Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Fine Arts’ Category

Maryville College professor releases second solo guitar CD

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matascik headshot

A press release from the fine folks at Maryville College

Dr. Sheri Matascik, associate professor of music at Maryville College, released her second solo guitar CD on Oct. 31.

The album, titled “Spirit Wood,” features a “classical/pop fusion” style of music, Matascik said.

“These pieces evoke the many and varied forms of worship and meditation,” Matascik said. “The pieces range from fast, upbeat and lighthearted tunes to slow, contemplative reflections on life, love, nature and world peace.”

The title, “Spirit Wood,” comes from the fact that guitars are made of select hardwood – usually from large, very old trees, she said.

“Once that wood is crafted into a guitar by the skillful hands of a luthier, it sort of becomes alive again: the wood resonates as it is excited through the strings by the player of the instrument,” Matascik said. “One can feel this resonance while playing, since the guitar sits against the person’s body while being played. This represents the ‘Spirit of the Wood’ itself, as well as the intentions of the player.”

The CD is available for purchase on Matascik’s website, and digital downloads are available on iTunes and Amazon. The CD itself has been packaged in environmentally friendly packaging. Called an eco-wallet, the product contains no plastic, and the paper products used in production of the cover are recycled.

In October 2009, Matascik released her first solo guitar CD, “At the End of the Day,” a collection of guitar compositions that celebrate classical, contemporary folk, Appalachian, jazz and Celtic styles. Matascik, who joined the Maryville College faculty in 1995, has a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance and a master’s degree in music theory and composition from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. She holds a doctorate in music theory and composition from Kent State.

Written by wildsmith

November 14th, 2011 at 7:51 am

The bizarre, beautiful and bold ‘Refrigerator’ coming to Knoxville

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teenaNo Face Performance Group Co-Artistic Director Mark McCloughan as Teena Geist

… and no, we ain’t talking about former Chicago Bear William Perry.

We’re talking about “The Beautiful Refrigerator Is Empty,” a piece of performance art courtesy of the Philadelphia-based collective No Face Performance Group. According to Jaime Maseda, one of the company’s co-artistic directors, it’s a “demonic drag cabaret” that has to be seen to truly be appreciated. Check out the video on the group’s website here.

“(Co-Artistic Director) Mark McCloughan performs a 14-year-old character named Teena Geist, and it’s done in masks and with a voice manipulator,” Maseda told The Daily Times this week. “What’s unique about the structure is that another artistic director is doing live design and light manipulation, and a musician is playing music through a synthesizer, so the two of them are controlling the design elements, supporting or going against the monologue.

“It’s highly improvised within the structure, and they’re following each other, but they’ve developed this groove and atmosphere, and the thrill of watching is how they follow each other and how far they go.”

The basic story, he added, follows Teena’s giddy excitement as she prepares to attend prom with Todd, the boyfriend of her best friend, Jessica. Only it’s revealed that Jessica has gone question, and the performance slowly ratchets up the tension, Maseda said.

“The most common reaction is that people are super creeped-out but also laughing, not knowing which one they really feel,” he said. “People are usually sort of dazed, or even a little disturbed but with a smile afterward, too. It’s definitely interesting to see how alienated people feel, but usually they feel pretty drawn in. It’s a pretty weird, crazy experience to sit through it.

“So much of it is really about the depths 14-year-olds go to with all the pressures of high school life. Everybody at that age has this fantasy life going on in their heads, and people definitely respond to that.”

No Face began in 2007 when its four founders were in college and met through theater. After deciding to do their own production, they realized they wanted to push boundaries and come up with something beyond the parameters of traditional stage theater, Maseda said.

“We sort of devised spontaneously throughout the rehearsal process rather than writing the play first or taking someone’s script,” he said. “We were all interested in performing and acting and smashing together different sorts of actor training, some that involved musical training or physical training, so part of it was developing a rehearsal regimen where we train all sorts of different artistic muscles — the primary one being working as an ensemble and creating as an ensemble.

“We compiled texts and visual research and just all sorts of things that were catching our eyes to sort of put them all together and create one big thing we could call our own from all these different genres. Part of it comes from different interests we have as individuals, and of course we wanted to find structures of narrative of performance that are new and are fresh that we can really call our own. We try and push boundaries but have each piece be a total monster.”

It sounds as if they’ve succeeded with “The Beautiful Refrigerator.” No Face performs it at 9:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at The Birdhouse, part of the Neighborhood Center at 800 N. Fourth Ave. in Knoxville’s historic Fourth and Gill neighborhood. Admission is a suggested $5 donation.

