Dean David H. Stull of the Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music announced Wednesday the appointment of Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra principal violist Michael Strauss as Associate Professor of Viola and Chamber Music. The ISO has granted Strauss a one year leave of absence starting this September. Newly appointed associate ISO principal violist Mike Chen will act as principal during Strauss's year at Oberlin.
From the press release: Known for his "rich tone and lyrical acumen" (Chicago Tribune), Strauss has performed around the world in chamber music and symphonic settings. Since his debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1990, he has appeared as soloist with orchestras across the United States. Since 1994, he has served as the ISO's principal violist where he has often been featured as a soloist.
"We are very pleased to bring Michael Strauss to the Conservatory of Music. Michael is an exceptionally gifted musician with a tremendous background," Dean Stull remarks. A former member of the Fine Arts Quartet, Strauss appeared at festivals and in live broadcasts and venues across Europe and the United States. Other chamber music collaborations, with artists such as Ida Kavafian, Jaime Laredo, Joseph Silverstein, Alexander Kerr, Shlomo Mintz, Andre Previn and Yefim Bronfman, include performances at LaJolla, Caramoor, Banff, Sewanee, and Eastern Music Festival, as well as on chamber music series throughout the country.
Strauss's recording work includes the debut of Jennifer Higdon's Viola Sonata (I Virtuosi), Mozart's complete viola quintets with the Fine Arts Quartet (Lyrinx), and Stamitz's works for solo viola with orchestra (Centaur). He is also the featured recording artist on the official CD for the Suzuki Association of the Americas Viola School, Volume 8, and will record Volume 9 in 2013.
NoExit's Antigone at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
NoExit made the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art its stage for a month-long production of Sophocles's Theban Plays. Pictured here is the final play in the cycle, 'Antigone,' in a production directed by Georgeanna Smith that premiered — in a slightly different, looser version — in 2009.
But I also want to emphasize that you still have a chance to see all three Theban Plays this weekend at the IMA - Oedipus Rex on Thursday, Oedipus at Colonus on Friday and Antigone on Saturday (follow the links for my reviews of each). While you're at it, check out Katelyn Coyne's Inside Thebes series, a chronicle of rehearsals for all three plays.
I reserved the highest marks for Antigone, but made clear (I hope) that the preceding two plays each had their merits, if they didn't cohere quite as nicely as the ultimate play in the cycle. Your mileage may vary, but theater experiences like these are few and far between in Indy, so take advantage while you can. Performances will go on rain or shine.
Editorial note: Despite reports to the contrary in a certain paper that starts with an "N" and ends with an "O," the Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace will cost $4 to enter, not an unreasonable fee given overhead and such.
The thought of spending any time in a sweltering parking lot would've struck us as foolhardy last weekend. But our advance weather intelligence reports tell us temperatures will be in the mid-70s Saturday, making conditions just about perfect for the inaugural Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace, a soon-to-be monthly showcase for work by regional artisans and antiques taking place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Glendale Town Center (6101 N. Keystone Ave.).
Something of a flea market without the skeezy dude selling fitness videocassettes with mysterious stains, the Marketplace is the brainchild of Jon and Kelly Jenkins, veteran coordinators of antique shows, and Antique Helper Auctions, which has gotten involved in the First Friday scene in a big way over the past couple years with preview shows for its auctions of American Indian artifacts and African-American art, just to name a couple.
And how about the vendors? Here's the complete list; we can say that Smoking Goose will be on hand with meat treats, and The Vintage Farmhouse will be there with repurposed antiques thrifted from yard sales and the like.
The marketplace emphasizes the locally produced, hand crafted and sustainable - and nothing could be more sustainable than buying antiques, no? Three more Marketplaces are on the calendar through the summer on June 30, August 4 and September 1.
In the ensuing years, bad luck has plagued the entire Andretti clan - Mario, son Jeff, son Michael, nephew John, and grandson Marco - at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As a group, they are 1 and 54 at Indy (although Michael has fielded a couple winners as a team owner - namely, Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Dario Franchitti in 2007).
