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FORGING A FIRE WITHIN
A young man inspires us to ignite our internal passion as he communes with the age-old traditional art of blacksmithing. Paying homage to his mentors, the teenaged artist describes the love and discipline required to create something that is beautiful and functional.
MIGHTY HEART OF LILLIAN DEJEAN
Never underestimate how much power can be packed in a small punch.
HONDROS AND MAHLER: PHOTOGRAPHY AND MUSIC Art inspires art: an internationally known, award-winning photographer stays grounded and finds inspiration from classical music while documenting the best and worst in humanity.
Delve into the experiences and inspiration for this famed jewelry designer, who is a true artist turned successful entrepreneur bringing beauty in many forms for us to enjoy.
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A THEORY OF PATIENCE AND EXCELLENCE
The man behind the scenes at ASO&C: Emil Ivanov talks about consistency, music and life.
MUSICIAN, FIRST AND FOREMOST
With the help of passion and persistence and by pushing aside fear, one man achieves greatness in music and business.
COLLABORATION IS KEY
Don Begnaud, local welder turned giant precision metal fabricator, demonstrates that creativity, dedication and partnership lead to success in business and in art.
4 Summer 2015
FINE JEWELRY & DISTINCTIVE GIFTS
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contents 8 OPENING NOTES Jenny Krueger, Executive Director 10 FANFARE Mariusz Smolij, Music Director & Conductor 18 BLACK AND RED CUSTARD CLAFOUTIS George Graham from AcadianaTable.com Shares His Recipe for Father’s Day 44 SYMPHONY SEAUXCIAL HIGHLIGHTS Les Misérables with ASO and ULL Opera Theater Company 46 COMMUNITY SEAUXCIAL HIGHLIGHTS Grouse Room Preview Opening
TICKETS: www.acadianasymphony.org 6 Summer 2015
Summer 2015 Vol. 2, No. 9
Dunn’s Furniture & Interiors can help transform any space indoor or outdoor!
EDITOR Jenny Krueger firstname.lastname@example.org
PROJECT MANAGER Rebecca Doucet email@example.com
WRITERS Emily Brupbacher Johanna B. Divine Ann B. Dobie Marisa Olson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Carolyn Brupbacher firstname.lastname@example.org • 337.277.2823
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS George Graham Mariusz Smolij
INTERN Danielle Ducrest MAILING ADDRESS 412 Travis Street Lafayette, LA 70503
EMAIL email@example.com ON THE WEB acadianasymphony.org
Overture Magazine is published nine times a year and distributed free of charge by Acadiana Symphony Orchestra & Conservatory of Music. No parts of this periodical may be reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of Overture Magazine. The owners, publishers, and editors shall not be responsible for loss or injury of any submitted manuscripts, promotional material and/or art. Unsolicited material may not be returned. Advertising in Overture Magazine does not imply endorsement by Overture Magazine or Acadiana Symphony Orchestra & Conservatory of Music. Overture Magazine reserves the right, without giving specific reason, to refuse advertising if copy does not conform with the editorial policies. Overture Magazine does not necessarily agree with nor condone the opinions, beliefs or expressions of our writers and advertisers. Neither the publishers nor the advertisers will be held responsible for any errors found in the magazine. The publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.
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The Value of a Moment Jenny Krueger, Executive Director
The older I get, the quicker the days seem to pass. I make the most of the life I have been given, but sometimes, I still feel like I’m missing it. I can’t take it all in. I can’t remember it all. One of the reasons I love Overture so much is because I can revisit some of the stories I found most inspirational or entertaining. I like reliving the memory of something really good. This issue of Overture is full of our Fan Faves. These stories spoke to our readers because they were such good stories. In case you loved them or missed them the first time around, I hope you are inspired by the memories we relive in this issue. One of the most moving stories is about one lady named Lillian DeJean, who inspires her teacher, Bonnie Camos, and all of us to be better, do more and be grateful for all we have. Though I didn’t personally know Chris Hondros, reading about how his passion for classical literature, music and his mastery of photography became his legacy inspires me to look at and think about my own legacy.
You will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. ~ Dr. Seuss
Also, meet two of our favorite professionals by day and artists by night. John Casbon speaks to us all through the sound of his harmonica, and we make new memories with the help of culinary wizard George Graham from AcadianaTable.com, who shares a special Father’s Day recipe of Black and Red Custard Clafoutis with us for the first time. This issue is sure to satisfy all of your senses. Thank you once again for your readership and support of Overture over the past two years. We look forward to many more favorites!
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Symphony 101: Top Ten Classics for Summer Listening Mariusz Smolij, Music Director and Conductor
Summer can be the perfect time to catch up on your classics! With easy access to many internet sites offering large libraries of classical music audio and video recordings, getting to know the most famous musical literature is simpler than ever. The list below includes my personal favorite works and performers. It does not, however, include any of the compositions I recommended in the past or recent ASO repertoire, so the introductory list keeps growing for our faithful readers while hopefully attracting new interest.
of the highest order. The Prelude was also the turning point for the development of modern music.
1. W.A. Mozart – Overture to “The Abduction from the Seraglio” (Vienna Philharmonic/Böhm) Genius of Mozart, elegance of Vienna and musical colors of Turkey!
6. B. Smetana – Dances from the opera The Bartered Bride (Prague Philharmonic/Neumann) A perfect marriage of traditional folk dances and symphonic music. Czech musical traditions at its best.
2. L. van Beethoven – “Egmont Overture” (Berlin Philharmonic/Karajan) Power of Beethoven paired with rhythmic drive and lyricism of unparalleled expression.
7. P. Tchaikovsky – “Violin Concerto in D Major” (Moscow Philharmonic/D. Oistrakh) Most frequently performed symphonic composer in America and one of the most beloved concertos of all times. The music dances and sings with unparalleled charm.
3. J. Strauss Jr. – Overture to “The Gypsy Baron” (Vienna Philharmonic/Kleiber) The best from the 8. M. Rózsa – Suite from Ben Hur (Cincinnati world of central European operetta, spiced by accents of Symphony/Kunzel) One of the most famous and Gypsy music. memorable symphonic works written to accompany a motion picture. All the power of the movie can be heard 4. J. Brahms – “Academic Festival Overture” (Berlin in Rózsa’s musical score. Philharmonic/Karajan) Famous Brahms concert opener featuring the official “Gaudeamus” academic hymn and quotations from student drinking songs, exemplifying the composer’s great craft as well as his sense of humor.
