Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Culture Fashion

Provost Liz Grobsmith sparkles at the Take a Seat table.

Symphony stylistas
  I took my mom to last Friday's Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra event.  It was a special concert that showcased the very best of our local talent; Louise Scott (violin,) Mary DiBartolo (cello,) Rebecca Kemper Scarnati (oboe,) Kent Moore (bassoon,) and David Vining (trombone) all soloed, and Jon Eder was the guest conductor.  The concert was held in honor of the late Joel DiBartolo, jazz musician extraordinaire, and his colleague, Bruce Reiprich, composed a special piece for him.

It was a great concert to show off FSO to my mom, visiting from Colorado.  I welled up with a wee bit of Flagstaff pride--and I told my mom that there is a certain style standard that symphony-goers have to live up to.  This fashion pride for my hometown is a feeling that has been rising within me more and more lately.  When I was at the New Year's Eve Pine Cone Drop this year with my son, I thought I would burst with love for my town.  The "drop" is such a unique celebration, funky and cool.  And then I looked around and saw people who were bundled up and still looked fantastic, with that same kind of unique expression.  (You can be warm, and still look cute!)

   FSO concerts are always a special fashion event that call for breaking out the hats, sparkly jackets, and velvet scarves.  The ladies who hold season tickets seem to have the angle on it.  (See pictures above for Liz Grobsmith and other fashionistas who rock the casbah with their symphony duds.)

  So it brings me to an essential question.  We mountain-town people, who love our UGGS and warm North Face jackets, need to be somewhat respectful of the weather and our environment.  If we can pull off fancy duds that are stylish AND practical, isn't that an artform in and of itself?  Don't we deserve more fashion nods than the girls who wear the 6-inch stillettos?  I mean, aren't we more creative, dare I say...smarter?!

  I'm not sure of the answer, but I love going to the symphony for both the music and the styles.

Me and Mom.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Young Musicians Hit Deep Notes

Mary and Celeste rock Sundara.

  On Friday night, my friend Meghan and I went to Sundara for a little show produced by Bold Moon Music.

  Bold Moon Music is an online mentoring project that matches local singer songwriters with local mentors.  Some great people, Jody Cody and Michael Helsher to name a few, are pretty busy helping musicians (young and old) find their rhythm and get the confidence needed to perform live.

  It was pretty great to see the performers have fun onstage.  They ranged in age, from young teenagers Mary Greenlaw, Celeste K., and Jake to veteran musicans Mike, and visiting musician Heather Pierson.  Everyone played songs that they had written, as well as covers.  It was a perfect mix of accessible music, and stuff that really went deep.

  I came away from the show with the feeling that music is a great family bonding experience, and the desire to incorporate it more into my own family life.  Everyone up there was with their family; Mary and Celeste were sisters, Mike and Jake were father/son, and I just assumed that Heather was up there with her partner, because they had a really sweet connection.

  Someone once gave me the really good parenting advice that I should always stay connected to my son's music and my son's friends, and then everything would be okay.  If music is part of your family experience, it seems like it might just help take you further down the road when you have problems or tense moments. When you can't talk to dad, at least you can connect with music.  Or if you can't find the words, sometimes a song is the perfect way to express yourself. And music can take you to a higher level--it can really create a space for fun and happiness.

  I also like the idea of having younger ones so interested in the musical experience.  Those that were onstage had a load of self-confidence and self-possession.  I'm sure that kind of concentration under pressure really helped when it came to other situations that were stressful. Mary Greenlaw confirmed it when she told me "Performing has changed me a lot.  It's addicting, I love the adrenaline and it's really fun."

  There weren't that many people at the show last Friday, which is too bad, considering how magical Sundara can be as a performance space, and how wonderful the musicians were.  I was incredibly happy to have the intimacy of a small performance, however, and I didn't mind.  It felt like we were in someone's living room, and the connection between the performers and audience was blurred.  The beautiful singer songwriters helped take the edge off a stressful week, and gave me a uplifting running start to the weekend.  I was there with good friends, and people who I felt were friends. 

  It's funny.  After I wrote that, Mike Helsher told me something very similar.  "I think that, especially if one is writing and performing their own songs, there is an opportunity to make what I call a heart connection with the crowd. One of the definitions of love that I like is: "resonance." In that sense music can be an expression of love," he said.

  Bold Moon Music has a few shows a year, featuring both young mentees and experienced performers, so you will always have something to enjoy.  You can find out more about the program, or even donate, at boldmoonmusic.org.

Music for everyone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My own personal Auction Madness

Me and JT Tannous at the 10x10 Exhibition

The spring semester has officially started!  Cute, fresh, students are running around with their notebooks clutched tight and their pencils sharpened.  They all ask me for directions to their classes.  I just want to pinch their cheeks, and remind them of their enthusiasm in 2-3 months, when they are frantic and stressed with finals.  But hey, that's months away!  Let's ride this tide of energy while we can!!

