Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Tonight the Doobie Brothers return to the Filene Center. Dave Seminara speaks with Doobies frontman, Tom Johnston, for a piece in the Fairfax Times.
At age 58, Cathy Rigby will amaze you as she returns to the role of Peter Pan opening at Wolf Trap Sept.1. Jane Horwitz at the Washington Post has an interesting Q&A with the former award winning gymnast on what keeps her going.
Wolf Trap Opera alumni stars received high marks for their 40th anniversary concert at The Filene Center on August 24th. The Washington Post critic Anne Midgette notes that the singers are of "a type and caliber even the Kennedy Center hasn't offered for years." Terry Ponick at the Washingtontimes.com notes that "...many of today’s opera stars arguably got their real start here (Wolf Trap Opera Company) as Wednesday’s roster of performers amply proved." Take a moment to check out some of the gorgeous photos captured by talented photographer Andrew Propp, and posted here last week.
George Jackson reviews Ballet West at Wolf Trap for Danceviewtimes.com.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Everyone knows the famous saying “You can’t go home again,” but fortunately for Virginia music enthusiasts, three musical sensations not only prove they can, but they do, time and time again.
Bruce Hornsby, and then on September 9th, Eddie from Ohio makes a glorious musical homecoming as they once again return to their Virginia and Capital Region roots and grace the stage at Wolf Trap’s famed Filene Center.
So why DO they come back? Well here’s my take. It just seems that when musicians perform in front of a home crowd, there’s a heightened sense of energy that reverberates through the crowd and the artists on stage. Maybe it’s because memories flood back to the artists as they begin to think about the great concerts they’ve had here in the past. Maybe it’s because they can gaze out on the adoring crowd swaying and singing their songs in unison on the beautiful rolling hills of Fairfax County. But maybe, just maybe, it’s as simple as the state slogan says – “Virginia is for lovers”…and music lovers are no exception.
Regardless of the reason, “home” has a special meaning to all of us. Even though this show was unfortunately cancelled due to weather, we'd still like to mention hometown girl Mary Chapin Carpenter, who honed her soulful skills in the region as she played the local bar and club scene in the Washington, DC area. She also met her long-time co-producer and collaborator, John Jennings here. Ahhhh, the beginning of a beautiful friendship as they say. Over the years she has mesmerized her fans to the tune of 13 million albums sold. And it began here.
Bruce Hornsby, hailing from Williamsburg, Virginia, embodies what some call the “Virginia sound,” combining rock, jazz, and bluegrass with an overall “southern” feel. His stellar career (which includes millions of albums sold as well as 13 Grammy nominations) has seen him collaborate with such musical talents at The Grateful Dead and Ricky Skaggs. Hornsby now sends crowds on musical adventures with “the Noisemakers,” and together they seamlessly blend together making musical triumphs wherever their tours take them.
Name notwithstanding, Eddie From Ohio actually hails from Northern Virginia and is made up of three James Madison University grads (Robbie Schaefer, Eddie Hartness & Michael Clem) and a Virginia Tech grad (Julie Murphy Wells). Arlington was their early stomping grounds as they cut their musical teeth entertaining thousands of metro DC music junkies with their skillful, contemporary sound. The Washington Area Music Association awarded the group with 4 “Wammies” and the group has packed venues literally from coast to coast over the years as people flock to hear their tight harmonies and enjoy their fun and upbeat concerts.
So as you can see, even after traveling all over the country (and the world for that matter) while entertaining and inspiring millions of fans with music that has a connection with Virginia, these entertainers can come home again. And as Bruce Hornsby so succinctly put it “That’s just the way it is.” At least at Wolf Trap anyway.
Friday, August 26, 2011
"Hello America", says Spotify, as it makes its descent on the U.S. market after proving so successful overseas.
As the first music-on-demand service to crack one million paid users in the European market - which is a very big deal considering the competition at hand (Rhapsody, Napster, Mog and Rdio) - the next logical step was to adopt a Google+ model and offer invitations for U.S. music consumers to join the party. How good is the party? It's becoming less exclusive obviously as word-of-mouth grows, but it's still flush with the best champagne, the finest caviar, and a truly unlimited amount of musical guests.
The skinny: Once Spotify sends you your requested invitation, for the first six months you are granted up to 20 hours of free music per month, with a maximum of five plays per track, per month. The company has secured access to Universal, Sony Music, EMI, and Warner's massive library of artists and songs, so you can legally listen to your choice of roughly 15 million tracks with the flick of your mouse clicking wrist.
