Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Art Show ‘Gleans House’

April 30, 2010

Juwan Lockett looks at "Aging Tragedy" paintings by Haley Kuhlmann

“Gleaning House,” the latest art exhibit at Idyllwild Arts Academy, showcases the work of six seniors, including Esther Chung, Dominique DeRoss, Haley Kuhlmann, Natania Frydmann, Joohee Park, Helena Walker and Miriam Grace Leigh.

“It’s a strong show,” said Rob Rutherford, head of the Visual Arts Department at Idyllwild Arts.

The show, which began on Friday night, April 23, at the Parks Exhibition Center, features a variety of media, including acrylic paintings, graphite drawings, ceramic sculptures and a large installation (wood construction).

The works that you see, said Rutherford, have changed a bit from their original proposals.

Months before, Rutherford and his staff reviewed the student’s proposals and artists statements and worked with them on their part of the show. However, two of the artists had changed their plans, including DeRoss and Frydmann.

Vance sits inside Natania's installation with prints inside

The “Gleaning House” show title is puzzling. The definition of “gleaning” is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system. In fact, the poster for this “Gleaning House” art show featured a single russet potato. By using “gleaning” instead of “cleaning” house, perhaps the students wanted to show that they were giving or offering something, instead of throwing it away.

The first thing you notice when you walk into the gallery is Frydmann’s installation of a house, entitled “Downstairs a Mouse is in a Jar.” About the size of a doll house, it’s made up of wood (2 x 4s and plywood), fabric material (for the roof) and paper (the prints inside).

There’s room enough for a single gold armchair, and all around the walls are small hangings of prints with words on them.

“Go in and sit down,” encouraged Vance Blaettler, director of Design & Graphics at Idyllwild Arts. “It’s meant to be interactive.”

Frydmann's installation depicts a nude torso on the back

When you sit down on the chair is that there is dirt all over the floor, which is spilling out into the gallery and making quite a mess.

On the outside of the house are graphite drawings, which could be artistic doodlings. Yet, if you were to venture to the back of the house, you’d see a life-sized drawing of a female nude torse with a large nose attached. Obviously, Frydmann can draw too.

The prints on the inside tell more of a personal tale. Someone in her family had cancer, Rutherford said, and she was greatly affected by it.

“In fact, the house was not in her original proposal,” he said, “but she convinced me that it was necessary.”

The house had to be brought into the gallery in pieces, and constructed inside. When the show closes tonight, it has to be broken down again.

“Phylum Acrasiomycota,” the ceramics installation by Dominique DeRoss, also started off differently, Rutherford said.

“Originally, Dominique wanted to mount all of the ceramics onto a wooden log,” he said. “But she had to change those plans in the end.”

Dominique DeRoss' vessels

He said that it was important to her to have a natural element along with her ceramics because Idyllwild is all about nature, and she’s lived here her entire life.

The title is the name of a spore that grows on a log. That’s why the log was important. Since it didn’t work out, she wanted to put natural clay on top of the white cubes to give it an “earthy” element, but that idea got nixxed.

“Her glazes are nice,” Rutherford said.

Each of DeRoss’ vessels had a different glaze, texture and feel to them. She said the first one was hard to make, but the others were easy. She’s not sure what she’s going to do with all of them (about 25 in all) when the show closes today, April 30, (on her 18th birthday). After the summer, she plans to take a year off and move to Oregon.

Helena Walker's ceramics

Another ceramicist of note was Helena Walker and her six pieces. They also had a nature theme, and she included the scientific name along with the other titles, including encrusint coral, azure sponge, acorn barnacle sponge, brain coral and candy cane coral.

One can imagine that Walker made up the names to match the textures and colors of her strong pieces. Although they wouldn’t be mistaken for corals or sponges, the ceramics were created with much detail to the designs, and the glazes were colors that would gleam in nature.

"Milk Flower" by M. Grace Leigh

Miriam Grace Leigh, combined her ceramic pieces (under bell jars) with the framed ink and watercolor paintings on the wall. The paintings, which look organic, remind one of eastern European art, with its elongated features and political influences. In Leigh’s case, however, the titles signify more of a personal journey: Milk Flower,” for one that looks like breast barnacles, and “Screaming Grass” and “Cannibal Plant.”

Esther Chung, whose two acrylic paintings, not only show intense color and grand scale (each 90 x 117 inches), but unusual perspectives. On one of the paintings, Chung has shown her room, perhaps her limited world, from several perspectives, including a bird’s eye view.

Esther Chung's dual paintings

Haley Kuhlmann’s “Aging Tragedy,” depicts a series of portraits of a man, from infancy to old age, also caught a lot of attention from attendees.

“Look! the eyes are a different color!” remarked two people from Idyllwild. Indeed, the colors changed from purple, to brown to green, and finally blue. Those same eye colors were repeated by Kuhlmann in large blocks of color at the base of each painting.

“Wow, that’s really cool!” said Juwan Lockett, a theater major, at the aging transformation.

The teenager, looked very much like Bram Rees-Davies, a moving pictures student. However, Kuhlmann wasn’t there to confirm it.

