Musings from an Opera Singer

Union Avenue Opera Hits all the Right Notes
by Anna M. Roach

 

Union Avenue Opera, the vision of Scott Schoonover, a young musician who wanted more opportunities for singers his age to perform substantive roles in major opera productions, debuted its first season in 1995. Twenty three seasons later, the company is thriving. More than 30 artists will make their Union Avenue Opera [UAO] debut during its 23rd Festival Season this summer.

The Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement Festival presents over 80 art-related projects and programs during the Festival, which runs April 20 – April 30, 2017. The local nonprofit Maturity and Its Muse, dedicated to improving the life of seniors through the arts, brings St. Louis 10 days of exhibits and art-related events to highlight how art improves the aging experience. This is the only area-wide festival dedicated to the St. Louis region's older adult population. From St. Louis Art Museum to area galleries, libraries, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Missouri Botanical Garden and more, arts events and programs can be found for people of all abilities.

The goal of Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement is twofold:

• To harness the power of the arts to energize and transform the quality of life for the region's older adults and

• To attract and help build audiences for the venues involved

Events are continuously being added, so visit www. maturityanditsmuse.org/ to keep updated. About Maturity and Its Muse: The mission of Maturity and Its Muse, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is to promote positive, productive aging through the arts.

 

Visual Arts

Spring 2017 exhibits at the Contemporary Art Museum include works by Katherine Bernhardt, Deana Lawson, Nicola Tyson and Louis Cameron plus a special exhibit in the Education Gallery “ArtReach: I Am.” The exhibits are on view through April 16, 2017. CAM is located at 3750 Washington Blvd., St Louis, MO 63108 and is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Thursday and Friday through 8 p.m. Information: http://camstl.org/ or (314) 535-4660.

The St. Louis Art Museum presents Textiles: Politics and Patriotism through March 5.Through May 7, Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade features a collection of period hats and 60 paintings and pastels, including key works by Degas that have never been exhibited in the United States. March 30 through July 7, Learning to See brings together prints, drawings, and sculptures that explore intellectual and spiritual currents of European culture in the 15th-17th centuries. SLAM is located on Fine Arts Drive in Forest Park. For more information, visit www.slam.org

Featured exhibits at the Missouri History Museum include “Route 66: Main Street through St. Louis” (through July 16), and “Capturing the City: Photographs from the Streets of St Louis 1900-1930” (through March 12). The exhibits are free and the museum is located at 5700 Lindell Blvd in Forest Park. For more information call 314- 746-4599 or go to www.mohistory.org

Green With Indie Craft Show takes place on March 11, 1- am to 5 pm at Grant’s Gym on the Webster University campus. For more information, visit www. facebook.com/greenwithindie. Music Winter Opera St Louis presents Bizet’s “Carmen” on March 3 at 7:30 and March 5 at 3:00 at the Skip Viragh Center on the Chaminade campus, 425 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131. For more information and tickets, 314-865- 0038 or www.winteroperastl.org.

Cathedral Concerts present the last two events of their 24th season. On March 26 at 8:00 pm, The Tallis Scholars, leading performers of Renaissance sacred music, are in concert. On April 21 at 8:00 pm, the Organ & Brass Spectacular is performed. Concerts are at the Cathedral Basilica, 4431 Lindell Blvd., St Lois, 63108 To find out more information about the Cathedral Concerts go to www.CathedralConcerts.org.

The Chamber Music Society St. Louis presents “All Beethoven, All the Time” on April 24-25, 7:30 P.M. in the Sheldon Ballroom and “Modern Classics” a program of Ravel, Stravinsky and Prokofiev May 1 in the \ Sheldon Concert Hall. Both venues are at 3648 Washington Ave, St. Louis, 63108. For tickets and more information, visit http://chambermusicstl.org/

Theatre

Clayton Community Theatre presents Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” March 2 through 4 at 8 PM and March 5 at 2 PM. Performances are at the Washington University South Campus Theater at 6501 Clayton Road, St Louis, MO 63117. For information visit: http://www. placeseveryone.org; reservations, 314- 721-9228 and tickets http://ViewFromThe- Bridge CCT.brownpapertickets.com.