The major caveat for the free service is you must endure mandatory 15-second ads before listening to the free songs. Small price to pay if you ask me. The interface is clean and intuitive, and gives you the option of searching by artist, album, or track. Like I said in the title of this post, it's truly magical. Just search, and the artist/song/album appears. Just click, and a song is suddenly playing within a matter of 2 seconds.
If 20 hours a month is too little, and you're truly bothered by the ads, there are two paid tiers, one at $4.99 per month and one at $9.99 per month. $4.99 gets you unlimited access (say g'bye to the 20 hour cap) and eliminates the ads. I highly endorse the $9.99 package, which gets you unlimited access, no ads, PLUS streaming on your mobile device, exclusive content and special offers. With mobile streaming, I'm able to listen to a lifetime's worth of music on road trips, plane rides and metro jaunts. No worries if you don't have a solid 3g connection, Spotify has an "offline" mode which allows you to make playlists on your computer and sync them to the Spotify application on your phone for listening in areas where 3g or 4g is unavailable. I will admit however that mobile use seriously depletes your battery, but in this day and age, most of us make a point to travel with our phone charger
Finally, I've talked to several people about the lack of certain artists on iTunes, especially international musicians; fellow blog contributor Barbara Parker just mentioned Midnight Oil as an example. I've never been a big iTunes user, so I can't comment on this personally, but since Spotify's U.S. launch it seems that new users are falling in love with the service because of unique access to the more rare and obscure artists that iTunes just doesn't carry.
If you're skeptical, try it out for yourself. I mean why not, it's free (for now) and feels much better than the other "free" alternative, which is theft! And if you start with a paid subscription, your bank account will barely feel the nominal cost per month. It's the Netflix effect...small amount of money for an extremely large return...but better.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Photo of Lawrence Brownlee taken by Andrew Propp
Today's post is from Barbara Parker.
This was our marketing tagline for last night’s Opera’s Greatest Hits performance. While this accurately quantifies the performance, what it doesn’t account for is on this particular night, the sum was far greater than its parts.
Wolf Trap has carved out a very exclusive and highly regarded niche as one the world’s best training grounds for aspiring opera singers. We see the talent emerge with each and every opera performance at The Barns and the Filene Center. What was demonstrated last night is where these singers go post-Wolf Trap and how they utilize the foundation of training that we provide. Where do they go? Everywhere. To opera houses around the world. What do they become? Superstars of the opera world. Denyce Graves, Alan Held, Lawrence Brownlee, Robert Orth. The list goes on and on and on.
Photo of Denyce Graves taken by Andrew Propp
There was not a single misstep in last night’s performance, not a wrong note. What makes this all the more amazing is that each of these singers donated their time and talents to this performance; that they came together for one rehearsal; were in Virginia for a total of 36 hours; and weathered an unexpected earthquake in the middle of it all. As often happens in live performance, there are things outside of our control. It was unfortunate that Stephanie Blythe and Carl Tanner both were unable to sing due to illness. They were missed and certainly would have further illuminated the bright and shining solar system on the Filene Center stage.
The last item on the Wolf Trap mission’s statement of values is this, At Wolf Trap, we value the power of the arts to change society. During no other summer performance have I seen this value come to life on the Filene Center stage in such a dramatic way. The interspersed commentary provided insight into the lives of these singers then and now. Each person shared how special Wolf Trap is to them. Singers and administrators who often spent only one or two summers here talked about how Wolf Trap had changed their lives. Mission accomplished.
Photo of Full All-Star Cast taken by Andrew Propp
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The title of this post comes from A Chorus Line. Aspiring dancers are baring their souls, sharing their stories, when Shelia sings why she took her first ballet class- amidst family strife, going to the ballet was her refuge. Everything was beautiful at the ballet. Graceful men lift lovely girls in white. I was happy... at the ballet.
Tonight, everything will be beautiful at the ballet when Ballet West returns to Wolf Trap for the first time in almost 20 years.
Ballet West was founded in Salt Lake City by William F. Christensen. Christensen started as a dancer and then a choreographer. He then went on to found the first ballet department at an American university at University of Utah in addition to co-founding San Francisco Ballet with his brothers, and then founding Ballet West in 1963. Christensen is a ballet pioneer who has created a company with a distinct and notable repertoire.
