As Kevin C. pointed out, I (inadvertently) left Carl Vine out of my list of living composers whose music may be played at the upcoming Cliburn Competition. Actually, I had made a mental note of him and had even looked at his web site, but let him slip when I was typing in the list. Vine has already made a mark at the 2005 Cliburn. To hear and see current Cliburn competitor Spencer Myer play Vine’s Sonata No. 1, click here (first movement) and here (second movement). Or you can hear him play it live in Fort Worth Friday night.
Guest blogger Aaron Ginsburg is a longtime member of the Kitchen Dog Theater Company who lives and writes in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.
I don’t live in Dallas.
Not anymore, at least. Years ago, I bid a bittersweet farewell to the ridiculously tasty (and plentiful) Tex-Mex joints and the ridiculously dangerous (and perpetually under construction) highways to relocate to sunny Los Angeles. The City of Dreams.
My plan was simple: Sell Out.
Now, not everyone in Hollywood actively strives to sell out, to deliberately cast aside their moral compasses simply to get their hands on fast cash, faster women and fleeting fame. Some artists actually try to hold onto their integrity… as long as they can.
When rehearsals started, Co-Artistic Director Tina Parker realized she needed an actual sellout to give the production authenticity. Naturally, I ignored her e-mails for weeks — until KDT finally matched my massive pay quote. Then I hopped on my personal jet to Love Field. It had been more than a year since I directed Mr. Marmalade at Kitchen Dog, and after reading Jihad Jones, I knew why Tina had reached out to me once again.
For a week, I worked carefully with the amazing cast. I spent hours educating them on the tenets of selling out. Under my guidance, they abandoned their principles. They embraced a shallow, narcissistic outlook on life. At last, they renounced the very artistic virtues they once held dear. My job was complete.
And in the capable hands of this brilliant cast of actors, the result is truly hilarious.
Razor-sharp one-liners, rapid-fire physical comedy, a juicy moral quandary (Hollywood style) that threatens to bankrupt one’s very soul … Don’t miss this one, people. You’ll regret it.
And as I sipped a chilled flute of 1998 Dom Pérignon from my first class seat on the jet, I realized that perhaps I should return to Dallas more often.
Until that happens, I’ll just write an uplifting screenplay about the incomparable power of live theater … as seen through the eyes of a talking dog.
Guest blogger Bart Weiss is director of VideoFest. He sends this report from his trip to Poland to attend the international public television conference INPUT. Click here to read his previous entry.
The week at the INPUT conference of international public TV producers was great but exhausting. When I go to most festivals, I go on a film-a-day diet. Here, I average at least six or seven, and then I go to a film at the Polish Doc fest in the evening.
In the last few days I saw a program that critiques TV adds in a serious but funny way from Australia. I also enjoyed Welcome to Westerwaltd, a drama about a very small German town. Some of these will be at the Videofest in November.
At night, I saw Burma VJ, a film that will show on HBO about a group of citizen video journalists who document a revolt in Burma that the traditional media can’t report. These folks sneak out the footage at great personal risk to expose the situation. Better living through video for sure!
As the conference ended, we got a day to check out Warsaw and see how it was destroyed by the Nazis at the end of the war. After walking around for a week, Warsaw was pretty drab – gray and drizzly often. I could see how people could get depressed.
But after the conference was over, it was off to Hungary, where now I am in Budapest. The sky is bright, the weather is warm, everything has good design and style here. Lots of cafes, bright colors and paprika. My grandparents came from Hungary – or what was once Hungry – so this part of the trip is to understand the things my grandparents were talking about when they mentioned the old country.
Today we went to the Turkish bath. Every time I go to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, I make sure to do the hot bath there, so I was expecting something maybe like that. This was more like a water park for adults (many overweight people in Speedos), but the pools were relaxing, which was great.
Hopefully it will help me cure my insomnia.
Most of the 29 competitors in the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be new faces to the audience. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a comfortable sense of familiarity. Pianists change, but competition repertoire is remarkably stable. A Cliburn without a La Campanella by Liszt or a Ballade in G minor by Chopin or Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrouchka wouldn’t seem quite right.
This has remained true even though there has been a trend down through the years to loosen requirements and give entrants greater freedom of choice. Set free, competitors tend not to wander down unfamiliar, possibly dangerous paths — although the few who do tend to be more clearly remembered, and not necessarily unfavorably.
