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Archives: Oct. 2012


Tacoma poet laureate Josie Emmons Turner hosts free poetry workshop at University of Puget Sound

Tacoma’s Poet Laureateship isn’t just laurels and glory – the position, supported by Tacoma’s Arts Commission, entails giving workshops and otherwise encouraging poetry in our community. One of those workshops is coming up this weekend. Current poet laureate Josie Emmons Turner will host a free poetry writing and critique workshop 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the University of Puget Sound.

Participants will have the opportunity to examine their own and others’ poetry from the reader’s perspective, with constructive feedback. Emmons Turner, a published poet with an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University, will also offer technical advice on

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Critic’s Picks: “A Chorus Line” at the Pantages, Second City Chamber Series, sumi-e at Flow and the AMOCAT awards party

Chorus Line at the Pantages

It’s one singular sensation: The national tour of this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical, one of Broadway’s longest-running, comes to the Pantages Theater this weekend.7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow. $49/$59/$69/$84. Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-591-5894, broadwaycenter.org

Second City Chamber Series opens its season

SCCS opens the season with “In Sickness and in Health,” turbulent music from Schubert and Sibelius played by the Aeolis String Quartet. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26. $32/$29/$10/free for 18 and under. Annie Wright School, 827 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma. 253-572-TUNE, scchamberseries.org

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“Ooh La La”: The Tacoma Concert Band goes French this Sunday with a visit from the band of La Croix Valmer.

The La Croix Valmer Band. Courtesy photo.

The Tacoma Concert Band goes French this weekend, literally, with a concert in the Pantages Theater that features both French music and a French band, visiting Tacoma this week from La Croix Valmer on France’s Cote d’Azur.

It’s a reciprocal visit. Back in 2007 the 60-strong Tacoma Concert Band, now in its 32nd season, was invited to perform at Les Anches d’Azur, an international band festival in La Croix Valmer. It was the second time the band had toured to Europe, and the experience was wonderful, say band members.

“We had a fabulous trip,” said TCB board president and trumpeter Jim Hunt. “They had set up day-trips for us to Monte Carlo, Nice and Toulon. One of our concerts was on the beach, one was in the town square.”

The Tacoma Concert Band on the beach at the 2007 festival at La Croix Valmer, France. Courtesy photo.

Now the TCB get to repay the hospitality. Band members from La Croix Valmer arrive Saturday, hosted by TCB members, for three days of sightseeing in Seattle and Tacoma. Read more »


Muscly virtuosity from Leon Bates and atmospheric playing from Tacoma Symphony make a pleasant, if not thrilling, season opener

It seemed like the perfect combination for a season opening: a jazzy first half, a terrific pianist, a new piece and an ocean-themed centerpiece. But despite some impressive playing, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra’s concert last Saturday in the Pantages was less thrilling than it might have been, thanks to Leon Bates’ relentless keyboard attack, some balance issues and Debussy’s “La Mer” falling a little short of opening-night grandeur.

All was well for the first piece, Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture,” which the TSO played with rhythmic aplomb (after an initial rockiness in the percussion) and a smooth big-band sound from the brass, although it would have been nice to hear the woodwinds more, including the subtle clarinet cadenza. This problem persisted through the evening into the wind-colored Debussy, and makes you wonder if putting winds and brass on more risers would help overcome the extreme deadness of the Pantages’ acoustic.

On to Bates, then, who plays just like the bodybuilding enthusiast he is: muscly tone, firm attack and meaty hands that could eat Gershwin concertos for breakfast. Read more »


Gods, heroes, lust and loyalty: ACT Theatre bravely and successfully tackles Hinduism’s enormous epic, “The Ramayana”

The cast of “The Ramayana” at ACT: L to R: Khanh Doan, Todd Jefferson Moore, Cheyenne Casebier, Brandon O'Neill, Rafael Untalan, John Farrage. Photo: Chris Bennion

Reducing a 24,000-verse poem into a three-hour theater show isn’t easy, but Seattle’s ACT Theatre has done a convincing and creative job of it. The “Ramayana,” that 2,500-year-old epic about the divine prince Rama and his beautiful wife Sita in their exile, tribulations and final glory, is a tale that few in India would dare to condense like this. Yet ACT’s world premiere version, full of stunning costumes, clever effects, joyous dance and heartfelt acting, nails the philosophy with a Western brevity and wit.

Of course, they’ve left a lot out. Intrinsic to many Asian cultures, the Ramayana has been recited for days on end by itinerant storytellers, told with puppets, made into lengthy films and televised in a series of Sunday broadcasts that had India’s millions at a weekly standstill. It tells Rama’s life from child to adult, and all the layers of history that went before him and around him through dozens of side characters. It’s not only a big work, it’s a big ask of Western audiences: unfamiliar gods, unpleasant principles like self-immolation and a world where human flaws sit in the same body as divine or demonic powers. To bridge the gap, ACT directors Sheila Daniels and Kurt Beattie have pared the story down to the essentials – Rama’s boyhood strength and wooing of Sita, his exile with Sita and brother Lakshman, Sita’s abduction by the demon king Ravana, her rescue by Rama and Hanuman the monkey god and her final trial by fire to become Rama’s accepted queen.

If you know the story, you’ll notice all the depth that’s skimmed over. But if you haven’t it’s a ripping good tale, and ACT’s superb cast knows exactly how to tell it. Read more »


Critic’s picks: Christ Episcopal evensong, Click Flick at The Grand, Tacoma Art Museum and Dala at Theatre on the Square

The choir of Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, with co-directors Kathryn Nichols and Mark Brombaugh. Courtesy photo.

Christ Church Festal Choral Evensong

The choir of Christ Episcopal, with organist Mark Brombaugh and gues organist Melvin Butler, present a festive choral evensong service to commission new co-directors Brombaugh and Kathryn Nichols. Music includes anthems by Leo Nestor, Herbert Brewer and Craig Phillips, works by Bruhns and Stanford on the Brombaugh pipe organ and congregational hymns. 5 p.m. Oct. 21. Free. Christ Episcopal Church, 310 N. K St., Tacoma. 253-383-1569, ccptacoma.org

Click Flick: “The Addams Family”

Get your creepy giggles at The Grand Cinema’s Click Flick this month: “The Addams Family,” about that classic ghoulish family who do things just a little differently. Doors open 9:30 a.m., screening 10 a.m. Oct. 20. Free to first 100 people. The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma. 253-593-4474, www.grandcinema.com

Tapete sand painting at Tacoma Art Museum Read more »


From Russia with strings: the Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet plays Borodin and Schumann in Tacoma’s Urban Grace this Sunday

They play international concert halls, they champion old Russian works and they premiere new ones. They’re the Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet from St. Petersburg, Russia, hailed by German media for their “powerful romantic sound,” and they’re finishing up a West Coast tour with a concert in Tacoma’s Urban Grace Church this Sunday afternoon.

Fresh from a standing ovation from a near-full house in Benaroya Hall’s recital hall, the quartet will play the Borodin String Quartet no. 1 and Schumann’s Piano Quintet, as well as pieces from “Les Vendredis,” short works by Romantic Russian composers which were played on Friday nights

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Tacoma Symphony Orchestra takes to the sea for its season opener with Leon Bates this Saturday at the Pantages

Pianist Leon Bates will play with the Tacoma Symphony this weekend. Courtesy photo.

The Tacoma Symphony might be launching into a creative and unusual season this year including video game music, new compositions and a double bass concerto (watch the GO cover in November for the story) but for the season opener this Saturday at the Pantages it’s straight-down-the-line Gershwin and Debussy, featuring bodybuilding pianist Leon Bates as soloist and taking its theme from the ocean.

Bates will play in the Gershwin half of the program, playing the jazz composer’s Concerto in F after the orchestra opens with the Cuban Overture. Known both for fiery, energetic performances and his two-hour-a-day dedication to bodybuilding (the two might just be related), Bates is one of the soloists TSO director Harvey Felder wanted to invite back to perform during his last two years at the orchestra’s helm.

“Leon played with us seven or eight years ago,” says Felder. “He’s a gracious, kind gentleman and a superb musician. During my last two years I’m inviting guest artists I’ve worked with who are both gracious and excellent players. He was first on the list.” Read more »