Over the last almost 50 years, Ballet West has seen five Artistic Directors, including their current, Adam Sklute. However one thing that has not changed over those decades is a repertoire that represents the best the ballet world has to offer. It is a repertoire that reaches into the past with classics like Christensen's Swan Lake while discovering the future of ballet through programs like Innovations, which has become a platform for up-and-coming choreographers.
This program is particularly demonstrative of this perfectly balanced repertoire. There are three works created by three choreographers representing a 62-year time span between their creation. Tonight, Wolf Trap and Ballet West present a lifetime, a 62-year-old lifetime, of ballet in one evening.
The program opens with George Balanchine's The Four Temperaments. With its world premiere in 1946, The 4 Ts is known as one of Balanchine's earliest experimental works. Balanchine is defined by the hallmarks of his craftsmanship- musicality and lines. With this work, he alternates steps on pointe with flat steps, twisted and turned torsos, fused classical lines with angles and did it all to a syncopated rhythm. This work, that has stood the test of time over six decades, is one small reason why Balanchine is synonymous with ballet.
In chronological order, rather than program order, the next piece is Jiri Kylian's 1978 Sinfonietta. Kylian embraces musicality as well but more heavily infuses the movement with emotion. Janacek's score is jubilant and Kylian matches that spirit with choreography filled with joy and exhilaration. While Balanchine brings us the simplest of costumes, black and white tights and leotards, Kylian's lush backdrop depicts sky, land and sea paying homage to nature.
The youngest work on our program is 2008's Grand Synthesis choreographed by Susan Shields. Shields's work literally meets this program in the middle. The second of the three pieces, it shares the musicality of Balanchine and Kylian, this time to the music of Graham Fitkin's Log. But rather than accentuate line like Balanchine or emotion like Kylian, Shields merges the classical ballet vocabulary with a modern-influenced language.
This is truly a program not to be missed. One evening. Three works. A lifetime of ballet. And remember, everything is beautiful at the ballet.
Monday, August 22, 2011
If you're not familiar with this impending gem, it's no big deal...we're only presenting 13 of the greatest opera singers in the world, together for one night on the Wolf Trap stage. The graphic below shows 14, but one singer had to drop out due to illness. Keep reading for Kim's post, and make sure to become a regular reader of the Wolf Trap opera blog.
Alumni of the WTOC, returning to donate their performances to benefit the Company
Different years of the Company’s history represented by these singers
Members of the 2011 summer Filene Young Artist roster returning to sing with the alumni
Major opera companies worldwide represented in the collective biography of these singers
Arias & Ensembles on the program
Wolf Trap roles performed by these artists while they were young artists here
Composers represented on the program
Number of stage rehearsals we get to put this together!
Players in the orchestra. (Including 4 Wagner tubas for the Rheingold:))
Companies around the world with which these singers will perform in the 2011-2012 season
Number of years until such an amazing night of opera will invade the Filene Center again…
Friday, August 19, 2011
The key moment in this video is the 3:30 mark where John Stamos makes Mike Love blush in spectacular fashion. If you have only 30 seconds to devote to watching this piece, then I suggest focusing your attention from 3:30 on.
2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the inception of the Beach Boys, so their performance on Sunday is poised for greatness. No confirmation from John Stamos yet, but you never know, he could arrive at the very last minute.
Enjoy this fun Friday video and we'll see you on Sunday at 3pm.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
"And they called it puppy love. Oh, I guess they'll never know how a young heart really feels and why I love her so..." -"Puppy Love," Paul Anka
Paul Anka recorded his first single at the age of 14 and had his first number one hit record at the age of 16. A one-time teen idol, he went on to record 124 albums and write over 900 songs. He made his Wolf Trap debut in 1978 and returns tonight for his 5th appearance at the Filene Center.
Anka released "Puppy Love," written for his then girlfriend Annette Funicello, in 1960 and it reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Donny Osmond later remade the song in 1972 when it reached #3 on the charts.
While Anka's hit song was recounting a teenage love affair, we'd like to share a particular kind of Wolf Trap puppy love.
Meet Cooper. Cooper is a 1-year-old Viszla who enjoys chasing birds. He is a member of the family of Chris Eckert, our Senior Director, Operations.
This is Chester. Chester is a 5-year-old, 120-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback who stays in shape by walking 2 to 4 miles each day. He enjoys other dogs, is great with kids, and loves to swim (as you can see). Chester owns Peter Zimmerman.
Riley was adopted as a puppy by Jackie Rucker, our Director, Human Resources, in 2007. Now 4 years old, she is a beagle/boxer/terrier mix. She enjoys sniffing, dog parks, sticks, belly rubs, and naps.