5. C. Debussy – “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” (Montreal Symphony/Dutoit) Debussy’s music = Monet’s paintings, the beauty of French impressionism 10 Summer 2015
9. G. Gershwin – “An American in Paris” (New York Philharmonic/Bernstein) A modern symphonic poem and early marriage of symphonic sounds with jazz. 10. J. Adams – “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” (San Francisco Symphony/T. Thomas) A perfect example of an exciting symphonic work by a contemporary American composer. Overture Magazine
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Forging a Fire Within
Emily Brupbacher, Photos by Lucius A. Fontenot
Some might say that a young man like Sam Riehl was destined to be an artist—the high school senior comes from a supportive, creative family and was encouraged in his artistic endeavors as a child. But Riehl’s talent and success as a visual artist and blacksmith are a result of more than just an artistic pedigree. Determination, patience, and dedication are some of the characteristics of a great blacksmith, one who creates and works with metal, and they are qualities that Riehl has in abundance. Sam Riehl, a senior at Saint Thomas More Catholic High School, is quick to acknowledge that, like any visual artist, he strives to create something aesthetically appealing. However, he also concedes that blacksmithing requires a bit more. “As an artist, I desire for my work to be visually appealing, and as a metal worker I require it to be structurally sound,” Riehl explains. “But it is as a blacksmith that I strive to infuse both form and function. This is where blacksmithing differs from many other art forms. Not only must I be concerned with the visual aspect of a piece, but also the function of it.” Although blacksmithing may be a small niché of the visual arts, Riehl begins to create in the same way as other artists—with a blank piece of paper. “Typically, I begin in a sketchbook,” he says. “I play around with ideas, I tweak designs, I work through both visual and mechanical issues. A prototype comes next, and after more tweaking, a final piece.” It’s an exacting process that requires patience and skill. “Blacksmithing demands a broad skill set: an eye for composition, an understanding of metal, and a will to keep going,” says Riehl. Collaboration is also a key part of the creative process. 12 Summer 2015
“I brainstorm with people and get their opinions,” Riehl says. He is quick to show gratitude to the artists and mentors that have inspired and helped guide him through his artistic development. These people include his mother, Angela, who is an art educator at Saint Thomas More and a lampworking glass artist and jewelry artist, as well as mentors like blacksmith Richard Delahoussaye from Carencro. “Richard has become one of the best teachers, mentors, and friends I have ever had,” Riehl says. “He didn’t emerge from a classroom; he didn’t emerge from my family or direct community, and he was neither one of my parents nor one of their friends. He came from the most unlikely of places and has changed my life for the better. He has taught me everything ‘blacksmith,’ from how to draw a taper to how I should conduct myself in business situations. The skills I have learned from this man will serve me until the day I die, and no measure of gratitude could possibly convey a proper thank you.”
“Blacksmithing demands a broad skill set: an eye for composition, an understanding of metal, and a will to keep going.” –Sam Riehl
This kind of education and encouragement from local artists has helped Riehl realize a dream he has had since he was a boy. “I discovered blacksmithing through Pyromania—Lafayette Art Association’s annual festival centered on fire-generated arts—when I was eight and a half years old and I’ve been at it ever since.” Sam also joined the Lousiana Metalsmith Association (LAMA) at a young age and it was through that organization that he met other blacksmiths who shared his passion and fostered his growth as an artist. “I was immediately embraced by blacksmiths such as Richard Delahoussaye, Jerry Baker, and David Bernard—all lifelong Louisianans. They have facilitated my learning and supported my dedication to the trade all along; helping me every step of the way, and continuing to lend me a hand
on a daily basis. These men took me in, elected me ‘vessel keeper,’ and offered me every opportunity to learn. I couldn’t imagine my passion for blacksmithing being what it is without these individuals. Blacksmithing is more than just a job for me. It’s what I love to do, how I choose to employ my free time, my outlet, my favorite.” Riehl himself has turned to teaching others blacksmithing over the past several years, perhaps because he believes that he has been given so much by the artists around him. “Around seven years ago I had my first chance to demonstrate in front of a crowd,” Riehl says. “I can undoubtedly say that the experiences of teaching are the most exciting and gratifying moments of my career as an artist. This is where I discovered my passion for teaching, something that has not diminished in the slightest.” Riehl has educated others on his craft by demonstrating at Pyromania for three years before the festival was discontinued due
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to lack of funding. He has also demonstrated blacksmithing several times at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles and ArtMania, and can still be found demonstrating his craft at smaller festivals in Arnaudville and Alexandria. Though still quite young—only a senior in high school—Sam Riehl is most certainly an artist who understands art not only as a creative outlet, but also as a way of life. He’s had several years of experience, both creating and teaching blacksmithing. He takes his work seriously, sincerely appreciates the advice and support of others, and feels grateful for the opportunities he has had. “I am the most fortunate kid I know and I say it confidently. My mother is a fantastic jewelry artist, my grandparents are fantastic glass artists, and between the three of them, I have been exposed to an incredible array of art forms, an overwhelming diversity of people, and every opportunity to find my own talent among it all.”
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The Mighty Heart of Lillian DeJean By Marisa Olson Photos by Lucius A. Fontenot
14 Summer 2015
Lillie DeJean is an eleven-year-old who lives on a budget: a budget of time, energy, and emotion. She is like every child you have met, and perhaps like no one you will meet: spirited, exuberant, filled with wonder about the world, and wise. Lillian writes, paints, draws, rollerblades, ice-skates, and recently began drum lessons. Science is her favorite subject. Each moment is lived to its fullest, with purpose and intent. Each morning Lillian awakens with anticipation: What are we doing today, Mom? Lillian is acutely aware of time, and how little we all have of it, as is her family, and all who love her. The many beautiful, wonderful things in life that most people in good health take for granted, and the small things that seem so earthshattering, the DeJeans perceive differently. Lillian lives with Mitochondrial Disease. “Mito,” as it is more commonly referred, is incurable and progressive, claiming more children each year than all pediatric cancers combined. The condition often eludes proper diagnosis, because, initially, those afflicted “don’t look sick.” Sadly, proper diagnosis usually is not made until it is too late.
Mito takes a lot from those that are affected by it, but it has given me so much more than I will ever allow it to take. Living life with joy and gratefulness is my goal. I want to spread awareness about this disease, because in my Mito community, so many can’t speak for themselves. People in our community might not look sick, but they are suffering a great deal. We have to support each other in our journeys, no matter how different they might be. And pray, because we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us. Mother Nicole adds: “We are so grateful for each moment we have. Even a bad day is a wonderful day, because we’re together. It grieves me when people excessively complain about things that don’t matter today or even tomorrow, or SHOULDN’T matter tomorrow, the grudges people bear. Sometimes I wish I could say: ‘You know that I have a daughter who is sick. How can you waste time over emotional Acadiana’s Publication for the Arts
“Mito” results from a dysfunction of the mitochondria within the cells. The dysfunction itself is caused by a defect on the DNA. Mitochondria are the “batteries” within a cell that produce its “power” by converting food into cell energy. These tiny batteries generate over 90% of the energy the body needs to sustain life and growth. When the mitochondria malfunction, the cell’s power starts to “dim,” leading to cell injury and death. Fatigue and exhaustion are common symptoms. Avoiding stress and sickness is key to staying healthy, which keeps the mitochondria from burning out, and allows the child to live longer. Lillian herself explains:
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papercuts?’ Love and forgive the people in your life. Life is short for all of us. We’re just more consciously aware of that fact, and incorporate that awareness into our daily lives.”
