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Review: An Intimate Evening with the Ivy Street Ensemble

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By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

On April 26, 2019, the Ivy Street Ensemble presented a spirited evening of chamber music at the Lone Tree Arts Center. The performance celebrated the music of three, prolific, male composers, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ferde Grofé alongside the works of two modern, female, master composers, Rebecca Clarke and Maria Newman. Members of the Ivy Street Ensemble include Catherine Peterson on flute, Erik Peterson on violin, Phillip Stevens on viola, and Danielle Guideri on cello. All of the performers are also members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

The concert featured commentary by Betsy Schwarm, a local music historian, who warmly provided context and analysis on each composition for the audience.  For those of us who were new to chamber music, Schwarm said that this form was written to be performed by three or four instruments in small intimate spaces, such as a living or drawing room. She said that in chamber compositions, no one particular instrument is the star, rather the music is an interplay of parts that showcase the strengths of each instrument.

The concert opened with “Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola Op 25” by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Schwarm explained that Beethoven wrote this in 1801, when he was merely 30 years old. At the time, Beethoven was writing Mozart inspired symphonies and this playful, light, spirited piece reflects that influence. While chamber music may have been originally played in a drawing room, the Lone Tree Arts Center’s stage has wonderful acoustics and this beautiful, elegant music filled the room leaving the audience with the sense of having experienced something quite remarkable.

The second performance, “Two Pieces for Viola and Cello,” by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was constructed in two parts, the first a lullaby, a form most of us are familiar with and the second part was a grotesque, which Schwarm described as being quirky and irregular. Stevens and Guideri performed together giving us a beautiful, soft lullaby that was executed with dramatic precision and then a bright, lively, full-sounding piece for the grotesque movement.

The Ivy Street Ensemble then performed Table d’Hote: Humoresque, by Ferde Grofé (1892-1972), which was originally written in 1945. Schwarm explained that the title takes its name from the convivial gathering of people conversing around the main table in a restaurant, and as such, the performance evolves through many moods from cheerful to melancholy and back to lively.  I noticed members of the audience listening so intently and silently that you could hear a pin drop.

We then heard a thrilling rendition of Mozart’s (1756-1791) “Quartet for Flute and Strings in D Minor, Op. 285” which was written for the flute as the lead. The first movement was a lilting serenade that transitioned into a soft, sad mood that allowed the audience to appreciate the mastery and genius of Mozart.

The last work that the Ivy Street Ensemble performed was “Pennipotenti for Flute, Violin, and Viola” composed by Maria Newman (1962). Schwarm noted that Newman is from Los Angeles and is the daughter of composer Alfred Newman as well as related to Randy Newman, the musician. Composed in 2005, the title of this composition means “the power of feathers,” and Newman created in four movements representing birds. The first movement, “The Dipper,” soars bewitchingly light and playful, the second movement “The Hummingbird,” is fast and furious, the third movement, “The Snowy Owl” is quiet with its deeply moving harmonies and textures, and the last movement, “The Falcon” is complex, contemporary, and full of energy and power. Newman’s piece was a splendid ending to a delightful evening of beautiful music sprinkled with charming stories by Betsy Schwarm.

In addition, the Ivy Street Ensemble also generously gave each member of the audience their latest CD, Serenades: Then and Now. If you’d like to learn more about the Ivy Street Ensemble, you can visit their website at http://www.earwarp.com

Preview: Ranky Tanky

headerBy Theresa Allen, guest blogger

Get ready for a rich evening of storytelling though song when Ranky Tanky takes the main stage on Friday, April 26 at 8 p.m., at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Ranky Tanky brings the rich tradition of Gullah music of the Carolina coast and infuses it with its own spirited influences of jazz, funk, gospel and R&B. The evening will feature tender lullabies, playful game songs, and elegiac spirituals.

The members of Ranky Tanky include Quentin Baxter on drums and percussion. Baxter is a Grammy-nominated performer and producer of music. Quiana Parler brings her beautiful vocals to the group. Parler studied opera as a child and then gospel, pop and R&B. Clay Ross, founder of Ranky Tanky, performs vocals and guitar. Charlton Singleton, whose family comes from the Coast, plays on the trumpet and Kevin Hamilton performs on bass.