This is Barbara Parker's pug celebrating his 9th birthday last April. He enjoys pillows and sleeping late and knows how to eat off of a fork.
Boo is the only child of Lee Anne Myslewski, Administrative Director of Wolf Trap Opera and Classical Programming. He is a black lab and he loves everything, absolutely everything.
This is Ruby. Ruby belongs to the family of Sara Guerre, our Assistant Director, Ticket Services. She is a Border Collie/Aussie mix and is 7 years old.
Kona, 11-years-old, keeps Greg Reyzer, our Assistant Director, Operations, company. She loves running, lying in bed, and counter surfing when she’s home alone. She is not terribly fond of going to the vet or having her nails clipped.
On the left, we have Lupe, a.k.a Lupita, a.k.a Rico Suave. Lupe is not your average dog. He enjoys Mexican food, fashion, and gossip. On the right, is Bella. She enjoys naps, cuddling while watching Mad Men, and Hall and Oates. Lupe and Bella belong to Allison Starks, Assistant in the Executive Office.
At 13, Koby is the oldest and wisest of our staff dogs. He is a magnet for adventure, having been bitten once by a copperhead and still remaining pathologically friendly. MaryLynn Haase, Assistant in the Office of the President, says of him "He is truly my puppy love."
Planning & Initiatives Intern Clint Riley is the proud Dad of Papi and Jasmine. Papi is an eight-year old Chihuahua/Italian greyhound mix who loves peppermint in all forms (candy, tea, ice cream, plants…). At 6 lbs, he thinks he’s the mightiest dog on the planet. Jasmine is a ten-year old Chihuahua. She prefers to stay nestled in her blanket on the sofa or burrowed into her heated bed. Eating ice cream and snuggling up for naps with her people are her favorite things.
Otis Redding belongs to Box Office Supervisor Lindsay McLaughlin. He is a lab/golden retriever mix and will be two years old in November. His hobbies include long walks, chewing on raw hides, playing fetch, swimming and sittin' of the dock of the bay.
Po and Pergles are Yorkshire terriers and are litter mates brought home by Fran Frazier, Executive Assistant. They are both now ten but are much younger in this picture. They both like wagging their tails and chasing each other in circles. They both dislike going to the vet.
This is Tobey, a 9-year old-Dachshund. He likes laying under pillows and blankets, having his belly rubbed, and breaking the squeaker in his squeaky toys. He does not like thunder or sitting nicely for pictures. His owner is Stefanie Hranek, Wolf Trap's Accounting Manager.
And the award for the best dressed goes to... Gracie, a 10-year-old lab/shepherd mix. Gracie's owner is Tim McCormick, Technical Director at The Barns. Gracie loves long hikes, wading in the Potomac and running with Tim.
So, there's the Wolf Trap version. We hope we'll see you out at Paul Anka tonight for a whole different kind of "Puppy Love."
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Have you ever played this game? 2 Truths and a Lie.
1. The Artists requested no bottled water backstage. The Guster and Jack's Mannequin tour is always one of the greenest to come through Wolf Trap. This is no surprise as Guster member Adam Gardner founded Reverb, a non-profit that educates musicians and concert goers about environmental sustainability. Reverb visited Wolf Trap's own Green Spot and even surprised a few fans with backstage passes.
2. Guster's Ryan donned a mirror ball helmet, equipped with a wireless mic, and became a human disco ball during "This Is How It Feels To Have A Broken Heart." He recounted a story of how his mother suggested that he not ruin that particular song since it was a "good" one. During load-out our Director of Operations may have worn the disco ball suit to entertain the stagehands.
3. Over the course of the night there were a dozen musicians on stage, over 80 backstage aftershow guests, 3,722 fans, and set lists that included over 30 fan favorites and an amazing, unexpected cover of Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" with dead-on whistling. Set lists below.
What was the lie? There were 3,723 fans here.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Before I segue into this week's "News and Notes", all of the contributors to this blog would like to express our condolences and sympathies to those adversely affected by the tragic stage collapse at the Indiana State fair.
The energy for tonight's Guster/Jack's Mannequin show with special guest Lady Danville is extremely palpable, thanks to strong word of mouth buzz, but also largely due to On Tap Magazine's feature piece on Guster's revolutionary "Go Green" tactics, and the band's subsequent alliance with Wolf Trap. Wolf Trap's "Green Spot" on the plaza will be bumping with activity tonight, with a special appearance from Brian Allenby, general manager of Reverb.
