It’s hard to imagine how exciting it must have been to attend the 1913 premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which ended in a riot because of the disturbing rhythms and incendiary musical patterns. Even Beethoven – now considered a staid staple of classical music – was once regarded as somewhat revolutionary in his harmonies.
A concert titled Opus II features premiere performances of works by members of the Arizona State University Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI) in the informal, inviting setting of Phoenix Art Museum, offering the chance to perhaps hear from a modern-day Stravinsky or Beethoven.
“The partnership with the museum is great,” says SCI president Collette Sipho Mabingani, “because…we have the same mission: exposing the public to this music that sometimes is not accessible.” Mabingani was born and raised in South Africa and obtained degrees at Grand Valley State University and Central Michigan University before earning his doctorate in music composition at ASU.
“I started with [percussion] performance,” he says, “and…you have to improvise, so you get this idea of creating…and I got tired of playing other people’s music. I love experimenting with new kinds of music, so I still try and discover something I’ve never heard before.” At Opus II Mabingani will perform his own composition, a solo autobiographical work using rhythms reflecting his personal journey from South Africa to the West, including Latin cadences.
Other composers will use various configurations of a “Pierrot ensemble” of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano — named after the instrumentation used by Arnold Schoenberg in his landmark 1912 melodrama Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot) –- plus saxophone.
“Even though it’s been around for over a hundred years,” says SCI public relations manager Elliot Sneider of the ensemble, “there’s something always new about it, for some reason. There’s a lot you can do with it, so it’s kind of fun to work with.” Shortly after Sneider wrote his dissertation analyzing blues in the music of Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, and George Gershwin, he composed Big Hands Blues for piano, then arranged it for Opus II.
“I…was drawn to jazz when I was very young,” he says, “…this pull to jazz composers like Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk, and the idea of having these structures that…allow for improvisation.”
Sneider studied composition at New England Conservatory of Music and New York University, then received his DMA from ASU, where he was initially intrigued by the work of professor James DeMars. “I have a jazz background,” says Sneider, “so for me there’s always been a pull to accept other cultural music and ‘how do I bring things together?’” He continues, “I found he’s someone who has…made a career dealing with those issues, and so that’s why I wanted to study here.”
“He [DeMars] composes in the same way that I do, which is what we call ‘intercultural music’,” says Mabingani, who also found his advisor’s compositions appealing. “But he uses Native American music with Western music, combines it and makes it his own…so I just fell in love with the way he writes.”
“I think all of the composers at the school really have something unique to bring,” adds Sneider. “Usually you choose your composer and you work only with that person, but here [at ASU] they not only encourage but require you to…work with all of them for a much broader experience.”
“There’s no one dogma, or one style,” says Israeli composer and Doctor of Musical Arts student Gil Dori. “I really got into the music of [ASU professor] Glenn Hackbarth — he’s…into the music on the electronics side, and that’s what I’m interested in doing too.” Dori came to ASU for his master’s degree after graduating from Haifa University, which he describes as “really heavy on composition…the best composers in Israel.”
For Opus II, Dori wrote a work called Shevarim; “in Hebrew it means ‘fragments’ or ‘shards,’ he explains, “but it’s also one of the calls of the shofar [ram’s horn], and really that’s a work based on an old Eastern European Jewish folk tune…it just slowly emerges through this texture.” The piece is a duet for saxophone and bass clarinet, and Dori enjoyed integrating sound effects like tongue smacks, clicks, and breathing through the instruments.
Visit the Phoenix Art Museum this afternoon to hear these new works by Mabingani, Sneider, Dori, and other ASU composers — it’s free with museum admission, and the program promises previously unexplored treasures.
If you go:
When: Sunday, May 11 at 1PM
Where: Phoenix Art Museum
Cost: Free with museum admission
UPDATE (5/11/14 12:47PM): Here’s a live streaming link if you can’t attend the performance: http://ustre.am/1dGp0
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Phoenix Arts Groups Announce the Formation of the New Central Arts District
A group of Phoenix arts organizations coordinated their efforts and today officially launched the new Central Arts District. In a unanimous effort by the burgeoning art institutions located in the area between 7th Street and 7th Avenue, Roosevelt and Virginia Streets, leadership of these organizations envisioned the opportunity to distinguish the extraordinary concentration of arts in the new district and embrace the businesses within it. The formation of the Central Arts District will provide a platform for these esteemed arts institutions to continue their work with a higher visibility and collaborate with one another on progressing the arts and culture in Central Phoenix. With four of the State’s largest arts and cultural organizations within these borders and the recent investment of over $60 million in the neighborhood, the sheer concentration and impact of their presence in the community merits the creation of the new Central Arts District.
