Creativity in the Time of Covid–Dec. 19, 2021

The Hermitage Brings Booker VPA to The Edge

Bassist Luke Stewart prepares to take the stage.

Anyone in attendance at the Luke Stewart concert on Dec. 17 knows well that its title–“The Edge of Music”–is apt. Stewart, a celebrated bassist, doesn’t so much make music, but create lush, atonal soundscapes that defy music’s typical features. During the concert, rhythm, tone, and harmony were dispensed of in favor of vibrations evoking mood.

Stewart with Hermitage CEO Andy Sandberg.

Stewart, who is an activist/artist, shared his purpose with the audience. He described the unique power music has to create community and speak to the issues of the world.

He said now is a “fertile time for art. There’s a lot to talk about, a lot to play about.”

Before performing, Stewart sets the context for his sonic creations.
Feedback as music: strings toward amps, he builds a soundscape.

Stewart’s process–which involves using his bass and amplifier to create a feedback loop–is mesmerizing. Transfixed and transfixing, he hosted a kind of transcendental sonic journey for patrons.

Mika Sibinkiz and Gus Baizabel play preshow.

Students joined Stewart for a finale jam session in which he led a series of improvs, building song from the ground up. Beginning with percussion (played by Thomas McGuire), he then added piano (Tristan Tran), then conducting other instruments in. The result: music as alive as a rainforest, transforming and awakening before an audience.

Students who played were Mika Sibinkiz (electric guitar), Gus Baizabal (electric bass), Dante Rutland (vibes), Kimberly Icabelzeta-Picado (upright bass), Alexander Fic (trombone), Cameron Piekarz (trumpet), Jasper Johnson (alto sax), and Juan Zambrano (tenor sax).

The concert was the first in a series called “The Hermitage @ Booker.” This is a unique collaboration between the VPA and Hermitage Artist Retreat that brings world-class artists to the Booker campus.

Next up: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel will present at Booker on Feb. 11. Look for registration information, coming soon!

Joy to the World! Music on the Move… Again!

Ready to rock: Mr. Zickafoose poses with members of Zephyr and Category 5 preshow.

The Music Department played performances in the community in two special concerts. The first, Sunsets at The Bay, featured Category 5 and Zephyr at the Civic Green adjacent to the Municipal Auditorium. Audiences relaxed in the grass, taking in an exquisite sunset and phenomenal music all at once.

This is part of another new partnership between Booker VPA and The Bay Park Conservancy, a multi-year project transforming the bayfront property near the Van Wezel into “the Central Park of Sarasota.” Next up: Shakespeare-in-the-Park at the Civic Green. March 3-5, the Theatre Department will present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The day after The Bay performance, choirs played a concert at The Pines of Sarasota, our neighborhood retirement home and assisted living facility. There, the choirs inspired residents with their youth, energy, and cherubic harmonies.

More than Movement: Dancers Examine Careers

Challenge accepted: Jessie Johnson, Maija Boelkins, Kaylyla Andrews, and Leslie Rios-Oviedo design costumes while costumer Kristy Iris looks on.

In the Dance department’s brand-new Pre-AP Dance course, dancers have been investigating dance-related careers.

This quarter covered the following dance photography, dance writing, dance in medicine and dance costuming. By quarter’s end, students had met with and interviewed practitioners. Each module has also included an element of experimentation.

First, they interviewed Sorcha Augustine, a local photographer who specializes in dance and theatre. Next, they interviewed former Sarasota Herald Tribune writer Carrie Seidman. After that, students Zoomed with program directors at USF and UF to discuss the Dance in Medicine Certificate programs offered at their respective schools. Finally, they spent three days with costumer extraordinaire Kristy Iris. Iris answered questions, pushed the students in a costume design challenge, and taught them sewing techniques.

The quarter has been packed with hands-on learning. Also, it has connected students with community members to investigate all of the possibilities in these students’ futures.

Off the Page: 3-D Artists Explore Wood, Fabrics

Level 2 Artists have had several sculpture assignments this quarter that explore myriad media. The first, which uses wood, tasked students with creating geometric sculptures.

The second had students design and sew stuffed dolls.

Lu Eiseman’s creepy-cute doll lounges next to Raquel Coyle’s snuggly bear.

Those Who Can, Teach

The diva, Sarah Brightman.

This week in this segment, we highlight Mr. Alexander Zickafoose. He was selected to perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall and The Van Wezel as a choir tenor in Sarah Brightman’s holiday concert, A Christmas Symphony.

The original Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” Brightman is a global singing sensation. The experience was great for Mr. Zickafoose, whose silky tenor is known throughout the area. An active performer, he most recently starred in the Manatee Players’ “Pippin” and The Sarasota Players’ “Falsettos.”

Coming Events

Enjoy a holiday concert al fresco at the one-night-only “Rockin’ On Top of the World.” The show will feature VPA modern bands Category 5, Zephyr, and Cyclone. Monday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Come out to The Eye for this riveting performance. Tickets are $10, General Admission.

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