Chicago arrives at Wolf Trap tomorrow night, and will play to an eager Filene Center crowd of 2.5x more people than the band's average draw so far in 2011. The Fairfax County Times previewed the gig featuring an interview with founding member Robert Lamm.
And Terry Ponick stepped outside his role as Washington Times communities editor to review opening night of Guys & Dolls at the Filene Center last Thursday for DC Theater Scene. Terry can be tough to please, but this one was marked down as "highly recommended." Terry was a man about Wolf Trap last week, as he also reviewed the Wolf Trap Opera Company's final production of the 2011 season in The Tales of Hoffman for the Washington Times.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I am a picnic voyeur. As I walk through the Wolf Trap lawn before any given concert, my eyes dart furiously back and forth – spying for the perfect picnic. This odd trait has been genetically passed down, mostly due to the fact that food, and al fresco dining in particular, is a sacred trust in my family.
Every summer at the Bellosguardo picnic in Washington PA, the descendants of a tiny mountain town in southern Italy gather to catch up on the latest gossip, laugh, cry and most importantly…eat. My paternal grandparents, Generoso and Maria Grazia Valitutti, were among the throngs of immigrants in the early 20th century that began a picnic tradition which carries on to this day. It was at this yearly event that we learned as children to run from table to table and report back on the vast cornucopia of flavors and smells. If you were really lucky, you would get a taste from the Croce table…Gino owned a restaurant in Pittsburgh!
Fast forward many years to my summer home – the lawn of Wolf Trap. So much about WT is the same as that yearly Italian feast …there’s a sense of community and friendship among those sharing a meal in the shadow of the Filene Center. And each picnic is as unique as the concertgoer who carries a basket and drops a blanket on the lawn. So what does this Italian-American have in her picnic that makes it so special? Besides the sausage and peppers, the focaccia, the fresh mozzarella di bufala and tortellini with pesto…I have homemade tomato sauce. That’s right…the real stuff… made from hundreds of pounds of fresh, red, ripe summer tomatoes!
And because the production of my sauce is one of the only activities important enough to keep me off my beloved Wolf Trap lawn, I include here a condensed version of the family recipe. Or it would be the family recipe if I could comprehend what my Zia told me to do…she could only speak Italian!
Disclaimer: I make 75-100 pounds of tomatoes with each batch. I’ve cut back the proportions to make it more user friendly.
Start with 10-12 pounds of good tasting, ripe tomatoes, Wash and score the tomatoes with an X, taking care to only cut through the skin and not the meat of the tomato. Boil water in a medium saucepan, and drop 3 to 4 tomatoes into the water for approximately 10 seconds. When the skin begins to curl, use a slotted spoon and remove from the water. Peel, cut in half, and squeeze and discard the seeds.
You may either process the tomatoes at this point for smooth sauce, or leave them chunky for a more rustic texture. In my kitchen, I use an industrial Italian tomato squeezer (spremipomidoro) that will process up to 100 pounds within 60 minutes. Some cooking stores sell food mills made specifically to process tomatoes for sauce or juice. The more watery tomato puree that comes from these machines must be reduced until thickened.
In another large pot, heat 4-6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. (It should cover the bottom.)
• 1 large yellow onion, diced fine (about 1 cup)
• ½ cup celery, chopped
• ½ red pepper, chopped the same size as the celery
Salt and pepper this vegetable mixture as it browns – you may also use ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes for a bolder taste.
When this mixture has turned golden brown, add 5 cloves of chopped garlic and stir for 60 seconds. Now comes the fun part…Add 1 -2 cups of red wine to this slurry and continue to cook until most of the liquid is reduced. It should be very thick!
Add the reserved tomato puree and cook on medium until it begins to bubble. Turn the heat to low, and begin the serious cooking process. It’s time to babysit the sauce. Every 20 minutes, stir thoroughly to keep it from burning on the bottom. Begin tasting for seasoning…I use kosher salt, pepper, approximately 1 tsp of dried oregano and basil and ½ cup of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley as a starting point. Each batch has its own taste characteristics that is original to the tomatoes, so all seasoning mentioned here is approximated to allow for individual flavor preferences.
Look for me…I’ll see you there, in my favorite spot!
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Today's post is from Jacqui Johnstone, Wolf Trap's Public Relations Intern.