At no time was the curse more evident for Michael, who retired from driving in 2007, than last year, when his Andretti Autosport team struggled to get up to speed. During pole day, the team managed to qualify only one car out of five, driven by John Andretti. On the outside looking in were Danica Patrick, Mike Conway, Marco Andretti, and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
On a bump day interrupted twice by rain, Conway, who had suffered a season-ending crash at Indy the year before, never got up to speed; his day ended in disappointment. Things looked better for Patrick, Andretti, and Hunter-Reay - until Andretti got bumped by Alex Lloyd late in the day. With the 6 p.m. deadline looming, Marco had one last chance to "stick it in the fence or stick it in the show."
The result: Marco was in, but at teammate Hunter-Reay's expense. When the gun fired, signifying the end of qualifying, a gutted Hunter-Reay was the odd man out. (A day later, Michael struck a deal with AJ Foyt to put Hunter-Reay in the car qualified by Foyt's second driver, Bruno Junqueira, a move that was universally jeered by fans.)
What a difference a year makes! All five Andretti Autosport cars - piloted this year by Marco and Hunter-Reay, along with James Hinchcliffe, Ana Beatriz, and Sebastian Saveedra - qualified on pole day, despite Saveedra having blown an engine early in the day. Moreover, Hinchcliffe, Hunter-Reay, and Marco qualified second, third, and fourth, respectively.
Hinchcliffe was particularly fast, a mere .0023 seconds behind pole winner Ryan Briscoe over four laps. For Hunter-Reay, starting on the outside of the first row was particularly sweet. "I've felt the lows here," he told reporters afterward. "I'm certainly taking it in and absorbing the temporary high of being on the front row."
With Marco starting P4, could this year be the year the Andretti Curse is broken? Stay tuned.
* I'd like to note for the record that I was right when I said there would, indeed, be 33 cars in the field - although it didn't take a brain surgeon to guess that IndyCar would find a way to make it happen.
* Chip Ganassi's four cars, piloted by Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Charlie Kimball, and Graham Rahal, are conspicuously absent from the front three rows of this year's field. Watch for them to advance during the race.
* Former driver and current team owner Sarah Fisher experienced a bipolar pole day with her rookie American drivers, Josef Newgarden and Bryan Clauson. Clauson crashed badly in his qualifying attempt, but Newgarden landed his car at P7. Ultimately, after mechanics scrambled to reassemble his ride, Clauson did qualify - although at a disappointing P31.
* Although speeds have been down this month due to kinks in the new car, engine manufacturers did boost engines for qualifying. As a result, this year's pole average, 226.484, was just a tick off pace from last year's average of 227.472. Race speeds may be a bit lower, however, as the boost will have been removed.
Interviews are conducted by two people who "know and care about each other," with a trained facilitator helping participants through the 40-minute process. Participants receive a complimentary CD, with the option to have a second CD archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. WFYI plans to create special programming using the interviews, some of which may also end up airing in the NPR's national morning show, Morning Edition.
To get a sense of what's StoryCorps is up to (if you're not already familiar with the Morning Edition segments, listen to a selection of interview excerpts at the StoryCorps site, or take a look at the animated short below, one of several that can be seen at storycorps.org.
We'll borrow from the press release to be precise about the philosophy behind Onyx Fest: "Like DivaFest, [IndyFringe's festival for new plays by woman playwrights] which just completed its third year, Onyx Fest is another step towards institutionalizing the IndyFringe Basile Theatre's commitment to provide support and a performance venue that is inclusive of all playwrights who make up the Indianapolis community."
We chatted briefly with Garrett to get a sense of his new play, which he says is entirely the product of invention, though "he later met someone whose story paralleled the main character's very closely." Betsy on E. 10th Street is based in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood on the near east side, where he grew up, attending Arsenal Tech High School before moving away for college.
Garrett notes that the play is more of a biographical study than a dissection of the politics of the area; or in other words, as he puts it, "Politics are only seen in the subsidies that the well-deserved main character benefits from to acquire the property." Garrett is the co-founder of the Indianapolis Urban Theater and Dance Company, which strives to "give more opportunities to professional performers of ethnic and diverse backgrounds."
Plays run one hour, with each play performed three times through the weekend (May 18-20). Check indyfringe.org for complete showtimes; tickets run $10 for adults and $8 for students.
You see, the kids will get a false impression, and will be surprised to see that at "typical" symphony concerts, you have to pay for your drinks, the conductor is old and not very hot (unlike the fetching Steve "Shades" Hackman, see above, the one-time American Idol contestant who has led Happy Hour since Time for Three took it over), the symphonies can sometimes run for as long as an hour (without clapping between movements), and so on.
