Thursday, November 12, 2009

New music, new play, new place for art

New work by Columbia composer at USC Symphony

A snowstorm in Hickory, N.C., and a musical instrument with deep roots in Jewish history collided to create an orchestral work by Columbia composer Meira Warshauer.
“Tekeeyah" (A Call) for orchestra, trombone and shofar - ram's horn - will be played by the USC Symphony Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The Western Piedmont Symphony was preparing to play her "Symphony No. 1 - Living, Breathing, Earth" in 2007 when  a snowstorm shut down the town and left Warshauer and a guest trombonist, Haim Avitsur, who was playing another work at concert, with time on their hands.
Avitsur is from Israel, Warshauer is Jewish and has written music with Jewish themes.
"He told me I should write something for trombone," she recalled recently.

They started talking and she found out Avitsur, left, played shofar at Jewish services in New York.

Symphony No. 1 was about taking care of the earth and the day before it was premiered a huge report on global warming had been released.

"I was like, 'Now what?'" she said. "We need a wake up call."

"Tekeeyah” had its world premiere with the Wilmington (N.C.) Symphony Orchestra in October and is also being performed Nov. 15 by the Brevard Symphony.
It is the first concerto written for shofar/trombone soloist and orchestra and was commissioned by a consortium of orchestras including those in Wilmington, Brevard, at USC, the Western Piedmont Symphony and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.
 The piece is for orchestra, shofar and trombone with the shofar played about one-third of the time.
"The sound is very intense - I had to cut some of what I originally had in the score," Warshauer said.
The 26-minute piece starts quietly ("before the soul enters the body") and moves into a dynamic and sometimes calamitous middle section. The middle makes reference to Biblical story of the Israelites bringing down the walls of Jericho by sounding horns. Listening to the call on the shofar is a requirement for the Jewish holy day Rosh Hashana. The ending is a lighter, uplifting dance.
The USC Symphony will also play Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in b Minor (Unfinished) and “Marche Slav” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.Tickets to the 7:30 concert at the Koger Center are $25. (803) 251-2222 or

Thursday, Nov. 12
Music of the east and west meet in middle
Wu Man, who plays the pipa (a Chinese lute) performs a concerto by Tan Dun with the S.C. Philharmonic tonight. The orchestra will also play “Verge” by John Fitz Rogers of Columbia and Modest Mussorsky’s “Pictures at An Exhibition.”
 It’s at 7:30 at the Koger Center. Tickets $12 - $42. (803) 251-2222 or
For a full story on Grammy-winning Wu Man and the concert, as well as the concert she’ll give Friday night at the USC School of Music see the Sunday, Nov. 8 story below.
By the way there will be a big and important announcement at the concert.
(Update Nov. 12 . 10 p.m. This was a great concert. The announcement was that the Philharmonic has commissioned Rogers to write a piece for the orchestra and pianist Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers, a husband and wife duo who live in Columbia. The concerto for two pianos (it doesn't have a more formal name yet) will be premiered in almost exactly a year in Columbia.)

Don't miss this great art show
You should really make it to "Ceramics: Southeast" at the USC art department gallery. For the most part it is a show filled with great art, I'm particularly taken with the strange porclean pieces by Lauren Gallaspy (left) that look like both some sort of lichen growth and machines and the fat, sensual works of Jerilyn Virden. It is up through Nov. 19. The gallery open weekdays. Call (803) 777-4236.

Friday, Nov. 13
Did we mention she plays with Yo-Yo Ma and Kronos Quartet?

Ah, it’s Wu Man again, this time doing a solo concert at the USC School of Music as part of the Southern Exposure series. 7:30 p.m. Free.
A dangerously illuminating play
In the early 20th century one of the factory jobs women had was paintings the dials of watches so they would glow in the dark. They painted them with radium – which as the name implies is radioactive – which they had been told was harmless. The women often
licked their paintbrushes to make a better point for the delicate work – a technique encouraged by their supervisors.
The play “Radium Girls,” by D.W. Gregory, tells the story of the woman who suffered from radiation poisoning from the work and their fight for justice. Their legal action set a precedent that allowed employees to sue employers for injuries. The play opens tonight at Longstreet Theatre at USC.  
Shanga Parker, who has extensive acting experience on stage, movies and television and who teaches at the University of Washington, directs. Ten actors will portray 37 characters.
The play continues through Nov. 22. Show times are 8 p.m. except Nov. 14 when it will be performed at 7 and 11 (with half-price tickets for the late show), 7 p.m. Nov. 21  and 3 p.m. Nov. 22. $16.  Call (803) 777-2551.