The old age picture, however, depicted a man above age 90, thin, with large eyes. It looked a lot like Yoda, from “Star Wars.”  If Rees-Davies went from looking like he is today to looking Yoda-like, it would be a tragedy.

Joohee Park's graphite drawing

Joohee Park’s “Change,” is an organic looking oversized graphite drawing (37 x 76 inches), that takes up the entire back wall space. Like most seniors, Park is likely reviewing all the changes she has made over the years at Idyllwild Arts, and looking forward to college.

“Gleaning House” closes today, Friday, April 30, at the Parks Exhibition Center on campus. The next senior art show will be next Friday, May 7, at 6  p.m. All shows are free and open to the public. For more information, call (951) 659-2171.

Vance & Rob view the art show

‘Heaven’ a Must-See Play

April 25, 2010

Idyllwild Arts play continues through Sunday at 2 p.m.

From the moment that the Shakers come singing merrily down the aisles, until their last march out the door, “As it is in Heaven” is nonstop rollarcoaster.

This new play, written by Arlene Hutton and performed by the Idyllwild Arts Theater Department, is billed as a “drama,” but there’s so much singing, shaking and marching going on, that it could easily be considered a “musical.” It continues with a 2 p.m. show today, April 25.

The story is set in a small village of Shakers, a strict religious sect founded by Mother Ann Lee, that practices celibacy, devotion and a nonstop work ethic. In return, the women (and men who are not shown in the play) receive food and shelter.

When the show opens, the women are confessing their “sins of the day,” which include looking at men, not being thoughtful or thankful enough, taking a second helping of food, and not saying their prayers. To most of us “outsiders” these are minor infractions, not sins to be openly confessed. But for the institution-like Shaker community, it is the ties that bind them.

At first, two young newcomers appear to assimilate into their new community. Soon after, however, Fanny, played by Catherine Velarde, begins to see “visions” of angels down by the meadow, and Polly, played by Jamie Cahill, draws pictures sent by Mother Ann Lee from heaven.

Fanny and Polly are accused of lying by the elders and shunned into silence.

“Why are you drawing trees, Sister Polly?” Betsy (Jessie Scales) asks. “We don’t need trees on seed packets. A simple drawing of a fruit or vegetable will do.”

“But I have a gift!” Polly insists.

Her later drawings bring comfort to older Shakers who were struggling with the changes brought on by the newcomers. Fanny’s “angel sightings” soon become impossible to ignore, and the Shakers grapple with the uncertainty.

Like the name implies, a Shaker’s immediate response is to “shake” away their fear, guilt and confusion, or stomp their feet and “trample” it. All this shaking, marching, stomping and singing occurs throughout the play, and keeps the audience on edge. Like a windup toy that never stops.

Izzy, played by Christine Wood, a girl from a broken family who grew up as a Shaker, pretends to see the same visions as Fanny, so she can befriend her. However, one day by the meadow where they were seeing angels, some town boys throw stones at Izzy and Polly, calling them “heretics.”

The image of Izzy recounting her story to the others is hard to forget. Lit with a warm light all around her, she is being propped up by the others who are comforting her. Izzy looked more like a deposed Christ, than a young girl who had just been pelted with stones. One cannot help but think of Mary Magdeline and the angry townsfolk who attempted to stone her.

Other Bible-type images are found throughout the play, such as Hannah’s “washing” of Fanny’s feet before she leaves on a long journey. It’s a scene that lasted only a few moments, yet was so intense, you could hear a pin drop.

In another instance, Hannah confronts Fanny about her “visions,” saying that Mother Ann would never appear to her, a lowly prostitute, but rather to one of the elders, who knew her on earth. This is a direct contrast to their Christian belief that God and Jesus,  a lowly carpenter’s son, are one.

Although the speech and staging is simple, this Shaker play covers such difficult subjects as prostitution and incest.

“I liked the fact that they did it subtlely,” said Kim Henderson, Chair of the Creative Writing Department at Idyllwild Arts. “Otherwise, subjects like that can easily take over an entire play.”

Fanny, as her name implies, was considered a “fallen woman” before she arrived in the Shaker community. She became a prostitute out of financial desparation, and was shunned by everyone, except the Shakers. However, she is the only one who sees Izzy’s situation clearly. As Izzy was being taken away by her father, Fanny shouts to her: “If he does anything wrong to you, Izzy, run away! Run away!”

Only poverty, depression and infant mortality is overtly discussed by Jane, a grieving mother, played by Nina Brett.

“Six babies I bore, and six babies died. All that pain for nothing,” Jane wails. “No, I don’t miss marriage at all. You young girls think it’s all pretty words and bouquets of flowers. But then your sick children are going to die.”

When Izzy interrupts her, saying that the mother cat wouldn’t clean her newborn runt, Jane quips: “Cats are smarter than people. They know when to give up on a sickly child.”

Ari Howell, as Hannah, the “Mother Superior” Shaker, tries unsuccessfully to “run roughshod” over Fanny and Polly with angry outbursts, shame and fear. (All the characteristics not becoming of a humble Shaker).  Soon, however, as Fanny gains power, Hannah, tries more desperate measures. She instructs the men to bulldoze the meadow, thereby removing the angels from Fanny’s view, and then orchestrates a fake angel-viewing ceremony of her own. It is inevitable, yet painful to watch Hannah’s downhill slide.

