Under the Elms Series Provides Free Entertainment

ElmsFive nights this summer students, community members, faculty and guests will come together both as audience members and participants to experience the Under the Elms Concert Series. This free open-air concert series on College Green has been an Athens tradition since the late 1940’s and attracts audiences of nearly 500.

After World War II Ohio University saw an influx of soldiers on campus studying music, so the University organized an event for the students to more deeply understand what the job of a band director entails. The event ran continuously until the 1970 Kent State shooting, when the Athens campus shut down, and the Under the Elms Series was suspended and didn’t resume until seven years later.

The five summer concert nights consist of an hour of various bands, soloists, ensembles and directors performing everything from classical and popular repertoire, to marches and Broadway hits. ‘Variety is the name of the game’ is the slogan emphasized by Andrew Trachsel, Ohio University Director of Bands and current director of the series. After five years of organizing the series, Trachsel aims to imagine an overriding theme for every concert.

“I hope that the concert can serve as a gateway leading into an interest for other events in Athens, and that the audience continues to branch out and discover other arts events,” said Trachsel.

On a typical concert night the audience would most likely be as diversified as you could imagine. Babies cling to their mothers, attendees over the age of 90 stake out a spot in the front and college students frolic in the back with their dogs. The musicians provide a wide variety as well, ranging from local high school students to retirees coming back to play.

Take for example Peter Couladis, an Under the Elms musician. Couladis began playing in the summer band around 1964, but was unable to play during his U.S. Army break and the cease of the series, but has played continuously since 1981. A retired auditor, he plays the trumpet and always anticipates catching up with old friends who come back as guest conductors.

John McCutcheon is a semi-newbie to the summer series, who started playing in 2009. McCutcheon is an Associate Professor Emeritus at Ohio University and was enthused to pick up his tuba for the first time in 47 years. He enjoys being part of the typical four generations of musicians playing.

As an Athens native, Christina Wince has attended the series since her younger years, first participating as a high schooler. Graduating with a Music Performance and Music Education degree, Wince has thoroughly appreciated her time playing flute and piccolo in the series.

“This ensemble is a testament to the lifelong love of playing music; it is so inspiring to see community members who have been playing in the ensemble for 20 or more years,” said Wince. “There are so many gifted musicians in this ensemble every year, and it is a joy to share the gift of live music performance with the Athens community. These concerts are deeply treasured by the musicians and the audience alike.”

Every year Tachsel has looked to incorporate a different aspect to the program, and this year for the first time during the 4th of July celebration the series will feature a performance of 1812 Overture and with approval from the National Guard will be shooting off cannons. Tachsel can’t stress enough his appreciation for the College of Fine Arts sponsoring this program and making it free for all attendees.

“I look at it as a free service to the community to present art that is accessible,” said Tachsel. “That’s what it’s all about; reaching out to the community and providing them with a unique opportunity they may not find elsewhere.”

Under the Elms Concert Series

All concerts will begin at 7 p.m. on College Green.

June 5 – Wright State University Associate Director of Bands Shelly Jagow will guest conduct.

June 12 – Guest ensemble Ohio Capital Winds will be featured.

June 19 – In conjunction with the first annual Ohio Summer Music Camp

June 26 – In conjunction with the Moving with Meaning conducting workshop

July 3 – Special 4th of July celebration

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant

Athens International Film Festival Celebrates 40th Anniversary

2013coverThis past Friday the Athena Cinema celebrated a special occasion as the 40th anniversary of the Athens International Film Festival kicked off from April 12-18th. Since the founding of the festival in 1974, thousands of independent films from across the globe have competed for the coveted Golden Athena Award.

“Our festival has taken a remarkable journey for the past 40 years,” said festival director Ruth Bradley. “When I think of the films and filmmakers that have participated it’s really quite breathtaking. All Athenians should be really proud that our community sponsors and celebrates this renowned event. There are only a handful of festivals that have thrived for as long as we have.”

Over the past 40 years the Film Festival has acquired a rich history and tradition that has a distinct position in the Athens community. During the first festival that ran for three days, around 3,000 participants were in attendance; in just three short years, attendance was up to more than 10,000 viewers. Since the first festival, renowned film directors have graced the event, it was extended from three to five days, it was broadcast over PBS channels, a battle of the bands was organized as a fundraiser and a mini festival was planned for children in the area.

