News and Features

Former Car Salesman From Kentucky Wins Top Prize In Dallas Opera Competition

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Categorized Under: Music

A former car salesman from Kentucky won first place and $10,000 Sunday night at the 27th annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition.

To advance from semi-finals, Anthony Clark Evans sang Zurga’s aria, “L’orage s’est calmé” from Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles followed by “Si può?  Si può?” from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.  For the  finals Sunday night, he performed “O du, mein holder Abendstern” from Wagner’s Tannhäuse.

Winners and finalists (from left to right): Anthony Clark Evans, J'nai Bridges, Jungwon Choi, Sarah Mesko, Elizabeth Sutphen and John Brancy. Credit: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera

Winners and finalists (from left to right): Anthony Clark Evans, J’nai Bridges, Jungwon Choi, Sarah Mesko, Elizabeth Sutphen and John Brancy. Credit: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera

It’s hardly Evans’ first big win. The young baritone first attracted attention in the opera world in 2012, when he won the Grand Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He went on to win more top prizes:  the 2013 Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition,  the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, and a 2014 Sullivan Award.

Evans studied at Murray State University, but dropped out  for financial reasons, he told the Louisville Courier-Journal in 2014. He kept singing and studying on his own after marrying and taking a job at a Toyota dealership. These days, car sales are taking a back seat to big roles. Evans is in his second year at the Ryan Opera Center in Chicago. He also debuted in Otello at Lyric Opera in Chicago and has had several additional roles with the company, as well as debuts with Ravinia Festival and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

This year’s vocal competition began with 362 applicants from all over the U.S. Other top prize winners included: J’Nai Bridges, a mezzo-soprano, who won the $5,000 Second Place Prize and the $1,000 People’s Choice Award and Sarah Mesko, a mezzo soprano, who took the Third Prize of $2,500.

For more information on the other finalists and their performances, visit and find more opera events on Art&Seek’s calendar.

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Giveaway: Passes To Screenings At USA Film Festival

usa ff

This Wednesday is the start of the 45th Annual USA Film Festival. The festival runs through Sunday with all programs hosted at the Angelika Film Center, Mockingbird Station.

The festival has quite the line up this year with salutes to Margo Martindale, Tab Hunter, Ernie Hudson, the 55th Anniversary reunion screening of Journey to the Center of the Earth, premiere programming, and hosting duties by homegrown actors Stephen Tobolowsky and Peri Gilpin and more.

To get you ready for the 5-day fest sign up for a chance to see Dior and I,  director Fréderic Tcheng’s documentary that takes the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house, Thursday, April 23.

UPDATE: Times up! Thanks for playing.

Or sign up to see Ian McKellen star in the latest iteration of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character in Mr. Holmes, screening Sunday, April 26.

UPDATE: Times up! Thanks for playing.

We will be contacting our winners Tuesday morning. Good luck!









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Videos On The Making Of Next Season’s World-Premiere Opera, ‘JFK’

Here are librettist Royce Vavrek and composer David T. Little in two videos on the origins and background of their opera, JFK, to premiere April 23, 2016 at the Fort Worth Opera Festival. Videos provided by the festival.


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Saturday Spotlight – Wildflowers and Music at the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival


For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re headed to Ennis for the Bluebonnet Trails Festival. Start the day off with a farmers market downtown and a car show featuring 50 vintage cars. Take your obligatory portraits with the bluebonnets while enjoying bluegrass and country music.


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FTW Opera Announces Full Season – With ‘JFK’ Premiere And Poe One-Acts

Worth, Matthew JFK

Matthew Worth as John Kennedy in the Fort Worth Opera production of JFK.

We’ve known about the JFK opera for more than a year. It’s the third opera the Fort Worth Opera Festival has commissioned, a world premiere by David Little and Royce Vavrek, the duo behind the acclaimed Dog Days, which the company opens April 24th. JFK will focus on the president’s last moments in Fort Worth before he travels to Dallas on November 22, 1963. It opens the company’s 70th season next year and represents the festival’s emphasis on Operas of the Americas.

But the rest of the season combines the fun and familiar — Rossini’s Barber of Seville — with the unusual, a pair of updated Edgar Allan Poe horror stories done as one acts: Buried Alive and Embedded. Then the final week of the festival will feature Frontiers, its showcase for six to eight new composers, their works presented in 20-minute selections.

Here’s the full release:

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Composer John Rutter Premiering New Work In Dallas

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Categorized Under: Local Events, Music
John Rutter (Collegium Records)

John Rutter (Collegium Records)

• John Rutter will conduct his music with choir and orchestra on Sunday, April 19 at 7:00pm at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas. You can learn more about the free concert at the church’s website.
• Listen to the KERA FM report:

• Listen to the full interview:

If you’ve ever been in a choir, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve sung the music of John Rutter.

