Posts Tagged ‘student artists’

Student Artist Shares Spotlight

Friday, May 4th, 2012

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

By Marcia E. Gawecki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight Awards Ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

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

She said the other winners’ images were deserving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Closet Installation Defines Art Student’s Life

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Kevin plans to be part of an installation for his senior art show

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For his senior art show at Idyllwild Arts on April 20, Kevin is exposing a part of himself. In fact, he’s going to be part of an ongoing installation.

He’s showing some large, abstract paintings, but his installation showcases an unusual closet along with some track music that he mixed himself.

“Both of my parents work in the fashion industry, so it would be natural for me to follow in their footsteps,” said Kevin, who is from Korea. “It’s been a struggle for me deciding between fashion and art.”

Kevin is a 4-year senior, which means he attended Idyllwild Arts from his freshman to his senior year.

In Kevin’s closet installation, he’s selected only black and white clothes.

“It’s kind of a statement about human growth,” Kevin explained.

Kevin had difficulty deciding between art and fashion as a major

For example, white clothes would identify him as a baby, while black clothes would show him in old age. As the track music changes, Kevin plans to change clothes.

“I have to practice a lot to get it right,” he said with a smile.

Kevin also has some large, abstract paintings that together form a butterfly.

A few months back, Kevin got some encouraging words from Idyllwild Arts alum and street artist, Shepard Fairey. In fact, there’s a photo of the two of them on the Idyllwild Arts web site.

When he visited Idyllwild Arts on Feb 10, Shepard gave a lecture and held a Master Class for the visual artists (See “Welcome Back” Idyllwild Me post dated Feb. 16, 2012).

“He said that he liked my stuff, especially the figurative paintings,” Kevin said. “But he encouraged me to use different materials and take risks.”

(from L) Kevin and Cynthia before Shepard Fairey's art

Perhaps Kevin is taking Shepard’s recommendations to heart as he “performs” his closet installation on Friday, April 20 in the Parks Exhibition Center.

Also showing that evening are Visual Art seniors Bella, SoYe and Mia. Like all Idyllwild Arts events, Senior Show II is free and open to the public.

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

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Art Students Building Houses During Spring Break

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Idyllwild Arts faculty Karen and Chris help out with the ongoing bake sale to raise money for Habitat for Humanity

By Marcia E. Gawecki

During Spring Break this year, honor students from Idyllwild Arts won’t be basking on the beaches, but building houses for migrant farm workers.

This co-ed group of about 10 students who attend this high school arts boarding school are giving up their coveted one week spring break (from March 20 to March 27) to build houses for Habitat for Humanity in Oxnard, California, where there is a large population of migrant farm workers.

Habitat for Humanity was chosen because it is unrivaled in its organizational structure and specializes in dealing with students who are new to volunteerism.

“In a culture of Facebook and fast food, it is far too easy to loose touch with those in need in world around us,” said Chris Wegemer, a Physics teacher at Idyllwild Arts and one of the three chaperones. “We will experience California from a perspective that we have never seen before, exposing us to poverty and injustice right on our doorstep.”

He added that it is a great way for the students to address controversial immigrant and migrant worker issues. This is not the first time that Idyllwild Arts and migrant farm workers have crossed paths.

For years, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, along with the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), have been providing scholarships to migrant worker’s kids from California. Idyllwild Arts picks up the classes, room and board, while MCOE picks up the students’ flights and guardianship, said Diane Dennis, the registrar at Idyllwild Arts.

“In working together, we can cause change here and now, with our own two hands,” Chris added.

Arts students buy and preview the bake sale after an all-school meeting

Over the past two weeks, the students hosted a bake sale on campus. There were cookies, brownies, pound cake and trail mixes made by students and faculty alike. Nothing was priced, but all donations went into a cardboard box in the shape of a house.

So far, they’ve raised $600, which is only a fraction of their $3,300 goal. However, other fundraising events are  planned, including a “coffee house” style concert on campus to raise awareness for Habitat for Humanity.

The high goal comes from the need for each of the 10 students to bring a $145 donation fee. The fee goes to supplies for the houses, which covers everything from drywall to electrical sockets to plumbing.

Chris said that the students do not need practical carpentry experience, only a willingness to help.

“They are an amazing group of kids,” said Chris. “All of them have done some kind of service work in the past, and they’re eager to use their hands and get dirty to help others.”

