This year Sejong Soloists had two very important milestones to celebrate, 2014 marked their 20th anniversary and the 70th birthday for artistic director Hyo Kang. On October 28, Sejong Soloists took the stage of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for their annual benefit concert. Emmy award-winning journalist Paula Zahn returned for her 12th season as host for the event and joined the string orchestra on stage playing cello as they performed, “Serenade Humoristique a l’ espangnole.”
The Sejong Soloists is the brainchild of Kang conceiving the idea of a conductor-less string orchestra. In 1994, Kang invited 11 young, gifted musicians from across the globe, all of whom were attending Julliard School, in order to develop and mentor the newly formed ensemble. Kang himself was a violin faculty member at Julliard at the time and through his mentorship, the young string players and many others, who have taken part in the ensemble during the past two decades, have been able to forge relationships with composers, become rising stars themselves and have entertained hundreds with their sublime musicality and bowing showmanship.
During the gala concert Sejong Soloists performed works from Bach, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, as well as J. Hyun, Carlos Franzetti, Hal Leonard and Pablo de Sarasate. On stage Sejong Soloists were joined by violin virtuosos Gil Shaham, Adele Anthony, Yura Lee, David Chan, Catherine Cho and Chee-Yun to perform various solos throughout the concert, each adding another wonderful layer of depth and fullness to the overall performance. Those who were in attendance witnessed a spectacular that was as stunning to the eyes as it was to the ears. The physicality of the performers truly demonstrated the passion that was coming through their instruments. If this was an Olympic competition, Sejong Soloists would receive nothing but 10s across the board. Technically they exhibited a tonality that was rich with various levels of sound. It was amazing to hear how the sound completely filled the stage and the hall itself. At no point did the music seem sparse; it flowed from the stage in waves and felt larger than the ensemble that had gathered on stage. The achievement of Sejong Soloists’ big sound can only be attributed to the guidance of Hang as well as their enormous talent. This string orchestra is certainly one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I’ve had in a while.
Sejong Soloists is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization. The annual gala concert provides an opportunity for lovers and neophytes of classical music to experience the next luminaries of this genre as well as to honor the tireless effort of those who assist in growing this exceptional artistic organization. To learn more about Sejong Soloists or to make a donation, please visit, http://www.sejongsoloists.org/.
Nothing can warm up a cool autumn night in NYC like a plate of barbeque, a glass of wine and the sound of live jazz. With Jazz Standard, you’re guaranteed a night of good food and good music. Located at 116 East 27th Street, Jazz Standard is one the nation’s premier jazz clubs. Each month they offer an array of legendary and new talent in an intimate candlelit setting. This month they started off with the Terence Blanchard Quintet. In my book Blanchard’s music is the secret ingredient that takes Spike Lee’s films to another level. Blanchard’s horn can also be heard in the 2001 movie Original Sin.
From October 1-5 the Terence Blanchard Quintet enraptured patrons of Jazz Standard with selections off his latest album Magnetic as well as other selections composed by members of the quintet and other pieces from past albums. The quintet is comprised of virtuoso Blanchard on the trumpet, veteran Brice Winston on saxophone and upcoming stars Joshua Crumbly on bass, Fabian Almazan on piano and Justin Brown on drums. I was privileged to be in the audience for Blanchard’s last two sets on Sunday. Both sets were as electrifying as the name of Blanchard’s latest album starting off with an energetic, toe tapping piece, then following up with a more down tempo, melodic number and ending the set on a beautiful, robust note (pun intended).
Along with the Terence Blanchard Quintet, Jazz Standard’s features for October include Steve Wilson Quintet, James Carter’s “Django Unchained,” and Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble. Every Monday belongs to the music of Charles Mingus. Billed “Mingus Monday,” the regular series presents the genius innovations that made Charles Mingus one of jazz most prolific bassists and composers. It doesn’t matter whether your jazz exposure has been Kenny G or if you’re lifetime member to WBGO, you’ll be thoroughly entertained at Jazz Standard. The mix of artists proves why jazz is one of the last true art forms to come out of America and why this music must be preserved and continued for future generations.
