Tag Archives: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

One composer’s journey

Though composer Judd Greenstein recently traveled from Brooklyn to Scottsdale to premiere a new work written for violist Nadia Sirota, his journey into new and expanding musical spaces began long ago. Greenstein recalls writing hip hop and rap works while just 12 or 13 years old, and taking piano lessons too — realizing one day that he could combine the two.

Greenstein was 16 when his piano teacher asked whether he wanted to be a composer. The teen’s “yes” was met with the admonition to work a whole lot harder. Soon Greenstein was taking to the library, reading scores and such. But there’s something more, shared by several of his friends who compose — seeing the 1984 film “Amadeus.”

Suspecting that composing requires a certain sort of brain power, I asked Greenstein when we spoke on Friday about what it takes to do what he does. “I have an intuitive sense of form, where I can make a musical idea and can see how it relates to other things.” A lot of it, he says, is throwing things out. “You can’t get too attached to it.”

Composer Judd Greenstein

Greenstein’s “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves” premieres Saturday night at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. He describes it as “a very emotional work” reflecting “my process of trying to understand what music is to me.” Still, music isn’t the only thing on Greenstein’s mind.

“I really believe that our culture is in a pretty troubled place right now,” says Greenstein. “We’ve lost our sense of what’s important as humans.” He’s convinced we all need a closer relationship to art and art making. “Art isn’t anything but a way of communicating myself as a person,” shares Greenstein.

Even artists have fallen away from the essence of art, notes Greenstein. “Artists have allowed themselves to be a weird, sequestered community.” But art and humanity aren’t nearly as separated as they seem nowadays. And there’s much parents can do to promote art making in their children’s lives.

“Make art a part of other activities that are already enjoyable,” suggests Greenstein. Art becomes an unpleasant place when separated from everyday interests or delivered as mere “teachable moments.” Weekly piano lessons alone rarely fuel a real passion for art.

Greenstein recalls spending time at Tanglewood from a young age, sitting on a blanket with his family and looking up at the stars together. More than isolated episodes of music practice, it was art in the larger context of life that powered Greenstein’s journey from child to composer.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves” concert and ticket information. Click here to learn about “Tanglewood for Kids.”

Coming up: Shakespeare meets musical theater, Fun finds for Father’s Day

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12


From aliens to arm wrestling

Got a thing for UFOs? Hit tonight’s free Summer Opening Celebration — and sign up for a UFO-theme family day on June 21 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

It sometimes feels like aliens from outer space have already landed in Arizona, and no one would be happier than my hubby if it actually happened. He’s a longtime fan of science fiction who’ll be pleased to learn that the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has UFOs on the brain these days.

Seems we human types once sent a “Golden Record” into space, eager to put our best foot forward in the event our probes made their way to alien lands. But that was the 70s, and this is now. So a Brooklyn-based composer named Judd Greenstein is working with artists who call themselves “New Catalogue” to imagine how humans might represent themselves now.

Folks curious about the project can hit tonight’s “Summer Opening Celebration” at SMoCA — which’ll feature previews of a new work composed by Greenstein that’s being performed tomorrow night at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight’s affair, which runs from 7-10pm, is free and open to the public. You can hit the Lounge at SMoCA to enjoy a no host bar and Dulce Dance Company.

Meet composer Judd Greenstein tonight at SMoCA and enjoy the premiere of a new Greenstein work tomorrow at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Those who attend tonight’s shindig can mingle with artists, curators, dancers and composers — plus check out four new exhibitions. I’m hoping to pop over after we’ve celebrated Lizabeth’s birthday, but will most certainly be in the house tomorrow night as Greenstein premieres “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves,” written for violinist Nadia Sirota. Sirota, a string quartet and members of the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale will all be taking to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts stage.

Families fascinated by UFOs can hit SMoCA on June 21 for their annual “Family Fun Night,” which promises all sorts of UFO-related fare like creating hands-on art projects that involve sending messages to aliens in outer space. Also “a planetarium for stargazing,” a child-friendly docent-led tour of related exhibitions and plenty of good clean fun. Think blowing big bubbles, sampling refreshing treats and enjoying playtime in the Civic Center Mall fountain (BYO bathing suit).

There’s also a free event taking place June 12 that’s dubbed “Summer Stargazing and Music in Outerspace.” That baby features a curator-led tour of “This is a Present from a Small Distant World” plus an ASU ethnomusicologist discussing musical selections performed by Erin Hales. There’s even stargazing at ASU to follow.