(I borrow this argument from a post by former NUVO critic Chantal Incandela, "Happy Hour, aka Getting Whored Out Hour," to her blog, Mahler Owes Me Ten Bucks.)
But this all seems to me a bit specious, not only because Krzysztof Urbanski isn't so deficient in the looks department himself - but also a) not all young professionals are neanderthals, disappointed when the shiny thing goes away; b) it's not all about the trappings - there is also the music, which ranges from inventive arrangements of indie rock (notably Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek") to Time for Three's typical virtuosic Americana; and c) the classical world is a bit hidebound for reasons that sometimes have more to do with economics than aesthetics, and being that the ISO isn't, say, the Royal Concertgebouw, there ought to be room for experimentation and growth, with thought toward how the ISO can draw in new audiences without compromising anything essential.
That's well enough about that; this year's final Happy Hour program - 6:30 p.m. tonight, with food and drink available from 5 p.m., at Hilbert Circle Theatre; tickets $25 - will inlclude arrangements of Beatles songs and Mumford and Sons' "Little Lion Man," Grieg's Holberg Suite and a Time for Three original, "Banjo Love." Here's a look at Time for Three's video for "Stronger," which combines elements from Kanye West's "Stronger" and Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Stronger, Faster" and "Nightvision":
Regarding Topic A: According to Randy Bernard, the answer appears to be yes. "We haven't had a race since 1947 that didn't have that many cars (33)," Bernard told the AP. "We have to do everything we can to make sure we get 33."
The problem? This pertains to Topic B. Jay Penske, son of Roger and owner of Dragon Racing, recently sued Lotus, one of the three engine manufacturers associated with the IZOD IndyCar series (the other two being Honda and Chevy). According to Penske, Lotus has committed worse crimes than merely manufacturing a slow engine (which itself led to the dissolution of Lotus's partnership with two other IndyCar teams, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which switched to Chevy after forming a partnership with Panther Racing, and Bryan Herta Autosports, which signed with Honda); Penske alleges that Lotus has committed fraud, breach of contract, and "other unlawful acts," and seeks $4.6 million in damages.
So far, Lotus has been mum on the matter. But one thing is for sure: Lotus won't be supplying engines for Dragon Racing drivers Katherine Legge and Sébastien Bourdais - and so far, neither Chevy nor Honda has agreed to step in. That means there are currently only 31 car/driver combinations in play instead of the traditional 33. Add to that the fact that 47-year-old rookie and former F1 driver Jean Alesi, piloting one of the two Lotus machines remaining in the field (the other being driven by Simona de Silvestro), has not yet passed his rookie test, and the situation appears yet bleaker.
All that being said, it is this fanatic's opinion that there will indeed be 33 cars on the grid this May. And it so happens that a particularly credible source agrees with me: AJ Foyt. "Have you ever seen, in your life, the Indianapolis 500 start 31 cars and not 33?" Foyt said recently. "What makes you think that's going to happen now? I'm quite sure the field will be full."
And if it isn't? If, by some series of unfortunate events, a mere 31 - or, worse, 30 - cars line up three abreast on race day, it will of course be regrettable. But in the end, I don't think it will detract from what I predict will be an amazing race. The field this year is simply too strong. It's no exaggeration to say that there are at least 15 drivers who could reasonably win this thing, plus a few additional dark-horse drivers. Whether the race starts with 33, 31, or 30 cars, there will be just one in Victory Circle - and getting there is going to be one hell of a battle.
The Blend at Bartini's (Slideshow)
RAW: natural born artists — a national consortium of independent artists — arrived in Indy last week with a multi-faceted artistic showcase and cocktail party at Bartini's. Called The Blend, the night featured a hand-picked lineup of locals presenting original film, music, fashion, visual art, performance art — as well as artists from the worlds of hairstyling and makeup.
The club plays each Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at Washington Park (30th and Dearborn Streets), regardless of conditions; more than 50 people show up on any given week. It costs $10 to play - $7 goes back out (as in, you could end up winning the pool at the end of the game), and the rest goes toward the club (they're fully insured, so, if you, hit a car with a disc or hurt yourself, the club is covered). The club is also dedicated to keeping the park in order. IDGC meets for specific clean-up days for maintenance and general up-keep for four local disc golf courses. (Course locations and descriptions can be found on their website).