To learn more about Jazz Standard, click www.jazzstandard.com.
If you’re a fan of Sex and the City’s fab four, you’re going to love this. One of the oldest slot machine makers in the world, IGT, developed a game that carries with it the commercial license of HBO’s hit romantic comedy. Fans of the show will feel at home playing it, as they will find a lot of recognizable slot machine reel symbols that are actually based from the characters, setting, and theme of Sex and the City.
The Sex and the City slot machine is a colossal success at the Resorts World Casino in Queens. An article by New York Mag, stated that some of the guests even came all the way from Manhattan when they learned that Sex and the City slot machines were being offered by Resorts World.
“I came just for this game,” said Janis Savit, a jewelry designer that the New York Mag interviewed for their Sex and the City slot machine feature. “It was more fun than doing work.”
Perhaps the success of slot machines can be attributed to how they change along with the times. No longer the traditional coin-op and lever machine, these slots have become the money-spinners of casinos thanks to their high-definition graphics, surround sound entertainment, and progressive jackpot features. According to data, the slot machine business is so successful that not only is it a $160 billion industry, but companies that offer it online are also doing very well. Cryptologic,the operator of the first online casino brand in 1996 InterCasino, is still in operation and has recently optimized their games to HTML5 in order to make their titles playable on many gaming platforms. In the U.S., the online gaming market is predicted to be valued at around $73 million by 2015.
Sex and City is the epitome of a modern slot machine. Apart from the 5-reel interface, the game offers bonus rounds and huge jackpots to players who are patient enough to hit them.
The bonus features of the game also carry with them the identity of the show that millions of Americans have come to love. For example, when players hit the “Shoe Closet” feature they will be able to see stylish shoes that the Fab Four wore at some point in the show. Another bonus feature of the game is called “Simply Fabulous” and features Charlotte wearing an engagement ring. In this game, players need to select four engagement ring boxes that would reward them credits in the end.
Click here to learn more about the Sex and the City slot machine game.
One of my favorite childhood fables was the story of Henny Penny. What always stuck with me was the repeated use of the phrase, “The sky is falling.” It was the first time I was ever confronted with a tale that dealt with hysteria. How could I had known that one day I would feel driven to scream those exact words, but when I saw the twin towers ablaze and the mayhem that was unfolding in real time as we helplessly watch on TV, I felt like that manic chicken wrought with panic and fear. September 11, 2001 is a mental scar I’ll always carry with me.
As intense as the memories are of that day, I can scarcely remember any color with the exception being the perfect blue sky that offered the delusion that nothing that terrible could befall us. What I remember most are the feelings that coursed through me at rates so fast I could barely record them, terror firmly placing a grip around my neck, anxiety tapping Morse code up and down my arms, disorientation mushrooming in my brain and grief taking possession of my heart. I returned home from my job, where we had to evacuate because of a bomb threat, turned on my TV and laid down on my bed to hear the sounds of faint whistles from dying firemen. I felt absolutely defeated.
The tragedy of 9/11 left this country reeling and sent us all on our own journeys as we tried to reconcile what happened. Ken Kaminski’s journey took him to the canvas creating a series of work that spans well over a decade. Using the template of abstract expressionists like Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Emerson Woefler, Kaminski has attempted to record the events and emotions of that day as well as the recovery period that continues to shape us. His efforts also allow those who are too young to remember 9/11 the ability to witness the emotion of that day.
FAMERS I am here to report that his endeavors are wildly successful. I had the pleasure of viewing a few of Kaminski’s 9/11 paintings at the Edward Williams Gallery, located at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Hackensack campus. The exhibit includes eight selected works that brilliantly convey the events of that day brightly expressed in various hues. The exhibit begins with Blue Sky Day – triptych. This three panel painting brings you face to face with speed of these flying bombs and the majestic sky that it corrupted. With each panel the viewer sees the countdown of the planes getting closer and closer until it hits making its bloody and destructive impact.
