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Mary B. Martin School springs into new season

January 29th, 2014 10:10 am by Entertainment Staff

Mary B. Martin School springs into new season

Following a “daring” fall of stick sculpting, endangered alphabets and magical musicians, the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will spend its spring season “imagining” new possibilities, perspectives and performance styles.

The ETSU School of the Arts will present a winter and spring of music and musical insights of past, present and future, contemporary visual art conversations and films that span the globe and cultures.

“What we’ve been trying to do with our programming is find a bridge between what’s interesting for the community but also what’s important for particular programs and goals at ETSU,” says Mary B. Martin School Director Anita DeAngelis. “Because of that, we don’t have as many performances as lectures and artist talks this semester. However, we have great variety with interesting and timely topics for the community, as well as campus.”

Spring 2014’s first ticketed event is the Cashore Marionettes, performing “Simple Gifts” at 3 p.m., Feb. 23 in ETSU’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium. Oil painter and marionette creator Joseph Cashore blends “beautiful craftsmanship and artistry with insight and illusion,” said the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in this program, which features a series of touching character portrayals and poignant scenes from everyday life, set to music by composers including Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven and Copland.

“While our primary mission is to address college-age students, I have long wanted to do some family programming,” DeAngelis says. “The performance itself was actually created to attract both children and adults. The quality of his puppets is amazing. They are very much unique artistic pieces, and Cashore has studied movement in much detail. People of all ages will be intrigued to see how he is able to take inanimate objects and bring them to life.”

WindSync, a lively quintet of “revolutionary chamber musicians,” will sweep in Tuesday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Culp Auditorium as MBMSOTA’s second ticketed event.

The group is known for its adventurous programming, from-memory performances and work with young musicians and audiences. Whether it is a “West Side Story” spoof, the “Harry Potter” theme, Bernstein and Gershwin or a stately “Ravel’s Bolero” with percussion, the young group stands out — and stands up, rather than sitting in chairs as many chamber groups do.

“Our audience seems to connect well with chamber music ensembles,” DeAngelis says, “and WindSync has been getting a lot of attention because of the high quality of its performance, as well as its different repertoire. It’s a fusion of styles we look forward to experiencing.”

Tuning in to the 19th century rather than the 21st will be multi-instrumentalist and composer Bobby Horton, who will perform his “Songs and Stories of the Civil War” on Monday and Tuesday, April 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. each evening in ETSU’s Bud Frank Theatre.

“I don’t believe I’ve met anyone quite like Bobby in the ability to understand the soul of American music,” says filmmaker Ken Burns, who has used Horton’s compositions in 16 of his documentaries.

Horton’s versatility is impressive, says ETSU theatre professor Bobby Funk, for whose one-man-play, “Co. Aytch: Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier,” Horton composed and recorded the soundtrack. “His ‘Homespun Songs of the CSA and USA’ are incredible because he plays every instrument and sings every part,” Funk says. “He creates it all in his studio located in his home.”

At ETSU, Horton will perform much-loved songs from the North and South in period costume on period instruments.

“He is known for his accuracy in his study of the music and his collection of the lyrics,” DeAngelis says. “I look forward to a performance that will give us insight into an historical period that holds a lot of interest in this region.”

Tickets for those three events are $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors 60 and over, and $5 for students with an ID.

Also setting an historical tone is best-selling author Scott Reynolds Nelson, who will present his findings on “The Death of John Henry and the African American Roots of Rock and Roll” on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. in ETSU’s Rogers-Stout Hall, Room 102.

Nelson has unearthed connections between the American legend and the birth of the blues and rock music, as well as other historical elements. His study of John Henry has been covered by Entertainment Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, the History Channel and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

The 6 p.m. lecture is co-sponsored by ETSU’s Sherrod Library, Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, and the School of the Arts.

Also well-known for his research on labor and economic trends, Nelson will give a lecture titled “From Mortgage Crisis to Market Meltdown” Thursday morning at 10 at the Millennium Centre. Because seating is limited, registration is required for the morning talk. To attend, call ETSU College of Business and Technology at (423) 439-5300.

In another lecture collaboration with CASS, ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon will look back and peer forward as he discusses “Thoreau’s Sounding Music” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 4 in ETSU’s Ball Hall Auditorium. The professor emeritus from Brown University in Providence, R.I., is known for his work and research in religious, blues and old time music and, most recently, in music, sound and sustainability.

“As you can imagine, there aren’t many scholars working in this area,” DeAngelis says. “Having someone connect music to the importance of our environment is very significant, and we are looking forward to his perspectives.”

Mary B. Martin School of the Arts also will bring two visual artists to campus to talk with Art and Design students and lecture — Brooklyn-based sculptor and painter Julia Dault and painter Anne Harris, who teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dault will give her artist talk at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 10, and Harris will give her presentation at 7 p.m., Friday, March 21. Both events are in Room 127 of Ball Hall. The events are free and open to the public, with receptions to follow.

Dault’s abstract work is “playful and elegant,” says ETSU painting professor Mira Gerard, using combinations of industrial and fine art materials. “Many of our students are interested in nontraditional art materials and production, and Julia Dault answers that impulse,” Gerard says. 

In contrast, Harris’ self-portraits are “haunting and distorted … inward-looking, uncanny and psychological …” she says. “We have a great deal of students who are devoted to the craftsmanship of their chosen medium. Anne Harris’ work speaks to that tradition while bending it into an unexpected form, making it relevant to our time.”

All Mary B. Martin School of the Arts lectures are free and are followed by talkbacks and receptions with the artists.

The School of the Arts’ spring season will again feature a trio of films from the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. “The Iran Job” will open the season on Monday, Feb. 3; “Finding Hillywood” is Monday, March 17; and “The New Public” screens Monday, April 7. The films will be presented free of charge at 7 p.m. in the Culp Auditorium and include Q&As and receptions with the filmmakers afterward.

All three films have strong multicultural themes. “The Iran Job” follows an American point guard through his first year playing basketball for Iran’s Super League, while “Finding Hillywood” depicts the healing power that film has had in post-genocide Rwanda. “The New Public” brings the focus back to the U.S., on an inner-city school in Brooklyn and its unconventional efforts to educate at-risk youth.

“The films we’ll screen this spring cover topics we really haven’t addressed previously,” DeAngelis says. “I really enjoy the films that introduce us to different cultures, especially when we get to see a segment of a culture that we are not expecting or we might assume is very different from our own. Often, we find out that everyday people are pretty much very similar all across the world.

“We all want about the same things — peace, friendship, joy and a sense of accomplishment in our lives.”

For more about the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit or call (423) 439-TKTS (8587). Follow Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU and on Facebook.

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