Greenwich High's Performing Arts Center 'finally' gets new Steinway - CT Insider - Canadanewsmedia
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Greenwich High's Performing Arts Center 'finally' gets new Steinway – CT Insider

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GREENWICH — After Greenwich High School opened its $45 million Performing Arts Center in September 2015, something still seemed off.

Parents attending the first concert of the year could tell immediately: It was the piano.

The stage dwarfed the 6-foot Steinway. The beautiful background clashed with the dinged wood. But the real dissonance was the sound.

The low notes did not ring out, the keys stuck and the overall tone was flat. The high school choir’s accompanist, Jamie Hitel, used his skills to skip over problem keys and play different ones to compensate.

“It was incongruent to have a $45 million Performing Arts Center and a piano that belonged in a scrapyard,” said Greenwich High School parent Simon Bound. “Thanks to everybody who helped, we got the piano students deserve.”

The new 9-foot Steinway piano will make its debut Wednesday at the choir concert at Greenwich High School’s first concert of the 2019-20 school year.

It was paid for by the Board of Education and community members. Securing the piano, which cost $141,000, was a four-year project that started the day after the first concert in the new auditorium.

“It’s a beautiful space acoustically, and now we have the infrastructure in place,” GHS Choir Director Patrick Taylor said.

Next week, during the band concert, an award-winning student jazz pianist, GHS senior Lucas Gazianis, will play the piano, which he helped pick out from the Steinway showroom at the factory in Astoria, NY.

“We chose a great instrument,” Gazianis said. “It sounds fantastic and looks fantastic. I’m excited to play it at the band concert next week.”

In the meantime, Taylor has told students not to breathe on the piano. He still winces when he thinks about how students had used the old piano as a table for paint cans while they were building sets for shows.

Laura Newell, the school district’s arts coordinator who has been in Greenwich since the PAC opened, said she came to the district because the town supports the arts.

Despite the long road to get the piano on stage, Newell said she always thought it would happen. The day after the first concert at the PAC, Taylor received phone calls from current choir parent Simon Bound and from former choir parent Lu Ann Bellatoni. Both wanted to know what could be done about the piano.

Taylor began working with the Steinway showroom, then in Westport and as of last summer, on Greenwich Avenue to find a new piano. Bellatoni established 88 Keys, a foundation established to collect money for a new piano at Greenwich High. Over the next three-and-a-half years, the organization raised half the money needed to buy the $141,000 piano.

One donor, Kerri Kinsella, admitted she is not musical, but sitting in the audience, she could see that the old piano did not belong on the stage in the new space.

“This piano will showcase the high school talent more, too,” she said.

One example of the high school’s talent is Gazianis, who studies with renowned jazz pianist and Steinway artist Joyce DiCamillo.

He and Sandra Heikel, a classical pianist and music teacher at International School at Dundee, played the different instruments at the showroom at the Steinway factory in Astoria, NY.

Taylor and Newell listened for the subtle differences.

“Since it’s handmade, every piano has slightly different sounds,” Taylor said. “One is quieter, one sustains longer, one has more of a resonance in a certain range. It was absolutely like choosing from among Rolls Royces. Any of them would’ve been wonderful.”

The piano will remain in Greenwich for decades to come, Newell said.

“This piano is going to be here longer than any of us,” she said during an event for donors to 88 Keys held on Monday night.

Sarah Venditti, manager of the Steinway showroom in Greenwich, worked with Taylor for the last four years. She offered the school two 10 percent discounts on the piano.

“It’s finally happened,” Venditti said during the donor event. “A lot of people have come to the showroom and mentioned the fundraiser. There has been a lot of community support.”

Bound, also at the event, said tha plan had been to raise all the money needed to purchase the piano. But he credited board member Peter Sherr with championing the cause and getting the piano in the 2019-20 budget.

“This is the kind of public-private partnership we like,” school board Chair Peter Bernstein said at the event.

Bellatoni thanked the donors who “stayed the course” for four years.

