Showing posts from April, 2019

IRT's 'You Can't Take It With You': The lesson still applies, though the examination ages

Fun finale: All improbabilities are reconciled as 'You Can't Take It With You' privileges fun. Two cheeky young playwrights, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, caused a sensation in 1937 with an energetic Broadway comedy trumpeting a message in its title: "You Can't Take It With You." It ran for 837 performances and won that year's Pulitzer Prize for drama. Indiana Repertory Theatre just this weekend opened its second-ever production of the show, wisely resisting all possible temptations to update it. Its gallimaufry of sight gags and witticisms, threaded throughout the dizzyingly paced dialogue within one Manhattan household and its visitors, evokes an era. America was recovering uneasily from the Depression. Everyone was being urged to get with the system that had recently let them down. Going against the grain is discouraged; the range of expressing oneself freely is tightly prescribed. True, the message of tolerance that prevails at the end give

Guest conductor JoAnn Falletta puts a personal stamp on this weekend's ISO program

The promotional video JoAnn Falletta made for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra' s website conveys her affection for the unusual program she is conducting this weekend. JoAnn Falletta got the ISO to deliver on her enthusiasm for the music. The enthusiasm was given a firm foundation in Friday's Hilbert Circle Theatre concert of orchestral music by Samuel Barber, Edward Elgar, and Zoltan Kodaly. The marquee item was Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, featuring Kevin Lin, a Taiwanese-American violinist who was appointed co-leader of the London Philharmonic in 2017. The orchestral pieces aren't obscure, but their presence in a collective concert package is conspicuous. And the ISO's realization of them under Falletta's baton was thoroughly successful.  Kodaly's "Dances of Galanta" is an original suite of music influenced by gypsy music the composer heard as a boy in the small Hungarian town where he lived for seven years. The roots

Phoenix Theatre: 'The Children' ponders dangerous legacies, both personal and technological

In their cottage home near a disaster site, Hazel and Robin fret together. The toxic triangle of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima has left an afterglow in the public mind that has forever complicated acceptance of nuclear power as a safe alternative to other energy sources. "The Children" takes place with a fictional accident at a nuclear power station as a menacing backdrop, but it doesn't feel like a topical or political play. It's rather an exploration of how we summon moral and physical courage in the face of challenges that seem overwhelming and call into question how we have lived our lives. Lucy Kirkwood's three-character one-act opens tonight at the Phoenix Theatre . Seen at Thursday's preview performance, an intensely committed cast of three seasoned professionals under Bill Simmons' direction stunned the audience with the comedy-drama's illuminating scrutiny of the interplay of resilience and vulnerability. Hazel and Robi

Full-dimensional: Superb violin-piano duo ends IVCI concert season

Augustin Hadelich has a winner's knack for coming up to the level of whatever he plays. With its generous blend of the familiar and the lesser-known, Tuesday's recital here featuring Augustin Hadelich  promised much on paper. Fortunately, it delivered the goods in actuality, too. Hadelich returned once more to town, having built worldwide on the promise he established with his 2006 gold medal victory in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis . The organization brought him to the Glick Indiana History Center stage with his frequent duo partner, pianist Orion Weiss , whose program biography is likewise replete with an abundance of honors and globetrotting engagements. The duo opened with Beethoven and closed with John Adams. The men's precision and spirit was amply demonstrated in performances of the German's Sonata No. 4 in A minor, op. 23, and the American's "Road Movies."  Adams' carefully blossoming minimalism is on attractive d

Incredibly, on a daily basis I have the blues, inserting fashionable cliches into B.B. King's classic

'Swan Lake' shows Indianapolis Ballet fit for masterpieces

The impulsiveness of youth and the proneness of everyone to deception in matters of the heart make "Swan Lake" a reliably gripping ballet. And that's apart from the often glorious music and the demands of acting and technique, particularly in the double role of Odette/Odile. Shea Johnson and Kristin Toner danced the central roles of "Swan Lake" Friday night. These qualities were fully in evidence Friday night in the second of three performances Indianapolis Ballet is presenting of the work at Newfields ' Toby theater. In the cast I saw, there was a striking representation of the Queen of the Swans by Kristin Toner. She displayed the melting lyricism of the object of Prince Siegfried's affection throughout the original's second act (in this production joined to the first act). There was the touch of victimization, as Odette leads a flock of the majestic birds that are actually maidens under the spell of the sorcerer Rothbart. But there was als

At Clowes Hall, the Branford Marsalis Quartet pushes the boundaries and works within them, too

With the bandleader offering the choice between starting the set with something "wild and crazy" and a swinger A quartet to reckon with: Calderazzo, Revis, Marsalis, and Faulkner. more within bounds, the Clowes Hall audience predictably shouted out the former Friday night. "We're old-school," he explained. "No set list." College crowd, right? What do you expect?  So the Branford Marsalis Quartet socked it to the responsive throng with "Dance of the Evil Toys," a piece by its bassist, Eric Revis. It was a fine exposition of the individual and collective readiness of the ensemble to represent mightily. The composer laid down a menacing ostinato, and the sense of demonic energy only grew from there as his colleagues added to the charge. Drummer Justin Faulkner let fire an all-out fusillade behind the kit, and the ensemble balance tilted toward him in a manner that fortunately didn't characterize the two-hour performance. In fact, i

Channeling the sepulchral presidential aide who may have directed purge of top homeland security echelon: Get Out of Town!

