Thursday, October 1, 2009

New music, old and new dance, lots of art

Southern Exposure lauches new
season with world premiere, visiting composer and startling outfits

This year’s installment of the well-received and respected concert series Southern Exposure starts with Real Quiet playing new music – including a world premiere.

The trio - percussionist David Cossin, cellist Felix Fan, and pianist Andrew Russo - hits the USC Music School stage Friday, Oct. 2 with hard-edge acoustic and electric music that crosses the lines of classical, pop, and alternative genres.

“This is a typical Southern Exposure year in its eclecticism,” said John Fitz Rogers, series director. “Every concert is very different and that’s very much on purpose.”

Real Quiet, left, will give the world premiere of “Things Like That” by Jacob ter Veldhuis at the concert. Also on the bill is “Tight Sweater” by Marc Mellits, who will be in Columbia for the concert.

“’Things Like That’ is based on the voice of Anita O'Day,” said Russo in an email. “Not so long before her death, she reminisced in an interview about her past as a famous jazz singer and demonstrated how she improvised: 'Pa dada dee da da, just like that'.”

The Dutch composer Ter Veldhuis (also known as Jacob TV) often mixes the high and low using sounds from political speeches, commercials and talk shows.

The composer Mellits and Real Quiet, left, have a close relationship. Real Quiet’s first CD release, done in 2006, consists entirely of Mellits’ music and the title work is what the group will play here. (The piece includes movements titled “Trans Fatty’s Acid Rain,” and “Pickle Trousers.”)

A review of the CD called it “eminently accessible music that has one foot in rock, yet is also satisfying as postmodern classical music that doesn't make you want to kill yourself.”

Mellits has recently written music for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars and Kronos Quartet and is founder of the Common Sense Composer’s Collective and artistic director of the Mellits Consort in which he plays keyboard.

“I might be a bit old fashioned, but I almost always compose using only pencil and paper,” Mellits, right, said in an interview a few years ago. “The best computer sequencer you could ever have is your brain.”

The concert also includes Lou Harrison’s “Varied Trio,” “Wild Pitch” by Annie Gosfield and “The Last Buffalo” by Phil Klein. Harrison, who died in 2003, is one of the best known contemporary composers whose career that spanned nearly 60 years. “Varied Trio” from 1986 shows influences of Baroque European and Asian music.

Klein’s piece is based on writings by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. “Wild Pitch” was composed during the 2004 World Series and has “microtonal cello slurs, inert stretches, metallic clangor and boogie-woogie evocations,” according to The New York Times.

This is the eighth year of Southern Exposure which has attained a popularity that has surprised audiences as well as the musicians and composers who come to Columbia for the concerts.

Other concerts this season are by Wu Man, who plays the Chinese traditional stringed instrument the pipa; the electro-acoustic group Odd Appetite and saxophonist Susan Fancher; and the Los Angeles Piano Quartet.

For several years Rogers has been trying to bring in Wu Man. As things worked out, the S.C. Philharmonic was planning to have her as a soloist this year.

She will play for Southern Exposure Nov. 13 and the Philharmonic Nov. 12. Earlier that month, Wu Man will give the world premiere of a work with the Kronos Quartet at Carnegie Hall. Wu Man performed at the 2000 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston.
Mellits will give his talk at 2:30 Friday in room 210 of the Music School. It’s free and open to the public.

The 7:30 p.m. concert is also free and takes place in the Music School recital hall. The concerts have a tendency to fill and sometimes overfill the hall so early arrival is suggested. (For a $75 donation, you can reserve a seat for each concert.) go to or call (803) 777-4280.

Thursday, Oct. 1

All this art belongs to you
The first installment of “The State Art Collection: Contemporary Conversations” opens at 701 Center for Contemporary Art. The show of 60 works by 45 artists done during the past 50 years is drawn from the S.C. State Art Collection."Revolution," a painting by Mike Williams of Columbia.

An opening reception takes place from 7 – 9 p.m. 701 Whaley St. (803) 779-4571.
For the full story on the show, scroll down to a story posted Saturday, Sept. 26.

A play about an opera –
in a mental hospital

Opera is a pretty otherworldly art form. How about opera in a mental hospital? In a gym?
That’s all part of the play “Cosi” running for a few days at USC.

The play by Louis Nowra takes place in an Australian hospital where a young director is given the task of helping the patients mount a production of Wolfgang Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutti.”

The 1992 play is set in 1971 against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. It was made into a movie in ’96 starring Toni Collette, an Australian actor who has since made a big Hollywood splash.

This production will unveil a new performance space at the university, which handily happens to be Hamilton Gymnasium. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 4 and 6 and 10 p.m. Oct. 2 and 3. $10. Call (803) 777-4288. The gym is at the corner of Pickens and Pendleton streets.

Nevermore – except this month
“Stark Raven Mad” - a batch of events celebrating the life of Edgar Allan Poe– starts its dark journey tonight with a screening of “The Raven” at the Richland County Public Library.