The acapella singing of the Shakers starts out clear and angelic, but becomes strained, and then outright angry by the end of the play. The voice of Peggy, played by Brooke Hebert, comes straight from the heavens, yet becomes heavy with emotion as she confronts the changes.

Coral Miro Cohen, who plays Rachel, adds humor to the simple songs.

“If we’re going to add harmony to our songs, we might as well be Methodist,” she quips.

On the other hand, songs by Phebe (played by Becca Goldberg) become increasingly angrier as she unsuccessfully confronts Hannah, and finds comfort and solace in everyday Shaker songs. In the end, there is only bitterness left in Phebe’s voice, as she spits out the lyrics. Quite possibly, Phebe is the only Shaker who becomes a true believer.

“As it is in Heaven” is a must-see for anyone who has ever practiced organized religion or believes in the power of angels. For more information, call Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171, or visit “Center Stage” at

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Cadaver Trip to Loma Linda

April 23, 2010

(At R) After touring Loma Linda, Fion wants to attend med school here

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Just two weeks before Spring Break at Idyllwild Arts, a “Cadaver Trip” to Loma Linda University Medical Center was planned. Some admitted to signing up just to get off the hill for the day, while others wanted to get extra science credit. No one really wanted to see a dead body.

Well, maybe two of them did. Caleigh and Fion, two Interdisciplinary Arts majors, were the most calm and interested of the 18 students who attended that day. They weren’t nervous beforehand, walked right up close to the cadaver when it was unveiled and asked the doctor a lot of questions. After graduating next year, Fion is thinking of studying medicine instead of the arts.

“I was really impressed with Loma Linda,” Fion said. “It looked like an excellent school that I might want to go to.”

On the other hand, Caleigh plans to study painting at New York University in the fall, but also wants to study embalming and makeup for the dead.

“I’ve got four more years of art school, and my career may not take off right away,” Caleigh explained. “So I’ll need something that I can rely on for awhile.”

In fact, she had seen a dead body before. “I toured a mortuary once and saw how they get people ready for the funeral,” Caleigh said. “It’s really fascinating.”

She said that she went along on the trip because she was thinking of including art diagrams of internal organs for her senior art show in April.

William Waddell hosted the cadaver trip

William Waddell, a faculty science teacher at Idyllwild Arts, hosted the trip. It was his first time to Loma Linda University Medical Center, and he was excited about seeing the new facility.

“Loma Linda Medical Center probably has the largest anatomy facility in the United States,” Waddell said.

Al Newman, who teaches math at Idyllwild Arts, went along for support.

Dr. Benjamin Nava, director of Anatomy, lead the hour-long tour. The campus was busy that week hosting a medical convention, in which Dr. Campbell, one of President Obama’s physicians, was a keynote speaker.

Before entering the three anatomy labs, there were large signs posted: “No photographs please.” One van driver and several students admitted to having cameras with them. They were hoping to get a few pictures to show their friends who were too “chicken” to come.

“For security purposes and the dignity of our patients, we ask that you refrain from taking pictures of the cadavers and the facility,” Dr. Nava said.

The first room they entered was one of the anatomy labs. Just like on medical shows, there were several gurneys lined up in rows, in the cold, sterile-looking operating room. Overhead, large screen TVs could beam the dissection to as many as 200 students. While sheets were draped over the bodies, and there was a strong smell of embalming fluid in the air.

The students huddled together in a large group, eyes wide open, and no one spoke. Several students were holding each other’s hands for support. They were just staring at the bodies, waiting for “the moment” when one would be uncovered.

Dr. Nava must’ve lead many student tours before. Because he showed the Idyllwild Arts students three operating rooms of cadavers, a model storage room, and a plastination room before he uncovered the dead body.

“Plastination is the newest thing in anatomy,” Dr. Nava said, as he handed a plasticized human brain to the students when they were touring the storage room. Because it was made of plastic, some took it readily, while others refused.

“That’s still someone’s brain,” one said. “I’m not going to touch that!”

According to web sites, plastination is a technique used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most of the properties of the original specimen.

“We can check these parts out, right Dr. Nava?” Waddell asked as he was inspecting a plasticized chest cavity.

Dr. Nava said that Loma Linda Medical Center is setting up a library in which teachers like Waddell can check out an organ or body part. However, when Caleigh asked if she could check some out to study them for her senior show, she was refused.

It’s only for medical research and teaching purposes, the doctor said.

Along the shelves, there were plasticized arms, feet and ankles, brains and other body parts.

“There’s a great sample of a heart here somewhere,” Dr. Nava said, as he searched the back of the shelves.

“I really want to see a foot,” admitted Kayla, a dance major.

On the table in the narrow room were brains encased in glass and floating in embalming solution.

“When I went to medical school,” Dr. Nava said. “These are all we had to study. Now plastination has made it better for today’s medical students.”