At a 2007 meeting with the National Press Club, Wolf Trap’s president and CEO Terre Jones announced the start of a green initiative that has since grown into a fully-fledged environmental program here at Wolf Trap. However, he also lamented the lack of environmental concern in popular culture and the arts, asking “Where is today’s ‘Woody Guthrie’ of the environment?”
Well, Mr. Jones, I believe we have found an answer to your question in the form of Guster, performing at the Filene Center with Jack’s Mannequin and Lady Danville on August 15.
Since forming in college 20 years ago, Boston-based Guster has released a multitude of critically acclaimed albums, including the upbeat pop/rock album Easy Wonderful in 2010. And since 2004, the band has dedicated equally as much time toward its environmental efforts. That year, frontman Adam Gardner and his wife (environmentalist Lauren Sullivan) founded the nonprofit organization Reverb in an effort to educate music fans about environmental sustainability and work with musicians to reduce the overall environmental impact of their tours.
Reverb has worked with more than 100 major tours since its creation, providing “comprehensive, custom greening programs for music tours while grassroots outreach and education with fans around the globe,” according to its website. In an article from On Tap Magazine this month, Gardner explained that, “Primarily, our goal is to lessen the impacts the touring world has on the environment.”
And Guster’s environmental work doesn’t stop there. The band also created the Green Music Group, a coalition of musicians, industry leaders, and music fans committed to environmental action. In fact, Wolf Trap is one of the founding venues of the Green Music Group! The most recent Green Music Group Challenge rewarded environmentally friendly fans with prizes such as tickets, music gear, and even a Honda Insight Hybrid car.
This summer, Reverb is partnering with Guster and Jack’s Mannequin to ensure the tour is as eco-friendly as possible. Look for an opportunity for a local environmental nonprofit to win a $2500 grant, a chance to win a winter sports package or an autographed guitar, and other great promotions! Learn all about it here.
Believe it or not, there’s still MORE that Guster has done to go green. I could probably go on for days describing all of the environmental efforts of this praiseworthy (not to mention amazingly musically talented) band. But in an effort to stay succinct, I’ll wrap it up with a brief list of other ways Guster has contributed to keeping the earth healthy—and some tips on how you can help.
Guster’s (other) efforts:
- Frontman Adam Gardner currently sits on Wolf Trap’s National Advisory Council on the Arts and Environment
- Using sustainable B20 biodiesel in the band’s tour bus and truck
- Eating local and organic food backstage
- Drinking from reusable water bottles (plus giving out free Nalgenes and encouraging fans to fill up at Brita water stations at some concerts!)
- Selling eco-friendly merchandise
- Calculating and neutralizing the carbon footprint from tour buses, trucks, and venue energy use
- Using rechargeable batteries on stage
What you can do as a Wolf Trap patron:
- Carpool to Wolf Trap for the Guster/Jack’s Mannequin concert with Zimride, an easy way to save money while reducing your carbon footprint
- Take the metro to Wolf Trap! Take the Orange Line to West Falls Church and then take the Wolf Trap Express Bus to the Filene Center
- Recycle using our blue and white plastic bags (look for them when you pick up your program)
- Check out the Green Spot on the Filene Center plaza, where you can learn about steps the Wolf Trap Foundation and National Park Service are undertaking to improve the environment—plus, take a picture with Wolfie
- Keep coming to Wolf Trap and supporting our own sustainability
Photo of Guster at Wolf Trap can be credited to Andi Kling. Photo of Adam Gardner can be credited to Green Music Group.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
What would you do if you won the lottery? Buy a new car? Go to Disney World? Maybe you'd give some of it to a cause you really care about. The arts and arts education is a cause I'd like to think I'd give some of my winnings. Without the lottery, I still do give to the arts through my work here at Wolf Trap and by purchasing tickets to shows. Did you know a good portion of the profits from tickets at Wolf Trap are put back into arts education programs?
Many artists, including many who perform at Wolf Trap, regularly support arts education efforts and programs.
(Pictured left, Steve presents Matt Rubic with a special Martin guitar at Wolf Trap to thank him for helping to raise funds for Kids Rock Free.)
Numerous artists--such as previous and current Wolf Trap performers John Legend, Gavin DeGraw, Goo Goo Dolls front man Johnny Rzeznik, and Colbie Caillat support or have supported VH1's Save the Music Foundation which aims to "restore instrumental music education programs in schools." Long time Wolf Trap performer and board member Tony Bennett founded Exploring the Arts with his wife in 1999 to strengthen the role of arts in public high school education. I'm sure there are many more I could add to this post, and please comment with others I have left off.
