Tag Archives: grammy awards

GRAMMY Foundation honors Arizona school

When tickets went on sale recently for two year-end “Showcase” performances by Arizona School for the Arts, I was first in line to get mine — for both May 31 and June 1 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona School for the Arts is a Phoenix charter school for grades 5-12 that prides itself on coupling rigorous academics with conservatory level performing arts training in music, theater and dance.

My daughter Lizabeth is in the senior class, and will be performing both evenings with fellow students in the theater department. When last I heard, the ASA Glee/Show Choir (with select Jazz Band members) was scheduled to open the May 31 performance with a song from the Broadway musical “American Idiot.”

She’s especially thrilled having seen “American Idiot” with her dad just a few months ago at the St. James Theater in NYC.

Other ASA groups performing Tuesday evening include Advanced Guitar, Ballet Corps Intensive, Chamber Singers, High School Piano Team, Intermediate Dance, Jazz Band Combos, Wind Ensemble and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

Turns out that the ASA music department will be enjoying a rather special honor that evening — as a representative from the GRAMMY Foundation presents ASA one of its 2011 GRAMMY Signature Schools Enterprise Awards.

Laura Apperson, ASA arts director and professional musician, notes that ASA is the first and only school in Arizona ever to receive the prestigious award. The application process, says Apperson, included submitting extensive written materials and recordings of music performance by ASA students.

Resonation Multimedia helped ASA prepare the CD submitted to the GRAMMY Foundation — which included performances by the following groups: Chamber Singers, Orchestra, Sinfonia, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Guitar Ensemble and Piano Quartet.

The GRAMMY Foundation reports that each of the 27 schools receiving the Enterprise Award this year will receive a $5,500 grant. Apperson is thrilled that the funds will help ASA invest in mixers, mics and other recording equipment for use in classroom and performance settings.

Several ASA music groups are performing during Wednesday’s “Showcase” at the Orpheum Theatre — including 5th and 6th Grade Choirs, Men’s Choirs, Percussion Ensemble, the Showcase Orchestra and more. Additional June 1 performance groups include Ballet Foundations I & II, Intro to Dance, Theatre and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

I have to admit that when I first learned of ASA’s GRAMMY Foundation award, I thought for a second that they’d received a GRAMMY Award for vocal performance.

Last time I heard one of ASA’s advanced choral ensembles perform, under the direction of Craig Westendorf, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m convinced that it was one of the best choral performances I’ve ever experienced — anywhere. But alas, they won’t let me give those Grammy puppies out on the spot.

I hope you’ll join me for ASA Showcase 2011 on May 31 and/or June 1. I’ll be the one in the lobby humming the little ditty by Green Day.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about the work of this “Excelling” (from the Arizona Department of Education) and “Blue Ribbon” (from the U.S. Department of Education) school.

Coming up: SMoCA young@art gallery welcomes new exhibit, What’s new in Shakespeare?, Art meets the Arizona State Capitol, Charmed (literally) by Childsplay

Photos courtesy of Arizona School for the Arts


Bridge to somewhere

Golden Gate Bridge by Margie Smeller

I’ve had enough with talk of so-called “bridges to nowhere.” If you want to build a bridge to somewhere, build it with music.

Tom Chapin, a three-time Grammy Award winner, will be doing just that as he performs a “Building Bridges Family Concert” in Arizona next month.

It’s refreshing news for the many Arizonans who prefer building bridges over building walls.

If the name Chapin sounds familiar, perhaps you’re thinking of brother Harry Chapin or Steve Chapin — just a couple of the artists grown from the same family tree.

Bridge to Terabithia by Margie Smeller

Tom’s “Building Bridges” concert features original songs “in a fun array of musical styles” — teaching life lessons about “inclusiveness, making healthy choices, tolerance, respect and the environment.”

Turns out the Higley Center for the Performing Arts, located in the East Valley, presents all sorts of family-friendly fare — like “The Music Man” being performed through Feb 26 in partnership with Copperstar Repertory Co. and Higley Community Education.

They also welcome plenty of touring productions you may not have the opportunity to see at other Valley venues. Just last November, I enjoyed “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” presented by the Kennedy Center for Young Audiences on Tour” at the Higley venue.

