Rewind: The Beat's Year-in-Review for 2013

As 2013 nears its finish, The Beat takes a look back at arts and entertainment happenings from the past year.

(NOTE: Fear not, as we're not abandoning you over the holidays, although we are "taking it easy." Stay tuned in print and online for coverage of late-2013 and early-2014 stuff.)

Meantime, enjoy our little trip down memory lane. It includes, as per usual, a couple of (semi-arbitrary) awards; some quotes from artists we've interviewed we hope you'll find enlightening, amusing or both; some news and other loose scraps we've collected.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and we'll see you in 2014.

 

Best concert

We enjoyed getting Critic Crony feedback on this category last year, so we'll include a couple suggestions in addition to our selection of a spring show by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, which gets our nod for three reasons: 1) it was an expanded set from a band we'd seen in an opening slot in 2012; 2) among the Neighbors is Holcomb's wife, Ellie, a dynamite artist in her own right; and 3) when Holcomb returned to Columbus later in the year, we had the good fortune to do a phone interview with him.

A couple Crony selections:

* Bryan Adams, over The Who, Les Mis and Wicked. Adams' show was a quintessential performance of a man in full, a songwriter/singer at the top of his game, comfortable in his own shoes and clearly in love with what he was doing.

* Jukebox the Ghost on Valentine's Day in Mershon Auditorium. Aided by a very cool venue setup. (We should note that this is another artist a patron "discovered" as an opening act in 2012.)

 

Other notables

This category is an acknowledgment of one of the more appealing things about doing The Beat, which is that we often work on stories that result in us learning something (and then, hopefully, imparting at least some of that to readers). Not to mention there are plenty of cool things being done in the arts in central Ohio. For example:

* The Columbus Jazz Orchestra's "Suite Rosa" concerts in January paid tribute to Rosa Parks on the 100th anniversary of the birth of this pivotal figure in the Civil Rights movement.

Orchestra Artistic Director Byron Stripling started with the "music that served as a soundtrack for this movement" as a way to speak to Parks' legacy.

Music, Stripling said, because "Sometimes it takes an artist to help move stuff forward, because an artist can get at the real truth."

* In another centennial celebration, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and BalletMet Columbus collaborated on a presentation of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's music for the Ballets Russes company's The Rite of Spring.

Debuted in 1913, the music proved so stirring, remarkable and timeless that it has become part of standard orchestral repertoire. Indeed, perhaps even moreso than as an accompaniment to dance.

"I wanted to program it just for orchestral purposes. It's a masterwork," CSO Music Director Zeitouni told The Beat.

"But I decided I might as well call (then-BalletMet artistic director) Gerard (Charles) and see about doing it with the dancers. It was a no-brainer."

* The Wexner Center for the Arts opened Blues for Smoke in September. (It continues through Dec. 29.)

The multi-disciplinary exhibition -- visual art, film, memorabilia, lectures and, of course, concerts -- examines the influence of blues music in contemporary art and culture. Check out wexarts.org.

* Pianist Leslie Amper presented a November program at the Columbus Museum of Art as part of the museum's annual Art of Concern Symposium, a program that supported the CMA's exhibition of the works of American painter George Bellows.

Amper played music that might have been popular in the Bellows home and that shared Bellows' philosophies on art.

"I love having a topic like this to make connections with people and ideas," Amper said.

"I look at something like this as 'widening the view' on an artist."

 

Best quote

The Beat gets to talk to all sorts of interesting people, who often say interesting things -- be they thought-provoking, comedic, inspirational or some combination thereof.

We have long stated that there are no clear criteria for selection, as this year's dual recipients will show. Yes, it's a "tie."

Roots-country singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, who, when asked to compare his previous career as a bull rider with his current one, said "There is definitely a lot of bull---- in both."

At the other end of the "best quote" spectrum are two gems from bassist Victor Wooten:

"I look at it this way. You learned English without learning it. You were not forced to be a beginner, or put in groups with other people who only knew as much as you did, or not allowed to talk to people who spoke better than you. I learned music at the same time and in the same way. I have another language;" and

"When we were kids, my mom used to ask us 'What does the world need with another musician, even a good one?' To her, it was about more than just playing an instrument, but about how you benefit the world."