Max and Louie Productions present “Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill,” a moving portrait of Billie Holiday’s struggles with addiction, racism, love and loss, Show stopping musical numbers are interlaced with salty, often humorous, reminiscences to project an unforgettable portrait of the lady and her music. Performances are through March 4, 2017 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Blvd. St Louis, MO 63103. For tickets and more information, visit http://maxandlouie.com/

The Repertory Theatre of St Louis presents “To Kill a Mockingbird” through March 5, “The Royale,” March 8 through 26 and “Million Dollar Quartet” March 15 through April 9. The theater is located at 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves, Missouri. For information visit http:// www.repstl.org/season/tickets/

The Fontbonne University Fine Arts Department performs “The Trojan Women.” Set in a modern-day refugee camp, this adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy will explore patterns of human behavior that seem to inevitably lead to betrayal, murder, chaos and grief. Performances are March 9-12 at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, MO 63105. For tickets, call 314.719.8060 or visit https://mustardseedtheatre. thundertix.com/events/85547.

The New Jewish Theatre presents “Never the Sinner” – March 16-April 2, 2017. The play is based on the Leopold and Loeb murder case of 1924. Performances are at the Wool Studio Theater, A&E Building, JCC Staenberg Family Complex, 2 Millstone Campus Dr, Creve Coeur, MO 63146. For tickets and more information, call 314-442-3283 or visit http://jccstl. com/arts-ideas/new-jewish-theatre

Mustard Seed Theatre presents “Dancing at Lughnasa.” Performances are April 13 through 30 at Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, MO 63105. For tickets, call 314.719.8060 or visit https://mustardseedtheatre.thundertix. com/events/85549/performances

Kids and families

Laumeier Sculpture Park is accepting enrollments for spring and summer programs for children, teens and adults. Summer Art Camps for children ages 4-6 and 6-15 run early June through early August. Visit www.laumeier.org/ summer-art-camps for more information. Family programs (adult + child) are offered on Saturday March 25 and Saturday, April 22. In addition, youth, teen and adult workshops are offered beginning in March. Visit www.laumeier. org for more information. Laumeier Sculpture Park is located at 12580 Rott Road, Saint Louis, Missouri 63127.

Literature and Readings

The Observable Reading Series, brought to you by St. Louis Poetry Center, welcomes poets to Dressel’s Public House (419 N. Euclid, CWE) on Monday, March 6th, 2017 7:30 p.m. Poets featured are Elizabeth Arnold and Alison C. Rollins. For more information, visit http:// stlouispoetrycenter.org/observable/..

Fundraisers

 

Live and Learn

On Thursday, March 2, ProgressWomen presents: “#GOV101: How You Can/Must Play a Vital Role with the Missouri State Legislature.” The program is at Clayton High School Theatre, #1 Mark Twain Circle in Clayton. Doors open at 6:30 pm; program begins at 7:00 pm. For information, visit www.progresswomen.com; for tickets visit https://secure.actblue. com/contribute/page/gov101stlmar2.

The Missouri Department of Conservation presents an intensive workshop on native landscaping March 4, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm at the St. Louis Community College Meramec Campus, 11333 Big Bend Blvd. in Kirkwood The workshop will provide information and resources on ways homeowners can landscape their property with native plants. New this year will be a series of workshop breakout sessions that will explore topics in greater depth such as developing rainscaping features and gardening for wildlife. Registration is available online at http://stlouisaudubon.org/PNL/PNL- 2017.html. For questions about the event, call (314) 599-7390. The workshop is sponsored jointly by MDC, Shaw Nature Reserve, St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home Program, Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, St. Louis Community College, the St. Louis Chapter of Wild Ones, and Grow Native