Vincent VanVleet, Managing Director of Phoenix Theatre and a chief contributor to the Central Arts District movement said, “We are infinitely excited to embrace this artistic core and more cohesively promote our neighborhood as the new Central Arts District to Phoenix’s citizens and patrons, tourists, and indeed the world. Great people reside in and visit great cultural cities. Phoenix is a thriving cultural city with an arts community in the midst of a rebirth. The Central Arts District collective represents an estimated 2,000 annual events and exhibits contributing to this arts renaissance in Phoenix.”
Ms. Leah Fregulia Roberts, Head of the Arizona School for the Arts, is especially excited about the opportunity this poses for her students. “Within the new Central Arts District, established arts organizations inspirit local arts and culture creating an exciting place to live, work, visit, play and most importantly, learn. It is an unparalleled experience for Arizona School for the Arts students to become embedded in the cultural life of our city.”
Edward Cook, Co-President of McCarthy Cook & Co., owners of Viad Corporate Center which is also home to the Playhouse in the Park added, “We are excited to embrace and support this extraordinary concentration of the cultural jewels of Phoenix with the creation of the new Central Arts District. In honor of this new district and our continued support for the arts, we are pleased to announce that Viad Corporate Center will soon be renamed Central Arts Plaza.”
Gail Browne, Executive Director of The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture added that “The City of Phoenix is pleased that so many arts and culture organizations have come together to create the Central Arts District. This coordinated effort will enhance the visibility of arts and culture groups that are thriving in this area. It will also stimulate further cultural development and foster synergies between arts and culture and other businesses. Moreover, this kind of place-making bolsters our collective sense of civic pride.“
The following organizations are founding members of the new Central Arts District: Phoenix Theatre, Viad Corporate Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Heard Museum, Arizona Opera, Playhouse on the Park, Phoenix Community Alliance, Arizona School for the Arts, Hance Park Conservancy, and Metro Arts High School.
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Arizona Theatre Company to Hold General Season Auditions in Phoenix and Tucson for Equity and Non-Equity Actors in Arizona
Arizona Theatre Company is holding general season auditions for Equity and non-Equity actors for the 2014-2015 season in Phoenix, May 12 and 13, and in Tucson, May 15 and 16, 2014.
Auditions for Phoenix Equity actors will take place on Monday, May 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Phoenix auditions for non-Equity actors will take place on Tuesday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Phoenix auditions will be held at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St. in downtown Phoenix.
Tucson auditions for Equity actors will take place on Thursday, May 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. Auditions for Equity and non-Equity actors will also take place on Friday, May 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Tucson auditions will be held at the Temple of Music and Art, upstairs in the rehearsal hall, 330 S. Scott Ave. in downtown Tucson.
Appointments are required to audition. To schedule an audition appointment in Tucson or Phoenix, call Natasha Smith at 520-884-8210 ext. 7510.
Actors must bring a recent headshot and current resume. Each actor is required to prepare two contrasting monologues totaling no more than four minutes combined.
Actors may substitute a song for one of the two pieces. Musical accompaniment will be provided if sheet music is presented, and the total length of the audition must not exceed four minutes. A CD player and piano will be available for those wishing to provide pre-recorded or their own accompaniment. No music director or choreographer will be present at general auditions.
Arizona Theatre Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to non-traditional and multi-cultural casting. Artists of color are urged to audition. Callbacks for specific roles in specific productions will be held at later dates throughout the season.
All actor materials are kept on file for two years. Consequently, all actors who auditioned during the 2013-2014 Season are not required to audition at this time though they are welcome to attend again if they choose. Non-Equity auditions are limited to actors age 16 and older.
In an effort to keep current files of Arizona actors, ATC requests that local actors unable to attend the auditions send a headshot and resume to the following address: Casting, ATC, P.O. Box 1631, Tucson, AZ 85702-1631.
Photo by Tim Fuller from the Arizona Theatre Company production of Xanadu.
An appointment with a lawyer is not usually an outing on par with a trip to an art gallery. Yet within the legal offices of The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor in downtown Phoenix, prepare to leave behind your preconceptions about stuffy law offices decorated with mundane posters or black and white photographs.
When you exit the elevator and walk through the firm’s glass doors on the 18th floor of CityScape, you are confronted with an 8’ x 12’ foot mural painting of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio entitled When Pigs Can Fly, which Attorney David Cantor commissioned from then local artist Robert Anderson in 1997. The brightly-colored painting, known throughout the office simply as Tent City, depicts the Tent City jail in downtown Phoenix. It has become such an established focal point to the office that its image is emblazoned on the complimentary water bottles given to guests.