911 The Moment It Happened is an eerie mix of color. The space surrounding The World Center no longer is colored in blue like the atmosphere painted in Blue Sky Day, instead the blue is muddled with streaks of different colors showing the chaos that followed the impact of the first plane, represented in an explosion of oranges and reds bursting from the side of the tower. Streams of black cover one of the towers like a foreshadowing of despair to come.
Blindsided shows the line of fire going straight into one of the towers then blasting out of the other side. Crippled from the blow, the tower bends and the pain is obvious. All that is missing is the scream, but if you remember the sound of the planes hitting the towers, then this painting will ensure that the awful roar of the plane echoes in your ears. Blindsided is an acute observation of a drive-by.
Twins! is a stoic, almost haunting, vision of The World Trade Center towers before 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001. They were proud and victorious, a symbol of might and power. They represented everything that was great about The Big Apple. In Kaminski’s painting they appeared alive and vibrant again instead of frozen as they are in photographs. The yellow background also contributes to the energy of the piece. It makes you long for the nostalgia of what used to be. If this painting were a song, it would be called The Way We Were.
Wounded Towers is a kaleidoscope of disorder. The colors vividly capture the confusion permeating the area as people scrambled for safety and the bent, smoldering towers desperately tried to remain the symbols of glory that they once were, a last valiant effort before they ultimately disintegrated into dust.
Collapse is engulfed in a blending of hues that bring chills to the spine. The voices of those who were lost don’t just whisper, they shriek. It shows the true potential of visual art. There are no words necessary, this painting is one of the most telling portraits of pain and suffering that I’ve ever saw. If someone wanted to understand the mood of the country when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, all they would have to do is view this painting.
Considering this year will mark the 13th anniversary of 9/11, I believe Kaminski’s exhibit couldn’t visit the New York metropolitan area at a better time. It allows another way for us to remember and venerate a day that will forever be a part of our history. Kaminski’s work carries with it a raw, emotional ambiance. It pulls you in. No matter how hard the visuals may be to look at, Kaminski’s work burst past your pupils and forces you to deal with whatever memories or residual feelings you may have buried. For as much as Kaminski’s work is steeped in tragedy, it is also immersed in the resilience of the city of New York and its people. Yes, the sky did fall, but we didn’t get mired in the pain. We stood atop the ashes; we rebuilt and honored those we lost. The 9/11 paintings are not only powerful and healing; they are a testament that when an artist creates from his or her soul the work that is generated is timeless.
To learn more about Ken Kaminski and view more of his work check out, http://www.kenkaminski.com/. Kaminski’s 9/11 Paintings will be on display at the Edward Williams Gallery, located at 150 Kotte Place, Hackensack NJ, until 9/26/14. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
Photos and Video: F.A.M.E NYC Editor
Stone Hubbard (Salome) Stone is honored and grateful to play the role of Salome in the production of THE OUTING. Stone is also known for his role as Bontemps in The Devil, Kerry in Damaged Goods, and Manolo in The Odd Couple. Stone studied acting at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts before moving to Los Angeles to pursue his career. He is also a talented designer with a specialty in handbags. He loves live music and good company. Stone wishes to thank his Mom and Victoria for their unyielding love and guidance.
Chablis Quarterman (Jizelle) Chablis is a freckly, 21-year-old, half Puerto Rican, half English native New Yorker. She studied Theater at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, and has been performing stand-up comedy around the city for the past two years. She is excited to be a part of Manhattan Repertory Theatre Company’s festival.
Eileen Ryckman (Jasmine) originally from Michigan, Eileen has performed on stage in such plays as 12 Angry Jurors and The Water Engine. She has also worked on a number of short films and has an acting credit on Celebrity Ghost Stories. She has studied acting at T. Schreiber Studio and NYU. Eileen is also a marathon runner having officially completed three 26.2 mile races including the 2013 New York City Marathon.
