The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Jul21Filed under: Balagula Theatre, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, dance, Film, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Music, Opera, Photography, Theater, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: allocations, Balagula Theatre, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Concert Band, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, grants, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Kremena Todorova, Kurt Gohde, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Bach Choir, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Living Arts and Science Center, The African American Forum, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre
LexArts has announced its recipients of general operating support and community arts grants.
The general operating support funds are unrestricted grants, generally to larger organizations in Lexington.
This year’s recipients are:
■ Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, $20,000
■ Lexington Art League, $62,000
■ Lexington Children’s Theatre, $120,000
■ Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, $165,000
■ Lexington Singers, $9,000
■ Living Arts and Science Center, $102,000
Community Arts Grants are given at two levels: Program grants to groups for operating support and specific endeavors and project grants to groups or individuals for specific projects.
Program grants go to:
■ Balagula Theatre Company, $8,600 – for its 2011-12 theater season
■ Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, $8,600 – for the Kentucky Great Writers Series, which brings 12 Kentucky authors to the center to work with writers
■ Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, $4,000 – for the 2011 festival
■ Kentucky Ballet Theatre, $8,400 – for the 2011-2012 season of performances
■ Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, $3,000 – for Stringed Instruments, The Art of the Luthier, a documentary film about stringed instrument-making in Kentucky
■ Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Inc., $7,500 – for the 2011 event
■ University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, $5,000 -for the Academy for Creative Excellence, which provides theater and music training for first through eight graders
Project grants go to:
■ The African American Forum, $1,500 – for The Smooth Jazz Fest
■ Artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, $2,500 – for 1000 Dolls, a project to create and install 1000 local-designed dolls along Limestone
■ Central Kentucky Concert Band, $1,750 – for the closing concert of the 2011-2012 season
■ Lexington Bach Choir, $1,000 – for the 2nd Annual Lexington Bach Choir Vocal Competition in which students age 30 or younger compete for cash and a solo opportunity with the Bach Choir
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.
Gregory Turay and Angelique Clay know this stage well.
“For me, it would have to be Magic Flute and Elixir, when we used to do the operas in here,” Turay says when asked about his favorite memories of performing in the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall.
Clay, who is seated with Turay near the back of the hall, remembers numerous Grand Night for Singing performances and preparing for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions on the Singletary Center’s main stage.
Turay and Clay were part of the University of Kentucky’s voice program in the 1990s, the early years of Everett McCorvey’s current tenure at the top. Now, they are both back in the program, Turay as an artist-in-residence and master’s student, and Clay as an assistant professor of voice. And they both will be back on the Singletary Center stage Sunday afternoon as the tenor and soprano soloists, respectively, in the Lexington Singers’ presentation of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.
They will be joined by two of UK Opera’s current stars, baritone Reginald Smith Jr. and mezzo-soprano LaShelle Allen.
“I’m going to feel like the small voice in that group,” Turay says with a laugh.
He has been the big star of the UK Opera program, having helped put it on the map with his win in the final round of the 1995 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Since then, he has performed at the Met and on stages around the world.
But he and his family have decided that Lexington is where they want to put down roots, as has Clay, who was surprised to be able to land a professorship at UK less than a decade after graduating.
Having been in the school before, Clay and Turay say they think a lot about the experience for students in a program that now bears little resemblance to the one they were in.
Dec14Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Christmas music, Music, Singletary Center for the Arts; Tagged as: acoUstikats, CWKYT, Kentucky Christmas Chorus, Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Paws and Listen, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, WMXL, WYMT
The Mayor’s office reports that 270 tickets have become available for tonight’s (Dec. 14) presentation of the Kentucky Christmas Chorus at the Singletary Center for the Arts. As of last week, the annual sing-along was sold out (weird term, we know, for a free event). But as often happens with a sold out show, a few tickets have shaken loose.