For Cantor, the bold conversation piece is integral to the spirit of his practice and Cantor is clearly proud to have When Pigs Fly displayed so prominently. The Cheshire Cat peering down from the top of the painting at the ruckus below reminds Cantor of the cat he owned at the time, and he notes that “the nose [on Arpaio] is very distinctive, and Robert [Anderson] told me he did that on purpose.”
While approximately 60 of the more than 100 paintings, drawings and prints in this avid collector’s possession are on display throughout the offices, this is not a corporate art collection. Cantor acquired each piece over the past 25 years personally, and many have transitioned back and forth between his office and home.
Cantor estimates that 90 percent of the collection is comprised of local Arizona artists. With the exception of one or two, all works in the collection were created by living artists.
Cantor buys a piece because he likes it. “It’s personal, it’s not value driven.” Working without an art advisor, and a casual, but not close relationship with many of the gallerists and artists, allows Cantor full control over his collection, which includes a number of provocative political works.
Somewhat counter intuitively, the more outlandish pieces are on display at work, while the less salacious works stay in his private residence. “I’m a criminal defense lawyer,” Cantor says by way of explanation. The paintings are not merely decorative pieces to fill conference room walls, but pieces rife with social commentary. “It’s personal, but we display a lot that’s relevant.”
Asked if any artwork has offended a client, Cantor dismisses this notion.
However, one painting, Colin Chillag’s It is a Fearful Thing to Love What Death Can Touch (of “The Girls Next Door,” an E! reality TV show about the Playboy Mansion), was deemed unsuitable for the average visitor, and now resides back by the IT desk.
Other paintings, like Eric Cox’s Sheriff Joezo and The Wicked Witch of the Southwest, both purchased from R. Pela Contemporary Art‘s “The Joe and Jan Show,” or a yarn portrait of Governor Jan Brewer, Brewer? I Don’t Even Know Her…, by Todd Daniel Grossman, are scattered throughout the office.
Brian Boner’s Theft Balloon and Disappearance, both from 2004 and displayed as a diptych, depict a less overt political message. Both were purchased during a First Friday art outing. “Boner’s garage was open and he was working on this piece and I said I’ll take ‘em.”
Cantor’s life as an art collector began in law school in 1987 with a print by Olivia De Berardinis, inscribed to him by the artist, “To David, Good Luck in Law School.” He bought a second piece right after that, by Patrick Nagel, and a collector was born.
While he does not have a formal art education, he relies on magazines like Art in America and ARTnews to keep him informed, as well as visits to local museums when he travels. He frequents downtown galleries like Modified/Arts, Eye Lounge and R. Pela Contemporary Art, whose recent show, “Banned at the Herberger,” Cantor cites as a recent favorite.
His collection is united with color and figuration. “That’s the theme. A lot of these either have faces of a human or an animal, or it’s color. Fauvist. Almost everything has color. Even the so-called muted colors aren’t really that muted.”
The literal translation of fauve is “wild beast” and refers to the early 20th century art movement of brash, bold colors and apparent brushstrokes. It is the focus on brightly pigmented colors that shows the Fauvist influence in Cantor’s collection. A reinterpretation of “wild,” which includes socially progressive subject matter and outlandish presentation of some of the central figures is central to his collection as well.
The collection, as well as the office space, is constantly growing. Every office has at least one framed work on its wall, all curated by Cantor. Office inhabitants rarely get a say as to the art on their walls. Throughout the hallways, paintings reach towards the ceiling and the rare blank wall is merely a space that has yet to be filled.
Behind the reception desk—and directly facing Tent City—is another rare commissioned piece, this one a copper fountain by Gary Slater. It provides a sense of tranquility with undulating earth tones setting a serene scene. The juxtaposition of this subdued piece with the brashness of the Arpaio mural enables Cantor’s duality, as a lawyer and art collector, to shine through. This collection of bold work by talented local artists’ uniquely embodies his personal aesthetic sensibilities, as well as the rich scope and quality of contemporary art being produced in Phoenix today.
As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“We should always assume that things can be better.”
Cindy Dach wears half a dozen hats at least and has been a key player in the revitalization of the Roosevelt Row area. She is a board member of Downtown Phoenix, Inc.; co-owner and general manager of Changing Hands Bookstore, which is about to open a Phoenix location in Uptown (Camelback Road and 3rd Avenue); owner of Made Art Boutique on Roosevelt and 5th Ave.; co-founder of Eye Lounge, a contemporary artists run collective on Roosevelt Street; co-founder of Arizona Chain Reaction (now Local First Arizona); co-founder and board member of the Roosevelt Row CDC; and one of the driving forces behind the annual Pie Social, the RoRo Chili Festival, and the Feast on the Street, just to name a few.