Preparation for the 2013 Film Festival began earlier this year as more than 1,000 entries were submitted for review. A pre-screening committee made up of artists, students and community activists watched every submission and narrowed their selection to 250 to be shown throughout the festival. Some of this year’s submissions have traveled far and wide from India, Senegal, Norway, Mexico and NYC. Cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the festival in the categories of documentary, experimental, narrative and animation.

For screening times, descriptions and prices please visit http://www.ohio.edu/orgs/athensfest/

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant

 

Experimentation, Exploration and a Good Laugh Part of Open Projector Night

open-projector-21The Athena Cinema’s Open Projector Night could be considered a film exhibition, audience critique and comedic show all rolled into one hour long event every last Wednesday of the month. The Athena invites students and community members alike to submit their film shorts and then allows the audience to be their own critics as they select a winner. It’s all about experimentation and exploration; the open environment is the perfect start to gaining feedback on your short.

“We really just wanted to create an event that allowed local students and the community to show their work for free because so many people are creating shorts and they don’t ever get the chance to see it on the big screen,” said Alexandra Kamody, Managing Director of the Athena Cinema.

Dr. Ruth Bradly had always been a big supporter of the idea for an open film submission night, and last fall semester the first Open Projector Night came to life. Up to ten film submissions are accepted between 6-6:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m. the shorts are presented to the live audience. At the end of the night, a “clap-o-meter” allows the audience to pick the winner for a $50 gift card with the most noise made in support of the film.

One of the main purposes of this night was to allow participants to test out their work for free and receive audience feedback in a casual and fun environment. The two Open Projector Nights thus far have built a steady following of both submissions and audience members and continues to grow. They’ve had submissions from as far as Charleston, West Virginia when a couple attended.

First-year graduate student Erin Riordan has attended every Open Projector Night for numerous reasons; she’s studying media arts and studies, many of her friends submit shorts and she just couldn’t pass up a good time. One of her favorite production groups who have submitted shorts is I Friends and My.

“It’s hard not to laugh at the crazy I Friends and My shorts. They are so bizarre and so hilarious. Chris Croft’s work is also pretty awesome. He did a short on Detroit and it was a hilarious juxtaposition of uplifting old Detroit songs paired with current footage of the unfortunate city we all love to hate-on,” said Riordan.

Apart from viewing the film shorts, the audience also gets a good laugh throughout the night as Ohio University Improv’s Joseph Lalonde and Patrick White emcee the entire night. The two were asked by Ruth Bradley if they would be interested in hosting the event once it was organized since they were a part of Improv. The boys jumped on immediately.

“We then talked it over with our industry-savvy but cutthroat talent agents and after some intense contract negotiations with the Athena, Patrick and I signed on.  (As long as the temperature of the theater is kept at a steady 72 degrees and our dressing rooms are stocked with an endless supply of chilled Fiji Water),” joked Lalonde.

Lalonde and White get the crowd riled up for the night with jokes and loosely improving in between the films. The two have come to build a unique relationship with the Athena staff, audience and filmmakers alike who attend the events.

“Open Projector is beneficial to the community because it is free art and free entertainment for the spectators and it provides an outlet for typically independent filmmakers who may not otherwise get a chance to have their work be seen on an actual silver screen. Also it’s free fun. What could be detrimental about free fun,” said Lalonde.

There will be two more Open Projector Night’s this semester, March 27th and April 24th. The Athena looks to continue this event into the following year with focusing on building their audience, diversifying submissions and possibly trying out different prizes and formats.

“I hope it will grow to the point that people look back and say, ‘I started going to the Athena on Wednesday nights with my film to see what audiences thought and I got a great reaction, so I took project one step further’” said Kamody.

For more information on Open Projector Night visit http://athenacinema.com/open-projector-night/

OU Improv has free comedy shows every Thursday at 9pm in Baker Center Theater (2nd floor of Baker Center) and also every Tuesday at 8pm at the Baker Lounge (the 1st floor of Baker Center).

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant

Eclectic Combination of Science, Film at Athena Cinema

ImageEvolution, submarines and digital media are subjects you would expect to find in a textbook, not on the big screen. That’s what makes the Athena Cinema’s Science on Screen events so unique; the perfect blend of science, discussion and visual imagery combines for a distinctive learning experience.

Science on Screen events at the Athena feature a film or documentary followed by a brief presentation from a professional in the corresponding field and then opens up to questions and discussion from the audience. After applying and receiving a grant supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as a project of the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Athena Cinema has hosted two thus far with two more planned.

“Film is this universal language that can reach audiences and make things accessible, like science and technology,” said Alexandra Kamody, Managing Director of the Athena Cinema. 