The Kentucky Christmas Chorus, which was previously presented at Rupp Arena, has been moved to the Singletary Center due to tight finances in the Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government. It will feature the Lexington Singers and an orchestra made up of Lexington Philharmonic and University of Kentucky Symphony musicians conducted by Jefferson Johnson, with guest artists the acoUstikats and Paws and Listen. It will be shown at 8 p.m. on CWKYT-TV 27.2 (Insight Channel 5) in Central Kentucky and WYMT-TV 57 in Eastern Kentucky, broadcast on WMXL-94.5 FM and repeated at noon Dec. 25 on WKYT-TV 27 and WYMT.
To get tickets, call the Singletary Center for the Arts ticket office at (859) 257-4929.
Dec11Filed under: Christmas music, Classical Music, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Reviews, Singletary Center for the Arts; Tagged as: A Holly & Jolly Sing-Along, Alluring Handbell Choir, Bill Meck, Candy Cane Concert, Collage, Diana Evans Dancers, George Frideric Handel, Home for the Holidays, Kentucky Christmas Chorus, Lexington Catholic High School Choir, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Messiah, Randol Bass, Rene Clausen, s Hershy Kay, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Scott County High School, Twas the Night Before Christmas, University of Kentucky choirs, Variations on Joy to the World
Friday night the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra launched its new Christmastime show, Home for the Holidays, which falls somewhere between the University of Kentucky Choirs’ holiday Collage, the Kentucky Christmas Chorus and the Philharmonic’s own Candy Cane Concert.
Where exactly it falls was still something of an open question after Friday’s performance.
It was a concert that certainly had its moments featuring some cool arrangements of familiar songs and local school and community groups well worth hearing. What the night lacked was cohesion, a real sense of purpose beyond throwing a lot at the stage for a holiday extravaganza.
Candy Cane, part of the Phil’s family series, is where the orchestra used to put on its holiday extravaganza. And there were actually several elements in Friday night’s event that will be included in Sunday afternoon’s Candy Cane performance – including several appearances by Diana Evans Dancers, WLEX meteorologist Bill Meck reading Twas the Night Before Christmas and the concert-closing A Holly & Jolly Sing-Along.
Home for the Holidays supplemented that material with some highlights like great arrangements of Once in Royal David’s City and I Saw Three Ships featuring the Alluring Handbell Choir and a René Clausen choral version of O Holy Night that the Lexington Singers and Philharmonic navigated with beautiful subtlety – something of a refreshing change from the soloist spectacular, which is how the number is often presented.
Less successful uses of the singers were in a few humorous numbers: You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch and PDQ Bach’s Good King Kong Looked Out. They were delivered with enthusiasm, but quite hard to understand, so the laughs were mostly lost. A lot of the fun of the evening came from Rockettes-like performances from the Diana Evans Dancers, including a high-kicking line on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
The baffling thing about the dancers’ performance was the lighting. For much of their time on stage, Evans’ crew was stuck in shadows at the front of the stage. It was a shame we had to strain our eyes a bit to see their bright performances.
Other guests acquitting themselves nicely were the Lexington Catholic High School Choir, vocal majors from the School for Creative and Performing Arts and brass musicians from Scott County High School. The Lexington Catholic singers, in particular, presented a very mature performance.
After a weekend of small, baroque renditions of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, the Philharmonic itself delivered some big, cinematic performances through the evening, including Randol Bass’ setting of Twas the Night Before Christmas.
So there was a bunch to like Friday night. But it just never came together.
There were moments it seemed the idea was taking a fresh look at familiar songs such as Hershy Kay’s Variations on Joy to the World, times it seemed the idea was showcasing local talent like Alluring, times it seemed like a community sing along and times it just seemed like a glorified Candy Cane Concert.
Since coming to Lexington in 2009, Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell has made a lot of changes with the orchestra. Most, like the downsized Messiah last weekend, have come across as a well-articulated artistic vision.
