Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kenny Barron Honored with 2010 NEA Jazz Masters Award

Renowned jazz pianist Kenny Barron was recently bestowed a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Award - the nation's highest honor in this distinctly American music. Barron is considered one of the undisputed masters of the jazz piano for his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms.
The Los Angeles Times calls him "one of the top jazz pianists in the world" and Jazz Weekly says he is "The most lyrical piano player of our time."

Barron will appear at the Center April 24, 2010 with the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with fellow musicians Regina Carter, Russell Malone and vocalist Kurt Elling.

Barron was one of eight recipients to be honored with the 2010 award. Each recipient will receive a $25,000 grant and be publicly honored in an awards ceremony and concert on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Master Class with Nikolay Tsiskaridze of the Bolshoi Ballet

On May 21, the Bolshoi Ballet's Nikolay Tsiskaridze danced the world premiere of a new work created especially for him by choreographer Boris Eifman titled Fallen Angel for the Center's Tour de Force: A Dance Gala Spectacular. The day after Tsiskaridze stunned audiences with his bravura performance, he shared insights and advice during a master class for 33 of Orange County’s most talented young ballet dancers – a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most. Throughout the year, the Center’s education department presents these opportunities as part of its Masters at the Center series for aspiring local performers. Play the video above to see Tsiskaridze in action with the class and to also hear interviews with local students.

Congratulations to Tsistkaridze on his world premiere performance and the best of luck to all the master class students!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Celebration of Dance

It was spectacular! The Center’s Tour de Force: A Gala Dance Spectacular on May 21 showcased many of the world’s most brilliant dancers in both classical and contemporary repertory. The evening included the world premiere of a new work by Boris Eifman created for and danced by Nikolay Tsiskaridze (pictured left).

Dancers came from the Berlin State Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Complexions Dance Company, Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Mariinsky Theater and The National Ballet of Canada for this evening that had dance fans from throughout Southern California on their feet cheering. (Pictured right: Bernice Coppieters and Chris Roelandt.) It has been a week of wonderful dance at the Center with the Eifman Ballet performing the Southern California premiere of Onegin, Tour de Force, a master class conducted by Tsiskaridze and a cast party on Thursday night following Tour de Force hosted by South Coast Plaza in their Jewel Court.

If it is possible to point to a highlight, it was the presentation of Russia’s Golden Mask Award to Center President Terry Dwyer (pictured left). The Golden Mask is Russia’s highest artistic honor, and three were awarded for Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion during the April ceremony in Moscow. Beauty in Motion was a Center co-commission with Ardani Artists that received its world premiere in Segerstrom Hall in February, 2008. Vishneva presented it to Dwyer following Tour de Force in front of the evening’s dancers and the audience. The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg continues to perform Onegin through Sunday, May 24.

All photos by Gene Schiavone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dancers Descend on Orange County

The cast of the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia and the international stars for Tour de Force: A Gala Dance Spectacular are in Orange County and attended a welcome dinner at the Wyndham Hotel on Tuesday evening. Guests lapped up the signature Orange County weather and the dancers mixed, mingled and relaxed before their Center performances which start today (Wednesday) in Segerstrom Hall. Photos of the dancers, Center staff and donors are below with ids.

1) Bolshoi Ballet’s Nikolay Tsiskaridze with Sharon and Bruno Lebon 2) Guillaume Côté from The National Ballet of Canada and Desmond Richardson of Complexions Dance Company 3) Christina and Mary Harward with the Kirov Ballet’s Diana Vishneva, center 4) Sergei Volobuev and Maria Abashova from the Eifman Ballet 5) Eifman Ballet’s Diana Danchenko and Natalia Smirnova 6) Vladimir Malakhov, the Center’s executive vice president Judy Morr, Diana Vishneva and Sergei Danilian of Ardani Artists

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hear the Concert Organ on Pipedreams

The William J. Gillespie Concert Organ (C.B. Fisk Opus 130) is currently being featured on public radio broadcasts of the show, Pipedreams. Click on the link: to listen to selections from the October 25, 2008 performance by organist Mary Preston with Pacific Chorale, conducted by the Chorale’s artistic director, John Alexander, along with cuts from the recently released inaugural CD recording of the Gillespie Concert Organ by Frederick Swann (Gothic Recordings G-49268). The performance includes works by MacMillan, Finzi, Kodaly, Cocker, Wachner, Mendelssohn, Swann, Mulholland, Paulus and Wilhousky. On the Web site there is an extended version of the show for listeners to enjoy.

A huge thanks to Pipedreams host Michael Barone for his hard work in putting the show together!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Catch In the Heights on PBS's Great Performances

In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams, a behind-the-scenes story of the 2008 Tony Award-winning musical, will air on PBS's Great Performances on local stations KCET May 27 at 9 p.m. and KOCEHD June 4 at 8 p.m.

