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SOLUNA FESTIVAL 2019

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Soluna Blog

Updated coverage of the Dallas Symphony's fifth Soluna: International Music & Arts Festival.



published Thursday, April 18, 2019

Photo: John Fago
Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument will be part of The Language of Nature performance on April 24

 

Editor's Note: TheaterJones has an ongoing blog about the events in the fifth annual SOLUNA: International Music and Arts Festival, which runs through April 27 at various venues in central Dallas. Many of these reviews will be written by Richard Oliver, with posts by myself (Mark Lowry) and other TheaterJones contributors. We'll also link to full-length reviews of certain Soluna events that were published elsewhere on the site. This blog will be updated frequently, so keep checking back.

You can see a full schedule of Soluna events here.

We also have a special section devoted to Soluna coverage. Click on the SOLUNA FESTIVAL 2019 text in the black banner at the top of this page and you'll see the special coverage.

 

The 2019 Soluna Festival Blog:

(most recent posts listed first)

 

 

 REVIEW 

Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields

Moody Performance Hall (April 15)

Published April 18, 2019

 

Photo: Robert Hart/TheaterJones
Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields as performed at the Soluna Festival at Moody Performance Hall

 

“You didn’t dare quit, because it was something to have a job at eight cents an hour.”

Used in Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anthracite Fields, that line, among many others, was excerpted and adapted from a film interview with a former breaker boy. The term breaker boy refers to a coal-mining worker, usually a young boy, whose job was to separate impurities from the coal by hand. It was thought to be among the greatest threats to life and limb for workers on the site.

Wolfe’s piece, which had its Texas premiere Monday night at the Moody Performance Hall as a part of the SOLUNA International Music and Arts Festival, brings the chilling reality of this facet of American history into stark attainability. Originally commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, it is an exploration into the dark and dusty substance that fueled the country’s rise to become a world power in the early 20th century, and the associated loss of human life that shades the margins of the bigger picture.

Monday’s performance brought together Verdigris, the Dallas-based vocal ensemble, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a six-piece instrumental ensemble based out of New York. Bang on a Can performs the piece regularly with Wolfe on tours. The 24 voices and six instrumentalists, conducted with sweeping waves of pathos by Verdigris’ Artistic Director Sam Brukhman, met with brilliant cohesion, augmented by poignant video and imagery coordinated by projection designer Jeff Sugg.

Wolfe’s oratorio, comprised of five movements, effectively blends elements of rock, folk, and classical music. She favors sparse textures, with haunting chants in the vocals that move freely from thin, dark droning lines to rich, full harmonies. She uses the tense relationship between the voices and the avant-garde instrumentation—electric and acoustic guitars, cello, bass, piano, synth, drums and percussion, bicycle wheels and tin cans—to create a soundscape that sits perfectly on the line between aurally intoxicating and upsetting.

It works flawlessly throughout, but particularly in the first movement, “Foundation,” where a list of names—mine workers who had been killed or injured according to the Pennsylvania Mining Accidents Index 1869-1916—is chanted by the choir. This tonal tension between choir and instruments also drives the final movement of the work, “Appliances,” with a hidden sense of guilt. In this movement, the choir recites all of the ways coal and coal-powered electricity manifests itself in our daily lives, from “bake a cake” to “vacuum the rug.” It eventually explodes into discordant chaos, before ending with a dark, introspective hymn, punctuated by a faint whistle from the choir.

Five years ago, the subject of coal-mining may not have been on anyone else’s radar. When Wolfe composed Anthracite Fields in 2014, she couldn’t have known that just a few short years later, the same subject matter would be at the center of one of the country’s most contentious presidential elections. Donald Trump’s promises to resurrect the coal-mining industry has incited fervent debate throughout the country, with some camps rooted in economic tradition and others pushing for more environmentally and ethically progressive alternatives. Now, in 2019, her work is fittingly positioned in the middle of that debate, with the potential to fundamentally affect the way we think about the future of energy and industry.

In a New York Times article about the piece, Wolfe said of the president’s actions, “It feels to me like a kind of romanticization of coal miners—and that doesn’t feel good.”

Given the extensive amount of research and first-hand exploration that went into the development of her work, I am inclined to believe she has something useful to offer with that statement—a new way of approaching the issue. Perhaps, here in Dallas, we may take our cue from Monday’s stunningly beautiful performance.

