Friday, April 4, 2014

A Decade at New Philharmonic

They tell me that when we perform Beethoven’s Fifth and Beethoven’s Seventh at the MAC next week, I will have been conducting there for exactly ten years. Hard to believe! As with all artists who are studying a role, choreography, a piano sonata or an orchestral score, normal time becomes quite distorted and certainly compacted. I can study a score for four hours and it seems like ten minutes. I can study a concert for a month and it seems like two days.

One of the goals that I set for myself ten years ago was that the orchestra should be able to compete with any of the orchestras in this city and for our patrons to be "wowed" when they attended our concerts. This meant not only the quality of the playing, but the presentation, the human feeling that each person felt when joining us for a concert, the “it" factor. That "it" factor means for me that when a person walks in to the MAC he or she is in one state of heart and mind, and when they leave they should practically float out.  After each concert, I hope for the following comment from at least one patron: "That was even better than last time. How are you going to top that?" My response is invariably something like: "Oh tonight was nothin'! Just wait for the next concert! It will make this one look like New York pizza." To some extent I am kidding, but on another level, I am truly expecting that of New Philharmonic.

I have lots and lots of dreams for our orchestra. When I first came here, I dreamt of having a New Year's concert at the MAC. The administration supported me in this goal and our annual New Year’s concert has flourished. I knew in my gut when I first met the MAC audience that this would be a concert that would excite them.  Next season, because people love the concert so much, we are planning to offer three performances in one day!

In addition, next year, I will be able to add a children's competition to our outreach into the community, which will allow us the chance to showcase a child’s musical talent at each and every one of our concerts. They will play solo for just a few minutes on the main stage at intermission. I do this with the orchestra that I conduct in Indiana, and it is often my favorite part of the concert. For me, including a young person from the community at our concerts has tremendous value and gives us all the chance to change the life of a young person forever. Another goal that I set for myself when beginning a decade ago was to ensure that the opera flourished at the MAC. I am committed to ensuring that this fantastic and arresting art form not only survives, but that it flourishes. In pursuit of this goal, we are planning to do a concert version of an opera next season. I will have more information on our plans for next season at a later time.

As I sign off this blog, I want to say that this orchestra has a special feeling to it, and that this feeling does not come from me. It comes from Harold Bauer, the conductor who founded the orchestra; it comes from our musicians to an overwhelming degree; it comes from the feeling in the MAC - the intimacy and closeness with the patrons there.

I hope that you will join us on Saturday April 12th and Sunday April 13th for the two "Ultimate Rebel"
Beethoven concerts. I do not view myself as a rebel. I want only to be a musician creating what is needed and desired in 2014, 2015, 2020, 2025 and beyond. We, as musicians, are living in a whirling, fast-evolving world, and we should be keenly attuned to our environment, the needs of our business, and the passions of our audience. That has been and will continue to be my charge going forward.

I thank you for having me for the past decade. I thank you  for the opportunity to create,  study,  learn,  give back,  and hopefully, at times, change the feeling in your hearts.

- kirk

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Q&A with Orbert Davis of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

On March 22, Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Ensemble celebrate the rich musical culture of New Orleans in an evening of ragtime melodies, brass band marches, funeral processions, and more at the MAC. The concert includes the premiere of Survival of the Saints, a new work by Orbert Davis honoring the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Featured guest artists include Reginald Robinson, recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” grant for his innovative ragtime compositions, and Grammy Award winning musician Howard Levy. To help build excitement for this new piece and the concert at the MAC, we asked Artistic Director Orbert Davis a few questions:

Why are you excited for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s debut performance at the MAC, which has a strong history of great jazz programming?
The MAC is indeed a terrific venue for presenting jazz. I have performed there with my smaller groups (quartet and quintet), in addition to being a guest artist with the COD Jazz Ensemble. So performing there with the Chamber Ensemble feels like a continuation and extension of a great relationship. The College of DuPage has been so supportive of jazz in the Chicago area. The College’s jazz station 90.9 WDCB is the home of my Friday night radio broadcast, the Real Deal!