The students and other two chaperones, including Daniel Grey and Phil Dunbridge, will live at a community center where they will sleep in sleeping bags.

Chris has told the students how such volunteer experiences can be life changing, how it builds character, forms lasting bonds, and creates a deeper sense of empathy for all those in need.

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity honors project, call Chris at (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

‘Cryptozoology,’ a Myriad of Mythical Creatures

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Chloe's "Cryptozoology" painting of what looks like a dying alien in a yellow pool

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Throughout history, people have been fascinated by mythical beasts,  including the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, unicorns, fairies, dragons, griffins, and the like. Hollywood has joined on the bandwagon recently, with “Iron Man,” “Avatar” and “Tron.” And all of the creatures from the bar scene of “Star Wars” would fit into this definition.

Chloe's sculpture looked like broken angel's wings with a crab leg extension

Idyllwild has its own mythical creature, called the Idyllbeast, who is hairy and looks like Bigfoot, but not as scary. Maybe more like Chewbacca. Only that the Idyllbeast hosts his own web site, and his own storefront, The Idyllbeast Research Center, on North Circle Drive in Idyllwild.

With all of these mythical beasts in mind, the Idyllwild Arts Visual Arts Department presented its student theme show, “Cryptozoology,” with a Jan. 14 opening at the Parks Exhibition Center on campus. The show ends today, Jan. 28.

“Cryptozoology” is a made up word that refers to animals which are legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biology.  For their pieces, the students needed to rely on their imagination because these beasts couldn’t be drawn from observation.

Alake's traditional unicorn was sitting down like a human

The 35 pieces in the “Cryptozoology” student art show, includes paintings, sculptures, drawings and mixed media pieces. Their young, fertile imaginations didn’t disappoint the viewers. Some stuck to the traditional lions, tigers and bears hybrids, while others made up their own combinations. One artist even debunked the Santa Claus myth.

Some standout pieces include a sculpture by Chloe, a senior from Korea. The four foot sculpture, laid upon a white pedestal, looks like broken angels wings. The feathers are longer than any birds with a purple and blue glaze.

“Very nice,” said Rob Rutherford, head of the Art Department at Idyllwild Arts. He was inspecting the pieces for the first time before a Master Class on Comics.

At closer inspection, Chloe’s wings also showcased an extension, that looked like a crab leg. What does that mean? Was there a metamorphesis going on from aviary to crustration or visa versa?

Li-An's watercolor boldly debunked the Santa Claus myth

Across the way, was another Cryptozoology piece by Chloe. The bright painting featured what looked like a dying alien in a pool of yellow. What happened? There are no title cards as indications, but one can only guess that the image reflects the artist’s feelings at the time. As a senior, Chloe may be feeling separate, or alien, from her classmates as she faces final exams, college applications and finalizing her portfolio. It could be any number of things, but the benefit is that these art students have an outlet in visual art.

Another standout piece is a ceramic unicorn by Alake, another senior. Instead of showing the unicorn upright and proud, as shown throughout history, Alake has hit sitting down, much like a human would. The general look to the unicorn is not distant  or scary at all, but one you might see on a merry-go-round.

Delaney's painting depicted the moment of discovery

Hidden in the corner of the Parks gallery was a murky watercolor that might’ve been passed over at first glance. But this one, by Li-An, a senior, was worth contemplating over. It depicted an extremely thin, bald man sitting at a vanity, looking into the mirror.

In the mirror’s reflection, you don’t see a bald man, but a full-sized, furry reindeer with antlers (no, it wasn’t Rudolph). And draped around his waist is a red Santa’s suit–with an attached mask!

So, Li-An is debunking the myth of Santa! Not only is Santa not fat and jolly or even real, but he’s not even human!

Another student delved into the murky waters of mythical creatures by documenting the moment before the beast transformation. In Delaney’s painting of a surprised young man looking into the mirror. Instead of happiness at his first chest hair, this teen was appalled to see a growth inside his chest cavity. The growth looked like the concentric rings of a tree stump. The colors she chose were not garish, but more patriotic, red, white, blue and and gray. And there were many layers of them, which begged to be touched.

Dean's large painting showcased an eagle/plane and a man/tree

Other students in the “Cryptozoology” show showcased hybrids that were made up of animals and machine parts.

