Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Carney Collection

The Elmhurst Art Museum is exhibiting through Jan 3 the collection of Cleve Carney.

It is definitely worth checking out. The MAC was happy to help with the installation by recreating Cleve's living room. The living room gallery really lets patrons experience how Cleve lives with art and puts the gallery experience into a different context.

be well

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MAC - Black Friday

We have a special "Black Friday" deal for the holidays. Very soon we'll announce it on Facebook so if you're not a fan become one.

Give thanks for all the good in our lives and enjoy the holiday.

be well

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sara Hickman

I've followed Sara's career since my time in Dallas, Texas in the early nineties when she was on a meteoric rise moving from the songwriter pubs and folk festivals of Texas to a national record label and appearances with Carson on the Tonight Show. She has always been a soulful songwriter with a charmed voice.

In the mid nineties her major label record company, Elektra, couldn't recognize that she was bigger than Billboard box and let her go; however, they kept the recording session tapes she had been working on in their studios. Elektra told Sara she could buy them back for the price of a small home. Here comes the amazing part, singer-songwriters don't have enough money to put a roof over their own heads let alone buy an album back from a LA record company. Sara's fans, one dollar - ten dollars - a hundred dollars at a time, bought her album back from Elektra for $50,000 and Necessary Angels was released.

Since that time Sara has continued to grow as an artist, releasing many more albums on independent labels. She has advocated for women and children with her music and won numerous awards. But the folks in my office can't get the Daisy Sour Cream song out of their heads.

I am looking forward to having Sara visit Club MAC with her graceful songs and charm - and my daughter will be dancing at the kid's show.

be well

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

State of Affairs

I was recently on a state-wide conference call listening to Ra Joy, Director of Arts Alliance Illinois, Terry Scrogum, Director Illinois Arts Council, and State Representative Harry Osterman discuss the dismal situation that state arts funding finds itself in. The state is in a precarious position with not enough money in the coffers to fund all of the services and projects that the legislators and the citizens want to see funded. In times like these the arts are often categorized as unessential and something that can be idled while the rest of the machine is gassed up.

I was in a public school two weeks ago judging an art competition and was told that the elementary children there receive art and music instruction once a week. The teachers were happy of that fact while I wondered where is drama and dance and is setting time aside for two hours a week all the commitment we have to the creative education of our children.
It is important to remember that it was creativity as well as academic intelligence that built skyscrapers in Chicago, put men on the moon, and put a PC on every desk.

If we think that art has a place in our schools and in our society we must tell our elected officials.

be well

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blue MAC Friday

Go to You Tube and type in Paul Thorn. Pick any video, the one with his daughter is really sweet. You will hear what I heard two years ago at BB Kings in New York City - a whiskey and cigarettes voice from a man who has lived hard, he was a professional boxer and knows of the Divine, he is the son of Pentecostal preachers. Not that his music is sacred, but it is spiritual and sometimes profane.

Paul will share the MAC stage this Friday with Joan Osborne, you need to think beyond "If God were one of us" - she is so so much more than a top forty pop singer, and the Holmes Brothers who will take you to their blues infused church. This will be a once in a life time show - I am certainly looking forward to Friday night.

be well

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

COD Students Hit the Stage

It is the time of year when the talented students of the College of DuPage and the future of the arts in our community begin taking the stage. This Thursday, Oct 15 the combined student music concert features small jazz ensembles, the percussion ensemble, chamber singers, concert choir, and the chamber orchestra. The concert is at 7:30 on the Mainstage.

Theatre students bring Bram Stoker's classic Dracula to life in the Studio Theatre. The tale of Lucy, van Helsing and the Count opens Friday, Oct 16 and runs through Nov 1. Check out the MAC's Facebook page where we'll post photos from the production directed by Professor Amelia Barrett.

be well

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kind of Blue

When you talk about the best jazz albums of all time no matter who you are talking to or which list you're consulting Miles Davis's Kind of Blue will be somewhere near the top. It is a seminal work and one of my favorites from that era along with Coltrane's Love Supreme and Favorite Things, and Brubeck's Time Out. Why was does Kind of Blue still resonate? On the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue Fred Kaplan wrote a great article for Slate magazine on just that topic. Kind of Blue: Why the best-selling jazz album of all time is so great - check it out.