— Richard Oliver

 

 

 REVIEW 

Mariachi and Mayan Night

Moody Performance Hall (April 14)

Published April 18, 2019

 

Photo: Mariachi Rosas Divinas
Mariachi Rosas Divinas

 

As a part of the SOLUNA lineup, Mariachi and Mayan Night at Moody Performance Hall presented a colorful collection of works by Mexican composers and enriching performances of traditional mariachi music. It was an ample collaboration between the New Philharmonic Orchestra of Irving and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklórico, featuring Booker T. Washington High School’s Mariachi Pegaso and Mariachi Las Rosas Divinas.

As a genre, the distinctive instrumentation and style of mariachi brings a romantic edge to the depiction of Mexican culture. Wide-open chords vigorously strummed in guitar and vihuela, set against smooth stings and bright trumpets, deliver a lively and engaging depiction of the Mexican countryside.

As a pre-concert treat, Mariachi Las Rosas Divinas set an energetic mood in Moody’s atrium. The brilliance of their playing and powerful vocals was matched by their vibrant charro outfits, all met warmly by an audience that was diverse and enthusiastic.

Later in the show, Mariachi Pegaso also gave a thrilling performance. The high school troupe demonstrated a marked command of the genre with an energy brought the audience to its feet for a standing ovation.

The more classical performances, sadly, lacked that vim and vigor. The NPOI opened the show with Blas Galindo’s Sones de Mariachi, composed in 1940. The work itself is replete with references to the mariachi genre, as the name suggests, but in execution, the group falls recurrently out of sync and out of tune. Under Dr. Sergio Espinosa’s baton, the tempo is just a hair rushed and infrequent.

On José Pablo Moncayo’s Huapango, however, the orchestra found an effective cohesion that provided a lush layer of rhythm for the dancers of Ballet Folklórico to perform against. Juan José Lopéz Rodriguez’s choreography was smooth and authentic, again, referencing the idyllic, folksy stylization of the Mexican countryside.

The second half of the concert was devoted to selections from Silvestre Revueltas’ film score to La noche de los mayas. With choreography by Favian Herrera, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico’s Artistic Advisor, the work culminates in a beautiful story of the collapse of Mayan civilization and culture. With bright, ornate costuming, the dancers move through expressive modern and classic ballet practices to convey themes of love, family, friendship, community, confusion, and tragedy.

Ultimately, Mariachi and Mayan Night successfully evoked an appreciation for the cultural and artistic contributions of Mexico. Bringing out a fresh and eager audience, the performance successfully furthered SOLUNA’s aims. However, I can only imagine that a tighter orchestra would lift the program’s overall impact exponentially.

— Richard Oliver

 

 

 REVIEW 

1812 Overture and Bronfman Plays Liszt

Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Meyerson Symphony Center

Published April 14, 2019

 

Robin Coffelt reviews the DSO's performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and pianist Yefim Bronfman on Liszt's Concerto No. 2 in A-major, but was struck by the rarely heard performance of Rachmaninoff's The Bells, featuring the Dallas Symphony Chorus. The performance was conducted by James Gaffigan.

The review is here

 

 

 REVIEW 

Voodoo Jazz

Voices of Change at Arts Mission Oak Cliff

Published April 13, 2019

 

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs reviewed the "Voodoo Jazz" concert from the invaluable group Voices of Change, featuring works by Georgy Sviridov, Toshio Hosokawa, and Julio Racine. 

You can read the review here.

 

 

 REVIEW 

Caravan

Majestic Theatre, Dallas

Published April 12, 2019

 

Photo: Henry Adebonojo
Terence Blanchard

 

Richard Oliver reviews the premiere of the collaboration between Oscar-nominated jazz great Terence Blanchard, street dance choreographer Rennie Harris, and local visual artist Andrew F. Scott.

You can read the review here.

 

 

 VIDEO PREVIEW  

The Language of Nature

Published April 6, 2019

Featuring Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument, artist/musician James Talambas, visual artist Sheryl Anaya, and musicians of the Dallas Symphony. Anaya, Fullman and Talambas intertwine their respective mediums to compose a work that evokes our internal and collective rhythmic nature. Corporal cells of delicately interwoven fibers are suspended above a fluid performance, pairing Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument with a DSO chamber ensemble, creating an immersive web of dissonant light and consonant shadow. The event happens Wednesday, April 24 in the Boedecker building, a warehouse next to the Cedars Union, at the corner of S. Griffin and Ervay streets in the Cedars area of downtown Dallas.

