsprint and a line drawing of a mother and child are in the background.

This was likely a drawing exercise using established media, such as newsprint or magazine cut -outs. Yet, it’s more than the raptor from a book coming to life before them.

Why is the raptor hostile, and wearing a black suit? It could be a commentary on a teacher, parent or other adult figure.

You have to look for subtleties to get the bigger picture of what Niger is trying to say. His black-and-white photo of a young Asian woman is physically appealing. It shows good composition and contrast. However, it’s attached to white paper that’s been crumpled and smoothed over.

Niger's photo may be a commentary on violence against women

And the woman is shown licking a cut on her knee.

Is Niger trying to tell the story of violence in this young woman’s life? Or is he talking about violence against women in general?

Another promising young visual artist is Neil, whose father works in the Transportation department.

Neil’s drawing of Bob Marley, the enduring symbol of anti-culture is also compelling in its composition. It depicts a portrait of the musician’s face and hands, yet it is placed off center.

“I should have trimmed it off,” Neil said later.

Yet, his use of excessive white space is interesting. In any given picture, your eyes automatically go to the light, or the whitest part of the painting. Like looking at a candle in a dark room. However, when you have more white space than dark, your eye is drawn to the dark. Sort of like seeing a bowling ball in the snow.

Neil's drawing of Bob Marley has interesting use of white space

Dean’s painting of an older black woman shows great use of color, texture, detail and reflection. The detail on her gray hair looks nearly like a photograph. And the reflection in her cat-eye glasses show good handling of the paint. Oftentimes, you see reflections in glasses in photographs, but they are omitted in paintings.

It’s hard to say where he got the photo. If he took it himself, or found it online. Yet, the closeness of the taker to the subject shows intimacy. Even the elderly woman’s smile was just starting to form when the photo was taken. It was as if the photographer was young or inexperience in taking photos. Yet, the image is sweet, typical Americana from the 1950s.

Yep, the new visual artists are good, but the seniors still need to be reckoned with, namely Jimmie and Delaney.

Jimmie's nude composition looks like a Michelangelo

Jimmie’s image of a nude woman looking towards the light in the heavens looks like the church paintings from the Old Masters, such as Caravaggio. He was known for emotional depictions of humans using dramatic light.

You can tell that Jimmie spent many hours adding layers of charcoal until it looked like night.

It’s interesting that he used only black and shades of gray to depict this image. If it were the Old Masters, there would be all kinds of colors, and about 40 other people in the picture, including angels.

Later on, Jimmie said that Caravaggio wasn’t so much an inspiration, but the drawing started looking like one of his, so he made the lighting more dramatic.

Yet, the way that Jimmie does it, makes you want to spend a few hours looking it over.

“I like Rei’s painting because it looks simple, but it’s really complex,” said Peter.

Rei’s black-and-white image engulfed in blue looked abstract to me at first. Such as a rock or a crumpled piece of paper.

Yet, at closer inspection, I saw women’s legs in heels, and remembered that Rei is studying fashion. Then it looked like the woman in heels was walking towards the viewer, and was putting on or taking off a large cape. But then attached to the top of the cap was an animal head, such as a Halloween costume.

Knowing that Rei is a deep thinker, I doubt if he did a painting of a woman taking off a Halloween costume. Perhaps his painting is also a commentary on the human condition.

Delaney's drawing depicts turmoil

Delaney’s drawing of two heads in distress was intriguing. How she accurately portrays her subjects looking up and looking down is amazing. If you’ve ever tried to draw them, its difficult to get the perspective, and make it look realistic, yet Delaney makes it look easy.

The final image that I looked at in this show was a headset on a pedestal. Next to the disc player was a list of five student names, including Peter, Jimmie, Jessica, Kevin and Rei.

“It was selections from our ‘New Genre’s’ class,” Peter explained. “We just mixed some music from a software program according to a title, such as ‘summer’ or ‘winter.'”

Rei's fashion image shows a deeper meaning

Most of their music selections included new age music with some sound effects. For example, Kevin’s “summer” selection featured kids laughing, while Jessica’s “winter” had footsteps crunching in the snow.

But how does the music tie into visual art?

“Do you know sometimes there’s a part in a painting that looks like a piece is missing?” Peter said. “Well, you can fill that void with music.”