Bridge to a New Life by Margie Smeller

The 2011 Educational Tour of the Utah Shakespeare Festival will present “Macbeth” at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts Mon, March 7, at 9:45am.

You might think of Higley as a sleepy little town on the outskirts of metropolitan Phoenix, but those who appreciate rare and unique art opportunities for building bridges between children and culture know better.

— Lynn

Rainbow Bridge by Margie Smeller

Note: The ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts presents “A Bridge to the Stars” March 3-11. The play (which is appropriate for all ages) follows a character named Joel (age 11) as he searches for “family, community and meaning” in a mythical Scandinavian village.

Coming up: New seasons for venues presenting touring Broadway productions

Artwork by Margie Smeller, a self-described “outsider artist” in Maryland, who works at home, at “Art Enables” and at “Scott Key Center.” Visit her website for information on commissioning work and works currently for sale.

Bark if you love art

ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” runs a “Person of the Week” piece each Friday evening. Their most recent honoree was Esperanza Spalding, a young jazz musician who captured the “Artist of the Year” award during the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Their story shared a bit about Spalding’s background — noting that her decision to make music came at the tender age of five after she saw and heard cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform on the PBS television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

It reminded me at first of watching Yo-Yo Ma receive our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, earlier in the week. He looked like a kid who arrived at school one day only to discover it had been transformed into a giant candy factory.

Check out PBS' "Martha Speaks" this week for new episodes with an arts focus

But then I remembered an e-mail that recently came my way — about a PBS television show titled “Martha Speaks.”

It features a talking dog named Martha who’ll be introducing young viewers (and their cats) to a wonderful thing called arts and culture this week (Feb 21-25).

The show is based on the works of New Jersey author and illustrator Susan Meddaugh, for whom “Martha” was once a family pet (of the non-verbal variety).

Apparently Martha has something to say about all sorts of art-related topics — from theater and classical music to Greek myths and opera. I’m all for it, since the show also promotes language development and other skills children will need one day as they journey through a world where myths abound.

The show’s stated “educational goal” is teaching new words to children ages 4 to 7. This is a great relief to those of us who’ve tired of hearing children utter unsavory words gleaned from older sibs or even prime time television offerings.

"Martha Speaks" couples words with art on PBS this week

There are, of course, other means for expanding one’s vocabulary.

Just this evening I learned from a television talk show host that “paralepsis” refers to a rhetorical strategy of raising a point by appearing to pass over it.

Can’t wait to hear Martha use that one in a sentence.

I’m utterly convinced that children learn language best by interacting with others who use language. The “Talking Elmo” doll is a fine start, but word play is really the purview of parents.

I’m glad there’s public television, offering tools for parents and teachers who do society’s most imporant work — assuring literacy for future generations.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the many fun and fascinating characters of “Martha Speaks.”

Coming up: Abe Lincoln meets modern dance

Get out, get art!

Perhaps this painting will inspire you to enjoy some art fun under the Arizona sun

Families eager to enjoy outdoor adventures this weekend can add a little art to the mix by attending “The Gathering” in Lichtfield Park. It’s a Native American art festival taking place at Scout Park — with free admission for children 12 and under.

Never fear if you missed the event on Saturday. It also runs Sunday, Jan 9, from 10am to 5pm. “The Gathering” features artists who specialize in painting, sculpture, beadwork, carving, basketry, pottery, photography and more.

Main stage performers include hoop dancer Tony Duncan and guitarist Anthony Wakefield — in addition to Grammy Award nominee and Native American Music Award winner Aaron Winter. Click here for details and a discount coupon for adult tickets.

Those of you who missed Saturday’s “MACFEST,” presented by the Mesa Arts and Cultural Festival, will have plenty of other opportunities to experience this free celebration featuring live music, works of local artists and more.

“MACFEST” takes place each Saturday this year through April 30, from 10am to 4pm, in downtown Mesa on Main and Macdonald Streets. This puts you within walking distance of two of Mesa’s kid-friendly museums — the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Arizona Museum for Youth.

Remember too that you can always find indoor fun at the Mesa Arts Center, which is home to several performing arts companies who offer a diverse assortment of music, dance and theater (including the Southwest Shakespeare Company).

