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2010-2011 SEASON


Where it’s more than a great performance

Greetings! I am pleased to share with you selected highlights of media coverage garnered by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center during spring, 2011. Media attention like this spreads the good word about the important role of the Center and the University of Maryland in the cultural life of our region. The coverage we received this semester was broad and deep, encompassing our visiting artists and spotlighting our academic programs as well. For instance, in February the Washington Post covered a presentation by the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) dance program for the first time since the Center opened with a review of Sharon Mansur/PEARSONWIDRIG’s Danceworks. That same month, the TDPS theatre production Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter was featured on the cover of the Washington Post Express along with an interview with faculty director Leslie Felbain. Minotaur, TDPS’s stunning final production of the season, provided us with the opportunity to connect with our campus radio station, WMUC, whose on-air personality Jocelyn Rubin held a live hour-long interview with student cast members and the play’s director. And in April, Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith devoted a column to Kronos Quartet’s activities at the Center, including the public reading of student compositions. I have since learned that Kronos will perform one of these works when they are on tour in Poland next year. In all, a semester in which the media recognized the many kinds of work that take place here. We invite you to browse through this summary and enjoy these stories. We look forward to seeing you in fall, 2011, as we begin the celebration of our 10th anniversary here at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.


Susan S. Farr Executive Director

OVERVIEW Each season, the Center pursues several goals in media coverage: to continually increase coverage of performances and other activities by visiting artists and our academic units; to highlight our engagement events; to expand our reach into new and alternative media outlets; and to create an ongoing presence that tells our story to the public. The following pages demonstrate the Center’s success in obtaining a wide range of favorable notice, including more coverage than ever for our academic units. We have also included select comments from our “You’re the Critic” web initiative, which has won praise for the candor and intelligence of our patrons’ commentary.

Table of Contents Theatre…………………………………………………………………………………5 Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter……………………………………………………….6 Paul Browde & Murray Nossel…………………………………………………..12 Anna Deavere Smith………………………………………………………………….15 The Abbey Theatre…………………………………………………………………....20 Minotaur…………………………………………………………………………………...23

Dance…………………………………………………………………………………..30 Sharon Mansur + PearsonWidrig……………………………………………....31 Nora Chipaumire……………………………………………………………………....37 Lucinda Childs…………………………………………………………………………..40

Music…………………………………………………………………………………..48 Sachal Vasandani………………………………………………………………………49 Anthony de Mare………………………………………………………………………55 Maryland Opera Studio…………………………………………………………….60 Kronos Quartet…………………………………………………………………………65 UM Symphony Orchestra…………………………………………………………..69

Other Notable Coverage……………………………………………………...72 You’re The Critic………………………………………………………………....76 Student Blog Entries……………………………………………………………85

THEATRE The collaboration between visiting artists, academic units, and the community is a unique attribute of our programs, as well as an important element of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s long term goals. This season, in conjunction with their staged presentation of Two Men Talking, Paul Browde and Murray Nossel spent a week engaging in dialogues with the community on topics ranging from the meaning of life to cyber-bullying. Additionally, they led workshops with MFA students and Nossel moderated a post-show discussion between Anna Deavere Smith and audience members at her performance of excerpts from her new show, Let Me Down Easy. During Abbey Theatre’s three-show run of Terminus, company members spent a morning leading a workshop of warm-up skills and methods for undergraduate theatre students.




The War at Home: 'Basra Boy' at Church Street Theater, 'Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter' at Kogod Theatre | Weekend Pass | Express Night Out



The War at Home: 'Basra Boy' at Church Street Theater, 'Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter' at Kogod Theatre

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Amid a recession, domestic political tussles and an ongoing war in Afghanistan, some have called the Iraq war "forgotten." But it's ooming large in the minds of Washington's theater community these days: Just weeks after the National Theatre of Scotland brought its acclaimed "Black Watch" to the Shakespeare Theatre, two more productions aim to raise awareness of the nearly decade-long conflict. While "Basra Boy" looks at war through the eyes of a new recruit, "Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter" reflects on the consequences of service — and the difficult readjustment to civilian life that often awaits veterans. In the play, onstage at the University of Maryland's Kogod Theatre through Saturday, Marine Jenny Sutter returns home from Iraq with PTSD and minus a leg. Feeling unable to face her family, she settles in at Slab City, an[6/15/2011 1:30:32 PM]

The War at Home: 'Basra Boy' at Church Street Theater, 'Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter' at Kogod Theatre | Weekend Pass | Express Night Out

abandoned Marine barracks camp in California full of colorful characters. The undergrad actors (including Kiara Tinch in the lead role) are about the same age as many of our nation's newest vets. That brings the war's impact home in a visceral way, says director Leslie Felbain. "There are still a lot of people walking around [for whom] the war is not in their immediate lives," Felbain says. "I like pieces that extend beyond just the border of art, where there can be community engagement." Both works examine the war in surprising ways: Neither is actually set in Iraq, and most Americans probably don't picture female soldiers or Northern Irish teens when they think of the troops who defended Baghdad, Basra and other key Iraqi cities. But viewing the war from those largely unheard perspectives offers audiences a chance to confront its complex legacy. Q&A: Director Leslie Felbain What do you attempt to add to the audience's understanding of the Iraq war? The focus of the piece is not to address specific politics, but to call attention to honoring the soldiers and their families for the sacrifice they are offering. The main character, Jenny Sutter, loses a leg. How did you portray her disability onstage? We created a boot-like prosthetic. It causes a slight shift in how [actress Kiara Tinch] walks. We've done a lot of work on what it means to have phantom limb sensation, to have that kind of neural pain, a kind of aching, and to embrace that character from a physical perspective. Does the play address the specific challenges female veterans face? It is an issue in the play, just because that's not usually portrayed. Some of the things she says indicate what she's had to deal with as a woman in the military. She's a single mom, so that's a big issue, [along with] her sense of identity after losing a leg, her sense of sensuality, of beauty, of self-confidence. How do you think audiences will relate to Jenny? She's a tough cookie because she's had to be. But she softens. What I love about this piece is it focuses on forgiveness and how, as a community, we all can help each other. I think in the end, the audience will experience the open space of possibility and hope that Jenny ends the play with. Posted By Katie Aberbach at 12:00 AM on February 17, 2011[6/15/2011 1:30:32 PM]

Baltimore Sun, February 14, 2011


Banged up but not broken - The Diam…

Banged up but not broken By Andrew Freedman Sunday, February 13, 2011 There is a certain loneliness that many of us are lucky enough not to understand. While we sleep comfortably in our beds at night, men and women in uniform are at war, seeing and experiencing the horrors of combat and foreign enemies. When they come back home, their lives have changed forever. Such is the case for Jenny Sutter, the titular character in Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter, the latest play put on by the theatre, dance and performance studies school in the Kogod Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Jenny (Kiara Tinch), an injured Marine sergeant who "dreamed of being a hero," arrives back in the United States after a demanding tour in Iraq. Wearing a prosthetic leg and suffering from night terrors after a frightening experience at an explosives checkpoint, she heads to a bus station with nowhere in mind to go. After arguing with the witty station attendant, Hugo (David Lloyd Olson), Sutter finds a companion in Lou (Gracie Jones), a woman who has found herself chronically addicted to everything from alcohol to petty thievery. Lou has a place to stay, and Sutter needs one, so they take the bus together to Slab City, Calif. Slab City isn't all it's made out to be — the abandoned Marine Corps base is filled with "freaks and old people." The eccentric population includes Cheryl (Ali Grusell), a hairstylist turned therapist; Buddy (Jeremy Pace), the good-hearted town preacher who got his license on the Internet; and Donald (Thony Bienvenido Mena), a sarcastic loner who considers Iraq to be a "bullshit war." Other colorful characters (Theresa Buechler, Julia Klavans, Jordan Levine, Kathryn Pace, Michael Strassner and Matthew Strote) round out Slab City's inhabitants. While the residents of Slab City like to think it's a "community based on trust," Jenny wants to work her problems out on her own. The people of Slab City, however, want to give Jenny the homecoming she truly deserves but never received. The set, a small section of the city, fills the theater with a giant slab stone, a pile of dirt on the floor, cinder blocks lying around, cacti, small bushes and an old, barren flagpole. Chairs surround…/banged-up…


three sides of the set, with the action taking place in front of them. It is brilliantly minimalist, as the large slab stands in for the town meeting place, the bus station, Lou's home and several other locations. It is also a stunning comparison to the emptiness that Jenny displays as she fiddles with her cell phone, not sure whether she is ready to answer phone calls from home. Another interesting prop is Jenny's prosthetic leg, which looks real enough (and uncomfortable — how Tinch wears it the entire time is a mystery) and adds a lot to the character and realism of the story. The story is a relevant and timely one, and the actors — under the direction of Leslie Felbain — bring Slab City to life. They deliver solemn moments as well as a few instances of comic relief (especially when Grusell is on stage). Everything from Jenny's emptiness to Donald's disgust with the war, as portrayed by Tinch and Mena, respectively, is on pitch. They are all a pleasure to watch. The only part of the play that weakens the production is playwright Julie Marie Myatt's slightly flawed script. Some characters are not fleshed out enough, and some conflicts seem to go unresolved. Nonetheless, the show's performers and crew are able to overcome the script's shortcomings with their deep, emotional performances and great production value. While the script isn't something that can be changed for a performance, everything else came together under Felbain's direction. The story is still one worth watching, if only to try to understand the hardships that veterans face and the goodness of people's hearts — even if they are a little off-kilter. Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter walks that strange line between heartwarming and serious. In the end, audiences will have to find their place on that spectrum, just as Jenny does. Our journeys may not be as difficult as Jenny's, but how audiences experience it may vary wildly: Some may see it as uplifting, others as sobering (with a hint of humor). But one thing is for sure — the show makes you reflect on these soldiers' experiences, and that may be the most important part. Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter runs through Feb.19 at the Kogod Theatre in CSPAC. Tickets cost $27, $9 for students.…/banged-up…




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March 0 04, 2011

3/1/2011 4:13:00 4 PM

Storie es with legs by Lisa Traiger T Arts Corrrespondent Get Murrray Nossel on o the phone, and he ca an't resist te elling you his story. That's what he e and his partner p Paul Browde do o in Two Men n Talking, a an evening-length unscrripted performa ance where personal stories stand at the core. The pair, in residence e at the Universitty of Maryland's Clarice e Smith Perfforming Artss Center thiss week, perrform for the e public to onight through Saturday y in the intim mate Kogod d Theatre. So, whatt's Nossel's story? He grew up in Jo ohannesburrg - white, Jewish, priviileged and g gay. "I went to t a Jewish Day school - that's whe ere I met Pa aul - and ap partheid was s raging aro ound us, but life was very y sheltered,"" Nossel said. a King David Jewish Da ay School paired up he er class, asking each partner In 1974, a teacher at to tell the other a sttory. After Browde B wove his tale, h he asked No ossel for his story. "I do on't t boy in the khaki sch hool uniform m appliqued with Jewish h star and a have a story," said the ok - South Africa's A natio onal animal - on the poccket. At hom me, he didn't hear muc ch springbo about his s family's hiistory. His grandfather, g , who left Litthuania sho ortly after W World War I, lost all but on ne family member m in th he Holocaust and neverr spoke abou ut the past. Nossel believes that pers sonal stories s have beco ome such an n integral pa art of his life e, because h he didn't he ear them gro owing up. Nossel vividly recalls s a schoolya ard incident four years later, when n the teache er lined the c class e, girls on th he other. Bro owde, trying g to be the class clown, called out,, up boys on one side ed Nossel, who w was ofte en teased fo or being effe eminate and d "Murray in the middle." Mortifie called "fa aggy," said he couldn't believe the boy he tho ought of as a an ally could d betray him m. "We didn n't talk for years y and ye ears," Nosse el said. He b became a clinical psych hologist; Browde, a psychiatrrist. Decades s later in Ne ew York, the ey met by cchance and c couldn't ignore their sha ared backgro ound and hiistory. Talking, listening g and revea aling personal stories off their live es since thatt churlish ch hildhood rem mark finally healed the men's rift. They fou und that their stories ha ad legs. The eir joint keyn note addresss to a group p of Australian therapistts was so su uccessful - and a dramatic - that the y developed d it into a sh how for the general public. p What's unique, Nossel sharred, is that w while he and d Browde co ontinue to return to o many of th he same sto ories, on stage they liste en intently tto one anotther so "the story con nstantly evo olves and we e incorporatte our lives into the unsscripted perrformance o of our friendshiip." Two Men Talking is never the same. s