If there are future editions of Home for the Holidays, maybe they will gain focus and cohesion and become a compelling articulation of the orchestra’s take on the holiday spectacular. But this was the rare time in Terrell’s tenure a show has just felt like change for change’s sake.
Dec3Filed under: Christmas music, Classical Music, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Music, Reviews, Singletary Center for the Arts; Tagged as: Angela Gilbert, Baroque, Berea College Concert Choir, Cathedral of Christ the King, Chamber Singers, Christ Church Cathedral, George Frideric Handel, Jamie Van Eyck, Javier Abreu, Joseph Van Fleet, Lexington Chamber Chorale, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Messiah, Ryan Taylor, Scott Terrell, Union Church
Before Thursday night it was already obvious there were big changes to the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra‘s annual rendition of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.
Instead of driving to the University of Kentucky’s Singletary Center for the Arts, we were directed to the Cathedral of Christ the King in Chevy Chase. And on stage – or, um, the chancel? – the orchestra was all of 27 players, backed by the 37 voices of the Lexington Chamber Chorale instead of the 100-plus Lexington Singers.
But the biggest transformation came in the performance, in which Handel’s classic oratorio went from a grandiose set of timeless tunes to a story.
In slightly less than 90 minutes, maestro Scott Terrell and his collaborators, including a sterling quartet of vocal soloists, took us through the three distinct acts of Messiah: the prophecy of Christ, his birth and life, and his death and resurrection.
Not only did the scaled-down size of the orchestra and no-intermission format accent the drama of the piece, but the setting of the Cathedral, where the presentation was delivered beneath a large crucifix, made the whole gist of the program pretty hard to miss.
This is what Terrell, in his second season with the Phil, wanted to do with the work: make it closer to its original Baroque-era form where the dancing rhythms and nuances of the story could be illuminated.
This is not completely new to Lexington. Christ Church Cathedral has delivered a Baroque-era Messiah nearly as long as the Philharmonic has presented the large-scale modern version at the Singletary Center. (Christ Church will do so again Friday night, at almost the same time the second performance of the Philharmonic’s production is presented.) And over the years, area churches and colleges have produced smaller-scale versions.
But the Philharmonic’s Messiah easily attracts the largest Central Kentucky audiences for the work. So the orchestra’s radical change means a change in how most area music lovers experience Messiah.
The Kentucky Christmas Chorus will have a very different look and a somewhat different cast of performers for its 21st edition at 7:40 p.m. Dec. 14.
The chorus, which has traditionally been held at 23,000-seat Rupp Arena, will be presented in the University of Kentucky’s 1,500-seat Singletary Center for the Arts this year. And the Lexington Philharmonic will not be involved. Instead, the Kentucky Christmas Chorus Orchestra, which will include members of the Phil, will play with the Lexington Singers under the baton of Singers artistic director Jefferson Johnson.
The event will still be broadcast live by WKYT-TV’s CW digital sub-channel (Insight Channel 5) in the Lexington area and WYMT-TV in Eastern Kentucky, and rebroadcast at noon Christmas Day by WKYT and WYMT. The crowd will warm up from 7:40 to 8, with the live broadcast starting at 8 p.m. Dec. 14.
Admission is still free, but since the venue is so much smaller than Rupp, tickets are more essential. They are available through the Singletary Center ticket office.
Jul23Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, LexArts; Tagged as: Bluegrass Community Foundation, Boomslang, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, Fund for The Arts, Governor's School for the Arts, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Kentucky Chinese American Association, KY Women Writers Conference, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Ballet Company, Lexington Chamber Chorale, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government, Lexington Opera Society, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Living Arts & Science Center, Music Institute of Lexington, Nexus: Toward New Land Art, Theatre of PossABILITIES, WRFL
LexArts recently announced that the 2010 Fund for the Arts campaign took in $1,003,000 and released its list of recipients of allocations and grants for the coming fiscal year.
The fund’s total exceeded the goal by $3,000 and included $450,000 from the Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government. Money raised by the campaign supports LexArts grants and allocations.
