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Art and Orchestras

Originally Posted: April 05, 2007

Continuing its world class artists in residence program, the Hayground School presented the Third Annual Hayground School Creative Orchestra Concert with acclaimed composer and conductor Bruce Wolosoff at the helm as Artistic Director on Wednesday March 28th. The orchestra performed 37 new compositions by students and teachers in the course of the truly magical concert, the culmination of their work with Wolosoff in just three weeks!

Christian Shceider with parents Roy Scheider and Brenda Siemer at the Third Annual
Hayground School Creative Orchestra Concert. Photo by John Wegorzewski

One by one the young composers stepped up to the stage to conduct their classmates and teachers in their individual short pieces. From the youngest of the musicians, Bridie Raustiala, to the older children like Luis Alfaro each performer demonstrated unusual poise in waving the conductor's baton and sprightly leading the musicians in play. Needless to say the audience loudly applauded each effort despite Wolosoff's opening request to save it to the finale. But who can resist cheering the imagination and courage of each first time composer taking to the stage - not even Wolosoff, a Hayground parent himself!

The instruments played were a mix of European and "world" instruments: piano, flute, violins and cello accented with more exotic instruments - the balophone, an African version of a xylophone, Japanese Taiko bass drums, Djun-Djun two sided African low drums, a plucked string instrument the berinbau from Brazil, and even a digeridoo much like those made by Aborigines in Australia. Not having one of these handy, faculty member Jon Snow made one out of a piece of PVC piping which student Nat Pfund blew to howls of delight from the audience. These with the help of several guitars and synthesizers, a modern touch, provided truly sweet sounds.

Wolosoff has been hailed by the Washington Post as "a great discovery" for his works that integrate modern classical, romantic, jazz and blues forms. Acclaimed for his lush melodies, he has focused on opera in recent years, composing for the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York and members of the Royal Danish Opera.

"I am thrilled by how the concert turned out. Everybody worked very hard and in the end there was exhilaration and sheer joy of being able to share the results of our work with the community", said Wolosoff told us after the concert.

The packed house of music lovers included students, alumni, community leaders, parents and friends. Tony and Oscar winning actress Mercedes Ruehl and husband artist David Geiser were on hand to applaud son Jake. Seated just behind them were Roy Scheider with his wife actress director Brenda Siemer (they are co-founders of the school) and son Christian, an alumni of the school, cheering on sister Molly Scheider.

David Geiser and Merceds Ruehl with son Jake at the Third Annual Hayground School
Creative Orchestra Concert. Photo by John Wegorzewski

Kudos to Hayground School and its brilliant group of risk taking musical adventurers, in order of their onstage appearance: Arjun Achuthan, Molly Scheider, Esme Ashley White, Baxter Parcher-Charles, Jordan Bacher, Abby Pawlik, Tembe Denton-Hurst, Gage Lynch, Katya Wolosoff, Sam de Poto, Emma Buckner, Morrison Kraft, Erin McCarthy, Vanessa Alfaro, Liz Bertsch, Max Cheng, Maya Buckner, Emma Brannen, Luis Alfaro, Bridie Raustiala, Isabelle Pfund, Ella Weinstein, Ultra Violet Martens, Kai Parcher-Charles, Basil Lynch, Sampwe Tarrant, Jake Ruehl, Julian Alvarez, Samantha Bedard, Daisja Feuer, Nat Pfund, Ijie Bacher, Nace Denton-Hurst, Cheyenne Keating, Mbachi Kumwenda, and Jon Snow.

Saturday, it was over to Cellar Wine Merchants for what has now become a monthly event, an exhibition of works by local artists curated by Karyn Mannix and Vito Sisti.

Sipping on a delightful chardonnay from Osprey's Dominion, we viewed the work of three East End artists only one with whom we were familiar Trish Franey whom we have had the pleasure of seeing at Silas Marder's The Big Show last summer. Self taught, Franey began painting some years ago after seeing an exhibition of Vito Sisti' s work. The artist uses her fingers rather than brushes, to create her colorful Keith Haring-esque characters in simple scenes often with lines of poetry embedded in the image.

Jana Hayden showed a series of thought provoking ceramic wall sculptures of opposite images to great effect. Mary Antczak filled the upper wall with bright abstract mixed media works that sparkled like sunshine on a colorful field.