"One of the most important things about telling your story," he has said, "is who is listening." Together on stage, night after night, Nossel said, "when Paul tells his story, I am 100 percent focused on him. ... I'm there like a safety blanket for him and he can tell me absolutely anything." That same sense of trust includes the men's audience of listeners, who often become rapt by their true-life confessional tales. Performing in the Washington area for the first time, Nossel senses that the politics that permeate this region will, in yet unknown ways, influence the stories he and his partner will share. One issue he wishes to highlight on the college campus is bullying, which remains at the core of Nossel and Browde's friendship as the force that divided and now binds them. Two boys' estrangement became two men's reconciliation. He hopes Two Men Talking can serve as a model for others to address bullying and heal frayed relationships. "The issue of bullying is often on my mind. I was bullied in school and while Paul had one moment in which he bullied, he also often felt like a victim himself." As minorities within a minority in South Africa - Jews in a minority white population - they felt like outsiders, and their latent homosexuality as boys made life in a Jewish day school that much more challenging. But once-painful stories can heal. "Every story counts," Nossel insisted. "Every human being counts and every life counts. I'm sure there are shades of Jewish philosophy in that idea. Storytelling is a spiritual matter." Two Men Talking is onstage March 4-5 at 8 p.m., Kogod Theatre, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park. Tickets, $30, $9 full-time students are available at 301-405-2787.




Heart beats




Maryland Community News Online Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heart beats Acclaimed actress has her finger on the pulse of health care debate by Liz Skalski | Staff Writer

Anna Deavere Smith brings to life the health care stories and struggles of nearly two dozen individuals from around the world In "Let Me Down Easy." The actress, who has had roles in films such as "The American President" and "Philadelphia" and TV shows from "The West Wing" to "The Practice," has performed the one-woman show in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, she will bring a condensed version to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park. Murray Nossel will moderate a postperformance discussion. Nossel is the founder of Narativ, a New York- and London-based company teaching communication, self-presentation, team building and leadership through storytelling.

Photo from University of MarylandCollege of Arts & Humanities

Anna Deavere Smith will perform portraits from her newest solo show, "Let Me Down Easy," a consideration of ideas about the body, health, sickness and the end of life on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

Smith, 60, describes "Let Me Down Easy" as "a human story of the health care debate," in which she characterizes real people, helping to put a human face on the issue. "The reason it's being debated is because we don't all agree," she says. "It's an important matter." The production's journey to the stage began 10 years ago. "It's been a long haul," Smith says of the years she spent interviewing 300 people throughout the U.S., Germany and Africa for the production.[6/15/2011 1:48:42 PM]

Heart beats

"I went beyond America to tell this story," she says. "After so many, many hours of interviews, everyone who still stands in this version of the play has a message of resilience that I hope the audience will appreciate." Smith says stories are told using the interviewees' own words. "I seek to sound as much like them as I can," she says, citing examples like Lance Armstrong, seventime Tour de France winner and cancer survivor; Lauren Hutton, model and survivor of a devastating motorcycle accident; and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who died in September 2006 from esophageal cancer. "Even the mighty people we see as winners are touched by something that made them vulnerable," she says. Smith, a Baltimore native who has taught at New York University, Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon, spends about four weeks rehearsing for the one-hour show, working with a dialect coach and dancers to perfect choreography. Smith says her interest in theater grew out of her interest in the English language. "The way [William Shakespeare] used the English language, that really sparked my interest ... in the spoken word," she says. "I started to cultivate this unending interest with what words sound like when they come out of a person's mouth. What I listen for is what I call the song a person sings when they give an answer. How we speak tells something about who we are." Smith says her family's heritage and her Christian upbringing also left an impression. "Things that first impacted my heart were the sounds of my mother reading to me, singing to me. It never went away," Smith says. "The sound of hearing things stayed with me." Emotions run high during "Let Me Down Easy." Throughout the presentation, some audience members may laugh, Smith says, while others may cry at the same experience. It's this diversity of emotions that has allowed her to succeed as an actress, she says. "It's the point of why I do theater and the theater that I do. My work anticipates that people have multiple points of view."[6/15/2011 1:48:42 PM]

The body monologues - Diversions - The Diamondback - University of Maryland 7RS&ROOHJH1HZV


The Diamondback > Diversions

7KHERG\PRQRORJXHV By Andrew Freedman

Sunday, March 6, 2011


  subject. We grow up The human body is a very   personal with it, we grow old with it, and we are sick and well with it. Everyone's body treats them differently, and everyone has a different life experience.

At the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith will attempt to portray how people steer through their lives in sickness and in health — and the many obstacles that face them — with excerpts from her solo show Let Me Down Easy, which runs tomorrow and Wednesday. The show will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience. "One of the things we talked to Anna about in the beginning was being able to craft an experience ... that specifically was a discussion of the topics and issues that were crucial to her creation of Let Me Down Easy," said Paul Brohan, director of artistic initiatives at CSPAC. The portraitures and their views of health, ability, life and death bring up a hot topic, one particularly important in the nation's capital: health care. "I'd say it's about the vulnerability of the body and the resilience of the spirit and the price of care," Smith said. "So it's really crossing over two things that are essential to our humanness, which is our body and its welfare and an understanding that, sadly, the rumor is true: It will not last forever." Smith's characters come from over 300 interviews and include a range of real-life personas, from a former Texas governor to a bull rider to cyclist Lance Armstrong. She hopes the variety of personalities shows the importance of the vulnerability of the body and its effects on humanity. "I see the play as the human story of health care that is being played out in politics and legislation and public debate and in the media," Smith said. "It should ask questions rather than give answers." While the range of characters gives a variety of views on the topic, that doesn't mean Smith doesn't have her own political stance. Instead, she considers her performance an "accomplice to politics." "Pretty much everything I'm about in any of my writings, my books, my teaching — everything is about social justice," she said. "If you look deeply in Let Me Down Easy, you will see that I'm certainly rooting for the guy who got the bad end of the stick." And Smith is particularly excited about hearing her audience's responses to her work. "What I love about a university atmosphere — and I speak in a lot of universities — is that I get a chance to stop my performing after an hour," Smith said. "I get to stop talking after an hour, and that[6/20/2011 11:07:13 AM]

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The body monologues - Diversions - The Diamondback - University of Maryland

extra time can be a conversation that lets me find out what you are bringing. It also gives you, the people in the audience, a chance to allow each other to glean what they're all bringing." As a native of Baltimore, Smith has a special place in her heart for this university, making it different from her other university visits. "What is significant to me about coming to Maryland is that actually I find what I'm doing is tiptoeing back, slowly coming home," she said. Brohan expressed his interest in student attendance at Smith's performances and the importance of filling seats in CSPAC. "I think this is a woman who is incredibly invested in the contemporary lifestyle of the United States and that all of us, including the students of the University of Maryland, have a particular investment in the issues that are facing all of us," Brohan said. "There are issues of health care, of individual health abilities and segments of health that are germane and important to our students on this campus as well as faculty and staff and the administration of this university." For CSPAC, bringing in Smith is not only bringing in a talented artist but also addressing an important issue. "I would say the entire experience is challenging and that part of her intent is to throw down the gauntlet of the issue and say, ‘We can't avoid this anymore. We can't ignore it anymore,'" Brohan said. "‘We have to address it.'" For Smith, her excerpts from Let Me Down Easy and the subsequent conversation will not only resonate with the audience but will have a profound effect on her as well. "What I think will happen if I'm working well ... is you're all bringing something about this dilemma, the vulnerability of your body, the resilience of spirit, the price of care," Smith said. "If I'm working well, what will happen is an adjustment about what you brought." Perhaps most importantly for her, Smith has one goal she hopes to achieve at every performance, including her visit to CSPAC. "One of the biggest compliments I ever got about Let Me Down Easy ... [was that], in the course of the time I was performing, I created a community out of those strangers in the audience," Smith said. "That's what I want to do." Let Me Down Easy runs March 8 and 9 at the Ina and Jack Kay Theatre in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Tickets cost $42, $9 for students.



  [6/20/2011 11:07:13 AM]




Angels and Demons





Maryland Community News Online

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Angels and Demons ‘Terminus' to rise at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center by Nathan Oravec | Staff Writer

If the devil, as they say, is in the details, it can only be imagined Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe's notebook is riddled with a legion of rhyming words. O'Rowe's latest opus, "Terminus," is a complex, often brutal tale of avenging angels, murderers and lovelorn demons. And it is written entirely in contemporary verse. "It doesn't originally play that way, which is a testimony to the actors," says Paul Brohan, director of artistic initiatives for the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where the play will be unveiled tonight courtesy of Ireland's national Abbey Theatre.

Photo by Ros Kavanagh

Ireland's national Abbey Theatre will bring Mark O'Rowe's provocative play "Terminus" to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center tonight and Friday. (From left) Catherine Walker, Declan Conlon and Olwen Fouéré.

"The Abbey Theatre is legendary," Brohan says of the heralded institution that began touring the United States a century ago. With O'Rowe's play arriving stateside for a seven-city engagement, Brohan leaped at the opportunity to bring it to College Park. "‘Terminus' was touring the U.S. and it didn't seem, in my research, that anyone was picking up on it throughout our region. I thought it was a good fit for us." Three actors — Olwen Fouéré, Catherine Walker and Declan Conlon — portray nameless protagonists; among them a suicide hotline operator, her estranged daughter and a coolly detached serial killer. Perched on shards of broken glass — the impressive, implosive result of a mirror shattered onto their world — the trio's dynamic,[6/15/2011 2:17:30 PM]

Angels and Demons

depraved soliloquies gradually interact, interlock and entertain in the most fantastical of ways. Like the rest of the touring cast, Irish actress Fouéré has been with the production only since January. Her unnamed help line operator, known simply as character A, has all but abandoned hope, but Fouéré seems to be enjoying the journey of discovery. "I never work in terms of character," she says of the role. "I tend to work from where the text is leading me. It's a continuous process." Thanks to O'Rowe, Fouéré has been given quite a bit of text to work with. "What attracts me to Mark's work is the unique texture of his language," she says. "With the honorable exception of Tom Murphy — who is without question Ireland's greatest living playwright — Mark is one of [the few] who does experiment with various forms. And that's what I love about him. There's an individual kind of rhythm and musicality to his work. For me, that's more interesting than story." Fouéré notes that this new cast has yet to perform "Terminus" for Irish audiences, but is reveling in the reactions it has drawn thus far from U.S. crowds. "They were seemingly more vocal, which is really satisfying as an actor — to see an audience laugh or gasp in horror," she says. The play's savagery, she says, is made even more intense because it is not visualized. Instead, that seed of brutality is planted in the mind. "It's definitely very interesting. It is an increasingly graphic play, but the violence is never painted in images. The play elicits the imagination of the audience. They feel as though they are seeing them. We feel that we see them." Then, with a laugh, she adds, "Well, it depends on how well we do." Brohan is enthusiastic that the Clarice Smith center landed such a groundbreaking piece. "What I find intriguing is the play's portrayal of conventional, Irish urban culture," he says. "It's gritty, profane and contemporary. It's provocative and confrontational." "Terminus," he says, also will be presented at the arts center's smallest black box performance space, the Kogod Theatre. "I believe the impact of the play in such an intimate setting will be very powerful," says Brohan, who had originally seen a New York staging of "Terminus" several years ago. "I was intrigued and emboldened by it," he recalls. "The piece has a real emotional impact. You walk away being forced to think about what you just witnessed. It challenges you on very different levels." And it ropes you in. "When you tap into the audience's imagination, it makes them an active participant," says Fouéré. "They become more complicit in the entire thing.[6/15/2011 2:17:30 PM]



