Showing posts from January, 2018

You'll be so glad we made it (the wall) — just give him, give him some money!

The Wall Back in the campaign Trump could always raise a cheer When he said he would keep Mexicans from coming over here; Most undocumented now are visa overstays Not illegal border crossings like in the wetback days. But you’ll be so glad we made it, so glad we made that wall! You gotta give him some money, give him lots of money ‘Cause they won’t pay. He said it would be beautiful and cost a pretty penny He said he’d take their pesos, but they ain’t giving any; The wall’s a high priority, so what can he do But make the nation great again and send the bill to you? You’ll be so glad we made it, so glad we made it. You gotta give him some money, give him lots of money, ‘Cause they won’t pay. He wants to go to Congress and get ’em all on board Take one or two Corinthians to help him praise the Lord; Compassionate as hell, he’ll remind the DACA gang That bell in Philadelphia broke the first time it rang. But you’ll be so glad we made it, so glad we made that wall! You gotta give h

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Sean Chen make the most of ongoing collaboration

Wolfgang Amadè Mozart's 262nd birthday provided the marketing oomph for the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra' s concert Saturday night at Butler University's Schrott Center, but the present-day collaboration with Sean Chen, 2013 Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association, claimed equal prominence. Sean Chen shone in Shostakovich. The latter took the form of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 35, a perky composition that showed off Chen's facility and rhythmic acumen. The theatrical spirit of the first and fourth movements hark back to the young composer's jobbing in movie theaters during the silent era. The flair of such accompaniments is underlined by the demanding role for solo trumpet. Chen's solo partner was John Rommel, longtime member of the Jacobs School of Music faculty at Indiana University. The trumpeter's outer-movement brilliance grabbed most of the attention, but the muted lyricism of the slow movement also drew exce

I Got the Tariff! crows Donald Trump, protecting domestic manufacturers while putting solar installers' jobs at risk

Indianapolis Symphony concert with two fine singers: Mahler and Beethoven in relaxed, nostaglic moods

Music full of allusions and references to the real world makes up this weekend's Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts. Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony — the closest he wrote at considerable length to "program music" — is the concert companion to Mahler's Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn , with the excellent guest soloists Thomas Hampson and Kelley O'Connor. The notion that what's sometimes known as absolute music (the opposite of program music) is vague Thomas Hampson brought his well-schooled baritone. in comparison was dispatched by Felix Mendelssohn long ago, when he declared that, on the contrary, music is characteristically better and more specific than words for expressing feelings. About his Symphony No. 6 in F major, Beethoven took pains to anticipate this viewpoint in suggesting that "people will not require titles to recognize the general intention to be more a matter of feeling than of painting in sounds." Krzy

The Land of a Thousand Chances: But the Dems could run out of them if they keep giving in as they did over the weekend

Land of a Thousand Chances (one two three, it’s on the GOP) The shutdown? Trump should own it Paul Ryan can’t condone it Mitch says, See you later! He’s a turtle-alligator. They’re on an ego trip: Did Dems’ backbone slip? Have you heard the rumor? Someone gamed Chuck Schumer. Oh-Oh Hey! Na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, na-na na-na-na-na Say it one time (Repeat) Whoa! We’re gonna shake the caucus It may get kind of raucous Got to protect the dreamers From Republican schemers! If they want another shutdown We’ll bring it to that nut clown: As for McConnell’s promise, We’re a righteous doubting Thomas. Wow: Hmm. We’re not feelin’ all right You know we’re still ready to fight! Na-na-na-na How to get Congress back If we can’t sustain attack? How much to compromise To stay strong in voters’ eyes? Let’s get down to work Let’s dance, not twerk: Let’s defend DACA In the spirit of Barack-uh!

