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Showing posts from July, 2024

'White City Murder': New production brings back pre-pandemic Asaykwee musical

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Gray box at black box: Ben Asaykwee and Claire Wilcher Five years ago, in a country far away (it seems) from the present, just before COVID was on everybody's tongue and in the air they breathed, "White City Murder" debuted at the Phoenix Theatre , which is now finishing its 40th-season celebration in a performing-arts home with "Cultural Centre" formally added to the place's name. On Friday night, a season-crowning production of Ben Asaykwee's virtuoso musical fantasy on the legend of H.H. Holmes opened. It's focused on Holmes' nefarious activity around the 1893 Chicago world's fair, which itself was a virtuoso fantasy of scientific and purported social progress, embodied in its white architecture. The pseudonymous Holmes was a 19th-century serial murderer (a side effect of his specialty as a con man and swindler) who established scary residence near the site of the thronged Columbian Exposition (the fair's formal name). His complicated

Mahler 3: What the Minnesota Orchestra and its emeritus maestro tell me

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Years ago one of the alternative tabloids that flourished briefly here published an interview with the Osmo Vänskä has the vision and the vehicle. Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's new music director in which he delivered a dismissive assessment of Gustav Mahler's music.  I wish I'd saved it, because Raymond Leppard summed up the personal mood swings embedded in Mahler's works somewhat in this manner: "Oh, I'm glorious and blessed by God; Oh, I'm such a  sh*t!" My attempted paraphrase becomes an exact quote in the second phrase, as I was shocked that a symphony music director would express his disdain in such vulgar terms. But the Leppard dislike took hold, and I believe the only Mahler that Leppard programmed as music director (1987-2001) was the gentle, heaven-focused Symphony No. 4, which never visits the outhouse. Despite the permanent vogue Mahler now enjoys, there has long been a history of rejection, or at least resistance, among some professio