It’s not enough to present our works of art on a swath of stages across greater Indianapolis. What we need are people feeling welcome to be sitting in the seats, and when a production in this current time is both live and remote, there is easy access. What heartened me at the cusp of June 2022 happened at The Tarkington Theatre at The Center for Performing Arts in Carmel.

I was in the midst of performing artists and audience members I normally have to travel to different places to meet up with. June 4, 2022, gifted a glorious moment that I have had to hug and not let go of for a week. I could not rush into a rapid review. I’ve had to take time to absorb the beauty of all-together in the same space. It’s a powerful moment since my one year shy of 40 of sojourning in Indianapolis. When I first came, I was told, ‘No American Indians live here.’ Seek and you shall find…I found and became part of families and communities.

That’s not a safe neighborhood for you to be going to,’ I was advised. I went and met the diverse people who continue to build our collective arts and humanities as a way of life. And so it has evolved with every marginalized part of us over the past four decades. Assuredly,  this moment of expansiveness isn’t allowing me to sit back, relax and enjoy the done deal. There’s still work to do, to bring us together for unity with differences. Yet, I am applauding what is happening. I want always, not selective times, to be in the midst of multiplicity wherever I attend. I rather like the concept, ‘one seat fits all, all stages shine a light on everyone…’

The story behind the inaugural New Works: An Arts Commission Project, is upfront in the printed program: “During the 2021-22 season, the Center [for the Performing Arts] launched New Works, a commission project designed to promote and sustain the area’s working artists and artistic communities in an inclusive way by supporting the creation of new works across all performing arts disciplines.”

"Everyone was invited to submit a proposal to reflect the Center’s organizational core values of integrity, excellence, innovation, collaboration, and inclusion.” 

The three works share a commonality of communion with selfhood and with the community across time and space. Everyone is journeying and taking us along as partners—all of us can spin forward from where we’ve been, where we’re at, to where we can be IF we focus on unity. ‘Together’ is the operative imperative, leading us ‘to gather.’ Music is central to the development of each work.

“Women’s Work” creators Callie Burk-Hartz and Alicia LaMagdeleine with Betty Rage Productions invites us into the lives of three women at the start [1980s?] and at the close [2022] of their careers.  What changes, what remains constant] in fashion, technology, and who is in charge? How do we recognize ourselves in the trajectory?  Guitarist Dave Pelsue, in a beam of light at far stage left, opens the show, and it’s to the flow of his original composition that everyone moves. He’s the sole male on stage, setting the tone and tempo for the three women in three safe and secure places for women to work—not so much as to have opportunities for upward mobility as to be the assistants for the men to move up and out. 

The nurse Anne carries her feisty attitude forward from the new on-the-job portrayal by Katie Carter in white hospital regulation uniform to the give-no-quarters veteran caregiver Miki Mathioudakis, now in colorful scrubs. They have had to gain expertise with technology, with research, with new diseases, and still rely on the trusted stethoscope. 

Betty is the teacher with the chalkboard sharing a hopeful daily message, the pencil in the bun of hair atop her head. She has to contend with the changing attitudes from parents and society about the role of education. Another August, another new class, a former student now in an upward mobility career comes back to share a left-handed thank you, so to speak. ‘Well, ok,’ replies Beverly Roche, as the veteran teacher, who now can embrace herself as the bright-eyed young Kallen Ruston, so full of zeal on that first day. Social attitude toward education has altered the role of the teacher from being in partnership with parenting to being placed in an adversarial position. It’s a whack on the side of the head with cutting-edge humor alongside wry insights into what we want for others so they can achieve and what we’re allowed to share in a world that is becoming increasingly divisive.

We’re also in the company of the secretary in an upscale firm, where the young Carol, portrayed by Anna Zimmerman, reacts to being told she needs to smile more when she answers the standard black phone in its high cradle, and where, three decades later, Karin Stratton is her older self, guiding us through corporate life. Unlike the other two, Carol left for what seemed like an upward opportunity but returned. She had married, had children and, looking back, observes “how busy you become,” and how we as women choose our paths based on options open to us. 

Credit to stage manager Zack Schneider for keeping everything moving in the fast-paced, who’s in the spotlight now? theatrical work.