Evolution was at the forefront of discussion for the first Science on Screen as the film Idiocracy was screened and biology professor Dr. Molly Morris presented and lead the discussion. The second, The Hunt for Red October, welcomed Dr. David Bayless from the Russ College of Engineering who led an intriguing presentation about submarines and his experience in the nuclear navy.

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts will be featured for the March 21st Science on Screen. This film explores a pregnant woman’s coming-of-parenthood in the age of technology with a comic twist. Co-director and Ohio University film professor Annie J. Howell along with digital media expert and professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin Molly Wright Steenson will be working together to discuss and analyze how technology is facing our current generation. This will be one of most unique nights of the series as it is the first time a director of the film will be present along with a professional from outside of Ohio University.

As part of the Athens International Film Festival the moving documentary on global warming, Chasing Ice, will be the last Science on Screen for the semester. Environmental documentary Let’s Talk About Water’s creator and project coordinator Linda Lilienfeld along with a guest speaker will host the event.

When planning the Science on Screen nights, the film may be selected first and then a speaker, or vice versa. Kamody is fortunate enough to have the immense amount of professionals and professors within Ohio University to cover a wide array of topics. Engagement is created with the audience when they are able to find a fun and dynamic speaker that thoroughly understands the topic.

“I hope people can learn something and have an educational experience that is fun and exciting to them and opens up new possibilities,” said Kamody. “A lot of people think of science topics as boring and dry subjects and we want to change that. I hope they come away with a renewed interest in a topic they haven’t thought about since earth science in grade school.”

For more information visit  http://athenacinema.com/science-on-screen/

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant

Lincoln Hall Fosters Growth, Friendships for Fine Arts Residential Learning Community

For an entire semester the fine arts residential learning community students living in Lincoln Hall got a little taste of everything; from art to dance, interior architecture to music and theater. Students had an entire semester to explore the best of all the disciplines that the College of Fine Arts has to offer.

The Fine Arts Residential Learning Community is for freshmen fine arts majors who live in Lincoln Hall and take a fall semester class together. Students are placed in groups of around 20 and work throughout the semester with a peer mentor and faculty advisor.

Lincoln Hall is located on East Green conveniently adjacent to all of the undergraduate fine arts classroom buildings. The fine arts learning community is residential, which means that all students who are a part of the learning community live together in the same residential hall. However, there is a small mix of students in the building who are non-fine arts majors. In Lincoln Hall there is a dance rehearsal room, art studio, music practice room and study lounge for students to utilize.

“I really loved the seminar room, which was really helpful whether you needed to work on practicing an instrument, develop a song, or work on an art project or monologue,” said Jarahme Pollock, a freshman theater performance major. “The rooms were just all around very helpful to accomplish assignments within our major.”

As for the learning community class, you could be sure to expect a different agenda every week. Different class experiences from the past semester included dance yoga, making drums, watching puppets being made and trips to the Kennedy Museum of Art. Outside of class, students were required to attend exhibits and performances which furthered their exploration of all the areas within the College of Fine Arts.

This past semester, one of the learning community groups took a trip together with their peer mentor to visit the lights at the Columbus Zoo. However, a three-hour traffic jam left the group with no time to visit the zoo, so instead they detoured to Easton for some shopping and dinner together.

“We really got to bond with each other over burgers and being together with everyone in the car really brought us closer; it was such a fun experience,” said Erica Molfetto, a freshman theater performance major.

After the learning community class ends and the year carries on, the friendships and connections made throughout the semester develop throughout the following years.

“It’s really wonderful to be in the same building and interacting on a daily basis inside and out of the classroom with people who share common interests as you and who are essentially like you,” said  Pollock.

For information on the fine arts residential learning community please visit http://www.ohio.edu/finearts/academics/rlc.cfm

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant

Ohio University and the College of Fine Arts Focus on Diversity with 3rd Annual World Music & Dance Festival and Concert

World MUsic Digital DisplayYou can read a story in a book, watch a video online and hear a professor lecture on the subject, but to truly understand the arts from cultures across the globe there’s no better way than to experience them first hand. The purpose of the 3rd Annual World Music & Dance Festival and Concert is to bring the arts from around the world here to Athens, Ohio for students, faculty and staff to get a taste of music and dance from across the globe.

“I realized; they have no clue. They don’t know anything outside of their hometown, outside of Ohio, or outside of the United States,” said Dr. Paschal Yao Younge, one of two directors of the event.