Ho Jin, a 9th grader from Korea, featured a triptych of three pen-and-ink drawings that he drew freehand (without any preliminary sketches). The first was a dragon/griffin, which used images of an urban landscape, including a city bus and cars at its feet.

The second drawing featured the Statue of Liberty in the space between the large cat’s eyes, and its ears were comprised of rockets and fighter planes.

In the last one, Ho-Jin inserted himself into the picture. He is taking a picture of a bird on a limb, while the top of his head is split to show a large egg.

The painting that caused the most controversy was one done by Dean, which depicted a nude man with a tree limb for an arm. Resting on his limb is an oversized eagle/plane hybrid. In the deep background is a carefree kid surfing a fine wave.

“He’s an awesome artist,” exclaimed Ignacio, who lives near Dean. “He pays close attention to detail.”

A wolf-lion hybrid by Anna, a sophomore

Ignacio said that Dean debated whether or not to put in the genitals, but did so at the end.

“He thought it was important,” Ignacio said.

As far as most people know, it’s OK for students to paint nude paintings. After all, they offer nude models as part of their regular drawing classes. When asked about Dean’s nude painting, Rob Rutherford didn’t answer, but said he was rushed for time. Biology teacher Will Waddell said that nudity in student artwork goes in cycles.

“The art students will do a lot of nude paintings, and then the school will crack down for awhile, and then they slowly crop up again,” Will said.

Helen, a mother and artist, said that she wasn’t opposed to nude paintings in a student show.

Nudes are the best way to study human anatomy, she said.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Student Orchestra Focuses on Dances & Rhymes

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Music Director Peter Askim congratulates Xiao after the Dec. 12 concert

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Last weekend’s Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra concert was without any special guest artist or fanfare, but it was wonderful nonetheless. It featured dances from Platee and Marosszek, and, after intermission, a Mother Goose Suite that showcased Kodaly’s interpretation of five familiar nursery rhymes. This concert comes on the heels of the academy’s last popular concert, “Peter and the Wolf,” by Prokofiev, which was narrated by humorist Harry Shearer.

Music Director Peter Askim brought up Shearer again in his introduction Sunday. He said that next Sunday afternoon (Dec. 19), Shearer will be rebroadcasting the academy’s recording of “Peter and the Wolf” on his radio show called, “Le Show.”

“So if you’re anywhere near a radio or the internet, be sure and catch the broadcast,” Askim said.

He also mentioned that the arts academy orchestra has its Tschakovsky’s 5th Symphony release now on iTunes, which would make a perfect Christmas gift. Later, Askim thanked Gaylord Nichols for funding this and Saturday’s concert.

“Today’s concert features music from many different worlds. They’re almost like perfumes,” Askim explained. “Rameau was the father of modern day harmony, and we’re going to perform it the way it should be done–without a conductor.”

And with that, Askim walked off the podium, joking that he would be at JoAn’s (an Idyllwild restaurant).

For the “Suite of Dances from Platee,” the orchestra took direction from Xiao, a first violin student. Throughout the three movements in the suite, the student orchestra sounded much larger then the 25 strings onstage. They were helped, in part, by college-level and professional musicians, including Mariya Andoniya Andonova, a bass player who now attends The Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles.

Askim returned to the podium for the next piece, “Symphony No. 4 in C Minor,” by Franz Schubert. According to the program notes, Schubert completed this piece in 1816 at age 19, not much older than these students. The symphony is scored for strings, pairs of winds and timpani. It opens in a sober and serious mood, yet builds to show Shubert’s gift for melody.

Charles Schlacks, Jr., one of the many locals who attended the Sunday’s concert, said that the orchestra did a fine job on the Schubert piece “that really doesn’t go anywhere.”

Ai-Ching, who plays viola, said that the first half of the concert was good, but she liked the music in the second half.

“The Mother Goose Suites are worth listening to again,” said David, a music student, who had attended the concert the night before. He liked “The Mother Goose Suite” so much that he pursuaded his mother, who works in Idyllwild, to attend the second half after her shift.

The five suites included “Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty,” “Tom Thumb,”Little Homely, Empress of the Pagodes,” “Conversations of Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Fairy Garden.”

According to the program notes,Ravel was inspired by Perrault’s popular “Mother Goose” book collection and wrote a short suite for a piano duet, that was later expanded into a full ballet score.