I discovered oodles of good stuff browsing through the summer events and exhibition calendars for SMoCA — from film screenings and author events to art workshops and teen gatherings. I’m especially intrigued by “Arm Wrestling for Art” (July 13) and an online experience called “Out of the Cubical.” Watch for another post featuring pearls shared by Greenstein once I’ve rocked the birthday party vibe here at home.

— Lynn

Note: Pre-register for the SMoCA “Family Fun Night” on June 21 by calling 480-874-4642 (The evening is $20 for a family of four and $4 per extra person). I’m assuming any actual aliens from outer space choosing to land in Scottsdale that evening will get in free.

Coming up: Composer Judd Greenstein talks art, music and life

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12

Feelin’ jazzy

The Musical Instrument Museum recently opened this exhibit of jazz instruments

Folks who favor feelin’ jazzy can head over to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix to enjoy a new exhibit featuring all things jazz. Located in the museum’s United States/Canada gallery, the exhibit features “some of jazz history’s most noteworthy instruments.” I’m told its one of the largest genre exhibits in the museum.

The new jazz exhibit includes approximately 20 instruments, many played by jazz greats. Also original, unreleased performance footage of Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Mann, Spyro Gyra, and others from Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the MIM was able to collaborate with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to display several loaned objects that’ll be on view through 2014.

Loaned objects featured in the new MIM exhibit include a cornet associated with Louis Armstrong, a clarinet played by Benny Goodman, a trumpet played by Harry James, a clarinet played by Artie Shaw and a trombone played by J. J. Johnson. Also a trumpet mouthpiece and mute used by Miles Davis, a guitar played by Charlie Christian, a drum set played by Lewis Nash and a guitar played by Pat Metheny.

Mesa Arts Center is premiering a new project by Metheny called the Pat Metheny Unity Band, noting that it’ll “feature some of the most sought after young musicians on the pop and jazz scene today.” Think Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben Williams — who’ll perform at MAC with Metheny on Sat, Sept. 29.

Early Jazz exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

A spin through the MIM makes for fun Father’s Day fare, so consider treating dad to an afternoon of jazz if that’s his vibe. While you’re there, buy him a lovely brunch at the MIM Café — and treat him to something jazz-inspired from the MIM Museum Store. Remember too that the MIM’s Music Theater presents concerts featuring jazz and other musical stylings.

While you’re exploring all things jazz, check out jazz offerings at other Valley venues — including those noted below:

  • Tempe Center for the Arts is home to the Lakeshore Jazz Series. Upcoming concerts include Lorraine Feather and Shelly Berg (Sept. 28), Turtle Island Quartet and Tierney Sutton (Oct. 27), and Denise Donatelli (Nov. 16).
  • Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts features several jazz concerts during its 2012-13 season — including Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio (Nov. 23), Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Jan. 18), the John Pizzarelli Quartet (Feb. 14), and McCoy Tyner and his quartet with special guest Joe Lovano (May 4).

Saxophone played by Illinois Jacquet, creator of Texas tenor style

Finally, another option for enjoying all things jazz on Father’s Day — the fourth annual “Father’s Day Big Band Dance” presented by Jazz in AZ. The event takes place Sun, June 17 from 3-7pm at The Scottsdale Plaze Resort — and features Dennis Rowland and the Extreme Decibel Big Band. Event proceeds benefit The Nash, a new Jazz in AZ nonprofit education and performance center located in downtown Phoenix.

Check with Jazz in AZ for additional jazz offerings throughout the state. Their website features links to folks specializing in jazz education, jazz for youth and more. And watch for jazz concerts at your local performing arts venues, schools and colleges. You don’t have to play jazz to dig it.

— Lynn

Coming up: Prescott welcomes bluegrass festival, Art meets antiques

Mischief with metal

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When I learned that mischievous metal artists were in town, I knew I had to take a peek. I’m sure members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, in town for their annual conference, are plenty tame in everday mode, but some of them are bringing a delightfully odd twist to metal in a pair of exhibitions running through Sunday at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

After previewing the 30 or so works in each juried exhibition (selected from a total of about 700 submissions), I got to thinking how much the folks attending Phoenix Comicon this weekend would enjoy these works. One artist imagined Darth Vadar as a little girl, and another created a jousting helmet for a newborn. Both are part of “Humor in Metal.” The other exhibition is titled “Hot Under the Collar: Survey of Contemporary Necklaces.”

