Performing Arts

Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo

Both my boys are grown men now, but I do remember a summer when they went to camp at the Lexington Children’s Theatre and became immersed in the play “Tikki Tikki Tembo.” We would get up very early in the morning so I could drive them from Frankfort to Lexington before work. My sister, who lives in Lexington, would pick them up from the theater in the afternoons, and then I would bring them home in the evenings.

Since this was almost 20 years ago, my memory fails me when it comes to exact logistical details. But the experience for me and my children is fondly remembered. In a period of two weeks, I heard lines being read and recited over and over again with that familiar chant — “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.” When it came time for performance, I think I was more impressed with the way the program worked than with my boys’ performances.

First, when you went in the theater there were no chairs. Carpeted risers were the norm and it put adults on the same level as children. Also, every child got a chance to participate and every child was a star. Of course, I thought my boys were the best. But I’m sure every parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle in the audience was made to feel that their child was the best also. I was so amazed that a full-scale production could be put together in such a short time.

Let me be clear, I did not sign my kids up for this because I thought they had great potential to be the next Johnny Depp or Russell Crowe. I wanted to give them something to do and let them see what live theater is about. But most of all, I just wanted them to have fun. Mission accomplished!

I’m quite sure that the Lexington Children’s Theater can still do that for your children this summer. I just checked their website and Summer Theatre School 2013 still has two sessions before summer ends.

Not near Lexington? The Kentucky Arts Council has put together a list of summer arts activities for kids across the state. Check it out at: http://artscouncil.ky.gov/Resources/pdf/KAPSummerPrograms2013.pdf.

Beware! If you send your kids to theater camp, you might just find yourself 20 years later reciting some ridiculous lines from a children’s play and not remembering the context at all.  I’m just saying…

Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.

Note:  Lexington Children’s Theatre celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and is the oldest continuously running children’s theater in the nation.  It is also the 2013 recipient of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts Education Award.

Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Arts Education, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , ,

Jazz apprenticeship of the divine nature

My one-year apprenticeship studying jazz piano with Jay Flippin ended in July. Jay and I went out with a bang with a joint, two-piano concert June 13 at Natasha’s Bistro in Lexington, Ky. One of my friends described the event as an apotheosis, a Greek word meaning “elevation to divine status.”  That night I certainly experienced a period of elation and excitement, possibly bordering on the divine, after a celebratory glass of wine when it was over.

Playing Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite” with Jay on one piano and me on the other was as good as it gets. But this pinnacle celebration could not have taken place without an intense and arduous year of disciplined practice and hard work on my part, along with Jay’s generosity and willingness to share his treasure trove of piano experience and knowledge. So I think this combination of intense study and working toward a goal of playing jazz for an audience, and then actually doing it, was the fruition of a realized dream called an apotheosis. The Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program allowed me the unparalleled opportunity to devote myself to this task.

I have always wanted to play jazz, and have been a piano jazz fan and dabbler for many years.  I started studying with Jay a year before my apprenticeship began, which was the year I retired from my job of many years teaching art. So I know a good teacher when I see one. Because there were no grades, no pressure except what I placed upon myself, and no deadlines except a faraway collaboration of some sort, Jay’s lessons were always inspiring.

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Jay is a fountain of knowledge about jazz theory, history, jazz players and traditions. Born in a small mountain town, Jay learned jazz the way traditional musicians almost always learn their art. He learned by watching and listening to artists he admired, practicing hours and hours, imitating what he heard and learned, and then taking a risk and going out and playing in public! Most of all, Jay is one of the best jazz piano players around, having won five Emmys for original composition. Not only does he know how to play, but he knows how to tell you exactly what he is playing in terms of jazz theory. That is indeed a rare combination.

I have played the piano almost all of my life. Now I play for contra and swing dances, belong to the Reel World String Band, and have done all kinds of ensemble and solo piano work over the years. All of my piano work is now informed and changed by what I have learned during this apprenticeship. Because I was a teacher for many years, I also know what it’s like to be a good student. Jay said he appreciated me because I actually would do what he told me to do. I would follow his instructions. I taped all my lessons, so I could work with these recordings when I got home. You can’t really cram for a piano performance, so what you do is a result of what you have done, but the practicing definitely got more intense closer to the end of the apprenticeship.