Iman Ward (Robin) Iman is a Southern California girl now calling New York City her home. She is a recent graduate from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the Studio Acting program. During her training, she’s been blessed with the opportunity to play the roles of: Veronica in The Motherfucker With The Hat, Helena in Alls Well That Ends Well, Rose in Fences, and Young Laveer/Laveer in Long Time Since Yesterday. Prior to her training at AMDA, she extensively studied improvisation at The Second City, which led to her own improv troupe playing on the theater’s main stage weekly. Iman is now currently studying at The Pearl Theatre by instructor Dan Daily.
Natalie Birriel (Train) Natalie is so excited and grateful to be working on such a significant and beautiful piece of theatre. Theatre credits include: Christopher Ashley’s Dram of Drummhicit at La Jolla Playhouse, Three Sisters:Awake at New York Theatre Workshop, Man Hat Wife, Baldwin New Play Festival, Marisol(ws) at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Natalie possesses a MFA from UC San Diego and sends infinite love and gratitude to my family.
Luis Reyes Cardenas (Director) Off-Broadway: Fools in Love; Manhattan Ensemble Theater/BAM. NY: Balm in Gilead, Barefoot Theatre Company, Tempest Toss’d,NYMF. Playwright: Last Exit in New York, Aint Gonna B E Z, Play the Papers for Lupe, Boys Like Me. Film: Shakespeare High, Executive Producer, Kevin Spacey. Regional: The Drowsy Chaperone, Evita, Tommy, Big River, Little Shop of Horrors, Angels in America. Producer: FutureFest, FNAM, Co-Artistic Director/Founder of Open Hydrant Theater Company/Director of SNFI Individual Events at Stanford University. www.openhydrant.org and www.shakespearehigh.org.
Ten years ago playwright Afrika Brown decided to use an assignment to take a decade’s worth of experiences and combine them into a one-act play, thus THE OUTING was born. After 10 years, THE OUTING made its premiere this spring at Open Hydrant Theater Company’s Urban Waves Spring 2014 Short Festival in the Bronx. But the coming out party for this one-act drama hasn’t stopped there. THE OUTING is taking Manhattan by storm, first playing at Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest this month and in August THE OUTING will appear in the Strawberry One-Act Festival.
In THE OUTING Afrika Brown poses one question: What’s the “T”?
What is truth? Everyone knows what the truth is, but when the truth is revealed….how easy is it to accept? Can you accept your truth or someone else’s truth when it finally comes out?
THE OUTING is a captivating drama centering on three individuals who reveal a certain truth about themselves and the acceptance or nonacceptance of life outside the closet. Brief yet penetrating, THE OUTING aims to hit the audience straight between the eyes with the speed and power of an Ali punch. As these characters learn to deal with the truth about themselves, the audience is also left to determine how the hidden truths of their life would affect the course of their life if they were to expose them.
Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest is located at 303 West 42 Street, 6th Floor. Performance Dates and Times for are as follows: Wednesday June 18 at 7 pm, Friday June 20 at 7 pm, Saturday June 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at MRTRESERVE@GMAIL.COM.
The Strawberry Festival will play at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46 Street. Performance Date and Time for the festival is: August 24 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.therianttheatre.com.
In a city where neighborhoods reinvent themselves with same speed as Madonna, hearing that a new restaurant has sprung is just par for the course. The Lower East Side is just one of many NYC neighborhoods that is shedding the skin of its past, and I just got the scoop on a new place that you and your peeps will want to make your “old haunt” very fast.
The name is The Derby and it opened a little over a month ago. Located at 167 Orchard Street this eatery specializes in biscuits and bourbon and southern cuisine standards such as cheddar grits, chicken fried steak and baked macaroni and cheese. The music creates a cool eclectic, vibe. The décor is a mash-up between bar at Churchill Downs and a scene from The Great Gatsby with a speakeasy located in the basement – a great setting for a private get together.
