DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
A free community presentation that highlights Phoenix’s development as a city will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at Burton Barr Central Library, Pulliam Auditorium, 1221 N. Central Ave.
The lecture will feature Alison King, founding editor of ModernPhoenix.net and associate professor of graphic design at the Art Institute of Phoenix. The lecture, titled “Modern Phoenix: Where Cantilever Meets Coyote,” will illustrate how explosive Phoenix growth in the post-war era made the Arizona desert a fertile palette for experimentation by some of the nation’s greatest modern architects including Frank Lloyd Wright.
The illustrated talk will spotlight custom and vernacular modern design created by five architects who relocated to Arizona, calling it home in the post-war era. Vintage imagery, legends and design philosophies of Al Beadle, Blaine Drake, Ralph Haver, Paolo Soleri and Fred Guirey will be discussed. An overview of current challenges and triumphs in mid-century preservation will paint a vivid picture of the state of modern design in Arizona. An update on Frank Lloyd Wright’s David Wright home also will be shared.
King is founder of the Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network at the award-winning website modernphoenix.net. She has researched, written and documented Arizona’s modern culture on the web since 2003. She was honored twice by the Central Arizona American Institute of Architects for her contributions to interpreting design history and in 2011 published the authorized biography, “Ralph Burgess Haver: Everyman’s Modernist.”
The free series of public talks coincides with the exhibition, “Phoenix Icons: The Art of Our Historic Landmarks,” on display at the Gallery @ City Hall, 200 W. Washington St., first floor.
The show includes 33 photographs by artists Patrick Madigan and Michael Lundgren of historic Phoenix landmarks and buildings. The lecture series is supported with funds from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
“Phoenix Icons: The Art of Our Historic Landmarks” is the second in a series of rotating exhibitions featuring the city’s historic Municipal Art Collection of 1,000 artworks.
The Gallery @ City Hall is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibit, on display through the end of May, is free to the public. The works were commissioned by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program. The Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission have partnered in the exhibition. The gallery is supported by private contributions from businesses and residents throughout the city and region and operated by volunteers.
For more information, visit phoenix.gov/arts or call 602-262-4637. Follow us on Twitter @phxartsculture.
If you’re feeling the Thursday mental fatigue that comes near the end of the work week, give your tired synapses a pick-me-up at the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, and take a look at cutting-edge student research.
The Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF) is a program of Society for Science & the Public, wrapping up this year’s event at the Phoenix Convention Center through Friday. Celebrate the joys of science at Thursday’s Public Outreach Day with hands-on interactive exhibits, and meet talented young finalists creating groundbreaking research in chemistry, computer science, engineering, and other disciplines.
Approximately 1,600 high school scientists competed from around the world, coming from 433 affiliate fairs and resulting in over 400 award-winning finalists and 17 “Best of Category” winners in fields including animal and plant sciences, cellular and molecular biology, behavioral and social sciences, medicine and health, bioengineering, and physics and astronomy.
The Special Awards Ceremony takes place Thursday evening, while the Grand Awards Ceremony starts Friday at 9AM. It’s intriguing to speculate on the prize-winning topics of research — finalists are competing for more than $4 million in awards.
Last year’s first-place winner was 15-year-old Jack Andraka of Maryland, who created a simple dip-stick sensor to test for pancreatic cancer. Astonishingly, Andraka’s study resulted in greater than 90% accuracy, and showed his sensor to be 28 times faster, far less expensive, and more than 100 times more sensitive than current tests.
Winners of Young Scientist Awards in 2012 included 17-year-old Canadian Nicholas Schiefer, who studies “microsearch,” developing ways to search tweets and Facebook status updates by improving the capabilities of search engines. Another winner, 18-year-old Ari Dyckovsky of Virginia, investigated the science of quantum teleportation, “entangling” atoms to transfer information.