This script continues to evolve and will show up at IndyFringe 2022 in an expanded version, adding a fourth character. To follow this team of creatives goes here: http://www.bettyrageproductions.com/

With “Fly High” we are in a totally different iteration for award-winning jazz pianist/composer Monika Herzig and guitarist Peter Kienle, who now are providing backup music for Zachary Herzig’s compellingly lithe connectivity with the Cyr wheel. We are led by Zachary to consider our place within the circle of family and how we learn to internalize paths of power to live both free from and in concert with family, and to create our own community. 

Of course, I carry my personal stuff into the theatre. In addition to my own concepts of the myth based on actual events concerning the inventor Daedalus and his young son, Icarus, as a continuing circling of the meaning of family and individual empowerment. I also brought in with me the current hoopla around the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man, who made his Marvel hero appearance on June 5, 1962. I’m aware not all seeming adults follow comics characters, but I confess to my training in mythology. Modern comics simply are an extension of ancient myths as part of our continuing wisdom sources. 

It felt clear to me that Zachary picked up the Daedalus and Icarus cue when his parents gave full support to his decision-making; he was told: “fly high.” Because we know the outcome when Icarus fails to heed lifesaving advice, we’re at the edge of our seats to learn what we are about to witness will end. Will Zachary, as Icarus, channel and contain power, or will he plunge into the ocean, or burn up in the too-hot sun? What’s happening here, within the duality of circling—the inner family, the outer sun? Has the family sufficiently nurtured smart choice-making connected with “fly high”? What is Zachary going to share about ‘gravity’ in all its meanings? 

When Zachary approaches the Cyr wheel, flat on the stage floor, is he scoping it out as a visual symbol of the laws of nature, the truths of our ways of life? What are the right and wrong approaches? What are the limits, the reality? How high or low does our natural capacity allow us to fly before we are destroyed by outer forces over which we have no control?  I truly could have heard a pin drop in this audience. We were with Zachary in his every move, watching for a false step, the deadly fall. And then, at the close of this flight —not too low, not too high, just right— we burst into applause, and a few beats later, when Zachary shouldered the Cyr wheel and sauntered off-stage, we cheered. We had witnessed an Olympian associate who knows the challenges and the limits and decides accordingly. 

I will not be a spoiler about the amazing costume Zachary created. I hope this program is offered again and those who missed it at the Tarkington will experience the unity of self within space and will reflect on how we symbolize what we choose to attain. Power and “pow’”

Connect at this site: https://www.monikaherzig.com/

Journeying is at the center of “A Place in Time,” choreographed by Nicholas A. Owens and Lalah Ayan Hazelwood with Kenyetta’ Dance Company. The feel is of viewing familiar sky constellations from varying compass points: N,E,S,W, which means gaining a whole new point of view. The impetus for movement is attributed to composer Hanna Benn, with a recording by the Seattle-based North Corner Chamber Orchestra. The printed program does not specify the work, but I thought I recognized Benn’s “Sankofa,” cited as “a spiritual reflection on the music and influence of African-American women composers across history.”

Benn, on her website, writes, “Sankofa, in the Twi language of Ghana, translates as “go back and get it,” but she attributes a broader meaning as, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward.”

And that spurred me to look for Katherine Coplan’s NUVO Newsweekly column about Hanna Benn when Benn returned to Indianapolis for a residency in 2016. Benn’s poem flashed into cognizance as I watched the dancers:

“May the fragments reconcile themselves/May my light, the one unseen,/May I come back to me?”

Owens and Hazelwood harbor a penchant for abstract visuals that push the tension against the harsh realities of “systemic oppression.” They come into view on the back wall. Yet, and yet, and yet again, but not without pushback, and not without the determination to persevere, and not without dignity facing up to intended indignity do the dancers showcase truth in telling. The dancers, Camryn Bembry, Arika Casey, Lauren Curry, Lalah Hazelwood, Rebecca Lomax, Paige Neely, Emma Nolting and Lanel Muhammed, mass and break away, lead, follow, succor, defy, fall, get up, keep moving, forming and reforming. They are speaking to the moment through movement, they are establishing authority through unity, and stepping out when necessary for their personal sense of identity. 

Owens and Hazelwood are pushing and pulling, tweaking established dance vocabulary to give suffering its space in time, always with forward momentum to something better. That’s the earned jubilation that sends us out the door with hopefulness. WE need this in the face of headlines. I need this against the incessant pop-up notices of another shooting, another confrontation on the streets of our city.  When I came home, I stood for a long time under the canopy of nighttime. 

