Theater organist Jelani Eddington revives a bygone art form

Reviewed by Dave Schriber

Jelani Eddington visited Binghamton Oct. 23 to share his skills and the versatility of The Forum’s Robert Morton theater organ. Named the 2001 Theater Organist of the Year by the American Theater Organ Society, Eddington is the youngest person ever to receive that honor.

Eddington was personable as he introduced his own program. He put the Morton through its paces on a variety of popular and classical pieces, revealing a number of the unusual sounds possible in a theater organ (compared with a classical or church pipe organ): xylophone, celeste, rhythm sticks, bells, cymbal crash and vox humana (a stop which is supposed to sound like a human voice, but never does to me). In keeping with the approaching Halloween holiday, he performed a medley of tunes from Phantom of the Opera. Read the rest of this entry »

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Time to tap into your inner choral singer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Faith Vis of New Milford, Pa., has been a choral singer since age 7. “I have lived in many places – London, Strasbourg, Rome, the USA – and always managed to find a choral group, in spite of demanding family and professional commitments,” she said recently. “In the 16 years since I moved to the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, in addition to singing regularly with two or three groups, I have always signed up with any ad hoc group seeking singers for a special celebratory event and been simply amazed at the depth of musical interest and talent in the area.” Vis is hoping this article will encourage some of those “special event” singers to move into more regular participation in a local choral ensemble.

If you are one of those people who loves to sing in the shower, and it really sounds pretty good with the sound waves bouncing off the tiles, you also may have a secret wish to sing in a choral group. This is a wish more easily fulfilled than you might think. This area is full of music, and there are groups for every taste, geared to every level of skill. Watch the local press for rehearsal announcements, make a few calls and then ask to sit in once or twice at the group that seems to best suit you. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Streetcar’ too intense for student actors

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

One of the greatest plays ever written, A Streetcar Named Desire, was presented recently by the theater department at Binghamton University. Among the pitfalls in doing such a great piece is that little room is left for error. Unfortunately, the students at BU, despite their great effort, fell short and failed to deliver the necessary performances required by this intense play. Read the rest of this entry »

Were the arts part of your week?

I caught “Spamalot” and Leo Cotnoir was at the Firehouse Stage (see the reviews that follow). What did you do in the arts this week? Please share.

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‘Spamalot’ brings laughing crowd to its feet at Forum

Reviewed by Barb Van Atta

How do you spoof a spoof?

In the case of Monty Python’s Spamalot, with non-stop laughs.

The Tony Award-winning musical, “lovingly ripped off” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, ups the ante on sacrilegious and scatological humor, blending beloved scenes from the cinematic send-up of Arthurian legend with new, endearingly over-the-top moments right out of a Ziegfeld folly or a Vegas revue. (Arthur and his nutty knights even are reminded that “what happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Big Apple-style cabaret charms at Firehouse

Reviewed by Leo Cotnoir

Last night (Oct.23),  the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage in Johnson City launched its Two by Two Series by magically transporting itself to Manhattan — except for the prices! NYC-based artists Rick Jensen and Susan Winter treated the near-capacity audience to some of the best of Big Apple cabaret. While “cabaret” can refer to any small-group club performance, its classic incarnation — for me, anyway — is in solo performances from The Great American Songbook as the repertoire of 20th century Broadway and Hollywood musicals has come to be known. Read the rest of this entry »

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At BU concert, Metheny re-invents jazz

Reviewed by Tony Villecco

On Tuesday (Oct. 19), the Anderson Center at Binghamton University presented jazz musician Pat Metheny.  Although I admit I attended with some curiosity (I had not heard this artist prior) and while my expertise is more in classical music, I left with the realization that this was a talent so unique and so committed, it would have been shameful to miss this event. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alice Parker teaches heart and soul of folksong

The name Alice Parker is recognized by any experienced community chorus or church choir singer. A student of choral conducting, she was for nearly 20 years the music arranger for the Robert Shaw Chorale. Our area was treated with the rare gift this past weekend of a visit by Parker, thanks to a winning bid for her services by The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton’s director, Anne Boyer Cotten, at a Chorus America convention silent auction. Nearly 250 people attended Parker’s Community Sing Saturday (Oct. 16) at First Presbyterian Church in Binghamton, a fund-raiser for The Madrigal Choir. At the choir’s concert Sunday (Oct. 17) at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Binghamton, she conducted a half dozen of her own arrangements.

