Tuesday, November 24, 2009

eighth blackbird, Tuesday November 17

The University of Chicago programming entity, artspeaks, opened its 2009-10 season Tuesday of last week with a performance of Osvaldo Golijov's "Ayre," featuring Dawn Upshaw and the members of eighth blackbird (yes, I've not only confirmed, I've been admonished: it's all lowercase) in addition to a few other players that included Jeremy Flower (laptop and sound design = thumbs up) and Michael Ward-Bergeman, who in my opinion stole the show (more on him later).

Upshaw's coloratura has justly earned her a reputation as an angelic singer (figuratively in Handel and literally as the Angel in Messiaen's Saint Francis of Assisi). But this particular performance involved her doing a lot more than angelic coloratura; I wish I could remember verbatim Golijov's comment about what he had in mind for the piece -- it was something along the lines of "I got really sick of writing Dawn Upshawy kinds of music for Dawn Upshaw so I decided not to this time." Has anyone ever heard Dawn Upshaw not sing like Dawn Upshaw? That's kind of what we got on Tuesday. Dawn Upshaw sang 1. mic'ed (and with variable mic levels, so that you never knew just how loud she was going to sound) and 2. in chest voice. The piece rocked out in certain places (at which points, parts of the ensemble would stand up like a big, jazzy Argentinian klezmer band and rock out with her, a nice touch of staging) and the chest voice kinda worked. Kinda. But ultimately, if you want a singer who can sing loud and chesty, you wanna write for a singer who doesn't need to protect her voice. Dawn sounded great. But somebody with a little more Arethra would've brought the house down.

I promised to say something about Michael Ward-Bergeman, who plays something called the hyper-accordion. It's as cool as it sounds. (Michael is also the only person I know who's ever been referred to as an accordiopimp.) Check him out here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Baby Bro Done Did It Again

A shout-out (isn't what the cool kids say?) to my brother, Drew Connery, is in order. I blogged about his radio exploits less than a year ago; now it seems he's poised to become famous overnight. (Can anyone say jealous older sister?)

Along with his singer pal, Tyg, with whom he's worked on several albums, Drew has just gotten himself signed to Dungeon (otherwise known as the label that signed Outkast).

Their music is available on iTunes (The album is called "I'm a Nightmare.")

Drew, I am sincerely proud.

University of Chicago Magazine article on Opera Cabal's "USW"

This article on my beloved project, Opera Cabal turned up yesterday on the University's main page -- I'm not sure how I feel about the picture :) But press is press. Is press.

In other news, we've managed to raise half of the money we need to take this very same piece to Oberlin in February. We'll finish it there, then move on to Chicago & New York to do shows at Curtiss Hall & Galapagos!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IMPROMPTU rides again...

The Mozartfragmentarypantomimereconstructionproject which I was recruited to direct for the Chicago Humanities Festival and which I've blogged about before appeared this past Monday at the University of Chicago Theater and Performance Studies Workshop . Minutes before the workshop kicked off we discovered 1. half the costumes were gone, including Jonathan DeSouza's entire costume and that 2. toenails (mine) react badly to being mowed over with pianos. Undeterred, this weekend we/the show travel/s to the American Musicological Society annual conference in Philadelphia to participate in its first year of experimental performance panels ... whoo hoo!