You-review-it Monday

April 23, 2012
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My weekend went from the language-intensive attempt at recreating a lost Shakespeare play (IUPUI's "The History of Cardenio" in a brand-spanking-new theater) to language-free addition of a live musical score to a classic silent film ("The Mark of Zorro" at the IMA, courtesy of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra).

The pairing may have subconsciously dictating my reading choice: I've been taking great pleasure in "Actors Talk About Shakespeare" (Limelight) featuring fascinating interviews with the likes of Derek Jacobi, Kevin Kline, and Zoe Caldwell. Now, though, I'm hungry for a full-bodied "Tempest" or "Twelfth Night."

What about you? What did you hear, see or read this weekend?

Did you get to the opening at the Indianapolis Museum of Art? Catch the return of "Avenue Q" at the Phoenix? See "The Three Stooges" at the multiplex?

Your thoughts?  

(Oh, and for a rundown of what I saw on my trip to Broadway last week, click here.)

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  • Looney Tunes!
    Our family took a short road trip to Anderson to see the Anderson Symphony Orchestra's performance of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. It was a fun evening in the Paramount Theatre, and conductor George Daugherty, a Pendleton native, added some excellent perspective throughout the performance - not just about the classics used in so many of our favorite Looney Tunes cartoons, but about the process of playing live music with film (using click tracks). It was clearly a special evening for all of ASO's patrons and for a local "celebrity" to bring home a performance that has been to many major cities and music halls over the years. The Page pipe organ being cranked up during intermission was also a surprising treat!
  • Josh Bell
    When I traded a ticket for one of the other Carmel series for the Joshua Bell concert I didn't realize it was Josh Bell in his position as music director for the Academy of St. Martin of the Fields chamber orchestra. It was a really special evening as Mr. Bell directered the orchestra from the concert master position except when being featured on Beethoven's Violin Concerto when he played AND directed the orchestra from a typical soloist position.

    Now if somebody would explain to the Carmel audience one shouldn't applaud between movements of a major work. In many concerts where this happens, it usually dies off pretty quickly but not in the Palladium on Friday night.
  • Beethoven
    This was the concert the Palladium was built for. That was my first thought when the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields finished the Coriolanus Overture Friday night. Maybe most of the audience was there to hear Joshua Bell, and he was brilliant, but what I took away was the feeling that this was the most unified and superb woodwind section I had ever heard. The orchestra only numbered about 35, but the spectacular intonation and perfectly matched sounds and articulations sparkled and filled the Palladium with a sound that stirred the soul. The fact that it was all Beethoven only made the concert all the more powerful. Bell conducted the overture from the concertmasters chair, using a piano bench to give him more eye contact and communication with the ensemble. He stood in the soloist spot and also conducted the Violin Concerto, and I was really worried that he would crack his bow on a music stand. His conducting was completely convincing and apropos, and his playing was, well, Joshua Bell. I really liked his cadenzas, which showed complete reverence to the style of the work but allowed for some showmanship. Again, the woodwind playing was almost other worldly. The second half of the concert consisted of the Seventh Symphony, and this may be my favorite ever performance of this magnificent work. It was positively affirming, with brisk tempos and brilliant energy. There was no effort to soften the articulations or deaden the sound to approximate the tone of 1813 instruments, and this was good. The balance was terrific, the intonation magnificent and all of this with done with real intensity and drive. Talking with other musicians at intermission and after the concert, I know that many felt just as enthusiastic about this performance as did I. The shouting ovation that followed the symphony showed that the audience was invigorated and moved by the performance, and undoubtedly proud that it was led by one of Indiana's own.

    On Saturday night I attended Jazz ala Mode at Carmel High School, a concert done cabaret style and featuring all four of the high school jazz ensembles. The level of playing and the variety of jazz styles was impressive indeed. All four played at least five selections that drew on jazz styles from Bennie Goodman to Miles Davis to Buddy Rich, and the talent level of several of the soloists was very strong. Kudos to this fine high school music department for introducing so many of its students to jazz at such a high level.

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