While enjoying the exhibitions with my son Christopher, I ran into another mom who was there with her 7-year-old daughter, Arianna. Seems we’d each hit the center looking for something interesting to do that’d keep us out of the midday heat. I asked Arianna to show me her favorite piece, and she was quick to choose one featuring LEGO bricks.

I recalled Christopher’s many years of building elaborate LEGO towns on a large table in his bedroom when he was younger as Arianna told me about her favorite LEGO sets. Soon her mom, Arianna, was telling me about LEGO builds they’ve attended at Chandler Fashion Center together — and I was sharing tales of a long-ago babysitter who once taught at the school Arianna attends in Scottsdale.

As we got to talking about art, Arianna told me about her favorite programs for making art on the computer and Starrla spoke of her daughter’s love for drawing — mentioning that Arianna was once invited by a muralist to help paint a skull on the Barrio Cafe building after driving by one day and seeing the artist at work. I stopped to photograph that very mural today on my way to retrieve the cell phone misplaced during this year’s Arizona Press Club awards ceremony at the Duce.

It gets harder to meet fellow parents once kids leave the stroller stage, so I was delighted to meet a fellow art afficionado at the center that day. We parted ways as Christopher and I set out to explore Father’s Day gift options at The Store at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, but ran into each other again afterwards.

Arianna and her mom had just come from the young@art gallery, which is operated by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art but located inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — and Arianna was clearly excited about all she’d seen there, telling us we should be sure to check it out.

We did, of course, and found plenty of fun works. A pair of white buckets filled with body parts made of plaster. A box filled with little toy soldiers. A mannequin donning a skirt made of colorful comic strips. And much more — all created by students from various high schools who’ve participated in the museum’s “Visions” program for teens. There’s another exhibition of youth work in a hallway just off the center’s foyer.

Take it all in if you hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to enjoy this weekend’s exhibitions by the Society of North American Goldsmiths. Both “Humor in Metal” and “Hot Under the Collar” take place Sat, May 26 from 10am to 5pm — plus Sun, May 27, from noon to 5pm. Some of the works featured are being offered for sale, and The Store will gladly give you all the fine print.

I spied a lovely “Chicken Choker” that’d be all the rage at Phoenix Comicon. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if someone beats you to that baby. For those with exotic tastes, finding just the right accessories can be brutal. And there’s nothing quite like artists who take pride in making mischief with their metal.

— Lynn

Coming up: Veterans who write, Musings on “First Position”

Spilling secrets

The real playwrights of Arizona will be spilling secrets this weekend as they present the 6th annual Pandora Festival, dubbed “Secrets Revealed.” It’s a three-day event featuring diverse works about everything from teen misfits to gripes with the corporate world. Even lack of privacy in the digital world and memories of a failed marriage.

ASU alumna Jennifer Giralo’s first play is part of this weekend’s “Pandora Festival” in Scottsdale

It’s “idealism versus realism” as Patty Hackmann directs Jennifer Giralo’s “Married to Marriage.” Seems characters Andy and Kim try to work through differing world views “in a late night bet they will never forget.” Something tells me they’re not wagering over who’s better at separating whites from brights.

Micki Shelton’s “Holly,” directed by Kate Hawkes, imagines a woman lost in Utah struggling to balance GPS, a Native American Park Ranger and a man on a horse. It’s all good, I suppose, assuming she doesn’t add texting while trailblazing.

Shelton notes that while she’s written plays starting with characters (“Circles”), theme (“Discovery: The Lost Gospel of Judas” — still a work in progress), and basic plot (“Fred and Mary”), she hadn’t “written a play beginning with setting” until a trip to Hovenweep National Monument about 18 months ago inspired her to write the work that became “Holly.”

Folks who enjoy “Holly” can experience more of Shelton’s work this July as “Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance” makes its world premiere at the historic Elks Opera House in Prescott. While others watch “Holly” come Saturday night, Shelton will be attending her daughter’s graduation in California. Some babies are penned, others born.