Gullah is a tradition of food, art, music and other cultural references that are deeply rooted in West African culture and have significantly influenced American culture. Gullah tradition has given us songs like “Kum Bah Ya” and “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” as well as influenced George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and children’s literature like Br’er Rabbit from Uncle Remus Songs and Sayings.

Join the Lone Tree Arts Center as it “gets funky!” (a loose translation of Ranky Tanky), on Friday, April 26. Tickets are on sale now from $25 to $45 and can be purchased at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Beehive the 60s Musical

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Photo by Danny Lam

By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Beehive the 60’s Musical

Created by Larry Gallagher

Director/Choreographer: Candy Brown

Musical Director: Dr. Michael A. Williams

If you have not seen Beehive the 60’s Musical at the Lone Tree Arts Center, you still have time. It will be showing from April 3rd through April 13th. Call soon to reserve your spot.

This is one musical you do not want to miss. It is based on the songs from the 60s, with the all-female cast performing songs originally sung by women during that era. By showcasing the women’s music of the ‘60s, Beehive shows us the influence of the female social issues and political feelings of the time.

The show opens to the voice of a radio announcer. The band is on stage, inside the working rooms of a radio station. It feels like we are part of a radio show. The stage is decorated in a ‘60s theme with 45s records hanging from the ceiling.

The first performance is the introduction of the 6 powerful female vocalists. They are dressed in the big swing dresses of the ‘60s, talking on corded phones and of course they all have big beehives and kitten heels. The number is a high energy song “Round the Beehive/Lets Rock.” This first act has everyone in the audience singing from the start.

The ladies introduce themselves by singing the name game. They even had some people from the audience participate. This is where the party gets started.

Jasmine is played by Piper Lindsay Arpan who is a choreographer, singer and performer. She has been seen in Reunion ’85, Home for the Holidays, Guys and Dolls in Concert, Ragtime and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Her dancing ability is as impressive as her singing talent.

Patti is played by Valerie Igoe. Valerie is making her debut to the Lone Tree Arts Center. Her credits include Annie, The Full Monty, Rock of Ages and 42nd Street.

Karen Jeffreys plays Alison. Maybe you saw her in My Way: Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Camelot, Winter Wonderettes, Reunion ’85, South Pacific in Concert and Home for the Holidays.

Melody Moore stars as Laura. Melody has been in numerous off-Broadway shows including Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Queenie in The Wild Party and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Gina is played by Sheryl Renee. Sheryl’s career highlights include singing the national anthem for President Barack Obama. She has appeared on stage shows, a radio host and numerous theatrical productions. Sheryl stole the show with her performance of Tina Turner.

Wanda performed by Sharon Kay White serves as the show’s narrator. She offers bits of fashion advice and information about the era to give greater insight to each song. Wanda’s credits include performances all over the world including the Arvada Center, Lake Dillon Theater Company, Aurora Fox Arts Center, Country Dinner Playhouse and many more.

As we move through the decade, the music and the costumes shift dramatically. The six powerful performers make their way through the early ‘60s with songs such as “It’s My Party” By Lesley Gore, “I’ll Never Change Him by Annette Funicello, “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” by The Chiffons, “To Sir with Love” by Lulu, “My Boy Friend is Back” by The Angels and “Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals.

Beehive then moved through to a more edgy time of the ‘60s with full or partial renditions of songs like “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore. For those of you who do not know this song was thought to be a game changer for the women’s movement in the ‘60s. Other numbers included: “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin, several selections from Tina Turner (“River Deep, Mountain High” and “Proud Mary” and “Chain of Fools”).

The costumes changes were incredible as the decade rolled out on stage. The beehive was gone, and long hair, go-go boots and mini skirts are now seen. The women on stage convey to the audience the changing attitude of the women of the 60s.

Next up was Janis Joplin (Karen Jeffreys). This performance brought down the house with “Cry Baby” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” She looked, acted and sounded the part, with boa feathers and all. If Janis was a favorite of yours, you will want to see to this.

The show combines nostalgia with girl power. The ‘60s was a time when proper behavior gave way to youthful rebellion and a newly awakening generation pushed to be heard through their music.

Make plans to see this show before it is gone.

Review: International Guitar Night

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By Michelle Marx, Guest Blogger

Last Friday, International Guitar Night made its only Colorado stop for its 2019 tour at the Lone Tree Arts Center. The sold-out crowd was treated to a guitar extravaganza featuring four accomplished guitarists: Luca Stricagnoli, Antoine Boyer, Samuelito, and Cenk Erdogan.