Written by wildsmith

November 8th, 2011 at 9:14 am

Posted in Fine Arts, Local venues

Painting with a Twist … literally

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Here’s an interesting concept — brown-bag it to an art studio and take some art lessons while you imbibe. It’s the premise behind Painting with a Twist, opening at 10932 Murdock Road in Knoxville.

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According to a press release, no previous art experience is necessary; local artists will offer “step-by-step instructions to the class and will patiently walk through each step of creating the painting. To enroll, participants simply check the calendar to see the available classes and sign-up on-line for the painting they wish to paint.  Here’s the twist: Bring your own beverage and snacks, bring your friends, but there is no need to bring your inner Van Gogh. We supply the canvas, paint, aprons and encouragement.”

You can get a sneak peek at the new business from 2-4 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 2) and meet owners Angie Wallace and Patty Walden. According to the release, “both are experienced business women with a desire to bring a fun entertainment option to the area. While most evening classes are restricted to adults, special classes are offered for kids and families. Private parties can also be booked at the location.”

The concept, according to their PR, by the pair in the New Orleans area with the purpose of offering “an opportunity to those whose lives had been so dramatically impacted by Katrina.”

For more information, call (865) 675-2500 or visit the shop online at www.paintingwithatwist.com.

Written by wildsmith

November 27th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Clayton Center for the Arts rolls out 2010-2011 season lineup

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The Clayton Center for the Arts over on the Maryville College campus got a test run when it opened at the beginning of the year, but now officials are preparing for the facility’s first full season of performances.

Clayton Center Executive Director Robert Hutchens unveiled the 2010-11 season for the center this week, and it includes something for everyone — literally — including some big names in jazz and bluegrass. Here’s what’s headed to Maryville this year:

  • Neil Berg’s “100 Years of Broadway” (8 p.m. Sept. 17 in the main theater): Five of Broadway’s leading performers as well as an all-star New York band come to town to perform the most beloved and memorable songs from a century of Broadway musical history, including recent as well as more traditional hits. Not only do they perform — they do so as the characters and scenes from which the songs come.
  • Richter/Uzur (7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Lambert Recital Hall): A duo fusing rock , folk and classical  to create a sound that is modern, traditional and unique.
  • Sam Bush with Missy Raines and New Hip (8 p.m. Nov. 5 on the main stage): One of the season’s headliners, Bush has been called “The King of Telluride,” “The Founder of New Grass” and “The Heir to Bill Monroe.” He’s an award-winning master of banjo, fiddle, and mandolin and has shared the stage with such luminaries as Lyle Lovett and Garth Brooks. Raines is a seven-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association Bass Player of the Year Awards and will be performing with her band, New Hip.
  • Robert deMaine and Andrew Armstrong (7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Lambert Recital Hall): First chair cellist of the Detroit Symphony (deMaine) and internationally renowned pianist (Armstrong) perform an evening of intimate classical music
  • American Spiritual Ensemble (8 p.m. Jan. 15, 2011, on the main stage): Part of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on campus, featuring the spellbinding singing of John Wesley Wright, who entertained at the center’s opening-night gala. He’s just one member of the ensemble, a group of professional soloists who combine their voices in a chorus of tribute to the soul-stirring spiritual.
  • The Aluminum Show (8 p.m. Jan. 21 on the main stage): Like Pilobolus and The Blue Man Group, the Israeli troupe of “dancers”  has defined its own genre.  Clad in  imaginative, often bizarre, structures of recycled aluminum, the  performers execute a choreography of shapes and colors that surprise, intrigue and enchant
  • Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana (7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 on the main stage): An evening of culture and art featuring dancers celebrating the national dance and songs  of Spain.
  • “All Shook Up,” the musical (8 p.m. Feb. 11 on the main stage): Featuring the songbook of Elvis Presley, telling the story of a teenage rebel shaking up a small town.
  • “The Comedy of Errors” (7:30 p.m. March 9 on the main stage): The Acting Company of New York City presents one of Shakespeare’s most farcical, accessible plays.
  • The Passing Zone (7:30 p.m. March 19 on the main stage): Comedy-juggling team that’s been in the Guinness Book of World Records four times, they’ll juggle everything from human beings to chainsaws.
  • “An Evening With Groucho Marx” (6:30 p.m. March 26 in the William Baxter Lee Grand Foyer): Actor Frank Ferrante transforms himself into the legendary screen and comedic legend for a night of dinner theater in the Clayton Center’s foyer.
  • Chris Brubeck and Triple Play (8 p.m. April 8 on the main stage): The son of legendary jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck comes to town with Joel Brown and Madcat Ruth to perform their melange of blues, rock, folk and, of course, jazz.