“Schubert just took some of our favorite nursery rhymes and set them to music,” David said. “You wouldn’t recognize them from the original Mother Goose nursery rhymes, but you also won’t easily forget them.”

After a three-week Winter Break, the concerts will continue on Monday, Jan 17, with the ever-popular Piano Fest at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall. The next orchestra concert will be held on February 5 & 6. For more details, look to the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Jayne Eyre: A Moving Masterpiece

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Bram and Melanie show off their magnetic chemistry in "Jayne Eyre"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Last weekend’s performance  of “Jayne Eyre,” by the Idyllwild Arts Theater Department, was nothing short of stunning. It looked like a Rembrandt painting set to life. It was dark and moody, yet memorable.

All those who have seen “Jayne Eyre” onscreen or onstage before, know that it’s just downright depressing. Your heart aches for poor Jayne, with no money or station in life, spending years being bullied and starved to death in a repressive school. Her only friend is left to die so terribly young. Yet, in spite of all that, you have to give Jayne credit for her self confidence and self worth.

Melanie and Sasha, best friends for years, play Jayne and little Jayne.

“We’ve been waiting our whole lives for these roles,” Sasha said weeks before the show.

Like many others in “Jayne Eyre,” Sasha played two other roles besides young Jayne, including Blanche, a snobby socialite, and a country girl narrator.

“Playing two roles tests your meddle as an actor,” said Juwan, a theater major, who has played double roles in the past, including “Learned Ladies.” “In effect, you’re doing the work of two people, and you can’t get them mixed up.”

Isaac as the mean headmaster scolds little Jayne, played by Sasha

Sasha said that she was a little worried about mastering her British accents, especially since she had to learn the lower-class cockney accent and the upper class one too. Yet, in the show on Sunday afternoon, her cockney accent was pronounced, and her upper crust had the perfect lilt.

During practice one day, Howard Shangraw, head of the Theater Department, brought it an expert–Amy Sue Fall, a Hollywood linguist.

Bram, who plays Mr. Rochester, the romantic lead, was happy to have her help.

“She helps big name stars like Leonardo Di Caprio,” Bram said.

Amy Sue told Bram to lengthen and shorten his vowel sounds.

“Every word has to be a journey,” she said.

Then Howard told Bram that he needed to work on being more sexy.

“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to do that,” Bram said.

(From L) Ari as Aunt Reed and Sasha as young Jayne square off

Somehow, by showtime, he had mastered the sexy mystique of the elder Mr. Rochester, head of the manor. His low voice was commanding, yet gentle when he bantered with Jayne, the governess (played by Melanie).

“Do you find me attractive, Jayne?” he asked her, as she sat sketching outside.

“No,” she replied, and kept on.

He must’ve found her amusing. Here she was, an impoverished employee, one who relied on him for her entire livelihood, yet she refuses to flatter him!

The encounters where Jayne and Mr. Rochester get to know each other, and then later express their intense love for each other, were incredibly romantic. Bram and Melanie had chemistry onstage, even before the big kiss. They made holding hands sexy.

Melanie admitted to being nervous before the show.

“I have to convey some really intense emotions, but I can’t jump around, scream and shout,” she said. “I have to say a lot with just some simple gestures.”

Mrs. Fairfax, played by Ari befriends Jayne, played by Melanie

Yet, Melanie successfully conveyed those intense emotions, against her Aunt Reed (as told to her maid played by Jessie), and toward Mr. Rochester, her greatest love.

Nothing against author Charlotte Bronte, but I found it a little strange that Jayne kept calling Mr. Rochester “Sir,” even when he told her that he wanted to marry her–as an equal partner.  I know it was Victorian times, and she was years his junior, but even when she inherited a load of dough, she kept calling him, “Sir.”

The underlying undertone of their bantering and arguments was the great respect they had for each other. They listened to what each other had to say and didn’t bully to get their way. You just wanted to watch them spar all day long, like two gladiators in a ring or two lions in the wild ready to mate, headstrong yet decidedly weak for each other.

Everyone should be so lucky to find a mate like that.

It could have ended unhappily for Jayne, if her rich uncle hadn’t died. That’s the Hollywood twist in this tale that seems a bit far fetched, Bronte. Jayne ran away because Mr. Rochester was already married to a crazy lady that he stashed in the attic, right?  He’s a liar and a potential bigamist. End of story in Victorian England.

