You-review-it Monday

February 23, 2009
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So what did you do this weekend?  

For me, an outstanding arts weekend included the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra/Indianapolis Museum of Art presentation of Buster Keaton's "The General" (note to ICO/IMA: please put another one onto next year's schedule) and Storytelling Arts of Indiana's presentation of the hilarious and very moving Kevin Kling. In both case, the audience felt as much a part of the show as the talent, making the cold evenings felt very, very warm. With these back-to-back nights, it felt great to be in Indianapolis.

There was also the Oscars, of course, which I'm sure kept most of us out of the movie theaters on Sunday. I managed to guess 11 of the winners (Happy to see Sean Penn win, but I thought it would go to Mickey Rourke).

Your thoughts on the Oscar telecast or your other A&E activities this weekend?
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  • I was 16 for 24 of the Oscar categories.

    I loved how past winners came out on the stage and said something personal to each of the nominees in their category. I thought that made it so much more personal for the nominees than just showing a clip of their performance.

    Another great Oscar evening.
  • I loved the Oscar telecast. I thought the staging was incredible. I too liked the past winners comments [though I thought the women were much more sincere than their male counterparts] - you can tell how much the nominees enjoyed the moment.

    I thought the winners were predictable but understandable. The children from Slumdog were a highlight. And, I'm so glad Kate Winslet finally has her 1st Oscar. I was thinking how horrible it was to think about Cher, Whoopi and others having an Oscar but not her. LOL!

    The best presenters of the night were Steve Martin & Tina Fey. LOVED THEM!

    I did see to other films with Oscar nominated actresses over the weekend: Frozen River (missed this when it was at Landmark) - what a really nice film - and Melissa Leo was very deserving!... and Changeling. I admit, I've become a lit tired of Angelina Jolie. However, her performance was deserving!
  • I too saw the ICO/IMA performance of Buster Keaton's the General. It was a wonderful experience all around and a fun way to start off Oscar weekend! Glad to see such a great turnout and reception from the audience. It was fun just sit back and see when the crowd would break out in applause at the Generals antics - definitely not your typical movie experience. It was my first time seeing the ICO and I thought they did a wonderful job and I would gladly see them again.

    I really thought the Oscars were great. I loved the old winners presenting to the actors. I thought it was much more special and touching, and by not showing clips it helped differentiate the Oscars from the plethora of other award shows that have basically rendered it obsolete.
  • We brought Kate Lamont and Doug Sauter of Blueprint Music to the Indy Folk Series on Saturday, and boy, it was special. Those two have a rare chemistry thanks to having created together for 13 years. Kate's voice is agile and ethereal. She seems to sing effortlessly, but with great clarity and nuance. Her control lets her add great expression to the smallest vocalization at the end of a line.

    Doug is an accomplished guitarist who uses the instrument for more than simple accompaniment. In standard or altered tunings, on dreadnaught or smaller instruments--and sometimes banjo--he weaves just underpinnings to fully complement the vocals.

    I believe all their songs on Saturday were originals. The Kate/Doug duo is a tour de force and I Iook forward to the next opportunity to hear them.

    Next up for the Indy Folk Series: Goldmine Pickers, March 28.
  • Saw both The General and Kevin Kling. Both were exceptional. It was exciting to see the General just before the Oscars and realize that a silent movie from the 20s can be just as funny, exciting and entertaining as the latest films with big budgets, big stars and big effects. Seeing it with the live accompaniment of the ICO in such a great venue made it really special. I will definitely check out more of the ICO's events.

    Kevin Kling was incredible. Funny, yet warm, with a great message about life.

    We also attended the Oscar Night fundraiser for the Indianapolis International Film Festival. The IIFF is a fabulous event that unfortunately doesn't seem get as much coverage as Heartland. This year, the film festival is in July. Details at www.indyfilmfest.org.

    I agree that these terrific events made it great to be in Indianapolis.
  • I went with my 17-y-o son to the ISO on Saturday night. He had to go for a class assignment; I went out of interest. (caveat: being invested in the visual arts, I am not a regular symphony-goer) The guest conductor was Czech and two of the three pieces on the program were by 19th c. Czech composers, and I found them a little dull although the final movement of the Dvorak symphony (#5) was quite rousing. In the middle, though, was a truly astounding performance of Mozart's Concerto #21 (I don't have my program with me but I think that's the number) for Piano and Orchestra with guest pianist Jonathan Biss. The Mozart was a treat from beginning to end and Mr. Biss did another Mozart piece as an encore. My son enjoyed the Dvorak the best, Mozart being a little too early in music history for his taste.