'Minotaur': Mythology, muckraking, mincemeat - @TBD Arts |


'Minotaur': Mythology, muckraking, mincemeat April 15, 2011 - 01:56 PM

By Maura Judkis

Courtesy Izumi Ashizawa

Playwright Izumi Ashizawa is mostly a vegetarian. She doesn’t eat meat in America, but occasionally does in her native Japan, or “If the animals are treated right.” But neither animals, nor humans, nor half-animal-half-humans are treated well in her debut of Minotaur, a performance piece that examines immigration and ethics[6/13/2011 2:04:42 PM]


'Minotaur': Mythology, muckraking, mincemeat - @TBD Arts |

through the ancient Greek myth of the Minotaur, reimagined in the American slaughterhouse industry of the 1920s, and performed in the style of traditional Japanese physical theater. While Ashizawa’s work is often inspired by mythology, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was an obvious inspiration for the show. Besides the surface connection of inhumanely-raised beef – the Minotaur, product of a liason between a queen and a bull, grew up sequestered and feral in the labyrinth – there’s a parallel to be drawn between the legend human sacrifices that the citizens of Athens sent to Crete to appease the monster. “If you take a look at a map of Chicago slaughterhouse, it looks like a maze itself. Chicago also looks like a labyrinth at the time,” says Ashizawa. “These people from Eastern Europe, Poland [who worked the slaughterhouses], they're treated and discarded almost, as a carcass.” The Minotaur was eventually conquered by the warrior Theseus – but he never would have found his way out of the labyrinth without the help of the princess Ariadne, who helped him mark his trail through the maze with a ball of string. Though it’s one of

the best-known stories of Greek mythology, Ashizawa says that the Minotaur has a place in Japanese mythology as well, in their half-bull, half-man creature of UshiOni. Scholars theorize that the legend traveled to Japan along the Silk Road.

Amanda Hess Reporter - @amandahess

“I think that any kind of mythology, even Mesopotamian or Egyptian, somehow connects people,” says Ashizawa. “The old mythology is a different world, however we face exactly the same problems, or similar problems. That's why I usually use

Andrew Beaujon Arts & Entertainment Editor - @abeaujon

mythology as a source.” Her blend of East and West extends to the stage design, which is in the form of a

Jenny Rogers Reporter - @jennyismsTBD

classical Greek amphitheater, but rotates sets as traditional Japanese Noh theaters do, maintaining a trickle of blood that runs down the stage in every scene. The actors’ movement training comes from Ashizawa’s background in Noh, Kabuki and martial arts, and special effects are orchestrated through puppets that also qualify as costume pieces. Each puppet is a fragmented body part chosen, says Ashizawa, “To represent the fragmented psychological state of heroine Ariadne’s mind.”

Maura Judkis Reporter - @maurajudkis

Sara Kenigsberg Segment Producer - @skenigsberg

Ashizawa doesn’t aim for Sinclair-style muckraking in her work – she says it’s a suggestive experience that leaves it up to the audience to draw their own conclusions about any parallels to contemporary immigration issues. “This is the type of theater where we don't give the exact answer. We suggest and we show, and the audience thinks,” says Ashizawa. “That's probably the thing that we

Sarah Godfrey Reporter - @sarahgodfrey

Sarah Larimer Reporter - @slarimer

want them to have: A strong feeling from their guts that I would like them to shake.” Minotaur will be performed at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center April 1523.[6/13/2011 2:04:42 PM]


A Trip into the Minotaur's Maze Circa 1920, Chicago (The Dressing)

The Dressing

Poet Karren LaLonde Alenier, as the Dresser, addresses what's underneath the art.

A Trip into the Minotaur's Maze Circa 1920, Chicago Pop quiz: did you read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and if you did, were you appalled but riveted, maybe outraged? If you are socially engaged, seek artistic work that makes you think, then the Dresser suggests that Izumi Ashizawa's adaptation of the myth of the Minotaur, which is set in the 1920s stockyards of Chicago might be worth your time and money. The Dresser was taken behind the scenes at the Clarice Smith Center for the Arts to talk to Ms. Ashizawa and two of the principle actors: Nick Horan and Claudia Rosales. What she learned is the play features Japanese movement (Ashizawa was trained in the arts of Japanese Noh theater) and unusual puppetry.

The stage is configured in the shape of a steer's hoof. The lighting features "red outs." The original music comes from a Greek contemporary composer, Simos Papanas, who is not a Minimalist but not a Schoenberg either. The ninety-minute performance about modern day immigration problems runs without intermission. Director Ashizawa hopes to shake the inner core of those who attend. Because every element of this theater work, which features the same group of outstanding graduate[6/13/2011 2:30:41 PM]


A Trip into the Minotaur's Maze Circa 1920, Chicago (The Dressing)

students the Dresser saw in the Mendacity Festival, counts--there is no pretty fluff added, the Dresser believes seeing the play once might hook the viewer into seeing it again. Minotaur opens April 15, 2011. Photo Credit: Izumi Ashizawa

Posted by Karren LaLonde Alenier on April 11, 2011 6:12 PM | Permalink[6/13/2011 2:30:41 PM]

Slaughterhouse live - Diversions - The Diamondback - University of Maryland Top College News

The Diamondback > Diversions

Slaughterhouse live By Andrew Freedman Sunday, April 17, 2011

To many, the stories of Greek mythology are set in stone. But don't tell that to Izumi Ashizawa, assistant professor of movement and acting and the writer and director of Minotaur, currently being performed by this university's theatre, dance and performance studies school. Ashizawa has taken the story of Greek hero Theseus and pushed it into the era of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. The play interweaves the classic story with Chicago's meatpacking industry in the 1920s. It is in a slaughterhouse where we see Thes (Rob Jansen) slay a re-imagination of the minotaur, the Unbelievably Huge Man (Shane O'Laughlin), and escape to meet the daughter of the evil Slaughterhouse Tycoon Minos (Dave Demke), Ari (Claudia Rosales), whose long hair would put Rapunzel to shame. It is after the classic battle against the minotaur that we begin our story, and it's certainly where things get interesting. Jansen plays Thes like a man possessed, pouring his soul into the character's dark side as he cries of the "endless forest of carcasses." We also get a gripping performance from Nick Horan's crazed portrayal of Dion, the king of an island where Thes and Ari go to escape Minos. While the entire cast's acting in Minotaur as a whole is authentic (and sometimes haunting), it is the scene between Thes and Dion that steals the show. Just because the performances are strong doesn't mean the play always makes sense. Ashizawa gives her audience a lot of credit — she doesn't spoon feed the tale of Theseus to them. However, a small refresher (which you can get, for the most part, through the program notes) is helpful. Some moments, such as the story-within-the-story of the Scorpion SHE (Caroline Stefanie Clay) and the Hunting Boy (James Waters) or the story of the Old Man (Armando Batista) are not completely clear. Even so, the story, for the most part, is comprehensible without prior knowledge — a significant improvement from Ashizawa's last play at CSPAC, Gilgamesh. There is a strong directorial connection to Gilgamesh: an emphasis on movement. One can tell Thes is cultured not just from the suit he wears but from the way he carries himself. Dion walks with his feet landing sideways and the slaughterhouse workers perform their duties with synchronized choreography. There is one odd quirk in the direction. While most of it is over-the-top (and to great effect), some areas of the play seem hyper-sexualized. The women of Dion's island (Teresa Ann Virginia Bayer, Olivia Brann, Anna Lynch, Whitney Rose Pynn and Anupama Singh Yadav) roll and crawl around the floor for several minutes in what seems to be orgasmic ecstasy around the Naked Chess Boy (Greg Mack). Also, Ari has a moment where she discusses death as a lover and touches herself in a sexual[6/20/2011 1:07:20 PM]

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Slaughterhouse live - Diversions - The Diamondback - University of Maryland

manner. The moments are fascinating to consider, specifically in context — Ashizawa didn't do this without reason — but it can also be distracting, and sometimes there is just too much of it. Minotaur offers more than just strong performances. The set is dark and dank — the slaughterhouse becomes a character, always in the background of the story. The slaughterhouse is built with brick walls and wooden flooring with a pool of (obviously fake) blood that leaks down the side. As you walk in to the Kogod Theatre, make sure not to step in the resulting puddle. Throughout the play, we see even more great technical aspects, such as cow hides riding on racks around the set and the fantastic costume used to make the Unbelievably Huge Man unbelievably huge. The costumes for the rest of the cast are more or less spot-on. The period costumes are completely believable, such as Minos' mafia-esque suit, the bloody aprons and uniforms of the slaughterhouse workers and Dion and the island women's tattered shawls. There are also some clever uses of black bodysuits to disguise actors in the darkness. The lighting designers also deserve commendation as light is used heavily and to great effect in the show. Strobe lights are effective, but so is dim lighting and darkness. At times, the entire set is pitch black. The carefully controlled lighting design casts the dank atmosphere of the slaughterhouse upon the theater. There is no reason to beat around the bush. Minotaur is a strange show, but also dark and often entrancing. Brief moments of confusion are present, which is unfortunate because the play as a whole — from acting and costumes to set and light design — is quite strong. Minotaur is also something new. The idea might be well-tread, but it still tells a strong story. More particularly, this version tells an old story in a new way, which provides for interesting liberties in the adaptation. Is it strange? Absolutely, but it's also fresh. Well, at least the play is — the slaughterhouse meat may not be. Minotaur runs through April 23 at the Kogod Theatre in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $27 for the public, $9 for students.[6/20/2011 1:07:20 PM]

DANCE The Center’s reputation for innovative dance presentations continued to attract favorable attention from the media, with extensive coverage of visiting artists Nora Chipaumire and Lucinda Childs, as well unprecedented coverage of TDPS dance faculty and students. This season, dance students performed and collaborated with dance faculty Sharon Mansur, Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig in their multimedia production Danceworks, which was covered in Dance magazine and the Washington Post. Additionally, dance critic Amanda Abrams used the performance as a launching point for a blog discussion of professional artists who also serve as university faculty. Nora Chipaumire’s February engagement received attention not only for the performance itself but also for engagement events surrounding it. And Lucinda Childs’s April presentation of Dance was the subject of a lengthy preview piece in the Washington Post by Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic Sarah Kaufman, as well as multiple reviews in campus and off-campus publications.