To enjoy an outdoor all-arts weekend, couple a Saturday “MACFEST” with a “Sunday A’Fair” in Old Town Scottsdale. “Sunday A’Fair” takes place Sun, Jan 9, from noon to 4pm at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall — as well as nine other Sundays through April 3.

Each “Sunday A’Fair” features a free outdoor concert and the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of arts and crafts made by local artists — as well as hands-on art activities for children and families. You can purchase food there, or bring your own picnic basket (with blanket/lawn chair) along.

Admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which I often enjoyed with my three young children (now young adults), is free during “Sunday A’Fair” — and you can also enjoy the eclectic gift shop at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. 

Treat your children to the artwork of fellow youth by taking them to explore the “Bridges: Connecting Earth to Sky” exhibit at the “young @ art Gallery” located inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through Mon, Jan 17.

The Scottsdale Civic Center Library is also located at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, and is open Sundays from 1-5pm. The library is a lovely bit of architecture to behold, and features a giant fountain pen and ink well sculpture just outside the entrance. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to the quills used long before texting messages by cell phone took hold.

The “Sunday A’Fair” on Jan 16 is part of Scottsdale’s 2011 celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which they’ve dubbed “Peace & Community Day.” Featured entertainers will include Walt Richardson & The Peaceful Warriors, who promise a “classy mix of folk, rock and reggae,” and Nancy Gee, performing “sultry ballads and classic standards” from the world of jazz.

Stay tuned for word of other MLK Day celebrations, and drop me a line if your community offers outdoor art adventures that you’d like to share with our readers.

— Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive listing of family-friendly events throughout the Valley, visit the daily calendar of Raising Arizona Kids magazine online. Always check event details — including dates/times, locations, admission fees and such — before attending.

Coming up: Conversations with a 5th grade arts advocate

Stories & songs with Bill Harley

Maybe you didn’t make it to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix for the recent celebration of John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

Bill Harley brings family-friendly story and song to the MIM in Phoenix on Sunday (Photo: Tom Thurston)

No worries. Sunday will be another fabulous day at the MIM as Grammy Award winner Bill Harley brings his family-friendly fare to the MIM Music Theater.

I spoke recently with the prolific singer/songwriter, storyteller, author and playwright — and his team was kind enough to send me review copies of his latest CD (“The Best Candy in the Whole World”) and soon-to-be-published paperback (“Between Home and School.”)

Harley is the father of two grown sons and currently lives with his wife Debbie near Providence, Rhode Island. He grew up in Indianapolis and Connecticut.

Two of Harley’s “Best Candy” stories are originals — while others are adapted from the British Isles, Africa and Appalachia. While you’re at the MIM for Harley’s concert, take some time to experience musical instruments from these (and other) regions.

"Best Candy" from Bill Harley is a decadent dessert for those with a sweet tooth for storytelling

I asked Harley whether storytelling seems a dying art. “It can’t really die,” shared Harley, “because it’s what people do.” Storytelling, says Harley, is what makes people human.

While talking about the family-friendly nature of his show, Harley noted that “songs and stories always go hand in hand culturally.” But what exactly is a story?

Story is “saying what happens before and imagining what happens after,” reflects Harley. “History is the winner telling the story.”

“My job,” says Harley, “is to watch, listen and pay attention” — adding that artists help others take a second look, to notice things they might otherwise miss.

So what are we missing as parents today? Many would say it’s family together time. Or ways to connect and communicate with our kids. Which is why a shared experience of story and song might be just the ticket this weekend.

Bill Harley's "Between Home and School" is an ode to the fine art of communicating

“I’ve done my job,” says Harley, “if I give kids and parents a common language.” Harley loves seeing parents and children in the audience elbowing each other during his show with a “Yup, that’s us” grin.

We focus too often, observes Harley, on what we think kids need to learn in order to grow up. It’s no less important, he says, to honor children’s emotional lives.

Harley describes his work as more descriptive than prescriptive — hoping concertgoers will leave considering not simply what they know, but what they feel.


Note: Harley performs this Sunday at 2:30pm at the MIM Music Theater. Visit www.themim.org or call 480-478-6000 to learn more about this concert and others in the MIM 2010-2011 Concert & Film Season.