You should also check out Jimmy Cobb's So What Band at the MAC on Friday, Oct 16 - 8PM. Cobb was the drummer in Mile's band that laid down Kind of Blue in 1959. Trumpeter Wallace Roney and the rest of the band under Jimmy will celebrate the "greatest jazz album ever" and play much of the album along with other great jazz compositions. Professor of music and local jazz trumpeter Tom Tallman will give a little history of the album and the man at the MAC Chat preceding the concert. Sure to be a special night.

be well

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicago Tonight Features Muspratt and Roman

WTTW Channel 11's Chicago Tonight will feature Maestro Kirk Muspratt and cellist Joshua Roman tonight, Wednesday, Oct 7 at 7PM. It will be a fantastic opportunity to get a preview of the amazing talent who will perform Shostakovich's Cello Concerto no. 1 with the New Philharmonic this Friday and Saturday evening at the MAC. The 25 year old phenom has received many accolades most recently being named Musical America's artist of the month for August. Tune in.

be well

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Corrido Project/ Sones de Mexico

This Sunday the MAC will host Sones de Mexico, a wonderful Grammy nominated traditional Mexican folk ensemble from Chicago. The 3PM concert will be authentic and musically engaging; however, the truly exciting music has been happening out in West Chicago.

Last winter Sones member and ethnomusicologist Juan Diez provided an artist residency at West Chicago schools teaching students about Corridos - a traditional Mexican folk song which celebrates a tragic event or hero. The students embraced Juan and the tradition; by the spring each participant had composed their own corrido. Next, the students worked with Javier Chavira creating a print to illustrate each story. Juan concluded the residency with a performance at an after school assembly and presenting each student with a recording and print of their work.

The project which was generously funded by the DuPage Community Foundation was enormously fun and culminated this week with Juan teaching a group of West Chicago teachers how they could replicate song writing project in their own classrooms. I thank Juan, Javier, and Janey Sarther the MAC's Education and Community Engagement Coordinator for engaging the kids of DuPage County.

The kids work will be displayed in the MAC lobby during the Sones de Mexico concert and Juan will perform a couple of the Corridos at the beginning of the performance - Sunday, Oct 4 - 3PM.

be well

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paul Taylor at the MAC

Last night I had the great fortune to be in the audience at Ravinia for the premiere of Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray by renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones. The work, commissioned by Ravinia for the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln, was stirringly choreographed and staged by Bill T Jones. A script of traditional and spiritual songs, poems, speeches, and reflections on what Lincoln's life means to people today was penned by Jones with Janet Wong. The evenings event with dance, spoken and sung word, live music, and projected images was beautiful and thought provoking.

The MAC will host another icon of the dance world, dancemaker Paul Taylor's company will perform at the MAC on Thursday, Oct 1. We have recently worked through the programming with the company and are thrilled to be able to present three works, Changes, Beloved Renegade, and Brandenburgs.

Changes was commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet in 2008 and this performance will mark the first Chicagoland presentation of the work danced to music by the Mamas and the Papas. Beloved Renegage, like Bill T Jones's Fondly..., uses the words of Walt Whitman with the music of Francis Polenac's Gloria. The Work that also premiered in 2008 was met with rave reviews, Village Voice, "luminous" and "The beloved renegade could be Taylor himself—with his eccentricities, his dark humors, his wicked wit, and the beauty he finds in innocence", The New York Times, "deeply affecting... feat of poetically virtuoso layering". I cannot wait for this one. The final offering will be a classic from the Taylor's repertoire from 1988 Brandenburgs, danced to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

We are thrilled to have the Paul Taylor Dance Company back on our stage. The last time they were with us was for our 20th anniversary party in the Spring of 2007. It is sure to be an amazing night for dance enthusiasts and new comers to dance.

be well

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jazz @ Sunset

Although it feels like summer in Seattle some 400 people came out to Jazz @ Sunset on Saturday night and they got a real treat. Intrepid Bobby Lewis played a closing set with temps in the low sixties and he and Alejo Poveda lit a fire under everyone. Sabertooth was sharp with their Hammond B3 infused funky sax sound. The crowd loved Goran Ivanovic and Andreas Kapsalis. These guys walked in two minutes before their set, plugged in their guitars, no introduction, and blew away the audience. They sold every CD they brought. We promised a sunset and provided a chilly one. Beautiful night - beautiful music.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illinois Arts Council Funding

The McAninch Arts Center has received valued support in past years from the Illinois Arts Council as a Partner in Excellence. Annually State Rep Sandra Pihos has proudly presented us with a check from the IAC to support the arts programming we bring to our community. In the last two years under the Blagojevich administration we have lost approximately 30% of our funding and now with the recent state budget crisis we look to lose an additional 50% of state grant money. In good times monies we received made up 2.5% of our operation, but in addition to the finances the grant was a validation of our commitment to the arts in our community. Our annual grant application is peer reviewed by artists, curators and arts administrators from across the state and the stamp of approval we receive along with the funds helps us meet our mission.

My real concern is for small arts groups. At the MAC we will tighten our belts, perhaps alter programming, scale back a community outreach program, but we will still be here. The MAC has the broad trunk of the College to support us during this storm. However, it is those small groups without deep root systems that are two bad months away from folding. Terry Scrogum, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Council sagely likened the situation to turning off a spigot. Without water often things wither and sometimes die. Later it is hard to get the spigot turned on again and it might be to late for some organizations. Let your voice be heard contact your state representative and get in touch with the Arts Alliance Illinois , the statewide arts advocacy organization. Donate to arts groups when you can, demand arts education in your schools, and let artists know that you believe they are a vital part of your community. Keep the spigots flowing.

be well

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tickets on Sale!!

It is always an exciting time when single tickets go on sale. For better than a month now subscription ticket sales have been steady (subscribers are those folks who buy three or more events each year). Tomorrow, August 18, we open the doors to those art lovers who want to see fewer than three events at the MAC. Those Peterik, Brickman or Hornsby fans who have been patiently waiting for single ticket day - their wait will end at 10:00 AM Tuesday morning. A little inside information: the best sellers to date are The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Paula Poundstone, Bruce Hornsby, and Great Big Sea, but there are still plenty of tickets left for all of the 48 MAC Artist events next year. There is no waiting online or you can call in and receive the personal touch and talk to our friendly staff. I'll be answering phones too so maybe we'll chat.

be well

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Merce Cunningham 1919-2009

It has been a summer of passing icons and now the dance world says farewell to beautiful Merce Cunningham. About three months ago someone said to me, "it must be wonderful to be you and meet so many artists, who was the most exciting person you've ever met?" A moment passed while I studied the table and measured whether I should tell them about about actor x they knew from television or singer y that I was sure they had programmed into their i-pod, then I told them about having dinner with Merce Cunningham. How being in the presence of a soft-spoken gentleman who preferred talking about birds and butterflies was for me one of the most sublime experiences in my twenty years in the arts. To be in the presence of beauty, to watch his eighty-three year old hands dance as he talked about a thrush or a finch, to see an artist's imagination at work... profound. My condolences to those who knew him intimately.

Visit the Merce Cunningham Dance Company web-site to learn about the Cunningham Dance Foundation's Legacy Plan You can see the company this Fall at Krannert Center and at Dance Center of Columbia College.

be well

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

L'Elisir d'Amore - Sneak Peak

Elixir of Love is a favorite of mine ever since I worked on a production of it during my grad work at U of I. It is the perfect summer opera and Michael LaTour and Kirk Muspratt really put on a good show. Here is a sneak peak of the DuPage Opera Theatre production that opens July 18 (Elixir - YouTube) and features MAC favorites Michelle Areyzaga (Adina) and John Sumners (Nemorino) along with a chorus of dozens.

be well

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jazz Fest Glen Ellyn - Cool Night

Just coming down from the 3rd annual Jazz Fest Glen Ellyn and it is a long way to fall. It was an amazing day and night. In a few days photos from the event will be up on the website so you can see how Hursthouse turned the street into a lush jazz garden. The only problem with the photos is that they can't sing like Tammy McCann or blow sax like Mark Colby. I have to agree with the Trib's Howard Reich when he heaped praise on Tammy - she had the audience standing for more and she blew them away!,0,1067277.story I am a sucker for a Hammond B3 (one of my proudest moments was bringing Joey DeFrancesco to the MAC) and Chris Foreman and the Deep Blue Organ Trio did not disappoint. If you could not get out to the most swinging event in the West Burbs last Saturday put Tammy and Deep Blue in your queue and see them both next chance you get.

be well

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NEA Report is a Call to Action

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a troubling report Arts Participation 2008: Highlights from a National Survey. The NEA says, "there are persistent patterns of decline in participation for most art forms."
  • double digit declines in audience attendance of classical music, jazz, opera, ballet, musical theater, and dramatic plays
  • declines in art museum attendance
  • ballet attendance by well educated Americans down 43%
  • audiences are aging (average age at a jazz concert in 1982 was 29, in 2007 it is 46
  • adults with less education (historically low rates of arts attendance) have seen further decreases
  • fewer adults are creating their own art

You can download the report or read a synopsis at

This data presents us with a couple of challenges. First, and most obvious for an Arts Center, we must continue to present and produce creative and popular art for our diverse audiences. Even as audience attendance dips we must keep the torch burning. Secondly, as a village and as a nation we must recommit ourselves to arts education. Ashamedly, on our watch primary and secondary arts education has been pushed to the back of the bus in a quest for higher reading, writing, and math scores. We have forgotten that creativity and imagination put men on moon and invented the i-pod and that arts participation is the best way to spark a young person's creativity.

So look at the numbers and decide what kind of nation you want to live in.

My favorite JFK quote and one that is inscribed on the wall of the Performing Arts Center that bears his name reads, "I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

be well


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gearing up for Jazzfest

Just back from a few days in Galena. We took advantage of a wonderful B&B we had bid on at a silent auction benefiting Anima - Glen Ellyn Children's Choir. Wild Turkey Inn proprietors Larry and Nancy were so nice and neighbors and fans of Andrew Bird. Love to have him at the MAC.

Back in the office now and gearing up for Jazzfest Glen Ellyn. Hope folks can join us July 11 for seven hours of great jazz beginning at 3pm on Main Street Glen Ellyn. Especially looking forward to the final act Deep Blue Organ Trio (Bobby Broom - guitar, Chris - organ, and Greg Rockingham - drums) they will have the street hoppin'. Hursthouse landscapers will again turn the street into a garden and new this year Tap House Grille will be offering tasty food. I'll be staying all day!

Be well

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wynton Marsalis - Nancy Hanks Lecture

Wynton Marsalis knocks it out of the park at the annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. His musical oration entitled The Ballad of American Arts challenges all listeners to take action.  He leaves it all on the stage - truly amazing and moving!

Nancy Hanks Lecture - Wynton Marsalis

Shared via AddThis

be well

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Donor Reception

It was wonderful to see so many people out yesterday at our donor sneak peek of the 2009-10 season.  Great to see the new season get such a good response.  People were especially glad to see that a couple of favorites (Susan Werner, Arlo Guthrie, Marcia Ball, Kathy Mattea) will be coming back to the MAC.  Know that we could not bring these wonderful artists without the support of our donors. 

Many of you commented on how wonderful our ticket office staff are and I have to second that.  In this age of Ticketmaster and faceless transactions over a computer it is nice to know you can call the MAC ticket office, ask for Julie, Mary Ellen or any of the box office assistants and receive personalized service.  If you have questions about artists, dates, seats or the like give them a call or drop by.  They have new hours Monday 6-9p, Tuesday thru Friday 10a-5p and Saturdays 10a-2p.

be well

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We have sent the brochure to press and tied a ribbon around our 09-10 season. Everyone is excited about what we think is a great array of artists and events with names like Jim Brickman, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Hornsby, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. I think our dance is particularly strong featuring Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Paul Taylor, Moscow Festival Ballet dancing Sleeping Beauty, Thodos Dance Chicago, and more. Donors get a sneak peek this weekend of the whole season - subscriptions go on sale July 1 and single tickets start flying out the door on Aug 18.

be well - SC