The final stop was a small operating room with a single body draped over it. By that time, the students were relaxed and talking. Some, like Caleigh, came up to the body to get a closer look.

“Can anyone donate their body, or are there certain restrictions?” Caleigh asked. Dr. Nava said that the person couldn’t be too tall because they’d have to fit on the table, and into bins in the storage facility. And for the same reason, they couldn’t be heavier than 300 pounds.

“If a person dies a certain way, can you still accept them?” Caleigh asked.

“If a patient has a certain type of Hepatitis, we cannot accept them,” Dr. Nava said. “We have to protect our students and faculty.”

He added that if certain kinds of cancer have mastesized too far, it’s impossible to dissect the organs in the body, and they’d have to refuse it.

He said that the body that he was about to show the students was dissected for tours such as these.

“We didn’t show you the bodies in the other room because our medical students are working on them,” Dr. Nava said. “And the work they do can be destructive.”

For privacy, he put a smaller drape over the face of the cadaver, but not before a few students saw it. It was an older man with a moustache.

His mouth was open!” exclaimed Sorrelle, a dance major. “Did he die that way?”

“Some medical students were working on dissecting the jaw,” Dr. Nava calmly explained.

He uncovered the body to expose the head, neck, chest and one arm. The skin had turned brown, and the nails were yellow. The left arm had been dissected to show the veins and main arteries.

Students went to get extra credit

Like the hood of a car, he opened up the chest cavity to show the heart, lungs, stomach and other organs.

“Like most people living in the Inland Empire, the exhaust has affected his lungs,” Dr. Nava said, revealing some dark spots.

Dr. Nava reached back and checked to see if the cadaver had a gall bladder, and also showed the small and large intestines, the appendix and colon.

Each time that he showed a new part, he asked the students what it was. One stumped them, however. It was a small organ in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen.

“It has to do with red blood cells and the immune system,” Dr. Nava said. “I’ll treat anyone to dinner at the Gastrognome, if you can figure out what this is.”

“His kidney?” Newman guessed. No one seemed to know.

“It’s the spleen,” Dr. Nava said.

He concluded his tour by talking briefly about the benefits of body donation to Loma Linda Medical Center.

“You know funerals can cost thousands of dollars,” he said. “But donating your body to Loma Linda only costs $300, and Social Security will pay for it.”

The cost covers the transportation of 100-mile radius, embalming, storage, and final burial.

Conner liked the cadaver trip

When the tour was over, the students, unfazed, talked about where they were going to eat lunch.

“I think I’m going to donate my body to science,” said Conner, a music major. “It just makes sense.”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Idyllwild Caught by a Surprise Snow

April 22, 2010

Students Get Greek Gig

April 22, 2010

Jacob & Alejandro have a jazz jam at The Greek Place on Sundays

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“Nice work if you can get it,” sang Ella Fitzgerald, one of the jazz greats, of a George Gershwin tune.

Finding gigs has never been easy for musicians. It’s not enough that you can play or sing well, but you have to find a venue to support you.

It can be more challenging if you’re young, don’t have any local contacts or a car to get there.

But sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Such was the case for Alejandro Barron and his buddies Jacob Scesney and Caleb Hensinger.  All three are jazz music students at Idyllwild Arts Academy and were looking for weekend work.

“I just stopped by a few places in town, and asked if they were interested in having a jazz combo,” said Barron.

Demetri, from The Greek Place, a popular restaurant among students, agreed to have them play on Sunday afternoons for a couple of hours.

“The owner said that he couldn’t afford to pay us, but he’d give us free food,” Barron said.

They didn’t mind “playing for their supper,” because they were sick of dorm food, and all loved Greek food anyway. Later on, they put out a tip jar. After a two-hour session, they generally make about $18 to split.

Jacob sometimes plays his own tunes

“This Sunday afternoon gig is good for us because we get a chance to practice our music for two hours,” Scesney said. “More than that, we get honest reactions from people who are not our friends or teachers.”

During the winter months, Barron, on bass guitar, Scesney, on alto saxophone and sometimes Hensinger, on trumpet, would play their favorite jazz tunes in the corner of the restaurant.

“It can be hard getting a comfortable volume level,” Barron explained. “You don’t want to blast the couple eating in front of you, but you want the guy in the back corner to hear you too.”

Most times, they’d play jazz standards for the diners. But sometimes, they’d play tunes that Scesney wrote, which was rewarding for him.

“Recently, I wrote my own arrangement of a Chris Potter tune,” Scesney said. Chris Potter is his favorite sax player. “Anyway, Radiohead played it first, then Chris did an arrangement, and then I did mine off his. You can still recognize it though.”

(This new arrangement will be played by Nate Levenson, a jazz drummer, at his senior recital at Stephens this Friday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.)

Last week, they played outside the Greek Place in the Village Lane. That way, the other 12 shops could enjoy their jam session.

“It was a little cold out there in the shade,” Barron said. “My fingers were numb.”

Jazz musicians just wanna play

But they’re not complaining. They’ve got a regular gig going—at least until June when they break for the summer.