“We look forward to that piano serving thousands of students for years to come,” she said.

jo.kroeker@hearstmediact.com

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Books Arts Lab Opening at Carleton Library – Carleton Newsroom

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Every wonder how books are made? Starting Nov. 19, you can find out at MacODrum Library’s Book Arts Lab during hands-on experience with everything from printing, bookbinding and papermaking to printmaking and calligraphy. Learn, too, about the history of the book.

Patti Harper, head of research support services, has been at the forefront of creating the lab, a collaboration of the book arts community across Canada and alumni, staff and faculty.

Patti Harper

“What makes this lab unique is that it’s built around experiential learning,” Harper says. “It absolutely relies on faculty to build it into their methodology.”

The inspiration for the lab came from a Chandler & Price Platen Press donated to the library back in 1988.

“We finally realized a few years ago how much could be possible with the printing press and how it could be built into instruction and teaching for faculty.”

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Rediscovering Harry Nilsson, an artist who defies all category – The Globe and Mail

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Singer Harry Nilsson in 1972.

The Associated Press

If there is anyone whose career has benefited more from Netflix’s Russian Doll series than co-creator and star Natasha Lyonne, it has to be Harry Nilsson.

Although the complicated pop star has maintained a cultish following since his early seventies heyday, interest in him spiked up considerably after his jaunty piano piece Gotta Get Up was used as the trigger and tonal inspiration for the show’s looping journey through self-loathing and self-knowledge.

In our age of digital data, we don’t even need to resort to vague temperature-taking to understand the impact. The song’s repeated use throughout the show’s eight episodes earned Nilsson something like 2,000 per cent more downloads and streams than his average, enough out-of-nowhere attention that the song is now amended with an “As heard on …” label on streaming services.

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And now, that attention is trickling down to the rest of his convoluted canon. On Nov. 22, Nilsson completists will finally get a chance to hear Losst and Founnd, the album he was working on at the time of his death in 1994.

As a final artistic statement, the album is maybe too inflected with the torpor of a man who hadn’t released anything since the demos for the Popeye soundtrack in 1980. Nilsson’s often absurdly gorgeous multioctave tenor is flattened into something close to Leonard Cohen’s, although his songs retain his trademark slippery humour, and the off-kilter dynamic of melancholy is played beautifully, especially on the fitting album and career closer What Does A Woman See in A Man.

More exciting might be the early 2020 rerelease of The Point!, Nilsson’s oddball 1970 children’s animated film and parable. The original was narrated by Dustin Hoffman, and in the coming 50th anniversary version former drinking buddy Ringo Starr is the voice. Written after an LSD trip around the forests of Los Angeles gave him an insight into the nature of trees, The Point! is the story of a round-headed boy in a world where everyone has a point on their head.

While Nilsson’s own point is hard to miss here, the celebration of being different, plus its combination of joyous innocence, cheery dismissal of convention and ability to drown sadness in dry humour, feel like an appropriate summation of Nilsson’s philosophy. At least insomuch as he ever had a philosophy beyond swallowing some drugs and seeing what comes out.

Nilsson doesn’t just resist summary, he seems to mock the very idea that an artist should be able to be simplified. As a person, let alone as a musician with a surprising half-century legacy, Nilsson really just shouldn’t have been. He was less a human than a coalescence of opposing forces that should have cancelled each other out. He was his own action and reaction, a move in every direction, and never more happy to switch his heading than when it seemed like you had him figured.

Nilsson sang like a pure beam of light and drank like a black hole. He was a restlessly inventive musician – he arguably created both the mash-up and the remix album – whose biggest hits and Grammy nominations came from the oldest trick in American pop music, heart-on-the-sleeve covers: the wistfully sunny Midnight Cowboy theme song Everybody’s Talkin’ and torch song Without You, which is so maudlin it circles back around into genuinely piteous. (Although many also know him for the novelty hit Coconut, which fits just as uncomfortably with the rest of his oeuvre.)

He had gold records and chart-topping singles, but basically refused to play in front of an audience, limiting his “live” performances to half-experimental video projects in which he spliced in obviously fake crowd shots, did piano duets with himself and performed in a gorilla suit.