The choices available are wide. The preliminaries consist of 50-minute solo recitals. The repertoire? Player’s choice. The same with the semifinalists’ 60-minute solo recitals, except that each pianist has to include one brand-new commissioned piece and choose one from a list of quintets by Brahms, Dvorak, Franck and Schumann for the chamber-music phase. Finalists again choose their own rep for a 60-minute solo recital (they can’t repeat preliminary and semifinal pieces). They also have to play two concertos with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, including one from a mandated list and one of their own choice.
Despite all this freedom, this year’s repertory wouldn’t have seemed out of place at past, more restricted, editions of the Cliburn. Read More »
Here’s our Art & CHIC moment of the day (props to Jerome for coming up with that one!) : Texas’ Next Top Designer gala is tonight at the former LFT space at Victory Park. The annual design competition, open to North Texan fashion and accessory designers, is in its 3rd year. The first winner Abi Ferrin is a successful local designer who has shown at New York Fashion Week and whose designs can also be found at Stanley Korshak. Over 40 applicants entered this year and the field has narrowed down to 23 semi-finalists whose fashions will be showcased in a high-energy fashion show tonight at the party. Organizers will then announce the top 10 finalists and the winner, who will receive a prize package valued at $40,000.
Former Texan Elisa Jimenez will unveil a new “Rock Fashion Opera” designed specifically for the gala. The designer and artist was first discovered by Vogue’s Scoop in 1996, Jimenez has received several awards, including the National Endowment’s Most Promising Artist, the Mamie E. Smith Endowment, and Vogue’s Top 10 Independent American Designers. But reality TV junkies will probably remember her as the new-agey/kooky one on Project Runway a few seasons back who would spit mark on her fabrics. Naturally we’re going to chat with her for Art&Seek, so check back on the blog tomorrow for an update.
Tickets are still available for tonight’s gala online for $40 at texasnexttopdesigner.com, $50 at the door (former LFT space at Victory Park), and $25 for students with valid ID.
OH, and if you’ve got an itch to design something, you guys know we are having an Art&Seek T-shirt design contest right? Click here!
Watch live coverage of the Van Cliburn Competition beginning May 22.
And check the Art&Seek blog daily for coverage from veteran music critic Olin Chism, who’s missed only one Van Cliburn competition — ever.
- KERA radio story:
- Expanded online story:
The 13th Cliburn International Piano Competition begins this Friday in Fort Worth. Held once every four years, the contest ranks as the world’s most prestigious of its kind. It gives young pianists a chance at up to $20,000 plus a worldwide concert career. For the first time for any major arts event like this, long- distance fans can experience it as never before. That’s because each performance, right down to rehearsals, will now go live on the web.
Bill Zeeble: Cliburn officials say they’re always open to something new in attempts to reach more – and younger – classical music fans. In 2001, the competition offered music streaming online. Four years later, it added video streaming. This time, the Cliburn plans live audio and video streaming of every performance and more, 11 hours a day, for the competition’s full 17 days. To pull it off, lead engineer John Johns has basically built a TV studio, for the duration.
John Johns: I don’t know of anything that’s been done like this before. There’s been a lot of big webcasts, like the Olympics, that were on the air on multiple channels, and things like that, but this to me is the biggest web-only event that I know of that’s not affiliated with a broadcast.
Zeeble: Johns is relying on 40 to 50 people, not the thousands involved for the Olympics. Cliburn Foundation President Richard Rodzinski sits at his computer to demonstrate. He types in Cliburn.tv, and clicks on what’s loaded there for now, a 2001 performance of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto, with co-gold medalist, Olga Kern.
Richard Rodzinski, President, Cliburn Foundation (right): That’s where you’ll have all the little buttons that will take you to the biographies, schedule information, everything, And then you just click on the the big screen and [APPLAUSE] that’s it.
Zeeble: Once the competition starts, Rodzinski says there’ll be even more than live performances. He’s especially excited about webcam access to all rehearsals, whether that’s the pianist with the Takacs string quartet, or finalists working with the Fort Worth Symphony. Not even the paying fans in the hall get this behind – the – scenes access.
Rodzinski: It’s like having web cams all throughout the theater and kind of looking in on what’s happening back stage putting this thing together. People love to know what’s happening backstage. They love to go to rehearsals because that’s where so much is put together in a way that demystifies the experience.
Zeeble: Rodzinski says the Cliburn can pull off this expensive proposition in part because remote-controlled cameras will already be in place for the crew, creating the contest documentary. Buddy Bray, with the Cliburn Foundation, has written notes that’ll scroll along the bottom of the computer screen.
Buddy Bray, Artistic Director of Special Projects, Cliburn Foundation: I had to intuit this because it’s really not been done much in the industry before. I think what they like the best is a road map. “Now we’ll have a different theme, this is the second theme and it’s announced first by the strings and it’s taken up by the piano,” and things like that.