Hear their jazz combo at The Greek Place restaurant most Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kung Fu Ballerina

April 20, 2010

Dhavit Mehta, writer & director

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Dhaivat Mehta loves Kung Fu movies. He’s seen them all at least five times, has got quite a DVD/VHS collection of his own, and can carry on a hefty debate with his classmates on what the best Kung Fu movie is.

“It’s definitely not ‘Kung Fu Panda,'” he said with a groan (referring to the 2008 animated movie by DreamWorks). And they went on to talk about the old masters, such as Bruce Lee and David Carradine, and which films had the worst dubbed lines.

So it’s not surprising that this senior Idyllwild Arts film major would want to write a Kung Fu, or Chinese martial arts, film.

“Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” his 18-minute short film about ballet dancers, started out as a Kung Fu ninja fighters movie, with lots of death and fight scenes, Mehta said.

“But then Isaac (Webb, chair of the Moving Pictures Department) and I realized that the only ones on campus athletic enough to carry off a fight scene were the dancers, so we had to change it a bit,” he said.

The show’s title, “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” Mehta explained, is an Italian title for a professional ballet dancer.

“We researched it, and it’s a title of utmost respect for an international ballerina with a promising career,” he said. “The title fits our movie.”

“There’s lots of beauty to be explored with dancing” he added, “but we kept some Kung Fu elements, such as a sensei.”

The sensei, or wise dance instructor, is played by Ana Lia Lenchantin, an Idyllwild resident, who hails from Argentina and has acted in a several movies before.

“The dancers act as Lenchantin’s disciples,” Mehta said, “and kneel down before her. You’ll see that in lots of Kung Fu movies.”

Ellen King is one of the dancers in the "chick fight"

“There’s also an awesome chick fight, and it’s not held on the dance floor, but in the dorm room,” he added with enthusiasm.

Those three “chicks” that fight in his film are are dance majors Dakota Bailey and Ellen King, with Miracle Chance, a theater major at Idyllwild Arts.

Bailey was seen in the lunch room last week sporting a black eye. No one batted an eyelash.

“Doesn’t it look great?” Bailey beamed. “It has been so much fun working on this movie. I think I’m going to explore acting more in college.”

Laura Holliday, another film major, created the black eye for her with a “pro bruise kit” purchased online.

“It was really amazing, all the colors that were in there, including blue, black, purple, yellow and green,” she said. “The fight scene took three days to shoot, so I adjusted the colors on Dakota’s black eye each day. By the third day, it was yellow and green.”

Dakota Bailey, seen here at another event, sports a black eye in the movie

To choreograph the fight scene, Mehta had help from Phil Dunbridge, who works in the Admissions Department at Idyllwild Arts, but had a lot of “stage combat” (fight staging) experience in college.

“I really learned a lot from him with the fight scene,” Mehta said. “I told him that I wanted it to hurt to watch that scene, and he listened to me.”

Mehta laughed about some fights he’s seen in old “B” movies, in which the men’s hats remain on their heads.

The list of experts from different departments who helped with “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” grew as production neared. Ellen Rosas, head of the Idyllwild Arts Dance Department, choreographed all of the dance scenes. And Emma Gannon, a senior from the Creative Writing Department, was brought in to help with the dialogue.

“When this became a dance movie with lots of ‘girl chat,’ I realized that I needed some help,” Mehta said. “Emma is great with all kinds of dialogue, and character stuff too.”

Most of the scenes from “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” were shot on campus, including the sound stage, Pearson and Lower Wayne dorms.

After the screenings, Mehta plans to send the short film to a variety of film festivals in the area.

Screenings of “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” and other short films produced by students in the Idyllwild Arts Moving Pictures Department, will be held at the Rustic Theater on North Circle Drive on Friday and Saturday, May 28 & 29. All shows are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the Idyllwild Arts Academy at (951) 659-2171 or visit

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Senior Recital Showcases Violin & Bassoon

April 20, 2010

Charlie Clist plays violin as her mom accompanies her on piano

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Senior recitals continued this week at Idyllwild Arts. With 109 graduating seniors, many of whom are music students, recitals are planned at Stephens Recital Hall each week until the end of May.

On Monday evening, April 19, Charlotte “Charlie” Clist, a violinist and A-Tao Liu, a cellist, got their moment in the spotlight.

In a long black halter dress with green and copper peacock “eyes” around the neckline, Clist looked radiant. Yet, being a defiant teenager, she also had bare feet.

Clist began her performance with a String Quartet by Joseph-Maurice Ravel, “Assez vif-Tres Rythme” with her friends, Lea Hausmann on violin; Sheila Bernhoft on viola, and Ting-Yu Yang on cello. The four kept a good pace, often looking over at each other for timing. Hausmann was modest in her role as second violin. During this piece by Ravel, there was a lot of finger plucking by the string instruments. At the end of this short piece, the quartet held their bows high in the air.

For her second piece, a “Violin Concerto” by the American composer Samuel Barber, Clist was accompanied by her mother, Susan Bird, on piano. Aside from the hair color, the two were mirror images of each other, tall, thin and smiling as they played.

As it turns out, performing together is a Clist family tradition. Her mother plays piano, her father plays the French horn, and her sister plays the cello. After graduation, Clist will likely take a year off from her studies to travel and perform with her family, said Chuck Streeter, who used to drive Clist to her weekly music lessons.