In two weeks, we will have some artists near and dear to Wolf Trap's heart performing at The Filene Center as their way of giving back to the arts and arts education programs here. The August 24th "Opera's Greatest Hits" performance will feature some amazing world renowned opera singers, all of whom are alumni of the Wolf Trap Opera Company, and are donating their time and talent for this special show. If you don't yet have your tickets - I urge you to get them. It's a one-night only performance with talent that simply does not come together on the same stage often if ever, singing the most beloved opera songs of all time.
I hope this post gets you thinking about how you can give back to a cause that is near and dear to your heart, even without winning the lottery.
We're always interested to hear your thoughts in the comment section.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
A few weeks ago, we had an intern "show-and-tell." It was much like the show-and-tell sessions from when we were in kindergarten, except no one would’ve allowed me near a giant TV back then. I showed three videos that day: one about this year’s Annual Swamp Romp, one about the Theatre-in-the-Woods program, and the Wolf Trap Patrons: June At-A-Glance video. Afterwards, one of my fellow interns said one of the best things a video producer can hear. He said that before coming to work at Wolf Trap he had heard much about the “Wolf Trap experience,” but he didn’t actually know what it meant. He felt that after seeing those videos, he felt he understood it perfectly. If someone knows and understands something about Wolf Trap a little more after viewing my work than before, then I’ve done my job.
While I’ve shot a lot of concert video this summer, the videos about Swamp Romp, Theatre-in-the-Woods and the Wolf Trap Patrons: (“Beyond the Lawn Rush”) are my favorites. I am a visual storyteller and those videos were produced as stories. All three featured great interactions with patrons, performers and other Wolf Trap visitors. Some were quirky, some were more straightforward, but each was an important part of the story and represented a piece of history here at Wolf Trap.
I come from a journalism background and I approached most of my projects at Wolf Trap as I would if I were still at a news organization. While the videos here are a bit more promotional than they would for a news outlet, I still want them to be authentic. I believe dishonesty undermines the story. All the people I interviewed were real patrons… no actors, no scripts, just candid conversations.
I start off by spending five to ten minutes reading the crowd, getting a feel for the more outgoing and engaging people. While we welcome thousands of new patrons to Wolf Trap each season, you’ll notice that the people in the videos are largely repeat patrons. These people tend to have more history and more stories to share about their time here. When I asked people what kept bringing them out, I noticed there were some common ties: the ability to bring food and drink, the sound quality, the connection with nature and the camaraderie. Those responses make up the main sections of the patron video. I interviewed quite a few people over the summer and they said very similar things. One of my main goals with the videos was to feature those who had the most engaging responses. I hope the videos stayed true to the spirit of the patrons and the park itself. It was wonderful to see that the “Wolf Trap experience” had such a universal impact.
While my videos are available on Wolf Trap’s YouTube channel, see below for a look at my three favorites.
Full disclosure: I am a huge INXS fan and this is a totally biased recap. I stole their album Kick from my cool uncle. I vividly remember illicitly watching the cue cards of the "Mediate" video when MTV used to play music videos. I watched Rock Star: INXS religiously. And, yes, I wanted J.D. Fortune to win.
I know many die-hard fans can't subscribe to the theory of having anyone stand in for lead singer Michael Hutchence (R.I.P.) and many won't partake in the practice of seeing the band live with a new front man. I am not going to argue that anyone can replace Michael. Michael simply can't be replaced. But INXS pays homage to him every time they step onstage.
Here's the thing- INXS has really good songs. The defining quality of a good song is this- it has eternal life. A good song lives beyond the voice of the songwriter or the original lead singer and past the breaking up of a band. And INXS's hits- they are all really good songs.
The show opened last night with Terri Nunn leading Berlin in a high intensity 45-minute set. See set list below. Terri is a rock goddess- she draws energy from the crowd, even venturing, barefoot, to deliver "Take My Breath Away" from the back of the house.
INXS took the stage with "Drum Opera" leading straight into "Suicide Blonde." For the next 90 minutes, INXS poured their heart and soul into their Wolf Trap debut. There was a new arrangement of "New Sensation" with one of the female backup singers taking the lead. There was an LED backdrop with the words to "Mediate" flashing in the style of that previously mentioned MTV video. There was an old arrangement of "New Sensation," which the crowd definitely preferred.