Zeeble: Bray says if you don’t want those written notes, just don’t click them on. There will also be produced interviews with pianists before and after performances, and a live host every day. Longtime composer Anne Demarest can’t wait. At 89, she says she doesn’t travel anymore beyond her small town of Arvada, Colorado, nearly a thousand miles from Fort Worth.
Anne Demarest: I’ll be here and I’m not coming up for air. I might come up for air occasionally, but I’ll be sitting here in front of this monitor watching. I still have many years ahead of me, but I’ll spend them as much as I can involved in music and now it’s brought right to my doorstep.
Zeeble: Whether it’s the Cliburn’s first blind contestant ever, or returning players from the last competition, Demarest plans to hear them all.
In 2009, that eighth grade boy is now a husband, a brand new dad and also an accomplished songwriter living in North Dallas. He writes indie rock, film scores, operettas and bombastic Hollywood love songs. He writes alone or sometimes with a partner or two. On the rare occasion he covers someone else’s song, he chooses something like a venerated Leonard Cohen anthem. His latest solo album, Stir the Menagerie, was self-produced and released last year. At 39, Gandolfi is still star material and still chasing that dream. Some people don’t have it in them to surrender.
Art&Seek: You were considered something of a musical prodigy from your early teen years. What was your attitude toward the future at that time?
Paul Vincent Gandolfi: When I came out of high school and did the first record when I was 16, things were good. I was musically, for my age, pretty advanced. I was already writing a lot of music. And the thing that you have to grapple with yourself is: it was kind of expected. “I’ll make it by the time I’m 21! Goodbye, everybody!” It came close to happening a lot of times; it didn’t happen. It kind of redefines who you are and what you’re about. Is it OK, and do you enjoy your music enough, that if you don’t sell 10 million records, that it’s still worthy of you to do? I think that gets down to the core of who the artist may or may not be.
A&S: When did you figure out you needed some sort of digital presence for the marketing of your music?
PVG: I’ve had Web presence really only in the past five or six years. Lifesketch was a longterm, kind of maudlin little album. Never listen to it while drinking red wine. I had a huge collection of songs. I had a songwriting partner for a number of years, and we did the operetta together, and I was like, “You know, I haven’t done a solo record in a good number of years.” So I did that. I had to do all new photo shots and interviews and that kind of stuff, so that’s where the Web presence kind of came out. And the flash sites, ’cause they’re kind of fancy. Now we’re actually converting the site to something that works within WordPress so that I can start blogging more, and I’ve got to Tweet now. I’ve been on Twitter since last year, but I don’t tweet very much because I think it’s cyberstalking.
A&S: You mentioned the operetta. You’re all over the map musically. Was that your idea?
PVG: Me and a buddy named Terry. He had been on Broadway. We started writing songs together for W.T. Greer here in town – great, soulful singer. He used to play piano in town at The Library at the Melrose. So Terry and I were writing songs together, and we got the idea to write an operetta. I was classically trained, and we did a lot of research and wrote a story called V about Vlad Ţepeş, who’s the basis of the Dracula legend. It’s not Dracula; it’s rooted more in the history of the Romanian prince. Those projects take a long time. It’s three hours, fully scored, all that kind of stuff.
A&S: Were you doing both music and lyrics?
PVG: Oh yeah. We wrote the full libretto, the book, and then wrote the score, orchestrated the score, then recorded the album. The demo is very dated now – this is like mid-90s — but it still holds up. In fact, it’s being shopped in New York right now with a production office. Another piece that we wrote with a third partner was called Song of Motherhood. It was premiered here at the Watertower Theatre in Addison. Terry Martin, the Executive Director, was originally in the show and then we picked him to direct it.
We wrote material for other people. We were actually slated to do the score and write the main theme for The Bridges of Madison County. This was the big break that didn’t come. Terry went to California and had this meeting. I was unavailable to go. Our music was circulating all through the industry for film, you know, like big romantic themes. The book was out, and it was all over. Robert James Waller was knocking it out of the park.
A&S: Was Clint Eastwood attached to it yet?
