Take no art for granted

You may have heard about the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra’s mid-season decision to suspend its operations.   The news from the north reminds me of a similar announcement in Binghamton about this time last year by Southern Tier Celebrates! I remember how strange it felt this past New Year Eve’s when STC!’s First Night Binghamton just wasn’t there anymore. Many folks in Syracuse are likely to feel the same way when the next concert date rolls around, and the SSO isn’t there, either.

Recently, a local professional told me that he thought the arts “were just there” when he was growing up in Binghamton. He says he went to the occasional concert and such, but until he retired and joined the board of a non-profit arts organization, he took it for granted that the arts would be there whenever he wanted them. He knows better now. He’s learning that, without intentional patronage, participation and support by people in the community, the arts won’t be there for him — or for any of us. Arts providers, meanwhile, are learning that, without responsible leadership, sound resource management and strategic partnerships, THEY won’t be around to sustain their chosen art forms.

None of us – from board member to performer, writer to reader, teacher to parent, painter to dancer, patron to staffer — can afford to take the arts for granted anymore and, perhaps, never again. A line from the film All That Jazz, comes to mind: “It’s show time, folks!” What part will you play?

Cash-strapped Syracuse Symphony pulls plug on season

The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra’s board of trustees voted Tuesday (March 29) to suspend operations as of Sunday (April 3)  because of a shortage of funds. Read more about this situation at this link to the Syracuse Post-Standard : http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/03/sso_board_votes_to_suspend_ope.html#cmpid=v2mode_be_smoref_face.

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Miró Quartet wows with mature, masterful chamber performance

Reviewed by Lee Shepherd

The Miró Quartet is named for the Spanish artist Joan Miró, whose works are some of the greatest of the 20th century. The foursome honored its name Sunday (March 27) with a Binghamton Philharmonic-sponsored chamber concert at the Anderson Center of mostly classic works and one that promised to be really “out there” but turned out surprisingly romantic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Historic organ gets a fourth life

Reviewed by David L. Schriber

A full church Sunday (March 27) witnessed the dedication of the Main Street (Binghamton) Baptist Church’s Russell organ, a rebuilt, renovated and upgraded instrument embracing parts of three  previous generations of pipe organs. Binghamton native Andrew Kotylo, currently Associate Director of Music at Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven, Conn., showed off the expanded organ’s capabilities. The concert celebrated the culmination of an eight-year project, inspired by Andrew’s father, Joseph Kotylo, who has been Main Street Baptist’s organist for 35 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts chase away those ‘lingering winter’ blues

Yeah, yeah! There was snow. There was wind. There were single-digit nights. But not all was lost. The  arts and entertainment calendar was again jam-packed.
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Did you ‘spring’ into the arts this weekend?

Did you visit a gallery, attend a concert or like, Nick Linnehan, check out the kids at EPAC (see comment)? Join the conversation — no registration required (see below) — and talk about the arts in your life.

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Note: If you’re interested in becoming a BAMirror contributor or reviewer, you still have to register and be approved by BAMirror Editor Barb Van Atta. You can e-mail her at bvanatta@hotmail.com.

Join the conversation on UCF grants

The Broome County Arts Council (BCAC) today (March 16) announced it has awarded $271,000 in United Cultural Fund (UCF) grants for 2011. Speaking to a morning news conference, BCAC Chairman Fred Xlander thanked “donors large and small” to this year’s United Cultural Fund Campaign. Xlander said that, in approving new grants, the board was “serious” about making sure that “precious charitable dollars” for the arts are “carefully distributed” and “soundly managed.” Executive Director Sharon Ball declared the $271,000 grant total a “major victory,” in light of the tough economy. She called it proof of the arts’ importance to Greater Binghamton and Broome. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Chorus Line’ not a ‘singular sensation’

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

One of the dangers of doing a musical after a movie version is produced is that people will compare the two versions. I must admit I did this last Sunday at The Forum in Binghamton, even though I tried to avoid that pitfall. Bearing that in mind, I must admit that the Broadway Theatre League’s presentation of “A Chorus Line” left me disappointed. While the dancing was superb, I found most of the acting to be poor and the singing off-key and mediocre at best. Read the rest of this entry »

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Join the arts conversation

Did you watch a play, hear a concert, catch a really great bar band or, like me, finally see the AMAZING “The King’s Speech”? What did you do in the arts this past week? Please join the conversation, and share your views — good or bad.

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Eggar breaks the boundaries of tradition at Cyber Café West

Reviewed by Rebecca Sheriff

Dave Egga (photo courtesy of Angela Cook)r

Dave Eggar (photo courtesy of Angela Cook)

Cyber Café West’s performance space may be small, but many people packed into the funky Binghamton venue last Friday (March 4)  to witness a performance by the Grammy-nominated Dave Eggar. A classically trained cellist, Eggar, like many musical geniuses, could not be limited to the confines of tradition. He uses the cello to compose musical ideas most of us would not imagine. Eggar started his performance with a piece reminiscent of a movie score, creating unexpected sounds with the cello that were not just enjoyable music but captions for a story. His extraordinary ability to communicate through the cello was demonstrated through his recent Grammy nomination for Best Musical Arrangement for a piece off his latest CD, “Kingston Morning.” Eggar has loaned his talents to a variety of artists including performing and recording with such legends as The Who, Carly Simon and Bon Jovi.

Eggar plays the cello like a guitar virtuoso of all styles, shifting seamlessly between singer/songwriter pieces, hard rock, reggae, funk and bluegrass. So captivating is his creativity that, at times, one may forget that he is playing the cello. The use of drums Friday assisted the versatility of the instrument and the performance. Whether bowing the instrument, picking the strings, strumming on its side like a guitar or even playing on his back on the floor Eggar displayed a passion and intensity that kept the audience hooked in. Sometimes serious and singing, as with his singer/songwriter-style song “Birdcage,” and sometimes speaking and funny, Eggar would comment on his own playing — “what will he do next?” — making audience members feel as thought they were witnessing performance art rather than a musical concert. Eggar demonstrated that, if you truly love an instrument, you can do anything with it. (To learn more about eggar, visit www.daveeggarmusic.com.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Were you art-full this past week?

Yeah, yeah! I know what most of you did on Sunday — shoveled! But how about the rest of the week? Did you see a play, hear a concert, take an art walk? Please join in the BAMirror conversation, and share your adventures in the arts.

Caressing the keys, Nakamatsu enthralls

Reviewed by David L. Schriber

When internationally acclaimed 1997 Van Cliburn gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu played here last March with the Binghamton Philharmonic, we decided, if he ever made a return visit, it would be a must-go event. Less than a year later (Feb. 27), Nakamatsu returned to Binghamton University’s Anderson Center to play an entire concert in the Philharmonic’s Chamber Series. It was a consummate example of artist at one with his instrument.   Read the rest of this entry »

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“America’s Got Talent” — the school edition

If you need proof that the future of the arts in good hands, look no further than your friendly, local high school musical. My family caught the absolutely amazing production of the school edition of “Les Mis” at Union-Endicott High School this past weekend. Super kudos to James Gleason and his entire team, both onstage and behind the scenes. If you’re not familiar with this Broadway blockbuster, it’s more opera than musical, with barely a spoken word. Those kids put their all into this show, and the aggregate talent was overwhelming. High schools all around the area are presenting musicals this month; go see one.
So, that’s what I did in the arts this past week: what about you? Please join in the conversation.

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