Lillian’s World Nicole DeJean noticed something different about her baby, Lillian. As time passed, Lillian showed developmental delays; for example, she did not begin to speak until three years old. Nicole took Lillian to several doctors, none of whom found anything wrong with the toddler. Lillian appeared healthy, and Nicole was “imagining” things. Some went as far to suggest that she was looking for attention, or simply not “appreciating” her child: Why can’t you be happy with what you have? It was not until Lillian was six years old that she was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease by a geneticist in New Orleans. Management of the disease became essential, which included preserving Lillian’s strength and feeding her daily megadoses of special formulated nutritional supplements. Despite her limitations, Lillian was well enough to attend school, and enrolled when she was five years old. The school accommodated Lillian’s need for frequent rest, since she struggled most with exhaustion and fatigue. Despite Lillian’s diagnosis and ensuing treatment, friends and acquaintances still doubted her condition, because she did not “look” sick. Nicole: “Lillian didn’t have crutches and wasn’t in a wheelchair. People could not ‘see’ her disease, so it was invisible to them. Their denial caused them to treat me like I was crazy, and Lillian like a hypochondriac. Even some of Lillian’s teachers commented, ‘You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ or, ‘I’m in a lot of pain, too, but you don’t hear me complaining.’ They didn’t see the reality of how we lived.” As she got older, Lillian could only attend school for half days, given her exhaustion. Last year, when Lillian was in the fifth grade, the fatigue became so severe that Nicole took Lillian out of school, and began homeschooling. Last March Lillian contracted a virus, and took four months to recover. The episode exacerbated her symptoms. She now requires more sleep, averaging twelve to fifteen hours at night, and a three-hour nap daily. I asked Lillian to explain, in her words, how the disease affects her personally, both physically and mentally: Because I begin each day with a limited amount of energy, I have to make wise decisions about what I really want to do that day. I can’t do everything that I’d like, or need to do, so have to decide what’s more important to me. I want to have the most fun, and often have to make sacrifices: fun or energy. I think I am more aware of what’s important than other children, because every day is a challenge and full of decisions. 16 Summer 2015
[Mito] affects my energy, my nutrition, and sometimes my ability to process information. For others, the condition can be much more severe. Most people take energy for granted, a working stomach for granted, and are not conscious of how they use their bodies. Once you’re sick, you don’t take those things for granted anymore. My Mito friends and I don’t complain much about our limitations. You celebrate the things that are right, and learn to accept the things that aren’t. It might take me longer to accomplish my goals, because of my limited energy, but I learn more from my journey. Mito doesn’t allow shortcuts. I pay attention to life and to the journey that I’ve been given by God.
Grace and Inspiration Through Color, Light and Form About five years ago, Lillian began curtailing her physical activity and turning to painting and drawing to find a creative outlet for her vitality and dynamic intelligence. She enrolled with Bonnie Camos’ art class at the ASO Conservatory, and has found joy and inspiration from expressing herself through art ever since. Bonnie is Lillian’s “idol,” and who she wishes to be like when she grows up: “Bonnie is so kind, fun, and just a great person . . . an excellent teacher, one of the best . . . [art] has become a very important role in my life. It comes in many forms. Other people’s art can inspire me, while my art is an expression of my experiences.” Camos remembers the exact day that Lillian joined her art class. Lillian presented like a healthy child, but over time, began showing symptoms. Teacher and student have grown close, and Camos is able to read Lillian’s physical cues, signaling when she requires a break. She has also seen Lillian’s art flourish and deepen, and Lillian herself bloom into a happy, strong, inspiring child. Last September, Camos held an event, An Evening of Spoons, featuring Lillian’s art work, in order to raise funds for and awareness of Lillian’s disease for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. At the event, Lillian eloquently spoke to a gathering of over fifty persons who came to view her “Spoon Art,” and to explain to them “Spoon theory.” Being eleven, Lillian had never addressed a group before, but did so with aplomb: Overture Magazine
Having Mitochondrial Disease limits the amount of energy a person has to function throughout the day. In Spoon theory, Christine Miserandino compares energy to spoons. Each simple or complex task during a typical day, such as playing the drums with friends, or going to school, “costs” spoons. Each day’s spoon supply varies by day, hour, and minute. A person with Mito must be aware of how their spoons are spent. I hope the “Evening of Spoons” continues to grow every year, and that we can raise money and awareness for Mitochondrial Disease. We were able to raise $1,622.00, which we donated to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, which promotes research and education for diagnosis, treatment, and hopefully, a cure for affected individuals and families. -Lillian DeJean
I Will Change How Others See Their World Around Them Because of her experience, Lillian perceives a fuller, more beautiful world, and readily shares her thoughts, emotion, and love with others. “I see people in a different way. I can accept that people are different and everyone has ‘stuff.’ My stuff is Mito, but I don’t want people to judge me by my
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limitations. I want people to see that Mito is only a small part of who I am. I am a person who will change how others see their world around them. Through this experience, I have realized how much my family and friends love and support me, and I am very grateful.” Lillian is curiously blessed, and so are we by knowing her. She exudes the radiance of one who is called to awakening and action, to rouse others from complacency to a fuller life. Through her art and writing, and her advocacy for those who cannot speak for themselves, she encourages us from the sidelines to jump into the moment with everything we have. Lillian concludes with her favorite quote: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain!
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Black and Red Custard Clafoutis
Photo by Lauren Graham
By George Graham, AcadianaTable.com
18 Summer 2015
Cook. Eat. Write.
Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. And from my seat covering the Cajun and Creole culinary world at AcadianaTable.com, there’s much to write about. For someone as food-obsessed as me, getting to know cooks and professional chefs is a treat. Many years ago, the California trend of open kitchens brought chefs out of the relative obscurity of restaurant kitchens, giving them visibility and the opportunity to get close to their customers. And whenever I hear of a chef’s table option for dining in the kitchen, I jump at the chance. Recently, a variation of this proved to be one of my most memorable dining experiences.
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Chef Peter Sclafani and Ruffin Rodrique have stormed the Lafayette restaurant scene with the opening of Ruffino’s on the River in 2013. Their Italianinspired Cajun Creole menu has resonated with locals and has become one of the hottest reservations in town. A key to Ruffino’s success is the depth of its kitchen talent. Peter is a wiz at plucking culinary talent from just about anywhere and giving them a creative platform to excel. I recently got to experience this firsthand with a personal invitation for me and my wife, Roxanne, to sit at the Chef’s Counter – a creative twist to the restaurant’s seating scheme. Along with six other diners, we perched on high-back stools and watched as a team of chefs created and served up one spectacular dish after another.
