You-review-it Monday

November 14, 2011
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For me, the weekend included Butler University Theatre's production of the sanskrit farce "The Prince and the Prostitute" as well as a listen to students and graduates of Butler's Music Department performing music inspired by Kurt Vonnegut as part of a Spirit and Place Festival event. Go Bulldogs, indeed.

I also made a valiant effort to see "Red Hot Patriot" at Cardinal Stage in Bloomington, but a twist of fate brought me back to Indy prematurely in a tow truck. 

How about you? Did you attend any Spirit and Place events? Catch the very strong "Jericho" at the Phoenix Theatre? Visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art for the opening weekend of the Tawara Yusaka show (I'll be stopping in this week) or the Eiteljorg for its contemporary art show (ditto)? 

What did you see, hear or do this weekend?

Your thoughts?

  • vonnegut
    We enjoyed the Vonnegut event at the IHS, especially the Butler Musical tribute with the voice of Mr. Vonnegut. The second half was good but some of the conversation by some of the panelists was hard to hear, but what we did hear was very good and thought provoking.
  • Wonderful weekend of music
    There was an enormous range of music in town this week - the Percussive Arts Society had a big conference and Bands of America had its national finals for high school marching bands. I saw the play Amadeus at the Tarkington on Thursday. This was the first time I have seen the play on which the 1984 Oscar winner for Best Picture was based. Interestingly, I really didn't miss the wonderful scenes of Prague (subbing for 1780s Vienna) or the Mozart music that accompanied much of it as much as I expected. Somehow the story (with some fictitious elements though not nearly as many as in the film) is more visceral, and the reality of what the world lost when Mozart died a pauper at the age of 35 hits harder. The whole Civic Theater cast did a nice job, but the role of Mozart's rival Antonio Salieri makes this play, and John Michael Goodson deserved the big ovation that he received from the audience. I found his quick changes from the dying elderly Salieri to the 30-something Salieri just brilliantly realized, especially in terms of his voice.

    On Friday I attended the ISO concert at the Circle Theater. The highlight of the evening was the premiere of a new work by eminent composer Joseph Schwantner – “Percussion Concerto II for Percussion Section, Timpani and Orchestra.” Soloists Jack Brennan (timpani), Braham Dembar, Paul Berns and Craig Hetrick did a terrific job with some wickedly difficult material. The work climaxed in a set of cadenzas on plastic buckets and other common objects - it really made for wonderful visual theater. I found the work mildly attractive but did not like it as much as several other Schwantner pieces. The most interesting part was a fine trio of solos by piccolo Becky Arrensen, english horn Timothy Clinch and bass clarinet Mike Borschel - all three were wonderful in their solo roles. The concert began with Anton Webern's early work “Im Sommerwind,” performed for the first time by the ISO. It is reminiscent of Schoenberg's Transfigured Night in that it has the sound of the late Romantic era rather than the atonal direction taken by both composers in the twentieth century. The performance seemed hesitant and had a few missteps such as early entrances. Perhaps it was not rehearsed as much as was needed due to the terrific difficulty of the Schwantner and the final work of the evening - Richard Strauss' monumental tone poem “Ein Heldenleben” - A Hero's Life. Guest Conductor Hans Graf seemed very clear in his direction but again there were some minor rhythmic issues. Some parts of the work were wonderful, especially Zach De Pue's beautifully phrased violin solos and the woodwind section's characterization of the music critics with whom Strauss had disagreements. The off-stage trumpet trio was also very well played. The piece's big moments seemed not quite to deliver the massive emotional hit as much as some previous performances I’ve heard by the ISO and other orchestras. One curious note was that the harps were amplified to the point that the sound was almost disembodied from the rest of the orchestra. It’s tough to balance the quiet sound of the harp, but this was not the best solution. All in all it was a very good concert, but there were opportunities not quite fulfilled. The balcony was only about half full and this is worrisome.

    On Saturday I attended the Carmel Symphony Orchestra concert at the Palladium. A 180-voice choir joined the ensemble, and with this big group seated in the terrace behind the orchestra, a wonderful visual was created. The choir was made up of the Anderson University Chorale and Alumni Chorus. The opening work was “in paradisum,” a 2009 work by young American composer Dan Forrest. The orchestra features a plethora of percussive effects and mostly tonal writing in the choir. The vocal ensemble was prepared by Anderson Symphony Orchestra Music Director Richard Sowers, and it sounded wonderful, singing extremely softly and thrilling in the loud spots. I thoroughly enjoyed the Forrest work, and the first half of the program was completed by the opening movement of Mahler’s majestic
    “Symphony #2,” subtitled the Resurrection Symphony. After intermission we heard the remaining four movements of this monumental work. As Conductor David Bowden so aptly put it, this is the kind of work “the Palladium was built for.” The breathtaking quiet moments and the most massive crescendos sounded well balanced and distinct in the wonderful acoustic environment. The strings sounded full and well balanced, and the woodwind solos were very played. Bowden split the violins, placing the seconds opposite the first rather than beside them, and this worked very well in the Mahler, as the composer moves themes antiphonally between the sections. Principal trumpet Steve Pfoser played the tough first part with wonderful dynamic control and a thrilling sound in the big moments, but there were a few intonation issues in the brass section. This was a fine performance of a big work almost never tackled by a community orchestra - the CSO has been molded into a polished and exciting ensemble over the past several years. The large audience gave them a well deserved long ovation.
  • Quotes
    Sorry that the quotes on the titles did not properly transfer in my post!
  • thanks!
    Those boxes happen when someone writes a comment in Word and then cuts-and-pastes the comment into the comment box here. I don't know why it doesn't happen with, say, parentheses, but anyway, if you don't want those boxes, next time you cut-and-paste a comment, take a moment to go through and delete the quotation marks and re-type them.

    Alternatively, you can compose your comment right here in the comment box, but then I recommend highlighting the whole thing, and doing control-c to save it while you try to submit the comment. That way, if the Captcha thingy doesn't work or whatever, you don't lose your work. You can control-v your work back into the comment box and try again.

    But in any case, CConrad, I really appreciate your taking the time to write down and share your detailed thoughts of the music you hear each weekend. Your comments make me want to go to concerts, too!

    I saw "Amadeus" at the Tarkington on the same night you did and agree with everything you wrote about it. It was different from the movie, but I loved the differences. Jeremy Grimm as Mozart and Mikayla Reed, no, wait, Mikayla Koharchik, as Mozart's wife, were excellent, but John Micheal Goodson as Salieri blew me away. When I watched the movie, I thought about the disappointments of mediocrity, but Goodson's portrayal in the theatre piece pounded alive for me the corrosive effects of unchecked jealousy. Whew! what a powerful performance!

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • oh! also...
    I almost forgot...

    This past weekend I also saw some co-workers in the Epilogue Players' production of "Lying in State." I laughed a lot and had a great time.

    After that, I wasn't ready to stop laughing so I went to ComedySportz for the 10pm match. I laughed a lot and had a great time there, too.

    On Sunday I met for a "write-in" with some other people that are doing the annual NaNoWriMo* challenge. I only have around 1500 of the 50,000 words that I am supposed to have written by the end of the month for this, so I doubt that I will "win" this year, but I loved the companionable feeling that I got on Sunday afternoon. It is fun to write one's own thing in the company of other people that are writing their own things, and to stop occasionally to eat snacks and cheer each other on.

    *NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit

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