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 http://www.merce.org/. 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 http://www.jazzfestglenellyn.org/ 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! http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/chi-0713-suburbia-ovnjul13,0,1067277.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 http://www.arts.gov/news/news09/SPPA-highlights.html.

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