Cultural Arts Review

25 03 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning

Varsity Chorus 1b

March 24, 2011

Dateline: Greensboro

In celebration of Black History Month, my family and I went to see Dateling: Greensboro, which was performed by the Gilbert Theater in downtown Fayetteville. I was so impressed by the performance as well as by the content of the play itself. Being familiar with the Greensboro area, it was so astonishing to realize how different things were like there only fifty years ago.

The opening scene portrayed four African American college students who were fed up with not being served at the local Woolworth’s counter, which was designate as a “whites only” counter. One of them is extremely passionate and wants to take and stand, and after some convincing, they all decide to go to Woolworth’s the next day and refuse to leave until they are served.

The rest of the play revolved around the employees of the Greensboro Gazette, a local newspaper who had a reputation of objectively reporting the news. There were many conflicts between employees who wish to report all of the civil rights news in Greensboro and those who wanted to downplay what is going on. These conflicts led one journalist to quit his job in order to join the protestors, and eventually to the editor being fired due to his printing of the news on the civil rights uprisings.

The perspective that the play took provided insight on how the people of Greensboro responded to the sit ins and protests. It is amazing to me how two people of similar age and background could have such opposite opinions on the subject: one believed that blacks deserve their second class citizenry and should be oppressed when protesting, and the other believed so strongly that everyone should be treated equally that he was willing to risk his life. This made me think about what the determining factor might be in one’s opinion on things such as this. Though the same issues are no longer at hand, American’s opinions about political issues are often extremely different.

I later discovered that the opening scene I described earlier, along with an additional scene in which the four students who started the sit in discussed their desire to give up, were written by the cast members themselves and added at the very last minute. I thought that these additional scenes put the play over the top, and I was impressed with their ability to do this at the last minute.

Overall, I was very impressed with the performance by the Gilbert Theater in Dateline:Greensboro. The acting was impeccable, and the message that the play portrayed was one that is essential for people in our community to remember.





Cultural Arts Review

25 03 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning

Varsity Chorus 1b

March 24, 2011

This past month I had the opportunity to see the play Rumors, put on by the Cape Fear Regional Theatre and directed by Dirk Lumbard. I was not sure what to expect, because I have not generally attended comedic plays in the past. I am used to seeing dramas or musicals, but can not even remember seeing a live comedic play that was not a musical.

The play is set in the 1980’s and revolves around a group of friends at an anniversary party at which the couple celebrating their anniversary is not present. The scene is set first by classic 80’s music playing in the background. We hear a series of messages left on an answering machine for a happy couple that is soon hosting an anniversary party; then there is a gunshot. The mood was at first joyful, and then suspenseful, as everyone in the audience wondered where the gunshot came from.

We then find out from another couple, who arrived to the house for the party and heard teh gunshot, that the husband has shot himself in the ear, and the wife has disappeared. As more couples arrive for the party, they have a hard time keeping what they have discovered a secret from their friends. As more people discover the truth, it becomes even harder to hide it from those who do not know. This creates many hilarious interactions between the friends. In addition to the already sticky situation, other things complicated the plot as well, such as numerous accidents in the kitchen and suspicions of cheating within one couple’s marriage.

The comedy in this play was surprisingly similar to that of popular television shows and movies today. This made me realize that this kind of stupid humor is not just a recent trend. It was also interesting to me to see the wide age range of audience members that were all able to enjoy the comedic relief of the performance.





Festival Review

25 03 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning VarsityChorus 1b

March 24, 2011

Festival Review

A few weeks ago, we performed in our annual choral contest, festival. Overall, we received a score of one, or superior, which was very exciting! We worked for months preparing for festival in hopes of receiving this score. I was very proud of my fellow choir students for achieving this. However, our score was on the low end of a one, and I do believe that we had the potential to do better.

At festival we sang two songs, Dirait On and Witness, that were both rated at difficulty level five. The two pieces were very different, and I think this showed our versatility and ability to do different types of music well. Dirait On showcased our ability to sing softly and delicately, to have good pronunciation in another language, and to portray flowing musicality. On the other hand, Witness showcased our abilities to have good dynamic contrast, keep good rhythm, tune difficult chords, and portray passionate emotion.

Our performance of Dirait On at festival was certainly one of the best that we have done. We blended so well, and at many parts we sounded like one single voice. I think we also did a fairly good job of portraying the emotion of the piece. One thing that we could still improve on in this piece is our pronunciation. I noticed that some people learned the pronunciations wrong from the beginning, and then no matter how many times they were reminded of the correct pronunciation, they would still do it incorrectly. This was frustrating to me because I want everyone in our choir to do the best that they are capable of doing. It stressed to me the importance of learning pronunciations precisely correct from the very beginning.

In my opinion, our performance of Witness was not one of our best. The very first pitch was completely off, and this was also very frustrating to me because I found that this was something that was consistently done wrong and was never corrected for good. Throughout the piece we did a good job of tuning chords, changing dynamics, and portraying emotion. The chords at the end could have tuned better, but this was something we could never really get right. I really enjoyed singing this piece because of the passionate emotions that it portrays. I think this made everyone feel a good connection with the piece, which caused us to be more engaged.