Coming up: Reflections on NPR, “Glee” and GQ magazine

It’s a small (musical) world

It’s easy to drive my husband bonkers. Just hum a few bars of “It’s a Small World” from the Disneyland ride that once featured teacups. But the song came to mind today as I was exploring the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

MIM Iraq Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I’d been invited to attend an early morning kick-off event for the musuem’s education/school tour program — which culminated with MIMers greeting children piling out of their big yellow school bus for the museum’s first school tour.

I arrived early and chatted with various MIMers before taking a seat at what ended up being a table full of delightful MIM volunteers — a new grandma, a mother of two grown children, a woman who shared some of her best tips from a parenting group she’d attended many years ago and a charming man with a small Canon camera.

MIM Roma Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

Turns out the gentleman was John Friedman, father of Daniel Friedman — who writes the daily “DYK?” gems you find on the RAK homepage and takes truly amazing photographs. I got the inside scoop on how Daniel came to love taking pictures — something about his parents giving him a camera as he set out on a bike ride through Europe as a teen.

I mentioned that my children attended the same elementary school as Daniel and Lisa’s children — and their grandpa was happy to catch me up on their latest adventures. Seems his grandson, who was playing music at a young age, is still going strong with his instrument. His grandaughter will soon return from spending several years in China, where I’m told she has taken some photos that may well be even better than her dad’s. I don’t think Daniel will mind.

MIM Orchestra Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I shared my growing conviction that students need more time for world travels (with camera and journal in hand), and Friedman noted that travel within the U.S. can be just as valuable. I realize this is unlikely for most given economic and other factors, but am so grateful the MIM is here so we can all explore the world’s music, culture, history and religion without leaving the Valley.

I started a mental list of all the Valley resources I wish had been around when my children were wee ones –the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Musical Instrument Museum among them. I never met a museum I didn’t like, and am delighted about the many Arizona museums that offer fun and educational experiences for our children and teens.

MIM Chile Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I’ll share more details about MIM education/school tour offerings in another post. For today let me simply share that I shadowed one of the two small groups who toured the museum today — and that the children (who looked like middle schoolers) were wildly excited to be there and had hands-on experiences I feel certain will stay with them for a lifetime.

The docent who led the tour I shadowed did a marvelous job of engaging and interacting with students — making art and culture, history and religion come alive. He was a smart and unassuming man who didn’t let on during the tour that he’s actually a longtime collector of instruments.

Portion of MIM China Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I learned from Sarah Weber, education manager at the MIM, that he’s a doctor who routinely travels the globe with the World Health Organization. This cements something I have long suspected. If you want to find fascinating folks, hit the MIM. You can’t walk more than ten feet inside this temple to our common humanity without finding a story.

As it happens, my plans for the afternoon included talking by phone with storyteller Bill Harley, who will perform “songs and stories for everybody” at the MIM Music Theater on Sunday, Oct 24, at 2:30pm. Harley is a “playful Grammy award-winning musician, storyteller, author and playwright” who “appeals to parents and children alike.”

MIM Greece/Cypress Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

The fact that he’s warm, funny and brilliant can’t hurt. Watch for a future post with Harley’s thoughts on storytelling in the modern world. Also watch for a post about the music program at Shadow Mountain High School. The school had a lovely string quartet playing at the Wednesday morning event. There’s a story there too.

I’m becoming a bit of a MIM-rat at this point, but it’s all good. When I’m at the MIM, whether for business or pleasure, I feel that the world is at once intimate and expansive. And I’m thrilled that Target’s generous gift to the MIM will allow more Valley children to discover that despite our many differences, the planet we all call home is truly a small world after all.


Note: Having never met a museum gift shop I didn’t like, I dropped by the MIM gift shop on my way out. My most recent fun finds include a washboard tie (fun, easy, unique Halloween costume), silver charms (all sorts of music and instrument themes — for men and women of all ages) and hip wallets made of eco-friendly material (I bought the one with the sheet music motif).

Coming up: Arts experiences for homeschoolers and unschoolers, Valley theaters offering holiday fare, The fine art of Winnie the Pooh

Laugh your brass off!

Something tells me I’ll be laughing my brass off this weekend when The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre present a joint production of “The Music Man” at Phoenix Symphony Hall.