It's been a while since any new equipment has been purchased or installed at Washington Park, so the IDGC is holding a tournament at Sahm Park in Castleton on Mother's Day (May 13) to raise $5,000 to revitalize the Washington Park course and buy new equipment for club members. Sign-up is at 9:30am; it's $25 to play: $20 goes toward the new equipment, and $5 goes toward prizes. There are two rounds with a break at lunch, but participants need not play the entire tournament.
IDGC is hoping to get some local businesses to donate and sponsor the event. They're also making a donation to Gleaners Food Bank from funds raised, with the hope that individuals and businesses will designate funds beyond those intended for the IDGC to Gleaners. The IDGC is currently sponsored by The Basket Case but members are on the outlook for more local sponsors. More information about upcoming events is available on the Circle City Acers Facebook page, and by visiting the IDGC website.
I'm not sure I'd say I "ran" the race, but I did cover the distance in an ambulatory fashion. Frankly, given the humidity, I was just grateful to not be among the 240 participants who required medical assistance - the highest number in the race's history.
For many participants, myself included, the high point of the Mini (aside from the part where you get to stop running and kindly volunteers congratulate you and give you cookies) is the part where you run a complete lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Yes, it's hot. Yes, it's crowded. Yes, it takes an interminably long time to get all the way around (in my case, somewhere in the vicinity of 28 minutes). But it's the Speedway. It's the closest thing this city has to hallowed ground.
On Wednesday, I experienced the Speedway in a totally different way: as a passenger in an IndyCar two-seater, which is basically identical to a regular IndyCar except that the Dallara chassis features a second seat, behind the driver.
Before I could ride, I of course had to sign various legal documents to release the operator of the two-seaters, The Indy Racing Experience, of all liability in the event of some catastrophe, and to provide my health insurance and emergency contact information. I tried not to overthink this.
Then, it was time to suit up. I stepped into a very smart firesuit, swapped my Converse high tops for fireproof booties, and slipped a flame-resistant balaclava over my head, capped by a full-face helmet. I was ready.
I discovered that my pilot would be Stéphan Grégoire. Grégoire, who hails from France but now lives in Carmel, started 44 IndyCar races between 1996 and 2001, and has run the Indy 500 six times. He was all business - very Stig-like in the front cockpit. I'm not sure his gaze ever shifted from its forward trajectory as I clambered into the back seat.
I sank down into the tub, one leg to each side of the driver's seat. Mechanics on either side of me went to work, adjusting the straps of the five-point harness and buckling me in. I'm not so great with small spaces, but before I could discuss my rising panic with the crew, Grégoire punched the accelerator, and we were off.
They say Inuits have dozens of words for "snow." What I'd like is, more words for "fast." Because somehow, "speedy," "brisk," "hasty," "snappy," "fleet," and "lickety-split" don't quite cut it. I propose something like "hhhhooooooollllllyyyyyssssshhhhhiiiitttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!" which was pretty much what I screamed the entire ride - three laps in all.
Words cannot describe what it feels like to hurtle down the front stretch at IMS, swallowing up the grandstands, the yard of bricks, and the scoring pylon, plunging into turn one, at 180+ miles per hour.
And the wall - as you come out of each turn, it's RIGHT THERE. I swear, you could reach out and touch it. Also, the force involved - it practically reorganizes your internal organs. And yet, somehow, there's no real sense that death is imminent. The way the car sticks to the ground - it's like God playing Hot Wheels.
All too soon, the ride was over. Grégoire angled the car into Pit Lane, cutting the engine as we approached the crew. We coasted to a stop and the guys were upon me, unbuckling my harness and pulling me out of the car. It took me a while to do the math, but eventually I figured out that our fast lap - the middle of the three - took roughly 50 seconds.
To put that perspective, consider this: Had I completed the Mini-Marathon in a vehicular rather than ambulatory fashion, "running" it in the two-seater, I would have been done in less than four and a half minutes.
Something to think about for next year... .
Naptown Roller Girls Cinco de Mayhem (Slideshow)
The last home bout of the Naptown Roller Girls season brought regional foe Minnesota Roller Girls All-Stars to town to celebrate Cinco de Mayhem.
[A+E] Classical Music
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[A+E] Classical Music
[A+E] Classical Music
[A+E] Classical Music, Theater + Dance