Pinchas Zukerman plays and conducts a concert by touring Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The Royal Philharmonic made its second visit to the Palladium Sunday. One of the most colorful figures in 20th-century British music founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946, and an international star of similar celebrity to Sir Thomas Beecham is its 21st-century principal guest conductor. Pinchas Zukerman was center stage, on and off the podium, for the RPO's concert Sunday evening at the Palladium. The Israeli musician, long identified as a major concert violinist and violist, has followed the path of many aging instrumentalists adding to their reputations by picking up the baton. (A younger fiddler of special interest hereabouts, Joshua Bell, has twice appeared at the Center for the Performing Arts with split responsibilities in front of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.) This is t he second time Zukerman and the RPO have visited Carmel. The program had the same concentration on the Austro-German mainstream in 2014. I cited Zukerman's "pearly ton

John Beasley's MONK'estra: Wondering if the Thelonious Monk legacy is in good hands? Well, you needn't (mostly)

MONK'estra maestro John Beasley I found several of the band's videos on YouTube a thrilling indication of what I would be likely to hear in its Carmel appearance, so my anticipation ran high at the outset of MONK'estra 's concert Saturday night at the Palladium . In many respects, I was rewarded with more opportunity to delve into the cleverness and surprise threaded through Thelonious Monk compositions in bandleader John Beasley's arrangements. But I came away wondering if the personnel changes that are a necessary evil in this kind of project —  where participants tend to have so many other professional obligations — were responsible for a certain lack of focus. Thankfully, however, my impression was confirmed that MONK'estra does not fall into the "tribute band" box. That has to be stated up front. Nor do its surface and in-depth pleasures seem to depend on the kind of tribute programming that has generated so many recordings in recent years

Garrick Ohlsson adds familiar luster to ISO's all-Russian program

The way Russian classical music burst into the repertoire and now enjoys unshakable prominence Garrick Ohlsson played a scintillating Tchaikovsky First. somewhat resembles how bitcoin has muscled in on conventional currencies. But there is nothing "virtual" about the permanent appeal of the nation's music, despite the distortions it endured throughout the Soviet era, on the world's concert stages. What started with Mikhail Glinka in the mid-19th century soon flourished in the output of "the Mighty Five" and a composer more than equal to all of them: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. More star Russian composers emerged in the 20th century, some of them self-exiled from their homeland. The welcome presence of Garrick Ohlsson as guest artist Friday evening playing the best-known Russian piano concerto assured the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra of a large, receptive audience at Hilbert Circle Theatre. The performance of Tchaikovsky's B-flat minor concert

All You Need Is Bluff: On the Administration's first anniversary, a rousing yet depressing anthem in observance of its deceptions

Coming to the Palladium: MONK'estra bridges the mid-20th-century innovations of Thelonious Monk to the present

John Beasley saw lots of creative room for himself in Monk's music. Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) left many compositions that were as idiosyncratic as his piano playing. But that body of work  turned out to have spurred the imagination of many younger musicians in the three-and-a-half decades since Monk's death. His inimitable quirkiness has had surprising adaptability. Groups larger than the quartets that Monk usually worked with have tackled the repertoire before, shedding new light on it: Hall Overton and Oliver Nelson applied their arranging skills to Monk's music with mixed success for bands of at least 10 players. Last year was Monk's widely celebrated centennial, and a carryover into the new year will be the visit of the 15-piece band sailing along on the strength of Volume 2 of its self-titled series, "Monk'estra." The ensemble will come to the Palladium Saturday night. A few years ago, pianist-composer-arranger John Beasley tried out comp

'Chain Migration': A rousing old-soul song with new lyrics reflecting the Administration's hostility to immigrant families

Dreams deferred in a classic representation: IRT opens 2018 with 'A Raisin in the Sun'

It's hard not to wince a little at a common rhetorical flourish of well-meaning politicians in response to the latest racist outrage in word or deed: "That's not who we are." Well, now that everyone agrees that the last presidential administration, through no fault of its own, didn't herald a "post-racial society," maybe we can also concede that American racial attitudes across the spectrum are indeed part of who we are. The regrettable portion of those attitudes — attitudes that impede progress toward justice and peace — are not who we should be, hopefully not even who we want to be. But the reality is undeniable, and that's part of what makes "A Raisin in the Sun" a play worth producing in 2018. The opening-night performance Friday at Indiana Repertory Theatre proved the point upon our pulses, upon our hearts. Displaying incisive precocity, Lorraine Hansberry larded her family drama with many strong hints of the way things ought to be

Of generation and degeneration: Phoenix's 'Halftime With Don' goes deep in NNPN rolling world premiere