And those shows are on top of what’s already been announced:

As far as ticket sales go — 12 of the events are being offered in subscription series of different sizes through Sept. 19.  Patrons who buy a series of five to seven performances will receive a 10 percent discount; those wanting 8 to 11 performances get a 15 percent discount; and those who purchase tickets for all 12 get a 25 percent discount. Regarding single-ticket sales — excluding the Groucho Marx dinner theater show, the average ticket price is $16.09 for adult economy tickets (average price for students and seniors — $12.50).

To reserve seats for any of the shows, call the Clayton Center box office at (865) 981-8590, visit the center online or go by the box office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets go on sale Thursday, Aug. 19.

Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts gears up

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This weekend, a lot of media attention will be focused on Knoxville, where the groundbreaking Big Ears Festival will be taking place. Hats off to Ashley Capps and his company, AC Entertainment, for putting together a truly spectacular festival of underground, avant garde, off-the-radar pop and unheard-of classical genius; we’ll have a few artist profiles of our own in this coming Friday’s Weekend entertainment section.

A little closer to home, however, there’s still big things happening. Starting Friday night, the newly built Clayton Center for the Arts will kick off its grand opening weekend with a concert by country artist Jo Dee Messina; tickets are still available and range from $36-$46. We put together a nice little Clayton Center package, including an interview with Jo Dee, a look at last-minute preparations for the grand opening gala on Saturday night and a timeline of the center’s construction, in last Friday’s Weekend. But that’s just the beginning of Clayton Center goodness taking place over the next several months. A few concerts have been announced already, a few are late additions to the lineup, and a few are outright surprises. Here’s a roundup of what’s coming to the Maryville College campus as the center’s season gets into full swing:

Beyond that, the fall season is currently being booked, and while official announcements have yet to be made, there are a few hints out there online. Bluegrass goddess Missy Raines lists on her website an Oct. 7, 2010 date at the Clayton Center with fellow bluegrass maestro Sam Bush.

Written by wildsmith

March 22nd, 2010 at 7:06 am

Clayton Center for the Arts grand opening gala fleshed out

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The “Grand Opening Gala” for the newly constructed Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus is little more than three weeks away, and the lineup for the evening’s festivities looks stellar.

The night before, country star Jo Dee Messina will perform; we’ll have an interview with her in the March 19 edition of The Daily Times Weekend entertainment section. The next night — Saturday, March 27 — is the grand opening. It begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $25. Here’s what’s in store:

“The Gala is an evening of entertainment highlighting East Tennessee artists and performers from a wide variety of genres,” according to a recent press release. “David Keith will emcee the event which will feature performances by Sen. Lamar Alexander on the “Alexander” Steinway piano, the Maryville College Concert Choir, the Orchestra at Maryville College, Appalachian Ballet Company, Delores Ziegler, John Wesley Wright, Will Tate & 6ix Mile Express, Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, David Dwyer, Bruce McKinnon, Dr. Robert Bonham, Jennifer Olander, John Cherry and many other Blount County and East Tennessee personalities.

To purchase tickets for this event, visit the Clayton Center Box Office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, call 981-8590, or visit the venue’s website and and click on the Grand Opening Gala icon on the main page.

Written by wildsmith

March 3rd, 2010 at 10:45 am

Get your Ears wet …

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If you’re a music fan interested in checking out the upcoming Big Ears Festival on March 26-28 but feel a little intimidated by artists you’ve never heard of and an atmosphere of creativity that you believe will make you feel like a Neanderthal, fear not.

First of all, there’s no reason to feel that way. Of course, Big Ears is geared toward fans in the know, the folks who can discuss artist-in-residence Terry Riley’s “In C” with all of the enthusiasm of Cold War-era scholars talking about East-West relations, but it’s not just for those people. It’s for anyone who loves music in general, as Big Ears organizers told us last year, and now you can prep yourself with a little know-before-you-go action.

Next week, organizers will hold a “Big Ears Listening Party and Happy Hour” from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville. It’s free to get in, and there will be a door prize giveaway of a pair of all-access “Inner Ear” passes. More importantly, it’s an informal listening party to share videos and songs by Big Ears performers with area residents.

“There’s a lot going on at Big Ears, so it’s a lot to absorb,” says AC Entertainment founder and president Ashley Capps in a press release. “We want people who are curious about the festival to get together and find out more.”

At the listening party, Capps will share stories, music and videos about the performing artists and will talk about special collaborations, surprise appearances and unique performances to take place over the course of the weekend; highlighting the “firsts” that will make Big Ears 2010 an unparalleled musical experience.