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His music was the kind of pop that sounds obvious as soon as you hear it, although nobody had quite figured it out before. His biggest album, 1971’s Nilsson Schmilsson, is essentially a tour of what the rest of the decade would sound like in 35 minutes and 10 songs.

He was the Beatles’ favourite American artist, but his favourite Beatle was Ringo. Although, in fairness, he also helped John Lennon during his brief separation from Yoko Ono, turning it into a recording session and debauch so notorious it became known as Lennon’s Lost Weekend, and the foundation of the semi-notorious Hollywood Vampires drinking club.

(And as much as he was a libertine and a goof, Nilsson also all but gave up his recording career to campaign for an end to gun violence after his friend was assassinated.)

That kind of unrestrained self-destruction was one of the few things Nilsson did purely, and was the main reason his career essentially amounted to a blinding flash of brilliance in the late sixties and early seventies and a lot of unfocused blinking and recovery until his early death in 1994.

And yet, for all his escapades, oppositions and self-destruction, Nilsson has managed to endure in a way that relatively few artists of the non-Beatles variety ever do: He keeps popping up, in reference and in revisitation – both as a popular-enough-to-be-profitable bit of nostalgia and as an essential muse for weirdos.

For all his contradiction and complexity, it’s probably his plain frustration with conventional expectation that seems to keep him as an inspiration for some of our more complexly modern artists.

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The most obvious recent example is Russian Doll, but he pops up every few years in some powerfully memorable context though: A personal favourite is the yearning He Needs Me, originally part of that Popeye soundtrack and later providing an emotional capstone in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Punch-Drunk Love.

The common thread to Nilsson’s re-emergences are that they were instigated by artists who are just as unwilling to sit still, who are just as happy to embrace contradiction and chaos to get whatever it is they need to say out.

In this way, Nilsson’s evergreen relevance takes on a larger and more hopeful tinge: His unwillingness to settle into any kind of simple category, far from causing him to fade away, is exactly what keeps him alive. If the world, or at the very least the entertainment-industrial complex, is only comfortable with things that are simply branded and easily taggable, there will always be some artistic disposition that is thirsty for a mess they have to sort through and figure out all on their own.

In The Point!, Nilsson’s child hero solves the riddle of his difference when an equally circular wise man makes the observation that a point in every direction is the same as having no point at all.

If it works as an epitaph for Nilsson’s own genius, true to form the most important point for his legacy might be just the opposite of the one he was making in the film: When someone is going in every direction at once, anyone who comes after will never run out of interesting paths to follow him down.

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Penticton arts, culture and sports programs get boost of over $500,000 thanks to provincial grant – Vernon Morning Star

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Penticton’s arts, cultural and athletic programs are getting a boost of over $500,000 thanks to this year’s round of B.C. Community Gaming Grants.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced on Nov. 7 that 700 non-profits throughout the province would receive $18.3 million in funding to “deliver opportunities for people of all ages to participate in visual and performing arts, literature and festivals, as well as Indigenous and cultural programs.” An additional $27 million will be provided to more than 800 sports sector organizations in B.C. through the program.

READ MORE: Nearly $2M in provincial grants going to Central Okanagan arts, sports programs

Six arts-related non-profits in the Penticton area will be splitting $158,500 and 12 sports organizations will be splitting $347,400 through the program. Notably, the Penticton Art Gallery Society will receive $56,000, the Penticton & District Minor Hockey Association will receive $86,500 and the Pinnacles Football Club Association will get $90,000.

“These programs bring people together, fostering community connections through art, cultural programming and athletic activities for all ages and abilities,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in the release. “Our government is proud to support organizations contributing to vibrant, healthy communities across B.C.”

“These art, culture and sport programs provide opportunities for people to build community, foster artistic expression and engage in healthy activities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in the release. “Our government is proud to support these organizations to deliver programs that support inclusion and benefit people of all ages and backgrounds in communities across B.C.”

To view the full list of recipients of this year’s B.C. Community Gaming Grants in arts and culture, click here, and for the full list of sports organization recipients, click here.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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