Overall, I was proud of our performance at Festival. However, I did see some room for improvement. I also think that the pieces we performed were also ones that helped us grow as individual musicians and as a choir.





Concert Review

4 03 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning

Varsity Chorus 1st B

March 3, 2011

Concert Review

 

This past weekend we had our annual concert downtown at Hay Street United Methodist during Fourth Friday. I always love this concert in particular because it often draws many people who would not come to our concerts that are at school, so we get to perform for a different type of audience. Overall, I felt that our performance was good, but not as good as it could have been. I also think that our quality of performance varied between pieces more than usual.

The Seal Lullaby is one of my favorite pieces and I was very excited to perform it. We did not have as much time as usual to prepare this song, and our performance went fairly well considering this. However, I do think that we all have the skill and ability to do better than we did on this piece. Though we tried to get the dynamics right in order to portray the meaning of the song, we did not actually feel and portray to the audience the emotion of the song.

In my opinion we performed our best on Dirait On. We blended well together, had pretty good vowels, and did show some dynamic contrast. I think this song went better than it sometimes had because we were all focused and engaged. In this song, it is essential that we all are focused on our vowels and listening across the choir. One thing that I have noticed to be consistently wrong on this piece is the pronunciation of certain words.

Our performance of Witness was not true to what we are capable of doing and what we have done in rehearsal. I felt like we were pushing in order to fill up the space and be loud, but this compromised our sound. The song did not tune like it should, and overall we did not blend together. I think we need to try to sing more intensely without singing too loudly. In this song, we all need to listen to each other so that it tunes well. I think that in this song, we often forget to keep these things in mind.

Despite some things that we could improve in, I was happy with the way that our concert turned out overall. In my opinion, there are just a few things that are sometimes lacking across the board and that we should pay special attention to; maturity and depth of sound, and portraying emotion. These are things that we have proven we can do, but often forget.





Cultural Arts Review

20 01 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning

Varsity Chorus 1st B

January 20, 2011

Cultural Arts Review-Piano Recital

 

This winter I had the opportunity to go see a piano recital. Being my first, I was not sure what to expect. There were many younger children who gave short performances and then one movement of a concerto done by a high school student. Overall, I was very impressed with the level of performance and obvious commitment of all the students.

The first half of the concert consisted of children playing simplified classical pieces. I could tell that some of them were nervous, but there were no major mess-ups from what I could tell. They all seemed to have practiced a great amount and have been taught very well. I enjoyed seeing they all were, and I do hope that they continue pursuing their musical interests later on in life.

The second half of the concert was one movement of a concerto performed by a very talented high school student. She performed Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Opus 15, 1st Movement: Allegro con brio by Ludwig van Beethoven, and was accompanied by someone playing the part of the orchestra on keyboard. Before attending this concert, I asked around and did some research so I would know and understand what I was listening to. Concerti typically have three movements: an opening movement in sonata form, a slow, more expressive movement, and then a faster movement. This performance only consisted of the first movement, and it was obvious to me that the piece she played functioned as an opening movement. In my opinion, concerti are extraordinarily beautiful because of the way the soloist and the orchestra alternate from cooperation to opposition to make the piece flow. Even  before she started playing, I was impressed because Beethoven’s five piano concertos are some of the most difficult concertos to play.

The keyboardist did a dramatic introduction, and then the soloist entered and the spotlight was on her. She played quickly and lively and the music most certainly sounded happy-truly doing justice to the title “Allegro con brio” which means lively and with spirit. The quick alternating high pitches made me think of a little creature running, and the following low pitches made me think of something big and scary chasing after it.

It was so beautiful how the soloist and accompaniment alternate so smoothly without hesitation, as if they are finishing each other’s sentences. I loved this Beethoven piece because it sounds so free-spirited, happy, and adventurous. I felt that I should just close my eyes and listen because I have no idea what could be coming next. In my mind, I imagined this piece telling the story of someone’s life. It was as if it went in phases or in steps; there were sometimes setbacks, shown by pauses, a slower pace, or loud, colorful low notes, but it always went back to being happy and lively, like a person’s unstoppable joy for life.

There were very few mess-ups throughout the piece, and I was amazed at how well the student did with such a long piece. Seeing how much I—and everyone else at the concert—enjoyed hearing this Beethoven piece proved to me how classic and timeless his work is. Though he lived two hundred years ago, he truly knew how to please the listener, and no matter how much popular culture changes, works like his will always be treasured as works to enjoy as well as to learn from. The performance I saw made this clear, and the recital showed that people of all ages can enjoy classical pieces.





Concert Critique

11 01 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning

Varsity Chorus 1st period B

January 10, 2011

Concert Critique-Christmas Concert

 

We had our Christmas concert this week on January 6, unfortunately postponed from its original date in December. Varsity sang three songs, “Fum, Fum, Fum,” “Ding-A Ding-A Ding,” and “Banquet Fugue,” and Glee Club sang “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Overall, our performance was good, but I do feel that we would have done better if we had performed in December when all of the songs were fresh in our minds.