Poet Meg Kearney, author of 'An Unkindness of Ravens,' will give a reading at the Columbia Museum of Art at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Then it goes on with more readings, films, theater and an art show in celebration – if that’s the right word – of the 200th anniversary of his birth. Poe is associated most with Richmond and Baltimore, but he was posted in Charleston while in the Army.

For a full schedule go to This will give you a list of all Poe anniversary events around the state as well as the ones in Columbia. Or call (803) 777-5492.

Sax, sounds and video
Saxophone player John Sampen and composer Marc Bunce join forces for a multi-media concert "Mysterious Morning: Spiritual Music of Asia and the Americas."
Sampen has released 13 recordings and commissioned music by Frederick Rzewski, William Bolcom, John Cage and Columbia’s own John Fitz Rogers. The free concert at the USC music school at 7:30 melds live sax playing, electronic sounds and video.

More face art

The About Face art group should be about worn out by next week.Members of the organization are having their third show in about three weeks.

The newest one is called “Changing Faces” and presents works that diverge from the artists’ usual approach. It opens with a reception from 6 to 8 and runs through Oct. 6 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady St.

Friday, Oct. 2

A day for dance
The University of South Carolina recently provided a sneak peek at its upcoming dance performance. The sun was dipping down creating halos around the young dancers moving around the new dance facility.
The muffled sound of the marching band on the field outside made its way through the walls.

The first performance of the new and very full USC dance lineup is called “On the Edge: Classics to Contemporary.”

The classical is well known: the romantic work “Giselle” – the second act anyway. The company was led in this piece by instructor Kyra Strasberg , who danced the work with the Boston Ballet. “Giselle” was an 1841 creation, radically reworked and given its best known interpretation around 1900.

This is the first time the school has taken on such a big piece of a classical ballet.
“This is a warhorse of classical ballet,” said Susan Anderson, director of the dance program.

The contemporary is Alan Hineline’s “Thresholds,” a 2008 piece brought to the school by instructor Stacy Calvert. It is a very modern ballet with a percussive score by Jerome Begin. Hineline, former artistic director of Ballet Philippines, came to the university to work with the dancers and instructor Stacey Calvert.

A brand new piece, “Stout Breakdown,” provides s “a way for the dancers to explore movement they haven’t done before” said Tanya Wideman-Davis, right, an instructor who created the piece.

The dance program has about eight performances lined up for the coming year – twice as many as in the past. Among them is a night of great American dances performed with the USC Symphony Orchestra; a full night with Wideman/Davis Dance, the university’s professional dance company in residence; and another visit from the New York City Ballet.

Performances are at 7:30 Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2 and 3. Tickets for “On the Edge” at the Koger Center are $16. Call (803) 251-2222.
Subscriptions for the season, excluding the City Ballet event, are $126 and are available by calling (803) 777-4288.

More dance events
DANCEWORDZ, a local group fusing poetry, ballet and theatrical acting, will premiere “Taboo” tonight and Saturday at the Columbia Music Festival Artspace. Go to

The Columbia City Ballets holds a big fund-raising party with a “Carnival di Venezia” theme in the closet thing we have to a Venetian building – the wonderful and underused Arcade Mall on Main Street. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $75 and $100. Call (803) 799-7605.

Saturday, Oct. 3
Pulling our strings
The human body, the human condition, the bodies of others and the strings that connect it all are some of the areas Diana Farfan explores in her exhibition “We Human Marionettes.”

The show by the graduate student at the University of South Carolina art department opens with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Friday Cottage Artspace.

Farfan is a native of Colombia, South America, who uses the marionette form to explore how we work.
The Friday Cottage is at 1830 Henderson St. The show remains on display through Oct. 23. (803) 397 7686

(Also don't forget that this day you can also go to "Cosi" at USC, USC dance, see art shows at 701 CCA, Gallery 80808, as well "Cyrano" at USC's Longstreet Theatre, "The Producers" at Workshop Theatre, "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" at Trustus and "The King and I" at Town Theatre.)

Sunday, Oct. 4

Art in the park
Saluda Shoals Park has had a bunch of art-related events taking place this weekend. It all wraps up from 1 to 5 p.m. when artists will create nature-based works and poets, actors and musicians will perform.
The park is at 5605 Bush River Road. Admission is $5 per car. Call (803) 731-5208

Poetry of the world
Poet Earl Braggs gives a reading at 2 p.m. at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art.
Braggs mines his world travels for images and ideas for his poems, which have been published in seven collections. A native of North Carolina, he is a professor at the University of Tennessee.
The center is at 701 Whaley St. $7; $5 for members. (803) 779-4571.

Freeman series wraps up
The last of this year’s Cornelia Freeman concerts brings the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Modest Mussorgsky and Felix Mendelssohn to the USC concert hall at 3 p.m.
$12. (803) 777-4280.

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