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Friday, April 24, 2015 at 9:58 am

Photos: Notre Dame Spring Concert

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, education, entertainment, music, Notre Dame, schools

Notre Dame High School hosted its annual spring concert at the school Thursday night with jazz ensemble and concert choir performing such pieces as the "Overture of the Magic Flute," highlights from "Harry Potter," Disney movie tunes and a portion of Pachelbel's "Canon in D." Theresa Kehl is conductor of both the ensemble and the choir.

Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm

GCC photography show with sustainability theme to open at Interpretive Nature Center, Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, Bethany, GCC, Genesee County Park, photography

Combining environmental awareness with a photography assignment, Genesee Community College instructor Joe Ziolkowski asked his students to create sustainable still life photographs. From plastic cups to light bulbs, images about carpooling and recycling shoes, students responded in interesting and thought-provoking ways.

The community is invited to view the works as the exhibit, Sustainable Still Life, moves to the Genesee County Park and Forest. An opening reception is planned May 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Park's Interpretive Nature Center, 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany.

Since he came to GCC, Ziolkowski has developed an excellent relationship with the staff at the Genesee County Park and Forest. This is the third exhibit of GCC student work that will be shown at the Park's Interpretive Nature Center. Previous displays have included "Around the Bend: The Shared Landscape" and "Environmental Portraits of Western New York."

"The exhibits have been very well received by the community and are an excellent opportunity for our students to show their work beyond the campus," Ziolkowski said. "This particular show is especially fitting for the Park setting as we think about preserving the Earth and reducing our carbon footprint."

The works have been on view in the Lobby Art Gallery of GCC's Stuart Steiner Theatre and were a part of the College's annual ECO-Fest celebrating Earth Day. The pieces represent work by students in Ziolkowski's COM 118 (Introduction to Digital Photography) and COM 103 (Introduction to Black & White Photography) classes.

They will be on view in the Gallery at GCC through April 29. Ziolkowski will install them at the Interpretive Nature Center on Saturday, May 2. They will remain there through the summer. The exhibit will close on Friday, Sept. 11.

"We're excited to once again show student work at the Nature Center," Parks Supervisor Paul Osborn said. "We hope many people will join us for the Opening Reception on May 8th. It's a great way to celebrate a long-awaited Spring!"

Megan Ange / "Saving Water"
On a day-to-day basis, we use water for many things. We use water to wash our hands after using the bathroom, to wash dishes, brush our teeth and take a shower. We all forget to turn the water off from time to time when we are not using it, myself included. There could be a faucet leaking, and if that is the case then maybe you should check to see if you turned the knob of the faucet all the way so it is turned off instead of wasting the water. Everyone takes water for granted, but if you do the little things to save it, then you will be less likely to have a high water bill and not have to worry about problems that might happen if you leave it on. "Water is the driving force of all nature." - Leonardo da Vinci

Ellen Fridman / "Pin It"
REDUCE. Line-drying is back! Dryers are not going to go away any time soon but it seems like more people are returning to the use of the sun and wind to dry their clothing and linens. There are several benefits to clothesline drying. Hanging laundry out to dry instead of turning on the dryer lowers carbon emissions, reduces gas or electric bills, helps clothing and linens last longer, and establishes an excuse to get outside. Experts say that if all Americans line-dried for half a year, 3.3 percent of the country's total residential output of carbon dioxide would be saved. For those in colder climates, try using drying racks inside. Go Green!

Miguel Ortiz-Teed / "The Legend of Books"
As time progresses -- technology advances. This progression has lead from hand-held books where you can flip a page with your hands to tablets where you swipe to turn the page and have a massive library in the palm of your hands. This causes bookbinders to lose their jobs and technology takes their place. Eventually books will revert into a legend where only the wealthy will be able to afford them. This also produces a risk for all the knowledge that is stored within technology to be lost if an Electrical Magnetic Pulse were to hit either by a solar flare or warfare.

Paul Thater / "Light at the End of the Tunnel"
The photo was based off of the joke: "The government had to turn off the light at the end of the tunnel due to budget cuts." The light bulb has a black background to symbolize darkness in a tunnel with the light bulb off. This photo shows saving money by not using and saving electricity, which makes your bill smaller and gives you more money to spend on necessities.

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm

PHOTOS: On Broadway at Harvester 56 Theater

Batavia Players just finished their third production this year directed by Anthony Giambrone. This past weekend, five performances were held at the Harvester 56 theater. Each performance had five sections of range from different types of broadway theater.  

We have a family friendly show, "Annie," that will make your heart melt when hearing the song "Tomorrow." Then we have a wild story of "Kinky Boots" where the challenge of singing modern pop music and still try to get the message across to the audience.  

"Wicked" has a reputation of being a showstopper and the cast had to live up to that. A challenge of women in "Leading Ladies" had a task of singing five different songs from five different musicals and had to find a way to make them flow together nicely.