Photo by George Graham
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I’ve always maintained that a well-run restaurant is a stage, and when the curtain goes up, the troupe of waiters, cooks and front of the house crew all perform in unison. And speaking of entertainment, Ruffino’s chef, Katie Gross, is an Orlando, Florida transplant, and before joining the Ruffino’s group, she cooked at the Grand Floridian at Disney World. She is a most capable chef that has quickly become immersed in the Cajun Creole food culture. The recipe I share with you today from my Acadiana Table was inspired by that evening. Pastry chef Nancy DeVille, a Lafayette local, created an amazing raspberry clafoutis dessert that capped off a perfect evening. Clafoutis is a flan-like custard dessert from the Limousin region of central France. Although I did not get the chef’s exact recipe, her step-by-step description helped me in my quest to duplicate hers. After much trial and error, I do believe my spirit-spiked version comes fairly close to her masterpiece but will never duplicate that most memorable evening. Overture Magazine
Black and Red Custard Clafoutis Ingredients • 2/3 cup sugar • 3 large eggs • 3/4 cup milk • 3/4 cup heavy cream • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt • 1 blood orange or navel orange • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Citronge or Grand Marnier • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour • Nonstick spray butter • 1 cup fresh raspberries • 1 cup fresh blackberries • Water • Powdered sugar Instructions 1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. 2. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and eggs. Whisk vigorously until fully incorporated. Whisk in the milk, cream, and yogurt as well as the zest and juice of the orange. Add the vanilla and cinnamon as well as the orange liqueur. Add the flour and whisk to incorporate all. Move the bowl aside and let the ingredients rest for 10 minutes. 3. In a 10-inch black iron skillet (or individual ramekins), place the red raspberries and the blackberries, alternating colors in a pattern. Slowly and gently pour the custard mixture around the pan, being careful not to cover the fruit. Place the pan on a shallow sheet tray and fill the bottom of the tray with water. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake just until the custard mixture is set, about 30 to 40 minutes. Watch carefully and remove before the top begins to brown or the berries begin to burn. (Note: If you divide these into individual pans, your cooking time will be shorter.) 4. Remove the pan from the oven and bring to room temperature (Note: Optionally, you can cook this dish ahead, refrigerate and serve cold). For serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar and let guests serve themselves on individual dessert plates. Add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a sugary tuile cookie for an over-the-top presentation. Acadiana’s Publication for the Arts
Photo by George Graham
Prep time: 30 mins. Cook time: 40 mins. Total time: 1 hour 10 mins, Serves: 4 Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Summer 2015 21
Hondros and Mahler:
Photography & Music By Ann B. Dobie
After jobs with various newspapers, he returned to New York to begin work as an international reporter.
Hondros’ photojournalism appealed not only to the general public, but it won him the respect and admiration of his colleagues as well. David Hume Kennedy, for example, wrote:
The name Chris Hondros may not be one you mention every day, but chances are good that you have seen his photographs on the covers and pages of newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Covering battle zones around the world, he documented wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq, and more. So powerful was his visual reporting that in 2005 his photograph of an Iraqi girl whose family of five had been shot for failing to stop at a U. S. checkpoint produced a worldwide outcry that caused one of the children to be flown to Boston for treatment. Born in New York to Greek and German immigrants, both of them survivors of World War II, Hondros grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After studying English literature at North Carolina State University, he moved on to Ohio’s School of Visual Communication where he earned a Master’s degree. 22 Summer 2015
Chris Hondros pursues his photography where most others fear to tread. As a person who has covered several wars . . ., I have a point of view that not only appreciates what it is that Chris does, but how difficult and dangerous it is to do it. In my eyes, however, he isn’t a “war photographer,” but rather an extraordinarily gifted, creative, and inventive photographer who happens to spend a lot of time toiling in the fields of fire. Over the years his photographs earned numerous awards, including a nomination for finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “exceptional courage and enterprise” in his work from Iraq, the coveted John Faber Award given by the Overseas Press Club, and more. It also earned him invitations from prestigious universities, cultural organizations, and publications to serve as a lecturer and essayist on issues of war and international conflict. His images have been displayed in galleries and at exhibitions from South Korea to France to New York City, making him the subject of profiles in magazines such as the Smithsonian, The New York Times, and Newsweek, and the focus of pieces aired by CNN and NPR. Hondros’ work came to an end when he was killed at the age of 41 along with two other photographers on assignment in Libya on April 20, 2011. His death was mourned by family and friends and by those who knew him only through his photographs. Overture Magazine
Although the public is familiar with his pictures, less well known was the man behind them. Unlike the stereotypical hard-bitten photojournalist, Hondros is described by friends and colleagues as a quiet, steady,
walked around.” On at least one occasion he joined the performance of a group of musicians by projecting his photographs on a screen while they played. The work was called “Baghdad in D Minor”: music by Bach, photographs by Hondros. His images accompanied the music; the music accompanied his images.
Chris Hondros / Getty Images
Mahler was his special passion. As Lafayette journalist Kristin Askelson, a friend and colleague of Hondros, notes:
cultivated man, noted for his compassion and humanity. He was a reader of history, a Shakespeare lover, a student of geopolitics, and an avid chess player, but above all he loved music. Chip East, also a photojournalist, said, “He knew more about classical music than anyone I know. He knew every beat to every symphony, every opera.” East added, “He would be conducting with his hands as he
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He would talk about Mahler at the drop of a hat. But it wasn’t just music; he was an allaround classical thinker. He loved classical literature and thought about the world, history and mankind in much bigger terms than many of his contemporaries. While Chris was photographing wars and other conflicts around the world, he always carried his classical music and his literature with him. I think it kept him grounded. I think it helped him put into perspective the awful things he was seeing. Hondros’ work can be viewed on his website: www.chrishondros.com. Testament, a collection of his photographs and writings spanning a decade of coverage of the world’s conflicts, is available from Amazon.
