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Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 7:05 am

Batavia drama club marks 100th year of theater at school with Shakespeare

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, Batavia HS, theater

Theater-in-the-round, Shakespeare, celebrating 100 years of live stage performances at your school. These are all heady things to take on for a group of young thespians, but the Batavia High School Drama Club is pulling it all together nicely, says advisor Caryn Burke.

It was actually a student who suggested the club perform Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this year after noticing the comedy was the first public stage performance by BHS students in 1914. Though none of the students had much experience with Shakespeare, they've all taken to it like sprites to pixie dust.

Burke admits she was a little apprehensive once it was settled that they would perform "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The first step was for them just to get through a reading of the play.

"A lot of them had no idea how to read or even comprehend Shakespeare," Burke said. "Once they got it, they just ran with it. Once they understood what the show was and what all the dialogue meant and they had a good understanding of it they just took it from there."

The version the students will perform this Friday and Saturday is an adaption suitable for a high school performance by Ken Womble. None of the language is changed and the plot and themes remain the same, Burke said. It's just a slightly abridged version.

Even so, taking on Shakespeare, especially in the theater-in-the-round format Burke prefers for the winter show could be a bit daunting. She says the club has been able to remain focused on its primary goals.

"It's supposed to be fun," Burke said. "It's supposed to be educational, but there's a time and place for Shakespeare and that's not always necessarily in a high school drama club. The kids rose to the challenge."

The lead cast is Ross Chua, Andrea Gilebarto, Chelsea Jensen, Evan Bellavia, Lauren Dunn, Cara Ranalli, Alex Mott and Nick Piedmont.

Show times Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 each and only available at the door. Seating is limited to 100 patrons.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Swinging version of a locally written Christmas song

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, music

On WBTA's Talk of the Town, starring Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman, this morning they had as guests Carmen DelPlato, a teacher at Jackson School in Batavia, and Laura Dubin. They introduced a new recording by the Laura Dubin Trio, with Sage Melcher on vocals, of "Real Old Fashioned Christmas."

The song was written by Mary DelPlato and Anthony DelPlato.

Carmen asked Laura Dubin if she would record the song, and she said she would if she liked it. Obviously, she did. She reworked the arrangement into a more traditional Swing vibe and brought in Melcher to sing it. Both Dubin and Melcher are from Rochester.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

Raffaele Ponti announces this is his final season as conductor of GSO

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, music

Conductor Raffaele Ponti, who has been the musical director of the Genessee Symphony Orchestra for 15 years, announced yesterday prior to the start of the season-opening concert, that this will be his final season with the GSO.

Ponti recently relocated from Rochester to Florida as his career continues to advance.

The GSO board will announce soon plans for hiring a new conductor, its 14th in its 67-year history.

Above, Ponti with GSO Board Chairman Paul Saskowski.

Below, some photos from yesterday's performance at St. James Episcopal Church, Batavia.

Monday, October 13, 2014 at 10:01 am

Photo: Annual GO ART! award winners

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, GO ART!

The full lineup of award winners on Saturday, includes, from left: Michael Bonafede, of Albion, for his role as a musician and his work in planning many community events; Kim Buczek (Linda Blanchet Award) for earning doctorate in music arts and performing in the Cincinnati area; Jim Hancock, of Medina, for his volunteer work with many community causes and events; Albion native Lance Anderson, president of the Lake Plains Players – a community theater group; Cassandra Prong (daughter of honoree Bill Hayes – honored for his years of support for GO ART!); Vincent Pastore, a lifelong Batavian and accomplished musician; and Leslie DeLooze, accepting on behalf of the Richmond Memorial Library, which offers many arts and cultural programs throughout the year.

Photo and caption courtesy Tom Rivers, Orleans Hub.

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Little free library blooms on Washington and Lewis, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, books, Literature

Jen Reardon loves books and wants to encourage people to read more, so she set up a little free library in front of her house on the corner of Washington Avenue and Lewis Avenue.

She got the idea after learning about a web site called LittleFreeLibrary.org. In fact, she bought her brightly colored box from the web site. The site also tracks locations of little free libraries, and hers is the first one registered in Genesee County.

"I knew of nothing in area, at least on the map, so why not do this?" Reardon said. "I love books. I seem to always have lots of readers around me with lots of books and they're like, 'what can I do these,' so I thought we'll put them out and let people take a book, leave a book."

That's the whole concept of the little free library right there -- there's no fee, no library card to sign up for, you take a book and leave a book. Return what you take whenever you like, nor never return it if you like it that much. Just put something else in its place.

Yesterday was the first day for Reardon's little free library and quite a few people stopped and took books. Not too many have been added to the collection yet.

