I recall a downtown Austin leadership luncheon near the turn of the century that was populated chiefly by men and women in business suits. Out pops performer Boyd Vance — lithe, fearless, radiant, scampy — to sing an adapted version of “Hello, Dolly,” as if he were positioned at the top of a staircase dressed in red sequins and flanked by a dozen men in show tuxedos. At various points, he sat in the laps of men and women to sing directly to them.
Nobody else could have done that.
Austinites remember Vance, a graduate of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and the University of Texas, for many things. His undeniable charisma. His unforgettable performances. His leadership of the African-American arts community. And more.
No wonder when the new Carver Museum and Cultural Center opened in East Austin, its lively little theater was named after Vance. He died in 2005 at age 47.
Around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, the Austin City Council will salute Vance’s memory with a proclamation. Now you know that the timing of these honors is never exact — I recently accepted one in the name of the Austin Critics Table and heard first some thoroughly fascinating speeches on plumbing regulations and flood abatement — but I imagine the scene will be something like Old Home Week in chambers. All are welcome.
If you missed the short history of the Austin Critics Table Awards written by Monica Maldonado Williams of Giving City andpublished in Sunday’s American-Statesman, below find a snippet. The free awards ceremony returns 7 p.m. June 5 at Cap City Comedy Club.
“While almost all Austin arts organizations operate as nonprofits, the caliber of the art has become more professional and innovative, said co-founder Robert Faires. To reflect the range of art, this year’s Critics Table judges have adjusted the categories to make them less theater-heavy.
“There’s more diversity among the artists and the art forms in Austin, but this is not just a participation award,” said David Wyatt, a long-time volunteer for the event and the owner of a public relations agency that specializes in the art organizations. “Artists have to wait years to the point where they’ve developed their craft and matured as an artists to get recognized. It’s very meaningful.”
“In addition to adjusting the categories, Faires has had to adjust the roster of judges. As the last of the founders participating, he realized that the awards should include the new breed of art writers, especially those who publish primarily online. This year’s judges include writers from websites and blogs like Broadway World Austin, Austin Entertainment Weekly, Arts & Culture Texas, and Conflict of Interest TX.”
“The extraordinary, long-term loans — no end dates have been announced — were arranged by the Contemporary Austin and the Waller Creek Conservancy with help from a $1.1 million grant from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation. Family-friendly activities are scheduled for the Waller Creek site from 10 a.m. to noon June 3.
“This project taps into one of my greatest passions — bringing art directly to the public in ways and in places that they may not expect it,” said Louis Grachos, director and CEO of the Contemporary Austin. “When I started at the Contemporary, I spoke of creating a ‘Museum Without Walls,’ and these projects with Ai Weiwei are exactly what I dreamed of bringing to Austin: works that inspire wonder while addressing important social and political issues that affect us all.”
The Austin Symphonyhas announced the nine young composers whose music will be performed on June 17 at the Long Center. This year, 24 pieces were submitted by composers 18 years or younger. Winners of the Sarah and Ernest Butler Texas Young Composers Competition — resulting from a $1 million Butler endowment — also earn scholarships ranging from $500 to $3,000.
Two of the nine winners are from Austin and two from San Antonio. One each is from Dallas, Houston, Plano, Cedar Park and Kennedale (which I had to look up; it’s in southern Tarrant County). Their schools are suitably scattered as well: Seven go to college, one is in high school and the young man from Kennedale is home-schooled.
Paul Novak won First Prize in the Sarah and Ernest Butler Texas Young Composers Competition. Contributed by the Society of Composers.
FIRST PRIZE: Paul Novak. “On Buoyancy.” Houston. Rice University.
SECOND PRIZE: Isaac Villaroya. “Aegis.” San Antonio. Baylor University.
THIRD PRIZE: Maximilien Hein. “Impressions of a Hero’s Journey.” Cedar Park. Texas State University.
FOURTH PRIZE: Amy Gravell. “Prelude to Eternity.” Austin. McNeil High School.
FIFTH PRIZE: Dara Li. “Gaia.” Plano. Harvard University.
Austin Ali. “Ostinato.” Dallas. University of Texas.
Zach Berry. “Reflection and March to War.” Kennedale. Home Schooled.
Sophie Mathieu. “The Columbia River in June.” Austin. University of Southern California.
Angelo Salgado. “Unity.” San Antonio. University of Texas San Antonio.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post listed the wrong date for the concert.
Listen up, Austin Muggles: We’re about to get the biggest musical treat thanks to the Austin Symphony Orchestra, which is performing the score from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” this fall at Bass Concert Hall.
The symphony plans to perform every note from the score of “The Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first film based off J.K. Rowling’s magical series about a boy wizard, while the movie plays in high definition on a 40-foot screen. Composer John Williams created the score for the first three films, and his “Hedwig’s Theme” is the song perhaps most associated with the overall series, even after other composers took over writing the score for the remaining movies.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the “Harry Potter” books. “The Sorcerer’s Stone” was first published in June 1997.
A native of Egypt now based in Austin will spend nine months embedded within the city’s Watershed Protection Department.
A painter, photographer, printmaker and all-around creative sparkplug, Rehab El Sadek is also a social connector who has initiated workshops around women’s rights and children with disabilities among other causes. She has created art in Africa and Pakistan and has been exhibited in multiple European cities.
She will not be required to make art, but rather to help city staff “resolve problems, provide innovative or new improvements, and help engage residents around community issues in creative ways,” according to a statement.
The University of Texas College of Fine Arts has put together a somewhat similar program with the Design Institute for Health at the Dell Medical School.
Also, artists have already been embedded successfully with city workers, as witnessed recently at the Lift a Fork benefit for Forklift Danceworksat Springdale Station. Allison Orr and her company have famously created unique dance projects for sanitation workers, firefighters, electrical linemen and technicians and urban foresters.
Along the way, Danceworks has attracted international attention to Austin. They recently returned from Europe where they collaborated with sanitation workers and revisited gondoliers. The testimonials flowed as easily as the craft cocktails at the magical evening event and a half dozen of the diners engaged me in strikingly memorable conversations.
The Waller Creek Conservancy has announced its 2017 line-up for the light-based “Creek Show.” Now in its fourth year, the jam of artworks employs the spacey spaces of the creek bed and banks to illuminate its potential as a destination park. The family-friendly sequence will run Nov. 10-18.
Here go the artists and their planned art:
“No Lifeguard on Duty” by Asakura Robinson
“Fotan Fable” by HA Architecture
“Night Garden” by dwg
“Ephemeral Suspension” by Pathos + TouchTo
“Blind Spot” by Two+ Collaborative
“Submerge” by Davey McEarthron Architecture + Studio Lumina + Drophouse
What could be better than watching — or re-watching — Oscar runner-up “La La Land” on the big screen? Watching the musical on the big screen set to live music performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
The tuner won six Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Original Song. On June 30, composer Justin Horowitz‘s music will provide the fodder for the symphony’s grand screening.