The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Violinist Benjamin Beilman, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and the Escher String Quartet will bring a youthful vibe to the seventh annual Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass, Memorial Day Weekend at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Rounding out the lineup are pianist Wu Han and cellist David Finckel, who have served as the event’s artistic directors since its inception in 2007.
In that short period, the festival has seen a number of changes, including the departure of one of the original co-presenters, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, and a change in leadership at the Shaker Village. But the appeal of hearing musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center perform in the pastoral beauty of the Shaker Village and the directors’ affection for the venue have sustained it.
“It’s the community; it’s the setting,” Wu said last year, in an interview with the Herald-Leader. “Management will come and go, from our experience, but art, if you have a community to support it, if you have the audience and, in the case of the Shaker Village, that particular setting, it’s irreplaceable.”
While the Escher will play several times together in the four concerts over two days, there will also be several chances for the group to mix with other musicians on pieces such as Johannes Brahms’ Sextet No. 2 in G major for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Two Cellos, which will close out the festival in the May 26 concert at the Meadow View Barn.
The event will open late on the morning of May 25 with Wu and Finckel, one of classical music’s celebrated couples, teaming up for Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano.
That concert will also give Beilman a solo turn performing Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata in E Minor for Violin and the Escher will play Benjamin Britten’s Three Divertimentos for String Quartet. The next morning, Vieaux will have the stage to himself with Isaac Albeniz’s “Sevilla” and “Asturias” from Suite española for Guitar. And then there will be plenty of mixing and matching over the four performances. The festival really is a chance to watch world-class musicians play, in several senses of the word.
Beilman’s star is rising quickly in the 2010s with appearances around the world, particularly in chamber settings, and an Avery Fisher career grant to his credit.
Vieaux has recordings of works by J.S. Bach and Astor Piazolla to his credit, serves as the head of the Guitar Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and he is a co-founder of The Curtis Institute of Music’s Classical Guitar Department.
The Escher String Quartet does take its name from the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, famous for works such as interweaving stair cases, and has racked up a distinguished list of venues and achievements over its eight years together, including being invited to perform at Itzhak Perlman’s summer festival. Its recorded catalog includes works by Alexander von Zemlinsky and Amy Beach.
Everybody loves a hometown hero. UofL basketball star Peyton Siva could barely do interviews for all the fans cheering SIVA! SIVA! as he entered the Barnstable Gala. He said he was enjoying the love and looks forward to coming back, even after he’s moved on to the NBA. Seems the party did save the best for last this year. We’re out. 11:05 p.m.
I was about to go, but Joey Fatone is here. 10:32 p.m.
Perennial Barnstable Brown Gala guest Travis Tritt pointed out that he sang the national anthem at the NCAA men’s basketball championship, which Louisville won. Therefore, he said he is definitely putting money on coach Rick Pitono’s Goldencents because, “he’s on a roll.” 10:27 p.m.
Valerie Harper, who is battling lung cancer, said she was doing well and, “I’m not going to waste my life worrying about when I’m going to die, so I came to the Derby.” Former UK football star and current Green Bay Packer Randall Cobb said he always enjoys coming to his “second home.” 10:17 pm.
When the stars come, they come fast at Barnstable brown. Among things we picked up in the last 45 minutes or so: Emilio Estevez is working on a movie about harness racing at several locations, including the Red Mile. “Thoroughbred racing is the sport of kings,” he said. “But harness racing is the working man’s sport.” He said he was dressed in jeans and a blazer because he lost everything at the Oaks. Josh Henderson acknowledged he drinks plenty of bourbon on Dallas. Stephen Amell acknowledged throwing back a lot of Guinness at Fourth Street Live. Larry Birkhead said he would like to get back on the other side of the red carpet, as a working journalists again. Revenge’s Christa Allen said she knew nothing about the Derby but, “I love horses.”
Accounted for so far: Morris Day, Freddie Jackson, Clay Walker and David Denman. Freddie stopped to talk to us and said he’s happy to have a “return engagement. You don’t always get invited back.” He sang a few Bars of “You Are My Lady” to Christa from the C-J And said he was going to rely on the ladies to pick Derby winner for him. 9:07 p.m.
Just talked to Christopher Brown, Tricia Barnstable Brown’s son, about his memories of the party, which include dancing with Brooke Shields when he was a little boy and getting his picture taken with Mark Harmon when they were both wearing white tuxedoes. Brown, who is now an attorney in New York, says his favorite guests are the ones that come back every year and, “have become family friends.” 8:10 pm.
Generally they don’t put reporters and photographers on the red carpet, but that’s where we are, waiting out a windy, pre-party shower. Some of the journalists are playing around getting shots in front of the branded backdrop, while fans huddle under coats and umbrellas. Not the place you want to have several thousand dollars with of AV or photo gear. 7:20 p.m.
It is hurry up and wait time here at the Barnstable Brown Gala. Media usually start to arrive late afternoon, and then we get to hang around until around 9, when the stars start streaming in. But the red carpet is freshly vacuumed, the tripods are set up, and it looks like we have national press from E! and other outlets. Fans are starting to line the fence lines. C’mon Miranda.
Louisville’s Barnstable Brown Gala will celebrate its 25th edition with plenty of old friends and some new faces Derby Eve.
Among the familiar faces at the home of The ‘Ville’s hostess with the mostess, Patricia Barnstable Brown, will be reigning country superstar Miranda Lambert, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, pop chart-topper Kid Rock, former ‘N Sync member and TV star Joey Fatone, and UK coach John Calipari, according to Louisville’s Courier-Journal.
New stars coming out this year include Josh Henderson, who plays J.R. Ewing’s son on TNT’s Dallas, Krysten Ritter, who plays the title role in ABC’s Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Stephen Amell of the CW’s Arrow, model Coco Rocha, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss of The Social Network fame, Peyton Siva of the national champion University of Louisville men’s basketball team, and UK’s Nerlens Noel.
According to the C-J, Larry Birkhead, whose famously met the late Anna Nicole Smith at the 2004 Barnstable party and had a daughter with her, will arrive with a camera crew in tow documenting his Derby experience.
The Barnstable party always boasts the longest celebrity guest list of the Derby parties, and this year is no different. The celebs can generally be broken down into several categories.
Country music will be well represented by Clay Walker; Kix Brooks, formerly of Brooks & Dunn; Travis Tritt; Lee Ann Womack; and Eddie Montgomery, of Kentucky’s Montgomery Gentry.
R&B and hip hop will be represented by Freddie Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Morris Day of Morris Day and the Time fame, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC, Taylor Dayne, and Johnny Gill of New Edition. The presence of Tony Award winner Jennifer Holliday means both actresses who won awards for playing Effie in Dreamgirls will be at Derby this year. Jennifer Hudson, who won her Oscar for playing the role in the film is appearing at the revived Grand Gala, Friday night. And Southern rock will be represented by Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mark “Sparky” Matejka.
The acting attendees include David Denman of The Office and Drop Dead Diva, Terry O’Quinn of Lost, Mercedes Masohn of Chuck, Breakfast Club star Emilio Estevez, and American Pie star Jason Biggs.
And there are always plenty of human athletes in Louisville to watch the horses race: the NBA’s Anthony Davis and Darius Miller of UK’s 2012 national champion men’s basketball team, former UK and current Green Bay Packers star Randall Cobb, his Green Bay teammate linebacker Clay Matthews III, Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel, Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and Olympian Bode Miller.
The organization that presents the east and west coast Creation festivals will resurrect Central Kentucky’s Ichthus Festival, though logistically it could be a very different event from the one that played for 43 years in Wilmore.
Ichthus, widely regarded as the original contemporary Christian musical festival, announced it was closing in December and put much of its physical and intellectual property up for auction early this year, primarily in an attempt to pay off outstanding debt.
But at the Winter Jam concert at Rupp Arena in March, the crowd of nearly 17,000 was the first to hear the news that Ichthus would return, and more information would be coming soon.
Festival director Mark Vermillion said it took a little bit longer than he and the new festival owners had hoped, but this week they announced that Ichthus will return in late September 2014 as a three-day, Thursday to Saturday event.
“The thing I’m really excited about with Ichthus being part of the Creation team is that we have very, very strong values alignment,” Vermillion said of Come Alive International, which produces the Creation festivals, as well as other Christian music festivals and events around the world.
“The things that have been important to Ichthus throughout its history are very important to the Creation team as well. Those things would be a ministry focus, doing things with operational excellence and being culturally innovative.”
Creation Festivals executive producer Bill Darpino echoed Vermillion’s assessment that there is a unity in purpose and history between Creation and Ichthus that persuaded the group to acquire the festival.
“We’re really excited for the future of Ichthus and coming in and becoming part of that family,” Darpino says. “The history there, the legacy, the ministry component really just resonated with us.”
Creation Festival Northeast started in 1979 in a park in Lancaster County, Penn., and later moved to its current venue of Agape Campground in Mount Union, Penn. Creation Northwest started in 1998 in George, Wash., and is now held in Enumclaw, Wash. Come Alive also produces the Sonshine Festival in Willmar, Minn., as well as events in Haiti and Ghana. Read the rest of this entry »
While not everyone has reported Derby Eve plans as of this writing (11 p.m. Thurs., April 25), celebrity guest lists are starting to shape up for several May 3 events in Louisville.
One bash making a notable return to the scene is the Grand Gala, which was last held in 2009. It has moved to Derby Eve and the Marriott-Louisville East and boasts an honest-to-goodness Oscar and Grammy Award winner in Jennifer Hudson atop the guest list. Sports royalty will be there in the form of basketball great Shaquille O’Neal and newly minted NFL star Robert Griffin III, who Washington Redskins fans (like me) tend to think is best thing to happen to Washington’s team since John Riggins. If you want to go, sorry. This gala is already sold out.
If your tastes are a little more country, the Unbridled Eve Gala may be what you want with Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year award winner Luke Bryan topping the bill. Also on the guest list for the event at the Galt House are actress Jane Seymour, The Hills star Lauren Conrad, country star Jo Dee Messina, and regular Derby guest Jennifer Tilly.
Over at the KFC Yum! Center, modern rock pioneers The B-52′s will be playing at The Julep Ball for a crowd including emcees Tiki Barber and Claudia Coffey. Tickets are still available for this event.
As of now, we still have not heard who’s on the guest list at the Barnstable-Brown Gala, which usually boasts the Derby’s deepest celebrity roster. Watch LexGo.com and this space for word on that lineup.
The CentrePointe lawn downtown will become a big art exhibit next weekend with the installation of Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes, a solar-powered sound display.
The exhibit is made up of 20 wood “sun boxes” that are equipped with solar panels, speakers, amplifiers and electronic sound modules. Each is loaded with recorded guitar notes that join to create unique melodies that change throughout the day, depending on clouds, sun and even the shadows of spectators. A statement from LexArts, which is presenting Sun Boxes, calls the piece “a sculptural experimentation with sound and solar energy.”
In that statement, Colorusso said, “Sun Boxes is really my way of improvising with Mother Nature. The sounds are both soothing and energizing, not unlike the sounds that might accompany yoga and meditation.”
LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark likens Sun Boxes to Bill Fontana’s Surface Reflections, a sound installation at the Lexington Financial Center, aka the Fifth Third Bank building, that brings the sounds of Town Branch to the surface in the space between the building and its parking garage.
“This installation is the latest in a program that provides a platform for non-traditional and/or alternative forms of public art,” Clark wrote. “Like Fontana, Colorusso began his artistic career as a musician and has evolved to join a growing number of artists that borrow ambient sounds and real-world noise as an integral part of their work.”
Sun Boxes will be open to the public in CentrePointe from May 3 to 5.
Colorusso’s work, including Sun Boxes, was the subject of the documentary short film Install: Sound, Light and Craig Colorusso.
My job is often to get celebrities to talk to me, not to tell them what they shouldn’t say.
But were I to ever be in the position of telling a celebrity how to conduct himself or herself in public, there is one six-word phrase I would tell them to never, ever, ever, ever say. In fact, I would advise them to train themselves to have an involuntary gag reflex if they start to say it, so as not to permanently relegate themselves to a subset of Hollywood infamy.
And because our beloved Commonwealth will be crawling with celebs next week as the Kentucky Derby approaches, I will dispense this one piece of advice:
Never let these words, or any variation on them, slip from your lips: “Do you know who I am?”
It will never turn out well.
Even if you are Rihanna, who was about to be kicked out of a London club last summer until she invoked the phrase and ended up getting to stay and enjoy free drinks the rest of the evening, the initial positive outcome will sour in this TMZ world, where every slip of the tongue goes viral. It is just difficult, if not impossible, to utter that self-aggrandizing sentiment without coming across as a conceited twit.
The latest celebrity to learn this lesson is America’s sweetheart, Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, who reportedly asked a police officer, “Do you know my name?” — a variation of “Do you know who I am?” — while being arrested last weekend in Atlanta, where she is filming a movie. Witherspoon and her husband, agent James Toth, were pulled over April 19 on suspicion of drunken driving. Toth was at the wheel, but Witherspoon reportedly became increasingly agitated as Toth was put through a sobriety test and arrested.
According to the arrest report, Witherspoon told the officer, “You’re about to find out who I am” and, “You are going to be on national news,” as she was being taken in for disorderly conduct.
To Witherspoon’s credit, she has since apologized and said she was clearly in the wrong, and she has agreed to a pre-trial program to keep the arrest off her record.
The thing is, her admittedly drunk behavior is now permanently on the public, if not official, record. She will have some work to do convincing fans that the real Reese is not the one who tried to invoke her privileged status when things got tense.
Yes, celebrities at all levels make millions of dollars and achieve lauded status because people pay to see and hear their work.
But fans never want to know that you believe the hype, that you think you are as great as they say you are. And it really irritates people when you pull that on police officers, who make a lot less money than movie stars while doing a job that carries the risk of people sometimes shooting at them. In most cases, anyone who says, “Do you know who I am?” is saying it to someone whose life is less lucrative and more difficult than theirs.
And really, we’re much more charmed when you presume we don’t know who you are. Case in point: At the first Barnstable-Brown Derby Eve Gala I covered, a gentleman came up to me, extended his hand and said, “Robert Duvall” as if I didn’t recognize the esteemed Oscar-winning actor.
In an Internet where most viral video is humiliating, we were charmed last summer with a clip of a young musician on the subway talking to an older woman who clearly didn’t know he was megamogul Jay-Z, and he didn’t presume she did. The equity in the situation was obvious when it was revealed that the woman, artist Ellen Grossman, is famous in her own right.
So yes, Kentucky doesn’t rub right up next to New York or L.A., but we do know who most stars worth knowing are. But if you are here, don’t presume that we do, particularly if you’re being arrested.
Lexington native and resident, when he’s not touring the nation on his bike, Ben Sollee made his Lincoln Center debut Saturday night in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse as part of the Center’s American Songbook series.
Kevin Dearinger, who splits his time between New York and Lexington, was in the audience and sent along a note to brag on Sollee:
“I have been following Ben’s career since he was in high school and playing backup (brilliantly!) for WoodSongs (Old-Time Radio Hour),” wrote Dearinger, author of The Bard in the Bluegrass: Two Centuries of Shakespearian Performance in Lexington, Kentucky. “Even then he stood out as a shy but definite star.
“He was great on Saturday — inventive, charming, touching, funny, original, and musically extraordinary. He is very generous with his audience and a great partner with his musicians. There was so much music that sparked with call and response. He spoke of Kentucky again and again with great pride, and I was full of Kentucky pride watching and listening to him. The crowd was eclectic and very enthusiastic. Ben is pretty irresistible. His son was dancing in the aisle next to me. I wanted to dance in the aisles, too, but it was Lincoln Center. My feet never stopped tapping.”
Also in the audience was New York Times critic Stephen Holden, whose review appeared online Sunday and in Monday’s paper. He wrote:
“Appalachian mountain music gave way to the blues, and one song was appended with a fragment from a Bach cello suite, beautifully played,” Holden wrote. “More often than not Mr. Sollee preferred plucking the instrument to bowing it.
“He affectionately recalled being introduced to the cello in elementary school and described the pleasure of bike trips, in which he pedals from gig to gig. In the hypnotic instrumental Fiddle Tune, Mr. Ellis tapped on the cello as Mr. Sollee evoked the euphoria of finding a comfortable groove while whizzing down the road. Joy peeked through the music like rays of sunshine in the Kentucky woods.”
Last year, when John Nardolillo scheduled the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra‘s presentation of Benjamin Britten’s massive War Requiem for Friday night, he had no way of knowing how appropriate its timing would be. And certainly he and the others involved in the performance would have preferred it wasn’t so timely, coming on the heels of a tragic week.
While Boston did not go to war this week, it certainly experienced some of its hallmarks, including improvised explosive devices, a suicide bomber, and shelter-in-place orders. And there were casualties: Officer Sean Collier Thursday night, and at the Marathon Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell, and 8-year-old Martin Richard, famously seen in a photo holding a sign that said, “No more hurting people.”
That was essentially what pacifist Britten was saying with Requiem, albeit with hundreds of musicians and in a composition that might be more appropriately called inspired than brilliant, though it is both.
Because of the 300-or-so musicians required to do the Requiem right, it is not presented often. Friday’s performance was at the very least the first Lexington rendition of the 1962 composition in recent memory, if ever.
It somewhat ironically requires the organizational skills of a general to pull the orchestra, massive choir, chamber orchestra, children’s choir, and soloists together in a performance of the Requiem. At the podium Friday was Nardolillo, who conducted the Boston Pops in December and has forged a relationship between his orchestra and the Boston group. Friday, he elicited an exceedingly sensitive performance from the powerful forces at his disposal.
The biggest evidence of how powerfully UK presented the work came in silence: the several “pin drop” moments, particularly at the end of the performance, where well over 1,000 people were left in near-perfect silence.
While Britten designated an overwhelming ensemble, some of the highlights of the Requiem are small moments or how all those musicians can be focused on an exquisite pianissimo moment.
The Requiem is a mix of the Latin requiem mass and war poetry by Wilfred Owen, a British soldier who died in World War I.
On stage, the large chorus — a combination of the Lexington Singers and the UK Chorale — and soprano Catherine Clarke Nardolillo, delivered the Latin text while a small chamber orchestra, conducted by Marcello Cormio, and tenor Justin Vickers and baritone Thomas Gunter sang. Located at the back of the Singletary Center for the Arts, Lori Hetzel conducted the Lexington Singers Children’s Choir in heavenly interactions with both stage ensembles.
UK alum Vickers made the most of his return to campus, with moments like his portrayal of Isaac in the story of Abraham and Isaac where you could see the child in his face as he asked, “where is the lamb?” He and current UK voice student Gunter created a haunting, “strange meeting” between enemy soldiers in the final movement, and throughout they were accompanied by the baker’s dozen chamber group, something of a UK orchestra all-star team. There never seemed to be a diminishing of forces when the focus shifted to them, though the larger ensemble had plenty of moments of its own. The fourth movement, Sanctus, was particularly stunning in its interplay between the soprano and the percussion, UK’s nationally revered percussionists shining all night.
Catherine Nardolillo was a strong vocal star through the evening, in part because she carried an appropriately serious demeanor at center stage.
As the forces combined for the finale, powerfully-gently singing, “Into paradise may the angels lead thee,” it seemed that after several turbulent and deadly days, including the tragedy in West, Texas, there could be no more appropriate end to the week — except, of course, walking out of the Singletary Center and reading the second bombing suspect had been captured.
Even before the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre opened its blockbuster production of Phantom of the Opera last October, director Everett McCorvey knew there was only one show to do for an encore: Les Miserables.
So, the day after Phantom closed, McCorvey says he wrote a letter to the show’s original Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh, telling him of the success of Phantom, which sold out 11 performances at the Lexington Opera House, and asking if he could get the rights to Les Miz.
Mackintosh forwarded the request to the show’s rights administrators and UK Opera received permission to stage the Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil musical Oct. 10 to 20 at the Opera House. Like Phantom, this will be the first time a full production of Les Miserables has been presented in Lexington, as the Opera House is too small to accommodate the stages and sets of the show’s professional touring productions.
The full-Broadway version of Les Miserables just recently became available to colleges. Nashville’s Belmont College was the first to present it, in March.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts did present the school edition of Les Miserables at the Opera House in March, and has presented that version before. The Oscar-winning film version of the musical brought it back into pop-culture consciousness late last year.
McCorvey said the UK production will be similar to the near $400,000 Phantom production and involve many of the same personnel, including stage director and set designer Richard Kagey, music director John Nardolillo and choreographer Susie Thiel. Auditions will be later in April, so cast members can work on their roles through the summer.
There will be more performances of Les Miz than Phantom with 13 public performances and two student previews. Tickets will go on sale in April 25 for the entire UK Opera season, which will also include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni March 6 to 9 and the annual It’s a Grand Night for Singing show-tune revue, June 13 to 22. (This season’s Grand Night is still to come, June 7 to 15 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.) Season tickets will be available only by phone, by calling (859) 233-3535 or at the Lexington Center Ticket Office. Available single tickets will go on sale in the fall.
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