Sisti told a group that included artist Tom Steele that he and his artist pals had been working feverishly on renovating Ashawagh Hall - a Herculean task given the age and condition of the building - in time for a late April opening.

Then it was a quick stroll to the Parrish Art Museum for the opening of Raymond Loewy, Designs for a Consumer Culture. The French born Loewy, who came to the United States when just a boy, became the most prominent industrial designer of the 20th Century. Often termed "The Father of Streamlining", Loewy left his mark on everything from lipsticks to locomotives and washing machine to automobiles, giving everyday products a sleek modern twist. The vast output of his studio is well showcased in this brilliant display of the utilitarian products, logos and luxury goods he made more appealing to the general consumer.

Anese Young and Blossom Gluck at the Parrish Art Museum. Photo by John Wegorzewski

In a lecture on Loewy preceding the tour, Dr. Glenn Porter, a leading expert on Loewy's life and work and curator of this exhibition, armed with great back up visuals gave an amazing overview of Loewy's creative touch. For one of his biggest clients the Pennsylvania Railroad, he transformed the once clunky, chunky steam locomotives into a sleek bullet shaped engine straight out of a Flash Gordon movie. This he also did with washing machines, electric razors, and even fine dinnerware for Rosenthal China. Loewy didn't limit himself to modernizing products, he tackled supermarkets, department stores, hotels, buses, ferries and even airplanes. The current Air Force one jet used to ferry our President around the world is a Raymond Loewy design solution. Clearly no other designer left such a rich artistic and cultural imprint on American lives then Loewy

While the Parrish had hundreds of samples of Loewy's prodigious output on display, clearly there were no super locomotives or fancy jets on the floor but there were two stunning vintage Studebakers in the Grand Hall that had classic car lovers swooning. For our part, we couldn't for the life of us figure out how they got the gleaming automobiles, including the ultra cool Avanti, a collector's dream, into the Hall!

Among the design aficionados fascinated by the impact of Loewy on contemporary living were Katherine and Gary Andreassen, Yolanda Merchant, Kimberley McSparran, Caroline Lieberman, Cindi Cook, Barbara Reisner, Anese Young, Saida and Dorothy Somekh, Manajih and Val Azmoodeh, Blossom and Martin Gluck, Cindy Lou Wakefield, Rick Friedman, Wendy Seewagen, Rose Mancusi, and Thomas Portese.

As it did with the extraordinary Lichtenstein show , the Parrish will use the show as the basis for a number of ancillary activities and programs including a classic car show, a presentation on the evolution of the modern kitchen as influenced by Loewy, a major student research project involving the creation of videos covering the decades in which the designer was most prolific and a community digital scrapbook on the era of bobbysocks and Brylcreem ( the '50s version of hair gel) to which all are invited to contribute. The best stories and photos will be highlighted at a special event at the close of the exhibition on May 19th.

That same evening Bay Street Theatre did a little looking back at mid-century art and style with a screening of the Hollywood Golden Age classic, The Big Country. The film showing was accompanied with a discussion of "Hollywood Then and Now" with noted critic and Reel Talk host Jeffrey Lyons and Bay Street Theatre Trustee actor Alec Baldwin.

Arthur Backal, Liana Silverstein Backal, Donna Soloway, Dick Soloway, Lucia Hwong
Gordon, Jacqueline Murphy, and Pamela Morgan at the Women's Project 22nd Annual
Women of Achievement Gala. Photo by Rob Rich

The conversation between these two knowledgeable, entertaining film industry veterans was the perfect complement to "The Big Country", a Western film that, according to its star, Gregory Peck, was intended to be a left-wing allegory for the Cold War. "The Big Country" is a shining example of how a handful of films produced by the old Hollywood studio system could not only delight audiences with duels and beautiful stars, but could also sneak in some social commentary about pertinent issues of the time. "The Big Country" cast list reads like a "who's who" of Hollywood in the 1950s with Gregory Peck starring opposite Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, and Charles Bickford.

Back in NYC Kathy Hilton, Eve Ensler and Vivienne Tam were honored at the Women's Project 22nd Annual Women of Achievement Gala held in the Pegasus Suite of the Rainbow Room, where famed Yoko Ono, Kerry Washington and Bebe Neuwirth were among the presenters and Diana Williams MC'd the evening. The Women's Project celebrates the remarkable accomplishments of women in theatre, movies, education and production. This extraordinary organization allows women to stand higher than they ever have towards the artistic advancement of women. Congratulations to all!

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