Can you tell me about the inspiration for your new work “Survival of the Saints?
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, and of course I know a lot of musicians from there.  So I had a very strong personal reaction as Hurricane Katrina hit and I witnessed the storm and its aftermath.  Katrina affected everyone in the city. It’s a universal experience that everyone shared. And perhaps because of that, there is a spirit of community and a will to survive among the residents that has astonished me. Everyone says, “We will get through this”, not “I will get through this”.  You can hear that tenacity and strength even in the music of the street artists, reflecting what they’ve gone through and how they’ve survived.

Will MAC audiences notice a festive quality to this piece that will be performed just weeks after the ultimate Mardi Gras celebration in the Big Easy this March?
We’re calling this “Carnival” for a reason! The music is going to move you from the beginning to the end. We’ll be celebrating with music of legendary artists like Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Doctor John, and so many more. There will be ragtime melodies, brass band marches, Indian Mardi Gras music … If someone doesn’t feel anything, we will have to check their pulse!
Will audiences hear your signature trumpet solos in the upcoming concert at the MAC?
Oh yes, there will be trumpet solos in my new piece and throughout the concert.

Can you tell us more about any special guest performers who will be joining you on stage at the MAC?
Howard Levy and Reginald Robinson are not only masters of virtuosity; they are emblematic expressions of wide-ranging musical and cultural traditions. Reginald of course is a recognized innovator of ragtime music, bringing a contemporary energy to this early jazz style. Howard, although he is not from New Orleans, truly reflects the multi-cultural and multi-national traditions, the different forms and styles of music, that mingled in New Orleans and gave birth to the music we now call jazz.  I have known both these artists for a while and am so excited to have them join us at the MAC.
Reginald was a guest artist with the CJP in 2012, when we performed one of his original compositions.
Howard was a guest on my radio show the Real Deal in November and talked about his musical influences and current projects.

Tickets for Chicago Jazz Philharmonic at the MAC March 22 at 8 p.m. are available by calling the MAC Box Office at (630) 942-4000 or

JOIN US for a Pre-Performance Taste of Mardi Gras!
MAC Belushi Performance Hall Lobby; 6:30 p.m.

Includes Andouille Sausage and Smoked Chicken Gumbo, Vegetable Jambalya, Classic Mini Muffaletta, Mini Mardi Gras Cupcakes

$12 Tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, March 19. Limited availability. Tickets: (630) 942-4000 or

Howard Levy - See full bio at www.levyland.comReginald Robinson - See full bio at

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Q&A with Barbara Wiesen, Director of the Cleve Carney Art Gallery

Barbara Wiesen, Director of the Cleve Carney Art Gallery
With the opening of the McAninch Arts Center also comes the new Cleve Carney Art Gallery. It’s a brand new building thanks to one of Glen Ellyn’s most revered philanthropists, the late Cleve Carney, a contemporary art collector and supporter of the arts. As gallery director at the McAninch Arts Center since 2000, Barbara Wiesen is looking forward to the Gallery’s next chapter.

Before coming to College of DuPage, Barbara Wiesen was an Assistant Professor of Studio Art and Director/Curator of the Reicher Gallery at Barat College from 1996-2000. She received an M.F.A. in studio arts from the University of Illinois, Chicago and was a practicing artist for many years before devoting her time to running a gallery. With the gallery opening just around the corner,  Barbara took some time to answer some questions about herself, the Gallery, and the upcoming show:

Why an art gallery on a college campus?
To my knowledge there was an art gallery on this campus back in the 70’s in one of the original west campus buildings. In 1986, when the McAninch Arts Center was built, plans for a professional gallery were created. The original space was called the Art Center Gallery until William E. Gahlberg’s name was assigned to the space in honor of his fundraising efforts for the College. COD has been a visionary and progressive institution, supportive of the arts, and a leader in the growth of community colleges. What better way to expose and educate the community to the advancement of the visual arts then having a professional art gallery on a Community College campus.