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Mignon Faget Louisiana Originality
Photo by Josephine Sacabo
By Johanna B. Divine
24 Summer 2015
Iconic jewelry designer Mignon Faget has arrived—in Lafayette, that is. With galleries in New Orleans, Metairie, Baton Rouge and now Parc Lafayette, the artist best known for her original jewelry collections has expanded into glassware, housewares, accessories and gifts that reflect the same keen eye for the unexpected with equal parts charm and substance. It’s easy to see why Faget’s exceptional jewelry collections have gained the attention of retailers beyond Louisiana—now in six states and counting. Her exuberance for creating new work is palpable, her sense of humor disarming. She spoke candidly with Overture from the Magazine Street studio in her hometown of New Orleans, a city that continues to inform and inspire her work. Overture Magazine (OM): Was there a seminal moment, or a time in your life, when you knew you would become an artist? Mignon Faget (MF): I think it started to develop in me when I was at Newcomb College. I went to school thinking I was going to major in pottery. I always liked to make mud pies when I was young, to get my hands in the material, so to speak! But the first year was a bit slow and discouraging, and I felt that I needed more of a challenge, so I gravitated toward sculpture. As I studied, I gained confidence and ended up working in experimental materials, with color and metal. I remember being inspired by a trip to a wrecking yard, where I’d seen a piece of stained glass that had been demolished from a building, and was simply fascinated. Here was this translucent, colored, flat object that refracted light in such a unique way. I immediately started working with that in my senior thesis. I was also very interested in music at the time, so I spent lots of time in the music school taking courses and listening to music. There were these rooms you could close yourself in and listen to records—Stravinsky, Chopin, Debussy— historical and contemporary composers alike. Listening was a very physical experience for me, and I ended up creating sculpture inspired by music for my senior thesis. I got a lot of acclaim for my project, and it encouraged me to continue on that path. There was a seminal moment, later in life, after I’d gotten married and had children. You see, whenever I felt stale, bored or frustrated, I would take a class. I signed up for a printmaking class at [St. Mary’s] Dominican [College]. The woman who taught the class was a friend of mine, and one day as she was looking over my work, she said, ‘Mignon, the work you are doing is really design. Perhaps you should take your work in that direction.’ So I did. I had always loved designing clothing—when I was in high school my mother and I would choose patterns and fabrics and alter them based on designs we’d seen in magazines, or in the movies. My mother was so patient and kind, she would work with me, altering things until we had them just right. So I took inspiration from
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During my junior year, I went to Europe as part of the Junior Year Abroad (JYA) program. It was 1955-56, just about 12 years after the War was over, so the French were still recovering from the devastation. I brought a steamer trunk full of clothes that I never wore. Instead, I wore two sweaters, one charcoal and one black, because that’s all the French wore, black and black, and I didn’t want to look like a silly American. In fact, my name is French, but the first young gentleman I met said, ‘What is your real name?’ I didn’t know what he meant, but he continued, ‘Here we don’t call grown people Mignon, only dogs and cats!’ I thought the French would like that I had a French name, but it turned out to be very different than New Orleans French. During JYA, we spent six weeks in Dijon, in the fall. They were having all the wine 26 Summer 2015
OM: Jewelry is such a complex art form, requiring functionality, comfort and longevity as part of the design. How do you balance these elements in your work? What challenges do you encounter? MF: It is challenging, but that’s part of the intrigue for me, how to take this idea and make it come alive in three dimensions. One example is the Holoch cuff, part of the Zea collection. Through a course at Tulane, we had a guest lecturer who had a particular interest in corn, or Zea mays, which is actually a large grass. A predecessor of corn is teosinthe, a plant that grew in the highlands of Mexico. His theory is that some natural disaster or other event caused teosinthe to mutate so that the kernels, instead of alternating, would be optimally packed, like you see on an ear of corn today. I became fascinated with these plants, their evolution, the texture of the husk, and I began making many, many versions of this idea. As an artist, I want to see each variation on the idea, and this is where I face challenges. I’m not a good editor. I just want to make them all. Photo by Keely Merritt, The Historic New Orleans Collection
OM: How has education inspired you? How have those experiences continued to inform your work? MF: I grew up in New Orleans, and most of my family is in the medical profession. My father and his brothers are physicians and my two brothers and sister are all dentists. I was much younger than my older siblings, so there was always unique table conversation that I was privy to as a child—dissecting cadavers and what not. So, as I child, I became interested in biology, and was always collecting bugs and strange things. In college, I had a professor who was an English historian who taught a class called ‘design in nature,’ and he was very inspirational. He’d take us out on the quadrangle and we’d sit on the ground and pick up something we found interesting—a snail, a rock or an herbaceous plant—and we’d do an exercise, drawing it in detail and abstracting it in stages. You never knew what you were going to experience in his class. He would read to us from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and just excite us with pieces of literature or the experience of going to look at the ground and finding new things.
festivals and we’d visit churches and these incredible Romanesque structures. Romanesque architecture is my favorite European architecture because you can see the strength and the drive of the builders to raise the arches higher and higher. The buildings were decorated to tell the New Testament and Old Testament stories, as the majority of people didn’t read during that era, so it was just magnificent. It was truly a life-changing experience for me. I guess the influence of that and other coursework was indirect, organic. It came out over time in my work.
Before Zea, I’d made another collection called Armament. Again, in a botany course, the professor began talking about a certain class of plants that are ‘armed’ to protect themselves from insects and animals. I remember, it was like a light went off in my head, and I thought about how people could ‘arm’ themselves with jewelry, like little thorns on your head, or thorns coming out of your earlobes. I was intrigued, and it became another popular series. One of the collections I loved but had trouble making it come to fruition was called Portifiori, from ‘porta fiori,’ Italian for ‘brings flowers.’ It’s a pin, shaped like part of a plant, and you wear it with a fresh flower. I remember thinking, ‘If you go into a board meeting with this on, you have a huge advantage!’ It was very creative, but the marketing became difficult, as we had trouble making it come in within a certain price range. I would say it was a success, because of the design, but it was also a challenge. One day, I’ll go back to it. Photo by Glade Bilby II
these experiences and the printmaking class and hired a seamstress to make a series of dresses that I designed and later sold in boutiques. I called the look ‘affluent hippy,’ as this was just on the edge of the hippie movement, but the fabrics were rich, imported linen and lamb suede. I created block prints and hand printed on these natural fabrics, and they got a very positive response. Soon, I decided I needed accessories to go with the pieces. Clothing goes out of style very fast, but jewelry has much more longevity. So I melted down some of my wedding gifts, and used them to make my first pieces. I remember at that time in my life wanting to be an artist so badly. I believe I was just looking for my medium. Once I began designing jewelry, everything fell into place.
OM: Your name and work are synonymous
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M I G N O N
BEAUTY is all AROUND US.
F A G E T New Orleans artist Mignon Faget creates designs reflecting the history, nature and architecture of her native environment. For over 40 years, her hand crafted objects of
NEW ORLEANS PA RC
adornment have been designed in her New Orleans studio.
L A F AY E T T E
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WiFi that is pure artistry. 1 Gigabit Internet and Hub City WiFi Plus from LUS Fiber.
28 Summer 2015
Photo by Glade Bilby II
with New Orleans. What influenced your decision to open a gallery in Lafayette? What appeals to you about this community? MF: The people in Lafayette are so warm, friendly, enthusiastic.
It’s a fun-loving town just like New Orleans, and my work has been well received. People have been very welcoming to me. I’ve worked with their carnival association, creating favors and other things, so I’ve known for a long time that I have customers in Lafayette. I also see Lafayette as sharing my French heritage, and I like that connection. The cultures are related, New Orleans and Lafayette, so it was a natural next step. I worked with a wonderful architect, David Waggonner, to design all of my new galleries, including the one in Parc Lafayette. It’s built like an archival room, so it allows the customer to work side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the salesperson. My hope is that people feel like they’re getting in the ‘back room,’ enjoying pulling the drawers out and discovering what’s inside. We also carry hand printed scarves, handcrafted and etched glassware and crystal, and a lot of home products, too. The gallery is very fresh—a new concept in jewelry stores. So far, I’m very happy with our experience in Lafayette. Mignon Faget Lafayette is located in Parc Lafayette, at 1921 Kaliste Saloom Road. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm. You can take a visual tour of the gallery online at www.mignonfaget.com, or call 337.534.8753 for more information.