A new place for artists and art lovers
Artists at Work Studios in downtown Lexington has been operating for several months and will have a grand opening an exhibition by resident artists from 6 to 9 p.m. Work Studios is home to eight artists including Don Zurlo, ("Critter," left), Allan Whitacre, Stacey Morgan and Lee Swallie.
The center 112 East Main St. and will also be open from 6 to 9 Saturday and Sunday. Call (803) 719-1340.

Saturday, Nov.  14
Singer and flautists
Get an ear full of opera during the Metropolitan Opera auditions. About 20 young singers will be giving voice to their hopes and dreams from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. at the USC School of Music. Three will go on to regional auditions in Atlanta.
That evening things change from voice to flute for a concert by Brooks DeWitter-Smith, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who has played concerts around the world and done extensive research on the flute. (There's a lot of research to do since the flute was invented about 35,000 years ago.)
His 7 p.m. concert, part of the South Carolina Flute Society fall seminar,  will include works by Bela Bartok, Paul Schoenfield, Mike Mower and other 20th and 21st century composers.  
Both concerts are free.

See a play
This would also be a good night to attend one of the many plays running. It's the last weekend for "Extremities" at Trustus and you can see "Same Time Next Year" at Workshop with "Moon Over Buffalo" at Town Theatre. (See arts calendar at right.) 
This just in (Friday, Nov. 13): Workshop Theatre has hired a new executive director. His name is Joe Reuter and that's all we know right now.

Tuesday, Nov. 17

A new American songbook
Kevin Bush and Tom Beard, who you already know if you go to any musical theater in town, open a new Great American Songbook for a concert "Evolution: 21st Century Songbook" at the Columbia museum of Art. The duo and two more musicians will interpret songs by Suzanne Vega, Leonard Cohen, Stevie Wonder, Rickie Lee Jones and (!) Jimi Hendrix.
The project came out of Bush's desire to perform in a cabaret setting, but he didn't want to do the standard standards.
"My interest has not surprisingly been in performing the songs that have meant something to me and 'my generation' to continue the cliché - the 'new standard,'” he said. "I’ve been a music addict my entire life, and have always wondered whether the songs that have meant so much to me would one day be considered a 'standard' for future generations."
You can find out at 7 p.m. $10 and $8 for museum members. (803) 799-2810.


Wednesday, Nov. 18

New play takes flight

For the past few months, they’ve been building an airplane in the scene shop at USC. The plane is for the play “Flight,” an exploration of early women aviators,
The flyers in this case are two French actresses planning to make it from Paris to Moscow in 1913. The play by USC professor Steven Pearson and Robyn Hunt runs through Nov. 22 at Hamilton Gym, a new performance space. This work, which Peason calls a "theatrical poem," is one of three he has done connected to Anton Chekhov's plays - this one to "The Seagull."
"There were a whole group of woman flying before World War I and people don't know a thing about them," Pearson said.  And although the women aviators in "Flight" are fictional a number of the real ones were connected to the theater as critics, actors and filmmakers (one of the characters in the play is a filmmaker as well.)
And that plane the theater department built?
"We plan to fly it," Pearson said.
The gym/theater is at the corner of Pickens and Pendleton. Performances are at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Nov. 22. $10.  (803) 777-4288.

See the artists of Benedict College
"The Changing Times - Changing Views" shows what the Benedict College art faculty has been up to. The exhibition includes works by sculptor Alex Wilds, Wendell Brown, who creates mixed media works of fabric and other materials (left, "Unknown Slave Woman"), Tyrone Geter, working in drawing, painting and collage, and Gina Moore, who is best-known for her abstract mixed media pieces. 
An opening reception, at which the artists will talk, runs from 5 to 7. The show, in the Ponder Fine Arts Center, runs through Dec. 11. Benedict is located at 1600 Harden St. (803) 705-4768.

More classical music - for free
The university cranks up its second orchestra in two days - this time the Campus Orchestra. The group will play Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Mein Jesu,” John Rutter’s “Suite for Strings,” “Adagio” by Tomaso Albinoni and Wolfgang  Mozart’s “Symphony No. 29 in A-major.
The free concert is at 7:30 in the USC School of Music. And this concert will actually use that big pipe organ you've seen but almost never heard.


1 comment:

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