So when Jayne inherits $200 million pounds, she takes off searching for him. Nothing has changed, dearie, except your finances. Guess she was hoping that things might be different, and luckily for her, they were.

Excellent job by Ariana who played the mean Aunt Reed who abandons Jayne and the pleasant Mrs. Fairfax, (Rochester’s housekeeper) who befriends her. Ariana plays the perfect matron without a wrinkle.

First encounter between the leads, Bram and Melanie

Good job by Milan for playing Lord Ingram, Reverand Wood and St. John Rivers. Not only did his costumes change, but his accents and entire demeanor shifted with the titles.

Well done by Isaac in playing the sadistic Mr. Brocklehurst, head of the school, and a mason who gets savagely attacked by the lunatic Mrs. Rochester. These are two meaty roles successfully commanded by a 14-year-old. Alas, some actors are just born “old souls.”

First tears in the play were shed over the death of Helen (played by Tierra), whose real name means “earth.” How wise and confident she was at a tender age. Happy to rid herself of her sorrow on earth. She also pulled off the classie French lassie, ward of Mr. Rochester. Tierra played two young girls close in age, yet their station in life set them worlds apart.

The tweedy and determined John Reed, the attorney, played by Conor, was a welcome sight in the middle and end of the show. For the first time in our lives, we’re rooting for the attorneys.

The “Best British Accent Award” goes to Kendra, a sophomore, who commanded the snobby Lady Ingram with great aplomb. Every British syllable hit dead on. It was a lovely, yet brief song.

Kendra was also one of the best dressed on the set. The color of her satin gown stood out like a rose rising out of a crack in the desert. All night, we were longing for color, yet, we wanted to gag her with that feathered fan!

Of course, credit for all of the morose and fanciful costumes go to Minnie Christine Walters, the show’s talented costume designer. Every costume was superb, from the gray rags of the schoolgirls to the opulant dress of Lady Ingram and Jayne’s wedding dress.

“We didn’t have to do much to them,” said Jacob, a senior specializing in theatrical costumes. “We just had to take them in here and there. All credit goes to Minnie.”

Hats off to Bonnie Carpenter and Todd Carpenter for their outstanding light and scenic designs. Yep, they pulled off the perfect Rembrandt painting. They made the sets moody and dark, yet interesting. Their use of hysterical sound effects were eerie, and kept everyone on the edge of their seats. The lighted curtain panels offered motion without use of video for a ghastly ghostly impression.

It was a splendid show, Jayne Eyre. A moving masterpiece.

Copyright Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved..

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Bringing Music Back to Palm Springs High

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Jake sings a funny song while Nelms accompanies him on piano

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For two glorious hours, a select group of Idyllwild Arts students brought music back to the Palm Springs High School. The “Classics in the Schools” event held on Nov.2 was made possible by the Steinway Society of Riverside County, a classical music outreach program that now involves more than 60,000 students, by providing piano instruction, keyboard loans and live performances like this one.

Savannah sings a love song

The “Classics in the Schools” was a half-day of entertainment for these middle and high school students, whose music funding has been drastically cut.  It also was an opportunity for the Idyllwild Arts Academy to promote itself.

“We’re always looking for more students,” said Dr. Nelms McKelvain, from the Idyllwild Arts Music Department, who chaperoned the event.

Ruth from the Steinway Society, introduced the students after the show

“We’ve got a great group of kids from Idyllwild Arts Academy to entertain you this morning,” said Ruth Moir, founder and president of the Steinway Society of Riverside County. “In the future, you will see these professional level artists on television, in the movies, and on Broadway.”

In the audience, was Stan Walden, who was invited to the first show by Ruth. He wrote the music and lyrics of the 1969 Broadway show, “Oh! Calcutta!” Ruth had wanted Stan to see the Idyllwild Arts students perform because he puts on variety shows like this one all over the world, she said.

The 13 Idyllwild Arts students who performed included: Manjie, Anni, Savannah, Juwan, Bohan, Timmy, Ashi, Alejandro, Ariann, Adrianna, Geneva, Jake and Lake. They were from the Jazz, Classical Music, Theater and Dance Departments. Each decided on their own songs, dances and monologues.

Although the students didn’t know Stan was there at the 11 o’clock show, he was impressed with their performance nonetheless. He liked the songs that the jazz combo made up of Alejandro, Ashi and Lake, were playing.