"Yesterday was a busy day at the little free library," Reardon said. "There was definitely more borrowing than trading, but since it's the first day, I don't think people really knew what to make of it."

Reardon already has one of the most colorful front yards in Batavia, with a cornucopia of flowers growing all spring, summer and fall. Her green, orange and purple box fits right in.

Her neighborhood is perfect for something like this, Reardon believes.

"We have all income levels within like a three block area," she said.

"I think people don't read enough and some people might not have access to books. You can always go to the library, but if you have books in your home, you're more likely to pick it up and read it, kids especially.

Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Works by GCC Arts faculty on view at Roz Steiner Gallery, opening reception is Sept. 11

post by Billie Owens in announcements, arts, GCC, Roz Steiner Gallery

Press release:

They teach their craft to students every day, but they are also practicing artists outside of the classroom. This fall, see the work of the Fine Arts faculty at Genesee Community College in an exhibit entitled "Art Matters: GCC Arts Faculty Exhibit."

The show is now on view in the Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Gallery in the Genesee Center for the Arts on the GCC Batavia Campus. Opening receptions for the exhibit are planned on Thursday, Sept. 11, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and again at 5:30-7:30 p.m. The afternoon opening will include a performance by Music instructor Jennifer Sisbarro.

The show will feature the works of six GCC faculty members. They include Joe Ziolkowski, Instructor of Photography, who is coordinating the exhibit; Moi Dugan, associate professor of Ceramics and 3-Dimensional Design; Heather Jones, assistant professor of Fine Arts; Pamela Swarts, assistant professor of Digital Art; Jennifer Sisbarro, instructor of Music, and Ed Hallborg, Theater technician.

Ziolkowski, who teaches digital and film-based photography, creates unique self-portraits that use multiple formats, including 35 mm, 4 x 5 inch pinhole, digital SLR, mirror-less and iPhone digital cameras.

"In a world filled with the effortless 'selfie,' my work is effort filled," Ziolkowski notes. "As the artist, I select the vantage point and frame the subject, making my lens the viewers' eye. As subject, I place myself within the frame and guide the viewer through the frame with my own gaze. Within this gaze, I join the viewer, experiencing the joy of gazing myself."

Moi Dugan's new work is inspired by the woodlands surrounding her family's new home.

"My wheel thrown and handbuilt ceramics act as canvases for my painted narratives. While my work is functional, I strive for each piece to stand alone as a work of art when not in use," Dugan said.

She uses brightly pigmented slip and the sgraffito ("scratch") technique to produce the layers of color, texture and pattern on each of her one-of-a-kind pieces.

The mixed media creations of Heather Jones integrate glass, metal, paint and untraditional materials to "create social commentaries that speak of environmental issues.

"My current artwork focuses on the ethics of patenting life and the scientific processes of changing plants, animals and humans at a cellular level," Jones said.

Pam Swarts features graphic artwork on posters and event design materials.

Cultural debris is the focus of Ed Hallborg's work entitled "Remnants," which "is meant to be consumed in passing, like digital graffiti." Automated slide projectors display the words and images.

And musical sound bites featuring vocal performances by Jennifer Sisbarro will play continuously. Sisbarro's selections come from classical, jazz, and musical theater genres. She's an experienced performer who's been singing since the age of 3. Sisbarro will perform jazz standards with Deborah Sorenson accompanying her on piano during the opening reception from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Sept. 11.

The exhibit will be on display through Nov.  20. The Roz Steiner Gallery, located in the Genesee Center for the Arts at Genesee Community College, is open Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by special appointment. GCC's Batavia campus, located at One College Road, is just a short drive off exit 48 of the New York State Thruway. Directions to the campus are available at http://www.genesee.edu/about/visit/maps.cfm.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Photos: Fire hydrant painting downtown

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, downtown, Vibrant Batavia

Local artist Brandi Bruggman has been comissioned by Vibrant Batavia to paint two of the fire hydrants downtown. Here she paints the one at Main and Bank, in front of Seymour Place (GO ART!). She said this hydrant will have a colorful paisley design on it. Her other hydrant will be painted like a lighthouse.  

Below, a hydrant on Center Street completed by another artist.

UPDATE: Amanda Earl submitted these photos of Brandi's hydrants from later in the day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Batavia Concert Band move's tonight's show to GCC

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, Batavia Concert Band, entertainment, music

Due to the likelihood of rain, the Batavia Concert Band's performance this evening is moved to the Stuart Steiner Theater at GCC.

From the announcement:

Tonight's concert will feature bandmembers' and conductor John Bailey's favorite pieces from this Summer and years past. It'll be an audience (and musician) pleasing mix of movie themes, Big Band and Broadway tunes, and of course -- marches!

