The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Copious Notes is taking a few days off for the Fourth of July week. New posts will resume this weekend. Meanwhile, for the latest on Central Kentucky arts and entertainment news — and there is some, this week — check out LexGo.com.
Jun28Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Lexington Philharmonic, Music; Tagged as: Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Fourth of July, Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington's Fourth of July Festival, Mission: Impossible, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Ronan Tynan, Scott Terrell, Simple Gifts, The Pink Panther
After Scott Terrell was named the new music director of the Lexington Philharmonic, most people, even the orchestra staff, figured the next time we’d see him would be in September for a gala season opener.
But Terrell had different ideas.
The conductor will be on the podium next weekend as the Philharmonic plays its annual Fourth of July concerts in Lexington Friday Night at Transylvania University and Versailles Saturday night at Woodford County Park.
“I was here, I was available, and it’s a big community event,” Terrell said from his Lexington home. “I thought it was an appropriate way to introduce myself.”
It’s also going to be a chance for Terrell to introduce a bit of his musical sensibility.
“There are going to be the traditional things that have always been there,” Terrell says. “But we’re also going to look at the breadth of American music, and what that means.”
What that means in this concert is we will hear some classic American tunes such as the Shaker melody, Simple Gifts; we’ll hear classic movie themes such as Henry Mancini’s for The Pink Panther and Lalo Schifrin’s Mission: Impossible theme; we’ll hear classic show tunes from Lerner and Lowe and standards from Cole Porter.
“While it is patriotic in parts, the broader scope is Americana,” Terrell says.
There will be numerous patriotic concert standbys, including the Star-Spangled Banner, My Old Kentucky Home and Stars and Stripes Forever.
But Terrell said he saw the concerts as chances to, “reshape that program, and usher in a new era.”
Thus far, Terrell says he’s received a good reaction from people in the orchestra and concert presenters who have seen the program.
Terrell has been putting the program together at the same time he has been moving to Lexington from Charleston, S.C., where he lived as resident conductor of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
He has also been solidifying the program for the Philharmonic’s upcoming 2009-10 season. Some noteworthy additions include:
■ Irish tenor Ronan Tynan in an Oct. 10 concert that will be part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival.
■ Acclaimed violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg in an April 17 concert to benefit UK HealthCare.
Information on those concerts and all upcoming Philharmonic events will be available at the Fourth concerts, which are some of the Philharmonic’s biggest events of the year.
“I wanted to do it, and that’s the bottom line,” Terrell said of the concerts. “It’s too much fun and too much of a community event not to take part.”
Jun27Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Arts administration, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, dance, Downtown Arts Center, LexArts, Lexington Philharmonic, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Equity, Actors Guild of Lexington, Campaign for the Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Deb Shoss, Dee Fizdale, Distillery District, Jim Clark, Joe Tackett, LexArts, Lexington Arts and Cultural Council, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Philharmonic, Long Time Traveling, Luis Dominguez, Michael Potapov, Silas House
The past few weeks have brought about some interesting Lexington arts headlines.
Lexington Ballet hires executive director: The Lexington Ballet reached, almost literally, across the fourth-floor lobby of ArtsPlace to hire the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s education director, Joe Tackett, as chief business officer.
The ballet’s board president, Michael Potapov, said, “Over the past several years, the board has worked to position the organization to once again become a pillar of the cultural landscape in Lexington.”
The ballet begins auditioning for a new professional company this week.
LexArts cuts Actors Guild’s funding: After what LexArts says has been several years of trying to work through financial travails with Actors Guild of Lexington, the united arts fund’s allocations committee cut off funding for Lexington’s only semi-professional theater for adults.
AGL had requested a $70,900 allocation from this year’s Campaign for the Arts, a figure comparable to the theater’s allocations in recent years. Actors Guild has appealed the de-funding.
That Actors Guild and the Lexington Ballet almost simultaneously made arts news in Lexington is familiar.
In spring 1998, a six-figure financial meltdown devastated the Lexington Ballet, which until then had been one of Lexington’s leading cultural institutions. In 1997, it received more than $80,000 in the Campaign for the Arts from what was then the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council.