What goes into planning for a season of exhibitions?
Research in addition to gallery, museum, and artist’s studio visits are all part of what is needed to create a season of exhibitions. My goal is to bring in a variety of exhibits that this community would not otherwise be exposed to.

Many people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes with each and every exhibit. Planning begins a good year or so in advance with back and forth correspondence with artists, collectors, galleries, museums, writers, and press, - producing publications, the loaning and shipping of artworks, the installation and so on.

What upgrades to the Gallery (with the MAC renovation) are you excited about in particular?
Although the square footage is somewhat similar, the space feels more spacious due to the high ceiling which I love. It’s also a luxury having a bamboo floor rather than tile, and the outdoor courtyard is a beautiful addition ready to be explored.

What is the permanent art collection, and how do its goals complement the Cleve Carney Art Gallery?
The College’s permanent art collection is mostly made up of artworks created in the past fifty years. Highlights include recent art acquisitions by internationally known artists: Peter Doig, John Baldessari, Richard Serra, many Warhol’s and many works by artists that have exhibited in the College’s gallery.

The goal of the College of DuPage is to become a leading cultural environment that houses a significant contemporary art collection that is challenging and thought provoking to its viewers and complimentary to its educational programs. And to be a public art museum that weaves its way through every building on campus, creating a more beautiful and interesting environment for learning.

The Cleve Carney Art Gallery will offer year-round visual art exhibitions showcasing a variety of innovative art by regional, national and international artists. Our goal is to encourage the growth and understanding of contemporary art through exhibitions and educational programming that cultivate a variety of perspectives. Our vision is to be one of the best centers for contemporary art in the Chicago area. This is exactly what Cleve Carney envisioned with his generous donation.

Tell us more about the exhibit opening on Feb. 6

Selections from Cleve Carney’s Art Collection
February 6 to March 29, 2014

Cleve Carney was passionate about the arts and an avid supporter and collector of contemporary work by local, as well as national and international artists. He had an appetite and inquisitiveness for new art that continued to broaden the scope of his collection up until the end of his life. 

His collection ranges from work by Chicago Imagists, abstract painting and sculpture, representational, post-minimalist, and conceptual artworks. The upcoming inaugural exhibition Selections from Cleve Carney’s Art Collection will include paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photography, and digital media by Mel Bochner, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Julia Fish, John Fraser, Pia Fries, Leon Golub, Arturo Hererra, Jenny Holzer, Markus Linnenbrink, Judy Ledgerwood, Robert Motherwell, Jim Nutt, Catherine Opie, Roxy Paine, David Shrigley, Ann Wilson, Zhou Brothers and many many more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Announcing the 2014 Grand Opening Performance Series!

After months of renovation, we are so excited to share with you our 2014 Grand Opening Performance Series! Read on for the full schedule and details about each performance.

“This is an exciting time for lovers of the performing arts,” says MAC Interim Director Diana Martinez. “The MAC has always had a strong reputation, but with updated performance spaces, public areas, and a new art gallery, the MAC promises to be ‘the’ destination to experience the visual and performing arts in the western suburbs.”

The MAC’s 2014 Grand Opening Season’s Performance Series officially opens on Feb. 8 with a performance by Grammy Award-winner ‘Keb Mo’.The MAC will hold its Grand Opening Celebration and MAC Madness Benefit, Saturday, March 8 at 6 p.m. The event, headlined by College of DuPage and Second City alum Jim Belushi and The Chicago Board of Comedy, will be an exciting evening of improvisational comedy with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and more.