 

Also quotable

* "At that point, I was just hoping to do it the next week." -- David Harrington of Kronos Quartet, on the early days of the vanguard chamber ensemble, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013

* "I had a nice dinner in Boston with friends. It was a long weekend celebration, a long stream of alcohol and chocolate cake." -- Ellis Paul on rescheduling a phone interview from his birthday

* "Tradition cannot stop. Tradition is passed on. Tradition must evolve." -- Kodo Drummers manager Jun Akimoto

* "Thank goodness for the phone voice memo." -- singer-songwriter Anna Vogelzang on modern songwriting

* "We're always trying to figure out 'how do we get this sound.' Like 'I want my guitar to sound like it's at the bottom of a well,' or 'this needs to sound like the Antarctic.'" -- Alex Maas of psych-rockers The Black Angels

* "We're like five little Jiminy Crickets." -- Franklin Grace of CATCO's Five Guys Named Moe

* "When I was a kid, I'd stand in front of the mirror and play guitar, dreaming there would be someone listening, occasionally wearing my mother's high heels, pretending I was in Kiss." -- singer-songwriter Chris Trapper

* "Maybe after the hundredth listen, it's not OK for adults, but maybe the first 50 don't bug you so much." -- children's musician and songwriter Laurie Berkner

* "Look how much cooler my violin looks than the others." -- Kansas violinist David Ragsdale on playing shows with an orchestra

* "It's not like it was in 1998 when we were all living together in the same apartment, with our instruments always set up and we would eat our cereal and then start playing. That's not a healthy way to live." -- Guster's Brian Rosenworcel on the good part about getting older

* "It's an honor for me to sing and to share with audiences my culture and to show that native people are still there, that we are an alive nation." -- Canadian and Huron Nation singer Christian Laveau of Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM

* "We had a next door neighbor. He had a Harley, he was ex-Navy. He took me to all these little towns, to some great festivals where we would see all these great artists. I really got the Americana experience." -- Brit-pop legend Adam Ant, on some of what he did all those years during his hiatus

* "I have a studio at my house. There have been times I've had to tell my family 'I'm making a little work tape here. Can I have about five minutes?' " -- singer-songwriter Jeff Black on the art of the home studio

* "It was simply songwriting doing what it's supposed to do, which is collecting the collective." -- singer-songwriter Dar Williams about her record, In the Time of Gods

* "We were the kind of kids who would sit in the back seat of your car and sing harmonies to songs that didn't have any." -- The Spring Standards keyboardist-singer Heather Robb

 

News department

* ProMusica Chamber Orchestra co-founder Timothy Russell led his last program as the orchestra's music director, and new director David Danzmayr joined ProMusica full time later in the year.

"I don't know whether we were naive or arrogant, but one of our missions was we hoped to create an arts institution, one that would live beyond both of us," he told us about ProMusica's early days.

The Beat counts Russell among those to whom we owe great debts of gratitude for the work they've helped us do over the years.

We never failed to learn something whenever we got that chance to visit or chat by phone. And we have to say, Danzmayr endeared himself early on, welcoming participation in our often-offbeat video projects and voicing his appreciation for the approach after we wrapped.

Paraphrasing Bugs Bunny (who himself was paraphrasing, we know), this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

* Which is good, because Columbus Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jean-Marie Zeitouni announced in 2013 that the current season would be his last.

Always a willing play-along in our video concepts, and sometimes enhancing them with his own sense of humor, Zeitouni was a treat. We hope to get a fun spot or two yet before he departs.

A growing family, one that lives in Montreal, was the big reason for the move. We have little doubt the talented, young maestro will be plenty in professional demand as well.

* Early in the year, Opera Columbus changed Peggy Kriha Dye's title from director of artistic and educational programming to general manager.

This reflected a broader scope not just for Dye, but for the company, as it prepared to return to the task of producing big-stage opera, something Opera Columbus had dropped from its plate a couple years back in the wake of significant financial crisis.

Dye admitted to The Beat at the time of this announcement that something "big" was in the works, but it was a couple months before the announcement regarding locally produced grand opera was official.

Opera Columbus, in partnership with Ohio State University's opera program and with musicians from Columbus Symphony Orchestra and, perhaps most importantly, with a cast of primarily local professional singers, staged Madama Butterfly in November, marking "the full return" of the company, in Dye's words.

* BalletMet Columbus named Edwaard Liang its new artistic director. He started on the job in July, replacing the departed Gerard Charles.

Born in Taiwan and raised in California, Liang began his dance training at age 5. He danced with New York City Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater, was a member of the Tony Award-winning Broadway cast of Fosse, and has choreographed works for, among others, Bolshoi Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Shanghai Ballet.

Liang said he's looking forward to "helping foster dancers' careers, helping other choreographers to build their resumes -- really the whole business of dance."

* The Columbus Museum of Art broke ground for a significant expansion and renovation project in the summer of 2013. The $37.6-million project, "an incredibly powerful moment for the museum" in the words of Executive Director Nanette Maciejeunes, marks the third and final portion of the CMA's Art Matters Campaign.

* The 2013-14 season marks the 25th for Broadway in Columbus, and the 50th for Columbus Children's Theatre. Per Children's Theatre Artistic Director William Goldsmith: "It's an honor to be able to have an impact on children in a positive way. It's empowering for children to watch other children performing."

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