This was the first year for tiered allocation recipients, as LexArts split eligible organizations into two groups:
■ General Operating Support I, for not-for-profit arts organizations that are managed by paid full- time staff with budgeted expenses exceeding $250,000. The recipients are:
Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, $165,000
Lexington Children’s Theatre, $120,000
Living Arts & Science Center, $102,000
Lexington Art League, $62,000
■ General Operating Support II, for not-for-profit arts organizations managed by paid full- or part-time staff with budgeted expenses exceeding $50,000:
Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, $10,000
Lexington Singers, $9,000
Music Institute of Lexington, $5,000
■ LexArts Community Arts Grants, designated for specific projects and programs are:
Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, $7,500 for Kentucky Great Writers Series.
Kentucky Chinese American Association, $7,000 for Chinese New Year celebration 2011.
KY Women Writers Conference, $5,000 plus free use of the Downtown Arts Center for the Conference.
Lexington Ballet Company, $5,000 for new works in the 2010-2011 season.
Kentucky Ballet Theatre, $5,000 for 2010-2011 season.
Lexington Opera Society, $5,000 for Get Stuffed, a children’s opera that teaches healthy eating habits.
Lexington Chamber Chorale, $5,000 for additional community performances during its 20th season.
Governors School for The Arts, $2,500 for instrumental music program.
Theatre of PossABILITIES, $2,500 for a two-week theatre camp for children with ADHD, ODD and bipolar disorders.
Bluegrass Community Foundation, $2,500 for Legacy Trail Public Art Project.
WRFL, $2,500 for Boomslang, A celebration of Sound and Art.
Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, $5,000 for 2010-2011 concert series.
Nexus: Toward New Land Art, $2,000 for artist expenses with temporary installation for the Loudoun House in Castlewood Park.
Apr23Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Lexington Singers, Music, Reviews, UK; Tagged as: Ben Arnold, Hector Berlioz, Itzhak Perlman, Jason Brown, Jefferson Johnson, John Narolillo, Lexington Singers, Marvin Hamlisch, Requiem (Grande Messe des mortes), review, Singletary Center for the Arts, UK Chorale, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra
It happened, as things tend to do in Requiems, in the Dies Irae, the second movement.
The low strings in the orchestra and high voices in the choir opened, staking out the extremes. Then the rest of the 325 musicians assembled for Friday night’s performance started filling in. As the brass choirs at the back of the concert hall blew and the percussion started to roll, it was clear that no recording could do Hector Berlioz’s Requiem (Grande Messe des mortes) justice.
The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, UK Chorale and Lexington Singers capped off the 2009-10 classical music season in Lexington giving the city the extremely rare chance to experience Berlioz’s gargantuan masterpiece. Best as anyone can tell, no one else has done a fully realized version of the Requiem here in the 173 years since it was composed. In the curtain speech at the beginning of the concert in the Singletary Center for the Arts concert hall, UK School of Music chair Ben Arnold asked how many people in the audience had heard the piece live, and only a few hands went up.
Lexington music lovers seemed to grasp the gravity of the event, forming a line for tickets that at one point went out the door, and delayed the performance for a few moments.
Under John Narolillo’s direction, it was well worth the wait — a few minutes or 173 years.
There was, of course, the sheer power of the 325 musicians working in concert to convey the passages of wrath, judgement and glory. But what made this performance incredible was the sensitivity with which all the musicians approached it. The Berlioz Requiem’s power is as much in near-silent moments such as a soft cello trill or the steady pump of bassoons through the Offertorium as it is in its passages of bombast.
Friday’s performance was all the more impressive considering the rarely performed piece was new to pretty much everyone in the show, including Nardolillo, and they only had a couple chances to practice it together before Friday night. The musicians brought their best to this performance, including tenor soloist Jason Brown, who rose to the intimidating task of being the sole solo voice in this mass of musicianship.