 

Grammy Award-winning soprano Christine Brewer and St. Louis star Linda Kennedy will perform at the St. Louis Visionary Awards on Mon., April 24, at The Sun Theater in Grand Center (3625 Grandel Square). Brewer and Kennedy’s performances will honor six local women who will be recognized for their numerous contributions and achievements to the arts. Soprano Christine Brewer “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have two renowned entertainers – Christine an internationally acclaimed singer and Linda, a beloved and long-established St. Louis actress, director and educator –celebrating with us and honoring these six women who have made such an incredible impact in the arts,” said Kim Eberlein, committee co-chair for the Visionary Awards. “Christine’s own work in the schools both here and in Illinois, and Linda’s work with students at the Black Rep, is a living example of how two women can impact an entire community. The audience is going to be in for a special treat.”

In 2015, the St. Louis Visionary Awards were relaunched by an independent committee of women to celebrate the numerous contributions and achievements of women who work in or support the arts in St. Louis. From established working arts professionals and arts educators to emerging artists and community impact artists, each year’s honorees are truly “visionary.”

The 2017 Visionary Award honorees include: poet Shirley Bradley LeFlore (Outstanding Working Artist); photographer Kat Simone Reynolds (Outstanding Emerging Artist); artistic director of the Pink House, Regina Martinez (Community Impact Artist); playwright Nancy Bell (Outstanding Arts Professional); dancer and choreographer Vivian Anderson Watt (Outstanding Teaching Artist); and philanthropist Sally S. Levy (Major Contributor to the Arts).

Brewer, named one of the top 20 sopranos of all time (BBC Music), is highly regarded for her striking portrayal of the title role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, which she has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Lyon, Theatre du Chatelet, Santa Fe Opera, English National Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She created the role of Sister Aloysius in the world premiere of Doug Cuomo’s opera Doubt with the Minnesota Opera in 2013, a role that was performed by Meryl Streep in the film version of the story. She reprised the role in August 2016 with the Union Avenue Opera in Louis. Brewer has worked with many of today’s most notable conductors, including Sir Colin Davis, David Robertson, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Sir Charles Mackerras, and Sir Simon Rattle, to name a few, and has made over 25 recordings. She continues her work with the Marissa, Illinois 6th graders in a program called Opera-tunities, which is now in its 13th year. She also works with the voice students at Webster University, and will be doing a weeklong residency this month on African-American composers. The residency will culminate in a recital with the students and Brewer. Kennedy, an artistic associate with The Black Rep, has worked both on and off stage with the company for more than 30 years. She most recently appeared in the company’s Seven Guitars by August Wilson and the New Jewish Theatre’s production of Intimate Apparel. Other credits include The Glass Menagerie, Windmill Baby, Marijah’s Pictures, Helver’s Night and Blood Wedding (Upstream Theater), Agnes of God (Avalon Theatre), The Gin Game (Actor’s Studio). Her directing credits include, Clybourne Park (Stephens College), Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Mustard Seed Theatre), I'm Not Rappaport (The New Jewish Theatre) and The Mountaintop (The Black Rep), to name a few. In addition, Kennedy has performed several historical vignettes for the Missouri History Museum, and has taught theatre and dance to youth and adults. Kennedy has received numerous accolades for her work including the Go List Best Actress Award, the Missouri Arts Individual Artist Award, the Griot Award from the Griot Museum and, in 2012, the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from the Arts and Education Council. Kennedy is also a former Visionary Award recipient. The awards ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. followed by a cocktail reception at 7 p.m. For tickets or more information, please visit www.vizawards.org,www. vizawards.org/tickets/ or call Haley Sturguess at 314-584-6068. Event co-hosts are Alison Ferring and Emily Pitts. Presenting sponsors include PNC Bank, the Steward Family Foundation, and Centene Charitable Foundation.