What did one learn listening to Alice Parker speak about folksongs and folk hymns? Read the rest of this entry »

Tell us about your week in the arts

As Sharon Ball pointed out in last Friday’s BCAC newsletter, there were SO many arts events this past week and weekend. To name a few: “My First Time” at Know Theatre, “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Binghamton University,  “For the Love of Mike” at EPAC, “Of Mice and Men” at Chenango River Theatre, the final performances of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s News” by the Ti-Ahwaga  Community Players, an Alice Parker singing workshop and concert with the Madrigal Choir of  Binghamton and Tri-Cities Opera’s season-opening production of “Cosi fan tutte.”

I caught the opera and did a little singing of my own; how about you? Please share your views with us here or in the comment space following the “Mice and Men” and “Cosi” reviews.

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TCO’s ‘Cosi’ is a must-see

Reviewed by Tony Villecco

 If there were any concerns about the effect of what General Director Reed Smith has described as the “significant changes” made this year by our local opera company, they clearly were dispelled last evening (Oct. 13) as I witnessed the final dress rehearsal for Mozart’s delightful “Cosi Fan Tutte” at The Forum. Tri-Cities Opera’s production officially opens Friday (Oct. 15).

Under John Mario Di Costanzo, the already-fine TCO orchestra never has sounded better. The playing was much tighter, cleaner and brighter than in some of the past productions I have seen. Di Costanzo’s attention to detail in every aspect of the score brought a crisper realization of Mozart’s brilliant writing for instruments and his understanding of the human voice. After a marvelous reading of the opera’s overture (the theme of which is repeated near the end of the opera), Di Costanzo, TCO’s new music and associate artistic director, was consistent throughout in guiding the musicians to realize a nearly perfect ensemble. Read the rest of this entry »

Third Thursday conversation planned at Cooperative Gallery 213

Another season of Third Thursday events will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton. The public is invited to join Barbara Bernstein and Karen Kuff-Demicco, the current exhibiting artists at the gallery, in a conversation about “Clay, Glass and the Figure,” discussing the influence of the artistic medium on the portrayal of the human figure. Come share your thoughts on art and arts related topics with a group of like-minded artists or art lovers. Lively but friendly discussion is guaranteed on the third Thursday of every month.

And, if you have participated in previous Third Thursday programs, please share your thoughts here in BAMirror.

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Were the arts part of your week?

Were you out-and-about in the arts this past week? Did you attend Raul Melo’s recital at BU, the Heart of the Arts ceremony at The Forum or “Of Mice and Men” at Chenango River Theatre? (See following posts and reviews.) Or did something else catch your fancy that you’d like to tell us about? Please join the arts conversation.

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Former TCO tenor presents wonderful recital at BU

Reviewed by Tony Villecco

Tenor Raul Melo offered an extremely attractive and diverse program of songs and arias last Saturday (Oct. 9) at Binghamton University’s Anderson Center as part of the annual Homecoming/Alumni weekend on campus. Melo, a former Tri-Cites Opera Resident Artist who received training at TCO and BU, has gone on to have an international career on the world’s operatic stages, including the Metropolitan Opera. Read the rest of this entry »

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Share your thoughts with HOTA honorees

Do you have a story to tell about Heart of the Arts Awards honorees Lou Ligouri, Pam Ondrusek and Billy Carroll or about  Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Pokey Crocker? Please share it here. You also can use this space to offer your congratulations to the BCAC’s “Class of 2010.”

Top-notch performers create great ‘Of Mice and Men’ at CRT

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan      

Coming from New York City, home of some of the best theater in the world, makes you sometimes doubt whether you can see great theater anywhere else. This was my notion as I went to see Chenango River Theater’s production of “Of Mice and Men.” However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my notion was false. CRT in Greene offers up a stunning production of this classic play. Read the rest of this entry »