In January, there was a preview of the instrument, with Talambas giving a sample of its sound. We captured that in the video below, which runs 4:38. Look for more coverage to come.

— Mark Lowry

 

 

 

 REVIEW 

Twelfth Night

Dallas Theater Center

AT&T Performing Arts Center, Wyly Theatre

Published April 6, 2019

 

Photo: Karen Almond/Dallas Theater Center
The cast of Twelfth Night at Dallas Theater Center

 

The Dallas Theater Center's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, directed by Kevin Moriarty, is one of the Soluna events. Brian Wilson reviews the production, which happens in the Potter Rose Performance Hall in the Wyly Theatre. Runs through April 28.

The review is here.

 

 

 REVIEW 

Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Sibelius Violin Concerto

Meyerson Symphony Center

Published April 6, 2019

 

Photo: Marco Borggreve
Conductor John Storgårds

 

Read Gregory Sullivan Isaacs' review of the concert, which also featured Haydn's Symphony No. 94, "Surprise," and Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5. The concert was conducted by John Storgårds, and the guest artist was violinist Augustin Hadelich.

The review is here.

 

 

 REVIEW 

Reflections and Repercussions featuring Aki Onda

Crow Collection of Asian Art of the University of Texas at Dallas

Published April 6, 2019

Photo: Brian Whar
Aki Onda

 

Kicking off the 2019 SOLUNA: International Music & Arts Festival on April 4 was a beautifully challenging performance by New York-based artist and composer Aki Onda.

Titled Reflections and Repercussions, Onda’s interdisciplinary work explores the complex relationships of sound, light, and shadow through the use of percussive instruments, lamps, spotlights, elements of glass and foil, and electronic musical treatment. The performance also featured Queens-based vocal artist Samita Sinha.

Taking inspiration from Jacob Hashimoto Nuvole’s installation at the newly renamed Crow Museum of Asian Art of the University of Texas at Dallas (the performance was held at the Crow’s downtown Dallas home), Onda’s artistry is characterized by a pervasive and haunting hum. Perhaps it was the mellow vibrations of balls on an overturned bass drum, or the shifting weight of his black silhouette revolving around the room as he swung a bright, white light around his body. Or, maybe it was a combination of these effects that left a lingering sentiment of the ethereal hanging amongst the delicate paper circles of Nuvole’s installation.

The hour-long performance waxed and waned with emotive depth as Onda played with the interrelationship of light and dark, casting pulsing lights against golden foil blankets and delicately shifting mirrors to pour their reflections of light across the ceiling and down the wall.

All of this occurred while his stirring real-time composition provided a poignant and engaging soundscape underneath. His use of microphones, speakers, and thick reverb augmented the glimmer of wood brushing against cymbals, and his thoughtful placement of these electronic elements often yielded unnerving sine waves.

Sinha’s vocal addition was clear and expressive. Using a tone that was virtually free of vibrato, she did not only sing, but she played her voice as one plays a Theremin—each gentle gesticulation in her wrist denoted a slight rise or fall in pitch. Vocalizing with a laser-like care over half steps and harmonic seconds, she provided a beautifully emotive layer that was at once troubling and comforting throughout the performance.

Reflections and Repercussions was a perfect way to start off this year’s festival. Embodying many of the themes and goals of SOLUNA, this performance was a thought-provoking collaboration of artistic media, designed around a space that is culturally expansive and beautiful.

— Richard Oliver

 

 

» You can see the complete festival guide here, which has the DSO and its partners events, and you can search by venue, organization and type of event. TheaterJones also has a full schedule in its Soluna Festival 2019 special section. See all of the entries in the special section by clicking SOLUNA FESTIVAL 2019 in the black banner at the top of the page. Thanks For Reading





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Soluna Blog
Updated coverage of the Dallas Symphony's fifth Soluna: International Music & Arts Festival.
by Richard Oliver and Mark Lowry

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UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie UNT College of Music Dallas Black Dance Spring Celebration 2019 Avant Remember Rudy Collin County Ballet Hurt Village Office Hour The Father Fuga The Time Machine Falstaff Whither Goest Thou America 3 Everything is Wonderful theatre Three Fort Worth Opera Festival Broadway Our Way 2019 Xanadu Granville arts Center TCU MCL Grand UNT College of Music KD Studios Open Classicial Melinda Massie
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