The Pandora Festival of New Works 2012 looks like this:

  • Ten short plays. Fri, May 18 at 7pm.
  • “Duty & Duplicity,” a full-length play by Michelle Lambeau (directed by Barbara Aker). Sat, May 19 at 2pm.
  • Four one-act plays. Sat, May 19 at 7pm.
  • “Father’s Ashes,” a full-length play by Esther Blumfield (directed by Kandyce Hughes). Sun, May 20 at 2pm.

All works are being performed at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s one of many gems you’ll discover by exploring a section of their website dubbed “Events Presented by Visiting Groups” (others include “Swan Lake…The Big Splash” presented by Dance Theater West).

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is located right next to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which has plenty of its own intriguing offerings — including this weekend’s first-event SMOCA “Teens Night Out” Sat, May 19, from 7-11pm in front of the museum.

“Teens Night Out” is free for teens with school I.D. or drivers license, and features everything from break dancing to painting performance. Think four bands, outdoor community chalk mural, hands-on art activities, free raffles, DJ and more. Reminds me of a recent dance party enjoyed at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC.

Let the kids party while you Pandora. Click here to learn more about the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which presents the Pandora Festival plus other opportunities for playwrights and lovers of the new. Then tell a friend, because some secrets are fine to share.

— Lynn

Coming up: Ten ways to celebrate International Museum Day, Arts meets women’s rights, From Brooklyn to Scottsdale

The Boxer

My kids, now in college, know it’s best not to turn the radio dial when I’m listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” because it was one of my mother’s favorite songs. I’ve still got the album she used to spin between vinyls by John Denver and members of the Rat Pack.

But I’ve got another sort of boxer on the brain today — the sort who takes delight in building houses, cars, puppet theaters and such out of giant cardboard boxes. My kids were magnificent “boxers” during preschool, when teachers would snag discarded appliance boxes and turn the students loose with poster paint and cheap brushes.

To this day, I sigh a little each time my husband takes a cardboard box out to the recycling bin — feeling sad there’s no one around to transform it, and guilty about not shepherding it over to the preschool. I still slow to admire jumbo TV boxes discarded by neighbors, like other people linger over coveted gardens or sports cars.

Now I’m told that boxes have finally made the big time. A group called Polyglot Theatre is coming to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a little something called “We Built This City.” No relation to Jefferson Starship, but I still like their vibe. Polyglot will present four interactive performances that involve kids 12 and under in building a city out of cardboard boxes. No need to BYOB. I’m told they’ve already got thousands, which means I’ll have to overcome some serious box envy.

A pair of Polyglot Theatre fans helping to build a city (Photo: Wendy Kimpton)

There’s a 10:30am and 2:30pm performance on both Sat, May 12 and Sun, May 13 — meaning “We Built This City” is perfectly timed for those of you who like to spend Mother’s Day making memories rather than racking up more flowered coffee mugs. Admission is free and no tickets are needed to attend.

When our children were younger, we’d enjoy family picnics on the lush lawns surrounding the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — bringing our own blanket along in case we weren’t lucky enough to snag one of their picnic tables. The venue notes that refreshments from Shine Coffee and picnic foods will be available.

Jump for joy — it’s Polyglot Theatre time in Scottsdale! (Photo: Wendy Kimpton)

The event itself goes something like this. Thousands of boxes get used to make buildings, tunnels, archways, towers, labyrinths and such. You know, everything but a car elevator. Things go up, then get pulled down. Things get designed, redesigned and reconstructed. I imagine it’s like watching a teenager getting dressed for a date.

Performers facilitate the build while rocking the construction worker vibe — or portraying other fun characters. There’s even a DJ spinning tunes. At the end of the day, “everyone joins in trampling down the city into a gloriously chaotic heap of cardboard rubble.” Warn your kids ahead of time if you think they’ll struggle with seeing their work undone, and bring a camera along to document the occasion.

I’m told that “We Built This City” has been performed in four languages in 10 countries. Previous venues include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London and the Opera House in Sydney. I told you boxes made the big time.

“We Built This City” is free and there’s no need to BYOBox (Photo: Wendy Kimpton)

Polyglot Theatre’s “We Built This City” is part of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Art’s 2011-12 “Discovery Series” exploring the arts of Australia and New Zealand, made possible in part by a grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

Their 2012-13 “Discover Series” exploring the arts of India opens with musician Ravi Shankar on Oct. 21, and also features performance by the Chitresh Das Dance Company. It concludes with a free outdoor community concert called “OrigiNations: A Festival of Native Cultures” on April 7, 2013.

