You-review-it Monday

April 30, 2012
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For me, the weekend included a never-enough-time visit to the Stutz Artists Open House, a late night session of "Puppet Prov" featuring the ComedySportz game and the puppets/actors from "Avenue Q" (a goofy idea, joyfully executed to a packed house), and a love-life rundown from Mike Birbiglia in "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" at Clowes Hall, 

What about you? 

What A&E did you encounter this weekend?

(Oh, and don't forget to drop me an e-mail at if you want to be among the first to hear details on the first IBJ A&E Road Trip coming soon.)

Your thoughts?

  • High School Music
    I had a full weekend of music at the high school and college level. I attended the Carmel High School production of Les Miserables Thursday and was impressed so much I went back to see it again on Saturday. The singing was outstanding, far beyond what one would expect from a cast so young. The chorus was just as strong vocally as were the lead roles. It was a moving experience emotionally and musically. I have never experienced a high school musical performance as powerful as this one. The orchestra deserves a special mention, as Les Mis has almost no dialogue, which means that the orchestra must learn about double the amount of music as in most musicals. They also did this on the week that these same kids played in ISSMA state qualifications. The sets were not elaborate but worked very well, and the lighting and costumes were quite well done. Outstanding work all around and congratulations to the wonderful teachers who put this all together.

    On Friday night and Saturday I attended the ISSMA state qualification performances at Pike for high school bands and orchestras. I was really surprised at the level of playing at both ends of the spectrum. The best groups were terrific and the weak ones were atrocious. The highlight performances were by the North Central Wind Ensemble and the Carmel Orchestra. The North Central woodwinds especially were outstanding in a difficult program. The Carmel Orchestra was just super - their rendition of the Enesco Romanian Rhapsody is probably the most impressive playing by a high school ensemble that I have ever heard. Close your eyes and you hear what you expect to be a high level college orchestra, and conductor Soo Han, who led an extremely challenging program (Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique and Rachmaninoff Vocalise in addition to Enesco) without score, is a wonderful director to watch. His motions are so evocative of the music and he looks every bit the professional conductor on the podium. Sadly, that cannot be said for some of the performances and conductors. Some ensembles seemed to wander through the music with no interpretation and worse yet, with some conductors who looked more like marching band drum majors, mirroring a metronomic beat pattern with both hands and showing little else. Some of the groups tone and intonation was not good. I only heard about half of the groups locally, as there was also a performance site at Pike, so not mentioning a group does not mean that I heard them and did not think they played well. Other excellent performances came from the Lawrence Central Wind Ensemble, the Carmel Wind Symphony, the North Central Orchestra, the Avon Band and the West Lafayette Orchestra. All of these ensembles will be strong contenders at state finals next week. A special mention is deserved by Carmel, whose second orchestra also is among the eight state finalists.

    Sunday afternoon was the final performance of the season by the Butler University Band at Clowes Hall. Director of Bands Robert Grechesky chose an interesting program of a wide variety of music for full band and for smaller wind ensemble. Octandre, written in 1923 by Edgar Varese, was played with intensity and verve, and seems to be fresh and edgy even after ninety years. Graduate student Angelo Anton led a lively and well balanced performance of Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli, one of the top current writers for concert band. It was an enjoyable afternoon of wind music.
  • Rescue Party
    Went to the Indiana Landmarks Rescue Party, which had a little something for everyone: art show, mixology competition, revealing of the 10 Most Endangered, and great music by the Impalas. Hope this becomes an annual event!

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