Stricagnoli runs on stage, picks up a guitar, and starts playing. His music is his introduction. Playing a mix of original songs and covers, he has excellent stage presence. He doesn’t just play a simple acoustic guitar, he also plays a guitar with three fingerboards. Not just a showman, Stricagnoli is also the evenings host.

Antoine Boyer gets his solo moment next. The 22 year old gypsy jazz guitarist from France also begins his set by playing. He explains to the crowd how he likes to play with the harmony of famous songs and then punctuates his explanation with his playing. He dazzles with a cover of The Sound of Silence.

Samuel Rouesnel, stage name Samuelito, is a Flamenco guitarist from France. Both a composer and player, Samuelito began with classical guitar at age seven. He plays several songs by Paco de Lucia, a Flamenco virtuoso and a great inspiration to Samuelito.

From Turkey is Cenk Erdogan and his fretless guitar. He introduces himself with an original composition. He explains the fretless guitar and its range of sounds and tones. Erdogan has played and taught around the world. It shows through his ease with communicating with the audience and improvising as he plays. His music is beautiful and my personal favorite of the evening.

All the performers have the opportunity to showcase their skill and I appreciate that they all talk about themselves and their influences. They are all engaging and humorous storytellers.

International Guitar Night is known for rotating through only the best of the best guitarists and  highlighting each individual artist, but they also celebrate their skills through collaboration. After the solos come the duets and final quartet performance. These range from a raucous cover of “Another One Bites the Dust,” to beautiful ballads and fun pop culture references.

International Guitar Night tours annually highlighting new and fabulous talent. Keep your eyes open for their next tour and hopefully their next trip through Colorado. For samples of each musician visit https://internationalguitarnight.com

Preview: International Guitar Night

IGN new headerBy Michelle Marx, guest blogger

International Guitar Night brings to the stage four spectacular acoustic guitarists. Founded by Brian Gore in 1995, International Guitar Night has featured a diverse array of performers from around the world. This year is no exception. Gore has assembled four dynamic and accomplished guitarists.

From Italy, Luca Stricagnoli is a YouTube sensation with over 100 million views. His style is both innovative and unique and some might even call it crazy. He’s an enthusiastic showman and his performances have delighted audiences worldwide.

Cenk Erdogan is a fretless guitarist from Turkey. What is a fretless guitar? It’s a guitar with a fingerboard without frets which creates no interruption in the string and allows a greater range of sounds. Not only has Erdogan toured the world, he is also a leading fretless guitar educator.

Two guitarists hail from France. Swing guitarist Antoine Boyer was named Guitarist of the Year by Guitarist Magazine in 2012. He was the first gypsy jazz artist to win the honor. And the fourth artist for the evening is Flamenco guitarist Samuelito. Both a composer and performer, Samuelito loves to incorporate music of various origins.

International Guitar Night is known for rotating through only the best of the best in acoustic guitar, highlighting each individual artist and celebrating their skills through collaboration.

International Guitar Night is in town for only one night, Friday, February 15 at 8:00 pm at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

Click here for tickets, more information, and videos 

Review: RESPECT – A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra

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By Kristi Andrus, guest blogger

I typically pick the shows I want to see to review. That’s my entire process, nothing complicated, just personal preference.  Occasionally, however, my process is unintentionally complicated, like for instance, when the show I pick is performed by a local legend who is paying tribute to a national treasure. Oh, and did I mention she’s married to Denver’s mayor?

I went to Saturday night’s sold-out show Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra knowing it would be a cool night out, but it was way more mellow and vibey and fun than I even expected.

Was it the red dress? The red shoes? The 13-piece orchestra? The gravelly infectious vocals? The selfie with my brother and the mayor? Or something else?

Let’s dissect the night. Here’s a look at the songs, the lyrics, and the moments that stood out.

But first, the facts:

Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee (MLL) of Mary Louise Lee Band (MLLB) has incredible range, perfect pitch, is a blend of liveliness, sultriness, confidence, good energy, and a warm hug. She’s a Denver institution married to a Denver institution. She commands the stage, works the room, and knows when it’s time to take off her shoes, symbolizing to the audience that it’s also time to party.

Now, the rundown: (Try to sing everything in italics if you will).

