Experiments in Opera: Chorus of All Souls

September 24th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
October 27, 2013
7:00 pm
November 2, 2013
8:00 pm

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New York, NY — Experiments in Opera announces their upcoming quadruple bill, Chorus of All Souls to be held on Saturday November 2, 8pm at Abrons Art Center Playhouse, 466 Grand Street, New York. This performance kicks off their 2013-14 Season and yearlong residency at Abrons Arts Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For tickets ($30 general, $20 students), patrons should call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit www.AbronsArtsCenter.org.

The evening includes a semi-staged version of John Zorn’s The Holy Visions, an exhilarating choral opera based on the writings and work of the medieval mystic and composer, Hildegard von Bingen. The evening will also include the premiere of When No One Around You is There by Jessica Pavone, which utilizes the chorus as an abstract metaphor for the human predicament; as well as two semi-staged choral operas: Jason Cady’s Nostalgia Kills You, a comedy about a man and his zombie ex-girlfriend and Matthew Welch’s Reanimator Requiem which merges the mass for the dead with H.P. Lovecraft’s cult classic. According to EiO Co-Founder Aaron Siegel “we are thrilled that part of our appeal is the way in which our work is connected more closely with popular culture media (television and movies).  We are looking to draw on viewers familiarity with these mediums to access the stories and messages.” These are the World Premiere performances of the works by Pavone, Cady, and Welch.

A free preview event at Abrons Art Center, Opera in Dialogue, will take place Sunday October 27 from 7 – 9 PM featuring Matthew Welch, Jason Cady, Jessica Pavone, and Paola Prestini (director of VisionIntoArt); moderated by CultureBot founder Andrew Horowitz.

Featured vocalists include Abby Fischer, Kirsten Sollek, Jane Sheldon, Mellissa Hughes, Sarah Brailey, and Vince B.Borges Chorus Image 2 Vincent. Both Nostalgia Kills You and Reanimator Requiem are directed by Louisa Proske and conducted by Matthew Welch. Chorus: Amanda Weber, Molly Netter, Kathleen Allan, Rachel Calloway, Patrick Fennig, Max Blum, Nick Hallet, Jeffrey Gavett, and Peter Stewart. Projection & Video Design for The Holy Visions is by S. Katy Tucker.  Peter Zuspan from design firm Bureau V will be the director for The Holy Visions. Zorn’s and Pavone’s works are a cappella. Welch’s and Cady’s works will be accompanied by Mike Pride (drumset), Tim Dahl (electric bass), Emily Manzo (amplified harpsichord, Nostalgia Kills You), and Brendon Randall-Myers (electric guitar, Reanimator Requiem).

EiO’s yearlong residency will also include a showcase of opera shorts for the radio (Radio Operas, February 28 – March 1, 2014), and the premiere of an evening length opera that has been in development with EiO for the past two seasons (Brother Brother, May 2-3, 2014). A $60 three event subscription (savings of $15) is available at AbronsArtsCenter.org. These mainstage programs will be augmented throughout the year by supporting videos, photos and writings that will help to contextualize the works in progress and by three free public programs (Opera in Dialogue) aimed to build dialogue between the composers, writers, performers, directors and designers working in the hybrid space of experimental opera. Experiments in Opera will partner with online magazine CultureBot.org for these public programs which will take place in in the Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater.


Co-founded by composers Matthew Welch, Jason Cady, and Aaron Siegel, Experiments in Opera is a composer-driven initiative, featuring recent and new works with innovative answers to the traditional questions about how to connect words, story and music. Our activities respond to the pronounced need to nurture composers who are exploring musical work beyond a strictly concert setting, but furthermore into the hybrid genre of opera. Additionally Experiments in Opera builds supportive and informed audiences that are capable of contributing to its work.In its first two programming seasons, Experiments in Opera has presented the work of more than 12 composers in three large-scale presentations aimed at expanding the collective understanding of experimental opera. Venues have included Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and Issue Project Room, and have featured works by composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, Matthew Welch, Georges Aperghis, John Zorn, Robert Ashley, Joe Diebes, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal and the Cough Button collective. Also featured were performances by pianist Emily Manzo, singer Erin Flannery, drummer Brian Chase, Hotel Elefant, and the performance collective Why Lie?All of the work developed with Experiments in Opera is documented extensively in videos, images and writings that are available in an online catalogue at experimentsinopera.com.  These insightful looks into the origins of artists’ ideas and their working habits help to support EIO’s mission of building a more robust conversation about how and why opera works the way it does. ExperimentsInOpera.com.

