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Arts on the Horizon

By Rodger Skidmore

All things bright and the beautiful

     The autumn leaves are changing from shades of green to hues of red, yellow, and orange – Oh wait, that’s Vermont and we’re in Sarasota. But, nevertheless, things can be bright and beautiful here as well. Take, for instance, the rich and diverse selection of programs at Selby Library. Normally when one thinks of selections at the library they are book, large print book, CD, or e-Book. Well, how about selecting something to create. Something bright and beautiful. One such project is on October 3rd when you can create a patterned Ugandan bowl. That’s right, the Selby is a lot more than just a place to read.   

     It’s getting closer to Halloween so on Oct. 10th or 12th you might want to create your own Kawaii Monster (sort of like a Pokemon creature) for yourself or with some youngster you know. Youngsters come in all sizes as do Kawaii Monsters. Some think the Mexican Dia dos Meurtos (Day of the Dead) is more fun than Halloween so how about, on Oct. 24th, creating a small succulent garden in a small pot as part of that celebration. Rather stay with books? Then on the 19th learn the art of bookbinding so you and your grandchildren may make your own books. 

     We know that the concept of reading goes back centuries but simple communication, like talking, goes back way further. It is also, it seems, the big new thing – in the form of Podcasting. Try your hand at voice acting or create and perform your very own podcast on Oct. 5th. Most books involve printing but today one can print so much more than just words and pictures – with 3D printing. They say that to save space and reduce inventory there will be a 3D printer on the international space station. If some part breaks down they well simply download the specs for that item and print a replacement on the spot. On Oct. 3rd learn its history, watch a demo and try your hand. And speaking of the space station, on Oct. 21st an ambassador from NASA will be at Selby library to discuss the history of the Apollo space missions, relate findings about moon rock samples brought back by our astronauts, and will bring along some lunar meteorites for show and tell.

     Check out everything at scgovlibrary.librarymarket.com/events/month – for dates, times and venues – and remember, supplies for some projects are limited so come early.

Step Lively

     The 1959 Peter Sellers film, The Running, Jumping, Standing Still Film, was full of running, jumping, and standing still but was not about ballet, modern or contemporary dance – although devotees of Merce Cunningham might disagree. However, the months of October and November are full of all those lively steps and more. First up is a four performance run of Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s production of Voices – Rising Choreographers starting on October 10th. And choreographers should be first as they set the stage for all the action that follows. The beginnings of the works by these artists came to light during SCD’s 2019 Summer Intensive and have been revised and expanded for presentation at the Cook Theatre at FSU’s performance center. 

     A segment of Zoe Austin’s Nor Cast Pearls Before Swine was quite well received in July so a fuller version this month should be a treat. A piece by Kristen Green, “13”, is also being expanded (to “26” or “39”?). In it’s original form the six dancers began moving to the Four Seasons’ Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You. Perhaps you won’t be able to take your eyes of of them. Take a look at SarasotaContemporaryDance.org.

     Speaking of choreographers, Ricardo Graziano has been with the Sarasota Ballet as a Principal Dancer and Resident Choreographer for ten years. Yes, how time flies. To celebrate this occurrence the SB is showcasing three of his works in this season’s opening program (5 performances starting October 25th at FSU’s performance center). His first commissioned work, the Shostakovich Suite (Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2) leads off the evening and is followed by En Las Calles de Murcia. This piece was created when Graziano mused about the guitarist/composer Santiago de Murcia (born and died in Madrid) and word-played “the pieces by Murcia” into “in the streets of Murcia”. The final work to be performed is Graziano’s In a State of Weightlessness, first performed when the Sarasota Ballet appeared at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Wonderful to be able to see it here in Sarasota – SarasotaBallet.org.

     On Nov. 6th (October 37th?) the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School returns to Selby Botanical Gardens to perform at The Orchid Ball. They will be premiering a contemporary piece by Tania Vergara, Flowers in the Air, which interweaves with the theme of Orchid Show 2019: Blossoms of Asia – lyricism flamboyance, folkloric narrative and spectacular beauty. Visit SRQCubanBallet.com and/or Selby.org.

The “Season” starts

     More and more Snowbirds are arriving in October – perhaps they wish to experience the last two months of Sarasota’s summer. One can tell the Season is starting as there are so many musical events scheduled. One of the first is an Artist Series concert at the Sarasota Opera House where a Sarasota favorite, Jennifer Sheehan, returns on the 5th. Her new I Know A Place show has a focus on the soundtracks of the 80s. Highlights will be songs made famous by Carole King, Harry Belafonte, Stephen Sondheim, Barbra Streisand, and more. She is backed by a lively trio. Check out the whole season at ArtistSeriesConcerts.org.

     If small chamber groups are your thing, three’s the charm with the Sarasota Orchestra Chamber Soirées at Holly Hall. A Beethoven septet and a Prokofiev sonata for two violins will be preformed on Oct 10th. The Prokofiev piece was written while the composer was on vacation in St. Tropez. Does this mean he got to write the whole trip off as a business expense? On the 13th a lovely and strong Wind Quintet by Pavel Haas is performed. Haas, a Czech composer, wrote this piece after having studied with Leoš Janáček in the early 1920s. The encore piece is Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1. Clara Schumann played it beautifully when it premiered and she made this chamber music by Brahms a success. Two weeks later, on the 31st, chamber music is back at Holly Hall. This Halloween performance starts with Alexander Zemlinsky’s Humoreske for wind quintet and is followed by Schoenberg’s Verklärte nacht (Transfigured night). This piece is less humorous and more in keeping with the festivities of the day (or night). Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 5 (Ghost) is the final piece with a slow, pensive and thoughtful second movement. SarasotaOrchestra.org.

     A blending of two groups – singers from the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and the Key Chorale – livens things up quite a bit at First United Methodist Church downtown, at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key, and in Venice at Venice Presbyterian Church when they unite for AMERICAN ROOTS: The Gospel Experie​nce on October 18, 19 and 26. They weave the spirited style of the WBTT’s musicians, dancers, and singers with the choral harmonies of the Key Chorale Chamber Singers to great effect. WestcoastBlackTheatre.org and KeyChorale.org