The band was dressed head to toe in black with red accents, ties for the men, shoes for the women. MLL was wearing a red dress and red shoes and comfortable in the spotlight. She was welcoming and ready, her band equally ready to rock.

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Review: Shaun Boothe’s Unauthorized Biography Series

By Cassie Schauer, guest blogger

Celebrate Greatness! Shaun Boothe brought The Unauthorized Biography Series to the Lone Tree Arts Center for one night.  Part hip hop performance, part history lesson, and part motivational speech, Boothe presented bios of the world’s greatest heroes and leaders through rap and song.

Shaun Boothe’s message is aimed at children and teenagers; however, it resonates with everyone. By celebrating our heroes, we can awaken the greatness in all of us. We can accomplish change when we see what was accomplished in the past. By using rap and hip hop, Boothe delivered this message using a language that children and teenagers can relate to and cultural icons that they recognize. Standing in the middle of the stage with the house lights up and a giant screen behind him, he engaged the kids by asking if there were any hip hop or Snoop fans out there. He asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.”

Boothe wanted us to see that we all have access to the same courage and power that some of our greatest cultural heroes do.  He showed us how they overcame obstacles, opened their hearts, and became stronger and courageous enough to put others above themselves.

Five leaders were presented, beginning with a short intro followed by Boothe’s hip hop story.  Video clips were shown on the screen behind him.  All of the bios included both widely known and less familiar information about each person.

Muhammed Ali, who famously proclaimed, “I am the Greatest,” was the perfect starting point.  Boothe emphasized how Ali chose character over fame by refusing to change his beliefs for anything or anyone.  He was first perceived as a villain but became a hero as popular opinion about the Vietnam War changed. Ali’s bio ended with the audience chanting “Ali Bomaye” (“Ali kill him”), the cheer made famous by Ali’s 1972 “Rumble in the Jungle” versus George Foreman.

Emphasizing we have to choose between “working for applause or working for a cause,” Boothe’s next presentation was Martin Luther King Jr, with scenes of the Selma riots of 1965.  MLK passed the baton to President Barack Obama: “Martin walked so Obama could run.” After presenting Obama, Boothe stopped and restated how by rising above the low expectations he faced, he honored his limitless potential. Obama then passed the baton to the next generation.

Speaking again to the young people in the audience, Boothe asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.” Asking why we should celebrate MLK when that was so long ago, he answered that current breaking news is heartbreaking news. By focusing on the greatness we can tune out the negativity.

Sitting on the edge of the stage and speaking directly to the kids in front of him, Boothe asked if anyone could tell him who Malala is. Hands shot up and he passed the mic to a young girl who described her as “a girl who fought for girl’s education in Pakistan and was shot because of it.” Boothe then told the story of Malala’s life, how she wouldn’t stop pushing for female education in the face of great adversity, how she was told over and over to stop, and how she eventually became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

The screen flashed, #Whatsyourlegacy.  Boothe asked, “What is your story? Don’t let anyone write the story of your life.” Again, speaking to the kids in the audience, he stated, “Greatness is really all about committing to something larger than yourself.  Great small moments can make a great difference to one person. Find something great to do in the moment.”

Giving a shout out to any fellow Jamaicans in the audience (Boothe is from Toronto but of Jamaican descent), reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley was the final bio presented. Boothe emphasized Marley’s message of “One Love” and that the choices we make take us one step closer or farther away from our dreams.

That led to Boothe’s final message: dreaming big inspires big action from us. To make that dream happen we have to take the first step and the next step appears. He reminded the kids that our heroes didn’t have a master plan or blueprint. They just took that first step.

The performance ended with Boothe singing his first hit, “One by One” and telling all of us to stay true to our dreams.  He high-fived his way through the audience and ended with a brief Q&A.  By the end of the performance, Shaun Boothe left all of us, especially the youngest members of the audience,  inspired to find the greatness in ourselves.

Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Review: And We Drop The Needle Once Again!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

If we could only step back in time… Well, you can, with the Lone Tree Arts Center’s Classic Album Live series. This spring, two new shows featuring the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Pink Floyd will be performed on the LTAC’s stage. On Saturday, January 19, I attended Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and was pleasantly surprised to get caught up in the excitement of listening to the Beatles play once again.

What was really amazing was the faithfulness of the sound to the original album. Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live touts the series as a “note for note, cut for cut” endeavor. The clean, clear voices of the singers, the precision playing of the instruments, and the distorted noises that we all remember from listening to the Beatle’s vinyl versions are all there.