Their 2012-13 season also includes the “The Daily Show Live: Indecision Tour 2012” (Oct  20), performance by Garth Fagan Dance (Nov. 16; Fagan’s choreography has earned Tony and Olivier Awards), an “ARTrageous” benefit gala with Bernadette Peters (Dec. 1) and “The Complete World of Sports” by The Reduced Shakespeare Company (March 15).

“ARTrageous” holds special meaning because my very first “Stage Mom” blog was inspired by an “ARTrageous” event featuring Kristin Chenoweth. I’m also over the moon about the return of Mandy Patinkin (Feb. 2), whose “Kidults” CD got lots of play at our house after Lizabeth and I saw him perform there when she was just in grade school.

Still, when our new season brochure for Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts came in the mail the other day, it was word of a performance by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia that I rushed to tell my hubby about first. They’re presenting “A Brown Bear, a Moon and a Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle,” featuring music, puppetry and more (Feb. 24). Having three kids in college hasn’t dampened my zeal for such things. I hope nothing ever will.

— Lynn

Note: Learn more about Polyglot Theatre’s “We Built This City” and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts offerings at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Coming up: Culture pearls for Mother’s Day, What a scream!

From bullying to British theatre

When our youngest daughter Lizabeth attended Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, she participated each year in something called “Day of Silence” — described by organizer GLSEN as “a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.”

This year’s “Day of Silence” was held on April 20, but folks who missed it can support the cause in other ways — including attending a screening of the new film “Bullied to Silence” taking place May 12 at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Bullied to Silence” is an 84-minute documentary that “gives a voice to bullied youth from all walks of life.” It was written and directed by local filmmakers and features several Arizona participants. I’m told it “tells the stories of children and teens whose ethnicities, physical challenges, and sexual orientations set them apart, and how they’ve coped with bullying by peers and adults alike.”

Susan Broude, the film’s writer/producer, describes bullying as “an epidemic in America” and hopes the film will help put an end to the verbal abuse at the heart of so much bullying today. GLSEN Phoenix co-founder Madelaine Adelman says the film complements their “mission to create safe, respectful and healthy K-12 schools for all.”

This 2012 feature documentay premieres May 1 in Sedona, then heads to the Phoenix Art Museum

“Bullied by Silence” will be screened at both 11am and 2pm on May 12. Nicole Stanton, wife of Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton, will introduce the first screening, and both screenings will be followed by a Q & A presentation featuring filmmakers Tami Pivnick and Susan Broude, plus several cast members.

The screenings are sponsored by GLSEN Phoenix in cooperation with the Scottsdale International Film Festival. Representatives of GLSEN Phoenix will attend the screening to provide “resource information to support safe schools for all students.” Earlier screenings in Sedona take place May 1-4, thanks to a partnership with the Sedona International Film Festival, and also include special guest speakers.

While you’re at the Phoenix Art Museum, grab a schedule of the museum’s film offerings. The museum often presents films it’s hard to find in other venues — such as “Anchors Away” (a ’40s musical starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson), “Gidget” (a ’50s teen flick starring the Sandra Dee most kids know only from “Grease” lyrics) and “Rothko’s Room” (part of their “Ab/Ex Film Series”).

The Phoenix Art Museum hosts a “Local Film Community Panel” May 30, and presents “This American Life” with host Ira Glass June 1 and 3. The latter will be captured live on May 10 and broadcast from the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, where Lizabeth enjoyed a performance of “110 Stories” last September.

The museum also broadcasts National Theatre Live productions. Upcoming encore presentations include “One Man, Two Guvners” (June 10) and “Frankenstein” (June 13 & 14). The cast of “Frankenstein” includes Benedict Cumberbatch, who appeared in the movie “War Horse” and stars in “Sherlock” on PBS’s “Masterpiece” (season 2 begins May 6).

— Lynn

Note: In addition to regular posts, I’ll be sharing posts on art and mental illness during May, which is Mental Health Month. If you offer art programs (dance, music, theater, visual art, writing) serving Arizona youth or adults living with mental illness, I’d love to hear from you at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: I never met a box I didn’t like

Update: Ira Glass comes to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Jan. 19, 2013 as part of the 2012-13 season. Watch their website for details. And click here to see just-announced 2012 Tony Award nominees (which Lizabeth shared with me via text message at 5:47am this morning–clever girl). 5/1/12