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U-Md. faculty attempt to bring high-concept dance down to earth By Pamela Squires, Published: February 18 Three University of Maryland dance department faculty members presented new works Thursday at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center that ranged from satisfying to silly. The stated intent of all three choreographies was to produce kinetic landscapes where motion, light, spoken word and visual media had equal voice. Sharon Mansur and duo Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig must be exciting and fun to work with because these choreographers burble with ideas and warmly embrace the notion of collaborating with their dancers. There is a lot of intellectual meat on the bones of all three. Mansur's works dealt with the nature of feminine identity, of light and dark, and the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi that finds beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Pearson and Widrig set their sights on the drama inherent in movement and sought to convey a sense of time and space. These choreographers willingly burden themselves with a difficult task; weighty ideas can sometimes make it more challenging to cross the chasm that lies between an idea and its actualization. Pearson and Widrig's "Drama" for trio and chorus had the easiest crossing, as its focus on pure movement helped it unfold effortlessly. Inspired by dancer Tzveta Kassabova's improvisations, the movement took on Kassabova's incredibly gawky but often original style. At one point, the dancers collapsed like folding chairs as, seated, they suddenly released their torsos forward. "Drama's" best moment came when three suspended boxes suddenly released a rain of gravel that crashed to the floor with terrifying bang. Mansur is an improvisation-based choreographer, which partially accounts for the loose structures she favors. Her "cimmerian light" work had her walking through a landscape of shade and light contained in bowls, in shimmering cloth and on a glistening wire sculpture that rose 20 feet high. Her site-specific "re(semblance)" piece was performed in the theater lobby. Though the dancers' navigating through the crowd was delightful, the work's theme of feminine identity was obfuscated by such puzzling vignettes as a girl donning a gorilla mask and a woman in a bathtub attaching laundry pins to her T-shirt. Squires is a freelance writer. Š The Washington Post Company

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PearsonWidrig and Sharon Mansur By Emily Macel Theys

PearsonWidrig DanceTheater and Sharon Mansur // Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center // University of Maryland College Park // February 17– 18, 2011 // Reviewed by Emily Macel Theys

Tzveta Kassabova in PearsonWidrig's Drama. Photo by Zachary Z. Handler. Courtesy UMD.   Tzveta Kassabova moves as if her limbs are only loosely joined to her body. It’s as though every impetus to fling an arm, hurl her chest  forward, or kick out a leg then reverse her torso, sending that leg into a high arabesque, is simply part of the way she moves. Her quirky, somewhat dark Tim Burton-esque movement quality is all her own. It’s no surprise that Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig used her improvisations as inspiration for Drama, which premiered last month. The piece lived up to its title with the help of numerous scenic, lighting, and sound elements. But it was the choreography that felt most dramatic, with its over-the-top exaggerations, its cartoon-like and contortionist moments. While Kassabova was not the only performer, the others did not—could not—embody her style. Betty Skeen and Erin Lehua Brown (who, along with Kassabova, made up the core group of dancers) came close, bringing their own suppleness or sensitivity to the movement. But it was hard to shift your attention away from Kassabova each time she lurched into the space or dropped to the ground like a bag of rocks. And there were rocks too, literally. A thick border of gravel lined the stage; the dancers carefully stepped over it when entering or exiting. (The set design was conceived by Pearson and Widrig with Ryan Knapp and Erin Glasspatrick.) At one point, a box that had hung from the rafters, slightly off-center–stage, gave way from the bottom and spewed out a heap of pebbles. Just when you were hoping the[6/15/2011 2:26:55 PM]

Dance Magazine – If it's happening in the world of dance, it's happening in Dance Magazine.

dancers would protect their feet, Kassabova throttled herself into the pile, curled into fetal position, and became one with the rocks, then continued to dance through them. You could hear her bones grinding against the gravel and the floor, a gruesome and painful experience, and yet she pulled off looking natural, even elegant. One particularly stunning motif—dancers sitting, facing upstage, moving in and out of varied odalisque poses with an arm placed at the small of the back—recurred with larger and smaller groups. The performers created sensual, womanly shapes but   with disconnected, somewhat deadpan facial expressions. Most of the time they   «    looked at the floor or offstage, so that Kassabova’s one glance toward the audience sent an audible gasp through the house. Adding another level of drama, the soundscore (by Lauren Burke) included live opertatic-style singing from Madeline Miskie, who moved around the theater— backstage, at the rear of the house, in the adjacent hallway, and eventually onstage —interrupting or infusing the performance with her voice. The evening was shared with Sharon Mansur, whose cimmerian light meditated quietly on the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi—finding beauty in the imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent. The set, by Felicia Glidden, was exquisite, with its hanging sculptures of wires and paper, lit by the soft glow of lanterns. While the movement was peaceful and pleasing to watch, it hit the same note the whole way through, rarely changing pacing, tone, or depth.


© 2011 Macfadden Performing Arts Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.[6/15/2011 2:26:55 PM]

UMD Showcases Why Academia Is Dance’s Most Fertile Ground Posted by Amanda Abrams on Feb. 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

If you’re a serious artist, one of the best jobs you can find is working as a professor at a university. Think about it: you get to spend all of your time in an institution where ideas, rather than profits or power, are front and center. Sure, there’s pressure to produce, but you’re allowed to take some risks, can pick from a sea of talented students and like-minded professionals to work with, and have incredible facilities at your fingertips. Oh, and your day job is based on helping to influence the next generation. No wonder those positions are coveted. Listen to University of Maryland dance professor Sharon Mansur talk about the two pieces she’ll be premiering tonight and tomorrow night in a shared concert with professors Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, and the point is driven home. Much of the country might be in a conservative mode regarding arts funding, but the freedom to experiment still seems to exist in academia. One of the pieces Mansur will be showing, “cimmerian light,” is a 12-minute improvisation that includes collaborators from several other UMD departments. In particular, she and Andrew Dorman, a lighting designer and MFA student in the university’s theater department, have worked together since last year. “I wanted to

develop a piece with a lighting designer as a close creative process,” explained Mansur, adding that Dorman was part of the piece since it first began. Also involved in the process were Felicia Glidden, a sculptor and MFA student who designed the sets, and Bruce Carter, a faculty member in the music department who created the sound score; he and Mansur discovered a shared interest in improvisation several years ago and spent months together then experimenting in a studio. So while the piece began as a meditation on light and dark, it gradually—thanks to the various people and inputs involved—became an organic collaboration between artists. “Ideas have flowed from one person to the next and morphed,” said Mansur. “It started to get its own life.” Her second piece, “(re)semblence,” is a series of musings on feminine identity that incorporates six undergraduate dancers and three professional dancers, plus video and slides. It takes place in the theater’s lobby and is set up like an art exhibit: the audience can wander between dancers and focus on whatever attracts them the most. And then there’s Pearson and Widrig, a husband-wife team of professors who also run an eponymous company. They’ll be trying out their own experimental material with pieces spotlighting former and current students, including a group of women who serve as a Greek chorus of sorts. The show, Danceworks, is tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. $25. Amanda Abrams is a local dancer and a member of the company Human Landscape Dance. Photo by Tom Caravaglia





Free edom of Express sion, O Or Lac ck The ereof, Toniight and To omorro ow at Claric ce Sm mith Posted by Amanda Abra ams on Feb. 24 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

With the Middle M East roiling with citizens who’v ve had enoug gh of their repressive rule ers, the concepts of free sp peech—or lac ck thereof—a and what it means m to be a prisoner of your own co ounty have moved, once o again, to o front and ce enter. That mak kes Nora Chiipaumire’s timing t uncanny. The Zimb babwean-borrn choreogra apher who livves in self-imposed exile in the t U.S. is sh howing her work w tonight a and tomorrow w night at the e University o of Maryland d’s Clarice Sm mith Center. Though T she’s worked all over this cou untry and is a member off the internatio onally known dance comp pany Urban Bush B Women n, Chipaumire e still grapple es with the difficult is ssues of living g outside herr native coun ntry, which is currently one of the mosst repressive in the world. e, “lions will roar, r swans will w fly, angels s will wrestle e heaven, rain ns will break: gukurahund di,” Her piece focuses directly d on fre eedom of exp pression in Zimbabwe; it’ss a dance, sh he says, “abo out loss, grie ef, displacem ment, trauma a.” Live acco ompaniment to t Chipaumirre’s piece willl be provided d by Thomas s Mapfumo and the Blaccks Unlimited d. A towering figure in the Afro-pop wo orld and crea ator and popu ularizer of chimurenga mu usic, Mapfumo o also lives in n exile in the U.S. His mus sic is banned d in Zimbabw we. Ideally, this performa ance will do wh hat art is ultim mately meantt for: to trans smit, from one e individual d directly to an nother, a word dless expressio on of a unique experience e. In this case e, it’s the exp perience of ccoming from a land where e not even free edom of thought is a given n. A couple of free and intriguing eve ents have bee en scheduled d around the e performancce. Tonight att 7 p.m., UMD ethnomusicology profe essor Fernan ndo Rios willl host a preperformance d discussion in n the Leah M. Smith S Lecturre Hall to disc cuss chimure enga music a and its early d developmentt in the yearss of the Zimba abwean liberration struggle, as well as s its successfful exportatio on around the e world throu ugh the efforts s of musician ns like Mapfu umo. And tomo orrow night at 7 p.m., the university prresents a scrreening of the e filmNora, b by Alla Kovgan and a David Hinton, H also in the Leah M. M Smith Lectture Hall. Shot in southerrn Africa and featuring an original score s by Map pfumo, the film m uses perfo ormance and dance to briing Chipaum mire’s childhood d memories and a history to o life. The perfo ormance is to onight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m. $3 30.

Friday, Feb bruary 18, 2011; 1:47 AM

"LIONS WILL ROAR, R SW WANS WIL LL FLY, A ANGELS W WILL WR RESTLE HEAVE EN, RAINS WILL BREAK: B GUKURAH G HUNDI" Thursdaay-Feb. 25 If you were w able to o get past th he performance's title,, here's what else youu should know about ch horeograph her Nora Ch hipaumire'ss politicallyy charged rroutine: Both Chipaum mire and back king musiccian Thomaas Mapfum mo are livingg as exiles from their native Zimbabw we. In fact, Mapfumo o's band, the Blacks U Unlimited, aare banned by the Zimbabw wean goveernment. With W this bacckdrop, danncer Souleyymane Baddolo perform ms as an ex xpression off displacem ment, grief and a loss. The perfformances begin at 8 p.m. Claricce Smith Peerforming Arts Centeer, Dance Theatre,, University y of Marylaand, Route 193 and S Stadium Driive, Collegge Park. 3011405-278 87. www.cllaricesmith hcenter.umd . $30 . - Alex Baldinger B Â




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A second chance to 'Dance'





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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A second chance to 'Dance' Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center doing choreography with Lucinda Childs by Topher Forhecz | Staff Writer

The only thing minimal about the resurgence of Lucinda Childs' performance piece "Dance" is its style. Between praise from publications like The New York Times and a steady touring schedule since its New York revival two years ago at Bard College's SummerScape art festival, the three-act piece is receiving as much attention as it did when it debuted in 1979.

Photo by Sally Cohn

Revived in 2009, "Dance" is the product of a collaboration between composer Philip Glass, visual artist Sol LeWitt and choreographer Lucinda Childs. The piece debuted in 1979.