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

Nik Wallenda brings world class variety show to Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, darien lake, entertainment, nik wallenda

This week, Nik Wallenda opened his new show in the Gallaxy Theater at Darien Lake Theme Park, and those who have attended the first few shows have been treated to exactly what Wallenda promised -- first class entertainment.

Besides Wallenda and his family performing a high wire act, the show includes performances by dancers, hula hoop artists, a rope gymnast, comedians and jugglers (both the type who toss objects and those who toss each other).

It's Ed Sullivan without The Beatles. It's vaudeville without the travel.

"Me and my wife love vaudeville," Wallenda said. "Her family actually came over from Australia to perform on vaudeville. There's definitely a passion for that. We talked about it a lot and said, 'you know what, let's do a show where we incorporate a bunch of other acts.' "

The idea for the show has been percolating some time, Wallenda said, and after he walked a wire over Niagara Falls, he knew he wanted to come back to Western New York. He said the support he received from the community during the process of getting permission for the walk was so strong, he wanted to do something to give back to Western New York.

From his career in live performance, and with his family's rich history and all of the connections he has with the world's top acts, Wallenda thought he should bring it all together to create a special show.

"I was like, you know let's all get together and make an awesome show for Western New York," Wallenda said. "You heard me at the end, and I mean that, I love this place. I doubt you'll find a show of this volume, this variety at any other amusement park anyplace else in the country, probably not around the world."

At least three times while we talked, Wallenda said, "I love Western New York."

"I get opportunities to perform all over the world, but I love it right here," Wellenda said. "The people love me. I love the people here because they were so supportive."

The 10-week run for the show is the longest Wallenda has stayed in one place in nine or 10 years, he said.

"Ever since I walked over Niagara Falls, I said I wanted to have a permanent place here in WNY," Wallenda said. "A year went by and I was busy, but nobody from Western New York really stepped forward and said, 'hey, we want you here.' The casino offered a little bit. They wanted, but then they couldn't fulfill. So many places reached out, but never followed through, then Darien Lake was like, 'we want to do it. We're going to follow through. Let's do it.' "

Vincent Nicoletti, marketing director for Darien Lake, said the folks at Darien Lake feel really fortunate to bring a show of such world class caliber to Western New York.

What's so cool about it is if you remember Lena, the way she did the hoops, just the music that she used, it had the classic kind of vaudeville sound, but it was modernized with some hip-hop beats," Nicoletti said. "It's a really cool variety show. A lot of people don't know what to expect when they come here for this show. 'What am I going to go see?' and it's such a big surprise. The level of talent they have in each act is just phenomenal."

Wallenda hopes people from all over the region will come out and see the show. He hopes to make it more than a one-summer-and-done event. He wants to keep coming back.

"We put a lot of money into this," Wallenda said. "I'm used to making a lot more money, but to me it was like, I promised to bring something back here, so let's do it, let's do it in a big way, let's do it right and hopefully we'll be invited back."

Performers included: Sergio & Martha Martinez, the Dancing Gauchos; Nik and Erendira Wallenda, swaypoles; Lianna Ashton, hula hoops; Nick Slimick, on silk ropes; Giuliano and Fabio Anastasini, foot jugglers; Ty Tojo, juggler; Nik, Erendira, & Delilah Wallenda, Alec Bryant, Nick Slimick in the finale, a high wire act. Philippe Thibadeau had a recurring comedic role, including an audience participation routine. Ty McFarlan was the MC.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are free to park guests and VIP packages, which includes a tour after the show, a meet-and-greet with Wallenda and front-row seats are available.

Nick Slimick

Giuliano and Fabio Anastasini

Sergio Martinez

Philippe Thibadeau

Lianna Ashton

Philippe Thibadeau playing the incorrigible romantic in an audience participation routine.

Ty Tojo

The finale.

VIP guests get their picture taken on stage with Nik Wallenda.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 8:18 am

Genesee Chorale preparing to perform Dvorak on Friday and Sunday

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, entertainment, Genesee Chorale, music

Under the direction of Ric Jones, the Genesee Chorale will perform Antonin Dvorak’s "Requiem Mass" on Sunday at St. James Episcopal Church, Batavia.

Featured vocal soloists are Maureen DeGolyer, soprano, Pat Fussell, alto, Mark Ross, tenor, and Jim Ellison, bass.

Tickets for the 4 p.m. performance will be available at the door and are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

On Friday, the chorale will perform at 7 p.m. in Albion's Pillars Estate in the Grand Ballroom. There will be complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available online at geneseechorale.com or at the door. The Pillars is located at 13800 W. Country House Road, Albion.

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