The exciting selection of music, literary, comedy and dance events for the MAC’s 2014 Grand Opening Season’s Performance Series is as follows. All events take place in the Performance Hall unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, February 8
8 PM
$50 adult / $48 senior / $40 youth

The MAC’s 2014 Grand Opening Season’s Performance Series opens Saturday, Feb. 8 at
8 p.m. with three-time Grammy Award-winning musician Keb’ Mo’, known for his genre-blending artfulness, intuitive lyrics, unique guitar style, and magnetic onstage charisma.

Cleve Carney Art Gallery Dedication and Concert
Sunday, February 16
4 PM
$44 Adult / $42 Senior / $34 Youth

To mark the dedication of the new Cleve Carney Art Gallery, a surprise Grammy Award-winning jazz artist will share his rich vocal flights, edgy lyrics and original compositions in this unforgettable concert. Performer to be announced in January. Dedication at 3 p.m.

Saturday, March 8
6 PM
$250 per Person

An evening of cocktails, hors doeuvres and laughs with College of DuPage alumnus and friend Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy to benefit and celebrate the programs at the newly renovated McAninch Arts Center. For more information about MAC Madness, call the College of DuPage Foundation
at 630.942.2462 or

Saturday, March 8
9:30 PM
$44 adult / $42 senior / $34 youth
The Grand Opening evening of non-stop improv continues with a second late night show with Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy.  Saturday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 16
7 PM
$60 adult / $58 senior / $50 youth

David Sedaris, known for his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, performs readings of his newest work in “An Evening with David Sedaris,” Sunday, March 16 at 7 p.m. “Sedaris’ droll assessment of the mundane and the eccentrics who inhabit the world’s crevices make him one of the greatest humorists writing today,” says the Chicago Tribune.

Club MAC - Playhouse Theatre
Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22
8 PM
$36 adult / $34 senior / $26 youth

Hot off the heels of their new full-length album, “The Spark & The Fire,” the LA-based, critically acclaimed indie pop quartet Leftover Cuties opens Club MAC with their irresistible combination of sultry vocals, pop-perfect songwriting and old-school musicianship in two MAC debut concerts Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 22
8 PM
$38 adult / $36 senior / $28 youth

Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, renowned for their rich, accessible, multi-cultural music experiences share their uniquely Chicago jazz vibes at the MAC on Saturday, March 22 at 8 p.m.

Friday, March 28
8 PM
$44 adult / $42 senior / $34 youth

The explosively entertaining Celtic ensemble Cherish the Ladies brings their enchanting wit and music back to the MAC stage on Friday, March 28 at 8 p.m.

Club MAC - Playhouse Theatre
Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29
8 PM
$36 adult / $34 senior / $26 youth
By popular demand, the Austin-based western swing band Hot Club of Cowtown returns to Club MAC with performances Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 5
8 PM
$45 adult / $43 senior / $35 youth

In April, Classic Albums Live, who performed their crowd-pleasing version of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” this past summer at Ravinia Festival, performs music from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” note for note - cut for cut, Saturday, April 5 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, April 6
7 PM
$48 adult / $46 senior / $38 youth

French-American jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux wraps up that weekend with her intensely distinctive renditions of old classics and modern tunes by Leonard Cohen and The Beatles, among others, Sunday, April 6, at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, April 15
7:30 PM
$10 adult/$8 senior/$6 youth

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson comes to the MAC’s Performance Hall for a talk, Q&A and book signing Tuesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. Wilkerson is the author of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” one of the New York Times “Top Ten Book of the Year” and also chosen as the 2013-2014 “One Book, One Chicago” selection.

Thursday, April 17
8 PM
$48 adult / $46 senior / $38 youth
The internationally acclaimed Pilobolus Dance Theatre returns to the MAC for an evening of mixed repertoire, Thursday, April 17 at 8 p.m. NYC Newsday hails Pilobolus as “a mind-blowing troupe of wildly creative and physically daring dancers who leap, fly, intertwine and break all the rules… Audiences should expect the unexpected.”