So slide over here
And give me a moment
Your moves are so raw
I've got to let you know
I've got to let you know
You're one of my kind
Don't ask me
What you know is true
Don't have to tell you
I love your precious heart
I, I was standing
You were there
Two worlds collided
And they could never tear us apart
This was an INXS show.
INXS is now entering their fourth decade of making good songs. And there is clearly nothing that is going to slow them down.
Monday, August 8, 2011
The next dream was equally as bizarre... Michael Phelps and Martha Stewart were in a "bar" in Amsterdam. Michael had gained a lot of weight since the Olympics and Martha was trying to convince him to get back into shape. Then, in true random dream fashion, the setting changed to a bikini wax parlor across town where Napoleon and Martha Stewart were fighting over who would get a bikini wax, as there was only one appointment remaining. Napoleon won the battle (big surprise). Now, here is where it gets really absurd... Lady Gaga appeared and said she was in the market for the "leftover hair" for a new dress that she wanted to make for her next awards show. From what I recall, she got what she wanted and then things were kind of blurry from then on.
For some strange reason, all of these characters broke out in song and belted operatic arias throughout various points of the dream. It was almost like they were trained opera singers, in addition to being celebrities. Wait a minute....
That wasn't a dream at all...
That actually happened! And it was trained opera singers portraying these characters.
It happened at Wolf Trap during Club 66's Instant Opera event on Saturday evening. Yes, as random and unconscionable as the aforementioned might appear to be, it was equally as spontaneous and hilarious! For just over an hour, five extremely talented artists from the Wolf Trap Opera Company kept the laughs coming. They brilliantly wove these disparate characters, settings and events - taken as suggestions from the crowd - into a story that somehow made sense in the end.
Unscripted, unrehearsed...unrivaled. Words don't do the talent justice. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren't, then we hope to see you next time. Sweet dreams.
This post is from Matt Martz, Wolf Trap's Communication & Marketing Assistant. And thanks to Teddy Wolff for the photographs!
While I'm the first to admit I have a more eclectic range of musical tastes than most (my "recently played" list on iTunes includes Jay-Z, Frank Sinatra, Miranda Lambert, and Florence + The Machine), I'm a firm believer that no matter what genre(s) of music you love or dislike, if the music is good enough, it rises above that, and I think many can agree that Alison Krauss & Union Station proved they belong in that category on Sunday night. Her 26 GRAMMY Awards don't exactly hurt that argument either.
The evening began with California rockers Dawes, playing the Filene Center for the second time this summer. (In June, they were guests with M. Ward for the Bright Eyes concert.) They performed a few tracks off their most recent album, Nothing is Wrong, as well as their biggest hit, “When My Time Comes,” before surrendering the stage to the woman of the evening—Alison Krauss.
Krauss & Union Station are currently on tour in support of their new album, Paper Airplane, which came out this past April to rave reviews. Throughout the set, the group seemed less like a band and more like a group of friends, all of whom happen to be incredible musicians at the top of their game.
The group kept the majority of their set list geared towards tracks from the new album, which mainly features Krauss on lead vocals. During “Dust Bowl Children,” guitarist/singer Dan Tyminski who sings lead vocals on the track, broke a string during his guitar solo, yet managed to switch over to his other guitar without a single flaw or pause. In addition to songs from the new album, Krauss played several other popular tracks, such as “When You Say Nothing At All,” “Baby Now That I’ve Found You,” and a few covers, such as Jimmie Rodgers’s “Any Old Time” and the single “Man of Constant Sorrow” from the 2000 film Oh Brother, Where Art Though?.Tyminski provided Clooney’s singing voice for both the movie and the soundtrack.
The evening also featured Jerry Douglas, a renowned singer/musician known for his unparalleled dobro skills (a resonator guitar that, as Krauss aptly put it, is nice because it’s the shiniest instrument in bluegrass—not to mention its unique, banjo-esque sound).
Throughout the show, Krauss sang and played her fiddle (which is where her music career began). While many albums feature different cuts of recorded parts of a song, it was refreshing—and impressive—to see Krauss hit all the right notes while also playing the fiddling parts of each track rather than leaving the musicianship to an alternate player.
In the end, Dawes, Krauss, and Union Station were a nice blend of folk, bluegrass, and rock that did not disappoint the very sold-out house. Krauss mentioned during the set that Wolf Trap was one of her favorite places to play, and it was clear the crowd was on the same page. It was a night of great (albeit a little muggy) weather, great music… making for an overall great experience.