Is it remotely possible to pull everyone into the threads of the arts, to convince everyone to give up the guns and the knives and the dislikes that destroy, and instead engage in a common purpose of praise for who it is we can become as a community with respectful individuality?

See Katherine Coplen’s story about Hanna Benn returning to her Indiana homeplace in 2016: https://nuvo.newsnirvana.com/music/hanna-benn-shares-work-written-during-central-state-residency/article_01d66f50-3b91-51d7-a9d5-d91ddd134576.html

The film of June 4, 2022, live performance is available on youtube and on Facebook: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il0bTJs1D1M

https://www.facebook.com/CPApresents/videos/870638960560239

Timeline for New Works 2022-2023:

Call for entries: June 4, 2022 [

Application deadline: September 16, 2022

Winners will be announced: in January 2023

Premier performance: June 10, 2023

This is the landing page that explains the concept:

https://thecenterpresents.org/about/new-works-project/

This is the application page:

https://thecenterpresents.org/about/new-works-project-submission-information/

Here's an email address for questions:

NewWorks@TheCenterPresents.org

Two parallel music development programs, the Honeywell Arts Academy and the Songbook Academy, surfaced in Wabash in 2007 and in Carmel in 2009, respectively. Both sent announcements for upcoming public programs to attend:

Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Avenue, Indianapolis, is hosting the free Honeywell Arts Academy Resonance Institute recital on June 18, at 1:00 p.m. 

Free tickets here: https://www.honeywellartsacademy.org/indianapolis or call 267-324-4286

The American Songbook Academy in Concert is slated for July 23 at 7:00 p.m. at The Palladium, 1 Carter Green, Carmel. Tickets at: TheCenterPresents.org or call 317-843-3800.  

Ranaan Meyer, the founding and continuing bass player with Time4Three, correctly surmised my ignorance when he emailed, “I’m not sure you're aware, but for the past fifteen years I have had a full scholarship double bass program in Wabash, and we have grown. Super exciting!”

Reading down the email, I learned, “What began fifteen years ago as a full scholarship double bass institute [named “Wabass” pronounced ‘wah-base’] in the unexpectedly artistically progressive town of Wabash, has now grown to reach all instruments. Musicians come from all over the world, from Finland, to Romania, Mexico, and beyond. These fellowship scholars spend a week experimenting and pushing boundaries with the guidance of Artistic Director Ranaan Meyer (Time for Three) along with all of the faculty mentors, Peter Dugan (From the Top), Nick Kendall (Time for Three), Eric Larson (Houston Symphony), Matti Raekallio (Juilliard), Hal Robinson (Philadelphia Orchestra), Charles Yang (Time for Three). 

“The culmination of creativity that is presented on stage at the end of their time together is indescribable and is an experience you have to see to believe. The Academy has multiple event opportunities and locations.” 

I reached out to Emily Meyer, Honeywell Arts Academy Program Director, to learn more:

Kohn: Where have the participants been coming from in their professional trajectory?

Emily Meyer: We call our participants at Honeywell Arts Academy fellowship scholars, because our goal is to bridge the gap between teacher and students, and our faculty are called faculty mentors. The whole idea is that everyone learns from one another through our philosophy called the sharing of knowledge. The fellowship scholars come from all over the world, and we truly are an international program. This is made possible because it is a full scholarship and the faculty mentors are world-renowned.

Kohn: What are their stories going forward? 

Emily Meyer: The people who attend are emerging artists. They’re the artists that are about to break out into the world and become leaders in the industry. They are the next generation of great citizens and ambassadors within their communities. They can be found performing in their respective country and of course all over the United States. Their goals are to perform at the Carnegie Hall’s and the Hollywood Bowls of the world. One of the things we love to do at Honeywell Arts Academy is to support their careers by welcoming them back to perform under our umbrella and also creating events throughout the country where we spread the word about what Honeywell Arts Academy is all about and who these emerging artists are. Some of our highlights include Daniela Liebman performing on the season finale of Honeywell Arts’ Chamber Series, and Grant Flick and Jacob Warren of Westbound Situation along with Anton Kot performing for the Eagles Reopening Gala in November. You can also hear additional sessions of this year's participants in Wabash on June 24th and July 1st both at 7:30 p.m. at Eagles Theatre, 106 West Market Street, Wabash, Indiana.

Kohn: What is unique/special about this year's program that we do not want to miss?

