You-review-it Monday

December 15, 2008
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This weekend, I finally got to see "On Thin Ice: A Very Phoenix Xmas 3" (the best yet). I also hopped over to opening weekend of Actors Theatre of Indiana's "A Year with Frog and Toad" (as wonderful as last year. Maybe better).

Add in "Live Nativity" at St. Luke's (it's quite an experience watching camels approach the alter) and a catch-up viewing of the John Cusack film "Grace is Gone" and I'd call it a busy A&E weekend.

So what was on your pre-holiday plate? "Yuletide Celebration"? "A Christmas Carol"? Just home with "White Christmas" or "Holiday Inn"?

Your thoughts?

Oh, and I hope to see many of you tonight at "The Lion Sings Tonight," a benefit for the Damien Center that I'm co-hosting. Say hello at intermission if you are there. (More info here.)
  • Messiah: Indianapolis Chamber Orch/Encore Vocal Arts

    No wonder the door to baroque music is deemed to have definitively closed in the 1750s with the deaths of titans such as Handel and J.S. Bach. Among their many masterpieces are towering works for choir and orchestra, notably Bach’s B-Minor Mass and St. Matthew Passion and Handel’s oratorios Elijah and Messiah.

    The latter is a seasonal staple that deserves year-round attention. It is hard to imagine a more vigorous, coherent and aurally satisfying performance than that given over the weekend by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra with Encore Vocal Arts. Maestro Kirk Trevor led the ensemble adroitly, focusing most directorial attention on the Encore singers prepared by artistic director Chris Ludwa and enhanced by a handful of guest singers. The ICO, as usual, played with precision and warmth. (Ethical-type disclaimer: my daughter Abby sang in the chorus.)

    The soloists were uniformly superb: soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo Cynthia Hanna, tenor Karim Sulayman and bass
    Nathaniel Watson each had glorious moments that well served the overall work. One persistent distraction at Zionsville United Methodist Church Sunday afternoon was a dull clacking throughout the performance—perhaps from the heating/ventilation system. Handel, no doubt, had to suffer worse in his time (such as unheated halls and churches), and the players and singers soldiered on in spite of the noise.

    High points for this listener, without enumerating many individual musical moments, included:
    - Lingering resonance after big choral or orchestral sections, when harmonies hung palpably in the air for several seconds
    - Consistently delicious playing by concertmaster Larry Shapiro and the ICO strings
    - A capella passages that showed what Encore Vocal Arts can deliver in yet another genre
    - A male couple who felt comfortable enough to listen sitting arm-over-shoulder (in my church, they could marry)

    This fine performance was recorded (as was, I hope, Saturday’s at Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral) for broadcast Dec. 24th on WICR (88.7 FM). Details at

    Hats off to Maestros Trevor and Ludwa and to the soloists, players and chorus for giving us the best of the season—and the best of the high baroque.
  • So what did you think of Grace is Gone? I think it's really one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. Every single scene just punches you in the gut. Hard.
  • Dan:

    Great post about the concert and it's effect on the listeners!

    Why did you have to resort to the comment about the male couple being able to marry in your church? First of all, good for them that they can act as they choose without criticism, I agree. But, to assimilate marriage in a church? Not in God's true house, remember He calls that an abomination, lest so many forget His true intentions.
  • Austin,
    I agree. But it does it without bombast and with a very this is life way. These sorts of films--ones that don't feel overly written--can seem easy. But I think there's a real beauty to them.
    It's a world of people who get through the day, love their kids, have chain restaurants and hotels as default settings, and don't always know how to articulate what they feel. Sound familiar?
    I know it's a very different movie, but I kept thinking of The Good Girl, another very good, low-key film about regular people.
  • . . . he calls shellfish an abomination as well, and condones slavery. Gotta use it all if you want to use it!!
  • Come on Berwickguy! The holier than thou is getting old. Lest you forget, not everyone has the same belief system you do. Please stop trying to shove it down our throats!

    The concert sounded beautiful. Churches can sometimes have wonderful acoustics. I once heard a choir singing in Canterbury Cathedral in England and it was such a beautiful sound and so moving! I'm not religious in any way but the beauty of the music and the setting can really be a spiritual experience.

    I'm looking forward to Fringe Friday this week. I didn't really do much inthe way of the arts last week, unless you count watching depressing movie after depressing movie on Sunday. The Fountain, which I had seen before, and love, and P.S. I love you, which was not all that great, but was still sad (another brain tumor movie) and then because I wasn't depressed enough, Untamed Heart.

    I was reading my Smithsonian Magazine from Novemer and found this article abour Robert Frank and his photo, Indianapolis 1956.

    I think the Star did an article not too long ago about the couple featured in the photo, if I'm not mistaken.
  • berwickguy,

    Not to mention that Paul is the one in the new testament who slams homosexuality, but Jesus himself speaks very directly in several places to not divorcing, and we seem to accept that without blinking an eye! Does your church approve of divorce?


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