For more than forty years, the English composer has been a favorite composer for choral occasions. His music was featured in the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, and he was the subject of a recent BBC documentary on the history of sacred music.

For many churches, schools and civic singing groups, his works have become mainstays of the repertoire. And that suits Rutter just fine, given his musical upbringing.

“I started my musical life singing, as a choirboy, and that has never really left me,” he said. “I always feel when I write for choirs that I’m coming home.”

Rutter’s latest composition is called The Gift of Life: Six Canticles of Creation, and it will be heard in full for the first time this weekend at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas. The new work draws from uplifting sacred texts, and will be paired with his well-known Requiem – a study in contrasts.

“Requiems, of their nature, are all about death,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, what’s the opposite of a requiem?'”

Rutter noted that there is no liturgical form that celebrates life, so he had to draw from a variety of new and historical texts.

John Rutter, in rehearsal with the choir of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church on April 15.  (Tim Jerome)

John Rutter, in rehearsal with the choir of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church on April 15. (Tim Jerome)

“You can’t take a ready-made text or set of texts and say, ‘Well, this is a life-iem,'” he said with a laugh.

The new work incorporates one of Rutter’s earlier compositions, Hymn to the Creator of Light, as one of its movements, and features darker, mystical harmonies, evoking strong emotion while exploring themes of light and nature.

“Emotion for me is an integral part of all art,” he said. “It’s a release; it’s an affirmation of our humanity.”

Like many composers before him, Rutter has a lot of questions about where he stands regarding his own religious faith. Yet, he still finds a sense of the divine in the music he writes within a spiritual context.

“Music is transcendental,” he said. “We don’t know what it is about just sounds vibrating in the air that can make strong men weep. … It has powers – healing powers, many people believe – that we don’t understand. Faith has an awful lot of those same boxes that you can tick, you know?”

Terry Price is the longtime director of music at Preston Hollow. Two years ago, he asked Rutter about writing a new large-scale work, to be commissioned by a church member. Rutter completed the work in a flurry of activity over the past few months, and he’s excited to lead its premiere here this weekend – in the same city where his Requiem premiered 30 years ago.

“This was something that I felt good about and thought I would like to be involved in,” he said. “And it was here in a city that I’m very fond of and where I’ve made music a number of times over the years.”

So, given that much of his life’s work involves writing for choirs, does Rutter worry that they may soon become a relic of the past?

“Never – that’s never going to happen,” he said emphatically. “Every child should have a chance to try it. … There will be some who will say, like the little kid I was, this is wonderful, I just wish all day could be singing.

“It was a kind of bliss, an altered state, something I didn’t experience anywhere else in my life. And there will be lots and lots of other children who will feel that way if you give them the chance.”

A YouTube user has posted videos of excerpts from Rutter’s works on the upcoming program, set to images by the late British painter Sir Stanley Spencer:

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Continental Gin Open House Brings Welsh Artist to Dallas

posterThe Continental Gin Building is throwing open its doors this weekend. The community of artists in the venerable Deep Ellum building will host an open house Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m.

For 27 years, the studios in the historic warehouse have held an open house twice a year – once in the fall and spring. Alison Volk of VOLK PR says there are 48 tenants currently occupying three floors of space there, and some 35 artists will participate in this event.


Volk says the large number of artists and their variety — designers (apparel, graphic and interior), filmmakers, painters and photographers — all of them sharing one, vast building lends itself to creative collaboration: “Everything really goes hand-in-hand. These artists [and] craftsman all have similar interests, and they form a master-mind group naturally.” 

The group includes: Rob Aikey, Diana Antohe, Jay Bailey, Connie Roschlau Ball, Donna Davis Ball, Fannie Brito, Alan Cook, Patsi Davila, Alison De Vito, STATUS Design, Bill Planey Graphic Design, Marianne Gargour, Andrea Guay, Anne L. Hines, Jenny Keller, David Klucsarits, Nancy Miller, Ty Milner, Marsha Moser, Bob Nunn, Lindsey Owen, Jan Partin, Kim Petty, Paula Radvansky, Ethan Salazar, Kitty Snead, John Sustaita, Michael Sutton, Carroll Swenson-Roberts, VET and Leonard Volk.

Hear retired architect Leonard Volk discuss photography and creativity with Krys Boyd on Think in January 2013:

From the UK to TX

Included among the work of local artists, guest participants and longtime CGB tenants will be paintings by featured artist Stuart Burne from the small island town of Holyhead in Anglesey, Wales.

