Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Multi-disciplinary Project Premiere November 15, 2013

Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio
Friday, November 15, 2013
6:30 Reception and Open Bar
8:00 Performance

  • The first in Signature Series will present an evening featuring a world-premiere multi-disciplinary performance project. Produced by Tatiana Berman, violinist and founder of the Constella Festival, this project takes a look at the collaboration and inspiration process across genres. Tatiana,  pianist Irina Botan (UK), tenor Alec Carlson and violinist Eddy Kwon will present music by Claude Debussy, John Cage, Missy Mazzoli, Olivier Messiaen and Nico Muhly, together with digital animation works from various international artists including Yuliya Lanina, Greg Loring, Joseph Iannopollo and Jesse Mooney-Bullock. 
  • Dancers from the CB2 perform a short introductory piece with music by Arvo Pärt, Rodrigo and Gabriella.
  • In the Gold Room, Solway Gallery will present an exhibition inspired by the marriage of video art and classical music.
  • Preceding the performance, a delicious sample tasting by Cincinnati’s finest chefs – Jean-Robert de Cavel, Jimmy Gibson and Jeff Thomas.

REVIEW of the Ballet project

Constella "Improvisations" Mesmerizing

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Nov 3, 2013 - 12:14:19 PM in reviews 

L to R: Sirui Liu and James Cunningham, Tatiana Berman and Eddy Kwon
Inspired was surely the word for the Constella Festival’s “Inspired Improvisations and Stravinsky” Wednesday evening (Oct. 30) in Harriet Tubman Theater at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
The Constella-produced event featured dancers from Cincinnati Ballet in works choreographed by Heather Britt, James Cunningham and James Gilmer.
Two of the numbers featured world premiere choreography: Igor Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne” for Violin and Piano, choreographed by Cunningham, and “Improvisation,” a three-part work inspired by surrealist poet Paul Éluard, with choreography by Cunningham, Britt and Gilmer, performed to improvisation by violinists Tatiana Berman and Eddy Kwon. A reading of Éluard’s poems preceded each episode of “Improvisation.”
Also on the program were “Habitual, 7.28.13” with music by Gabriel Gaffney Smith of BalletMet (Columbus), and “All Too Wonderful” (2009), a three-movement work by Peter Adam, both with choreography by Britt.
Sandra Gross with art installation
Framed with an installation of paper art by Sandra Gross, the show was literally as well as figuratively engrossing. The dancers performed in street clothing, which was complemented by Gross’ art, consisting of panels of vellum with patterns burnt into in, hung on steel frames at either side of the stage.
CB’s Cunningham and Sirui Liu led off with Britt’s “The Lover” from “Improvisation,” a happy, fanciful work picturing lovers in a variety of poses, danced to music of a neo-romantic cast, crafted to perfection by Berman and Kwon.
“Earth is Blue Like an Orange,” another “Improvisation,” was abstract by contrast. Cunningham’s athletic choreography received a strong interpretation by soloist Morwood, complete with touches of humor (including Monty Python-esque funny walks). Berman and Kwon’s playing matched it ideally, with lots of effects on their violins.
Gilmer’s “I Love You,” part three of “Improvisation,” was danced by Bausinger and Bodden. “You are the powerful sun arousing me . . .” Éluard wrote, and the choreography reflected that in moves that were ecstatic, though tinged at times with the pain love can bring. Coordination with violinists Berman and Kwon was highly emotive and again, totally amazing (I doubt Cincinnati has ever seen the like by a pair of classical musicians).
“Suite Italienne” brought CB dancers Joshua Bodden, Abigail Morwood, Danielle Bausinger, Gilmer and Liu to the stage for a series of ensembles and duets. Cunningham’s choreography was classic with a twist, with dancing that was animated as well as gentle, with striking use of the hands (lots of flat palms) and a jubilant finale. Berman gave Stravinsky’s music (drawn from his neo-classic ballet “Pulcinella”) a bright, characterful performance, accompanied by Elena Kholodova at the piano.
Britt’s “Habitual” was premiered on CB’s “Kaplan New Works” series in September at the Cincinnati Ballet Center. It is described as “a duet about feeling stuck and the attraction that we have as humans to repeat what is familiar.” Smith’s “7.28.13” – an electronic composition with a beat, rather like a heart pounding – began ominously, with Gilmer stepping backwards onto the stage. He met Touchet there and the two were ultimately joined in a tender embrace.
The concert ended with “All Too Wonderful” for the full ensemble. (Choreographer Britt worked in collaboration with Adams to create the work, one of several they have produced together.) It emerged as a series of duets and a spectacular solo by Cunningham that left one gasping. The vagaries of love were again portrayed -- one of the male dancers clutched at the air at one point as his partner withdrew. All’s well that ends well, however, and it did, with joyful, exuberant dancing by all.

This is a show that could go on the road. The crowd, which filled Harriet Tubman Theater nicely, was rapt with attention and expressed their enthusiasm repeatedly, rising to their feet at the end in a noisy, unanimous ovation.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Children's performances story 2013

For Good

Constella Festival engages kids with free classical music events

When Tatiana Berman, international soloist and chamber musician, moved to Cincinnati in 2006, she says she took note of the multitude of musical arts organizations in town, and the possibilities for collaboration began to stir.

“I thought it would be nice to present a more unified idea to the Cincinnati people, but also to the outside world in a way, by better showcasing some of the organizations—by putting them together in a festival,” Berman says. “I approached a couple friends of mine to come and play, and they did. By bringing in these internationally renowned musicians, I then was able to put the local organizations in this same festival, and as a result, they get more international attention.”

Known as the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts, Berman’s creation is now in its third season. The Festival is comprised of several performances and installations that take place in October and early November in both conventional as well as unusual venues and surroundings. And as the world-class talent continues to thrive, so do Berman’s ideas for adding to the festival experience.

This year, Berman incorporated free children’s concerts into Constella’s lineup with the intent of merging storytelling and chamber music to create an experience that she says she hopes is “educational, entertaining and enchanting."

“One thing everybody knows that’s suffering is music and arts for kids in the schools,” Berman says. “I have two kids myself, and I’m a strong believer that the way things are right now—it doesn’t make sense to me—it’s been scientifically proven that kids who do art and music do better academically, and I have proof in my children and lots of my friends. It develops their brain, and not just the basics—it develops their self-confidence. They become focused—the concentration. You name it—it’s good for them.”

Incorporating children’s activities into the festival lineup is just the beginning for Berman and other musicians involved with Constella, however. Thanks to a recent grant, the organization will now be able to go to local schools to perform and give students the necessary tools to know that, just because they may not be able to receive a musical education at school, they can do it on their own.

“You can make music and make art, and it’s not this thing where they have to buy stuff, necessarily. We give them a handout of resources—music-making apps, free things they can do at the museum and at different places, free concerts for children, things like that,” Berman says. “The idea is to really encourage them and make sure they understand they can make music in any way, shape or form, and there are different ways of getting involved and going to make art as well.”

Do Good: 

• Like the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts' Facebook page.

• If you're interested in bringing Constella children's performances to your school or community, contact event organizers.

• Support Constella by donating and by attending festival events—all events are kid-friendly, and student tickets are available.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.