Last weekend I got to see adults get carried away with same kind of enthusiasm at the Flagstaff Cultural Partners' Member's Preview of the 10x10 Exhibition.  The exhibit contains 100 local artists who created over 150 pieces of a ten-inch by ten-inch piece of artwork to sell or start at auction for only $100.  The proceeds of the sale go to FCP.

The biggest excitement of the evening was that it was an AUCTION.  One of my favorite movie tropes (and indeed, real-life archetypes) is the auction-crazed bidder, who spends money he plainly doesn't have, and comes home to his wife with his hat in his hand and, for instance, a hot-blooded war horse that is supposed to learn how to plow the fields.

We all know of these stories.  Last year, I sat next to a couple at the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra Gala, and the husband bid $500 on THE WRONG THING.  He realized his mistake as the closing of the auctioneer's chant, got white, sweaty and turned to his wife.  "I think I f*#@-ed up, but it's okay," he tried to reassure both her and himself, a non-golfer who had just bought a golf session at some fancy resort.

So I was perfectly aware of  this mistake, having watched a million movies and even seen it in real life.  I, myself, was particularly mad that night for a piece by Joe Cornett and Ben Shaffer called "The Vision."  There was no auctioneer chanting unintelligibly with the sole intention of creating a buying panic.  But, still, I was a woman on a mission, and lo to the hapless fool who tried to talk about unrelated matters.  I was clearly antisocial in my single-minded goal.  I sacrificed a few conversations for the cause.

However, my tenacity did win my auction, and I am now the happy owner of a vintage piece of technology/art.  "The Vision" is simplistically beautiful.  It's a hand-crafted wooden box with camera aperture that you can peek inside, to see an illuminated slide on the far wall.  I love it, because I think old technology is so romantic (pneumatic tubes, anyone?) and I love the smell of wood.  I also love art that involves the viewer.

You can go see my new piece, and bid on your own favorite art next weekend.  The public opening reception for the 10x10 Exhibition is Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 6 -8 p.m. at the Center.  And if you see me there, I'll be more likely to have a conversation with you!

A piece on display at 10x10 Exhibit.  "In the Tapeats at Oza Butte" ink drawing by Bruce Aiken. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Erasable Color: Contemporary, Entrepreneurial, and just so darn sweet!

NAU's student ensemble, ERASABLE COLOR will play on Jan. 13 at Sundara 
  Some days I just absolutely adore my job, like the days when I get to meet students so excited and passionate about their futures that I want to help them in whatever way I can--because they deserve to accomplish their dreams.

  I spent a little time recently talking to the NAU student ensemble, ERASABLE COLOR, and got a complete buzz from their energy and enthusiasm for their art.  ERASABLE COLOR is a contemporary music quartet made up of Liza Stegall (saxophone); Drew Worden (percussion); Owen Davis (percussion); and Jess Ryan (piano).  They are all seniors at NAU, and pretty close to graduation.

They're busy--but they also decided to use this time at school to create a DIY business for their professional lives.  They started ERASABLE COLOR because they loved to play together, got along so well and had so much free time, that forming a new start-up was NO PROBLEM.  Most music students learn about theory, performance and composers in the classroom, and find that having a social life outside of practice hours is pretty near impossible.  But ERASABLE COLOR goes way beyond classroom learning.  They have formed a real business model that takes care of their own press kits, bookings, social media, website (www.erasablecolor.com) and managing their funds.

  All of this, on top of performing contemporary music of a most exciting caliber.

  ERASABLE COLOR is made up of classically trained musicians who share a passion for fresh, versatile music by 20th and 21st Century composers--"living, breathing music that's fresh on the page."  They have mad classical skills and apply them in crazy, avant-garde ways.  They aren't interested in playing in the pub scene, but they are interested in playing for a young audience.

  "Contemporary music is misunderstood," said Jess Ryan.  "We want to educate our audiences and create more recognition and appreciation for people that are alive and writing today." For instance, they will be performing a concert this Spring with music by composer John Cage (one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde musical movement,) and often commission works from their peers and colleagues.

The NAU School of Music director, Todd Sullivan calls them "an interesting model for new musical endeavors."  He went on to explain that entrepreneurship is the the new way to make a professional living in music, and ERASABLE COLOR is breaking ground and setting precedence for other student groups at NAU. 

 But not only is this group musically and entrepreneurially exciting, they are just so darn sweet!

"When we play music together, that brings us closer.  We can count on each other musically, we have each other's back.  We can also count on each other logistically," Jess explained.

And now you understand why I do so love my job.

You can go hear ERASABLE COLOR play “Meaningless Patterns in Meaningful Noise” at Sundara CafĂ© and Boutique, located at 22 E Rt 66, on Friday, January 13th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets are $5 before the concert and $7 at the door. Contact erasablecolor.com or Sundara for purchasing information.