Curious? Learn more about past projects through the abstract search, or stop by the Fair and see for yourself — you might find research exploring new drugs made from spiderweb silk, or discover an internal combustion engine with only four moving parts…or you just might meet the next great scientific mind in a teenager.
If you go:
- The Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF): at the Phoenix Convention Center through Friday, May 17.
- Society for Science & the Public is a non-profit organization promoting the understanding and appreciation of science.
- The Intel ISEF Public Outreach Day features hands-on interactive exhibits and the opportunity to meet top young scientists.
- Check out highlights from last year’s Fair on YouTube.
This is definitely it. This is the last of it. A few cool soft breezes at night with the windows open will taunt you in your memory a week from now. Soon we’ll be closing the blinds and hissing at the sunlight like trapped vampires. It goes by many names but I like to call it “underwear weather.” More traditionally, it’s called summer. And, as every good Phoenician knows, summer begins in May.
Years ago, it used to be that once May rolled around, all of the art spaces in downtown Phoenix that didn’t have functioning A/C or swamp coolers would shut down for the summertime and stay closed until re-emerging in October. Now, considering the vast amounts of Facebook event invitations I’ve been getting, this tactic is no longer the case. Either art spaces have suddenly come across a windfall of cash or people in town are more willing to brave sweating together in a small room for the sake of seeing art.
While venues like Lawn Gnome, The Trunk Space, Frontal Lobe and Crescent Ballroom seem to have plans scheduled deep into the beast that is high summer in Phoenix, I see this time of year as having an additional advantage.
All good work needs time and focus to develop. With a self-imposed sun and heat quarantine, the summertime in Phoenix is the perfect time to think, read, write, develop, plan and scheme all of the ideas there was no time to focus on while friends were luring you out the door for beers on a patio or a hike in the mountains. The winter weather here can be blissful but is really not conducive to hours of concentration. I find myself staring longingly out the window and cursing our American workaholic existence.
When staring out the window means being blinded by a high noon reflection of the sun or witnessing a sweaty individual finding a sliver of shade to wait for the bus, the prospect of hiding indoors seems much more inviting. Living in such a unique environment, we must take advantage of the odd variances of this place.
Starting right now, you have five months to work on your grand plan. Instead of going stir crazy and disgusted with the sight of four walls, an entirely new project could be born. Most of the time, people don’t discover the benefits of focus and development. It can be ugly. Starting off is always a struggle of the conscious as it battles to defeat the beginnings of any idea. But this time, with fewer distractions, instead of saying no to the idea, you can say yes.
Philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote that philosophy is useless in the practical world without action that could take the form of writing or spoken words. Simply by stepping forth with the ideas in your head and putting them in to reality, we change the make-up of our world and begin participating in life.
So, although you might be sitting in your dark cave space, blinds closed, fan on, a/c set at 82 degrees so you don’t break the bank, and limiting contact with the “outside” world, you may ultimately be taking a greater part in it.
Once September or October approaches, emerge from your cool dark place and share your results with the city. If all works out, we should see some pretty amazing and weird work and maybe even some projects that expand on the conceptual groundwork that was created the previous year. Summer is the time to hibernate, develop and grow. Take this time to walk around in your underwear and see what’s possible.
Frontal Lobe, Go Joe show, May 24
Lawn Gnome Publishing, Sole: No Wising Up, No Settling Down Tour, June 18,
The Trunk Space, event calendar for June
Crescent Ballroom: Sea Wolf, June 17, Melvins, July 12
The authenticity and accuracy of Ballet Arizona’s All Balanchine program this weekend relies on the invaluable knowledge of Artistic Director Ib Andersen, himself a Balanchine protégé for whom the great choreographer created major roles in Ballade, Robert Schumann’s ‘Davidsbündlertänze,’ and Mozartiana. With a distinguished background in the Royal Danish Ballet and the New York City Ballet, Andersen now serves as one of only a few répétiteurs authorized to stage George Balanchine’s works.
