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The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..

That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..

The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..

Miami’s venerable M Ensemble is a company that sometimes dips into its rich history to mount fresh productions of past shows. For its second production in its versatile new home at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, the troupe is revisiting Darren Canady’s “Brothers of the Dust.” Winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the ..

“El cuento de Rene,” actor and director Larry Villanueva’s adaptation of Cuban writer Rene Ariza’s short stories into a work of theater, is more than an homage. It’s a statement on oppression. Ariza was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to send manuscripts abroad. He was banned from creating theater in Cuba and condemned as “counter-revolutionary.” Ariza served five years of h..

Those who attend film festivals aren't looking for the mainstream, Cineplex offerings. That isn't the goal. Amid the indie films, the foreign entries, documentaries, and the world premieres, there's another reason to canvass the program for something you might not see anywhere else. Given the Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival to be produced by a college or university..

{This interview was conducted before the film making team went on to amazing Oscar success.} Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins are nine miles away from the Liberty City housing projects where they both grew up, but they are worlds away. They are at the picturesque Standard Hotel to talk about the new movie "Moonlight," with a screenplay by Jenkins base..

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “García Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.” The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in i..

“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..

If even a modicum of redemption can be forged from the hellish after-effects of gun violence, we must listen to the communities most affected by the violence. To this end, “Trigger,” a hip-ho..

Celebrating 35 years is an amazing achievement for any dance company in Miami, but especially one founded in a decade better known for its ties to drugs than to the arts. Momentum Dance Compa..

For Tigertail Productions, April is the month of fire. Like their WATER Festival in 2016, this month’s FIRE Festival celebrates a single element in multiple art forms, including dance, visual..

During the month of April the organizers of the seventh iteration of the O Miami Poetry Festival intend every resident of Miami Dade county to encounter a poem or – even better – write one! An..

As the “home-grown” sweetheart of Miami City Ballet, Patricia Delgado is having her final performances this season before leaving the city and the company she loves to move to New York City.H..

Even people who can’t find Argentina on a map and believe tangos only happen in Paris know La Cumparsita’s iconic four beat opening. Like a bar’s last call, La Cumparsita tells tango dancers ..

Miami City Ballet will conclude its season this week with a rich selection of repertory pieces: two from Balanchine, in very expressive but distinct modes, and one from modern-dance master Pa..

Ballet Flamenco La Rosa’s studio evokes the feel of a tablao in Spain. The strumming of the guitar, the rapid-fire rhythms of footwork against the floor, and the soft voice of the singer reac..

Car-Horn Composition: Steve Parker's Symphony I-95?

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Written by: Michelle F. Solomon
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Creating music from car horns and bicycles and other non-instruments isn't new. Composer and conceptualist John Cage waxed poetic about traffic noise saying that there is a way "to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects, but as musical instruments." Frank Zappa wowed talk show host Steve Allen and his audience playing bicycle spokes on national television in 1960s.

So, to speak with Steve Parker about his site specific "Traffic Jam" piece that uses Miami's transportation woes as its inspiration is not so much about how the music is created as it is to why.

On Saturday, Dec. 3, in the midst of Miami's worst traffic weeks of the year, during Art Basel and Miami Art Week, Parker will culminate a series of unconventional and interactive performances with the grand finale of "Traffic Jam," where he'll present a free and open to the public car-horn orchestration at MDC Wolfson Campus Parking Lot 1, Biscayne Boulevard between NE 5th and NE 6th streets in downtown Miami.

Parker first presented his “Traffic Jam” last year in Austin, Texas, where the trombonist-composer lives. It was staged at the only drive in movie theater in Austin, Blue Starlite Drive-In, as part of the Fusebox Festival, a 12-day festival in Austin that's become a platform for adventurous artists. This was the springboard for “Traffic Jam,” which caught the attention of MDC Live Arts Executive Director Kathryn Garcia, who thought the mad rush during Miami Art Week would be the perfect time to present Parker.

"Austin shares transportation challenges like Miami," explains Parker. "I use a lot of materials found locally in the way that I write and an overabundance of traffic is one of the commodities that is plentiful in Austin."

Parker says what first inspired him about creating a composition using car horns, lights and windshield wipers, was the idea of "creating something melodic and beautiful out of something that could be pretty ugly and absurd." He found the absurdity of Miami's transportation system, its accessibility, or lack thereof, to be as inspiring as what he knew of Austin.

Parker has been to Miami only three times in the past three months and has gleaned these observations that, he says, will inspire the overall palette of "Traffic Jam."

"Miami seems to have this disjointed public transportation system – the People Mover and the trolley system. They all have good intentions but there isn't anything that's connecting them. It's a system that has a lot of parks that seem useful but they work in isolation."

These are the kinds of ideas that find their way into Parker's unconventional works. "It's not so much about where you can find music, but what constitutes a venue or an ensemble, what does it mean to be a performer or musician, what is an instrument?' I like to break these conventions apart."

The entire composition, according to Parker, is driven (no pun intended) by a series of situations coming together at once – the artists collaborating, the vehicles involved, the parking lot, and the participants. "This is where it becomes an interesting social experiment," says the composer. Volunteer participants who will become part of Saturday's car-horn orchestra will receive "sheet music" prepared by Parker. The piece begins with everyone beginning at the same time using a stop watch. "Everyone follows along on a sort of Guitar Hero type score that scrolls along horizontally. When it's blacked out, participants honk their horns."

Pop-up performances are also part of “Traffic Jam” that continue through Dec. 3 throughout Miami. They'll include fleets of musical bicycles, mobile sound sculptures showing up in unexpected hubs of transportation (people mover, parking garages and bus stops, and performances with the Hobo Roadshow, a hand built trailer bar and tattoo parlor on wheels with "elements of surprise performances.")

On Saturday, the 3:00 p.m. Traffic Jam Carnival, will also feature:

Emerge Miami creating interactive automobile installations that examine the different ways people engage with their vehicles; featuring a make-out car complete with an artificial “make-out point” vista to facilitate canoodling.

Artists Manita Brug-Chmielenska and Randy Burman presenting a large scale, interactive xylophone made from automobile hoods and parts. The parts will be amplified and can be played by audience members with a variety of objects provided.

Inlets Ensemble presenting new site specific works for skateboarding ukulele players, car stereos, and electric car windows by Jorge Gomez and Robert Blatt.

Kunstwaffen 1916 performing a quartet for choreographed musical bicycles. Prepared in the manner of John Cage and Frank Zappa, bicycle wheels will be outfitted with guitar strings and other noise-making objects.

Karen Peterson Dance presenting an intimate duet for mixed ability dancers Katrina Weaver and John Beauregard. A live musical score will be created from amplified and processed components of the wheelchair and dancer bodies.

The car-horn finale completes the Traffic Jam experience at 4:00 p.m.

He named his previous car-horn composition after Austin's congested I-35. So what to make of his Miami symphony?

Symphony I-95 seems quite fitting.

To find out more about the performances and to participate in the interactive presentations of Traffic Jam, go to http://mdclivearts.org/

 


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About The writer

Michelle Solomon is a long-time writer and editor, whose works regularly appear in magazines throughout South Florida.

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About the Writer

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