Original poster for "The Music Man" on Broadway

“The Music Man,” featuring book, music and lyric by Meredith Wilson, is a charming musical fit for the whole family that follows the shenanigans of a traveling saleman who sells musical instruments and claims he can train students to play them using only the “think system.” (Does this work for homework or housework?)

I’ve seen countless productions of “The Music Man” — but this will be my first time hearing a symphony perform songs like “(Ya Got) Trouble,” “Seventy-six Trombones” and “Shipoopi” as part of a “semi-staged co-production.”

“The Music Man” opened on Broadway in 1957, winning five Tony Awards including “Best Musical.” The original cast recording won the 1958 Grammy Award for “Best Original Cast Album.” Its original Broadway run lasted for 1,375 performances.

"The Music Man" is a popular school production

It’s a classic piece of musical theater, an art form that originated right here in the United States of America, and this weekend presents a rare opportunity for families to enjoy a live performance presented by some of the Valley’s most gifted actors and musicians.

I’ve been enjoying musical theater and symphonic music with my children for well over a decade now — and my favorite productions have always been those that inspire us to explore our own identities and the world around us long after the curtain has drawn to a close.

Families who see “The Music Man” this weekend will have plenty to talk and wonder about together. How have brass instruments evolved through the years? Are there perils to having too much idle time? How are the roles of librarians changing in society? Should a friend ever refuse to keep another friend’s confidences? How do modern day con men lure and manipulate others?

“The Music Man” is based on a story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey that features the fictional “River City” inspired by Wilson’s hometown of Mason City, Iowa. Today tourists still visit “The Music Man Square” to see both Wilson’s boyhood home and the museum that honors his best-known work.

"The Music Man" has both original and revival cast recordings

Wilson was born in Mason City in 1902, and grew up in a family that often sang together as mom Rosalie, a music teacher, played the piano. He moved to New York to study music at age 17, eventually playing with the John Philip Sousa band (think marches and patriotic tunes) and the New York Philharmonic.

He began conducting and composing in his late 20s, taking more than five years to write “The Music Man.” How lovely that it continues to be performed and appreciated today. And better still that it’s the perfect excuse to simply laugh your brass off.

If hearing The Phoenix Symphony perform “Seventy-six Trombones” leaves you longing for more brass, you’ll have plenty of options. Who knew there’s actually an online trombone journal or an international trombone association?

Resources closer to home include our local community colleges and state universities — which often present musical performances that are free and open to the public. You can hit Paradise Valley Community College on Sept 17 to enjoy a faculty jazz quintet concert.

Playbill from a revival of "The Music Man'

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix features instruments from seven geographical regions — including modern and historical brass instruments. I’m a bit partial to the Germany exhibit because so many of the instruments have names that give me a good giggle.

If brass is your baby, mark at least the following two MIM Music Theater concerts on your calendar. First, the free Sept 29 (10:30am) performance by hornist John Ericson and pianist Yi-Wan Liao — with works performed on a variety of period horns. Second, the Oct 30 concert by “The Chestnut Brass Company” — a quintet that performs on modern and historical brass instruments.

Next year you can enjoy “The Music Man” presented by a partnership of Copperstar Repertory Company, Higley Community Education and the Higley Center for the Performing Arts. It’ll run Feb 18-26 (take your sweetheart to hear “‘Till There Was You”). Presenters praise the musical for affirming “the value and joy of music while communicating the importance of honesty and responsibility.”

But for now, just roll with the “laugh your brass off” riff.


Note: “The Music Man” is the first performance of The Phoenix Symphony’s 2010-2011 Family Series — which also features “Enchanted Fairytales” including the children’s opera “Brundibar” and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” as well as “Orchestra from Planet X” with the Magic Circle Mime Company. Thanks to support from Target Corporation, “patrons receive one free child subscription with each adult series subscription purchased.”

Coming up: All that brass, Theater fun with animals, Spotlight on storytelling, Poetry perspectives, Literacy & the arts (click here to read a great post written to honor today’s celebration of International Literacy Day)

Trivia time: Can you name at least one other musical nominated for “Best Musical” at the 1958 Tony Awards? Can you name at least one of the actors who performed the role of young Winthrop Paroo in either a stage or movie version of “The Music Man?” Comment below if you know — or get the answers in a future post…