One quibble with the concert would be in formatting. The event opened with Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and then offered the first four movements of the Requiem then an intermission, and then the final six. By the end of the fourth movement, we were drawn in to the piece and ready to continue. Inserting the intermission broke the mood and presented the audience with an awkward question of whether to applaud in the middle of a requiem and the musicians with the apparently equally awkward question of how to respond.
Lexington presenters seem to be somewhat locked into an idea that performances must have two halves with multiple selections. Pieces like the Berlioz Requiem can and really ought to stand on their own, and asking an audience to sit for 90 minutes is perfectly reasonable – theater and movie crowds do it all the time.
But that choice hardly ruined the evening.
It is great to bring in marquee soloists, as the UK Symphony has done and will continue to do (see below). But what Narolillo and chorus director Jefferson Johnson did in putting together this concert was show that in Lexington there is the talent, and enough talent, to pull off a major work that is rarely performed due to the scope of the production.
It was town and gown on an epic scale.
In addition to finding out few people had seen a performance of the Berlioz Requiem before, Arnold also announced two major UK Symphony concerts next season:
- Composer Marvin Hamlisch will conduct a pops concert with the orchestra as part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival and the Singletary Center’s Signature Series on Oct. 2.
- Violinist Itzhak Perlman will perform with the orchestra March 5, 2011.
Ticket information has not been announced for those performances.
Dec26Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Arts administration, Balagula Theatre, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Current Affairs, dance, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, LexPhil conductor search, Music, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, Theater, UK, Visual arts, Woodford County Theatre; Tagged as: A Bluegrass Tapestry, Actors Guild of Lexington, Always Patsy Cline, Balagula Theatre, Bob Edwards, Heather Parrish, James Archambeault, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kentucky Humanities Council, Kim Shaw, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Long Time Travelling, Lorne Dechtenberg, Luis Dominguez, Norton Center for the Arts, Our Lincoln, Paragon Musisc Theatre, Richard St. Peter, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Scott Terrell, Studio Players, The Christmas Presence, The Infamous Ephraim, The Koln Concert, The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, The Magical Tales of Beatrix Potter, The Woodford Theatre, Token of Affection, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra
New Year’s Day 2009, I assumed by New Year’s Eve I would have written about at least one Lexington arts group closing its doors. The economy was buried nose-first in the ground and theaters and other arts organizations were closing their doors around the county. While Actors Guild of Lexington did give us plenty of offstage drama, there actually were no fatalities here as far as arts groups go, and some even thrived despite the nation’s foundering fortunes.
The poster child for doing quite well, thank you very much, was Studio Players. In the depths of our national despair, Studio put up a winter show about Mary Todd Lincoln it thought would probably have limited appeal. And “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” was a sold out hit that had to add performances to accommodate the audiences.
And that’s pretty much how 2009 went for Studio, the pinnacle of the year being the summer production of “Always, Patsy Cline” that added numerous performances including unprecedented, for Studio, Wednesday shows.
Studio was not alone in bucking trends. The Lexington Ballet went out and hired a new company of professional dancers, the ballet’s first pro troupe since the early part of this decade. Paragon Music Theatre presented its first two productions directed by new artistic director Robyn Peterman Zahn at the Lexington Opera House.
Now Lexington and Central Kentucky were not immune to economic challenges. Donations to campaigns cooled a bit and the Kentucky Arts Council has had to endure several cuts due to state cuts. But, everyone came out alive.
Of course, there were other big arts stories this year:
A new maestro: After two years of searching, the Lexington Philharmonic named Scott Terrell its new music director. He succeeded George Zack, who held the Philharmonic’s baton for more than three decades, and so far, it seems the change has done the orchestra good.
“This orchestra is coming alive,” Herald-Leader critic Loren Tice wrote, reviewing November’s MasterClassics concert. “There is a sense of cohesion, of belief that there is first-rate music being made here.”