The documentary follows the stories of In the Heights composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda and the young and diverse cast who knew that a new musical set in a Latino neighborhood in New York City was going to be a tough sell. After eight long years, In the Heights finally made it to Broadway and succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams, winning four Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score for a Musical. The documentary features performances with the orginal cast, interviews backstage and off-stage with the artists and performers in the months leading up to opening night. Click here to see a trailer:

The touring production of In The Heights comes to the Center during the 09-10 season (August 3 -15, 2010).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Neil Patrick Harris Tapped to Host 2009 Tony Awards

The 63rd Tony Awards will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Best know for his television roles in the hit shows Doogie Howser, M.D. and How I Met Your Mother, Harris has starred on Broadway in the revivals of Cabaret and Assassins and the Tony-winning drama Proof. His other stage credits include All My Sons at the Geffen Playhouse, L.A. company of Rent, the Reprise! production of Sweeney Todd and tick, tick . . . BOOM! in London.

Harris said in a statement, "The discipline of live theater — doing the same perfect thing night after night, eight times a week — never ceases to amaze me. I'm truly honored to have been chosen as the master of ceremonies for this year's Tony Awards, and I hope to help provide a first-class evening for all.”
Be sure to catch Harris as the best of Broadway is honored. The Tony Awards will be broadcast June 7 from Radio City Music Hall. CBS will air the entire three-hour event.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Master Class with Vocalist Nicole Cabell

Metropolitan Opera soprano Nicole Cabell is appearing in the Center’s Cabaret Series May 14-17 in Samueli Theater. On Wednesday, the Center presented one of its Masters at the Center classes, during which Cabell worked with four aspiring young opera singers from Orange County: Emily Dyer, who attends Valley Christian High School; Julianne James from Cal State Fullerton; Danielle Ordunio and Jonathan Sandberg from UCI. Cabell worked with each singer for a half hour. They each sang a piece from opera or musical theater and afterwards Cabell offered her advice on vocal technique, interpretation and career hopes. Play the video above to see interviews with Nicole and the students.

A big thank you to Nicole for teaching the class and the students for participating!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grease Fan Says "Yes" to Prom

There was a special surprise in store for the audience at the May 9th evening performance of Grease – as well as for one young lady.

Before each Grease show begins, Dominic Fortuna appears on stage as a DJ for a pre-curtain call-out – when he both sings and talks to the audience. At Saturday night's performance, Dominic remarked how much he likes proms and – in fact, needed to talk to Andrew Tiamsun, a senior at Servite High School and Tiffany Feng of Fairmont High School. Both were sitting in Orchestra Row M and stood when called. Dominic said he understood that Andrew wanted to ask Tiffany to be his prom date, and would she? The young lady, who is headed to Boston in the fall for college, immediately accepted, setting off a round of applause and cheers from the audience.

Way to go Andrew! Have fun at the prom you two (they are pictured right).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kait Kerrigan Honored with Kleban Award

A big congratulations to Kait Kerrigan! Yesterday, she received the prestigious Kleban Award as America's most promising musical librettist for 2009. Kerrigan is the librettist and lyricist of the new musical The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown which recently received its developmental production at the Center April 21 - May 3.

Kerrigan teamed with composer Brian Lowdermilk to create The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, the emotion-filled story of a high school valedictorian struggling with life-changing decisions about sex, love and college. Kerrigan's plays include Transit and Imaginary Love as well as three other collaborations with Lowdermilk, The Woman Upstairs, Wrong Number and The Freshman Experiment.
The Kleban Award is the major prize devoted to American musical librettists and lyricists. The Award, given annually by the Kleban Foundation, was established in the will of Edward L. Kleban who is best known as the Tony® and Pulitzer Prize award winner for the musical A Chorus Line.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Greased Lightening Hits the Center!

Opening night of the smash-hit musical Grease transported the audience back to a simpler time of poodle skirts, drive-ins and T-birds with girl-next-door Sandy, bad boy Danny and the rest of the Rydell High crowd. The talented cast rocked classic numbers such as “Summer Nights,” “You’re the One That I Want” and “We Go Together.” After the curtain call and encore, American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, who plays Teen Angel, took the stage again to treat everyone to his newest single, “What’s Right is Right.”
Add Image
Invited guests (pictured: Cliff and Kathy Fleiming) hand-jived their way to the 50s-inspired cast party in Founders Hall following the performance. The space was transformed into a high school gym that had been decorated to look like a dance was taking place. Many of the guests dressed up as Pink Ladies and T-birds and moved to nostalgic tunes on the dance floor. Cast members also joined the fun after stopping to take off their stage make-up and wigs and changing out of their costumes.

Backstage, Taylor was busy greeting winners of the Orange County Register’s Grease photo contest which asked readers to submit photos dressed as their favorite characters from the show. Brelynne Blaire of Rancho Santa Margarita and Mike Levy of Westminster (pictured right) were the lucky winners. They won tickets to the opening night show and a chance to meet Taylor who graciously signed autographs and posed for pictures.
(Pictured below: Emily Padgett who play Sandy, Tom Bellen, Taylor Hicks and Eileen Cirillo.)
Grease plays at the Center through May 10.