The last section, "Hairspray," proved to be the largest section for both cast and director and it was the longest section in the show that called for the most dancing. The directing and choreographing of this show took a bit of extra time needed but was aimed to have the audience leave with smiling faces.

Batavia Players next show is "Xanadu" and runs from May 14-16th. For more upcoming events go to: http://www.bataviaplayers.org/

Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Raffaele Ponti honored by GSO Board prior to final show with orchestra

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

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors hosted a farewell luncheon at GO ART! this afternoon for Raffaele Ponti, the musical director and conductor of the orchestra for 18 years who will conduct his final concert with the GSO tomorrow.

The luncheon was attended by board members and several longtime orchestra members, including Helen Grapka, pictured above with Ponti and his daughter, Sofia.

Sofia is holding the violin Grapka played for 46 years with GSO. She sold it to the Ponti family, along with the violin of her late husband, John, when she retired from music a few years ago. Sofia will play it during her featured performance at tomorrow's concert.

Grapka is the last surviving founding member of GSO.

In the 1940s, she and her husband played with a small orchestra organized by a local man who wanted to be a conductor each Jan. 1 at the old folks home in Bethany. At the 1947 show, Helen and John had a conversation with two members of their string quartet and decided they should start a local orchestra.

The GSO's first concert was later that year, in November, at the old Dipson Theater. Some 1,400 people attended and hundreds more were turned away at the door. Grapka remembers men showing up in tuxedos and the women dressed in long gowns and minks.

From the beginning, the orchestra attracted the finest musicians in the area and had a dozen first violinists that first season.

John Grapka was musical director at the New York State School for the Blind and after teaching at a public school for six years, Helen taught music at the School for the Blind for 20 years.

She's proud that what she and her husband started has lasted into the 21st Century.

"If anything ever happens and it all falls apart, it will never happen again," Grapka said. "It's important to keep it going because it's such an important cultural thing for the community."

Tomorrow's concert is at 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

Ponti with an award presented to him by Board President Paul Saskowski and Board Member Roxanne Choate. 

Below are pictures from yesterday's rehearsal at Batavia High School. Dave Mancini is also performing with the orchestra tomorrow. The Rochester resident will perform on some of his own compositions, including "A Piece for Him," which he wrote and dedicated to his father. Members of the Student String Workshop (featured in some of the photos below) will also perform with the orchestra.

Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

Photo: Students prepare for performance with GSO on Sunday

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

Jonathan Jaeger, music instructor at Roxy's Music in Batavia, practices with students Lucia Sprague, John Patt and Kirk Ellison. The students are preparing for Sunday's performance with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra of the "1812 Overture" and "Concerto Grosso."

Showtime is 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

The concert will also feature drummer Dave Mancini and his original compositions of "A Peace For Him" and  "Symphony of Peace." 

It is also the final concert under the direction of Conductor Raffaele Ponti.

Photo submitted by Debbie Patt.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

GSO prepares for Sunday's concert with Dave Mancini, farewell to Raffaele Ponti

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

Nationally renowned drummer and composer Dave Mancini joins the Genesee Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon in a performance that will include popular pieces such as "Caravan" and the world premier of Mancini's own "Symphony of Peace."

The 4 p.m. performance at Batavia High School will be the last GSO concert under the direction of Conductor Raffaele Ponti.

Ponti's daughter, Sofia Ponti, will also be featured on violin.

Mancini composed "Symphony of Peace" and dedicated it to his father, a World War II veteran.

The Rochester resident is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and has performed with Chuck Mangione, Rosemary Clooney, Maureen McGovern, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Bop Hope, as well as Doc Severinsen, the Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, New York Pops, Vancouver Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Other pieces in the concert include Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," Vivaldi's "La Primavera," Fiesta Latina, Concerto Grosso by Antonio Vivaldi, the "1812 Overture."

There will also be a performance by participants in this year's string workshop.

Tickets are available at GO ART!, Roxy's Music, Batavia Senior Center and the Bank of Castile branch in Le Roy, and are $15 for adults, $7 for students, $10 for seniors and $35 for a family with children 12 and under.

Photos are from Monday's rehearsal.

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Emily Helenbrook dreams big, works hard as she seeks career as opera singer

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, alexander, Emily Helenbrook, music

It's a long way from Alexander, New York, to the Metropolitan Opera House, much further than the 536 miles measured on a Google map, but it's the road Emily Helenbrook has traced in her dreams nearly all her life.

At age 20, Helenbrook is building the resume that just might carry her from small town to big city, including a sixth engagement March 27 and 28 with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

A student at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Helenbrook's aqua eyes glimmer when she talks about what she loves. 

"I'm obsessed with classical music," Helenbrook said. "I can't get enough of it. Even at Eastman, where everybody loves music and that's what they want to do with their lives, I'm still the one who is constantly listening to more music and I love it. My grandpa was the same way. Music was his life and seeing him as I grew and grew into being a musician, I saw how much he was devoted and I wanted to be like that."