The new face has given the Philharmonic a chance to rebrand itself with a more youthful profile, helped by a group of hip, young soloists to start Terrell’s debut season. In all, it has been a profound change for Lexington’s flagship arts group.
Actors Guild melts down: Lexington’s one-time flagship theater had a very different year. Actors Guild of Lexington has long been angling to become the area’s fully-professional theater for adult audiences — Lexington Children’s Theatre has been a professional house for years. In May, it announced plans to make that move, but less than a month later, the bottom fell out. LexArts, exasperated after years of AGL’s financial roller coaster, withdrew annual general-operating funding from the theater. That nearly-$70,000 hit sent the theater into a tailspin, with both artistic director Richard St. Peter and managing director Kimberly Shaw eventually leaving to pursue other opportunities.
This fall, AGL has presented an abbreviated and altered schedule from what was announced in the spring. The December production of “The SantaLand Diaries” was reportedly sold out, and Actors Guild says it is making plans for 2010. But none have been announced.
It should be noted that at the same time this story has played out, other area theaters including the ones mentioned above plus The Woodford Theatre, Balagula Theatre and Children’s Theatre have thrived.
“Our Lincoln” in Washington: Many Lexington artists and groups go to perform in other areas on celebrated stages such as Carnegie Hall and even Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. But taking 375 performers from a diverse ensemble of groups to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington was a whole new level of ambition.
The Kentucky Humanities Council pulled it off, traveling – despite the epic ice storm that befell Central Kentucky – on the first days of February to put on a show for 1,463 people. The performance, narrated by Bob Edwards and including the Lexington Singers and the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, is now available on DVD from the Humanities Council Web site.
Film incentives pass: In June, the state General Assembly passed a bill providing financial incentives to filmmakers who shoot in Central Kentucky. The incentives – a 20 percent refundable tax credit for production and post-production expenses for feature filmmakers who spend at least $500,000 in Kentucky – are seen as essential to attract filmmakers. An immediate result was Disney’s “Secretariat” chose to come to Kentucky for filming in October.
New works: It’s always important to remember new performing arts works, because they help keep the disciplines vital and relevant.
This year started with the Lexington Ballet’s production of artistic director Luis Dominguez’s “The Magical Tales of Beatrix Potter” in March and concluded with The Woodford Theatre’s original holiday show, “The Christmas Presence.” In between, Actors Guild launched Silas House’s second work for the stage, “Long Time Travelling;” Pioneer Playhouse director Holly Henson presented “The Infamous Ephraim,” about Danville physician Ephraim McDowell’s historic abdominal surgery; the UK Opera Theatre premiered composer Joseph Baber and librettist James W. Rodgers’ opera “River of Time,” about young Abraham Lincoln; the Lexington Singers premiered “A Bluegrass Tapestry,” which was 11 songs accompanying the photography of Scott County’s James Archambeault; the Lexington Ballet presented “The Koln Concert,” set to Keith Jarrett’s iconic jazz concert album and the UK Symphony premiered Lorne Dechtenberg’s “Token of Affection.”
Lexington’s Michael Shannon was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for “Revolutionary Road.” … Lexington musical theater artist Christopher Tolliver was fatally shot at Lexington Green. … The New York Philharmonic played a sold-out show at Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts. … Lexington Children’s Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary. … The Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras named Kayoko Dan its new music director. … Former UK Opera star Reshma Shetty landed role on the USA TV network’s series “Royal Pains.” … LexArts announced Horse Mania will return in 2010. … UK’s Cliff Jackson was named “coach of the year” by Classical Singer magazine. … Winchester’s Jason Epperson, runner-up on Fox’s “On the Lot” film-director reality series, shot his feature film debut, “Unrequited,” in Central Kentucky. … Norton Center completed a $3 million rennovation. … The Men of Note big band played its last gig. … Former Kentucky State University drama teacher and area director Jack Parrish died. … Norton Center director George Foreman announced he is leaving for a University of Georgia job. … The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes came to Rupp Arena for the first time with the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”
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