Premiering tonight at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, "Dance" combines Childs' choreography with the sounds of composer Philip Glass and the visuals of artist Sol LeWitt. The foundation for "Dance" was laid in the wake of Glass' "Einstein on the Beach," a 1976 opera Childs helped choreograph and performed in. That show marked the first time she had worked with a composer and the success of the show inspired the two to continue collaborating. "Dance" would provide another first, as Childs had never worked with a conceptual artist like LeWitt, best known for creating unique structures and geometric patterns. "Philip knew him and I knew of him," Childs recalls. "He's a visual artist who took a lot of interest in what was going on around him." For "Dance," LeWitt recorded Childs' company during rehearsals. For performances, these[6/15/2011 2:40:41 PM]

A second chance to 'Dance'

recordings were projected onto a large screen behind the dancers on stage. The final effect featured LeWitt's larger-than-life dancers moving along with the live entertainers. With the choreography, Childs hoped to break the era's trend toward narrative dance pieces and get rid of any sense of story. Most choreographers at the time liked to show off their vocabulary and knowledge of dance technique, she says. In contrast, "Dance" showcased how challenging the simplest movements can be. "It's like little ballet steps ... but they're reduced way down. However, how those dancers are having to execute the steps is very difficult because their relationship to each other and their relationship to the music and everything is very precise," Childs says. Paul Brohan, director of artistic initiatives at the Clarice Smith Center, says Glass' composition matches the stripped-down tone of the piece. "It's repetitive, it's mesmerizing and it's informative," he says. "It's amazing to me how ... the choreographic work that Lucinda has done and the creative musical composition that Philip has done [meld] so perfectly together and reflect and complement each other so strongly." Upon its release, "Dance" received mixed reviews from critics. The show's recent success has surprised Childs. "Some people sort of dismissed it 30 years ago as being strange, as something that was not really involving much skill ... At Bard, they certainly wanted to see it again. I didn't realize from that revival almost two years ago that there would be so much interest. We're still continuing to tour with that same revival from two years ago," Childs says. Brohan had heard of Childs and "Dance" at the time of its debut, but did not see it. He hoped to bring the show to the center not only because of Childs' status in the dance community, but also because of buzz the resurgence had stirred up. "To bring a piece back that was from an entirely different nexus of their creative career or their creative focus and bring it back at this point and time, and still have it be of incredible relevance, is really quite a strong statement about what they have been able to create and the contribution they have made to American culture and American art," Brohan says. The only difference between today's "Dance" and the original production is a re-mastering of images captured on LeWitt's 35 millimeter camera and of Glass' soundtrack to a digital format. The choreography and score remain the same, but Brohan notes that it's interesting to compare the subtle differences between the techniques of dancers past and present. "I'm absolutely fascinated in seeing contemporary dancers and the evolution that has occurred in dance technique and in dancers' bodies," he says. Currently, Childs is working on both new and revived productions, including another staging of "Dance" in France. For her, "Dance" is one show in a long career that gets a second act.[6/15/2011 2:40:41 PM]

Dancing with themselves - Diversions - The Diamondback - University of Maryland Top College News

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The Diamondback > Diversions

Dancing with themselves By Andrew Freedman

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


      It seems that some artists run in vicious cycles. They use their material, run out of ideas and then do it all over again. Even then, that's only when it's a safe bet. But the Lucinda Childs Dance Company, who will be performing at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center tomorrow and Friday, aren't working with a remake. Their performance of choreographer Lucinda Childs' 1979 work, Dance, is a revival. That doesn't mean there isn't any creative risk involved. "I think when we originally performed it [in 1979], it was controversial. There were people who felt that it was not a good work. It was criticized," Childs said. "We, of course, didn't feel that way." Dance mixes three mediums: the choreography of Childs, the music of composer Philip Glass and a film by artist Sol LeWitt. The live dancers on stage are accompanied by video footage of dancers performing the choreography.

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Photo courtesy of Sally Cohn/Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"I was very pleased that there was interest in reviving it because it was very exciting for me to be able to work with Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt," Childs said. "For me, that's the best possible combination of artists for a project like this." CSPAC Executive Director Susie Farr believes the relationships between the different art forms are extremely effective. "The most powerful part is the relationship between the live dancers and the physical bodies and the film dancers who, in some sense, are reminders of the past and a little ghost-like," she said. Despite being a revival, the new tour of Dance has a few tweaks compared to the show almost three decades ago. "Originally Sol LeWitt decided to work in film with black and white 35 mm," Childs said. That was for the image to be balanced against natural dancing of the dancers on stage. Because of the lighting and whatnot he wanted both aspects of the production to be well balanced. So now, with this revival, we've transferred over to digital format, hi-definition. That means that the … quality … [is] at the best possible level. That's been exciting, and it's been exciting for me to train a new group to do the work." The soul of the performance, however, is still in place as Childs works with experimental choreography.[6/20/2011 1:16:30 PM]

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Dancing with themselves - Diversions - The Diamondback - University of Maryland

"It's completely abstract," she said. "The main thing going on for me, the main focus for me is the tension between the structure of the music and the choreography and how those things go together." This focus on the artistry is one reason that Farr thinks students will enjoy the performance. "One thing I hope students will understand and embrace when they come to it is that there is no particular story here," she said. "There is nothing they have to get. They can just come and enjoy pure movement and music." Having worked for years in alternative spaces, such as churches, gymnasiums and rooftops, Childs is very happy with how the collaboration of artists in a theatre has worked out. "Ultimately what we decided is that the décor should be the dancers," Childs said. "So I felt very happy with the result, not just the idea but the actual execution of the idea with using film and using the décor with the idea that the décor is the dancers and the dancers on film are synchronized with the dancers on stage." Also unchanged is the actual choreography, though the dancers — many of whom weren't even born when the original work debuted — bring new skills to the performance. "I think that the dancers of today are more versatile," Childs said. "Many of them have come from very different backgrounds while in the '70s we all had our own group working in our own way." While CSPAC is only one of many stops on the tour, Childs finds it particularly important that students experience Dance, as well as other performances. "I find, particularly in the dance world, that it's important for the students to be exposed to professional situations as much as possible," Childs said. "Some of my dancers now have just graduated from NYU, and I'm very pleased to have very young dancers because we're not in such easy times for the performing arts. I feel students need to be encouraged and be given challenges to prepare them for the outside world." Besides the study of dance, Childs believes her collaborators' work are powerful experiences that may pique the curiosity of various audiences. "I'm assuming that they come because they're curious about what kind of collaborations are going on and certainly Sol LeWitt and Phil Glass are certainly two of the major artists in individual arts and in the musical composition," she said. "That in and of itself is something exciting to explore." Farr pointed out there is something for everyone to explore, whether it be choreography, visual arts, theater or music. "I don't think this is just something for arts majors," she said. "I think this is a piece that really could be enjoyable for a larger audience." Overall, the show has been much better received by audiences than it was in 1979, according to Childs. "People have been very positive," Childs said. "It seems that there's been a really warm reception for the piece, which is different from the reception we had 30 years ago." For Childs, reviving Dance and touring with a new group of dancers has been a positive experience, and she is very happy to have it touring once more. "The tour has been going really, really well … it's probably one of the best situations I've had," Childs said. "I have a wonderful group of professionals and dancers working with me right now, so it's great." The Lucinda Childs Dance Company will perform Dance in the Ina and Jack Kay Theatre of CSPAC at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Friday. Tickets are $35 for the public, $9 for students.[6/20/2011 1:16:30 PM]

MUSIC The breadth of musical offerings this spring – jazz, classical, operatic and more – was fully represented in media coverage. Additionally, we made inroads into several media outlets that had not previously covered our programming. The Center’s rich relationship with the Kronos Quartet has included Kronos’s work with student composers from the School of Music, and their annual public reading of student works attracted notice this year from leading critics like the Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith and the Washington Post’s Anne Midgette. Alt/jazz artist Sachal Vasandani was widely reviewed, including a piece in the new media outlet Capital Bop. Pianist Anthony DeMare received attention for his Sondheim project, which was co-commissioned by the Center. And School of Music presentations in opera and classical music were covered by outlets as diverse as The Gazette and DMV Classical.




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Sachal Vasandani was also covered by The Washington Examiner in a preview and an interview.

Interview | Sachal Vasandani: Hard work, drive and an open mind Posted on March 10, 2011 | 1 Comment

Singer Sachal Vasandani performs on Sunday at the University of Maryland. Courtesy ptcentrum

by Giovanni Russonello

This Sunday, the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center presents something that’s never been very easy to find in jazz: a talented male vocalist. On the bill is Sachal Vasandani, a master of the shades between dark and light whose hazy presentation is coated in what might as well be a trumpet mute. Vasandani uses swing like honey in his tea – a tested and comfortable way of adding some pep, but by no means a necessity. And so it’s no surprise that he professes to being a committed eclectic, arguing that musicians ought to “look everywhere” for inspiration. For backing, Vasandani is as fond of a plucked acoustic guitar as he is a classic piano trio. Even when using the latter, the singer might wade in a modern, propulsive groove rather than a classic 4/4 swing feel. I caught up with[6/13/2011 2:53:29 PM]


Interview | Sachal Vasandani: Hard work, drive and an open mind | CapitalBop

Vasandani, who’s based in New York City, for a phone conversation yesterday; he talked about people who have influenced him – from his grandfather to Ella Fitzgerald to the contemporary Brazilian vocalist Seu Jorge – and gave a preview of the band he’ll bring to College Park this weekend. CapitalBop: What are some of your three, four, five top influences musically throughout your life that you’ve aspired to live up to? Sachal Vasandani: There’s been a lot over the years. If I had to boil it down to five people, first iw ould probably say Ella Fitzgerald and then as a young man I would probably say Charlie Parker. In college, I might say Miles [Davis] – I mean it’s pretty generic. But more recently, I might say someone like Keith Jarrett, and then I might throw a wild card in there like Seu Jorge from Brazil. Ella always figures pretty high on the list brcuase she’s the person that got me into singing jazz. CB: What was it that was so special to you about Ella? SV: You know, prior to hearing her for the first time I had been really interested in instrumental jazz, and I hadn’t maybe taken a lot of note of singers, and when I did it just didn’t seem like they got at what instrumental jazz music was able to do. I was just so enamored with improvising and that kind of freedom. And when I heard Ella, she could tell a lyric, she could improvise, she could swing at any tempo – it was like, “Oh, this can be done by a voice.” It was really eye opening, and a pretty spiritually amazing experience, to hear her sing. And then I learned to appreciate slow tempos, and I learned to appreciate lyrics, and I learned to appreciate all the joys of being a singer, which I didn’t quite get at that time. CB: So let’s go 80 years fast-forward. Now you mention a name, Seu Jorge, who’s that incredible Brazilian singer. Is there any commonality between those influences, the way they treat a tune? SV: That’s a great question. You know, I’m always searching for good music, and I’m a big believer that it could come from today, it could come from any part of the world, it could come from yesterday. I’m not hung up on it being from yesterday, but frankly I’m also not hung up on it being from today. There’s a lot of garbage out there today, and there was a lot of garbage back then too. So I think it’s just important for each of us, on our individual journeys, to find what we like, and don’t be opposed to going outside one genre or the other. So for me, Ella, I really, really loved her voice and I loved what she taught me about what the voice can do. With Seu Jorge, it’s actually a similar thing: I love his voice, and he puts his voice into a number of different settings and his music has a strong pulse to it. All these people influenced me, and I try to share that with people by being a sum or a synthesis of all those influences. CB: You’re one of a huge amount of jazz musicians nowadays who aren’t just jazz musicians. You talk about Esperanza Spalding, who just won the Best New Artist Grammy; she’s a jazz musician, if you had to use one genre, but she’s just a musician, really, who does a lot of different things: sings, plays the bass, is influenced by a lot of chamber music and pop. The pop cover is now a huge part of jazz, and you are one of a number of jazz musicians who does the pop cover really well, and also draws on the influences of rock and R&B. Did you ever have a moment when you realized – you said, “Huh, there is a reason why we go outside these boundaries,” or something like that? SV: You know, I think it’s just part of the search for ingenuity, if I can be so[6/13/2011 2:53:29 PM]