Less than two weeks later, revelation of a $20,000 financial shortfall prompted the Actors Guild board to fire all three members of its management team.
Both groups ended up initially shut out of funding from the Campaign for the Arts.
But from there, the paths diverged.
Shortly after its house-cleaning, Actors Guild hired Deb Shoss as its new producing director, and she quickly brought the troupe back into the council’s good graces. When Shoss retired in 2002, then-LACC director Dee Fizdale said, “The LACC got behind the organization because it came to us with a solid plan that it carried out.”
The Lexington Ballet? Not so much, as far as the LACC was concerned.
The ballet’s management chafed at moves to monitor its attempts to recover. Officials had a stormy relationship with a consultant hired with support from LACC, and they vehemently opposed suggestions to merge Lexington Ballet with Kentucky Ballet Theatre, which was formed by dancers and the assistant director who were fired from the Lexington Ballet.
Actors Guild and Lexington Ballet are both still in business, but the dance group has never resumed receiving allocations from the LACC, which is now LexArts.
Nothing is black and white. Lexington Ballet did have successes in the ensuing years, and Actors Guild has had problems.
But the recent headlines show how much things can change over time.
The none-too-subtle subtext of ballet board president Potapov’s statement about the troupe’s latest move: We want to return to our former glory.
LexArts president and chief executive Jim Clark says the ballet has a way to go before it will be considered for allocations again, but that under the leadership of artistic director Luis Dominguez, the ballet has made strides in programming and presenting guest artists, including a collaboration with Dance Theatre of Harlem this spring.
The addition of a business leader and a professional company, reportedly comprising four dancers, could build on that.
Actors Guild also has shown ambition recently. It just wrapped up its season with one of its biggest hits: The world-premiere production of Kentucky author Silas House’s play Long Time Traveling. And the theater has moved its offices into the burgeoning Distillery District and announced plans to create a second stage series and a cabaret series and to enter into an agreement with Actors Equity, the stage actors union. All of these moves have been cited as revenue-generating initiatives.
But all that was before the LexArts allocations committee’s patience with Actors Guild’s financial travails seemed to come to an end.
Actors Guild is appealing the decision. And even if it does not get the LexArts funds, leaders say the theater can continue, although after losing $70,000, it’s hard to imagine that it would be the same type of organization.
And hiring new people in the front office and for the stage at the ballet is no guarantee of success.
But for now, 11 years after some of the most tumultuous days in Lexington arts, the toe shoes seem to be on different feet.
Thriller always gets all the props, but in many ways, the Beat It video (above) was Michael Jackson’s masterpiece — a gritty little drama with the classic Michael look and moves. You can look at this and see where a clip like the mini-movie of Thriller came from.
Last night, I wrote about how time has not been kind to Jackson’s public image and many young people today are probably mystified as to why there’s so much fuss about the gloved one.
The thing is, his legacy is a matter of multimedia history: the videos, the albums, even a few film appearances. Beat It is the first video I would send people to. And as iconic and historic as Thriller was, I’m one of many who would call the Off the Wall album that preceeded Thriller Michael’s best. It was the coming-of-age album for the former child star, and bash disco if you want, but Jackson did it as well as anyone.
Fortunately, he didn’t pursue film with as much verve as other pop icons. But even there, The Wiz features a nice little performance by Jackson, and it was one of the keys to launching his career.
Those are a few of my favorites, evidence of his greatness. What are some of yours? Comment below and share.
Jun25Filed under: Music, Rupp Arena, Television; Tagged as: Billie Jean, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Don't Stop the Music, Ed Sullivan Show, Eddie Van Halen, Elvis Presley, Lexington Center, Mecca, Michael Jackson, Motown 25: Yesterday Today and Forever, Rihanna, Rupp Arena, South Park, The Beatles, The Jeffersons, Thriller, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', WGVN-1580 AM
The last time we had the conversation, I was driving the kids to school.
Don’t Stop the Music by Rihanna came on the radio, and I mentioned that it used a Michael Jackson sample — Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, complete with a little bit of M.J.’s “woo-hoo!” in the background.
My daughter, a music nut who has a fairly loaded iPod, was genuinely astonished.