There are a couple of reasons why this unique type of performance works for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band follows some of the conventions of the symphony. The eleven performers on stage are anonymous to the audience—their names are not listed in the theater program nor announced during the show, they all wear black, they play numerous instruments, and no one acted the part of being a Beatle. Whether they were playing the violin, piano, or bass guitar, they were all extraordinary musicians playing a rock masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Lovely Rita,” and “Within You Without You” were sung by the performers with strong voices, and no fake British accents. Now you might say, the Beatles had strong Liverpool accents, how can the song sound the same? But remarkably, it does. Perhaps, it’s the instrumental accuracy paired with the audiences’ deep love for the album that really breathes life into the music.

The Classic Albums Live band had a great rapport with the audience whether they were tuning an instrument or moving to perform some other function. The full performance of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was completed in about an hour. The second half of the performance focused on many of the Beatles hits, demonstrating that these musicians really prepared for a deep dive into Beatles history.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was performed to a sold out audience both nights. At the end of the performance, there was nothing more inspiring than to see the response of concert goers singing along with the band and enjoying the beat of the music. The Classic Albums Live band received a standing ovation and as I left the building I heard many people remarking on their wonderful performance.

The Lone Tree Arts Center will be hosting two more events in this series including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s, Chronicle Volume 1 on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. featuring the songs “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” The series has become so popular with local audiences that a new concert has been recently added on Saturday, June 8, at 8 p.m. featuring the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

So, it is possible to step back in time and to once again hear the music that is the soundtrack of your life. Tickets for the next two Classic Albums Live concerts are going fast, but still available from $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Sons of the Pioneers

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By Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

“Yipee Tie Yie Yay, get along little doggies!” crooned the Sons of the Pioneers at the Lone Tree Art Center this weekend. This enduring western trio formed by Roy Rogers in 1933 is now ably led by his son and emcee, Dusty Rogers. Original compositions such as “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Cool Water” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” have become beloved American classics capturing the mystery and romance of the early cowboy.

It was an icy-cold night with snow packed streets as we made our way to the Arts Center and were surprised to see a sold-out crowd ready to take a deep dive into Roy Roger’s western music. As the music began, I took a trip back to my childhood as the group sang familiar tunes I had grown up with and was surprised to realize I could still remember almost every word! My parents had played quite an eclectic mix of music on our family record player–from Beethoven and Mozart to Burl Ives, Glen Campbell, Sons of the Pioneers and various gospel music artists.

All that was missing was the campfire smoke as the evening progressed with “trail boss” Tommy Nallie playing the guitar and singing a couple solos. Ken Lattimore sang tenor and played several instruments including the mandolin, as well as providing light hearted banter with other members of the group. Dusty Rogers, the lead singer of the group, shared childhood stories about his famous father and stepmother Dale Evans. Baritone John Fullerton played rhythm guitar and yodeled beautifully. Last, but not least, star talent Paul Elliott expertly played the fiddle, keeping the audience spellbound.

The evening ended on a high note with the group singing “Happy Trails.” Truly, as declared by the Smithsonian Institute, the Sons of the Pioneers are one of our cherished national treasures in their timeless documentation of the Great American West.

Preview: Classic Albums Live Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE SHOW WITH SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The Lone Tree Arts Center will revisit the genius of the Beatles and the music that defined an era with Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 and Sunday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live, brings a sixteen-piece band of outstanding musicians who will perform one of the most complex and profound masterpieces in rock and roll history. Every note performed as if you were back in the recording studio with the Beatles in 1967. More importantly, this is not a 60s tribute band type of performance with costumes and performers that look like the Beatles, rather it is a group of extraordinary, professional musicians who bring the album to life as it was intended to be heard.

Fifty-two years after its release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band still resonates as one of the most popular and influential albums of all time with hits like:  “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “A Day in the Life” as well as George Harrison’s experimental “Within You and Without You” and the title cut “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  The Classic Albums Live musicians replicate the singing, the brass, the guitars, the sitars, and the drums with utter fidelity to the original experience.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sealed the Beatles’ legacy in music history for decades to come. Join the Lone Tree Art Center as it celebrates the Beatles and the timelessness of this brilliant album in concert. Seats are going fast. Tickets are $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.