Charlie (R) exits with friend, Sheila

The Barber “Violin Concerto” was a long piece that appeared to last 15 minutes, including the allegro, andante and presto in moto perpetuo. It gave both Clist and her mother quite a workout. When both were playing feverently, one could only envision Barber created something chaotic, like someone falling down a staircase. Several times during breaks in that piece, Clist would absentmindedly wipe sweat from her hand onto her dress.

Clist ended her senior recital as it began: with another string quartet by Ravel performed by the same talented friends. “Allegro Moderato-Tres doux” sounded very pleasant, like springtime. It is not surprising since the French composer is known for his “Impressionist” music with signature melodies and “textures.”

After several bows, Clist received a bouquet of red roses from her fellow violist, Henry Chi.

A-Tao Liu appeared onstage in a red, knee-length dress with layers of subtle ruffles, and high-heeled black pumps. Her waist-length hair was pulled back in a clasp, but hung by her side.

A-Tao plays bassoon, a large instrument

Many of us only see bassoons as part of an orchestra, but in this recital, we got to see one up close. And it’s a very large instrument indeed! Yet, after years of practice, A-Liu handled it with grace, often swaying from side to side as she played. Oftentimes, it sounded like the haunting instrument, but other times, it even sounded like a jazz saxophone or even a clarinet.

“That was jolly,” said Susan Bird (Clist’s mom) after Liu played “Solo De Concert” by Gabriel Pierne. Liu was accompanied by Keri Hui on piano.

“Stick around, there’s more of that to come,” quipped Peter Askim, music director at Idyllwild Arts, who was sitting next to her.

Liu’s next piece, “Valsa da Outra Esquina” by the Brazilian composer, Francisco Paulo Mignone, was performed without any accompaniment. It was just Liu and her bassoon. In between, however, you could hear her taking long breaths to feed the sound of that massive instrument.

During her next piece, “Serenata-Invano by Nielsen, Liu was accompanied by an ensemble of her friends, including Shen Liu on clarinet; Seann Trull on French horn; Monica Yang on cello and Mariya-Andoniya Andonova on bass.

A-Tao's ensemble of friends

Although the clarinet and French horns were standouts in that piece, it was difficult to hear Liu’s bassoon at times. Like a bass, a bassoon has many low notes and is often the “backbone” of the piece.

Next came the moody “Sarabande et Cortege” by French composer, Henri Dutilleux, that showcased Liu’s ability to play high notes.

For her final piece, “Concert Piece No. 1” by German compose, Felix Mendelssohn, Liu was joined by two more friends, Ruogu “William” Wang on clarinet and leSeul Yoen on piano. During this ensemble, however, Liu’s bassoon didn’t get lost.

A-Tao & friends Ruogu and leSeul

During her curtain bows, Liu received bouquets of flowers from her friends. Afterwards, there was a long line waiting to congratulate her. Next year, Liu is trying to decide whether to go to Oberlin College in Ohio or the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

Last Night with Mark Knopfler

April 16, 2010

Backstage Badge for Mark Knopfler's Concert

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By Marcia E. Gawecki

Last night, I almost met Mark Knopfler.

Everyone knows he’s the lead singer and guitarist who started the 70s British rock band, Dire Straits. Anyway, I was within arm’s reach of him backstage on Thursday, April 15th at Pechanga Casino in Temecula starting on his “Get Lucky” World Tour.

Jeffrey Taylor, my boyfriend who runs Green Cafe in Idyllwild, was working on the assistant stage manager’s computer. Jeff had just told me, “Mark Knopfler’s walking around here somewhere. You might see him.” Then I got  a call, and walked to a back room for more privacy. Well, it was about five minutes into the conversation when Knopfler came in.

He was listening to someone his cell phone too–probably the Queen congratulating him–and I was talking to my Mom about my cat that was recovering from a fight.

No kidding, Knopfler was within arm’s reach. He wasn’t too tall, with pale skin and light blue eyes that could look right through you. I said “Good-bye” to my Mom and “Hi,” to him as I passed him in the doorway. He didn’t smile, and looked down to concentrate more on what the other person was saying. He smiled only twice onstage that night–after his encores.

Just then, a guitarist from his band walked back there listening to his cell phone too. Perhaps they were wondering if I was an overzealous fan who bolted past the guard door ready to meet Mark. They both followed me back to the dressing room where Jeff was still working on computers.

“Is that Mark Knopfler?” I whispered to Pete, the assistant stage manager, pointing outside.

“No,” Pete said,without looking up or out the door. After all, he was busy, and had to protect Mark Knopfler from fans who wanted an autograph or to do something crazy (so they could write about it later on their blog site!)

Other fans did silly things that night too. These were grown men, with $50 haircuts and suede jackets, who probably grew up listening to Dire Straits on their headphones. There were thousands of them in the audience, all eager to hear the legend. One elderly fan in particular, walked along the stage during one of Mark’s songs, smiling like a lunatic, then offered a high “peace” sign. Another fan walked along the stage later that night too.  Unfazed, Mark just kept on playing his electric guitar. People just wanted to get close to him, close as they could get to greatness.