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A Theory of
Practice and Excellence Classical Violinist and Teacher, Emil Ivanov
By Marisa Olson, Performing Photos by nouveau photeau
30 Summer 2015
reduces excellence to a simple, universal formula: doing one’s best, consistently. Ivanov’s self-discipline and lifelong training as a classical violinist permeate all he does. His efforts are not for self-promotion, but
It’s Monday at the ASO. The building fills slowly with a steady stream
for the quiet self-satisfaction of a job well done, excellence as its own
of foot traffic, gathering a momentum by late afternoon that reaches
a full crescendo equal to the jostling multitude of a small town main
The quiet yet relentlessly driven, self-made Bulgarian, who emigrated
street. Passers through and citizens of the small, vital hub include
6,000 miles to the United States ten years ago, elicits hard-won
Conservatory students, their parents and instructors, symphony orchestra
respect and admiration of an older generation of Americans for whom
members, patrons dropping in to purchase concert tickets, ASO
experience, hard work, and quality are still prized. For those younger than
committee and board members gathering for meetings, the occasional
Ivanov, particularly many of his students, he is a warmly admonishing big
politico, volunteers, and of course, the small ASO staff. At the nexus of
brother who tells it like it is, even if you don’t want to hear it—especially
this whirling microcosm is its organizing principle, the two degrees of
if you don’t want to hear it.
separation that connects them all: Emil Ivanov. Ivanov ensures not merely that things get done at the ASO, but
Not surprisingly, Ivanov has a full lesson schedule of 18 students at the ASO Conservatory. As a teacher, he balances tough love with humor
are executed according to plan, on time, efficiently, correctly. He is a
and encouragement, an irresistible combination for his students, most
classical violinist and winner of several prestigious competitions who is
of whom seem enthusiastic about their weekly lessons, and break into
also personnel manager, librarian, and logistics coordinator of the Acadiana Symphony Association. However, his role is not limited to logistical oversight of symphony productions, or to managing the 60 plus orchestra members. His vigilant support also undergirds all logistics of the ASO Conservatory, including its students and faculty, both on and off-site.
There is no random concept that works for violin that doesn’t also apply toward whatever you do in life, whatever instrument you play, class you take, sport you play, it’s all the same thing: to achieve excellence, you must dedicate time and apply consistency. You’re either doing your best, or you’re not doing it. Nobody leaves their home 6,000 miles away to have a so-so life. If you’ve come this far, you’re going to go all the way.
Through his unremitting efforts, schedules are updated, expense spreadsheets corrected, musicians hired, Conservatory students registered, teachers paid, broken instruments
big smiles when he greets them. One of Ivanov’s students with whom
repaired, sheet music ordered and distributed to orchestra members,
I recently spoke, Maddie Weber, was eager to talk about her “rad”
recitals and auditions organized, copier toner replenished. No task is
too insignificant, no project so herculean, that Ivanov will not bring it to elegant completion. Since deboarding his plane from Bulgaria about 10 years ago,
Maddie is a diminutive, bright and articulate 14-year-old, who began studying with Ivanov when she was 11. “Mr. Emil’s funny and easygoing, and really easy to talk to, and has a cool accent! He reminds me of a big
Ivanov has been busy, completing two degrees (a Bachelor’s in Violin
kid. He gives me a lot of work and exercises to practice, and told me once
Performance from Louisiana State University, and a Master’s from
last year that I had ‘no sense of time.’ I didn’t know what he meant, and
Rice University), building a reputation as a topnotch violin instructor,
he said, ‘You need to look at a clock more, because you obviously don’t
amassing a large following of devoted students, managing symphony
know the difference between 5 minutes and 20 minutes! If you did, I
orchestra musicians, performing as violinist for over ten years for two
could tell it in your playing.’”
symphony orchestras, playing professional gigs on a weekly basis, and,
Maddie still laughs at the joke, but the message got through. “So now I
of course, diligently practicing violin. That he has maintained such an
have this cool clock in my room made from a Led Zeppelin album cover.
intense, arduous regimen for so many years is in itself amazing; however,
I look at it when I practice, and it reminds me of what Mr. Emil said!”
doing much seems to come easily for Ivanov. That he does so much so
Maddie has performed three recitals under Ivanov’s instruction, and plans
well, and for so many years, is what distinguishes him from the ordinary
to continue lessons with him in the foreseeable future. After three years,
her dedication and motivation have increased, and so has her admiration
What motivates someone to relentlessly strive toward excellence, every day, year in, year out, without kudos or tangible reward, often against considerable, ongoing challenges? Ivanov insists that he is not particularly talented or fortunate. He Acadiana’s Publication for the Arts
for her teacher. Although this writer’s office is just down the hall from Ivanov’s, obtaining an interview presented no small challenge, given his
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demanding schedule. The wait proved worthwhile when Ivanov, usually reluctant to talk about himself, began sharing his informed ideas about excellence in teaching, practice, and life generally.
What do you believe constitutes excellence? How do you achieve it? Consistency. I try my best never to
Given your ten years of experience as a classical violin instructor, what do you believe makes a teacher exceptional? Consistency. A great teacher teaches you how to teach yourself. That’s the most important thing; however, you must have a starting point in order to begin developing those skills. With a new student, I teach not only how to
repeat the same mistake, and to improve
play the violin, but how to read music, proper posture and
my approach and performance each time
positioning of the instrument to produce good sound. I
I undertake the same task. I am constantly
help them develop their ear, so they can tell when they’re
refining: adding what needs to be added,
playing out of tune, and to help them problem solve when they
and removing what is unnecessary. That’s
have difficulty with technique.
how I approach everything.
Please tell me about your violin instructors. Who were they, and how did they shape your playing and musicianship? Blagorodna Taneva was my first teacher, with whom I began lessons at age five and studied with for 14 years. She obviously laid the foundation, taught me the basics, and to work very hard. Then, for five years while I was an undergrad at LSU, I studied with the worldfamous, Bulgarian violinist, Kevork Mardirossian, and more closely, with his assistant, Borislava Farrell. Mardirossian changed my overview of performing and teaching, and demanded a high level of musicianship and dedication. Farrell taught me always to do my best in every situation, to never give up, and helped me improve my sound and technique. When I became a graduate student at Rice University, I studied under the famous Romanian violinist, Sergiu Luca. From him I learned how to use my time wisely, the meaning of quality, discipline, and how to better understand music. He said often, Don’t practice when you play, and don’t play when you practice. At Rice, I also studied viola with Ivo van der Werff, from whom I learned how to enjoy playing, even
Once they advance to an intermediate level, I give a student a piece of music to take home for practice. They have to struggle with it. You let them figure it out, make their way through it— survive it. After they’ve completed that, you assign a new piece with new challenges.