Student Visual Art Show ends today, Friday, Oct. 28 at the Parks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show is free and open to the public.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Oct 28, 2011 @ 12:38

 

Soloist & Student Orchestra Handle Mishap with Grace

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Peter Askim's violin soloist showed grace under pressure Saturday night. (Photo from another event. Courtesy Idyllwild Arts).

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Broken strings. You can bet that world-class violin soloists playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony have broken their violin strings onstage before.

However, that must’ve been cold comfort for Ally, the 16-year-old sophomore, during her first solo with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra (IAO) Saturday night, Oct. 15.

Halfway through her 20-minute piece, Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 61, Ally’s violin strings broke. Immediately she said, “Sorry,” and stopped playing.

“I knew that she was in trouble,” said Xiofan, better know as Sa-Sa, the principal violin player. “There’s no way she could fix it.”

Sa-Sa offered his violin to Ally, and she continued playing the rest of the piece without incident.

“You barely noticed that anything was wrong,” said Alex, a voice major from New Zealand who attended the concert Saturday night. “There was a natural pause. But afterwards, I think she sounded better on Sa-Sa’s violin.”

Ally's strings broke halfway through the Beethoven piece Sat. night (File photo).

But that left Sa-Sa without a violin. As first chair and concertmaster, you can bet that the orchestra needed him to keep playing as much as they needed the soloist.

Without prompting, Lin Ma, another student violinist, offered Sa-Sa his violin, and the music continued.

“I think that’s the natural order of things,” said one Idyllwild Arts student whose sister plays violin with a professional orchestra. “The concertmaster offers the soloist his instrument, and the violin next in line offers the concertmaster his and it goes down the line. They did the right thing.”

What Peter Askim, music director and conductor, was thinking, no one knows but him. Yet, Peter addressed the mishap with humor by using an analogy before the Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16, concert began.

“Most of the students in the orchestra are brand new to Idyllwild Arts,” Peter explained. “Like a new sports car, we took it out for a ride yesterday and tested its meddle. After shifting a few gears, we’ll sound even better today.”

There was laughter coming from audience members who knew about the mishap, while others didn’t know why Peter was talking about sports cars.

“I checked Ally’s violin before she went onstage today,” Sa-Sa said. “Everything was just fine.”

You can bet that Ally’s heart was racing a bit faster as she neared the part in the music where her strings had broken.

“Sa-Sa was the hero Saturday night,” Alex exclaimed. “When he came onstage after the break, everyone clapped especially hard for him.”

Shen was the clarinet soloist

Sa-Sa said that he didn’t notice.

But a 10-second mishap is not the entire concert, and a lost shoe is not the game. I once saw a star shooter during a UCLA basketball lose his shoe, and scramble to recover it without stopping play.

It happens to the best of them.

For her second concert solo on Sunday afternoon, Ally showed incredible grace and composure. Perhaps only her mother would know how nervous she was. Only once during a rest did Ally inspect her violin strings, and hold the instrument up to her ear.

Mr. and Mrs. Yang came all the way from Dalian, on the coast of China, to her their daughter play. (Their uncle is a pilot so they can fly free). During the concert, both were busy recording Ally’s performance on their cameras.

Not only did Ally maintain her composure, she played the Beethoven concerto as if it wasn’t difficult at all. At times, it sounded as if two violins were playing simultaneously. And there were parts where Ally’s fingers were moving so fast, it looked as if they weren’t moving at all.

That’s the beauty of young talent, and she’s only going to get better with each experience.

“You did a great job today, honey, and yesterday too,” said one woman to Ally after the concert Sunday.

Ally thanked her and smiled. The hard part was over.

For his clarinet solo, Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 5, Shen appeared serious, but also played with grace and a loud, clear sound. For fans like me, it seemed like eternity before he got to play. Yet when Shen was in the spotlight, he took his time. Yahuda, his teacher, would have been proud.

According to the program, Crusell wrote most of his concertos so that he’d have something to play. And this clarinet concerto was one of the best works – both melodic and emotionally inventive.

On Sunday, both Ally’s and Shen’s solos were perfectly executed. During their encore bows, both received standing ovations from the audience. New headmaster Brian Cohen, who plays the violin, was first on his feet applauding loudly. Peter Askim also appeared pleased, giving Shen a hearty hug, and holding Ally’s hand as they bowed together.

As someone once said, “It’s not about the mistakes you make, but how you recover.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Oct 17, 2011 @ 12:56