That love of classical music began at home. Arias and etudes weren't something she was introduced to. It was what she was born into.  

Her grandfather, Mathew Tworek was an original member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violinist, and master musician and a member for more than 60 years. Her aunt, Adrienne Gryta, was a vocalist and frequent performer with the BPO and Helenbrook's first vocal instructor.

Growing up, all three of the Helenbrook children were introduced to music. Older brother Jason, now a local auctioneer, played flute and twin brother Eric played piano.  

For Emily, music quickly surpassed the hobby stage, however, and became the driving passion of her life.

Passion is what carries her through the hard work of learning her craft and building a career.

People tend to think, Helenbrook acknowledges, that singers just get up and sing, but there's so much more that goes into it. Learning the intricacies of vocal technique is grueling and takes years to master. They also need to research repertoire, study languages and diction, and for performance they must learn more than their own parts, but know and understand other characters, the history of the period and the story.

And that's just the singing part of her life. There are the academics that go into earning her music degree as well as her second degree in political science.

None of that is daunting, though, Helenbrook said.

"For a break, it's my practice time," Helenbrook said. "I don't think of practice as a chore. It's still fun for me, even though it's hard work, it's still fun."

When she needs to get away, she comes home, where there's more space, more quiet and more green.

"I really do appreciate being home," Helenbrook said. "Being in the country is a good way to escape the humdrum of city life. I can't stand it after a while and coming back home to something more simple is really important with the sort of speed of classical music and trying to be a musician."

Success came early for Helenbrook. At 17 she won the Barry/Alexander International Voice Competition, which led to a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and an afternoon-long voice lesson with her childhood idol, four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming.

"She has the most beautiful voice and she's such a nice person," Helenbrook said. "She's a great role model for young singers. I always dreamed maybe some day I could sing for her and maybe she could teach me some things and that's exactly what happened and it was in her house in New York City. It was the craziest thing."

Performing at Carnegie was also a crazy thing, she said.

"That was an out-of-body experience that I don't remember as much as I would like," Helenbrook said. "It was kind of like a dream, in every respect."

It's hard to believe she won't make it back to that great venue. Talented, beautiful, hard working, passionate about her art and establishing the connections that build careers, Helenbrook is doing more than just dreaming.

She also understands, there are no guarantees, which explains the second degree in political science and her plans for law school after graduation. It's a long way from anywhere to the Met.

"Even really, really good singers don't make it," Helenbrook said. "I've seen people at the Met auditions and they're really good, but nothing happens because a lot of it is luck and being the right place at the right time. I know that and I'm trying to be realistic about it. I know what I want. I want to be a singer and I want to at least try to make a career of it, but it's also important to have a backup plan."

For more on Helenbrook's upcoming performance with the BPO and to purchase tickets, click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 8:56 am

Photos: All-County Music Festival showcase held in Attica

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, Attica, entertainment, music

Photos by Jim Burns.

The first of two All-County Music Festival concerts was held Saturday in Attica, with student musicians from throughout Genesee and Wyoming counties participating.

The concert is the culmination of a lot of hard work by students, including an audition process that also contributes to the grades of many students in music classes.

The next show is at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Batavia Middle School. Tickets are $4 at the door.

Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 2:35 pm

GO ART! presents annual grants for art projects

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

GO ART! hosted a presentation ceremony Friday evening at its home at Seymore Place in Batavia for it's annual Reach and Ripple grants.

There were a total of 28 grants awarded this year for more than $46,000.

The Genesee Children's Chorus, directed by Heather Loveless, performed three opening numbers.

For a list of recipients, click here.

Bob Knipe, president of the board of directors, with opening remarks.

Josh Pacino, with Legislator Gregg Torrey and Interim Director Heather Grant, accepted awards on behalf of the Batavia Concert Band and Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

Shelley Falitico, from Genesee ARC, accepted the grant for the Sprout Film Festival.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Darien Lake once again planning full concert season

The summer line-up for the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center is starting to take shape, with Kelly Clarkson the latest star announced by Live Nation for a show at the amphitheater next to Darien Lake Theme Park.

The Clarkson show is at 7:30 p.m., July 21. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., March 14. Also on the bill, Pentatonix and Eric Hutchinson.

Also on the schedule so far are some Darien Lake regulars, such as Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Def Leppard, Zac Brown and Nickelback.

The Van's Warp tour is also returning.

Those shows are listed on the Live Nation Web site.

Darien Lake's site also lists Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean and Rascal Flatts.

The first upcoming show is Debby Ryan and the Neverending at 6 p.m., May 23.

Other acts scheduled are Shawn Mendes, Fallout Boy, Train, Slipknot, Florida Georgia Line, and Darius Rucker.

For dates and times, check the links above.

If you've downloaded the Reacht App for your smart phone, at some point within the next day, we'll ask you this poll question: Do you plan to attend any concerts this season at Darien Lake? To download the app, click here.

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