The festival started Wednesday, January 23 and will go until Friday, February 2nd. The festival consists of nearly 30 different workshops free for all students, faculty and staff to attend. The workshops range from Japanese Taiko drumming to Italian dance. On Wednesday, January 30th a Latin American and Caribbean Culture/Arts open forum will be held in the Walter Hall Rotunda from 2:00-4:00 p.m. This event features professors from the University speaking on the topics of the politics of music in Guyana, Cuban and Puerto Rican cultures and culture and the environment in Brasil.

A Global Excursions concert will then conclude the festival on Saturday, February 2nd at 7:30 p.m. in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. The concert will exhibit various musical and dance performances from Guinea, Italy, Trinidad, Spain, Ukraine and more. Students, faculty and special guests from around the globe will be partaking in the concert. The concert is free for OU students with a valid student ID.

Dr. Yao Younge and Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge were the founders of this program at Ohio University three years ago. After arriving to Ohio University, the two recognized a fault in students needing more than what they were getting in the classroom to get a well-rounded experience. Since then, the two have stressed diversity and getting an academic experience outside of the classroom.

“It gives the students a chance to bring to life what they’re reading about,” said Dr. Badu-Younge. “If they’re reading about it and they’ve never experienced any of it and only watched it on video, it’s not going to give you the same experience as actually engaging it yourself.”

After the event was so successful in the past two years, the directors hope for the same kind of positive feedback from the Ohio University community. As long as the two are here, they plan on continuing into the future with the event and even expanding to include theater and the visual arts next year.

“The world is changing so fast; globalization is taking over. There is no way you can survive if you’re only stuck in your own bubble,” said Dr. Yao Younge. “You have to go beyond the classroom. Go beyond the syllabus.”

For more information please visit http://www.ohio.edu/finearts/whats-happening/events.cfm

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant

“Hit the Prez and Win a Prize!” with Assassins

Photo from WOUB

Photo from WOUB

When the curtains opens for Assassins, nearly 15 weeks and countless hours’ worth of time is exhibited in this production presented by the Ohio University School of Theater. Produced by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman and directed by Lee Kinney as his M.F.A. Thesis Production, Assassins is the second production to come from the School of Theater for the 2012-2013 season.

An anarchist firearms proprietor, a darkly charismatic John Wilkes Booth, and a cast of aspiring presidential assassins vie to “hit the prez and win a prize!” Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical treks through American history asking: whether for love, money, recognition, or a cause, why not kill the president?

“I think the Assassins story line is fascinating, especially because it’s told in a non-linear way which I find to be very liberating,” said Alycia Kunkle, a 1st year Acting MFA student who portrays Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme in Assassins. “Instead of a traditional book musical that moves in a strongly structured way with an intermission, Assassins moves forward in an organic need-based way.”

This production has been in the making since the beginning of the semester when general auditioning for the School of Theater was held. After casting the roles, the first week of rehearsal consisted of ‘table-work’ where the cast went through the script page by page with the help of Kinney, their Music Director Dr. Philip Christiensen and the dramaturges Lorraine Wochna and Sara Swartout. The cast members were required to delve into researching information about each of the assassins and after analyzing the script and gaining a basic understanding of the characters, the cast began rehearsals.

“It’s been interesting to portray a character that is actually a real person but has also been written with some poetic license,” said Kunkle.

The cast has spent a great amount of time working on the tech process which included timing and safety issues. The amount of intricate musical passages in the performance and the technical aspects all required heavy rehearsing in the weeks leading up to the performance. The cast spent 35 solid hours together during the pre-Thanksgiving tech process alone, which brought them closer than ever imaginable.

“This is my first show at OU and the time I’ve spent in the dressing room getting ready for the show and forming friendships has been very dear to my heart,” said Kunkle. “It’s so nice to be spending so much time with funny, thoughtful, smart people.”

There have already been five performances of the production, and three more still to come. The first several have been successful for both the cast and audience alike.

“It’s been very rewarding to share this experience with everybody else involved in the process and to finally share it with an audience,” said Kunkle. “The audience is always the final character.”

If you haven’t made it yet, you still have a chance to see the upcoming performances this Thursday through Saturday.

“I hope that people coming to see the show connect with the assassins and feel the urgency and realness of their needs, hopes, and dreams.”

Assassins will be showing this Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm in the Forum Theater located in the Radio & Television Building on College Street.

For more information visit http://www.finearts.ohio.edu/theater/pages/support-outheater/shows-tickets.htm

-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant