The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Dec27Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Arts administration, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Central Kentucky Arts News, Christmas music, Classical Music, Country music, Downtown Arts Center, Film, Horsemania, Kentucky Theatre, Laura Bell Bundy, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Music, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Secretariat, Singletary Center for the Arts, UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Allison Kaiser, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Fortnight Festival, Balagula Theatre, Blake Shelton, Debra Hoskins, Eric Seale, Gustavo Dudamel, Haiti, Institute 193, John Lithgow, La Bohème, Laura Bell Bundy, Lexington Art League, Lexington Chamber Chorale, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Marvin Hamlisch, Ouanamithe, Phillip March Jones, ProjectSEE Theartre, Rolling Stones, Scott Terrell, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Spotlight Lexington Festival, Stephanie Pevec, Steven A. Hoffman, The Chieftains, Thoroughbred Community Theatre, Tony Bennett, Trombone Shorty, U2, UK Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Lexington’s 2010 year in arts could not have been weirder if you took the city and plopped it in the middle of Florida. Between some major changes at area arts institutions and the unprecedented wave of local and national arts activity prompted by the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, it was a year unlike any we have had or will probably see again.
■ While we did not get U2 or the Rolling Stones as WEG organizers had originally hoped, the games did fill up theaters, and in many cases, theater seats during the two weeks and three weekends of the games. Topping the bill was the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the Norton Center for the Arts. It was a booking that was deemed impossible by New York agents and drew national attention, all made possible by the persistence of for Norton Center assistant managing director Debra Hoskins who smoothed the road with bourbon and chocolate.
The event itself was an unforgettable evening for the audience and a great experience for area musicians and others who got to interact with one of the world’s great orchestras and shining stars.
Other great performances brought in by the Games were an evening with Marvin Hamlisch and the UK Symphony Orchestra, which had a great fortnight playing for the opening ceremonies and a production of La Boheme as well; Blake Shelton, Trombone Shorty and Laura Bell Bundy at the Spotlight Lexington Festival downtown and performances by Tony Bennett, John Lithgow and the Chieftains.
There is talk of extending both the Spotlight and Alltech Fortnight festivals, which presented the bulk of the entertainment, into the future. But we probably won’t see this level of activity again unless the games come back.
The Games also brought a number of high profile art exhibits to the area including a retrospective of the horse in American art at the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky and the Gift from the Desert look at Arabian horses at the International Museum of the Horse.
■ Scott Terrell was hired as the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s new music director in 2009, but this is the year we really started to see his vision for the orchestra unfold, and its reverberations in the community. Unveiling the orchestra’s 2010-11 season, he showed he was willing to break traditions and initiate new collaborations. He presented Messiah is a smaller format than years past and brought groups including local school and college choirs into the Philharmonic fold for performances that broke the orchestral concert mold. He also instituted a new style of concert preview with the Kicked Back Classics event at the Downtown Arts Center in November.
The moves have not come without some friction, which change often produces. There was unhappiness over the Lexington Singers not being part of the Messiah this year, as Terrell wanted to go with a smaller chorus and the Singers did not want to downsize. Enter the Lexington Chamber Chorale as a new collaborator and the Singers presenting their own Messiah in a holiday arts season whose calendar was largely rewritten this year. Precipitated by the changes, the Singers are asserting themselves more as an entity in their own right, un-tethered to the Philharmonic calendar.
How all of this will settle remains to be seen. But it is clear this will be a new Philharmonic under Terrell’s baton.
The orchestra also got a new executive director as Allison Kaiser came over from the same post at the Lexington Art League and Stephanie Pevec took over that post.
■ This was the year without Actors Guild of Lexington. Long regarded as Lexington’s flagship theater for adult audiences, financial troubles and management departures in 2009 all but shuttered the company this year except for one production, a concert version of The Who’s Tommy at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom and the new Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater. That said, theater thrived in the area with first rate productions by the Lexington Children’s Theatre and area college and community groups and emergence of some new organizations such as ProjectSEE Theartre and productions out of the Thoroughbred Community Theatre in Midway. And there were successes such as Balagula Theatre’s strong showing in the Southeastern Theatre Conference Convention here in Lexington. Actors Guild has announced a lineup of shows for 2011 under the guidance of new artistic director Eric Seale, but the group will be joining an active theater scene.
Some other big stories of the year that is now almost done were:
■ Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts tapped Steven A. Hoffman as its new director, following the departure of longtime director George Foreman to the University of Georgia. With this month’s departure of assistant managing director Debra Hoskins, there has been a complete turnover in management at the Norton Center. This will be a story to watch in 2011.
■ Alltech launched a project sending University of Kentucky voice students to Ouanamithe, Haiti, to launch a music program and form a children’s choir. The choir came to Central Kentucky and made several appearances during the World Equestrian Games.
■ The Southeastern Theatre Conference, the nation’s largest regional theater convention, came to Lexington for the first time in more than 20 years, and by all accounts, it went wonderfully.
■ Secretariat brought some Hollywood glamour back to the Bluegrass, including a gala premier at the Kentucky Theatre attended by star Diane Lane and many others.
■ Lexington native Laura Bell Bundy launched a country music career with her Mercury Nashville debut Achin’ and Shakin’.
■ Horse Mania returned to the streets of Lexington, 10 years after the original edition in 2000.
■ Michael Tick was named the new dean of the University of Kentucky’s College of Fine Arts.
■ The Pioneer Playhouse in Danville suffered massive flooding during rainstorms in early May, but recovered and went on to a successful season thanks to an army of volunteers.
■ Phillip March Jones’ Institute 193 emerged as a major force in creating and presenting visual arts in Central Kentucky.
■ Among world premiers in Lexington this year were Aleks Merilo’s Blur in the Rear View and Bringing It Home: Voices of Student Veterans, by UK Theatre, Beth Kander’s See Jane Quit by Bluegrass Community and Technical College Theatre, Roger Zare’s Geometries by the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Frank X Walker’s I Dedicate This Ride at Lexington Children’s Theatre, and the regional premier of Brian Hampton’s The Jungle Fun Room by Studio Players.
Kenny Rogers was joking around with Buddy, his new best friend in the front row at the Lexington Opera House, who he was tossing $10 bills for every song he remembered when Rogers played it.
The Gambler joked about buying fans, and then said Buddy, “is going to be so excited about country music, he’ll go out of here and buy a Garth Brooks CD with my money.”
Funny thing is, Kenny Rogers was something of a Garth Brooks of his era. Like Brooks, Rogers piled up a stack of hits and helped bring country music to an audience of people who never tuned their dials to country radio stations.
It would have been nice if Rogers showed a little more respect for that catalog of hits during his 23-song set Thursday night that clocked in at just over 90 minutes.
Rogers took the stage for the show that was part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival singing a couple lesser-known tunes including Love or Something Like It and engaged in a lot of stage patter, almost ribbing the crowd that had paid $79 to $99 each for tickets to a fault, before getting into the meat of his hit parade with Through the Years and You Decorated My Life.
At 72, he looked trim – chasing twin 6-year-old boys around may help – if a little stiff. His voice seemed to falter in some early numbers but gained strength during the show until he gave a nearly full-throated rendition of Lady that reminded listeners of the early 1980s and why this man was such a huge star.
It seems Rogers didn’t want people to leave saying he didn’t play their favorite song of his as he hit most of the high points in his catalog, including solo versions of some of his duets - We’ve Got Tonight , which he originally sang with Sheena Easton, and Islands in the Stream, which he and Dolly Parton made famous.
The disappointing thing was a lot of those hits were abbreviated, with dropped verses or bridges and abrupt endings. It was particularly annoying on Coward of the County, where the middle verses about Becky were omitted so the title character’s revenge on the Gatlin boys made no sense.
Those perfunctory renditions of several classics made what could have been a reflective trip down memory lane feel more like a K-tel album, with three-and-a-half minute hits trimmed so they could fit 20-plus tunes on a single vinyl album
Rogers was an amusing host, joshing with Buddy, giving a couple shout-outs to his friend, former Gov. John Y. Brown, and supporting a cheer to bring back his fast food franchise, Kenny Rogers Roasters.
What he missed was a chance to make sure Buddy wanted to pick up a Kenny Rogers CD.
Sep30Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Classical Music, Lexington Opera House, Music, Opera, Reviews, UK; Tagged as: Alfredo, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Fortnight Festival, Giacomo Puccini, Gregory Turay, La Bohème, La Traviata, Manuel Castillo, Mary-Hollis Hundley, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Mitchell Hutchings, Nicholas Provenzale, Reginald Smith Jr., Rent, Richard Kagey, University of Kentucky Opera
Over the last decade, the University of Kentucky Opera program has been lucky to count Gregory Turay among its alums.
He’s the one who fulfilled the dream of winning at the national level of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, making it into the young artist program and embarking on an international career that we could sometimes tune in on TV or radio. And he occasionally came back for a recital or even a role, as he did in 2006 when appeared as Alfredo in a benefit performance of La Traviata.
UK and Lexington area opera fans are even luckier to have Turay as an artist-in-residence, leading a full UK Opera production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme as part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival in conjunction with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
The Richard Kagey sets and 1920s vibe will be familiar to local opera fans who saw this production in 2008, but the faces are different as many of that productions’ stars have moved on.
Clearly, with many of its artistic leaders involved in numerous activities related to the World Equestrian Games – including UK Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey heading up the opening and closing ceremonies – the program decided its best contribution to the cultural element of the Games was to revive a recent success.
And Boheme provides a nice showcase for several of the program’s most talented students, particularly Reginald Smith Jr. as Colline and Nicholas Provenzale as Schaunard, a really nice progression for him from Eisenstein in last spring’s production of Die Fledermaus. We’re also introduced to new UK doctoral candidate Mitchell Hutchings as Marcello, and he fits right in with the program that puts a heavy emphasis on acting in its operas.
Aug7Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Louisville, Music, Musicals, Singletary Center for the Arts, Theater, UK; Tagged as: 38 Special, Actors Guild of Lexington, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Fortnight Festival, Beguiled Again, Bettye LaVette, Downtown Arts Center, Fairplay Collective, Jason Aldean, John Sebastian, Kansas, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Makem & Spain Brothers, Marc Smith Poetry Slam, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Miranda Lambert, Ricky Skaggs, Ronan Tynan, Singletary Center for the Arts, The Decemberists
Alltech announced the lineup for its 16-day Fortnight Festival Sept. 25-Oct. 10. Like last year, the event will kick off with a country concert at Applebee’s Park and feature performances around the state, many of which are associated with series by other venues and organizations.
Unlike last year, the event is confined to just over two weeks. Sept. 25 is significant as it will mark exactly one year until the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
The lineup is:
Sept. 25 – Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert, Applebee’s Park, Lexington
- Sept. 26 – Bettye LaVette, Singletary Center for the Arts, Lexington
- Sept. 26-27 – Beguiled Again by Actors Guild of Lexington, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington
- Sept. 28 – Fairplay Collective, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington
- Sept. 29 – Singer/Songwriter Night, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington
- Sept. 30 – Marc Smith Poetry Slam, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington
- Oct. 1 – Makem & Spain Brothers, Lexington Opera House, Lexington
- Oct. 2 – Mary Chapin Carpenter, Equus Run Vineyard, Midway
- Oct. 3 – 38 Special & Kansas, Murray State University Regional Special Events Center, Murray
- Oct. 6 – The Decemberists, Singletary Center for the Arts, Lexington
- Oct. 6-7 – Battle of the Bluegrass, Tin Roof, Lexington
- Oct. 8 – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Paramount Arts Center, Ashland
- Oct. 9 – John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful, Grand Theatre, Frankfort
- Oct. 10 – String Band Day, Appalshop, Whitesburg
- Oct. 10 – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, RiverPark Center, Owensboro
- Oct. 10 – Ronan Tynan with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Singletary Center for the Arts, Lexington
Visit the Alltech website for tickets to each event.
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.
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