Also announced yesterday — addition to the Big Ears lineup, including Sufjan Stevens, Adrian Belew and more. Get the full skinny at the festival’s website, where you can browse the schedule, read about the performers and purchase tickets.

Written by wildsmith

February 17th, 2010 at 9:51 am

Clayton Center for the Arts tickets go on sale Friday

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Friday is the big day — tickets go on sale for upcoming events at the almost-completed Clayton Center for the Arts, construction of which is wrapping up on the Maryville College campus.

Earlier this week, readers of The Daily Times got a glimpse of the new Steinway pianos in the recital hall; starting Friday, they can begin planning their social calendars around several of the events taking place at the center in the coming months. Those events include:

  • Maryville High School Orchestra Valentine’s Day concert with special guest Mark Wagner: 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $11 adults in advance/$14 at the door and $6 students.
  • Jo Dee Messina: 8 p.m. Friday, March 26. Tickets are $36, $46 and $56.
  • Grand opening gala: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27. Tickets are $20.
  • Contigula Brothers recital (benefit for the Adams Foundation, in the center’s Recital Hall): 2 p.m. Sunday, March 28. Tickets are $26 adults/$11 students.
  • BANFF Film Festival: 2 p.m. Monday, March 29. Tickets are $10 advance/$12 day of screening.
  • Delores Ziegler/John Wesley Wright vocal recital (in the Recital Hall): 8 p.m. Monday, March 29. Tickets are $15.
  • Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys with Cherryholmes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29. Tickets are $24.50, $29.50 and $36.
  • Ball in the House (five-man R&B vocal group): 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30. Tickets are $20/$16 students/$11 Maryville College students
  • “Our Town,” a production of the Maryville College Department of Theatre (in the center’s FLEX Theatre): Thursday, April 29 thru Sunday, May 2. $7/$5 Maryville College students
  • Wood and Strings Puppet Theatre (in the FLEX Theatre): 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 14. $12 adults/$5 MC students

In addition, the Clayton Center for the Arts will serve as a local Tickets Unlimited outlet, allowing visitors to the box office to purchase tickets for most Tickets Unlimited events in the East Tennessee area. For more information, visit the center’s website, call the box office at 981-8590 or visit in person at 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville. The box office opens for business at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5.

Written by wildsmith

February 3rd, 2010 at 10:26 am

Heritage High grad wins another Grammy!

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Heritage High School graduate and classical composer Jennifer Higdon is no stranger to The Grammy Awards.

We interviewed her back in 2005, when she was up for four of them; a 1981 graduate of Heritage High School and a native of Blount County, those nominations were for her March 2004 release, “Cityscape/Concerto for Orchestra,” performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She won in an engineering category, but Sunday night, she walked away with another — this time for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, for “Percussion Concerto,” performed by the London Philharmonic. You can see her among the list of Grammy nominees and winners here.

At Heritage, Higdon played drums and flute under band director Larry Hicks. After graduating from Heritage in 1981, Higdon attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She also completed coursework at the Curtis Institute and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she’s worked as a classical composer ever since. She’s come a long way from the hills of Blount County, but her old Tennessee hometown is never far from her mind.

“Absolutely, I think of Blount County a lot,” she told The Daily Times during that 2005 interview. “On ‘Concerto for Orchestra,’ there’s one movement that has a lot of drum stuff in it, and I actually put it in there as sort of a memory to the drum cadences we used to play at Heritage. I think Blount County is always with me. I actually think about my band friends when I’m standing backstage before a performance, because when I’m nervous, thinking about them and all of the good times we had helps me calm down.”

Check out Higdon on her own website, and read Knoxville Symphony Orchestra conductor Maestro Lucas Richman’s thoughts on Higdon here.

Written by wildsmith

February 1st, 2010 at 9:29 am

KSO pencils in replacement singer for March 13 Pops concert

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This just in from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra offices:

Pops Series guest artist Michael Feinstein has accepted a role on Broadway’s “All About Me” and will not be able to make his Knoxville engagement on March 13, 2010.  Replacing Feinstein will be Steve Lippia, hailed by none other than Frank Sinatra’s own music director Vincent Falcone as “the best young singer I’ve heard in 25 years.”

That show takes place at 8 p.m. March 13 at the Civic Auditorium, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave. in downtown Knoxville. Tickets are $33-$87. Call the symphony at 291-3310 to purchase tickets, or visit the symphony’s website.

Written by wildsmith

January 14th, 2010 at 2:21 pm