The program includes Serenade, set to music by Peter Tchaikovsky and the first work Balanchine choreographed for American dancers. The Balanchine Trust describes it as “a ballet of patterns that…explores academic ballet technique…the choreography, as the music, has overtones of love, loss, yearning.” Serenade’s glorious lighting, long translucent skirts, and stark staging are quite literally breathtaking when the curtain rises.
Ballet Arizona dancer Natalia Magnicaballi explains that Serenade’s unusual combination of classicism and drama began as exercises. “Balanchine started choreographing in class…and this girl came late, and he put that in the choreography.” The role continues with a waltz and later an elegy, where a relatively small movement provides striking visual contrast: the dancer unpins her hair.
Magnicaballi demonstrates another position from a section of the elegy known as “Dark Angel,” sweeping her arms behind her head and extending them like outstretched wings. The pose was inspired by Antonio Canova’s 18th-century sculpture of Cupid and Psyche, according to Balanchine expert Suzanne Farrell, for whom Magnicaballi has danced since 1999.
“It’s very interesting for me,” says Magnicaballi, “because [Farrell and Andersen] both worked for Balanchine [in the 1980s], so I have the female…and the male…so it makes sense how they ask for things.” She pauses thoughtfully. “They’re very different in personality, but I think that they complement each other.”
Magnicaballi joined Ballet Arizona in 2002 after working with the Italian company Aterballetto and Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino in her home country. She’s particularly beloved by Arizona audiences from lead roles in La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker), Coppélia, and Swan Lake as well as Ib Andersen’s creations.
The dancer tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in January 2011 — “it totally went tukk,” she describes, accompanying the sound with a twisting, tearing motion. She spent nearly a year recovering and retraining herself. “You have to teach yourself…how to walk again,” she continues. “But I always say things happen for a reason, because I came back stronger. I’m training different — I go to the gym, I lift weights, I do cross-training. It helped like a thousand percent.”
Magnicaballi’s recovery means a return to her signature roles. “I’m so happy to be dancing Movements again,” she exclaims. “It’s my favorite, favorite, favorite.” She’s referring to Movements for Piano and Orchestra, which is paired with Monumentum pro Gesualdo. Igor Stravinsky composed Movements and orchestrated Don Carlo Gesualdo’s madrigals for Monumentum, and pianist William Wolfram provides live music with conductor Timothy Russell and The Phoenix Symphony.
“I had the privilege to work with Suzanne [Farrell] on that,” continues Magnicaballi. “It was created for Diana Adams, and [she] found out that she was pregnant, so she had to rest and stay in bed. So Diana taught Suzanne the ballet in her living room…and she passed it to me, one-on-one…” She nods emphatically. “It’s very special for her, that ballet, and it is for me…I feel like home when I do it.”
She describes Movements as “super-precise…you are constantly moving, and it has to have a certain connection in the way you partner, too. It’s very interesting how the tempo also changes.” Keeping track of the beats in Stravinsky’s music can also be challenging because of meter changes. “When the ballet’s very precise it makes so much sense…it’s like seeing music through the movement,” she says.
Magnicaballi’s perspective on Monumentum was influenced by the composer’s history. In 1590 Gesualdo arranged for the murder of his wife and her lover. “I know that,” says the dancer, “because Suzanne actually came with the story and said, ‘Can you believe this music is so beautiful, and so serene and calm?’”
She continues, “So all those ingredients make you think about how you want to feel and portray the ballet.” Magnicaballi explains that Balanchine’s choreography encourages a natural progression of movement from one balance point to the next. “It’s very rich,” she says, “and the language is very interesting.”
The final work on the All Balanchine program, The Four Temperaments, offers a refreshing contrast. Paul Hindemith was commissioned to write the music by Balanchine in 1940, and it features a theme and variations named after the four personality characteristics of medieval cosmology: melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic, and choleric.