Michael Jackson recorded something good?
We’ve had this conversation before, because Michael Jackson as the King of Pop is kind of hard for them to grasp.
The Michael Jackson they know is a surgically made-over oddity who lived like a little boy and shouldn’t have been allowed around little boys. There are probably a lot of people like my kids, maybe even a generation older, who are a little mystified as to why he is so widely mourned.
Maybe you had to be in front of your TV on May 16, 1983, when Michael Jackson moonwalked across the stage on an NBC special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever. It was one of those jaw-dropping moments that is hard for us to have now, in an era of 500 channels and nothing on. The next day, everybody was talking about that unreal move, about the single glove, about what he was really trying to say in Billie Jean.
We wondered: Was this what it felt like when The Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show?
The thought occurred to us again on Dec. 2 of the same year as several of my friends and I gathered in the living room of a friend who had cable to watch the nearly-15-minute video for Thriller on MTV.
Fifteen minutes?! The song on the album was only six minutes.
That was Michael in his prime: a thriller, an innovator, a seasoned star perfectly positioned to take advantage of a quickly changing media market, and possibly the last truly galvanizing star in pop music.
Were rockers too cool for him?
Not Eddie Van Halen, the pre-eminent rock guitarist of the day, who lent a scorching solo to Beat It, one of seven Top 10 singles from the nine-track Thriller album.
Even if your primary tastes tended toward other genres, you knew about Michael Jackson and probably had the Thriller album. It was selling a million copies a week at its peak.
Jackson sent a thrill through Lexington when his mother announced that The Jacksons’ 1984 tour would start in Rupp Arena. Fans flooded Lexington Center, area radio stations and the Herald-Leader with calls from people looking for ticket information.
Alas, contract negotiations broke down between the tour manager and Lexington Center, and the concert never happened. Pair that with the Elvis Presley concert that Rupp had scheduled shortly after the King died, and you have a pair of dream concerts that Lexington never saw.
Jackson recorded other hugely successful albums — Bad and Dangerous — before the Jackson train started running off the rails. There was his rapidly changing appearance, his self-aggrandizing gestures, his disappointing albums and his failed tours. And then there were the allegations of child molestation that landed him in a humiliating trial. He was acquitted, but the damage was done.
The Michael Jackson the world came to know was synthesized in an episode of South Park called The Jeffersons, in which a creepy man whose face is falling off arrives in town with his strange son.
Jackson spent the past couple of decades trying to reclaim his 1970s and ’80s fame, and maybe it would have been best if he had just enjoyed that. We did.
Lexington enjoys it every Halloween, when the dancers from Mecca restage the Thriller dance downtown.
We enjoy it when a 21-year-old pop princess uses one of his legendary riffs in a new hit.
WGVN-1580 AM let listeners re-enjoy it last night, going all-Michael Jackson all night. When Jackson’s howl ushered in Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, my fingers reflexively cranked up the volume.
In later years, Michael Jackson didn’t do himself a lot of favors, as the bizarre image of him grew.
But kids, have no doubt: He was great.
Jun25Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Lexington Philharmonic, Music; Tagged as: Alessio Bax, Alltech Fortnight Festival, Arnaud Sussmann, Astor Piazolla, Avery Fisher career gran, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Evelyn Glennie, God Bless America, Lexington Philharmonic, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, New York Yankees, Paragon Music Theatre, Ronan Tynan, Ryan Shirar, Scott Terrell, The Four Seasons, Three Irish Tenors, UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, UK HealthCare
The Lexington Philharmonic‘s new music director, Scott Terrell, is going to start his tenure with more marquee names on the season schedule than the orchestra has had in quite a while. In addition to Evelyn Glennie, probably the best-known classical solo percussionist in the world Sept. 25, the Phil will also present:
Irish tenor Ronan Tynan in a concert that will be part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival Oct. 10. Tynan came to fame as one of the Three Irish Tenors and has been a ubiquitous presence at New York Yankees games in the past decade singing the full version of God Bless America. Terrell says this concert will probably tell him a lot about possible directions in which to take a revived Philharmonic Pops season.