Interview | Sachal Vasandani: Hard work, drive and an open mind | CapitalBop

bold, I mean, I think there’s a lot of posers on all sides of the spectrum. And the truth is, there shouldn’t have ever been a time – and I don’t think there’s ever been a time – when people haven’t been looking for expression from outside of one thing: jazz. I love being called a jazz musician. It’s an honor, I feel like it’s a blessing. Esperanza’s a great example, but if you look even just at the jazz category of the people that were nominated, the amount of diversity within the jazz category really gets you questioning, “Well what is this label?” … I mean, look at the Best New Artist. You had Drake, you had Esperanza, you had Justin Bieber, you had Florence and the Machine. They represented so many different styles, so many different perspectives…. So on the one hand, for me to not look outside of jazz for sourcing  material or for inspiration would be disingenuous. I believe that we have to look everywhere…. On the other hand, we also have to be picky, so just because I listen to something and maybe even enjoy it doesn’t mean that it’s going to find its way into my music. I have to know what I do, and I have to see how that prism evolves. CB: You’ve said that your grandparents were your role models when they were alive. Tell me about what you learned from them and how that affects what you do. SV: I’m glad you asked that. You know, there’s a couple different things about my grandparents and just family in general. One thing, my grandfather was a singer; he was a singer of Indian classical music and really knew nothing about jazz. But he did know something about Western classical music and kind of more importantly, he instilled in the whole family a love of the arts, a love of music. And it was a passion for him; he was an amateur singer who had another profession, but he had studied enough singing to know how serious you had to be to do it correctly. It’s also the way that he conducted his general life, and that’s the second thing: The idea of discipline he kind of carried with me. I feel like he didn’t have a lot of fun while pursuing his discipline, and I’m a little bit different that him in that way…. I’m having a lot of fun. But what he instilled in me is, if I’m going to bite off this thing called jazz, anything that takes this much craft just to get to a level of artistic statement or freedom, there’s going to have to be a lot of hard work; a lot of blood, sweat and tears; and a lot of discipline. So he did that in his whole life, but I think he had enough respect for the music that he sang for me to unerstand that if I was going to sing this music I would have to kind of work. CB: That notion of, it is hard work. You’re on the road a lot, and that can be a grind. My next question is, do you like being on the road? Because I know that you’ve said that you wrote most of your compositions that are on “We Move” while you were on tour. Is that setting something you enjoy, and is it something you feed off, and is it a motivation to you? SV: Yeah. This is just a disposition thing, and I talk to other musicians, and maybe stages of their lives [affect this] too, but because I love to perform I think I just naturally at a young age took that to understand that you travel to perform. And so I haven’t really questioned it at all. I know that a lot of folks don’t like to travel. Maybe that changes; I know some guys who are just a bit older … than me that used to like to travel and now they’re like, “Hey, I’m done with this and I want to be at home more.” So who knows, maybe that will come, but I sort of have this appetite for it. I love it so much that it doesn’t really wear on me. And in fact, if I sit around New York for a while I get a bit restless. So I want to be out there performing. It’s not so much the travel and the one-nighters, it’s just the joy of performing. A little bit of psychology here, but I think that if you gave me a six-week run or[6/13/2011 2:53:29 PM]

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Interview | Sachal Vasandani: Hard work, drive and an open mind | CapitalBop

something like I used to do in the old days … and you said, “Stay put, but you perform every night,” that would be the same for me. It’s just the reality of where we are right now where that kind of stuff doesn’t happen. You have maybe four or five nights if you’re lucky, but it’s a lot of one-nighters. And it’s just fine with me. That’s just the way it works, and until that game changes I’m cool, because I just want to be performing all the time. CB: Tell me about the band you’ll be performing with. SV: David Wong is the bass player in my group, and he’s recorded all my records, and he is also, I think, the best young bassist that jazz has to offer right now. And that’s highly biased, but you know, take it from Jimmy Heath or take it from Roy Haynes, who’s used him in the band regularly at the Village Vanguard Orchestra, or Russell Malone, or Ron Carter or Peter Washington…. He’s the man. Young folks don’t really play the bass like he does. We talked about my grandfather; that kind of discipline around the instrument, but then hopefully youthful flexibility to go anywhere – on any journey that someone takes him on, including myself. The guy playing piano is Jeb Patton, who you may know. He’s been out of that area for a while, but originally he’s from the D.C. area; he’s from Maryland, actually…. He’s a motherfucker. He’s also in Jimmy Heath’s band, he’s got his own trio, he’s got his own record out on Max Jazz. He’s one of my best friends because he gets who I am, where I come from and where I’m trying to go. And he’s sympathetic on the instrument like that. He’s patient when I need to express and idea but don’t know how; when I have ideas that I do know what I want he picks it up fast. He’s just a wonderful collaborator. His transcription skills are only outmatched by his playing skills. Young pianists that can play Art Tatum, I don’t know anyone better. Young pianists that know transcriptions of a Roland Hanna, I don’t know anyone better…. The final cat is Pete van Nostrand, who is the drummer. Pete’s been a friend and a great drummer since I’ve moved to New York…. Pete’s just one of those guys that learns the music so fast, and he’s so knowledgeable about the history of the drums and the history of the music. So that’s gotten him gigs with Kenny Barron, and I think he’s playing with Natalie Cole tomorrow, so he’s just a cat. And very, very astute, because my music and my shows tend to go in a few different directions…. Pete gets that and we can swing out with fun and integrity, and then we can do our other stuff and let it be fun and enjoyable. – Sachal Vasandani performs with his quartet at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center this Sunday. Tickets and further information are available here. Like Confirm



This entry was posted in Interviews and tagged DC, Ella Fitzgerald, jazz, Jimmy Heath, Sachal Vasandani, University of Maryland, Washington. Bookmark the permalink.


landmark transcription | May 27, 2011 at 9:33 am | Reply Hey hard work can get you far in life.[6/13/2011 2:53:29 PM]

DCist Preview: Sachal Vasandani Quartet: DCist

DCist Preview: Sachal Vasandani Quartet Jazz vocalists who write their own material is a relative rarity in today's jazz world. Audiences and record labels tend to favor singers who stick to the classic jazz repertoire from decades past. The singers themselves are partly to blame because such a small percentage are willing to take any real risks, which is antithetical to jazz's growth. Sachal Vasandani is an artist who tries to balance all of the tensions that face a contemporary jazz vocalist, juxtaposing his original material and compositions outside of the jazz idiom with more traditional standards. "It’s just a matter of making an over-arching statement," said Vasandani during a recent interview with DCist. "It can be all original or all standards, or in my case, I put my songs up against the standards and if they don’t make it within that arc, that's fine." Vasandani, who was an investment banker on Wall Street in a previous life, will be in the area on Sunday for an evening performance at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Not a stranger to the area, he was a semi-finalist in the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and also made regular appearances at Twins Jazz.

Sachal Vasandani, photo by Raj Naik.

"They were so sweet to us but so overwhelmed with the crowd we brought out," Vasandani said of those gigs. "I remember one time some crazy guy, who was African-American, came up to our drummer, who is also African-American, called him out for not hanging around black people. We laughed about it afterwards." Vasandani is touring in support of We Move, the 2009 follow-up to his debut release, Eyes Wide Open, which he put out in 2007. Sunday's program will feature tunes from both these albums, as well as new material from his forthcoming recording that will be released later this year. The songs will trace not only Vasandani's growth as a singer, but also changes in his outlook. "I think the biggest contrast is that the last record was a look inward, a chance to strip away boundaries between artist and listener," Vasandani explained. "This one is more about sharing, celebrating and telling stories that are a little more general, in a good way. This has more of an outward trajectory." While Vasandani has a fairly consistent line-up for his touring bands, scheduling conflicts are a reality all jazzers must suffer. Sunday's show will feature usual collaborators in area nativeJeb Patton on piano and bassist David Wong. Drummer Pete Van Nostrand, who has played with Vasandani in past, will be subbing for regular Quincy Davis. While his sound is very much true to the jazz tradition, Vasandani's easy-going delivery and smooth voice also make his music totally accessible. That link with the audience is something for which Vasandani strives. "I want someone who is not knowledgeable about jazz to be hopefully as enriched as the person who is up and up," he said. "The idea of a live show is that you can connect emotionally, you can be entertained, you can find something to think about. With me it's a matter of connecting with people and not really worryingDERXW ZKDWEURXJKWWKHPWKHUH[6/20/2011 10:55:54 AM]



Scoring Sondheim: Anthony De Mare brings a sneak peek of his project re-imagining Stephen Sondheim for piano to the Smith Center: Music section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper


Scoring Sondheim Anthony De Mare brings a sneak peek of his project re-imagining Stephen Sondheim for piano to the Smith Center by Doug Rule Published on March 24, 2011

Anthony De Mare prefers to know the score before seeing a show. ''[As a kid] I used to just go to the record store and go to the Broadway bin and see what was brand new and just buy it, cold, without knowing anything about it,'' he says. De Mare, who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., discovered Stephen Sondheim this way, memorizing soundtracks to Sunday In The Park with George, Pacific Overtures and Company before he ever saw them on stage. Even now, as a contemporary classical pianist, Sondheim still draws him. ''With all the new music I've played and all the commissioning I've done and work with so many composers, [Sondheim's] music is the one that keeps coming back to me,'' says De Mare. "His music runs through my mind all the time.'' De Mare calls his current project, ''Liaisons: Re-imagining Sondheim for the Piano,'' a ''career realization.'' The project involves 30 composers, drawn from the realms of classical, pop, theater, jazz, even film, each picking a Sondheim song to adapt for solo piano. Next Saturday, April 2, at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Anthony De Mare Center, De Mare will play a sneak peek of 14 of the arrangements. A total of 36 will be performed next year in New York, accompanied by a recording. Surprisingly, this has never been done before.[6/15/2011 3:13:02 PM]

Scoring Sondheim: Anthony De Mare brings a sneak peek of his project re-imagining Stephen Sondheim for piano to the Smith Center: Music section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper

''I know there are different versions of his pieces [but] never for solo piano,'' says De Mare. Unlike George Gershwin or Cole Porter, no one has taken on Sondheim's music. A major hurdle is that most people think of Sondheim as a lyricist and a composer. Sondheim's sophisticated lyrics often overpower his sharp music in people's imagination. ''There's so much attention put on the lyrics that people I don't think really put as much emphasis on the music,'' says De Mare. ''The emphasis [of the project] is really ‌ to take the attention basically off the lyrics and put it on his writing as a composer.'' De Mare considers Sondheim ''one of the great American composers, right up there with Copeland, John Cage, Samuel Barber, Bernstein. ... I put him as one of the major forces of the 20th and 21st century.'' Sondheim has been surprised by the level of interest in this project among notable composers, including Milton Babbitt, William Bolcom, Ricky Ian Gordon, Steve Reich, Bernadette Speach and David Shire. ''He's very excited and humbled, if you will, by the idea that so many of these composers were interested in setting his melodies,'' says De Mare. De Mare solicited Sondheim's input on composer selection, and has kept Sondheim apprised as things develop. A couple months ago Sondheim stopped by De Mare's studio to hear a few of the compositions. ''He seemed very delighted with what he was hearing,'' De Mare says. ''I'm assuming he's going to have his thoughts here and there, pro and con about some of the pieces, but he hasn't said anything negative thus far.'' De Mare initially tinkered with making his own arrangements of Sondheim for piano. His first attempt in the mid-'80s was a piano arrangement of ''Children and Art." ''It was okay," says De Mare. "I wasn't that pleased with it..., [but it] was a good exercise in getting the project started.'' Of the 14 pieces completed so far, De Mare notes, ''I haven't received one I haven't liked. Even the producer has said, 'Gee, we're batting a good number here.''' De Mare, who is gay and lives in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, is also on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and New York University. He struggles to balance all the work plus a long-time relationship -- and the couple's large Pomeranian. ''It seems like life revolves around walking the dog,'' he laughs. Before De Mare started the Sondheim project in 2006, he had become known as ''the speaking/singing pianist.'' He still performs De Profundis, the piece Frederic Rzewski composed for him with an oratorio based on Oscar Wilde's last letter from prison. He's also performed another piano piece incorporating spoken word drawn from Allen Ginsberg. He will not employ the technique for the Sondheim performance. There is, however, one surprise on the bill, a piece by a comedic off-Broadway composer. ''I will just say that he's done something very unusual with one of the songs,'' says De Mare.[6/15/2011 3:13:02 PM]

Re-imagining greatness




Maryland Community News Online

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Re-imagining greatness




HOMES Anthony de Mare to showcase Sondheim by Topher Forhecz | Staff Writer

Anthony de Mare knows perfection can't be improved, but it can be re-imagined. This was the acclaimed pianist's thought process in the 1980s when he first conceived of a project that would reinterpret the works of celebrated lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim. On Saturday, the first batch of works from de Mare's "Liaison: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano" project will be performed for audiences at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Each of the 14 pieces was reworked by composers de Mare asked to join the project. For de Mare, the project's purpose is to honor a man whose lyricism in works such as "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and "West Side Story" tends to be more widely acknowledged than his musicianship. "So much emphasis has been put on his lyrics because he's so brilliant — such a genius at lyrical writing. I felt he was one of the most important American composers and I felt there should be emphasis put on his music lines and how he writes the songs," de Mare says.

photo: Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Fourteen of the intended 36 songs from Anthony de Mare's project "Liaisons:Re-imagining Sondheim" will beperformed this Saturday.