I know what you’re thinking, the vintage furnishings sound nice, but how is the food? Well FAMERS…the food is scrumptious. I suggest the fried chicken, if you’re looking to have a cheat day on your diet. The pieces are fried to golden perfection and the meat is juicy. It comes with a side of fried okra and let me tell you, any place that can get me to like okra gets high marks in my book.
If this place was running in the upcoming Belmont Stakes, I would put my money down on The Derby. It’s a shoo-in and a cool place to have a bite to eat in the summertime. And if you do, say hello to Gabe, the restaurant’s manager. He’s very personable and a definite added attraction. Good food, good vibe, good people, good prices…there is nothing not to like about The Derby.
The unofficial start of summer is here and Urban Waves @ Open Hydrant is raising the temperature uptown with their Summer Short Play Festival. The three day festival begins on June 6 and ends on June 8. The plays participating in this festival are The Three Joys of Mary, Heat of the Moment, Last Exit in New York, Billboard’s Greatest Hits and Fire.
Founded by Luis Cardenas, Sarah Rosenberg (stars of the Showtime documentary Shakespeare High) and Deborah Pautler, Open Hydrant’s mission is to vitalize the Arts and Theater scene in the Bronx. Their wish is to create an ensemble based company of actors, directors, playwrights, producers and artists to better serve the cultural invigoration of the South Bronx. The creative spirit of New York City doesn’t just reside in Manhattan. As the Bronx’s first professional AEA ensemble theater company, Open Hydrant is determined to make the BX a destination for citizens of all five boroughs and the tri-state area. Urban Waves, a subset of Open Hydrant, explores material that contain edgier themes.
Urban Waves @ Open Hydrant Summer Short Play Festival will be held at The Point, located at 940 Garrison Avenue. Advance tickets can be purchased for$12 online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. The ticket price also includes one drink. Don’t be afraid to haul your cookies to SoBro to view good theater. Open Hydrant and Urban Waves are the best thing to come out of the Bronx since hip hop!
I don’t think there is a person alive that hasn’t heard the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” As for myself, I prefer “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter may not have the ability to cure all ailments, but it definitely heals the soul. And a prescription filled with laughs is what the members of the audience at The Little Shubert Theatre will receive when they view Under My Skin.
Taking cues from Switch, Big and Freaky Friday, Under My Skin adds a whole new chapter to the old body exchange tale. So here’s the story… Mr. Harrison Badish III is the CEO of Amalgamated Healthcare, the nation’s leading healthcare provider. He’s a cold, shrewd business man who cares more about making money for the company than making a difference or knowing his employees, one of whom is Melody Dent. Melody is a single mom from Staten Island who works part-time at Amalgamated with her best friend Nanette. Both she and Nanette had a problem being seen by Badish until one fateful day when a cup of coffee sets off a chain of events that leads to Melody and Harrison coming face to face with an angel. The angel, compassionate to their pleas, decides to bring them back to life, but there is a catch, their souls are placed into the wrong bodies. And while the pair waits for the angel to switch them back, they discover what life is really like for each other and learn more about the trials and tribulations of the opposite sex. By the time Melody and Harrison are themselves again, they realize they can’t live without each other.
Cheeky and chock full of humor, Under My Skin lodges itself directly into the marrow of the audience’s funny bone. Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser harmoniously weave comedy and social commentary with this production. The good ole “make ‘em laugh” approach is a tried and true method of slipping in points of view that require introspection. Along with adding new layers to the age old battle of the sexes debate, they also weigh in on the state of healthcare, or lack thereof, in our nation and how it affects the everyday, working American.
The neon lights of Broadway do burn bright. But sometimes they shine even brighter Off-Broadway. Under My Skin is one of the most dynamic shows I’ve seen in a while. If you find yourself on 42nd Street, take a walk down to The Little Shubert Theatre for an thoroughly enjoyable 90-minute laugh-fest.
Photos: Joan Marcus