* The Beat admits to some surprise at the recent announcement that Columbus Symphony Orchestra music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni will conclude his tenure with the CSO at the end of the 2013-14 season, when his contract expires. It doesn't seem that long ago when we first met the charming, personable and sharp-as-a-tack maestro, offering good reason to believe the orchestra was in good hands.
Yet it's not a surprise when one considers Zeitouni's skill and youth. It makes sense that opportunities would present themselves. As CSO board chairman Martin Inglis said, "Jean-Marie continues to be a rising star in the classical world as he furthers his conducting career."
Add personal reasons to the professional -- Zeitouni's daughter was born six months ago and his family resides in Montreal -- and it makes too much sense.
Zeitouni has proven as dynamic and creative a maestro as the CSO could have hoped, and his success has helped continue the CSO's organizational and financial stabilization.
A search committee is already being formed.
*Comfest is an institution, celebrating its 41st incarnation this year, June 28-30 in Goodale Park.
The best in local entertainment of every kind, food and drink, social and environmental organizations, kids and family activities and the usual general craziness all help make up the weekend of fun. Additionally, local clubs and bars often have after-Comfest gigs to extend a day's entertainment.
*A cast album for the musical The Last Smoker in America has been released.
Columbus audiences may recognize the play as having been presented by CATCO in 2010 as the production was in development.
The play's off-Broadway run ended in 2012, but the original cast record is now available on Yellow Sound Label. Visit yellowsoundlabel.com for more information.
*The Beat wrote last summer about local playwright Nanette Marie's Mamas' Drama being selected for presentation as part of the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.
The drama continues, as the play has been selected for the festival's 2013 run as well. In addition, Mamas' Drama will be staged at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival in October and one act (due to festival criteria) will be presented at the inaugural Columbus Black Theatre Festival in July.
And as if that's not drama enough, Marie is completing work on her book of the same title, to be released later this year.
Marie continues to work on new pieces for the stage through her production company, Real Good Productions LLC.
*Local outfit The Rick Brunetto Big Band recently returned from an engagement at Caesar's Palace in Atlantic City, where it backed Deana Martin (the daughter of Deano).
Brunetto has been writing arrangements for Deana, and his work will be included on her next album.
The big band has been gigging around central Ohio and beyond for more than 25 years now, including a regular gig Thursdays at the 94th Aero Squadron. Brunetto also is director of bands at St. Charles Preparatory School.