At the beginning of my study with Jay, I was sure I knew what jazz sounded like, but that I would never be able to play it.  Now I know what is involved. I still think that, as Jay and others have said, that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I know that I am on my way. I have the tools to do it, and it is a matter of refining my skills through practice, interacting with other musicians, and performance.

What I have gained from the apprenticeship and from Jay is the confidence and the desire to share jazz music with other players and listeners. I learned that you don’t have to be perfect to get out there and play, you just have to do it. It is perfectly legitimate to learn from your mistakes, as anyone will tell you. Now when I play, I also have the desire and the ability to educate people about some facet of jazz based on my own experience of the medium. I did not have this knowledge and experience of jazz before the apprenticeship. I thank the Kentucky Arts Council for giving me this opportunity to be a successful student, for acknowledging that jazz is a traditional Kentucky art form, and for creating such a valuable program to connect and showcase master artists and their aspiring students.

Elise Melrood, pianist, Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program participant

Categories: Arts Education, Folk and Traditional Arts, Performing Arts | Tags: , , ,

Participate in national arts standards public review

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards logoInterested in the future of arts education in Kentucky and across the nation? You should be. You currently have the opportunity to give feedback on proposed changes and updates made to the national core arts standards.

The national standards are available — in draft form — online. The standards haven’t been updated since the 1990’s and public input is being sought. You can make comments through July 15 as part of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) public review.

The coalition of national arts and education organizations and media arts representatives developing the 2014 National Core Arts Standards recently released the PreK-8 standards.

The new, voluntary grade-by-grade web-based standards are intended to affirm the place of arts education in a balanced core curriculum, support the 21st-century needs of students and teachers, and help ensure that all students are college and career ready.

The Kentucky General Assembly, as part of Senate Bill 1 (2009), mandated new academic standards in all subjects including arts and humanities. The legislature directed the Kentucky Department of Education, in cooperation with the Council on Postsecondary Education, to consider standards that have been adopted by national content advisory groups and professional education consortia.

Anyone with an interest is welcome to participate in the public review of one or more of the discipline drafts in dance, media arts, music, theater and visual arts.

For instructions, visit the NCCAS website.

For more information about the project, visit http://nccas.wikispaces.com, or the NCCAS Facebook page.

Don’t miss this opportunity to make your voice heard on this important subject, and consider sharing this information with others in the arts and education communities.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Arts Education, Literary Arts, Other, Performing Arts, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , ,

This summer, be an adventurous listener

When you travel this summer, music can be part of the journey and the destination. If you really want to have an adventure on the road, put aside your MP3 players and  favorite CDs, and forget the radio stations saved in your channel memory. Summer is a time to burst out of your usual, comfortable musical realm and be an adventurous listener!

 Journey with radio

Tune in, and turn on to something new. Radio is a conduit for creative and eclectic communities. Here are a few stations that will challenge and excite you while you travel across Kentucky:

WMMT-FM 88.7, Whitesburg

WRFL-FM 88.1, Lexington

WFPK-FM 91.9, Louisville

WKYU-FM, 88.9, Bowling Green

Music destinations

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Whether you love bluegrass music, or tend to avoid it, a trip to the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro and the Bill Monroe Homeplace in nearby Rosine will expand your mind. Experience the living legacy of bluegrass at the ROMP festival June 27-29.

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame

Here, you will experience exhibits, tours and programs about artists from many genres of American music who have made a big impact and who are all from Kentucky. Country and bluegrass? Check. Blues and pop? Check. Opera and jazz? Check.

National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame

Experience the birthplace of thumb style guitar made famous by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Visit the Merle Travis Music Center in Muhlenberg County at the end of summer—late September—when the Home of the Legends Weekend and the Hall of Fame ceremony occur.

Butcher Holler

Take in the sights and sounds of the home place of the proud coalminer’s daughter, Loretta Lynn. If you are lucky, you might arrange a tour with Loretta’s brother, Herman Webb, like this blogger did.  Butcher Holler is just one site along the Country Music Highway. Learn more and order a copy of More than Music: A Heritage Driving Tour of Kentucky’s Route 23 here.

National Jug Band Jubilee

Did you know that Louisville was the birthplace of this enduring DIY music style? Plan now to go to the Jubilee on Sept. 21, so you can close out your summer with a jubilant thhhhhbbbtt!

Go beyond these suggestions. It is easy to find out about festivals, performing arts centers, and jam sessions all over Kentucky. You can start by surfing the Performing Arts Directory to find video and audio of artists you like. Visit their websites, collect their music, go to their shows.