Cellist Cabezas and Sphinx Virtuosi on Tour

September 24th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
October 1, 2013
7:30 pm
October 8, 2013
6:00 pm

CUR_4116From September 29 to November 7, 2013, cellist Gabriel Cabezas will tour with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a conductorless ensemble comprising alumni of the Sphinx Competition. The tour includes a one-night only event at Chicago’s Harris Theater on Tuesday, October 1 at 7:30 pm, during which Cabezas will perform as one of two cello soloists on Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos, Strings, and Continuo. Vocal star mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will join the Sphinx musicians in a singular program including works by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Bach, Vivaldi, and Piazzolla. Tickets are $10-25 and are available at www.harristheaterchicago.org or by calling (312) 334-7777.

The tour also includes an event at Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium on Tuesday, October 8 at 6:00 pm, during which the ensemble will perform with former Sphinx laureates the Catalyst Quartet. Tickets are $25 and are available at www.CarnegieHall.org.

A native Chicagoan, and recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Gabriel Cabezas was the 2012 winner of the Sphinx Competition, Senior Division, and will perform as a soloist at Chicago’s International Beethoven Festival this month. The 20-year-old cellist to has played Carnegie multiple times: In 2011 he performed with Randall Goosby and as a soloist in 2013; he has also previously played a showcase recital in Carnegie’s Weill Hall and participated in a From the Top taping.During their six-week tour, the Sphinx Virtuosi will also visit Chicago, Houston, and Washington, D.C. (complete schedule below or see www.sphinxmusic.org).


Sunday, September 29, 4:00 pm: James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, Grayslake, IL
Tuesday, October 1, 7:30 pm: Harris Theater, Chicago, IL (with special guest Denyce Graves)
Wednesday, October 2, 7:30 pm: Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
Friday, October 4, 12:00 pm: Rockefeller University, New York, NY
Sunday, October 6, 3:30 pm: Cheyney University Arts and Lecture Series, Cheyney, PA
Tuesday, October 8, 6:00 pm: Carnegie Hall, New York, NY (with Catalyst Quartet)
Thursday, October 10, 7:30 pm: Norton Center for the Arts, Danville, KY
Saturday, October 12, 7:30 pm: Miller Outdoor Theater, Houston, TX (with Houston Symphony)
Tuesday, October 22, 7:30 pm: New World Center, Miami Beach, FL
Friday, October 25, 7:30 pm: Beaches Fine Arts Series, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Sunday, October 27, 4:00 pm: Arts Center of coastal Carolina, Hilton Head, SC
Tuesday, October 29, 7:00 pm: The Grand Opera House, Macon, GA
Friday, November 1, 8:00 pm: Blumenthal Performing Arts, Charlotte, NC
Sunday, November 3, 3:00 pm: Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Tuesday, November 5, 7:00 pm: Denison University, Granville, OH
Thursday, November 7, 7:30 pm: Washington Performing Arts Society, Washington, DC

Cellist Gabriel Cabezas has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New World Symphony, and the Nashville Symphony, among others. Cabezas has been portrayed as “…an intense player who connects to the music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello” (David Stabler, The Oregonian) and his debut performance with the Cleveland Orchestra described as a “…remarkably poised and elegant account, with superb attention to phrasing, nuance and tonal coloration” (Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer).A passion for chamber music and collaboration has taken him to Marlboro Music, Music@Menlo, Music from Angel Fire, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Bargemusic, and Chicago’s Symphony Center Presents series. His television appearances include performances with Yo-Yo Ma at “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Good Morning America”, and with Béla Fleck in “From The Top – Carnegie Hall.”2013-14 season highlights include a subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a return to Chicago’s International Beethoven Festival. Cabezas’ 2012-13 engagements included concerts with the Detroit Symphony, the Nashville Symphony and the National Symphony of Costa Rica, as well as appearances with Musicians from Marlboro, at the International Beethoven Festival, and ChamberFest Cleveland.Formerly a recipient of an Education Grant by the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, Cabezas has supported music outreach and education programs including Midori’s Partners in Performance, the Sphinx Organization, Costa Rica’s national SINEM music education program, and Chicago’s Citizen Musician movement. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Carter Brey. As a writer, Cabezas has been featured in Teen Strings Magazine and has been a contributing writer for Strings Magazine.

The Sphinx Virtuosi (formerly Sphinx Chamber Orchestra) is a conductorless ensemble comprised of alumni from the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players. This unique group has earned rave reviews from The New York Times. Allan Kozinn of the Times described their performances as “first-rate in every way” and the ensemble to have “produced a more beautiful, precise and carefully shaped sound than some fully professional orchestras that come through Carnegie Hall in the course of the year.”The Sphinx Virtuosi Tour offers a diverse program featuring well-known repertoire in addition to works by African-American and Latino composers, including works by Mozart, Piazzolla, Michael Abels, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and others. The Sphinx Virtuosi are exclusively represented in North America by California Artists Management (www.CalArtists.com). The national Sphinx Virtuosi tour is made possible with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from Art Works, the MetLife Foundation, and Aetna.

Chicago’s LUCKY PLUSH PRODUCTIONS October Links Hall Performances: Two Works in Repertory

September 20th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
October 3, 2013toOctober 13, 2013

(Cinderbox 2.0)

From October 3-13, 2013, Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions will perform two works – Cinderbox 2.0 and The Better Half – in repertory at the new Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave, Chicago, featuring performances by Francisco Aviña, Adrian Danzig, Marc Macaranas, Melinda Jean Myers, Cassandra Porter, Julia Rhoads, Michel Rodriguez, Benjamin Wardell, and Meghann Wilkinson.

Lucky Plush Productions (LPP) is a Chicago-based dance theater company committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence – a palpable liveness – shared by performers in real-time with its audiences. A warm reception greeted the Lucky Plush ensemble this September as they previewed Cinderbox 2.0 in front of a live audience at University of Chicago’s Summer Cubed. The full program will premiere at the Links Hall residency, alternating with performances of The Better Half, Lucky Plush’s adaptation of George Cukor’s 1944 film Gaslight. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors.

The LUCKY PLUSH DOUBLE FEATURE will take place on Oct 5 and 12, offering audiences a discounted ticket to see both shows and a reception in between shows with food, complimentary drinks, and an informal discussion with the artists.

For more information and tickets, please visit www.linkshall.org or call 773.281.0824.

(The Better Half)

(The Better Half)

Cinderbox 2.0 will be performed on Oct 3 and 4 at 7pm, Oct 5 at 4pm, and Oct 11, 12, and 13 at 7pm.

The Better Half will be performed on Oct 5, 6, and 10 at 7pm and Oct 12 at 4pm.

In Cinderbox 2.0, LPP’s Artistic Director Julia Rhoads revisits the distinctive world of Cinderbox 18 (2007, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) with new material. A playful and surreal take on media’s voyeuristic approach to “reality,” Cinderbox 2.0 blurs the distinctions between observer and observed, personal and presentational, scripted and off-the-cuff, and spirals into a dark comedy that is oddly familiar and wonderfully surprising. Featuring Francisco Aviña, Marc Macaranas, Melinda Jean Myers, Cassandra Porter, Benjamin Wardell, and Meghann Wilkinson. Original music by Michael Caskey, video design by John Boesche, and lighting design by Kevin Rechner.

The Better Half
 is a dance theater spin on the psychological thriller Gaslight, co-created by Lucky Plush Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and theater director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (of 500 Clown). Launching from this classic film, layers of fiction and reality accumulate, revealing the elusive boundaries between life versus borrowed plotlines. Ultimately a new narrative emerges, capturing the habitual patterns, escapist tendencies, and resilience in contemporary relationships through a complex mix of dance and theater languages. The Better Half premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2011, but now features new material. Featuring Francisco Aviña, Adrian Danzig (of 500 Clown), Julia Rhoads, Michel Rodriguez, and Meghann Wilkinson. Lighting design by Heather Gilbert, original music and sound design by Mikhail Fiskel, and video design by John Boesche.

Lucky Plush Productions (LPP) is dedicated to creating work that is richly and uncompromisingly complex while also being accessible to broad audiences. Critics and audiences alike recognize LPP for its playful interactions, surprising humor and incisive commentary on contemporary culture.

Since founding in 1999, Lucky Plush has premiered over 25 original works including site-specific works, dance films, and 10 evening-length productions. Recent presentations include Spoleto Festival/USA (SC), World Music/CRASHArts at ICA/Boston (MA), DANCECleveland (OH), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University (MN), Hancher Auditorium (IA), Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Steppenwolf Garage (IL), Joyce SoHo (NY), and Spring to Dance (MO), among others, as well as an international exchange with the Dance & Physical Theatre Trust of New Zealand and New Zealand Dance Company.

LPP has received two National Dance Project Production Grants, an NDP Production Residency for Dance, and two NPN Creation Fund grants. Co-commissioning presenters include Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Out North Contemporary Art House (AK), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT) and Links Hall Chicago. The company has been recognized by Chicago Public Radio’s “Best of 2011″; The Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago 2010″; Time Out Chicago’s “The Decade’s 10 Best Original Dance Works”; The Chicago Tribune’s “Best of Dance 2008″; Chicago Sun Times’ “Lasting memories in Dance” for 2005 and 2007, and a Time Out Chicago cover story “5 reasons to love dance in Chicago.” Lucky Plush is currently taking part in the “Summer Cubed” residency at the University of Chicago, together with Lookingglass Theatre & The Inconvenience.

Additionally, LPP recently spearheaded Creative Partners (creativepartnersarts.org), a collaborative effort to provide professional fundraising for three Chicago nonprofit arts organizations: Lucky Plush Productions, Blair Thomas & Co, and eighth blackbird. Creative Partners allows these nationally recognized organizations to focus on what they do best: making world-class dance, theatre and music.

Julia Rhoads is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, and has created over 25 original works with the company. Her independent choreography has been commissioned by Lookingglass Theatre, River North Chicago Dance Company, Redmoon, Alaska Dance Theater, Mordine and Company Dance Theater, Walkabout Theater, Hyperdelic, and M5, among others. Julia is the recipient of the 2013 Alpert Award in Dance, a fellowship from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, a Cliff Dwellers Foundation Award for Choreography, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Choreography, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and she was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2010. Julia is formerly a company member of the San Francisco Ballet and collaborating ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She earned a BA in History from Northwestern University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and is currently part-time faculty and dance advisor at University of Chicago’s Theater and Performance Studies.

Leslie Buxbaum Danzig is co-founder of the Chicago-based physical theater company 500 Clown, where she co-created and directed 500 Clown Macbeth, Frankenstein, Elephant Deal, and Christmas. 500 Clown has played in Chicago at venues including Steppenwolf and Lookingglass and tours regularly throughout the US. Other credits include directing Redmoon’s Hunchback at The New Victory Theater (NYC) and Float with About Face Theatre; co-directing The Better Half with Lucky Plush Productions and The Elephant and the Whale, an original Redmoon production commissioned by Chicago Children’s Theatre; touring nationally and internationally as an actor with NYC’s Elevator Repair Service; and appearing as Masha in The Seagull in Lake Lucille, NY (director Brian Mertes). Danzig received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, and she trained in physical theatre and clown with Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier. For the past five years, she has taught at The University of Chicago and is currently at the University as program curator for the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry.

This Sunday at Navy Pier: Chinese Fine Arts Society’s Autumn Moon Festival Celebration

September 13th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
September 15, 2013
1:00 pmto4:00 pm


On Sunday September 15, 2013, the Chinese Fine Arts Society will present a free Autumn Moon Festival at Chicago’s Navy Pier from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The celebration will consist of three performances featuring music, dance and martial arts at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30. These performances will tell the legend of this special holiday. In addition, there will be a marketplace, children’s activities, and calligraphy demonstrations.Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Moon Festival is a day of gathering, thanksgiving, and worship of the moon. The festival centers around the moon as explained by the myth of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality. On this day, the festival is a chance to enjoy the harvest and for people to gather together to celebrate the moon, a symbol of unity. Although there exists numerous customs in different regions, the Moon Festival always involves moon cakes, shared with members of one’s family, in a celebration of coming together.Come out and enjoy an afternoon in celebration of the moon!  Visit www.chinesefinearts.org for more information.

Autumn Moon Festival Celebration, presented by the Chinese Fine Arts Society
Sunday, September 15th, 2013
1:00-4:00 PM
Free Admission
Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier
700 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL

Honey Pot Performance Joins Chicago Artists Month

August 19th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
October 11, 2013 8:00 pmtoOctober 13, 2013 8:00 pm


Chicago, IL – August, 19 2013 – Following a triumphant debut of “Price Point” during June’s 13th annual Sketchbook performance festival, Honey Pot Performance (est. 2009) has been selected to reprise their latest interdisciplinary work for Chicago Artists Month 2013. “Price Point” runs October 11-13, 2013 at Rumble Arts Center, 3413 W. North Ave, Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Artist Month (CAM) is the annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant art community presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) which is held each October at various neighborhoods/venues throughout Chicago. Now in it’s 18th year, CAM 2013 marks HPP’s first appearance in the City’s month-long celebration of local artists.

price-point-the-impossible-cycleHPP’s “Price Point” is an original multi-arts performance project exploring notions of fairness and balance, or the lack thereof, in today’s economic landscape. The work combines movement, theater, song and image to illustrate this era’s connections between micro-stories of its impact on individual psyches/souls and macro-stories of its effects on global society. As Laura Goldstein, co-curator of Chicago’s monthly Red Rover Reading Series, notes in her review, “’Price Point’ is aptly named. The price that you pay for the point of the production is a relative measure of your own understanding and experience of economy and society against the show’s melodically intertwined stories, monologues, poems, media and all points in between … ‘Price Point’ is a gorgeous, honest and wide-reaching account of the effects of living in a contemporary capitalist state. In short, it’s on point!”

In the spirit of showcasing stories of the marginalized/disenfranchised and damn-near-invisible Working Class, Honey Pot Performance originally conceived “Price Point” in 2011. The central questions explored in “Price Point” are the same questions central to our contemporary lives: In this New Economy, what is the value of living/the value of work? What does the concept of the Social Contract look like today? Fundamentally, Honey Pot Performance’s generative process is organically collaborative. The HPP process involves journaling, archiving data/research, conversation, observation, experimentation and creative expressivity (“play” with words, movement, music, etc), followed by a sharing of individual insights and perspectives gleaned from critical review of the data/observations. With “Price Point”, as with all their work, HPP aims to open up space in this world for more consideration, empathy and humanity.

price-point-finaleHoney Pot Performance is a woman-focused collaborative creative community committed to chronicling and interrogating Afro-diasporic feminist and unconventional subjectivities amidst the pressures of contemporary global life. Current projects include original evening length and shorter multidisciplinary performance works, community engaged cultural and arts intervention programming, critical writing and performance-focused collaborations in digital humanities and the social sciences. Honey Pot Performance is Felicia Holman, Aisha Jean-Baptiste, Abra Johnson and Meida McNeal. “Price Point” by Honey Pot Performance is part of Chicago Artists Month 2013, the 18th annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant art community presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. For more information, visit www.chicagoartistsmonth.org.