A music professor at the Manhattan School of Music and New York University, de Mare began putting his plan into motion four years ago. He compiled a list of composers with backgrounds not just in classical music, but also theater, jazz and film. Sondheim approved all 36.[6/15/2011 3:34:05 PM]




Re-imagining greatness

"He seemed very thrilled by the idea," de Mare says. "And humbled by the fact that so many composers would want to take his melodies." The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner in music, Paul Moravec was one of the composers de Mare asked to join his endeavor. The University Professor at Adelphi University says de Mare was very specific in his instruction that he didn't want the songs to be so deconstructed audiences couldn't recognize them. Moravec chose "Losing my Mind" from Sondheim's 1971 musical "Follies." "I've always admired that song as I think it's a perfect song," Moravec says. "It cannot be improved." Although Moravec's reworking is strictly instrumental, the song's message of unrequited love and obsession was something he hoped to mimic. Moravec took a certain motive from the original melody and used it as the anchor of his piece. "You hear the first verse of the song straight through with some arrangement. [It's] quite recognizable and then the motive comes back ...and then the piece loses its mind," Moravec says. The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center also played a role in commissioning pieces and will be identified as the commissioner for all subsequent performances according to director of artistic initiatives Paul Brohan. Artists commissioned by the center include Jake Heggie, Bernadette Speach and Kenji Bunch. Brohan says the center chose these three artists because of their range in style and popularity. Heggie, for instance, has been receiving buzz recently for his work on "Moby-Dick" with the Dallas Opera and Speach is considered more of an avant-garde composer. "Kenji writes in a much more contemporary style that's probably a bit more idiosyncratic of what is happening in music now," Brohan says. "I think Jake has probably a little bit more — because of his strong base in composing for opera amongst other things — probably a little bit more of a melodic line." On Monday, audiences can attend a discussion with de Mare, Speach and Moravec, elaborating on their roles and approaches to the project. De Mare plans to showcase all works from "Liaisons: Reimagining Sondheim from the Piano" in April 2012 with a special three-concert event in New York City's Symphony Space. While those participating in "Liaisons: Re-imagining Sondheim from the Piano" will add their own touch to the music, the common factor is a composer who has proven in his more than 50-year career that he knows what a good showtune sounds like.[6/15/2011 3:34:05 PM]




Washington Post, April 10, 2011

‘The Barber'




Maryland Community News Online


Thursday, April 7, 2011

‘The Barber' A trip to by Topher Forhecz | Staff Writer

One of the legends surroundingGioachino Rossini's "IlBarbiere di Siviglia" or "TheBarber of Seville" is that it took the prolific operacomposer only 12 days tocomplete his two-act comedy. Even if the opera were writtenin less than two weeks, itdoesn't feel that way to thestudents of the University of Maryland School ofMusic's Maryland Opera Studio who will perform itat the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center onFriday. "It takes more than that to learn it," singer DavidBlalock says. "I can tell you that much." A second-year graduate student at the University ofMaryland, Blalock is one of two Figaros cast in theproduction.

In the story, Figaro comes to the aid of a youngcount named Almaviva who hopes to win the favor of the young Rosina by virtue of his personality and not his wealth. The opera will be performed in Italian with English subtitles. Although Blalock is not fluent, Italian is one of four languages opera students must study, and he works with instructors on proper enunciation. The key, he says, is repetition. "I don't walk around without having a Rossini tune in my head this semester," Blalock says. "The Barber of Seville" has been one of the most performed operas in America since its debut in the early 19th century. As such, certain traditions have been established that director Pat Diamond hoped to break for this production. In the first act, when Figaro approaches the count and tells him to disguise himself as a soldier so he can be stationed in the same home as Rosina, Diamond decided to have Blalock depart from the typically lighthearted manner in which the plot is hatched.[6/15/2011 3:41:04 PM]

‘The Barber'

"It's tradition that I explain it sloppily and very drunk and at one point I hiccup, but with the way we're playing it — with the stakes very high — instead of making it a joke, we make it kind of serious," Blalock explains. The humor of the love story, based on the 1775 play, Pierre Beaumarchais' "Le Barbier de Seville," Diamond says, is one reason the opera has become so popular. "Anyone in the audience can relate to the need that these two characters — the count and Rosina — have to be together and all of the obstacles that they overcome in order to make that happen," he says. Accompanying Diamond is conductor Miah Im, a faculty member at the University of Toronto and former music director of the Maryland Opera Studio. She and Diamond first met at the Aspen Music Festival in 1999. "Pat's one of my favorite directors to work with. There's an enormous amount of mutual respect," Im says. "I think what was really interesting for us when we were discussing this piece before we had even begun to stage, before we had even started musical rehearsal. I really felt we were on the same page musically and dramatically speaking." Im says she finds Rossini more difficult to conduct than Mozart, to whom the Italian is often compared. Rossini was inspired by Mozart, who died in 1791 — a year before his birth. Im says both composers had an appreciation for strong melodies. What makes "The Barber of Seville" so difficult, she observes, is that singers are allowed to embellish some of their parts. "The orchestra also has to be extremely spontaneous, sensitive and responsive to how the singers are singing. I really don't delineate between the singers and the orchestra," Im says. "I consider them one entity." To help prepare her players, Im has the orchestra sing lines from the opera during some rehearsals. "I am of the firm belief that if you can't sing what you're playing, then you have no idea how to play it," Im says.[6/15/2011 3:41:04 PM]





Music review: Kronos Quartet’s ‘America Program’ By Anne Midgette, Published: April 12 The Kronos Quartet’s “America Program” at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Sunday night did a lot more than just present American music. It offered some thoughtful perspectives on what it means to be American — without lecturing, without analysis, simply through music. It may have been the best match of idea and execution I’ve heard from Kronos, ever. Kronos, of course, is the original rock band of string quartets. It plays contemporary music and makes it feel like pop, down to the exemplary production values of Sunday’s concert: The lighting design gently supported the music with a dash of color, a single projected image or a gesture as simple as intensifying the beam of a spotlight at the moment when Johnston’s fourth quartet, “Amazing Grace,” entered its coda. But I’ve heard Kronos plenty of times in the past, and I’ve never been quite so pleased with the experience. David Harrington, the violinist who founded the group in 1973 and its lone original member, has a shaggy, slightly hoarse way with the violin that I’ve been critical of. On Sunday, though, this rough touch gave the program a homespun air that was eminently appropriate. The music was contemporary, but the America that it depicted was not. This concert was not about nationalism but iconography. Its America was a can-do, eager place: the America of Reginald Marsh, of WPA murals, of hobos crossing the country on trains — literally depicted in the final piece, Harry Partch’s “U.S. Highball: A Musical Account of Slim’s Transcontinental Hobo Trip.” It started with Johnston’s “Amazing Grace,” which to my ear evoked various moments of the American experience through many kinds of music, all centering on the familiar hymn tune. It began with a busy industriousness, like a barn-raising, with the four instruments actively working away at their parts, passing the theme around without letting it distract any of them from the task at hand, letting their individual voices intersect without compromising individual integrity. The sounds ultimately

streamlined into metallic, Jet Age swoops before finally, at the very end, cycling back to a brief evocation of the beginning. Missy Mazzoli’s “Harp and Altar” also went back to an earlier America, channeling an excerpt of Hart Crane’s poem “The Bridge: To the Brooklyn Bridge,” with taped vocals by singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane (both Mazzoli and Kahane are hot properties among New York’s young musicians) emerging from the busy choir of strings. Steve Reich’s “WTC 9/11,” which Kronos gave its world premiere last month, treats a more recent past. Reich is a composer who follows his interests doggedly, one step at a time, to new places; this piece combined his signature juxtaposition of taped and live instruments to the manipulation of the spoken word, in a sober memorial, as sad and brief as the catastrophe of Sept. 11 itself and as compact as a gravestone. Reich worked with the taped voices of eyewitnesses, from the air traffic controllers who first noticed a plane heading in the wrong direction — the spaces between their words extended in a static blur over a repeating, jagged alarm tone from the violins — to the people who followed Jewish tradition by sitting Shmira for months over the unburied remains of victims. The repetition of the taped words, echoed in music by the strings, becomes a portrayal of the act of remembering: the sound of people trying to get their testimony right, creating a tale that will be told again. After the break came voices of the dead: “Structures,” a tough, beautiful piece by Morton Feldman, with individual notes and chords suspended sweet and full and translucent as green grapes (“It should sound like Schubert!” Harrington told the audience Feldman said), and Partch’s long hobo piece, arranged by Johnston. The composer and singer David Barron sports a hobo-like fuzzy gray beard and performed the lead quite brilliantly, while the strings offered energetic onomatopoeia. This is quintessential American mythmaking, the narrative of a hobo making his way to Chicago; it was doubtless my own limitation that my lack of interest in the story led to my finding this putative masterpiece slightly tedious. The piece, however, was a perfect cap to the theme of this eminently worthwhile evening. The Kronos Quartet will perform public readings of works by student composers at the University of Maryland at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Tuesday. © The Washington Post Company

Clef Notes and Drama Queens: Kronos Quartet's association with Clarice Smith Center includes two free events this week - Classical music and theater in Baltimore: Critic Tim Smith writes about classical...

The Baltimore Sun >  Entertainment  >  Music  >  Clef Notes & Drama Queens

About Tim Smith Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

Kronos Quartet's association with Clarice Smith Center includes two free events this week The contemporary music scene would sure have been a lot less interesting over the years without the Kronos Quartet doing its high-level advocacy. The brilliant, ever-inquisitive ensemble has developed close ties to the University of Maryland's School of Music and the Clarice Smith Center, where there was a Kronos concert Sunday night featuring Steve Reich's new, 9/11-based piece (I couldn't make it, so if any of you were there, please send me your thoughts). This week, you can catch what are billed as "free engagement events" at the center. On Tuesday at 8, the Kronos Quartet will give a ... public reading of works by student composers, which has got to be awfully cool for the composers and should be fascinating for the audience. And, as a kind of prelude to Tuesday's event, at 5:30, Kronos artistic director David Harrington will give a public "listening party" -- he'll share some of the works he's considering for the group and discuss the process of choosing repertoire. Free admission to both presentations. PHOTO (by Jay Blakesberg) COURTESY OF CLARICE SMITH CENTER Posted by Tim Smith at 11:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)  






Post a comment[6/15/2011 3:51:02 PM]

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least). Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.





