The Messiah Sing-in
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway
When: Mon., Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m.
A Celebration of Christmas
Where: Collins Alumni Auditorium, Lipscomb University
When: Mon., Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m.
The chance to raise your voice in song, without fear of funny looks or causing dogs to howl, and hear others doing the same is one of our favorite things about the holidays. And in a city with vocal talent spilling from every coffee shop, campus pub and church function, you’ll find opportunities to hear soul-stirring performances most every night of the season — leading to choices as difficult as tonight’s.
At Christ Church Cathedral, the acclaimed Music City Baroque ensemble, under the direction of Murray Somerville, leads a mass sing-along of Handel’s evergreen The Messiah, leaving the solos to pros — tenor Stan Warren, soprano Megan Farmer, alto Mareike Sattler and bass Grant Farmer, with Joel Treybig testing his mettle on the Baroque valveless trumpet — but inviting the assembled crowd to join in on those triumphant choruses.
At the same time, Lipscomb University’s “A Celebration of Christmas” offers an evening of holiday favorites performed by the university’s A Cappella Singers and University Singers with the Lipscomb Wind Ensemble.
If you were looking for the previously announced Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore in this slot on the ACT 1 theater schedule, you might be disappointed. But instead, you might consider it an opportunity to experience something truly new and different. Indeed, this unusual musical creation, originally produced for the Internet and cannily designed to get around the technical hassles caused by the 2007-8 Writers Guild of America strike, has attained cult status: a wacked-out contemporary-lite opera gone viral.
Screenwriter/director Joss Whedon — whose credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Toy Story, Roseanne and the upcoming The Avengers — collaborated with family members Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon and Jed’s wife, actress Maurissa Tancharoen, to launch this musical tragicomedy. Set in Los Angeles, it tells the tale of aspiring supervillain Dr. Horrible, his nemesis Captain Hammer, and Penny, their shared love interest.
The original production rather famously featured Neil Patrick Harris in the title role (excerpts readily available on YouTube). Anne-Geri’ Fann adapted the screenplay and directs the Nashville premiere, and her strong cast includes Patrick Kramer, Daniel Vincent and Lindsay Terrizzi Hess, plus seven others. Look for an over-the-top story approach, plus a strangely catchy pop score that sometimes recalls the musical quirkiness of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. The results definitely bear watching.
ALIAS' nomination is especially sweet, as its very first Grammy shot comes for its very first CD. Its nod for Best Small Ensemble Performance comes for Frank: Hilos, a recording of the acclaimed piece commissioned by the Nashville ensemble (among others) from composer Gabriela Lena Frank, who performs on it as well.
Elsewhere, in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, the NSO's recording of Joseph Schwantner's Concerto For Percussion & Orchestra from the Schwantner: Chasing Light… CD won a nomination with percussionist Christopher Lamb. The NSO took home three Grammys last year for its recording of Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony and Deus Ex Machina.
Both recordings are on the Franklin-based Naxos label. The winners will be announced Feb. 12, 2012. Bravo!
An Evening with Lee Smith and Hal Crowther
Where: Lipscomb University
When: 7:30 p.m. Mon., Nov. 28
To those of you who perceive Lipscomb as a conservative Christian university ... well, not so fast, there, pigeon-holers. Yes, it’s affiliated with Churches of Christ — but the administration may be more open-minded than you give them credit for, as the Landiss Lecture Series makes clear. Case in point: the latest installment, featuring Lee Smith and Hal Crowther.
Smith, of course, is an immensely talented author whose perceptive and sometimes dark novels and short stories about life in the South have won a slew of major awards. But it’s Crowther who might raise brows. A former staff writer for Time and media critic for Newsweek, he’s a terrific journalist and essayist who makes no bones about where he stands on the cultural divide.
In a searing takedown of the Tea Party in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., alt-weekly The Independent Weekly last year, he wrote, “The Hard Right is wisdom-proof and lethally repetitious.” And in a piece titled “The Worst of the South,” published in 2007 in The Oxford American, he wrote, “When the South is safe for Darwin, maybe that’s when we can begin to boast.”
Take notice: This isn’t your father’s Lipscomb University. Free and open to the public.
UPDATE: Hal Crowther had to cancel at the last minute. Lee Smith will still appear.
If you appreciate how important it is to nourish the imaginations of our future generations, and you cringe every time you hear about arts funding getting slashed from school budgets, here's a chance to make a little difference.
Local installation and performance artist Lindsey Bailey has dreamed up Deliciously Happy, a collaborative art project with three different age groups at three Nashville area schools: University School of Nashville, Bordeaux Elementary and Lead Academy. She's lead workshops to develop art projects for each school, and the students' work will be featured in a gallery show at Belmont in March. I could tell you a lot more about Deliciously Happy, but Lindsey's video above does a much better job than I could do.
Bailey has self-funded the project so far, but she needs help to bring it to fruition, so she's started a Kickstarter campaign. She's raised about $2,300 of her $4,000 goal so far, so she needs at least $1,700 more in pledges by 11 a.m. Central Time on Sunday, Nov. 27, to get Deliciously Happy funded. So you've got four days left to become a patron of the arts. Don't wait till it's too late!
I was a 19-year-old budding guitarist when I saw the Allman Brothers for the first time, and it was a formative experience. Duane was no longer around, but “Dangerous” Dan Toler channeled that spirit, playing the slightly more jazz-inflected foil to Dickey Betts' Southern-rock hero, a role Toler also embraced in Betts’ solo project Great Southern. Toler was also a member of Gregg Allman’s band for years, and was featured on the group’s seminal album I’m No Angel.
Sadly, Toler has recently been diagnosed with ALS. So his friend (and fellow Allman Brothers alumnus) Jack Pearson has organized a tribute to help raise funds for Toler and his family. The astoundingly talented Pearson is worth the $10 minimum donation alone, but there’s much more in store: Lee Roy Parnell, Jonell Mosser, Jimmy Hall, Reese Wynans, Dave Duncan, Donnie Winters and Scott Rath.
It's a tough choice this year, with a slew of great candidates: everything from Hula-Hoopers and Nashville Rollergirls to clowns, coffee shops and cloudy days. Naturally, we can't tell you which photo is in the lead right now, but we can tell you that it's going to be a neck-and-neck race down to the wire, so every vote counts. We've seen the lead change hands a few times already.
So get voting! You can vote up to 5 times per day for any combination of pictures.
Long before the First Saturday Art Crawl was drawing crowds down to Fifth Avenue and the Arcade, Franne Lee's Plowhaus Artists' Co-op in East Nashville was the place to be on opening night. Festive crowds packed the 17th Street gallery to see work by a multitude of artists, and they were often treated to performances musical and otherwise. Lee currently teaches production design in the film department at Watkins, as well as costume design in Belmont's theater department — which should come as no surprise, since she was a successful costume designer in New York for many years, responsible for both the Land Shark and Conehead costumes on SNL. (Not to mention that she won a couple of Tonys for her work on Broadway productions of Candide and Sweeney Todd.)
Lee's creative gifts extend into the world of visual art, too, as her new show at LeQuire Gallery's Green Hills location demonstrates. The exhibit features some of her images of birds and other animals painted on wood remnants from old cabinets and barn siding; her series of pictures of children with painted faces, inspired by the tribespeople of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, who have an elaborate tradition of face and body decoration; and some pieces from her Attitudes series of paintings of East Nashville icons (and yes, there are many).
Nashville may be known as Music City U.S.A., but it's no secret that Tennessee's other music capital played a critical role in the development of R&B, gospel, rock and even country. That legacy provides the foundation for Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, which arrives in Nashville through Nov. 20 via the national touring company.
With a book and lyrics by veteran playwright Joe DiPietro and music by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan, Memphis tells the tale of Beale Street's underground clubs in the segregated 1950s, where a young white disc jockey named Huey Calhoun falls in love — with an ambitious African-American singer, and with rock 'n' roll in general.
Street Theatre Company scored a success previously with its first “in concert” musical, Chess. Now they’re presenting Ragtime, based on E.L. Doctorow’s landmark 1975 novel that mixed real-life historical figures with fictional characters. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and those are about as sprawling as the play’s book, which means upward of 40 numbers, many of them flowing right into one another in shifting musical styles that capture the hodgepodge of humanity that was American life during the 20th century’s first decade.
The interesting casting note here involves Julie Forester, a Nashville songwriter, voice teacher and session singer who was a member of the original Olivier Award-winning production of Ragtime in London’s West End. She sings the role of “Mother.” The cast also includes Michael Kitts, Bakari King, Naeandria Callihan and some 40 others.
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