Saturday, May 3
8 PM
$42 adult / $40 senior / $32 youth

The indomitable Capitol Steps bring their nationally renowned brand of gut-busting, funny political satire to the MAC’s Performance Hall for one evening only, Saturday, May 3 at 8 p.m. “I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard or have been so wonderfully entertained during a live show,” says Splash Magazine.


To order tickets or for more information, call 630-942-4000 or visit

MAC Pack - The more you attend, the more you save.
Pick two events - SAVE 10%
Pick three or more events - SAVE 15%

Limited Time Offer – Order a MAC Pack by December 17

Purchase a 2014 MAC Pack by December 17 and receive:
   two complimentary concessions vouchers
   two complimentary passes to an exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the New MAC (date TBA)

Offer valid for any MAC Pack purchase. Voucher may not be used for alcohol, and is applicable only during the 2013-2014 season at the MAC.

Want to be among the first to experience the new MAC? 

Make your plans to attend New Philharmonic’s popular New Year’s Eve Concerts at 4 & 9 pm on Tues., Dec. 31! 
This year’s concert is “Viennese Pops with an International Twist” and features an evening of waltzes, polkas and other traditional selections as well as Soprano Emily Birsan from Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center singing Adele’s Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus and much more.

It’s a must-see event and tickets are selling quickly! Call the MAC Box Office today at 630.942.4000.

Plus – Save the date for New Philharmonic’s April 12-13 concerts – The Ultimate Rebel - Ludwig Van!
The April concerts feature Beethoven’s groundbreaking Fifth and Seventh symphonies in one program. For more information or tickets visit

Monday, October 7, 2013

The MAC Welcomes Diana Martinez as Interim Executive Director

This season, not only do we have a new McAninch Arts Center, but we have a new leader at the helm as well.  We are thrilled to announce that Glen Ellyn’s own Diana Martinez has joined us as our Interim Executive Director.  The former President of The Second City and Executive Director of the Paramount Arts Center is the perfect candidate to triumphantly return us back to the MAC.

A true Illinois native, Martinez grew up in Glen Ellyn and is a proud graduate of the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana Fine Arts Department. She began her professional career as the Director of Entertainment and Marketing for Pheasant Run Resort and Mega Center in St. Charles for 13 years. She presented more than 30 concert and comedy events at the Mega Center including Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Jones, Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Willie Nelson, Dana Carvey and Kenny Rogers. Martinez served as Executive Director for Aurora’s Paramount Theatre from 2001 to 2010, where she was instrumental in the design and funding for a $6.2 million dollar lobby and production space addition. She was honored with the Woman of Distinction Award in 2003, Influential Women in Business Award 2002, and 2003 Today’s Young Executive Award by the Business Ledger.

After serving as Chief Administrative and Marketing Officer of The Second City International, she was promoted to President to assume responsibility for Second City's day-to-day operations. Overseeing an annual operating budget of $35 million, more than 350 employees and talent, and three locations (Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto), Martinez left her mark on The Second City during her three year tenure. She was instrumental in opening a third theatre at The Second City in Chicago under a new brand: UP Comedy Club. This venue also created an opportunity to showcase and develop more talent, showcase national headline comics, create new rental revenue and catering revenue streams, and offer new matinee programming and children's programs.

Bringing years of experience producing everything from full-scale musicals to comedy acts, Martinez is ready to help usher in a new era of performing arts at the McAninch Arts Center. We asked Diana a few get-to-know-you questions to help introduce her to the community!

What are you looking forward to most about your new role with the MAC?
Having the opportunity to work in my home town is very heart warming to me.  I was a student at the College of DuPage for a year before going to the University of Illinois, but the campus is a very different place now. It's such an exciting time for the McAninch Arts Center with the gorgeous renovations and addition of a new outdoor space and expanded art gallery. The MAC is truly poised to re-define its role in the greater community and engage new audiences.