She and her partner, Greg Esser, moved to Phoenix from Denver in the mid-nineties and immediately set about seeking community. Even finding brunch back in those days was a challenge. “We always ended up at IHop, because there weren’t any other choices,” said Dach. They began taking steps to build the community they craved by creating Eye Lounge, which was originally an artist collective exhibiting at various locations.
After a while, they discovered inexpensive property in a blighted area along Roosevelt Street, and in 2001 they bought a building, rolled up their sleeves and create a permanent gallery for Eye Lounge. In reflecting on that time, Dach said, “Wayne Rainey and Kimber Lanning had begun doing things on Roosevelt then as well. We didn’t originally know each other, but we were all focused on creating a place for the arts and artists, and so we found each other.”
The impact of creating a community for artists and the arts on Roosevelt has been exponential. First Fridays went from a few hundred urban pioneers willing to seek out galleries on Jackson Street, Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue, and exploded during those early years. Thousands of people now flock to Roosevelt and the area supports several galleries, retail stores, coffee houses, and restaurants.
“We didn’t originally know each another, but we were all focused on creating a place for the arts and artists, and so we found each other.“
Along the way, Dach and her cohorts established the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization to further the unique cultural character and creative assets of the Roosevelt Row Arts District. Fellow Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill District neighbors worked together to create innovative grassroots community building events, such as the annual Pie Social, and the Chili Festival.
In addition to infusing the area with the arts, Dach and others recognized the negative impact of the empty lots and created A.R.T.S. (Activated Reuse of Temporary Spaces) initiatives to focus on activating these dead spaces. To date these programs have included the creation of a temporary A.R.T.S. Market on First Fridays, the development of the innovative Valley of the Sunflowers project, and support of The Lot: What Should Go Here? Pop Up Park at 2nd Street and Roosevelt.
Dach believes that the development of the ASU Downtown campus and the coming of light rail have been key to the rebirth of the area. “It started with the nursing school. Suddenly you noticed lots of young women with ponytails out and about,” says Dach, laughing. “But as more and more of the schools moved downtown they brought a whole range of young people into the neighborhood,” she continues. “And they are looking for things to do and places to hang out.”
Dach believes that Downtown Phoenix, Inc. can make Phoenix more competitive. “The ratings system for development is good and DPI can help us grow the city in a smarter way.” Her advice for the organization? “DPI needs to allow for diversity in the widest possible sense to participate in change-making.” As she puts it, “We should always assume that things can be better.”
Cindy Dach, along with fellow DPI board members, Kimber Lanning, and Tim Eigo represent a powerful, grassroots movement that has brought a whole new kind of energy and promise to downtown. Their place at the table speaks to the impact they’ve had in creating the community they were seeking all those years ago.
In addition to her commitment to Roosevelt Row, Cindy is a staunch supporter of bringing a great bookstore to central Phoenix. It took eight years for Tempe-based Changing Hands to find the right location and circumstances to open a Phoenix store. Dach is confident that Phoenix can support the venture. “Phoenix is ready for a bookstore, but I think we have some bad habits to break.” She explains, “It’s very obvious and for good reason the Phoenix community has been buying their books online. I hope they don’t experience sticker shock and that they realize that it’s not just the book they are buying at full retail value, they’re buying the experience, they’re buying the store, they’re buying the bookseller who’s going to recommend the book.”
“But as more and more of the schools moved downtown they brought a whole range of young people into the neighborhood. And they are looking for things to do and places to hang out.”
Ultimately, Dach believes that Phoenix is not only ready, but deserves a great bookstore. “Phoenix deserves another great community gathering place; we have some great gathering places, but we’re ready for another model and I think the bookstore could be it.”
When did Dach realize that Phoenix was her place? She says it wasn’t one moment, but a series of little moments. “I remember working on Eye Lounge and going to Portland’s covered in dust and having conversations with people about what downtown needs. I began to feel like maybe I do have a place here. It really was like ‘if you build it they will come.’ I began to feel that I did have a purpose, to be involved, and that it’s fun to be involved.”
Dach believes that one of the most amazing things about Phoenix is the people. You say ‘hey, I have shovels and we need to clear this lot’ and, lo and behold, they show up. Phoenix just wants to know how to help.”
When asked about the possibility of an Enhanceed Municipal Services District for the Roosevelt area, Dach said, “In my head it can be great to see a community being able to take care of itself, because these services just don’t exist now. You can whine and complain and ask for them, but they’re not coming and at the end of the day it’s going to come down to the community having dialogue. What I love about the process we’re about to enter, it’s going to be the best way to engage everyone.”