It’s about as close as Wales gets to Ireland — that little outcropping across from Dublin — and Burne grew up exploring the coast.  So those familiar scenes of the Welsh landscape — the Irish Sea, the Stena Line ferries between Holyhead and Dublin, the Virgin trains that run through northern Wales  — they became primary subjects of his paintings, he says. Burne paints with acrylic on canvas and often paints on location to get the best images for his work: “As I was growing up the sea was a natural, continuing influence on the subconscious mind, which kept influencing my desire to paint.”

The open house will be Burne’s first time exhibiting in the U.S., and he will show eleven paintings, a few etchings and drypoint prints, he says.

Heather Helen Ray, a former makeup artist turned professional photographer, is hosting Burne not only in the States but also in her personal studio space in the Continental Gin Building, where she has had her office for about six years.

“[The CGB] feels like you’re in New York. You can hear the train going behind on the DART rail,” she says. At the Continental Gin, you “step out of normal Dallas,” she says, into “something different.”

Ray has participated in the open houses since she began renting the space, and for the upcoming event, she will show one large piece she’s been working on for about six months. The rest of her efforts were put into bringing Burne and his paintings across the pond, she says.

Last October, when trying to get an artist collaborative going, Ray was researching online, looking at international galleries and arts organizations, and discovered Burne’s vibrant landscapes.

“Stuart talks a lot in his artwork through colors,” she says. “He really draws you in.”

Burne adds that he’s most looking forward to meeting the artists and general public and showing them his part of Wales — another reason Ray wanted to bring him to Dallas.

More on the open house

Ray says the biannual event is unique among area art exhibitions because of the energy and excitement of the visitors — and the friendly welcome from the artists in their studios.

“It’s almost like getting invited to a house party,” Ray says. Visitors don’t feel like mere spectators but rather become part of the building.

And like any good house party, there will be music. Local “folk, jazz and indie” band, Felix Flores will play Friday on the second floor of the CGB. And on Saturday, CGB artists will participate in the Deep Ellum Art Walk.

History of the Continental Gin Building

The Continental Gin Building dates from when North Texas was one of the great centers of cotton production and processing. (That’s why the Cotton Bowl is in Fair Park, got it?). It was originally a cotton gin factory built by Robert S. Munger in 1888, housed in a series of brick warehouses along Elm Street and Trunk Avenue. The CGB was the largest manufacturer of cotton-processing equipment in the country.

The company closed in 1962, when Deep Ellum went through several changes. But 20 years later, John Tatum, a local real estate developer, purchased the property and rented the spaces to artists, distinguishing the 125-year-old building as the oldest art community in Deep Ellum.

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DMA’s Gutai Exhibit Brings Insights To Post WWII Art

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts
Kazuo Shiraga Wild Boar Hunting II 1963 oil and fur on board Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art  2015 Shiraga Hisao

“Wild Boar Hunting II” by Kazuo Shiraga, 1963.


After World War II, a group of avant-garde artists in Japan began challenging the limits of painting. Though the Gutai art movement isn’t widely known in the US, the Dallas Museum of Art is paying a lot of attention to it.  KERA contributor Joan Davidow explains how the DMA’s exhibition of two Gutai artists reveals influences and similarities with American artists working at the same time.

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The Dallas Art Fair: The Home Team Had The Advantage


By Gail Norfleet. Photo: Gail Sachson.

Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns ASK ME ABOUT ART offering lectures, tours and program planning in the arts.

The seventh annual Dallas Art Fair, April 10-12, was a home run for the home team. That is,  for founders John Sughrue and Chris Byrne and for the nine Dallas galleries which exhibited work. They stood out above the crowded field of 90-plus galleries from all over the world. The Dallas galleries included Barry Whistler, Cris Worley, Zhulong, Talley Dunn, Valley House, Galleri Urbane, Ro2, Conduit and Kirk Hopper. Sorely missed was RE Gallery, which was a big hit in a small space last year.

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The Big Screen: Discussing ‘Dare To Drum’


BIG SCREEN LOGO FOR POSTThe documentary Dare to Drum captures the musical collaboration of a local percussion ensemble, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and one of the most famous rock ‘n’ roll drummers in the world. The film is part of the Dallas International Film Festival, and this week, we talk to its director, who happens to be a drummer himself.

Dare to Drum screens at the Angelika Film Center Thursday at 7 and Saturday at 3.

Check out Bill Zeeble’s 2011 story about the collaboration.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.

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