The jazz trio (from L) Lake, Ashi and Alejandro, got to play their own music

“That song is called ‘Round Midnight,'” Stan said, as he listened closely to it, sometimes closing his eyes.

Although the middle and high school students in the audience were listening politely, some of them were fidgeting.

“Jazz is age appropriate for pre-teens,” Stan said. “All kinds of music will reach them.”

He was right. Next up was Geneva, who performed a dance that she had also performed at the Spotlight Award preliminaries the week before.

“You go, girl!” one female student shouted from the audience.

After Geneva, dancers Ariann and Adrianna also performed their Spotlight audition dances.

“I wish I could have performed for Spotlight like I did today,” Ariann said later.

Stan said that Adrianna’s dance was especially good because she also used the middle of her body.

Adrianna performed the same dance she did for her Spotlight audition

“See how she’s also moving from the center?” Stan pointed out. “She’s pretty good.”

Next, came Jake, a musical theater student, who sang a funny song with Nelms and Anni at the piano.

After Jake’s rousing performance, Juwan, a theater student, slowed the tempo a bit. He came out and sat on a stool, and sounded like he was talking directly to the audience.  In fact, it was an over-the-top monologue from a murderer who was going to the electric chair.

Juwan had to change his monologue for the second show

“Have you ever killed anybody?” he asked the audience. “Ever want to?”

The audience reacted with cheers and laughter. Juwan was following his lines, but changed them for the one o’clock show.

“A couple of teachers complained about the killing part,” Juwan said during the break. “So I changed it from killing to love. I think it still worked out OK.”

Savannah sang a love song that wowed the audience. Like Juwan, she had to “wing it” for the show. Instead of a script, hers was a wardrobe malfunction.

“We got there, and she saw the hole in her stocking and said, ‘Oh darn!'” Jake recalled. “So she just added a few more to make it fashionable.”

Nelms had asked all of the students to wear black and white for the show.

“It looks classy,” he said.

When the classical pianists Bohan and Timmy played, some of the handicapped students in the audience were transfixed and transformed.

14-year-old violinist Manjie said that she wasn't nervous

A boy in a wheelchair had sat during most of the show with his head down, looking at his lap. Yet, when Bohan and Timmy played classical songs on the piano, he lifted his head towards the stage and smiled.

“You never know what kinds of music will reach them,” Stan had predicted.

Stan was also impressed with Timmy’s confident performance. Two years ago, Timmy had won first place in the classical music category at the Spotlight Music Awards. After his performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, he received a $5,000 dollar scholarship.

The final two performers performed together, Anni on piano, and Manjie on violin.

This was 14-year-old Manjie’s first public performance in the schools. She and Anni said they weren’t nervous, because they knew the music. Manjie had practiced it many times in her native China. Her mother even has it on video on her laptop computer.

Afterwards, Ruth Moir invited the Idyllwild Arts students to come out for one last bow and asked them to recite their names and country or city of origin. The 13 performers came from China, Mexico and various U.S. cities.

Bohan performed a classical piano piece

Before the last set, Juwan had invited the students in the audience to visit the campus or look on the academy’s web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

For their part, the Palm Springs middle and high school students cheered, clapped, and took pictures, yet were reluctant to leave. The first two arrivals said that the seniors had decorated the auditorium with hundreds of pink, purple white and black balloons. As they left. some of the students grabbed them as mementos.

“We’ll be back next year,” Ruth promised the audience.

Satisfied, Stan stood and congratulated Nelms and Ruth backstage.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved..

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IA Dancers Vie for Spotlight

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

(From L) Kira, Geneva, Sofia, Ariann and Natalia are five of the 7 IA dancers who auditioned for the Spotlight Awards

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“I felt good about this audition,” exclaimed Ariann, one of seven dancers from the Idyllwild Arts Academy who recently auditioned for the 23nd Annual Music Center Spotlight Awards. “No matter what happens, I was really motivated.”

Idyllwild Arts has a longstanding tradition of generating Spotlight winners and semi-finalists. Last year, seven students made it to the semi-finals in the instrumental music, visual art and dance categories. And, two years ago, Timmy, a classical pianist, captured first prize while Samuel, a classical vocalist, won the second prize.