PVG: No. No. Clint Eastwood killed me. This was Amblin Entertainment. It stemmed from Bonnie Curtis, who we had a relationship with, who was Speilberg’s assistant. Really nice. Universal was partnered up as the studio. They were like, “We’re going to give each of you guys a scene, and we’d like you to write the main love theme and then take things from the scene and assimilate it into the lyrical context of what you’re doing.” And you get to go in there and meet the other composers. So it was Jerry Goldsmith, who has since passed away – incredible film scorer – Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch and Langfitt and Gandolfi. It was crazy – of all the times that I couldn’t be there … We wrote this theme, it was great, Universal started to pass on it, Amblin was still doing it, Speilberg was going to produce, Sydney Pollack was directing. Sydney Pollack had to pull out because he had to do Eyes Wide Shut – he wasn’t directing, but he was in it. So then they get Eastwood to do it. And he’s a jazz pianist himself, and a fledgling composer, very simple. I’m not critiquing his work; it’s tasty. But there’s like 19 minutes of music in that two and a half hour movie. Well, the director has the ultimate power on those things. And so it went away. It was heartbreaking.
A&S: That is the worst B+ in the history of all time.
PVG: It was. I was 26. It was going to be a hit no matter who did it, because the book was so huge. Here I am a rock and roll guy and I was like, “I’ll do this all day long, because I love writing balladry.” Don’t get me wrong – there’s something very guttural, instinctive and soulful about rock music, and what you say and the driving of the rhythm and everything, it’s very sexual. But love songs are love songs, and the top 20 songs of all time are love songs, because the human condition is based upon relationships. Everybody can relate to love, happiness and sadness.
A&S: Did you have similar experiences with your solo music?
PVG: I’ve got all sorts of stories like that. It’s all based on the whim of whoever is in the spot to get you where you want to go. The entertainment industry is based on the rule of one. It takes one person, in the right spot, that believes in your art, no matter what it is – this could go with any kind of media, art, music, one publisher if you’re a writer of books – one person in that spot to change the fate of where your art goes. It’s all based on one. And I’ve had lots of ‘em.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.
THE T-SHIRT AS ART: Kettle Art has a new T-shirt series designed by Tyson Summers, which Frank Campagna reports is already almost out of print. Summers is an Art Institute of Dallas grad who also participated in Kettle Art’s recent Birds vs. Skulls show. If you want one of his shirts, you’d best stop by Kettle Art soon. And Tyson, if you’re reading this, don’t be shy about entering the contest to design the Art&Seek T-shirt. Don’t worry too much about that May 25 deadline. I have it on good authority that that will be extended.
OUR HOMETOWN OSCAR-WINNER: Amid all the Slumdog Millionaire hoopla at this year’s Oscars, you might have missed a local filmmaker being recognized for helping a real Indian child in need. Megan Mylan, a Highland Park High School graduate, took home the Academy Award for best short-subject documentary for Smile Pinki. The film follows a rural Indian girl as she undergoes a surgical procedure to fix a cleft palate. (You may also remember Mylan for the excellent Lost Boys of Sudan, another real eye-opener.) If you want to know more about Mylan, you’ve got plenty of chances today. Tom Maurstad at The Dallas Morning News caught up with her for a feature in today’s paper. She’ll also spend the 1 o’clock hour today on Think. And Mylan will attend a screening of Smile Pinki tonight at 7 at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas and conduct a Q&A following the film. If you can’t make it out tonight, Smile Pinki debuts June 3 on HBO.
IF ONLY IT WERE EDIBLE: Austin photographer Wyatt McSpadden has a new book out about all things Texas BBQ. Some of the photographs are of our state’s most famous food, while others are of the places that serve it up. The eagle eyes over at FW Weekly spotted a picture of the tiny Bailey’s Bar-B-Q on Taylor Street in downtown Fort Worth in the book. If you want to know more about McSpadden’s new work, you can meet him at a book signing at the Hulen Mall Barnes and Noble on May 30.
Natacha Kudritskaya, a 25-year-old Ukrainian, drew the often-dreaded first position on Wednesday night and will lead off the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at 1 p.m. Friday in Bass Performance Hall.
Her selection means that the first notes in the 2 1/2-week musical marathon will be by Chopin, his Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor. Music by Ravel and Scriabin will also be on her preliminary program.
The 29 competitors drew for position at an opening dinner and draw party at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. Six contestants, three in the afternoon and three in the evening, will play in the preliminaries each day through Tuesday. Twelve semifinalists will be named Tuesday night. Read More »
A Fair to Remember -- the locally produced documentary about the State Fair of Texas — has been selected for the 2009 State Department tour. It’s the only Texas film selected for the American Documentary Showcase — a worldwide tour of U.S. embassies — and for inclusion on the International Documentary Association website. Broadcast on KERA/Channel 13, screened at the Dallas Museum of Art and winner of a Lone Star Emmy, A Fair to Remember was produced by Media Projects Inc.