As a resident of Glen Ellyn, what are some of your favorite parts of the area?
The downtown! My mom owned Maria's Beauty Salon for 40 years, so I spent a lot of time helping out there. I'm a big fan of supporting the local business community in Glen Ellyn. Lake Ellyn holds the soft spot in my heart, I literally grew up on that lake. I rode my bike there as a kid, fell in the lake while trying to "catch a fish," and it's where I  directed and produced my first show in the park with the Before Broadway Players sponsored by the Glen Ellyn Park District, and now it's where I go to walk my dogs and clear my head.

What has been your proudest achievement?
I'd say commercially, conceptualizing, and opening UP Comedy Club for the Second City and philanthropically, Founding  the Dreams Do Come True Program for the Paramount which annually afforded over 1000 underprivileged children the opportunity to see live theatre (sometimes for the first time in their life).

What book is on your nightstand right now?
DRIVE by Daniel Pink

What are your top three favorite things you produced?
  • Michael BublĂ© Concert
  • The Adventures of Ratdog and Princess Toad: A children's show that ran for five years with nine episodes
  • Second City's 50th Anniversary Weekend Celebration: Hundreds of Alumni, thousands of attendees, red carpet events, parties and shows.

What are three words to describe you?
Funny, Fair, Determined

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mixed Emotions

The following letter was posted to MAC Subscribers on July 1, 2013...

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to tell you that I am leaving the College of DuPage/ McAninch Arts Center to take a position in Early August at California State University, Chico. I am grateful to College of DuPage for giving me the opportunity to serve this community for the past seven years. It has been my pleasure. I believe we have stayed true to our mission to enrich the cultural vitality of the residents we serve, and have laid the groundwork for the MAC to reopen in 2014 stronger and more beautiful than ever.

In my new position as Director of Public Events at Chico State I will oversee the Chico Performances series as well as North State Public Radio - NPR for Northern California. It is a wonderful opportunity for me professionally and for my family to be closer to our extended family.

As some of my last duties as Director of the MAC, I am putting the final touches on a fantastic 2013-14 season that includes performances by wonderful artists including Madeleine Peyroux, Pilobolus, David Sedaris, our own New Philharmonic and Buffalo Theatre, and many more. Our great MAC staff will be sending information out to you about upcoming events and the reopening of the McAninch Arts Center in December. I promise you will be astonished by the amazing renovation and upgrade to the MAC.

Thank you for the kindness and generosity you have shown me and my family. I am sad that I will not greet you at the steps of the new McAninch Arts Center, but hope you enjoy many more performances at the best venue in the Western Suburbs.

Stephen Cummins
Director, McAninch Arts Center

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Calling All Champions

Currently the MAC has three ongoing campaigns to raise dollars for the arts. That's a lot, some would say too many, that our focus is too spread out. But our focus has always been broad and diverse. We have never catered to only one community.

So we find ourselves soliciting money for the Cleve Carney Art Space (contemporary art gallery and collection), Buffalo Theatre Ensemble (resident Equity theatre company), and New Philharmonic (professional orchestra in residence). At present New Philharmonic is 46% of the way to its three year pledge goal of $450,000 and Buffalo Theatre has reached 17% of their $240,000 three year goal.

The first on the list, the Carney Art Space, is assured a secure future because of the generosity of one man, Cleve Carney. Cleve's seed gift of dollars and art (estimated $1.2 million) has formed the solid base that will ensure that contemporary art has a home at College of DuPage for many years to come.

Cleve joins a long line of arts benefactors in the U.S. Some with names you know like the competing wine families in California (Mondavi Center at UC Davis and the Gallo Center in Modesto CA. Or closer to home Pritzker Pavilion, Harris Center, the new Logan Center at U of Chicago, and North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall. Every community has champions. Individuals who realize that the greater good cannot be served unless they themselves step up. They embody the etymological definition of philanthropist, "lover of humanity".

We are grateful to Cleve for his generosity, vision and humanity. We thank all those who give at whatever level they are able, because they love the arts. In the coming year our community will hear more about opportunities to be champions like Cleve.

be well