See ‘La La Land’ set to live music in Austin

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.

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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.

RELATED: Oscars 2017: ‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture after ‘La La Land’ mistakenly announced.

Ticks go on sale March 10. They will be available online at TheLongCenter.org or by calling 512-474-5664.

For groups of 10 and more, call 512-457-5150 or email groupsales@thelongcenter.org.

What to hear at the Austin Symphony next season

There’s no other way to present the 2017-2018 season of the Austin Symphony without publishing the list in its entirety. Or close to that.

There’s a lot on here to celebrate, including the return of Austin’s top concert pianist, Anton Nel, to the marquee; another stab at “Beyond the Score,” this time dramatizing the background behind Prokofiev‘s Symphony No. 5; and the beginnings of the Bernstein at 100 celebration.

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MASTERWORKS SERIES

September 8-9, 2017

Anton Nel, piano/harpsichord

FRANCIS POULENC – Suite from Les biches (The Does)
W. A. MOZART – Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-Flat Major, K. 450
FRANCIS POULENC – Concert champêtre for Harpsichord and Orchestra
W. A. MOZART – Symphony No. 31 in D Major, K. 297 Paris

October 6-7, 2017

Bruce Williams, viola
Julia Taylor, soprano
Claudia Chapa, mezzo-soprano
Brian Yeakley, tenor
Charles Evans, baritone
Chorus Austin (Ryan Heller, director)

BEETHOVEN/BRUCKNER – Piano Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13, Pathétique
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – Flos Campi
MAHLER/BRITTEN – What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
ANTON BRUCKNER – Te Deum

December 1-2, 2017

Beyond the Score®

SERGEI PROKOFIEV – Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

January 12-13, 2018

Bella Hristova, violin

GIOACHINO ROSSINI – Overture to Semiramide
J. S. BACH – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. in G Major, BWV 1048
IGOR STRAVINSKY – Violin Concerto in D Major
ALAN HOVHANESS – Celestial Fantasy, Op. 44
JOSEPH HAYDN – Symphony No. 94 in G Major, Surprise

February 23-24, 2018

Rick Rowley, piano

ROBERT SCHUMANN – Manfred Overture
EDWARD MACDOWELL – Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
ROBERT SCHUMANN – Symphony No. 2. in C Major, Op. 61

March 23-24, 2018
Cameron Carpenter, organ

JOSEPH JONGEN – Symphonie concertante for Organ and Orchestra
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS – Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 Organ

April 13-14, 2018
Vadim Gluzman, violin

MICHAEL TORKE – Bright Blue Music
LEONARD BERNSTEIN – Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN – Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

May 18-19, 2018
Olga Kern, piano

TCHAIKOVSKY/STRAVINSKY – Pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op. 44
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF – Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 44
SARAH AND ERNEST BUTLER POPS SERIES

Friday, October 20, 2017

Disney FANTASIA: Live in Concert

Disney shares one of its crown jewels of feature animation with a live orchestra concert accompanying scenes from Walt Disney’s original FANTASIA (1940) and Disney FANTASIA 2000, highlighting a selection of the magnificent repertoire from both films including Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite.

December 29-30, 2017

I Heart the 80’s

Come have the time of your life with music from The Police, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and so much more! Bring your favorite food dish and enjoy this concert in a cabaret style setting.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Jurassic Park – Film with Orchestra

One of the most thrilling science fiction adventures ever made, and featuring one of John Williams’ most iconic and beloved musical scores, Jurassic Park transformed the movie-going experience for an entire generation and became the highest-grossing film of all time in 1993, winning three Academy Awards®. Now audiences can experience this ground-breaking film as never before: projected in HD with a full symphony orchestra performing Williams’ magnificent score live to picture. Welcome… to Jurassic Park!

June 1-2, 2018

The Rat Pack! 100 Years of Frank!

It’s hot! It’s cool! These performances celebrate the classic songs of Sinatra, Davis, and Martin, like “That’s Amore,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “My Way,” and of course, “New York, New York” with brand new orchestrations. Choreographed and scripted with original Rat Pack routines, you’ll think you’re swingin’ at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. Bring your favorite food dish and enjoy this concert in a cabaret style setting.

FAMILY CONCERTS

  • Halloween Children’s Concert – October 29, 2017
  • Christmas in the Community – TBD
  • Texas Young Composers Concert – TBD

SPECIAL EVENTS

  • Handel’s Messiah – December 12, 2017

Texas Medal of Arts honorees testify

You’ve read the statistics.

The arts have grown into a $5.5 billion industry in Texas, according to a 2017 State of the Arts Report released recently by the Texas Cultural Trust, an advocacy group. The industry generates, too, nearly $343.7 million in state sales tax revenue annually.

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Additionally, you know by now how the arts affect education, tourism and the economy, especially in this town, where all varieties of creative efforts thrive from the grassroots up.

Those kinds of arguments make reasonably persuasive cases when lobbying the Texas Legislature for support. Yet much more can be said directly — from one Texan to another — about the value of the arts.

Before the Texas Medal of Arts awards — given to Texans by the Texas Cultural Trust — arrive with parties and grand ceremonies Tuesday and Wednesday, we asked the honorees what the arts have meant to them personally.

We’re updating the Austin Arts blog with recent and relevant material from other Statesman and Austin360 pages. See the rest of this story on Texas Medal of Arts here.

Revealed: Free Fusebox Festival events

Austin can make many claims to singularity. But there really isn’t anything anywhere else like the Fusebox Festival.

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‘Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance’ is one of the marquee shows in the 2017 Fusebox Festival.

Each year, more than 100 events are presented at 19 venues in Central and East Austin. More than 40 artists and companies from six continents participate.

It’s a little bit like FronteraFest, only global.

And it’s all free. This year, the carnival runs April 12-16. Advance reservations are now available online. Tickets will be offered at the door as well.

Before the festival proper, one can attend a fundraising party known as Fusebox Eve on April 11.

There’s lots to relish this year, but at the top of our list is the Austin premiere of a chamber opera, “Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance,” from composer Graham Reynolds, Rude Mechs’ Shawn Sides and Mexico-based artists Lagartijas Tiradas del Sol.

Watch: Video of one-person Iliad

On any regular day, people think Cami Alys is intense.

“I’m too much,” the Austin actor admits. “I should tone it back.”

Now Alys has been given permission to let the dam burst. Starting Thursday, she will play more than a dozen people — young and old, male and female — in a 90-minute, one-actor telling of Homer’s epic tale of war, “The Iliad.”

“I can live inside this,” she says at an East Austin coffee shop. “Still, I’m terrified. You know, I wanted to be challenged. Now I’m telling the whole story and impersonating all the characters.”

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Cami Alys plays all the characters in ‘An Iliad’ Contributed.

Penfold Theatre Company and the Scottish Rite Theater have partnered to present “An Iliad,” which Lisa Peterson and Dennis O’Hare adapted from Robert Fagles’ translation of the ancient poem about the Trojan War. It focuses especially on the rage of Greek hero Achilles.

“There’s no real relaxing in this,” Alys says. “It’s a war story, but it’s about the sensuality of war and the horror of war. We watch: Achilles rages. Can he control it? That is in all of us. Can we control it?”

For the full story on “An Iliad,” go here.

Ballet Austin among Austin’s best

Don’t take the arts in Austin for granted. Because it wasn’t always this way.

During the past few weeks, I’ve rediscovered Austin’s arts. Not that I ignored them during the past 10 years. But with everything else going on in this city, it’s not easy to focus on one thing at a time.

I’m now reminded that Austin is home to first-rate symphony, opera, ballet and choral ensembles, along with equally potent theater, dance and performance troupes, art museums, community arts groups and public art projects.

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Edward Carr (Beast) and Michelle Thompson (Belle) in “Belle Redux: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast.” Contributed by Tony Spielberg

Thirty years ago, Austin artists showed enormous creativity. The scene crackled with energy. But it lacked top leadership, revenues and facilities. Those have arrived — or are on the way.

EXAMPLE: A new museum in Austin: It’s called the Blanton.

A search of GuideStar.org reveals that, since the last time I checked 10 years ago, Austin arts groups have doubled, tripled or in some cases quadrupled their revenues.

No longer the skinny teen that needed reassurance and safeguarding. Rather the arts have reached a sort of gorgeous maturity that will always need steady reporting, storytelling and celebrating from all sorts of writers.

I was reminded of this at a matinee performance of Ballet Austin’s “Belle Redux: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast,” packed as it was with every stripe of Austinite.

RELATED: Ballet Austin explores love, death and sex.

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Demetria and Reid Wilson at Ballet Austin’s “Belle Redux.” A dancer, she convinced him to attend. He was grateful she did.

I do not hesitate to call Stephen Mills‘ and Graham Reynolds‘ ballet a masterpiece. Every moment was riveting, ravishing. It dealt with the emotional residue of sex in a way that made me shiver and, in the end, weep.

After the show, an Austin artist approached me at the H-E-B.

“Thank you so much for writing about the ballet the other day,” she said. “I haven’t paid enough attention to them and your article made me want to go. I adored the show. I won’t ignore them from now on.”

My own reporting interests still encompass a wide swath of Austin — social, historical, literary, etc. — but I won’t blink when it comes to exalting the arts whenever appropriate.

Kaitlin Hopkins takes Texas State to the top in musical theater

In 2009, John Fleming had reached the end of his rope.

As head of the theater and dance department at Texas States University, he needed just the right talent to lead a new musical theater training program.

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Kaitlin Hopkins, a former Broadway, film and television actress, has led Texas State’s musical theater program since 2009 and helped catapult the university’s performing arts program to No. 1 in Texas and No. 9 in the country. Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman

 

Fleming cold-called Broadway veteran Kaitlin Hopkins, who had recently gone on tour with “Dirty Dancing” and had signed up to return to Broadway in “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“You don’t know me,” Fleming said. “I’m the chairman of the theater program in San Marcos, and I’m calling because your name keeps coming up. We are looking for someone who has been in the industry for at least 20 years and has producing, performing, directing and fundraising experience. All three of the people we contacted mentioned you. Will you fly out here next week for an interview?”

Hopkins did not know Fleming. She hadn’t heard of Texas State University or San Marcos.

“I have to go do a matinee,” she replied. “I’ll call you later.”

She told her husband — actor and playwright Jim Price — to Google the place and figure out what Fleming was talking about. She concluded there was no way a university would hire her without the requisite advanced degrees, despite all her teaching and private coaching experience.

Hopkins’ response: “Look, no. I don’t think you really want me to get on a plane.”

Fleming: “Please just get on the plane. I have a feeling you are the right person for this job.”

It was a job that the daughter of lifelong theater pros didn’t know she wanted.

“There was the challenge and promise of creating the training program I wished I’d had,” Hopkins says. “I liked the idea, too, of condensing my 40 years of life experience. It wasn’t just my career, it was the life I had led — that my family created for me — that made me uniquely qualified. This would be really exciting: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something from scratch and build a program. I’ll hear them out.”

She swiftly wrote up a 32-page prospectus with one-year, five-year and 10-year plans to present in San Marcos.

“On the plane ride back to Boston, we were both speechless,” Hopkins recalls. “Jim turned to me: ‘Are we moving to Texas?’ Me: ‘I don’t know, I think we might be.’”

We’re bringing the Austin Arts blog up to date by teasing to recent and still relevant arts stories on other American-Statesman and Austin360 pages.

This is a portion of a big story on how a Broadway veteran is integrating musical theater training to make the San Marcos school among the best in the country.

Austin Opera leader turns to Big Data

 

This past fall, Austin Opera flew in Annie Burridge, a candidate for general director, to watch its staging of “The Manchurian Candidate.”

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Austin Opera general director Annie Burridge is a coloratura soprano but was more drawn to the business end of the art. Contributed by Paul Sirochman

“I sat down in the hall,” says the former managing director of Opera Philadelphia. “The second the performance started, I bolted forward in my seat. I couldn’t believe the caliber of the musicianship.”

At that night’s dinner, Burridge was seated next to the show’s composer, Kevin Puts, who had won a Pulitzer Prize for his first opera, “Silent Night.”

“Kevin was nearly in tears at how happy he was with the performance,” she says of the piece adapted from a famous film and first staged by Minnesota Opera. “(Artistic director) Richard Buckley had worked with him on editing it. That’s so important for new works. You know, there’s usually not a lot of rewards for opera companies doing subsequent performances. Everyone wants to give the premiere. Austin gave Kevin and his opera a key second hearing.”

Quietly keen with short hair and acute eyes, Burridge is a coloratura soprano with a special zeal not just for the art form but also for big data and the ways that sophisticated marketing research can tune opera to serve diverse audiences.  …

We’re bringing the Austin Arts blog up to date by teasing to recent and still relevant arts stories on other American-Statesman and Austin360 pages.

This is a key piece on Austin Opera’s new general manager:

Austin Opera unrolls next season

First out of the performing arts gate for the 2017-2018 season is Austin Opera.

While its current show, “Daughter of the Regiment,” gears up for a second weekend, we can look forward to three treats next go round.

RELATED: Austin Opera’s general director turns to Big Data to engage audiences.

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We’re not promising that Austin Opera’s “Carmen” will look anything like this Australian outing. Contributed.

Next in January and February is a much rarer gem, Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” appearing for the first time in Austin as far as I can determine.

Finally, Austin Opera returns to the best-loved list with Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata,” in fact, the most popular  opera, accredited in Operabase from the same reporting period (2009-2015).

Ballet Austin explores love, death and sex

 

The studio lights gleam brightly, yet an aura of darkness pervades.

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Edward Carr (Beast) and Michelle Thompson (Belle) in “Belle Redux: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast.” Contributed by Tony Spielberg

Pairs of dancers in rehearsal togs curl, loop and tangle around each other. They mirror each other’s movements, often in distorted, unsettlingly beautiful ways. Everywhere in the music, in the action, in the faces of the performers, one registers a sense of foreboding.

Stephen Mills is never far from the essential flesh and blood of a ballet.

“Dance, to me, is about life,” says Ballet Austin’s artistic director. “And life is about love and death and sex. These are the things that are interesting in life. How you come into the world; how you live in the world; and how you leave the world.”

All these elements are abundantly on display during a practice for the second iteration of “Belle Redux: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast,” to be revived Friday through Sunday at the Long Center.

Although Mills has ushered more than 50 new dances into the world — and many of those have taken on lives of their own in subsequent stagings — he finds “Belle Redux” among the most haunting.

Starting to bring Austin Arts blog up to date with recent and still relevant arts stories.

Here’s a peek at piece on Ballet Austin’s “Belle Redux.”