What do you believe are common pitfalls or mistakes instructors make that may compromise their ability to teach effectively? Lack of consistency. Teaching itself does not guarantee certain results or an outcome, because within any category or level, there is so much variation between teachers. Some are better with children, some amazing players cannot teach to save their lives, at any level. Even with the best teachers, always, certain things could be improved, approached better. So many things a teacher learns from teaching. Even my own playing has improved. Also, you can’t make real progress having the same teacher your entire life. Hearing the same things from different people rings bells. You are more likely to pay attention if someone else tells you something another person has pointed out before. It’s important to have more than one instructor, to learn different things.
What attitude is necessary to be a good student? And is a child’s musical ability circumscribed by lack of talent? A good student is attentive and follows instruction.
the hardest passages, in a solo piece.
They consistently do their absolute best when
I’m always interested in knowing what inspires an artist. Is there a musical work, a place, or a memory that captures and elevates you?
practicing. Practice is not supposed to happen during
Yes. I like listening to the vocal arrangement of Samuel Barber’s Adagio, from the string 32 Summer 2015
the lesson, but before. The teacher is supposed to help the student with the challenges they had during practice. You’re either doing your best, or you’re not doing it. This makes the best use of the teacher’s and the student’s time. A former instructor of mine,
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Summer 2015 33
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Sergiu Luca, was fond of saying that a teacher’s instruction is like a doctor’s prescription: you have to follow instructions exactly as directed, otherwise, you will not get better. Regarding talent, it’s helpful, but not necessary to become an excellent violinist, or excellent in anything. In most cases, talent works against the child, because they fail to develop discipline and improve their skills. Usually they grow lazy, and eventually are outperformed by the more diligent, hard-working student. Sergiu also remarked that talent is only for kids. In other words, talent without hard work and discipline is worthless. What are common practice mistakes? What habits or approach to practice do you advise as being most useful and beneficial? During practice, it is usually a complete waste of time to play a piece all the way through, because certain sections are more difficult than others. You need to target your approach and concentrate on the problem areas. You stay with a problem and practice every day until it is solved. With practice, nothing is unpredictable or random. You will get exactly the result you have put into it. Excellence is no accident. If you don’t practice at your absolute best, you’re just gambling. As Sergiu said, Gambling is for suckers. When a student is unprepared, what is the teacher supposed to do? There’s no spoon feeding, no hand holding. The teacher is not there to help you learn your notes! (laughs) The student has to play at the level he or she can play it, to the best of their ability—that’s where the instructor comes in and helps you get to the next level. When you go to math class, they don’t hold back the whole class for you, because you didn’t get something covered two or three chapters ago. Too bad you didn’t get something. You should have done something about it at the time. Learning goes in one direction: forward. That’s how life goes.
Your childhood instructor sounds very strict. Did your family agree or disagree with her approach? What was your own feeling about it at the time? There was no disagreement. You must completely trust the teacher, do exactly what you are told. My family also had high standards. It was understood that I do well. I wasn’t praised for bringing home good grades, nothing was said, because it was expected. But they had something to say if I made below an A! (laughs)
When reflecting on your own violin instruction while growing up, what do you wish your instructor had done differently? I wish I had better guidance on how to practice. I spent so many needless hours, without any idea what exactly I was doing. I was just told: Go practice like a good boy and work hard. In today’s environment, this approach has no relevance. Not even quality is considered as important. You can’t expect children to spend endless hours without direction. Because today, time is the most important thing, so learning how not to waste it puts you ahead of the competition, in anything.
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John Casbon: Musician, First and Foremost
By Johanna B. Divine Photo by Lucius A. Fontenot
36 Summer 2015
Imagine a world where people don’t have to choose between being creative and making a living; where there’s no such thing as a “starving artist;” where an executive can be equally at home on stage and in the office. John Casbon has created that world right down the road in New Orleans, and he’s loving every minute of it. Executive Vice President of First American Title of LA, Inc. and CEO and President of First American Insurance Company, Casbon is not your typical Fortune 500 executive. Many know him as a successful businessman, community leader and philanthropist, but when introducing himself to a roomful of fellow execs, Casbon defines himself, first and foremost, as a musician. Overture Magazine (OM): When did you begin playing music? John Casbon (JC): I’ve been around it my whole life. When I was a kid, I was involved in a music store in Cocoa Beach, Florida called Yanni’s Music. As a young person, you become curious; I started doing bridge work on violins when I was only eight years old. I played trumpet and coronet for a while. As I grew up, I turned out to be a fairly big guy, so sports became my focus and I left the music alone for a good while. It wasn’t until much later when I was opening an office in Jackson, Mississippi that I stopped into a music store in New Orleans and bought
a harmonica. I got in the car and turned on the Rolling Stones and just started playing along. By the time I got to Jackson I had played every song on the tape! It literally just burst out of me. Two weeks later I played on stage in Las Vegas and I wasn’t afraid at all. It’s the thrill of music—the joy of listening, learning and playing. OM: What are your musical influences? JC: There are so many—the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Alice Cooper. I got to have dinner with Alice Cooper one night. Imagine a 60-year-old man in spandex! What a great performer; what a fun evening. OM: How do you balance your persona as an executive and a musician? JC: I promote the fact that I’m a musician. In my company, I talk about it, talk about playing and performing, let people know that it’s a big part of who I am. Think about it this way: If I’m in a room of four hundred people, it would take me hours to meet everyone, but if I get on stage and start playing, people know me in 10 minutes. There’s an openness in performing; people see a new side of you and they get interested. When I go on stage at a company event, I introduce myself by saying “Hi, I’m John Casbon and I’m a musician.” You wouldn’t believe how many people come up to me afterwards and
June 22 - Sept. 20
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Photo by Lucius A. Fontenot
say, “I’m a singer,” or “I’m a guitar player.” Music really brings people out and gets conversation flowing. As a businessman, I mentor a lot of young professionals. One of my mantras in mentoring is, “It’s your story that makes you successful.” We all have a story, and your story needs to be interesting, fascinating. It’s how you stand apart from other people. It’s the core of who you are, the passion you have about what you do and the thing that drives you to succeed. My dad was a barber. If I had money as a kid it was because I picked up bottles on the beach and swept hair off the floor. That’s my beginning; that’s my story. In both business and music I’ve put in thousands of hours and an immense amount of energy. I’ve learned, through both, to push myself even harder than I thought I could. To me, music and business are both part of my story. The two go hand-in-hand. OM: Do you perform often? What are your most memorable performances? JC: Live music is the way to go. It was live music that connected us after 9/11, Katrina and Sandy. Those concerts brought people together more quickly and effectively than almost anything else. I love performing and watching other musicians perform—I take it seriously and try to put everything I have into it. One of my bands— Hot Rod Lincoln—was formed about forty years ago by a