Jeremy Norton, the former web site designer for Idyllwild Arts, and I sat about 10 rows back during the show. The seats, a gift from Paul, the stage manager, were about $500 each. Others closer to the stage were about $1,000, Jeff said.

The guy seated next to me came all the way from Tijuana, about 1 1/2 hours from Temecula. He was wearing a long-sleeved black “Get Lucky Tour” T-shirt, and beaming. He had been to Las Vegas the week before, and wanted tickets, but was told that the show was “sold out.” Then someone turned in tickets tonight, and he got to buy one.

“This guy rarely gives concerts,” he said like a lifelong fan. “I see him a lot on TV doing benefit concerts with famous people, but he never goes on tour himself. I’m so lucky to be here. He’s the master.”

The guy next to him sang along to most of the songs. It was an entire arena of grown men who nodded to the music and couldn’t stop smiling. When Mark sang, “Romeo and Juliet,” he was singing for all those “lovesick Romeos” out there waiting in the shadows for their Juliets with their guitars.

“All I can do is love you … When I saw you there, my heart exploded … You and me, babe, how about it?” Mark Knopfler sang the words in his telltale whiskey voice.

After nearly every song, his fans would shout out requests. Some even interrupted him when he was trying to talk.

“Brothers in Arms!” “Walk of Life!” “Money for Nothing!” They commanded.

“They’re coming in fast and furious now,” he said, good-naturedly. “We’ll try and accommodate you.”

He sang for two hours with new hits and old favorites, including “Sultans of Swing,” and “So Far Away from You.”  Mark Knopfler brought everyone back to a time when Dire Straits was at its peak and life was much simpler.

Even Pieta Brown, the young singer who sounded like Chrissie Hynde, who opened for this “Get Lucky” tour, was a Dire Straits fan.

“I had this old cassette tape of Dire Straits that belonged to my stepmother,” she said onstage. “I played it so much that I wore it out. I’ve never done that before, actually wore out a tape. And now, here I am opening up for Mark’s show.”

“Sometimes, you just get lucky,” Mark sang later.

“Why did Mark play at Pechanga, and not at an arena in San Diego?” Jeff asked Pete, the assistant stage manager, who calls him “Mad Jeff.” (For privacy, we omitted his last name).

“Mark likes to play smaller venues where it’s more intimate,” Pete said. “It’s not about the money.” He was buying Mark a shirt at Pechanga’s pro golf shop. The wind was blowing wildly outside on the golf course. Pete said that he and Mark play tennis while on the road.

“He’s the only musician that I know that gets 70 million hits online with one record,” Jeff said later. “He’s great on electric guitar. He’s like the Tom Petty of Europe.”

He’s also got quite a collection of guitars. Red and white electric ones, regular ones, large and small ones. Fenders and Gibson Les Paul’s. He’s got about 70 in all, and many of them were onstage that night. After each song, a stagehand would come out with another one, and Mark would switch. During one song, he changed guitars twice.

Not only was Mark Knopfler changing guitars, but all his band mates were too. Even the flute player played guitar. It was quite an arsenal of instruments, but somehow they managed to keep it all straight.

After three encores, with all of his “mates” standing next to him onstage, including the drummer from Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler finally smiled.

“I just love this town,” he said, and blew a kiss to his fans, mostly grown men who were on their feet more than in their seats. After the final encore, Mark Knopfler turned his back to the audience and pointed his electric guitar high in the air. He was beaming like a guy who likes to perform live.

And to think, a few short hours earlier, I was backstage annoying him.

For more information on Mark Knopfler’s “Get Lucky” World Tour, visit his official web site,

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Shaker Play Next Weekend

April 14, 2010

"As it is in Heaven" play poster at Idyllwild Arts

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“It’s a cross between ‘The Crucible’ and  ‘Agnes of God,’” quipped Howard Shangraw, head of the Theater Department at Idyllwild Arts, talking about the school’s play next weekend. “It’s not too religious.”

“As it is in Heaven,” a play written by Arlene Hutton, explores generational conflict through the eyes of nine women in a Shaker village in Kentucky. Set in 1838, the play celebrates the music and dance traditions of Shakers, the “Society of Believers.” They meet in plain meetinghouses where they march, dance, sing, twitch and shout. When newcomers start to see “visions,” however, others don’t and start to question their own devotion.

The all-female cast of characters includes: Brooke Herbert as Peggy; Ari Howell as Hannah; Becca Goldberg as Phebe; Jessie Scales as Betsy; Coral Cohen as Rachel; Christine Wood as Izzy; Cathy Velarde as Fanny; Jamie Cahill as Polly and Ana Brett as Jane.

According to information sent by the play’s director, Rendon Ramsey, “Shakers were led by Mother Ann Lee, their founding prophet, who was believed to be the second coming of God. The Shakers followed Mother Lee with total devotion, one that demanded celibacy and constant labor to glorify God.”

Following Mother Ann’s death in 1783, there was an intense period in the Shaker communities in which believers experienced “visions” and “trances.”

