Thursday, June 09, 2005

Flummerfelt - the end of an era

Joseph Flummerfelt just conducted his last concert with the Westminster Choir. I am happy to say it went quite stunningly well, but everyone was pretty teary at the end. I hope we sang Barber's The Coolin well enough for him - he's been trying to "get that song right" for years. He seemed pretty happy.

Last night he conducted the Brahms Requiem and I think he conducted it better than anyone else I have had the pleasure of singing it with, which after this past year is saying quite a lot.

I have nothing particularly deep to add, but this afternoon's concert deserved note.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hazelle Goodman and Mabou Mines

Notes from the South:

Last Saturday, we had our 3rd Die Vögel performance, and it went splendidly until the finale, where the tree is supposed to miraculously light on fire...and didn't. Singing the praise of Zeus when he's done jack scrap to deserve it tests your acting ability, let me tell you. "Oh, wow! The tree that I have worshipped for so long is...not on fire. Yippee."

Sunday I went to see Hazelle Goodman, the second of the monologuists (Mike Daisey was the first, if you recall, and I will also see the third later this week - there's three at the festival.) She did a performance called On Edge which was essentially a series of skits about race relations, as well as general life issues. She put on a completely different character for each skit, and her transformations were amazing - she really had the body language down of a true variety of people. My favorite skit was her ironic "Get out of the Ghetto! symposium, Part III - The New Black Suburbia!" She scolded her audience to straighten their hair, stop talking with "homeboy" bad grammar, pull up their pants, and to stop eating fried chicken, because "Oreos are a very tasty snack!" Some of the skits were very serious - such as when she played Amadou Diallo's mother - but many of them had me laughing extremely hard.

Yesterday I was pretty sick, and since we had the day off, I spent most of the day in bed, and the rest in front of my friend's TV watching more Alias. But I felt better in the evening, and went out to see Mabou Mines Dollhouse. Mabou Mines is a theater company that had put together an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's The Dollhouse. Most of the script was intact, but the staging was incredibly inventive. To highlight the feminist lesson of women being forced to live in a man's world, all the women were over 6 feet tall... and all the men were played by little people (aka midgets, although apparently that term is now considered offensive.) All the actors were great, and although the performance was very stylized and played with the fourth wall (some dialogues were done with stilted dance, some dialogue was done with overly melodramatic gestures, the stagehands came onstage and participated) I still found it to be very intense and effective.

The next few days will be all-Brahms, all the time - a four hour rehearsal tonight, a rehearsal tomorrow, and then a performance of the Brahms Requiem in the evening. Then a Westminster Choir performance on Thursday...but Friday I'll be hitting the theater again!

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Well, it turns out that I did not see Xenakis. On Wednesday night I hied me over to the place where the concert was scheduled to occur, and got there barely in time, only to find out that because the weather looked threatening and this was an outdoor venue, the concert had been moved halfway across town. I could have sprinted and possibly gotten in the door late...but I decided it was a sign, and I should go and watch some Alias. So I did. It's a very convoluted show, which is a high compliment where spy shows are concerned.

Thursday was quite busy - we had our first Westminster Choir concert, which was sold out and went quite well, and then our second Die Vögel performance, which also went quite well. Then there was a party at the apartment of one of the lead singers, which was fun - there was some dancing, and I got to talk to some people I hadn't talked to much before (such as the director.) However, it did make hauling myself out of bed at 10 am the next morning to get to a chamber music concert quite painful. It was worth it, because Messaien's Quartet for the End of Time gains a lot in live performance, but I have to admit to briefly falling asleep at a couple of points. The performance was quite good, but the violinist had a few tuning issues at the end.

Yesterday afternoon we all went to a party thrown for the choir by a family of benefactors who have been supporting both Spoleto and Westminster for quite a long time. We all drove out to their beach house, and played games and hung out on the beach (yes, I finally got to the beach!) and we sang some pieces for them, and they fed us dinner. It was very pleasant.

My clock is being set further and further back...I don't have to get up that early usually, and everybody stays up late. Going to bed at midnight is considered going to bed early. I've been staying up on average to about 2 am. It's going to be a painful wrench going back to New Jersey - when they tell you Charleston is in the same time zone, it's not really true!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Mike Daisey

Last night I went to a performance by a monologuist named Mike Daisey. He did a show called The Ugly American about his experiences studying theater abroad in London, and it was fantastic. If you ever get a chance to see this guy, you should definitely go. He was by turns very, very funny, and very, very intense. Possibly the most surprising moment was when he came out for his bow. He was sitting the entire show behind a desk, where he had a glass of water and some notes, and because of his skill, he was able to present the image of exactly who he was...but then when he took his bow, at the end of the show, after I'd been staring at him for 2 hours, all of a sudden I saw him as I would have seen him if I passed him on the street, a less true image than what I'd been seeing during the show. He was just a short, fat, doughy, ordinary white guy, and not someone I ever would have expected to be that fascinating on stage. It was yet another lesson not to write people off based on appearances.

The show hung together really well, and he didn't pull his punches - he talked about some really disturbing things, and he didn't try to sugarcoat anything to make it easier on the audience. There was also some hilarious commentary on theater, such as a really amusing riff on the idea of "challenging" theater being something people don't always want to see even if they say they do (an issue that hits home with Spoleto audiences, trust me.) Apparently he has a book out, which I plan on investigating.

Tonight will either be watching Alias with some friends or going to a Xenakis percussion concert. Haven't decided yet.