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group of developers and businessmen, all professionals who just happen to be incredible musicians. We play vintage rock ‘n’ roll every year at French Quarter Festival and get a huge crowd. I think people identify with us because they know us in the business community as leaders and people who care about the city. The bridge between business and music is real—you never know where it will take you and you never know how far you can go. My most memorable performances are probably Jazz Fest and playing with a blues band at Donald Trump’s mansion. That was an amazing high, but, in truth, being on Royal Street and just picking up with somebody is equally incredible! I always carry one or two harmonicas with me and the people I work (and play) with know I have them, so even when I’m at a board of directors’ retreat I’ll get asked to play. There’s nothing like being in the moment that way. OM: What would you say to someone trying to build that bridge between business and art? JC: I challenge people to express what’s inside of them. If you have a passion for an instrument or other art form, you feel it in your soul. It takes time to get up there and feel good about what you’re expressing, but you are so driven to do it and that you have to follow that drive. I’ve been playing almost twenty years, but it’s just in the last six
or seven that I’ve been confident enough to get on stage at Jazz Fest and play with really seasoned musicians. And by the time I’m up there, it’s too late to be afraid! With any creative endeavor, you’ve just got to roll, you’ve got to go and do it. I like that kind of pressure, and I encourage people to push themselves in that way. It’s how we begin to know what we’re made of, what we can really accomplish in life. OM: In addition to your role as businessman and musician, you founded the New Orleans Police Foundation and continue to support many community and statewide organizations. What drives your work toward positive change in Louisiana? JC: I’m not from Louisiana; I’m originally a Florida guy. When I was young and doing business in the south, New Orleans was one of my potential work options. At 25, my wife and I moved to the Marie Antoinette hotel. We knew nothing about the city, but before you know it we were eating the best food in the world and listening to world-class music every night. A place like this, with this kind of culture, gets into your blood and into your heart. Louisiana is not a place I could ever turn away from. This state—these people—have been so kind to me. Louisiana is home to some of the finest artists and business leaders in the world, and it’s truly amazing to think that in the face of hurricanes, oil spills and an economic downturn we are still going strong. I believe we are all in this together. When I think about what drives me, I guess it’s my commitment to asking, “How can I be a part of making things better?” John Casbon continues to reach his goal of making Louisiana better through his business, music and philanthropic activities. He serves on the board of IBERIABANK and is invested in communities around the state including Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. John performs regularly with his bands Hot Rod Lincoln, Street Talk and the Levee Dogs in Louisiana and internationally. Acadiana’s Publication for the Arts
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Collaboration is Key By Emily Brupbacher
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Don Begneaud, Founder and CEO of Begneaud Manufacturing, is a man whose ingenuity, creativity, and collaboration with others have served him well. Don’s success in business and his passion for the arts can be attributed to his hands-on approach to life in general. A self-taught welder, Don parlayed his creativity and business savvy into a flourishing precision sheet metal business. “As a kid, I always enjoyed creating hands-on projects,” says Don. “I would make sculptures out of coat hangers and tin cans. When I was in 8th grade, I saw my friend’s brother soldering brass and copper with a torch and I was intrigued. He taught me how to solder metal together with a torch.” From then on, Don was fascinated by metalworking as an art form. He became attracted to the idea of using industrial media, such as torches and metal, to create fine art. He also took to the academic world with this passion, majoring in Industrial Technology at USL while he performed welding jobs out of the back of his pickup truck.
One of Don’s biggest passions is his insistence that art education of all kinds must stay in schools. “Over the years, we have eliminated shop classes, which is a shame,” Don says. “In those classes, kids learn to create things in a hands-on way, and they need that exposure and discipline.” Don Begneaud seems to understand that true success, both in business and art, comes from passion and persistence, hands-on experience, and working with others who push you to do your best. “Collaboration is so important,” he says. “We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can the ASO collaborate with schools to give students more? How can local business collaborate with one another and with schools to allow for more creative experiences?’ Art taught me to be creative in all aspects of life, which is why I see it as being so essential.”
Photo by Lucius A. Fontenot
Despite being a self-made man, Don places a high value on collaboration with other artists. He became friends with painter George Rodrigue when Don was still in high school,
and later the two men went on to expand on Rodrigue’s trademark Blue Dog idea by creating sculptures. “We collaborated with one another to create these metal dog sculptures,” Don shares. “There’s an 8-foot sculpture we created that’s in the back courtyard of the Blue Dog Cafe. We also created a 16-foot metal dog sculpture that is on display on Veteran’s Boulevard in Metairie.” Don’s knowledge of metalworking, both as a businessman and as an artist, has made him a fervent supporter of the arts. He owns work by many local metalworking artists, such as Kyle Branis, and also has served on the board for the Acadiana Arts Council.
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Les Misérables with ASO and ULL Opera Theater Company April 25 at Angelle Hall
Photos by Carolyn Brupbacher
Patrons from all over Acadiana flocked to see the first fully staged production of Les Misérables in Lafayette. ASO’s Maestro Circle guests enjoyed a reception sponsored by Allstate Insurance: Drake Pothier with delicious appetizers provided by La Madeleine before the Saturday night show. The beautiful spring afternoon was the perfect setting to get ready for the performance.
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NEW LOOK. NEW WRITERS. NEW FEATURES. NOW INSIDE THE DAILY ADVERTISER EVERY THURSDAY AND AT SELECT LOCATIONS AROUND ACADIANA. DOWNLOAD THE NEW TIMES OF ACADIANA APP, AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE PLAY AND THE APP STORE.
FOOD & DRINK MEGAN WYATT COMEDY JASON LEONARD CULTURE DOMINICK CROSS ENTERTAINMENT KATE DURIO MUSIC HERMAN FUSELIER
Acadiana’s Publication for the Arts
Summer 2015 45
Grouse Room Preview Opening May 20, 2015
Photos by Carolyn Brupbacher
Matt Chiasson opened the doors of the Grouse Room in Parc Lafayette to family and friends for a preview opening of the new upscale bar and gathering spot. They celebrated and toasted Mattâ€™s late brother, John Chiasson, an internationally renowned photographer in whose honor the Grouse Room was established. Guests also enjoyed blues guitarist Gitlo Lee, known as the Blues Man of the South.
46 Summer 2015
Girls, PreK3 - 12
Boys, PreK3 - 12
Wednesday Walkabouts Open House Every Wednesday in October and February Take a casual look into the daily life of Sacred Heart where you can see students and teachers in action. Call us today to learn more about the tradition of excellence at Schools of the Sacred Heart.
337.662.5275 Acadiana’s Publication for the Arts
www.sshcoteau.org Summer 2015 47
SSH accepts qualified students of all races, religions, national and ethnic origins.
48 Summer 2015
Acadiana's Publication of the Arts