Emily Meyer: It’s surprising how in fifteen years of Wabass, every year the level has gone up and we are now experiencing that with Honeywell Arts Academy’s expansion programs. We have three programs now at the Academy; Resonance for the multifaceted musician, Soundboard for pianists, and Wabass for double bassists. The week is extremely special where we all retreat together, empower each other, lift each other up. At this culmination performance, there is always an element of surprise.

Kohn: What is the growing outreach?

Emily Meyer: Through Honeywell Arts Academy our goal is to give these musicians options. They get to build off of this and through these options they can explore what their mission in life is as an artist and musician. Our mission as a greater community in Wabash is to spread world-class music that is easily accessible. We also have a huge initiative through the healing arts – this includes the research behind its effectiveness, as well as performance opportunities to share the healing power of music. Ultimately, the Academy is gifting the world with the next generation of thoughtful citizens and ambassadors of the music world, who want to progress their genres, but ultimately help humanity and society overall. Let’s keep the listening valve turned on and through the sharing of knowledge lift each other up and empower.  

Learn more about the Honeywell Center here: https://m.facebook.com/honeywellartsacademy/posts/346591790542664

And just in case a refresher is required, the annual July Songbook Academy Summer Intensive originated under Michael Feinstein’s  leadership, and is described as "the only vocal competition based solely on music from Broadway, Hollywood musicals and the Tin Pan Alley era."

Forty invited students to work with music industry pros, award-winning singers and performers, educators from top University music and theater programs, and talented peers from across the country for a life-changing week of professional training and performance opportunities on the campus of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

=====

More events to attend

For the fulsome schedule of The Asante Art Institute, see: info@asanteartinstitute.org

IVCI 2018 Gold Medalist Richard Lin is at Carnegie Hall on June 24, with pianist Thomas Hoppe.

The program:

T. A. VITALI Chaconne in G Minor

R. STRAUSS Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18

CORIGLIANO Violin Sonata

FROLOV Concert Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

Tickets: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2022/06/24/Richard-Lin-Violin-Thomas-Hoppe-Piano-0800PM

July 6 at the Indiana History Center, at 7:30 p.m., IVCI program of French Soundscapes with 2018 Bronze Medalist Luke Hsu and 2019 International Harp Competition Gold Medalist Melanie Laurent and the Ronen Chamber Ensemble. Tickets: violin.org

Visit Indy posts a summer of arts events. Find them here: https://www.visitindy.com/indianapolis-live-concert-calendar?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=doing_indy&utm_term=2022%20Summer%20Concert%20Season%20in%20Indy&utm_content=email&cm_mmc=Act-On%20Software-_-email-_-Summer%20Concerts%20in%20Indy-_-2022%20Summer%20Concert%20Season%20in%20Indy

Confessions of America’s First Black Drag Queen | 7:30 p.m. June 16

The District Theatre, 627 Massachusetts Ave. * $15-20 *

Les Kurdendall presents the true story of William Dorsey Swann, a former enslaved Black man known as the Queen of Drag in Washington D.C. in the late 1800s. Swann paved the way for many, fighting racism and homophobia.

Early Music festivals nationwide: find a round-up at this site https://www.bloomingtonearlymusic.com/

American Pianists Association is in the midst of the 2023 Jazz Fellows round at the same time that Classical Fellow Kenny Broberg is on his round of concerts. See his schedule here: https://www.kennybroberg.com/schedule/

See also:  https://nuvo.newsnirvana.com/music/apa-s-2021-classic-round-perseveres-through-the-pandemic/article_36ada792-d8b7-11eb-bf83-33a632ee681e.html

For the fulsome schedule of The Asante Art Institute, see: info@asanteartinstitute.org

IVCI 2018 Gold Medalist Richard Lin is at Carnegie Hall on June 24, with pianist Thomas Hoppe.

The program:

T. A. VITALI Chaconne in G Minor

R. STRAUSS Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18

CORIGLIANO Violin Sonata

FROLOV Concert Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

Tickets: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2022/06/24/Richard-Lin-Violin-Thomas-Hoppe-Piano-0800PM

July 6 at the Indiana History Center, at 7:30 p.m., catch an IVCI program of French Soundscapes with 2018 Bronze Medalist Luke Hsu and 2019 International Harp Competition Gold Medalist Melanie Laurent with the Ronen Chamber Ensemble. Tickets: violin.org

Cover image courtesy of The Center for the Performing Arts

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