Brain-damaged ex-NFL star Don Devers (Bill Simmons) rests uneasily. The label of "America's Pastime" passed from baseball to football late in the 20th century, and one of the era's major comedians, George Carlin, suggested part of the reason when he compared the language of both sports, wittily placing baseball in the nation's pastoral past. But recently seismic shocks to the 21st-century solidity of NFL pre-eminence, from civic blackmail by owners to players "taking a knee" during the national anthem, have rattled the sport. Among the most concerning, reaching down into youth football, are the health consequences of repeated hits, especially concussions resulting in brain damage and long-term deterioration of character. In "Halftime With Don," Ken Weitzman reaches into the topic of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and comes up with a drama that, thankfully, doesn't make a fetish of topicality. Crucially, it's a family dr

A song exposé: 'Sound Science' is the cry of ignorance masquerading as adherence to strict standards

We Make Him Feel So Young: The White House staff explains how to keep the aged boy-president happy

All about the base: A maestro attuned to 18th-century symphonic origins returns to the ISO podium

Nicholas McGegan brought 18th-century expertise to the podium. A glorious cul-de-sac in the history of the symphony orchestra was paid a visit to open Saturday's concert by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. With the Hilbert Circle Theatre audience swelled by the unusual scheduling of this weekend's only full-length classical concert (Friday evening was taken up with a special pops engagement), Nicholas McGegan returned as guest conductor to lead off with the open-air splendor of George Frideric Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks." Among active conductors, McGegan is probably the most expert Handelian. The first part of his re-engagement Thursday morning did not afford the Coffee Concert audience the opportunity to receive the maestro's calling card. The full program made up for that before taking in Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Haydn. Born in Saxony, Handel transplanted himself to England for most of his career, where his fame rested on opera and

Free from its bootleg history, "Wes Montgomery in Paris" comes to proper realization on Resonance Records

Wes Montgomery in Paris, 1965 In his only appearance in the French capital, Wes Montgomery (1925-1968) found a receptive audience at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees on March 27, 1965, just over three years before his death from a heart attack in his hometown of Indianapolis. An ORTF recording from that concert is about to be released in its pristine, official version after decades of bootlegged releases, with proceeds going to the Montgomery estate. Resonance Records is behind the official release, produced by Zev Feldman; a two-LP gatefold set was issued at Record Store Day's Black Friday event in November. Montgomery, here at the height of his powers and close to the big divide in his career between his classic and commercial styles, is at his most relaxed and inventive throughout the two-CD set under review. He heads a quartet thoroughly adept at showcasing him, though a friendly tension gets under way between the guitarist and pianist Harold Mabern.  Mabern's energ

Zach & Zack continue their blend of spectacle and dramatic insight with 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'

Tim Hunt as Hedwig commands the stage. The expansion of perspective that theater offers is a stretch that comes close to snapping at times. It can amount to extreme yoga of the soul. That's how "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" struck me when I saw it for the first time Thursday evening in a Zach&Zack production. The sometimes strident but at length heartbreaking musical by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask runs weekends through Jan. 14 at the Hedback Corner Theatre, home of the long-running Epilogue Players, a company claiming "a special regard to the inclusion of the senior members of our community."  So I was more in tune with the venue than the vehicle last night. Nowadays everyone is gingerly about calling old people old. In the spirit of the full exposition of personal identity in "Hedwig," I embrace it. So here's an old, cisgender, straight white male's take on the show. Its peculiar charm owes much to how well the producti

'Sweet Little 'Eighteen": a political rock 'n' roll song expressing some hopes for the nation this year

Tucker Brothers visit their local inspirations and draw something new from them

Kara Tucker's painting of Nick and Joel Tucker playing at the Chatterbox Jazz Club represents the The Tucker Brothers at the Chatterbox. honing of their craft that many local jazz musicians have been able to accomplish at the famous Mass Ave bar for several decades. The emphasis in "Writing Prompts," the brothers' new CD, is the push toward mastery the brothers received from such figures in Indianapolis jazz history as David Baker, Wes Montgomery, and Freddie Hubbard. The first-named, the longtime director of jazz studies at Indiana University, was particularly influential in directing and shaping firsthand these young musicians' skills. "Blues for D.B.," in the middle of the program on "Writing Prompts," salutes both Baker's roots and his coming-of-age trombone skills in bebop, which influenced his jazz composition and performance (on cello) to the end of his life in 2016.  In this piece, the blues framework is fast-paced and invi