    It was fun and I'm looking for suggestions for a May performance to attend, since he has another assignment then.
  • JM,
    My suggestion depends on the assignment.
    May actually looks to be a back-to-back-to-back-to-back terrific month at the ISO.
    If you can go to the pops side, consier the first weekend of the month, with Doc Severinsen and his El Ritmo de la Vida trio. The second weekend features Mario Venzago conducting one of the most familiar pieces of music in the world, Beethoven's 5th (with some Brahms for good measure).
    Tough to choose. This should make it tougher. In week three, the ISO joins with Indianapolis Opera for a concert version of Wagner's Das Rheingold.
    The final week of the month ends the season with Russian music, including Borodin's Polovtsian Dances. (Does anyone else besides me hear the 70s TV commercial for classical albums whenever Borodin is mentioned?).
    Sorry if I made your decision more difficult. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about whatever you decide to see.
    Lou
  • You beat me to it Lou. All great suggestions.

    Jessica Di Santo
    Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • We saw To Kill A Mockingbird at the IRT. I think it was you, Lou, who said the child actors tended to overproject, and we couldn't agree more. They had one volume throughout the entire show, so much of the emotion of their dawning comprehension was lost in the yelling. And although we've loved Rob Johansen in other IRT plays (notably Twelfth Night), he fell short as the villain Bob Ewell.

    The highlights for us were the performances by Jonathan Tremaine as the accused rapist Tom Robinson and Melisssa Fenton as Mayella, his accuser. These actors' portrayals were heart-rending; you felt sorry for each character for very different reasons, thanks to the talent of these actors. They clearly stood out as the best in the show.
  • I laughed and groaned and shook my head and laughed some more 'til I hurt at The Marriage of Marcus Tyler, by Matt Fotis at the Theatre on the Square Friday night. Then I gave thanks for my own family. Whew!

    Saturday night I had a great time at the Storytelling Arts of Indiana fundraiser, featuring storyteller Kevin Kling. Guess what?! He is coming back in August with accordion player Simone Perrin for the Indy Fringe Festival!

    Lou, you rock as an MC/auctioneer/trivia contest runner. It was fun to see both you and Cindy at the Kevin Kling event.

    On Sunday I judged an Encore community theatre show, but as usual, I can not talk about it.

    In between all these shows I read THE X-MAS MEN: AN ECLECTIC COLLECTION OF HOLIDAY ESSAYS, edited by Lou Harry and Todd Tobias (Indiana Historical Society Press and Indy Men’s Magazine 2006.) It is a satisfying mix of short, funny, thoughtful pieces by writers with strong (and yes, manly) voices.

    By the way, at the Storytelling Arts fundraiser, in a rash action powered by the excitement of the moment, I bid on the basket of Lou's books that included X-MAS MEN, even though I already own that one. I rationalized that it would make a great gift, and besides, I don't own the other books! But...someone came to my table and distracted me so that someone else got the basket of books. Ah, well. Now I don't have to worry about whether or not I could really afford it.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Cindy,
    Yes, I had some issues with To Kill a Mockingbird. However, I strongly recommend Crime and Punishment on the IRT upper stage. As I said in this week's review in the print edition (www.ibj.com/arts), it's as good as anything the IRT has done in years.

    Hope,
    Thank you for the kind words about the Storytelling Arts events and the book The X-Mas Men. I'm proud of that book, which includes essays from the likes of Phil Gulley, Tom Chiarella, Todd Tucker, Sam Stall and other terrific writers. Writers like them make and editor's job fairly easy.

    Lou
  • I, too, went to the storytelling event featuring Kevin Kling. I've seen Kevin perform several times now, and loved it every time. It is a privilege to hear Kevin, and tellers like him, tell in a theatre setting where the stories can build one upon the next. Kevin has a way of walking me to the edge of tears and then making me laugh my way back to solid emotional ground.

    I most enjoy storytellers that not only remind of my own stories, but inspire me to actually tell them. Kevin does that for me in abundance.
  • Gosh. My son loves Beethoven (all the Romantic composers, in fact) so I'm really tempted to go for the ISO again; however, the assignment says to try and vary the orchestras visited for comparison purposes. It just has to be a professional orchestra or collegiate/conservatory level. The Philharmonic has a nice spring concert scheduled but it's not considered a professional orchestra. Butler isn't performing in May. Any other suggestions?
  • Hi JM,

    The Philharmonic is not a professional orchestra. In addition to the ISO, your best option for a professional orchestra is the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra or taking the trip to Louisville or Cincinatti to see their great orchestras. On the collegiate side, one of the best music schools in the country is located just 45 minutes away in Bloomington at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. They maintain a fairly robust performance schedule.

    But while the assignment requires visiting a second orchestra, I'd say still check out the ISO's Beethoven and Brahms performance on May 8-9 for fun! That concert is the epitome of the Romantic era, with Beethoven's Fifth - the symphony that probably finally thrust music firmly into the Romantic era through the use of an expanded orchestra and an unabashedly passionate and driven musical language - and Brahms's First - a powerful work sometimes jokingly referred to as Beethoven's Tenth, but that really shows Brahms finally developing into a mature symphonic composer (after earlier works such as the serenades and the first piano concerto). And with Music Director Mario Venzago on the podium, you can expect some very heartfelt music making.

    http://www.indianapolissymphony.org/tickets/details.aspx?id=2179

    Scott Harrison
    Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

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