Grantee Spotlight: Grace Arts Center’s R&J the Tempest Too

R&J was first performed in 2015, and focused only on an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It was written by Grace Arts Center and produced in part with the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theater supported by grants from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Broward County Cultural Division. This first chapter featured a youth led cast including professional dancers and actors. In February of this year, R&J The Tempest Too debuted with a full professional cast including members of Miami City Ballet and Cuban National Ballet.

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Photo by Robert Church

R&J The Tempest Too combined elements of R&J with a reworking of The Tempest set in modern time with an infusion of real Florida history shared in spoken word by the Narrator (a character created for each iteration). Each previous production was under one hour; the new iteration combined both plays into a full two hour production with a talented cast of visual artists, actors and dance elements ranging from tango, hip hop, to Cuban folkloric and contemporary American ballet.  The next iteration will include collaboration with playwrights with credits including Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London and Washington DC’s Folger Shakespeare Library and the return of live graffiti and visual art production as part of the performance.

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Photo by Robert Church

The project was designed to attract a wide range of viewers. In all its phases,the performance targeted artsenthusiasts, supporters of historic preservation and literature through performance locations and marketing to cultural tourists as well as residents of South Florida. The project also prepared the cast for summer workshops with arts students on track for professional development in various fields. In addition the cast worked with at-risk youth groups to advance their writing and problem solving skills.

For more information, visit https://www.graceartscenter.org/.

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Photo by Robert Church

Artist Brian R. Owens Brings Windover Woman to Life

Today we’re featuring a story about a Florida artist, Brian R. Owens.

On November 13th, a newly revised exhibit opened at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science in Cocoa, FL, about one of the first groups of people in North America. The accidental discovery of a ceremonial burial ground in 1982 resulted in the unearthing of one of the largest and most well-preserved skeletal sites on the continent. The excavation reshaped our understanding of “archaic hunter-gatherers” and how they lived 7000 to 8000 years ago, about 3000 years before the “Great Pyramid”. They are called “Windover People”. Research is constantly ongoing as new technologies emerge to analyze the remains of 168 people. Over 10,000 bones and artifacts are preserved at Florida State University. The Museum commissioned Brian R. Owens to sculpt an artistic interpretation of one particular female based on her skull. It’s the centerpiece of the new exhibit. They call her the “Windover Woman”.

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Computer-generated image based on the bones of the Windover Woman

CBF: What did you have to work from?

Lots of detailed measurements of her skull but not the skull itself. I also had some computer-generated images that were made years ago on the basis of the skull. The remains included DNA but it’s so damaged that it is of little use. At least for now. Archeologists generally agree that she was descended from Asians.

CBF: How is an artistic interpretation different from a forensic sculpture? Continue reading

Spotlight On: A 300th Birthday with the C. P. E. Bach Festival

C. P. E. Bach is having a 300th birthday party in Tallahassee! The “C. P. E Bach at 300” festival features three days of concerts and lectures that celebrate the life, music, and influence of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s fifth child, born 300 years ago in 1714. The festival is presented through a partnership with the FSU College of Music, Musicology area and Early Music Ensembles, with the Tallahassee Bach Parley, and will take place from Friday, November 21 until Sunday, November 23.

Members of the Tallahassee Bach Parley

Members of the Tallahassee Bach Parley. Photo submitted by Erica Thaler.

“This three-day festival is an exciting partnership between the FSU College of Music and the Tallahassee Bach Parley,” says Bach Parley music director Valerie Arsenault. “FSU music faculty and students, guest artists from out-of-town, and Tallahassee community musicians will join forces to present the music and world of C. P. E. Bach.” The Tallahassee community is home to a thriving community of Baroque players and enthusiasts, and this festival offers three days of unique musical opportunities for patrons to enjoy.

Most of the performances will be on period instruments, including fortepiano (an early incarnation of the modern piano), clavichord (a delicate, intimate, soft-sounding keyboard instrument), along with harpsichord, organ, modern and baroque flutes, period stringed instruments, and guest artist Josh Lee on viola da gamba. Special guest Mark Knoll, a founder of the Tallahassee Bach Parley and FSU College of Music alumnus, will be returning to give the keynote lecture and musical commentary for the concerts. By using period instruments, the musicians will recreate the music using the same tools as when it was first written. History and music will come to life with commentary about the pieces and lectures to provide insight into the works and world of C. P. E. Bach.

One of the trademarks of the Tallahassee Bach Parley is to provide commentary before the pieces, to give audience members historical background about the composer or the piece, and to give listeners ideas about what to listen for in the music. In fact, the word “Parley” means discussion, so providing an opportunity to talk about the works is part of what makes the Bach Parley unique. Similarly, the entire festival combines guest lectures in addition to performances, so audience members can learn more about the world in which C. P. E. Bach lived and composed his music, bringing the past to life.

The festival will begin on Friday evening with an intimate clavichord performance by Charles Brewer at FSU in the Kuersteiner Music Building lounge (limited seating), followed by a lecture “C. P. E. Bach at 300, An Overview: Life, Family, Works, Reception” in Lindsay Recital Hall by visiting scholar Mark Knoll, founder of Steglein Publishing and an editor of the new C. P. E. Bach edition through the Packard Humanities Institute.

On Saturday, Dr. Knoll will give a pre-concert lecture followed by a concert of chamber, vocal, and solo keyboard music, including fortepiano, organ, and harpsichord in Opperman Music Hall, FSU. This concert will feature FSU College of Music faculty members Sarah Eyerly (soprano), Joel Hastings (fortepiano), Eva Amsler (modern and baroque flute), Iain Quinn (organ and harpsichord), along with FSU student performers.

In the final concert on Sunday, the Tallahassee Bach Parley will join forces with members of the FSU Baroque Ensemble for orchestral and chamber music. Kim Jones will be featured in C. P. E. Bach’s Concerto in A major for cello, and the large ensemble will also play the Berlin Symphony in G major. For the chamber music portion, guest artist Josh Lee will perform a viola da gamba sonata, and Eva Amsler, Melissa Brewer, Iain Quinn, and Valerie Arsenault will play duos, trios, and a quartet.

For additional information about the festival or the Tallahassee Bach Parley, visit www.tallahasseebachparley.org or e-mail musicdirector@tallahasseebachparley.org. The FSU College of Music publicity office can be reached at music-publicity@admin.fsu.edu.