Monday, April 29, 2013

Singin' 'bout the "change"

It's back, and it is once again causing hilarious conversations in our administrative offices.

What am I talking about?  Menopause, of course!

Menopause: The Musical, that is.

The hilarious hit makes its triumphant return to Sangamon Auditorium tonight and tomorrow.  This show's turnout never ceases to amaze me.  Though I haven't hit the age mark personally, I can understand how there is a real communal experience of being in an audience of those who understand what they're seeing on stage PERSONALLY, or through the eyes of someone they love and who is likely sitting right next to them.

If you've missed it in its inaugural presentation in Springfield two years ago, you will want to check it out.  Especially if you know anything about the "CH-CH-Change of life."

Menopause: The Musical
Monday and Tuesday, April 29 & 30, 2013
7:30 p.m.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chanticleer and the Springfield Choral Society

Last Sunday was a magical day in Springfield with the men's vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

That afternoon, 53 singers from the Springfield Choral Society, under the direction of Marion van der Loo, participated in a Master Class taught by Jace Wittig, music director of Chanticleer.  The Choral Society is preparing for their upcoming concert of Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil" on April 27 and were able to present a few of the movements from the piece to Mr. Wittig and work with him to refine their singing of it.

Chanticleer music director Jace Wittig works with the Springfield Choral Society.

Mr. Wittig was quite familiar with the selections, and it was interesting to me to take in how much of what he had to offer the group had to do with understanding the nuances of meaning of the Russian lyrics and understanding the context in which this piece was written.  It brought such a wonderfully human element to the music that, I believe, sometimes gets lost in singers' desire to achieve musicality in details related to more traditionally-discussed elements such as tone, tuning, and dynamics.  Mr. Wittig disclosed that much of Chanticleer's own rehearsal time is devoted to these similar discussions of lyrics and composer intent.

The concert that evening by Chanticleer was magical.  Because Chanticleer sings without a conductor, each of the twelve individual singers must coordinate their efforts brilliantly.  The piece that ended the first half of the concert, Canticum calamitatis maritimae, was especially mesmerizing and solidified for me many of the important elements that had been discussed at the afternoon Master Class.  Through whispering and sighing, in addition to more musical passages that invoked a Siren's call to men at sea, this piece created something of an audio work of art - I'd almost go so far as to call it an audio "painting" - that left one of the most lasting impressions of the performing arts season for me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kids and arts events

How old should your child be before you start bringing him to arts events?  As a lover of the arts and the parent of a toddler, my first inclination is to declare that if your child is old enough to hold his head up, he's old enough to be at an arts event!  But upon deeper reflection, I realize there are many factors to take into consideration.  
3-Legged Tale, coming up April 22 on the UIS Family Series

What kind of arts event is it?  Will there be enough color, light and sound to hold his attention?  I brought my then-six-month-old to a performance of Drumline and the heavy beat, rhythmic movement, and creative lighting held his attention beautifully.  Conversely, he did not fare as well a year later at a holiday-themed acoustic performance by Boston Brass.  

How loud will it be?  If it is going to be especially loud, please get some child-sized noise-canceling headphones to protect your child's hearing.  My son loves wearing his (whenever he comes across them at home, he wears them around his playroom for an hour or more).  If it is going to be especially quiet, consider if your child might need to talk to you during the performance and how that might negatively impact the other patrons around you.  I have generally found that mid- to louder-sounding events minimize my son's distraction to other patrons.  His questions and fidgeting have not been distracting at blues events and classic Broadway musicals, especially those that have music and color throughout, like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  

Where will you be seated?  If you have concerns about your child being distracting to other patrons, is there a place you can be seated that can limit your child's ability to be distracting?  Some theaters have "cry rooms" where parents and children can see and hear the performance acoustically separated from other patrons, when necessary.  When this is not available, purchasing an aisle seat best enables a quick exit if your child becomes problematic.  

How long will the performance be?  Most venues can let you know the length of the performance in advance of the event.  If there will be an intermission, would you feel comfortable enjoying just half of the show with your child before leaving?  I have done this many times, and the long-term result is that it doesn't diminish mine or my son's experience; the shorter length is usually just perfect for him.  

Do I have to pay full-price for my child's ticket, or do I need a ticket at all if they will sit on my lap?  Ask!  Most theaters have a specific policies in place.  At Sangamon Auditorium, we require everyone to have an actual ticket, but "infant passes" do not cost anything; these tickets are for children under age 2 who will sit in an adult's lap.  Child/youth tickets at our venue apply to anyone high school or younger and are usually discounted 50% (some events are restricted, however).  

Will there be other children in the audience?  Sangamon Auditorium is pleased to offer the UIS Family Series and there are always plenty of children and families on hand!  Not only are the events selected for families with very young children, but many of the events actually encourage audience participation in the form of "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" and other shout-outs from young patrons.  You will not feel out-of-place with your infant or toddler in this audience!  I hope you will consider joining us for our next Family Series event, the Earth Day-themed 3-Legged Tale on Monday, April 22!