“I think what I like about Balanchine is…every single ballet is like you’re stepping into a completely different world,” says Magnicaballi. “We’re doing three different ballets, and I feel like a totally different person in each of them.” She smiles. “It’s so great to have that in a program as a dancer — it’s very fulfilling.”
After Ballet Arizona’s All-Balanchine performances end on May 5, the company moves to an outdoor stage at Desert Botanical Garden for three weeks of Topia, a work choreographed by Andersen using Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6.
If you go:
Music protesting war and violence takes many forms — from 20th century songs like Metallica’s hit “One” and Sting’s “Russians” to earlier expressions by Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, and Joan Baez. And long before John Lennon and Pete Seeger made their mark, classical composers were objecting to conflict; for example, Benjamin Britten with his War Requiem and Krzysztof Penderecki with his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.
English composer, teacher, writer, and conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams brought his own style of protest and commentary to his interpretation of the Roman Catholic Mass, Dona nobis pacem (“Give us peace”). Written in 1936 and 1937, the cantata uses text from the Bible, a parliamentary speech by British statesman John Bright, and verse by Walt Whitman.
“Dona nobis pacem was written in the dark days of the late 1930s as another European war loomed,” explains MusicaNova Music Director Warren Cohen. “Although the last section ends hopefully, the quiet ending suggests that perhaps he [Vaughan Williams] saw that things were not so hopeful in 1936.”
The six-part work includes martial drums and bugles followed by the mourning of a movement titled “Dirge for Two Veterans,” and through it all a solo soprano voice rises in entreaty. “This plea for peace is emotionally direct…[and] can be seen as a plea for sanity,” says Cohen.
This evening, he leads MusicaNova Orchestra in a performance of Dona nobis pacem and other vocal works in a program called And Open to All: Opera, Oratorio, and Song at Central United Methodist Church. The combined choirs of Arizona School for the Arts and Central United Methodist Church join the orchestra (full disclosure: I’m one of the musicians).
Soloists include singers from a newly-formed Valley organization called Opera Revolution, an offshoot of the music advocacy group Classical Revolution Phoenix, which offers casual, free performances in non-traditional venues as well as the annual Classical Revolution Phoestival. The performers include Karen Hendricks Crawford, Daniel Kurek, Susan Hurley, Andrew Briggs, Joyce Yin, John Cleveland, and Robert Altizer.
“This concert is an exploration of diversity within vocal music,” says Cohen, who has a very personal interest in song since he’s married to a soprano. He chose not only the large, introspective work by Ralph Vaughan Williams but also an assortment of art songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as a classic operatic scene.
“The songs represent five separate and distinct visions of the subject of desire and love,” he continues, describing works by Richard Strauss, Hugo Wolf, and Aldo Finzi. “From the expression of lost love in ‘Allerseelen (All Souls’ Eve)’ through the psychopathic manipulation of ‘Der Rattenfänger (The Rat-Catcher)’ – based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin — to the glow of ‘Morgen (Tomorrow),’ the anxious puppy love of ‘Cäcilie,’ and the longing of ‘Catharine,’ each song represents a radically different take on the subject.”
The program’s operatic excerpt is an ensemble scene from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, set at a party hosted by Giovanni himself, who hopes to seduce the country girl Zerlina in the course of the evening. They’re joined by Zerlina’s fiancé, Giovanni’s servant, and three masked strangers who secretly seek revenge against the seducer.
Musically, the scene features multiple voices and three instrumental ensembles, and at one point three different dances — a waltz, a quadrille, and a minuet — overlap in carefully engineered chaos “as Mozart anticipates the experiments of Charles Ives by 125 years,” says Cohen, whose adventurous programming has won him an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL).
“[It’s] a tour-de-force of complexity,” he concludes. “The seven voices appear in the guise of soloist, duet and trio partners, and ensembles, sometimes tripping over each other as the various operatic conventions run almost simultaneously.”
If you go:
When: Thursday, April 25, 7:30PM
Where: Central United Methodist Church sanctuary, 1875 N. Central Ave.