World-renowned violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg will join the orchestra for an April 17 concert benefitting UK HealthCare. Terrell says Sonnenberg will be playing Astor Piazolla’s take on The Four Seasons.
The violinist added for the Feb. 12 Masterclassics concert is also a bit of a get: Arnaud Sussmann, who won a prestigious Avery Fisher career grant in April along with Alessio Bax, who is the pianist with the UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Aug. 26-30.
Also added to the full schedule, which will be released next week, are family concerts on Oct. 25 (a Youth Arts concert that will feature members of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras playing with the Phil and other young artists) and Dec. 13, which will bring Paragon Music Theatre director Ryan Shirar back to the Philharmonic podium.
Despite LexArts recent cut of Actors Guild of Lexington’s funding and the pending appeal of that decision, the theater’s summer shows are going on at the Downtown Arts Center.
Last weekend’s performances of the encore production of Bad Dates were cancelled due to low ticket sales, but Leslie Beatty’s performance of Theresa Rebeck’s one-woman show is scheduled to happen at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday. The well-reviewed production was one of two shows, Silas House’s Long Time Traveling being the other, that helped Actors Guild end the year on a positive note.
And at 8 p.m. July 10-18, Actors Guild will present Eric Bogosian’s subUrbia in conjunction with Apprentice Players. Apprentice Players are the group of high school and college actors who have staged recent productions such as Dog Sees God and last summer’s The History Boys. We’ll have more on subUrbia as the show draws closer.
If you are inclined to stay up until 1:30 in the morning, you may have seen this little preview of Hank Williams Jr.’s Fourth of July appearance here next week, plus a surprisingly credible rendition of Bocephus’ Family Tradition by Late Night host Jimmy Fallon. You get the feeling if Jimmy lived out the song a bit more before Hank called him over, he may have really killed that number. Anyway, it is a fun way to spend three minutes and change.
With the latest changing of the guard at The Tonight Show we were once again chatting about late night talk hosts, asking the question, could anyone truly replace Johnny Carson?
But the obituaries Tuesday morning brought a reminder of late night’s truly irreplaceable man: Ed McMahon.
Yes, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel have all comanded the desk of a late night chat show and millions have watched. But none of them has had an Ed McMahon.
Leno and Letterman each used their bandleaders as foils. Jimmy Fallon is currently out there on his own in his new Late Night gig, and could desperately use an Ed or Tina Fey — his old Weekend Update partner on Saturday Night Live. O’Brien has come closest to an Ed with Andy Richter, who actually performed an Ed-like role at the beginning of O’Brien’s Late Night gig, and has returned as the announcer for O’Brien on Tonight.
But even Conan acknowledged that there’s been nothing like Ed’s straight man to Johnny — and sometimes vice versa.
“Sitting alongside Johnny, Ed was an indelible part of what I think is the most iconic two-shot in television history,” O’Brien said on Tuesday’s Tonight Show. “It’s impossible for anyone to imagine the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson without Ed McMahon.”
And it is. Think about Carnac the Magnificent, and Ed is there. Think about any Johnny Carson skit, and Ed was there. He was a star who never really threatened to eclipse his star. He created a role and perfected it.
Johnny has had numerous successors. Ed has yet to be succeeded.
The impetus for showing The Hustler now is, of course, showing the late Paul Newman in his prime.
In 1961, Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats was probably as big an attraction, but the movie was the story of Newman’s “Fast Eddie” Felson, a pool hustler who loses big in the beginning and struggles to get back at great personal expense. It shows at 1:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday as part of the Kentucky Theatre’s Summer Classics Series. Admission is $4.
The story actually visits the Kentucky Derby as the setting for a key match for Eddie, though Louisville is not listed as a filming location. Most of the action takes place in New York City.
The Hustler is considered by many to be an American classic and Fast Eddie became an iconic American film character, though it took 25 years for Newman to win an Oscar for the part. He did that when he reprised the role in The Color of Money (1986), a sequel that finds aging Eddie trying to nurture a talented-but-cocky young Hustler played by Tom Cruise. The Martin Scorsese film featured Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Cruise’s girfriend and a soundtrack highlight by some solid Eric Clapton tunes.
But the original remains the classic.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich