Monday, December 19, 2016

Soulful Music with the Iris String Quartet



Metropolitan Playhouse
presented
Iris String Quartet

Photo Credit: Agnieszka N.

YIBIN LI, Violin
MUNEYOSHI TAKAHASHI, Violin
ENTELA BARCI, Viola
SEAN KATSUYAMA, Cello

December 16, 2016
220 East 4th Street between Avenues A and B

Metropolitan Playhouse located in the East Village was pleased to present the IRIS STRING QUARTET in a concert of major works by Ravel and Shubert, along with the World Premiere of MICHAEL KOSCH'S Giotto (selections) for violin solo.  The program included: Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello; Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, D.810 “Death and the Maiden”; and, Kosch's world premiere.

The Iris Quartet has played in most of New York's finest venues like Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully, Steinway, Merkin, and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center so it was a pleasant surprise to listen to them in a small chamber; especially, for the classical chamber music lover. Apparently, the quartet is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow. These young musicians come from different countries (Albania, China, and Japan) and some were educated at Juilliard and others at respective renowned schools in their country of origin as well as having trained with the masters in their field.

The Iris Quartet was excited to lead off a fifth season of concerts in this award-winning theater that is an integral part of the East Village theater scene. Metropolitan Playhouse was also delighted to present the Iris String Quartet as part of the MUSIC AT METROPOLITAN series in its intimate downtown home, whose acoustics and size are ideally suited to chamber concerts and solo artists' recitals.

The concert began with a lovely surprise Bach violin solo by Muneyoshi Takahashi.

Maurice Ravel’s (1875-1937) Sonata followed and was a very interesting choice made by Yibin Li. It almost sounded as though it were composed for the 21st century and yet it was composed between 1920-24. It flirted with avant-garde approaches linked to Stravinsky and Schoenberg and its astringent harmonies sounded like what we regard as avant-garde jazz today. This was very different than the Classical Ravel that I’m accustomed to and which defined this Frenchman’s work.

Kosch's (b. 1959) world premiere was next which was inspired by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), a Florentine painter and architect who was considered one of the first great artists of the Italian Renaissance. Kosch is known to compose his works inspired by great artists with the idea that art inspires musical composition.

After a short intermission, the quartet finished with another interesting choice—Franz Shubert’s  (1797-1828) “Death and the Maiden”.  Ms. Li explained that this string quartet was composed while Shubert was dying so it felt like the notes were between life and death, but more like celebrating the last moments of his life. Shubert’s music influenced by the Romantic movement sounded poignant and rapturous.

After the intimate and romantic performance, there was a lovely reception whereby all the audience members could meet the musicians and the composer, Kosch, which led to interesting conversations.

By

Laura Thompson


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

HAMILTON'S Educational Program for 20,000 NYC Public School Students


HAMILTON!

International High School at LaGuardia Community College

HAMILTON’s Educational Program in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, NYC Department of Education and The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History shall provide 20, 000 New York City student tickets to see the musical Hamilton.

On November 30, 2016, 1300 students from New York City (NYC) public schools gathered at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway for the inauguration of this unprecedented partnership funded through a $1.46 million grant provided by The Rockefeller Foundation. This innovative collaboration provides students the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway after studying American History, a curriculum designed by The Gilder Lehrman Institute.

The program started with opening remarks by the partners, followed by original student performances from 17 NYC public schools, a Q & A with some members of Hamilton, lunch, then a Matinee performance of HAMILTON! The enthusiasm of the students throughout the whole day was immense with deafening applause and whistles of excitement and happiness. It was a joyful day.

Student representatives from the 17 NYC public schools presented original material live on the same stage that HAMILTON is performed consisting of songs, rap, poetry, modern dance, scenes, and monologues—all incorporating themes from American History. The themes were centered around the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre, Equal Rights, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Human Rights, Government Pensions, Slave Trade, Racism, Women’s Rights and so much more.

The group of participating high schools was selected by the New York City Department of Education: Achievement First University Prep High School, Bronx Leadership Academy II High School, Bronxwood Preparatory Academy, Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn theatre Arts High School, Channel View School For Research, Community Scholl for Social Justice, Democracy Prep Harlem Hight School, East Side Community School, International High School at LaGuardia Community College, John Adams High School, Landmark High School, Mott Haven Village Preparatory High School, Repertory Company Hight School for Theatre Arts, and School for Democracy and Leadership. 

As HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “There is no feeling on earth like performing for a theater full of students who are learning about our founders in class and seeing how it still relates to their own lives on stage.” Miranda’s goal is to build this program across America.

Additionally, Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation summed it up quite nicely, “The partnership between HAMILTON and The Rockefeller Foundation is a game changer for 20,000 New York City public schools’ students. Today, the first 1,300 experienced something truly inspirational – the story of America's founding fathers as told by actors and actresses who look just like them, through a transcendent Broadway musical created by a student of the New York public school system —just like them. We couldn't throw away our shot at bringing Hamilton to the audience it could affect most, who otherwise might not have had the opportunity.” This was also the theme of the Q & A afterwards with some of the cast members of HAMILTON.

James G. Basker, President of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History said, "This project is transformative. Twenty thousand students will experience American history in a new way and find their own connections to the Founding Era, to the performing arts, and to the future of our country." 

NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, "I thank the Miranda family for assuring that their passion for history and music is shared by New York City students. This musical will impact the lives of thousands of students and connect to enriching curriculum, undoubtedly sparking passion and an understanding of how inspiring history can be in the classroom, in our great City, and beyond."

I think the partners characterized their aspirations succinctly. It’s a marvelous idea to roll out this program throughout America. Bravo to all in creating this awe-inspiring partnership to educate students about the Founding Fathers!


- Laura Thompson -





Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lost & Found, One-Act Short Play in eMerging Artist Festival in New York City

Chelsea Repertory Company and LAB

presents

e-Merging Artists Festival

at THE BRIDGE THEATRE
244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor, New York City
(Between Broadway and 8th Ave.)

December 1-10, 2016

Tickets: $10 (Cash Only) Reservations: tickets@actingstudio.com Information: 917-982-5083
Seating is limited: 30 Seats only. Tickets must be claimed no later than 30" before curtain.



Laura Thompson's one-act short play "Lost & Found" is shown during Evening B performances. Laura is very exciting that her play and her friends' plays are being stage produced by wonderful directors and actors at this festival.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"London Calling" Again

“London Calling” Again

London's Mayor Sadiq Khan in Manhattan

More than a quarter of a century after the release of the famous single by The Clash, London is calling again. But this time the message arrives not from a punk band: “London is Open” for business was announced by the recently-elected mayor of the British capital, Sadiq Khan, who kicked off his international trade mission to North America in a rainy New York City on Monday, September 19th.

Khan said that the goal of his mission is to strengthen business ties between London and the United States as the two most innovative tech and business hubs of the world.

The Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, presenting the event referred to London and New York as sister cities during a panel discussion at WeWork Headquarters in New York. The mission is to get US tech and business companies to expand and establish London as the base for European operations as well as for some of London’s fastest growing companies to secure investment and explore export opportunities into America.  

According to a survey commissioned by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company, London was the number one destination for US tech entrepreneurs who wanted to establish a European operation because of excellent access to finance, a diverse talent pool, a favorable time zone, and a common language. Mayor Khan said: “Our great city has long been at the very forefront of financial services. When you combine that with our new-found technological expertise, it creates an unrivalled opportunity for companies looking to break into the European market. Despite the country’s decision to leave the European Union, there is no doubt that London will continue to be the booming and successful city it is today, open to talent and creativity from across the world and a leading destination for American business.” This initiative is protecting London’s leading role in Europe post-Brexit.

Going back to the panel discussion, Sarah Wood, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Unruly, which helps make online video ads go viral mentioned that there are more female tech founders in London than in Silicon Valley. Why is that? Kathryn Parsons, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Decoded, which teaches people to code in a day, said that London has a supportive environment, access to investors, people are willing to help and then, pass it forward. Deputy Mayor Agrawal emphasized that women represent 50% of the workforce in the tech space in London. There is good education for children as well as 25 universities, all of which are in the Top 50 in the world. Not to mention fashion for fashionistas, culinary delights for foodies, museums, and concerts. Big urban cities are not only friendly to women, but also have good business infrastructures to help build and grow companies both small and large. Ms. Parsons keenly advocated for women and girls to be digitally competent and have increased confidence in order to lead and thrive. These two female entrepreneurs equally employ men and women but are interested in empowering women and girls.


London is the leading city for foreign direct investment from the United States and the leading destination city for foreign direct investment from New York City. There is synergy between these twin cities. After the panel discussion, London’s Mayor Khan remarked to his New York audience, “The best years are ahead of us. Thank you for being friends to London.” Then, the Mayor and his delegation were off to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to further highlight opportunities for trade and investment between London and the United States. 

This article written by Laura Thompson was originally published by the Huffington Post. For more information about Laura Thompson, please visit: Laura Thompson Coaching


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bliss

THE FLEA THEATER 
presents 
BLACK MOON THEATRE COMPANY’S
BLISS
based on THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD


Director: Rene Migliaccio
Text Adaptation: Alessio Bordoni
Performer: Alessio Bordoni
Dancer: Charlotte Colmant
Music: Amaury Groc
Artwork: Estella Dupree
Lighting Design: Cindy Shumsey
Choreography: Charlotte Colmant and Rene Migliaccio
Consultant Choreographer: Eric Pettigrew
Assistant Director of Production: Isabella Schiller

The Flea Theater
41 White Street in TriBeCa, 3 blocks below Canal Street between Broadway and Church Street
Call 212-352-3101 or visit http://www.theflea.org
Tickets can be found at
https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/961264 for $20-$30.
September 8 – 25, 2016

Black Moon Theatre Company presents BLISS based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead at The Flea which embodies adventurous theatre Off-Off Broadway. In this new multi-disciplinary production, Artistic Director Rene Migliaccio staged the story through dance, voice, visual projections, and music.

Bliss follows a man’s cycle of life based on the theory of reincarnation performed by Alessio Bordoni. The journey began when he became conscious during the interval between death and rebirth. He was shadowed by a Butoh dancer, Charlotte Colmant, who represented his supra consciousness on the path of liberation from his former body so that he could successfully enter a new body. Between death and rebirth, as the man was striving to awaken to a Higher Consciousness, he experienced a wide spectrum of moods from dark to ethereal. Pictorial screen projections, in front of the performer and dancer, symbolized the various stages of his journey. Music accompanied the actor as he recited his journey. Altogether, this visual and poetic dance odyssey served as an allegorical guide for the living— when all of us will one day cross to the other side of the veil continuing the cycle of reincarnation.

Bliss was written, produced, directed, and performed with the spirit of adventure and is for like-minded audience members and those with open minds.

- Laura Thompson -

Sunday, August 7, 2016

As You Wish



NEW YORK MUSIC FESTIVAL
presented
AS YOU WISH 


Created by CRYSTAL KELLOGG, ANDREW WHEELER, & TOM WOJTUNIK

Starring CRYSTAL KELLOGG

Featuring KATE ROCKWELL & JUSTIN SARGENT

Musicians
Piano: Andrew Wheeler
Guitar:  Micah Burgess
Bass:  Marc Schmied
Drums: Spencer Inch

Stage Manager: NATALIE WAGNER

The Laurie Beechman Theater at the West Bank Café
407 West 42nd Street, New York City

Visit http://www.nymf.org for more information about the festival.
As You Wish performed August 2 and August 6, 2016

It all started last year when Crystal Kellogg (Creator/Performer) entered New York Music Festival's (NYMF) Next Broadway Sensation and claimed the ultimate prize of having her own solo concert produced by NYMF with collaborators Andrew Wheeler (Creator/Musical Director) and Tom Wojtunik (Creator/Director). Together, they created AS YOU WISH which depicts the ten year long journey of Crystal's foray as an actor/singer in New York City.

Her story was told through her choice of songs with beauty and a sense of humor. How some of her auditions, although creative didn't cut it like her dual perspective of Maria in West Side Story switching back and forth from a girl with a Puerto Rican accent to an opera singer which was actually priceless as a performance.

Onwards towards relationships and singing a song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1970  rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar  I Don't Know How to Love Him which brought tears to many audience members. Success, trials and tribulations were part of the mix but winning NYMF's Next Broadway Sensation landed her a new agent and her Broadway debut with the School of Rock (another Webber musical) and presently, with Finding Neverland.

Her Broadway dreams came true and as part of her solo concert, she invited her friends, Kate Rockwell and Justin Sargent to perform skits with her that added fun and joy to the overall concert. Crystal Kellogg is certainly a performer to watch.  

Crystal acknowledged that her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams and she did. She ended the concert by saying, "If I'm happy and feeling good, then I must be doing something good." It appeared as though feeling good was the theme of the concert. There were smiles all around. The concert finished with the song Never Can Say Goodbye--appropriate because she wants to return to the stage again and again!

I'd highly recommend to see Crystal Kellogg in upcoming appearances On Broadway and in concert.

- Laura Thompson -
(Certified Executive/Life Coach & Arts & Culture Freelance Journalist)

http://www.laurathompsoncoaching.com       @LORALIA                  





Friday, June 17, 2016

Satellite Collective presents Dig Dance

SATELLITE COLLECTIVE
presented
DIG DANCE
Performed at 92Y Harkness Dance Center, Home of Dance Education Laboratory, NYC
June 10-12, 2016

still from "Gran Jericho"
directed by Lora Robertson
presented by Satellite Collective
92Y; Dig Dance

Artistic Director Kevin Draper gave a lovely introduction of the various genres of works to be performed by emerging artists from New York City Ballet and Juilliard and more seasoned artists who recently retired from Alvin Ailey. The program opened up with the spoken word, followed by four works of contemporary ballet, modern dance, a short film and a live string quartet. The multidisciplinary approach proved to be an interesting paradigm with some collaboration between the musicians and dancers.

The dancers were beautiful, the musicians talented, although the music was not for everyone's ears. The short film by Lora Robertson with the protagonist dancing around a steeple seemed a bit long. Satellite Collective brought the steeple physically to the space so it would have been more creative to have had the dancers dance around the real steeple as a surprise for the audience after the short film ended or during the short film.

The last dance was about kindred spirits or lovers who portrayed a relationship that was appreciated, then spurned with retreat, to turn back into the embrace of one another resembling a typical sequence to most types of relationships. Or was the story about the beginning, maturation, and death of a relationship, to be reborn again?

 Overall, the interdisciplinary program showcased new works but it needs fine tuning.
By
- Laura Thompson -