The 2017 Visionary Award honorees

Sally Levy,Major Contributor to the Arts Thanks to her vision and generosity, Sally Levy has made a critical impact on Opera Theatre Saint Louis. With her support, OTSL opened the Sally S. Levy Opera Center, providing space for administrative, rehearsal and community outreach needs. She and her family later created a fund to endow master classes with distinguished artists who cultivate young people in the field. Most recently, she established the Sally S. Levy Family Fund for New Works, allowing the organization to produce contemporary operas that will shape the future of opera for 21st century audiences. Sally has been honored with the National Trustee Opera Recognition Award from OPERA America and the Excellence in Philanthropy Arts Awards from the Arts and Education Council.

Shirley Bradley LeFlore, Outstanding Working Artist, is an internationally recognized poet, playwright, author, performance artist and educator who also has been a trailblazer in community arts, especially as a member of the Black Arts Group of St. Louis. During a career that has spanned five decades, she has performed for audiences throughout the world and her work has been published in numerous books, anthologies and magazines. Shirley is equally recognized for her vision as a creative collaborator with dancers and visual artists and is known for blending the vocal texture of her poetry with musical giants from jazz, blues, gospel and classical music.

Nancy Bell, Outstanding Arts Professional, the playwright in residence for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, tells stories about our neighborhoods through the eyes of the bard. As author of “Shakespeare in the Street,” Nancy has conversations with residents, business leaders and artists from a single neighborhood. Based on themes that emerge, she adapts one of Nancy Bell, Outstanding Arts Professional Shakespeare’s plays to be performed in that neighborhood by a mix of professional actors and community members. In 2013, she was awarded the St. Louis Theatre Circle Award for Outstanding New Play for this program. Nancy also wrote “Tales of Shakespeare” for children and families which was performed at Powell Hall in partnership with the Saint Louis Symphony. An accomplished actor with credits on national television shows and theatrical performances throughout the country, Nancy also is an assistant professor of theatre at Saint Louis University. Kat Simone Reynolds, Emerging Artist, shows relentless dedication as a photographer who leads her audiences into unexpected spaces in order to challenge perceptions. Her work has been described as conceptual storytelling through portrait and architectural photography. Adept at capturing her subjects’ emotional states, Kat creates an intimacy even from a distance. Themes in her work cover a broad range, including everything from black female depression to the superwoman complex. Her photographs have been shown at fort gondo, Beverly, Museum Blue and have been featured in Alive Magazine and various blogs.

Vivian Anderson-Watt, Outstanding Teaching Artist. As a dance teacher at Better Family Life and choreographer for Gitana, Inc., for the past 43 years, Vivian Anderson Watt has trained more than 50,000 at-risk and underserved young people. Her dynamic talent is matched by an unimpeachable belief that through the discipline and teamwork required in dance, all students can flourish, no matter what their backgrounds. Vivian is proud to have trained many successful dancers and dance teachers including a protégé who performed with Beyoncé and on the television show Empire. Her students have performed in cross-cultural collaborations and in shows at the MUNY, the Contemporary Art Museum, Powell Hall and the St. Louis International Salsa Congress.

Artist Regina Martinez, Community Impact Artist, is dedicated to changing St. Louis one art initiative at a time. With a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism and a master’s degree in social work, Regina is passionate about creative process and collaborative relationships. She is interested in cultivating relationships that encourage us to take risks and enhance opportunity. For five years, she served as Artistic Director of the Pink House,a neighborhood arts space in Pagedale, organizing Regina Martinez, Community Impact Artist creative exchanges designed to support a cohesive community. Regina is a graduate of the Community Arts Training Institute and the Institute’s Graduate Education and Research programs through the Regional Arts Commission. She is co-founder of the clothesline, a monthly installation where artists intersect to transform a space for one night only. She is also a part of Yeyo Arts Collective, dedicated to the creative empowerment of women and their families.