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Category: Previews, Reviews & Venues

Meet Two Irvine Jazz Trailblazers

When I invited two gifted Irvine jazz musicians — Celine You and her husband Forest Muther — to join me on my patio for lunch and an interview, I got lucky. The weather was ideal, my table overlooking Shady Canyon was set, and they showed up.

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The Opera at UCI

The opera The Impresario, composed by W. A. Mozart, was recently performed by the students of vocal arts at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

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The West Coast Premiere of “Rebecca Oaxaca Lays Down a Bunt” Returns Like an Ark from the Pandemic Flood

We have all been thirsting for images and dialog distinct from what’s flushing from our current insentient media portal. UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, like an ark, disembarks with something living: The west coast premiere of Rebecca Oaxaca Lays Down a Bunt (Rebecca). And it’s funny.

I had the good fortune of recently meeting Eli Simon, the director and helmsman of this ark. Eli has been teaching drama at UCI for the past 34 years.

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Barclay President & Self-Described “Theatre Rat” Jerry Mandel Leads the Barclay Through the Pandemic

In 1990, the non-profit, 750-seat Barclay Theatre opened as a collaborative venture — owned by both the City of Irvine and the University of California, Irvine.

The COVID-19 pandemic turned out the lights in theatres all around the world. Some, forever. Yet, the pandemic was not a show-stopper for the Barclay.

That’s because for the past six years, the Barclay’s president has been Jerry Mandel, a self-described “Theatre Rat.”

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Meet Antoinette LaFarge: Co-Founder of UCI’s Electronic Art & Design Program

A long, l-o-n-g time ago — prior to masks and physical distancing — back in 2019, I attended an original play called Reading Frankenstein. It was staged in UCI’s Experimental Media and Performance Lab (xMPL).

UCI Arts Professor Antoinette LaFarge had worked with others on the adaptation of Mary Shelly’s classic Frankenstein.

Recently, we were able to chat face-to-face over coffee.

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Finding the Beat: UCI’s Jazz Studies

UCI’s Clair Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA) presented their second virtual “Jazz Small Groups Concert.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with faculty and students to get their perspectives on this past year.

Chancellor’s Professor of Jazz & Piano, Kei Akagi, said: “Although the students can’t bond with the audience right now, they’ve learned to find their own way to communicate with other players and the faculty.”  After attending their first concert, I think he’s correct.  It satisfied my craving for a breath of musical fresh air.

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UCI’s New Slate Online: A Completely New Dimension in Dance Concerts

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the production crew for UCI’s New Slate Online dance concert mixed live and pre-recorded material, added music, and then uploaded it on Vimeo for the performance that those of us in the audience watched.  Which scenes were pre-recorded, and which were live?  There was no way to tell.

Taking the unusual “seat in the audience,” in front of my PC at home, I was surprisingly delighted by this very unique spectacle!

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UCI is Opening a Window for Those of Us in Need of a Breath of Artistic Fresh Air

At UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA), modern dance is alive and well, with a twist this year!

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, UCI’s New Slate Online dance concert series was streamed via YouTube on December 10th. This free event featured both live and virtual dances. The performance was followed with live artist-audience conversations about these new ways of dance making. Albeit, a YouTube window, it’s still a breath of artistic fresh air.

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IVC Music Professor Daniel Luzko: Composing an Unpublished Symphony

We don’t have to look far for ideas about how to be more productive while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Daniel Luzko, Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Irvine Community College (IVC), this period at home has presented an unexpected opportunity.

After completing a year on sabbatical leave, Daniel is now putting the finishing touches on his first symphony.

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Dropped Notes, Missed Cues, Lost Steps

Theatre curtains are down.  Dance studios, practice rooms, and classrooms are locked tight.  Faculty members are available only in “virtual” classrooms.  

As someone who appreciates the amazing local talent and wide range of performing arts productions at Irvine colleges and universities, I have been wondering how this new stay-at-home regimen is impacting the academic performing arts community.

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Justus Schlichting: Commissioner of New Music

Two of this year’s Grammy nominations had a local connection.  Nominated songs “Fanm d’Ayiti,” by Nathalie Joachim and “Perpetulum” by composer and pianist, Philip Glass were both commissioned privately by Laguna Beach music benefactors Elizabeth and Justus (Jay) Schlichting.

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