On “Fum, Fum, Fum,” we did a good job getting all of the notes and rhythms correct, but we could have been a little more precise with diction. I think we also did a good job of not cutting off the word “fum” too quickly when they were fast and of making a dramatic crescendo leading up to the forte portion of the piece.

I felt that we did a good performance of “Ding-A Ding-A Ding.” I think that as a choir we were more together and more into this song because we all like it so much. Our precision was improved from how it was when we started, but I think we could still work on being precise one hundred percent of the time. Having a quartet sing the “Merrily on high” part with everyone else singing the “ding-a ding-a ding” part when we split worked out better than the other things that we tried.

In my opinion, of the songs we performed, “Banquet Fugue” was the one that could use the most work. The start by the alto section was not strong; we did not all come in at the same time and we did not initially agree on a pitch. We should have thought about the pitch more before starting. At a later point in the song, we again did not agree on a few pitches, which caused some of the harmonies to go awry. Overall, I felt that on this song, each section did an alright job, but we were not all together. We were not feeling the music together and were not singing as one. I also think that we should have put more emphasis on acting out emotions to better portray the joke of the song to the audience. We should have sung more properly and exaggerated throughout the piece, instead of just in a few certain places.

I felt that overall, Varsity Choir could have worked more on putting emotion into the pieces we performed. Things are different because it is Christmas music, and we all understand what kind of emotion it entails, but I do think that focusing on a mood or an emotion can help a performer channel the right kind of thought and energy into their performance, which would have helped us all be on one page together.

Glee’s performance of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” went very well considering we were missing two out of ten singers. I felt our performance of this song was extremely improved from our last concert performance of “Build Me Up Buttercup.” This could be due to more experience performing, having more experience singing with each other, or just having more rehearsal time with this particular piece. I think we blended much better and were more together than before, especially in the alto section. Our tone was good, we were well balanced, and we portrayed the fun mood of the piece fairly well; I was very pleased. Having had practice performing this piece on our school tour and at our McDonald’s performance really helped us feel comfortable performing it.

 





Cultural Arts Review

10 01 2011

Abby Murray-Nikkel

Mr. Haning

Varsity Chorus 1st period B

January 10, 2011

Cultural Arts Review-PTA Art Show

 

I got to go to our very own Terry Sanford PTA Art Show, where students in all levels of art classes got the opportunity to display their work. I was very impressed by the talent and hard work that many of my fellow classmates show in their art. There were different types of medias represented: painting, sketching, photography, and sculpture. The art was organized by artists, and this made the differentiating styles of different students obvious, and I enjoyed seeing the contrast in their styles.

An example of this contrast was between one student whose style was clean cut and cheerful, portraying things like flowers in a vase or a chic living room scene, and another student, Becca Benson, whose work was more dark, while also being more creative and deep. She displayed a series of photographs that portrayed negative emotions, but ones that caught my attention and made me think about their meaning. One featured an above view of a dresser that was all out of order and falling apart, entitled “Neglected.” There was dust everywhere and it had no color. It was ragged and it, to me, represented cuts and bruises of someone who has been hurt and who feels alone. It showed the emotions of someone who feels that no one has taken care of them, just as no one took care of the dresser. Another photograph by the same artist called “Alive” showed the palm of a hand with a single drop of blood running down it. The blood was a deep red, while everything around it was black and white; this colorful contrast was a powerful tool that emphasized the pain. Overall, this artist’s series of photographs symbolized pain, hardship, brokenness, and a lack of feeling wanted.

One painting that I was very impressed with was a self-portrait by Hunter Stutts. He portrayed a hand holding a mirror, and in the mirror you could see his bedroom. The bedroom consisted of a picture of a duck, maybe representing his love of nature, a Terry Sanford academic letter to show his interest in school and learning, a chair which had fallen on the floor, and a broken mirror on the wall. The chair could show that he has fallen down before, and the mirror could represent brokenness or possibly a shattered self-image. What called my attention the most was something on his wrist-a carolina blue bracelet saying “Maxwell Family.” The fact that he made this bigger than anything else in the painting shows that it consumes a big part of his life.

Another set of work that I thought was particularly interesting was a series of pictures of an old penitentiary by Megan Washam. One entitled “Walk of Shame” peered down a corridor with yellow rusted walls that were falling apart against dark black doors. Everything looked dirty and the picture is skewed as if the camera was tilted to the side when it was taken. At the end of the corridor there is only darkness. This could represent someone’s path in life: their perspective is skewed and it eventually ends in darkness. Another photograph from the same series called “The Eye” is looking up at an outside penitentiary wall, which is broken and rusty. A camera sticks out of the wall, and the overall mood of the picture is eerie–it looks as if someone is watching you.

Overall, the art show represented a variety of medias, styles, and perspectives, and it gave me the chance to look for underlying meaning and symbolism which are useful when trying to understand all types of things.