Cathy Velarde said that her character, Fanny, is a young character who sees “visions” of angels.

“My character develops into a full arc,” Velarde explained. “At first, she’s really shy and unsure of herself. But once she starts seeing these visions of angels, she gains confidence, and even power in the community.”

Shangraw said that they’re not going to use video to show visions onstage.

“We’re going to use flashing lights,” he said. The type and intensity of light will be left up to Todd Carpenter, the show’s lighting designer.

Ari Howell and Jamie Cahill, who play characters that don’t see visions, said that working on the play has been interesting.

“I’m not really a religious person,” Ari said. “People are entitled to their own beliefs, and I can respect that. But the Shakers were much more spiritual, like me.”

Cahill agreed. She said that the Shakers believed in working all the time, to be closer to God. “All of us are onstage all the time,” she explained. “So if we’re not talking, we’re working in the background. It took some getting used to.”

Both said they were exhausted after rehearsals. “All that working is for the birds,” Ari joked.

Becca Goldberg, who plays Phebe, gets to sing a few songs.“There’s no music accompaniment at all,” Goldberg said.

However, Goldberg has assistance from the play’s choral ensemble, which includes: Sasha Mercuri, Emily Brittain, Kaylee Spates, Madi Cox (who is also Choral Director), Gabby DiMarco, Ali Timmons and Andie Huebsch.

The challenge for those setting the stage, costumes and music for “As it is in Heaven,” is that everything must be created in a simple, humble, and unassuming way like the Shakers themselves.

Costume shop members worked closely with Minnie Christine Waters, the show’s designer, to ensure that the costumes that they selected matched the period. Members included: Riley Lynch, Madeline Otto, Jacob Gershel, Cooper Smith and Ruby Day.

Goldberg scoffed at the costumes, which include long, longsleeved dresses and bonnets with huge brims. “We can’t show any skin,” she said. “And even our hair is covered up!”

Scenic designer Cody Oyama was up to the challenge. His set that he created for “As it is in Heaven” is simple, yet slanted.

“The slant was intentional,” Velarde explained. “The show itself is a little off kilter, so having a slanted set was perfect. There’s also windows hanging from the ceiling.”

Since Oyama plans on majoring in set design in college next year, they gave him ‘carte blanche’ to do what he wanted, Velarde added.

“As it is in Heaven” will play three free shows next weekend, starting Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m., and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, at the Boman Theater, located on the Idyllwild Arts campus, at 52500 Temecula Blvd. (at the end of Tollgate) in Idyllwild. For more information, call Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171, ext.2206.

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Follow-up: Illegal Dumping Near Idyllwild

April 14, 2010

An illegal dump site along Hwy. 74 will be cleaned up soon

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By Marcia E. Gawecki

The operator at Riverside County Code Enforcement said that she’d contact a police officer about the massive dumpsite along Highway 74 near Idyllwild. (See blog article posted on March 30, 2010). There was a front-load washer, two armchairs, a mattress, an old TV and several tires among the debris there.

“Since it’s not a residence with a parcel number, we have to contact a code enforcement officer,” she said. She would have Officer Carol Foray call back.

She was quick about it. Officer Foray asked about the contents of the site, the general area and the mile marker, which was no. 52.

“I’ll take a GPS device and try and figure out the coordinates of that parcel,” she said. “Someone owns it.”

The next step, she said, would be to send a cleanup notice to the owners, and they’d have 30 days to clean it up.

“The owners may live out of the area, and more than likely, they don’t know about the dump site. We have to give them time to send someone to clean it up. They are entitled to due process,” Officer Foray said.

Ordinance 541.5, which was enacted recently, gives Code Enforcement officers an expedited way of dealing with illegal dumping, she said, without having to get permission from the County Board of Supervisors.

“Idyllwild is unusual because it is an unincorporated area in Riverside County. There is no mayor, so the County Board of Supervisors acts as the governing body,” she said. “With this ordinance, we don’t have to contact them every time we find an illegal dump site.”

Mile Marker 52/83 pinpoints the exact dump location

Two days later, Officer Foray called back requesting more detailed information on the location.

“I’ve been up and down that highway, and cannot find the illegal dumping location,” she said. “Mile marker 52 stretches an entire mile, which is a long way with many pullouts.”

She requested the tenth of a mile numbers located on the same mile marker. It would help her pinpoint the exact location.

The Idyllwild resident who first reported finding the illegal dumpsite said that it was mile marker 52/83.

“It’s at the widest part of the pullout at mile marker 52/83,” she said. “If you stand at that point, you can see it immediately over the edge. But if the officer goes to mile marker 52/97, she’s gone too far.”

When asked what the fine would be for a site of that magnitude, Officer Foray wouldn’t speculate. She referred all further media questions to Hector, her supervisor.

To report illegal dumping in the Idyllwild area, contact (951) 600-6140.

To help eliminate your household hazardous waste, visit the Idyllwild Area Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on May 15 at the County Road Yard located at 25780 Johnson Road. There, you can bring computers, old cans of paint, and other household hazardous materials to donate, without having to go to Lamb Canyon and pay a disposal fee. For more information, visit

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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