Lucy's a surprise to Biden! And that's as consciousness-expanding as the Beatles' original song

Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz, the American Pianists Awards' top prize in a quadrennial competition, lands in a familiar pair of hands

Emmet Cohen lived out the "third-time's-the-charm" cliché Saturday night at the Gala Finals of the American Kurt Elling and Dee Dee Bridgewater flank award-winner Emmet Cohen. Pianists Awards in Hilbert Circle Theatre. A finalist in the 2011 and 2015 jazz piano competitions, the 28-year-old topped the five-man field when all the judges' assessments were tallied. He's the new Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz, ringed round with a host of honors, chiefly around $100,000 in monetary benefits. The carefully organized summit of a process lasting more than a year brought Cohen and his fellow competitors before a large audience to perform one song each with featured guest vocalist Kurt Elling, then showcased them in a Brent Wallarab arrangement of music each pianist chose, accompanied by the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. When I first heard Cohen in 2010, he was inaugurating the Premiere Series, club gigs at the Jazz Kitchen at which the finalists front a trio in

Tessa Lark, a buoyant and directly communicative violinist, returns to Indiana to interpret Michael Torke's 'Sky'

Prizewinner: Tessa Lark shows affinity for various musical idioms. On the way to her silver-medal finish in the 2014 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Tessa Lark impressed listeners with her technical security and unfussy insights into the music, from Bach through Ysaye and on into the contest's two concerto phases. I referred to her playing of Mozart's popular "Turkish" Concerto (No. 5 in A major) as "an astute, generously expressive, and well-balanced rendition." Similar qualities can be predicted when she and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra present the Indiana premiere of Michael Torke's "Sky" tonight at the Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University. The ICO, under the artistic directionn of Matthew Kraemer, is one of six orchestras that co-commissioned the new work, which was premiered and recorded in January by the Albany (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra. It's a three-movement piece about 23 minutes long

APA Club Finals: The crescendo builds for the naming of the 2019 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz

Giants of the keyboard: Jazz finalists put their feet into play before the big weekend. The Club Finals of the current American Pianists Awards presented five top jazz pianists who already show promise enough to honor the competition before a note is heard. That is ample testimony to the quality of the American Pianists Association's structure, history, and reputation. One of the finalists will get a special boost as the jury puts its assessment of Friday night's work at the Jazz Kitchen together with the Gala Finals today at Hilbert Circle Theatre. Judgment of their work in the season-long Premiere Series will also be a factor in the result. The crown is selection as the APA's Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz. A packed Jazz Kitchen heard two sets by the stellar fivesome, accompanied by Jeremy Allen, bass, and Kenny Phelps, drums. This is a report on the early program, briskly hosted by the affable Matthew Socey, in recognition of the live-streaming presentation of the ev

Blowhard in chief: Dylan's questions are revised and raised rhetorically to apply to Trump's loony suspicions of wind farms

Latest top-flight visitor to Butler University: Vibraphonist Stefon Harris concludes a two-day residency with a "neighborhood concert"

Stefon Harris brings his 'A' game to Butler. Now almost unbelievably middle-aged, Stefon Harris — who helped sustain the small but vital jazz mallet-instrument tradition when he burst onto the scene in the 1990s — joined forces with true youth Thursday night in a Butler University Jazz Ensemble concert. The Schrott Center for the Arts was fairly well filled for the free performance in the Neighborhood Concert series. Before the guest star's appearance, a short first half introduced the current big band in a state of readiness and purposeful drive. Under the guidance of Matt Pivec, Butler's director of jazz studies, the ensemble acquitted itself well in Dave Rivello's "Suspension of Disbelief" and Marcus Miller's "Splatch." I liked the calm yet alert way the band came in behind Xavier Robertson's tenor-sax solo in the first number. And the "shouting" back and forth among the sections was essential to the groove in "S

Ronen finale: Norwegian guests join Ronen Chamber Ensemble for program of Grieg, Franck and others

The Ronen Chamber Ensemble marked the conclusion of its current Sister Cities Project season with a focus on Norway that benefited from the participation of two first-class Norwegian musicians. Chamber-music masterpieces performed by locally connected musicians constituted the two substantial works at the program's start and finish at Indiana Landmarks Center Tuesday evening. Adept pianist Einar R ø ttingen Paying immediate tribute to its guests, the Ronen program opened with Edvard Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, op. 13.  Violinist Jayna Park was joined by Ronen pianist/artistic director Gregory Martin in a work typical of its composer in melodic charm contrasted with energetic dancelike episodes. The recitative-like opening statement by the violin first grabbed the attention, performed as if in confirmation that the minimizing label of "nationalist" composer sits uneasily upon a creator with fresh things to say in absolute music. The florid phrase

Ho-jo-to-ho! A fever-dream of U.S. politics smushed together with 'The Ring of the Nibelung'

The Ring of the Nebulous (An April Fool’s Day operatic fantasy mashing up American politics on today's left and the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of the Ring Cycle) Current poster for production of the pivotal opera in the real "Ring."  Synopsis: Ages ago, communities formed out of necessity and created symbols and forms of wealth to help assure their prosperity and continuity. But greed and lust soon compromised devotion to the communitarian ideal. Value passed out of the hands of those who created it and was promiscuously distributed, sometimes by violence and theft. Values eventually solidified uneasily under two headings — one material, the other spiritual. But material wealth, essential to triumph of both values, has largely stopped flowing, having coagulated under the control of Monopoly Capitalism, taking the form of a precious Ring guarded by a Dragon who killed his rivals and cheated his partners. Old Socialism, the inheritor of the da