Each year, hundreds of high school students from Southern California apply for the Spotlight awards in one of these six categories: ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental, and jazz instrumental. Then, the judges select 15 semifinalists in each category who attend master classes and vie to become one of the two finalists.

For the preliminary round held on Oct. 28 in Riverside, the Idyllwild Arts dancers included Ariann, Adrianna, Geneva, Kira, Marianna, Natalia and Sofia. This was the first time each of them had auditioned for the Spotlight Awards.

(From L) Natalia and Marianna warm up

Ariann was the first to audition from the group before the five judges.

“I went on five minutes after we arrived,” she said. “It was good because I didn’t have time to get nervous.”

The Idyllwild Arts dancers only had two weeks to learn their Spotlight routines and perform them. This audition was in addition to the many dance numbers they’re learning for their upcoming Fall Dance Concert at the IAF Theater on Nov. 17-19.

Marianna, a sophomore from Mexico, rushed into the waiting room lined with mirrors and toe bars.

“Guess what? After my audition, the judges kept me longer and asked me to do some things over for them,” Marianna said.

This was an unusual turn for the judges.

“First, they asked me to extend my legs, and really step into it,” Marianna explained. “Extend my legs? I’m petite! That’s as far as they go!”

“Then they asked me to extend my arms, and said that it was much better,” she added.

Marianna was worried that these comments from the judges weren’t a good sign.

“Why were they asking me to redo my routine?” Marianna asked the others. “I was so nervous!”

Veterans Adrianna and Geneva assured her that any conversation with the judges was a positive thing.

The preliminary Spotlight dance auditions were held in Riverside

“They’re likely to remember you,” Geneva said.

Sofia, a sophomore from Costa Rica, was quietly listening to Marianna. She said that her audition went OK, and that she was glad just to have the experience.

Although the Idyllwild Arts dancers auditioned on Oct. 28, it will be early December before they get the results.

“We’ll be on Christmas break,” Adrianna exclaimed. “Guess we’ll just have to wait until January to find out.”

If they make it past the semifinals, they will then compete at the Gala Performance next spring on  April 30, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Grand prize finalists, (1st place and runner-up), receive $5,000 and $4,000 in scholarships, while honorable mentions receive $250 in scholarships and semi-finalists receive $100 in scholarships.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Hilarious Take on “Peter and the Wolf”

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

When Harry Shearer narrates and plays, laughter follows

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When Idyllwild Arts announced that Harry Shearer, the master of comic voices, would be narrating their first orchestra concert of the year, “Peter and the Wolf,” you knew it wouldn’t be ordinary, but hilariously extraordinary. The student orchestra stuck to Prokofiev’s 1936 music script, but Shearer turned the narrating part on its ear.

“That’s not the ‘Peter and the Wolf’ that I grew up with,” some of the music students said before yesterday’s (Saturday, Oct. 16) 4 p.m. concert during Family Weekend. “I don’t even recognize the words anymore.”

Without giving too much away for those who plan to attend today’s 2 p.m. concert, Shearer, who does most of the ‘Simpsons’ voices, turned Prokofiv’s masterpiece into a CNN “The Situation Room” news story. Affable talk show host, Larry King, from “Larry King Live” and tightly-wound newscasters Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper told the story in hindsight.

Peter Askim introducing Shearer and the IA orchestra

Standing at a lit podium next to the conductor dressed in a pinstriped suit and red tennis shoes, Shearer set the stage with the one-liner, “I was going to sing the last piece, but I lost the coin flip.”

He was referring to “The Marriage of Figaro,” aria just sung by Samuel, a barritone at Idyllwild Arts.

After introducing the cast of characters and their instruments, Shearer’s Larry King introduced Wolf Blitzer (no relation to the wolf), who said there were no eyewitnesses to the story that just happened in a meadow.

“A meadow?” Larry King asked.

“Yes, a meadow, Larry,” Wolf replied. “Like a big, green space.”

When Wolf said that the bird was a friend of Peter’s, Larry quipped, “A friend with birds? Peter is a special kind of kid, isn’t he?”

There was perfect synchonicity between Shearer's narrating & Askim's orchestra

The Larry King and Wolf Blitzer back and forth banter from “The Situation Room” had the audience giggling and laughing out loud.

“Here’s where it gets messy, Larry,” Wolf said, retelling the argument between the bird and the duck.

“I always find duck to be messy,” Larry said.