Keeping it real





Maryland Community News Online

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011

Keeping it real Clarice Smith's spring schedule tackles some gritty subjects by David Hill | Staff Writer

The upcoming spring season at the University of Maryland, College Park's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center features artists from as close as the university and Prince George's County to as far away as Ireland.

The center, which opened in 2001, plans to host dozens of theatrical, music and dance productions from late January to May. The season will offer a captivating blend of university productions and visiting performers, said Paul Brohan, the center's director of artistic initiatives.

Ros Kavanagh/Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Terminus is a contemporary verse play, which explores a stark yet imaginative idea of contemporary alternative Irish urban lifestyles, provoking passionate responses from Dublin to Melbourne to the American shores. From left, Catherine Walker, Declan Conlon and Olwen Fouere are part of the Abbey Theatre, an Irish company scheduled to perform in College Park in March.

"We have a very intentional mix of what we present," Brohan said. "It mirrors the mission of the center overall ... to transform lives through sustained engagement with the arts." Play tells story of recovering Iraq veteran Among the season's early highlights is "Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter," which is produced by UM's School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies and is scheduled to run for eight shows from Feb. 11 to 19. The play — written by Los Angeles playwright Julie Marie Myatt — tells the story of Jenny Sutter, an injured Marine who returns home from Iraq with an amputated leg and struggles to make sense of her experiences and adjust to her new life. UM theater professor Leslie Felbain, who will direct the school's production, said she was drawn[6/15/2011 3:56:04 PM]

Keeping it real

to the play's depiction of the struggles manyveterans go through, as well as the role their communities play in helping them to heal. In theplay, Sutter is comforted by residents of Slab City, an abandoned Marine barracks-turned-trailer park. "I loved the play. It just made sense to me," saidFelbain, who will preside over a 12-student cast. She said she was further inspired by her personalexperience meeting a friend whose son lost an arm in Afghanistan. "The piece is very hopeful in how fellow human beings can help each other, and that healing is possible within a community." Irish production While "Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter" features a dozen on-campus performers, actors will come to College Park all the way from Ireland on March 17 to 18, as the Abbey Theatre puts on two productions of "Terminus." The century-old, Dublin-based theater company will visit the campus as one of several stops on its U.S. tour. The play uses interlocking monologues to tell the story of a middle-aged woman, her estranged daughter and a serial killer who are thrown into a world of angels and demons. "The play is pretty hard-hitting and gritty in the way it treats urban culture," Brohan said. "[The Abbey Theatre] is a very tradition-rich company that's not often seen in the U.S." PBS, NPR to feature youth musicians The center also plans to highlight young musicians, both locally and nationally, as it hosts a taping of the PBS and National Public Radio series "From the Top" on April 16. The program features classical instrumentalists and vocalists ages 8 to 18, as they perform and reveal their stories and personalities through interviews. The show, which premiered in 2000, is hosted by pianist Christopher O'Riley, who conducts interviews and often provides musical accompaniment. Its 90-minute shows typically feature five artists or groups, and are edited down to a one-hour broadcast. "The extraordinary experience of actually seeing these world-class performances come out of a 12year-old kid is really remarkable," O'Riley said. "It is my job to make them as comfortable as I can. They have very different personalities and express their interests in music in very different ways." O'Riley said the program aims to profile the young artists, while also widening appreciation of classical music within all age groups. He said the typical "From the Top" audience features adults and children, the type of crowd that is rarely seen at a typical classical concert. "It seeks to be more inclusive," O'Riley said. "Their peers see a kid who has played violin for three or four years, and the impression they get is, ‘Gee, if I found something I was passionate about, I could do anything.' We're pretty proud of that." CSPAC also plans to host numerous student productions and orchestra recitals, as well as visiting performances including Radio Macbeth — a play about actors who nearly go mad when visited by ghosts of past performers during a rehearsal on Feb. 4 and 5; and a one-woman show by actress Anna Deavere Smith on March 8 and 9.[6/15/2011 3:56:04 PM]

University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Published on American Composers Alliance (

University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center receives Award for Adventurous Programming from CMA and ASCAP Date:Â 01/13/2011 - 12:00am - 01/15/2011 - 12:00am

University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center [1] presented co-commissions from Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, Paul Dresher, Daniel Kelly, and others, as well as performances by Kronos Quartet and Joshua Redman. The center was also cited for its Creative Dialogues series with artists and scholars, its pre and post performance activities, artist residencies, and "You're the Critic" e-surveys. Chamber Music America and ASCAP will honor the Cetner, along with seven other organizations, at the Chamber Music America National Conference [2]in January, 2011. Frances Richard, ASCAP's vice president and director of concert music, will present the awards, given for sistinctive programming of music composed in the past 25 years, and for originality in presenting new music to audiences. The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland is a vibrant community of artists, students and audiences, where great work happens both on- and offstage. It presents approximately 1,000 events each year spanning all performing arts disciplines.

All content on this site Š 2010 by ACA and by individual authors. All rights reserved.

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YOU’RE THE CRITIC On a weekly basis, the Clarice Smith Center gathers qualitative feedback from critical reviews, campus and community partners and participants. As part of a national research project, we have instituted regular e-surveys following performances, entitled "You’re the Critic," which enable us to assess the impact of these arts experiences on individuals. This direct feedback is posted on the Center’s website, and in many of the responses, patrons praise the Center not only for bringing specific shows or artists to campus, but also for our overall approach to presenting.


RADIO MACBETH “Astounding, brilliant, and profoundly imaginative. A reworking of a great play. Simultaneously classic and contemporary.” “This was the best performance of Macbeth I have ever seen. The company was amazing. What a breath of fresh air for someone who has seen the play at least 10 times in her life.” “Excellent. I especially enjoyed the talk with the director beforehand. It really enhanced my enjoyment of the performance.” “As with most Shakespeare, it took me awhile to get into the idea of it all. The actors were terrific, and the staging was really interesting. It really made you think about the different levels at which a performance is given.” “A well spent, enjoyable evening. Radio Macbeth was a great performance. The company did a great job and stayed true to the Bard. The acting was superb. Hope you bring SITI back soon.”



“Moving, very well done, as usual. Speaking with the Marine after the play was the perfect way to drive home the message of the play. After more than 30 consecutive years of purchasing season tickets, you still continue to improve play and set quality.” “The show was very thought-provoking. Like many people I thought I was aware of the issues our troops can face when they return from combat, but this play made me very painfully aware of how naive I have allowed myself to be. All of the performers were good, and a few of them were exceptional. When you catch yourself feeling for the actor what you felt for his character it is clear the actor mastered his character. Congratulations to all who were involved. I had to come back and see it again. Everything was very efficient, and the staff was very friendly.” “The performance was wonderful. The design was innovative, different, interesting, and exciting. Everything was realistic from the acting to the lighting effects and audio.”



“It was wonderful. Whoever came up with the idea to show pix of Shostakovich, Stalin etc. should be complimented; those along with the lighting effects and even the orchestra's red & black clothes made for nice surprise effect atop the power of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. Very moving (I admit to shedding tears of emotion at the end). The piano soloist in the Rachmaninoff was excellent; listening to her, and the entire young orchestra, play makes someone like me who's loved classical music for 55 years believe that there is still hope for it in the future, despite declining/aging audiences (seeing all the young folks in the audience is encouraging, too).” “The energy was thrilling. The musicians and the conductor seemed quite passionate about the pieces, and that carried over into the performance.” “I have seen a lot of UMSO concerts since the Performing Arts Center opened and this one was one of the best. Ross' interpretation of the Shostakovich was brilliant and UMSO did a wonderful job of portraying the emotion which that symphony evokes. Very wonderful evening.” “Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a favorite of mine, and it was performed beautifully! Selections such as the Rachmaninoff are what keep me coming back.”



“Phenomenal - so glad you can offer this to students - as well as the community. Still, your student prices are wonderful and offer the chance to see real genius at work. Smith is everything you could hope for as a genius - reaches in and touches my heart.” “Anna Deavere Smith was a phenomenal performer. The performance was thought-provoking, moving, and even funny. She is extraordinarily charismatic. I will make sure to see her whenever she comes to town and will pay more attention to Nurse Jackie.” “Anna Deavere Smith was EXCELLENT. She gave moving and interactive performances. It was nice to see her exchange with the Mr. Nossel who was the moderator for the after-performance discussion. I was pleased to be able to ask Anna Deavere Smith a question during the audience question segment. From the box office to the ushers, to the young man who sold me two of Anna's books, everyone was polite and wonderful.” “This was one of the most important and thought-provoking performances/discussions I have ever attended. The performer was marvelous: talented, compassionate, smart, and wholly herself. I loved it, and I will think about it for a long time.””


IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (THE BARBER OF SEVILLE) “Fantastic soprano, and the orchestra were superlative. Great show, great pianist, and outstanding conductor. The best ticketing operation ever, and such civility! Don’t change a thing.” “Outstanding! As good or better than anything I’ve seen at the Kennedy Center, even as a season ticket holder.” “We loved it. We have no access to live opera and very much appreciate getting to witness the enthusiasm and talent your studio develops.” “It was just wonderful! I can’t imagine anything that could have been better. The orchestra was great, the singers’ voices absolutely beautiful. Something extra that I think was really special is the quality of the acting and the staging!” “This was my first opera, and I was blown away! I couldn’t believe I was watching a student performance, as surely the performers are first rate! The acting and singing were beautiful, and the orchestra impressive. I loved every single minute of it. Thank you so much!”


DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL (ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO) “I loved the energy, humor, and fine singing. I liked the small theatre and the chance to see the performance up close.” “Really great singing and orchestra. And very funny too. Totally enjoyed the experience. I can’t believe that these aren’t professional actors out there! “Brilliant show. What talent! Extraordinary value for such a low ticket price.” “What a treat! I’m learning so much about opera and enjoying it. Thank you.” “Outstanding vocals and acting, and a successful innovative restructuring of the plot.”


THE AMERICA PROGRAM “Innovative music, unique sound, and really imaginative performance. Also, customer service is always stellar!” “I’ve been a fan of Kronos since college, in the early 1990s. I saw them perform when I was in school, but hadn’t seen them in a live performance since then, until last night. It was a thrilled performance, and I look forward to seeing them again at UMD.” “The musicians in the quartet have extraordinary talent to play these various diverse works. Although I can’t say I “liked” the music, it certainly made me think and concentrate. I am an amateur composer and this concert certainly expanded my horizons.” “I really enjoyed the performance – it was very moving. I hope to see the Kronos Quartet at CSPAC again in the future.” “It is the Kronos Quartet playing modern music in an amazing space. What else is there to say! Also, the only ticketing store is well done. It is easy to navigate, secure, simple, and attractive.”



“It was fantastic. It took a very brave, original, and creative person to produce it. The combination of arts (film, dance, technology) was inspiring. The images of dancers and the real dancers merged so that you couldn’t tell which was which. Is the imagination more real than reality? Both are needed for art, imagination, and the real ability to create. The dance movements were great.” “Lucinda Childs’ Dance was one of the most compelling, transcendent performances of any kind I have ever seen. It blew me away!” “Absolutely incredible! Very beautiful and an important piece of history. The music was wonderful also. It was extra special to have the choreographer there.” “Excellent multi-media blend of dance, film, and music. As a fan of Philip Glass, it was very nice to see the motion of the music interpreted in dance, with a very creating and stunning use of film.” “Stunning, fascinating, and imaginative.”


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