“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..
Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..
Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..
Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..
Thirty-two playwrights, a half dozen directors, and around ninety plays in less than two hours. This is the South Florida One-Minute Play Festival, now in its fifth year, which runs this weekend. The festival, performed at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay and curated by Caitlin Wees and Dominic D’Andrea, has become a phenomenon in its own right. South Florida’s version of the festival i..
Mention the Harlem Renaissance, and those who know their history would be able to tell you a little or a lot about that vibrant period in New York’s black social and cultural life. But bring up the New York Renaissance – also known as the Renaissance Big Five or the Rens – and you’d be likely to stump anyone who isn’t steeped in basketball lore. Playwright and director Layon Gray ..
Listen up, humanity. God has a bone (or 10) to pick with us, and we’d best pay attention. I mean, if he can zap the wing off an argumentative archangel – and he can – just imagine what’s in store for us. Or simply consider the news, post-election. David Javerbaum, the Emmy Award-winning executive producer and head writer of Comedy Central’s much-missed “The Daily Show with Jon Ste..
I saw Lorca en un vestido verde, the Spanish-language version of Nilo Cruz’s play Lorca in a Green Dress eight years ago on a cramped stage in Little Havana’s Teatro Ocho, where Rolando Moreno took on the task of directing four actors who play eight roles. Even with the limitations of the production, Cruz’s inventive and lyrical script made Lorca one of my favorites from the Pulitzer Priz..
Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius (2016) is a masterful and engaging film exploring the dilemma of a singularly strong-willed, exceedingly attractive older woman who refuses to budge when power comes knocking at her door and tries to blow it off its hinges. A relative newbie to the director’s chair, Mendonça is a former film critic who layers a rich texture of skillfully developed metaphor..
The words that South Florida playwright Michael McKeever has chosen for his intense new play ‘After’ are powerful indeed. They would have to be, since his Zoetic Stage world premiere at Miami’s Arsht Center is a devastating piece about bullying, school violence and the moment when one horrific act destroys two families. But just as powerful as the words in “After” are the silences, as..
It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..
Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..
Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..
Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alo..
New life for a legacy ballet—a veritable choreographer-magnet—created a great buzz about Miami City Ballet’s third program this season. But at the Arsht Center for the Performing ..
Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to p..
Transgendered performance artist Scott Turner Schofield is a collector of stories. Growing up in the South, the tales that were told about the gay and trans community were the ugliest kind of..
The Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores is giving experimental dancer-choreographer Lazaro Godoy the opportunity to interweave his visual arts and performance passions in ArMOUR, a multimedi..
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty have thrilled audiences world wide with stimulating and exciting performances, and Miam..
Nikolaj Znaider played in an orchestra for the first time at the age of nine, two years after he began to study violin. He still remembers the sense of discovery, as he listened to the children playing around him.“It’s like if you've only seen a garden,” recalls the now renowned violinist and conductor who will be performing with the Cleveland Orchestra this week. “And then all of a sudden you get to see a forest.”
After winning the International Carl Nielsen Violin Competition at age 16, Znaider soon found himself performing with the world’s top orchestras. But even as his reputation as a soloist soared, he would often slip into the violin section after playing a concerto in the first half of a concert, so he could keep playing after intermission, as a member of the orchestra.
“I had an ambition very early on to start conducting,” he says over the phone, while on a break from conducting an opera in Italy. “So it was a great way to familiarize myself with the impact the conductor has on an orchestra -- and with the feeling of being an orchestral musician.”
Baton now firmly in hand, Znaider is sought after as a conductor, notably serving as the principal guest conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra since 2010. Yet he keeps coming back to his 1741 Guarneri violin – and to the piece that won him prestige as teenager: the Nielsen Violin Concerto.
“It's like if they give you 10 flowers to smell,” he muses, “you might like all of them, but there's going to be some that you just love, that you want to smell again.”
Composed in 1911, Nielsen’s Violin Concerto is full of lyricism. The orchestra coddles the violin as it cries out a string of memories from long ago. Though he was born and raised in the same country as Nielsen, Denmark, Znaider claims to feel no nationalistic connection to the composer.
Instead, he learned the piece at the urging of Milan Vitek, a famous Czech violin teacher working in Copenhagen at the time. “He loved the piece,” he recalls, “so I learned it with him.”
The bravura embedded in this concerto attests to Nielsen’s own mastery of the violin, and make this virtuosic part severely demanding for the best violinists. But not for Znaider. “When you learn something at 16, it stays with you so deep,” he explains.“All these pieces I learned at that age, you can wake me up in the middle of the night, and I'll play you any of them, without practicing. I can't do that with the pieces I learned when I was 30 or 35.”
For several years, Znaider put the Nielsen concerto aside. Then, he recorded it a second time, in advance of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 2015. “I discovered I liked it even more,” he observed. “Once you come to know the piece, you shed yourself of everything and you return once more to just the pure feeling of the music.”
When conductor Franz Welser-Möst invited Znaider to play the Nielsen at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the violinist jumped at the chance. Having collaborated with the Cleveland Orchestra before, he is eager to get back to what he calls their “wordless dialogue.”
“That’s the magic you feel in the hall,” he continues. “When you feel good musicians thinking together, responding to each other, and you get this feeling in the audience of something being created -- you have the feeling that this piece of music reorganized your molecules somehow.”
If that does happen, might Znaider sneak into the violin section of the Cleveland Orchestra for the concert’s second half
“What are they doing, Sibelius what?” he asks.
Jean Sibelius, Symphony No. 2.
“Yeah, why not?” Znaider laughs. “That could be fun. If they let me.”Nikolaj Znaider performs the Nielsen Violin Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, 8pm on Thursday Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 4, Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; tickets $39-$173; Arshtcenter.org.
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