Have fun, be adventurous and then post your experiences and recommendations below.

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program director

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tempt Your Senses: Hear

With over 200 exhibitors working in wood, paint, silver, wool, chocolate, clay, silk and much more, Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a sense explosion. That’s why we chose “tempt your senses” as this year’s theme. We dare you to come to the Lexington Convention Center on March 2 – 3 and be tempted by all of the music, textures, smells, sights and tastes offered by Kentucky’s best artists and crafts people.  It will be impossible to walk away empty handed.

The moment you walk into the Market – even before you purchase your pass – you will notice that art is everywhere. Although buying and selling visual art is the Market’s main purpose, it’s not the sole purpose. The arts council uses this versatile venue to create all kinds of arts experiences: literary art, folk and traditional arts and performing arts. The Kentucky Stage, located in the atrium of the convention center, features a full schedule of diverse musicians from across the state. Not only can we we boast the Commonwealth’s finest art and craft, we also present Kentucky’s most accomplished live performers for the price of your admission. If you like what you hear, you can step over to the Marketplace and purchase CDs.

Hog Operation – Saturday, March 2, 2 p.m.

Hog Operation uses bluegrass instrumentation to explore a variety of American musical styles from reels to rock ‘n’ roll. They play original music as well as country standards and bluegrass arrangements of popular songs. Audiences can expect to hear their favorite bluegrass sounds but should also be prepared for pleasant surprises. Each musician – Larry Raley, Mike Schroeder, John Hawkins and Steve Cooley – is accomplished in his own right. When they play together the sound can be described simply as “tight.” Come early to hear Steve Cooley discuss how he keeps the stringed instruments – that are so vital to the unique bluegrass sound – playing the sweetest possible notes. At 1 p.m., the Kentucky Stage will feature a live interview with Steve, Donna Lamb, Art Mize, Arthur Hatfield and Walter Lay – all Kentucky luthiers who make or repair banjos, fiddles, guitars, mandolins and more.

Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers  Saturday, March 2, 3 p.m.

It began 25 years ago in Covington’s Ninth Street Baptist Church when Ric Jennings formed an a capella quartet from members of their men’s choir. The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers earned most of their chops in the church and some on the street corners, and the result is uniquely northern Kentucky.  Although they have performed all over the United States and Europe, they are true to the sound created in their community and play local churches,  song services, sacred music events and even anniversaries. In addition to their gospel repertoire, they also sing R&B favorites and other popular tunes. They take the Kentucky Stage on Saturday afternoon, but it may feel like Sunday morning as they “inspire feelings of fellowship and recreate the jubilant atmosphere of their home church.”

Appalatin  Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m.

The name Appalatin (as you may have guessed) is a portmanteau of Appalachian and Latin. True to their name, they blend the music of their home regions to create a sound that is – above all other labels and definitions – music of the world and 21st century Kentucky. Appalatin is artistic proof that no matter our culture of origin, our ways of expression have much in common. Old-time string, blues, bluegrass, Spanish-style guitar, bachata, cumbia – it all has roots. Their sound obviously speaks to more than just Appalachians and Latinos. With a musical mission “to bring a message of a fair and just world, one of hope, joy and love,” Appalatin have a popular sound and a strong following that can be seen in the results of their recent Kickstarter campaign to produce their new album. To date, they have made 150 percent of their goal with donors pledging as much as $1,500. Their campaign doesn’t even end until March 10, 2013. Now that is real listener buy-in!

Real World String Band – Sunday, March 3, 1 p.m.

Reel World String Band

Reel World String Band

Trouble in Mind

Early in their careers, this “all-girl act” was considered a novelty in mainstream music. But people who knew better saw that they were just darn good musicians. Lily May Ledford once said of the band, “You don’t see many people up on stage who’ve got fire. But you girls have got it. Lord, you girls are good!” This so-called novelty has thrived for over 35 years, and Kentucky is truly fortunate to have the members of the Reel World String Band as  native daughters. With rousing harmonies, the band makes music rooted in the Appalachian tradition while representing and championing Kentuckians through their songs. They are each masters of their instruments and treasures born of Kentucky’s arts and cultural heritage.

These are just a few of the performers you can experience on the Kentucky Stage. For a complete listing, look at the lineup in the Market program.

Market Program

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Are your sense tempted yet? For more peeks and previews, check out our titillating Pinterest board.

Categories: Other, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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