Later on in the show, Shearer introduced another CNN newscaster, Anderson Cooper, who tells them how the grandfather finds Peter in the meadow, brings him back home and locks the gate.

Shearer’s mimicking of these well-known voices is dead-on. No kidding, you swear that you have your TV on during the concert.

When the gray wolf appeared, the duck squawked loudly and got out of the water, Wolf announced.

“Why would she do that?” Larry asked. “A duck is no match in a foot race with a wolf.”

“The lack of any feathers showed that the wolf swallowed the duck whole,” Wolf announced.

“I prefer the breast,” Larry replied, one of Shearer’s many references to Larry King’s high-profile divorces.

Throughout all of this comedic sketches, the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, under the direction of Peter Askim, provided professional-level classical music. Even Shearer said so.

Samuel, a baritone, sang an aria from "The Marriage of Figaro"

“What a thrill it’s been to be playing along with these wonderfully talented musicians,” Shearer said. “I’m not in the same league, or even in the same game.”

After “Peter and the Wolf,” Shearer, who is also a musician, played a bass duet with Marshall Hawkins, head of the Idyllwild Arts Jazz Department. It was a song from his group, Spinal Tap, that was rearranged for a solo with an upright bass.

Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra’s final concert of “Peter and the Wolf,” with the affable Harry Shearer, will be held at 2 p.m. today (Sunday, Oct. 17) in the Bowman Arts Building on campus. It’s free and open to the public, but you might want to come early to get a seat.

For more information, call Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Student Jazz Gig at Diner Tonight

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Walker, a jazz guitarist at Idyllwild Arts, will perform with his group at Mile High Cafe tonight

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Tonight, three jazz music students will be “singing for their supper” at the Mile High Cafe in Idyllwild.

“She can’t afford to pay us, but we can put out a tip jar,” said Walker, a junior from Idyllwild Arts, who plays jazz guitar. “Last time we played there, we made $8 dollars.”

They also get to order food from the menu that includes hamburgers and Korean BBQ.

However, Walker, who arranged the gig, is quick to say that it’s not about the tips or the food, but the practice that’s important.

“Even if we didn’t get paid anything, we’d still get in a couple of hours of practice,” he said. “And we get to play what we want, as long as it’s not too loud.”

Walker once got a $100 tip for playing on the streets in Provincetown

Walker and his jazz mates, including Luc, a senior drummer, and Lucas, a freshman pianist, will play jazz, blues and free improvisation tonight.

Drummer Luc plays with Walker twice a week anyway, because they belong to the same jazz ensemble at school.

“This weekend is also parent’s weekend, and some people want to hear me play,” Luc added.

It’s not easy for Idyllwild Arts students to get music gigs in town. They can only play on weekends when classes are not in session, and must rely on the vans to transport their amplifier and instruments.

However, Walker, who comes from Vermont, is not shy about setting up music gigs. He’s played on the streets before with his dad in Provincetown, near Cape Cod.

“We were just jamming, and one guy came up and said he liked our music,” Walker recalled. “Then he gave us a $100 bill.”

Walker said that he used the money to attend the Idyllwild Arts Academy this year.

“I’m mostly on a jazz music scholarship, but our family has to pay about $5,000,” Walker said. “The $100 was a drop in the bucket, but it was my contribution.”

He also said that he learned firsthand about jazz students at Idyllwild Arts by reading this blog, Idyllwild Me.

“I kind of wanted to know what it was like to be a student here before I applied,” Walker said.

He had read an article about Jacob, a jazz sax player.

Walker added that he hopes to continue to play at the Mile High Cafe and other places around Idyllwild.

Nam, the owner of Mile High Cafe, likes music and plays the piano herself. She used to run a piano school in Korea and had as many as 200 students. Sometimes, she plays the piano for her customers, but is generally busy making sushi and running the restaurant.

Music students "sing for their supper" at the Mile High Cafe in Idyllwild

Timmy, a classical pianist at Idyllwild Arts, who won the “Spotlight Award” in 2008, has also played at the Mile High Cafe.

“He only played once this semester, but got busy applying for colleges,” Walker said.

Walker’s jazz ensemble (comprised of guitar, piano and drums) will play tonight, Saturday, Oct. 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mile High Cafe, located at the corner of Hwy. 243 and Saunders Meadow Road in Idyllwild.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.