Open Your Eyes: Jaume Plensa's "Behind the Walls" finds a new home at UMMA
About a month ago, Shang, the giant metal sculpture by Mark di Suvero, was removed from the entrance area of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). It was deinstalled after a 12-year run at UMMA because a private collector bought the on-loan sculpture.
But collectors also giveth, not just taketh away, and J. Ira and Nicki Harris have giventh a sculptureth to UMMAeth to replaceeth Shang.
Behind the Walls, a 25-foot-tall sculpture made of polyester resin and marble dust by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, will now greet visitors at UMMA's entrance.
University Productions announces 2020 virtual season of theater for December
During the pandemic, music has found its way: making songs in home studios, livestreams, and even socially distanced concerts have been a regular part of the past eight months.
Visual arts have also slowly come back in the form of virtual gallery shows, outdoor murals, and some staggered, limited-capacity crowds entering museums.
But theater, with its heavy reliance on casts and crew working in close proximity, has really struggled since Covid ravaged the world.
Locally, Ann Arbor's Theatre NOVA and Ypsilanti’s Neighborhood Theatre Group did Zoom theater festivals in October, and Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Dexter Community Players did two days of outdoor performances of original Halloween-themed plays on October 30 and 31 at Dominos' Petting Farm.
But the move to indoor productions on a slightly larger scale is about to swing back into action thanks to University Productions' virtual season, which will run in December on U-M's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance YouTube site and one premiere on SMTD's Facebook page.
All the performances will be available to view online for free, albeit for a limited time, and the six shows will feature four from Departments of Musical Theatre and Theatre & Drama and two from the University Opera Theatre. The season was filmed throughout this semester with numerous safety protocols in place.
With most University of Michigan students being asked to stay home for the winter semester, this might be our last chance for a while to take in some quality theater from the SMTD crews.
Here's the lineup with descriptive text provided by University Productions:
Friday Five: Louis Picasso & The Gallery, Sean Curtis Patrick, Doogatron, Cautious Hearts, Junk Magic
Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County-associated artists.
This week we feature live hip-hop with a full band from Louis Picasso & The Gallery, ambient guitar excursions from Sean Curtis Patrick, leftfield techno from Doogatron, indie rock from Cautious Hearts, and experimental jazztronica from Junk Magic.
Ki5 loops his voice to produce sunny songs in perfect harmony
During dark times, some of us turn to dark music. I've pretty much turned into an anarcho-punk goth who listens to heavy metal and gangster rap in my bedroom.
But if you're the type of person who needs music that will bring light to your life right now, Kyler Wilkins offers a luminous intensity that could guide ships in the night.
Recording as Ki5, this Ann Arbor native layers his vocals using BOSS looping and harmonizing pedals to create a one-man a capella group. Since November 2019, Ki5 has released three singles and one EP, and he provided vocals on the title track of Free From All the Walls, the debut release by the new Ann Arbor electronica project Mirror Monster. Ki5's most recent single is the earnest, inspirational, R&B-soaked "Hallelu," but he also just put out a video for his bright summer song "Sunny Days."
I emailed with Wilkins about his musical background, approach to songwriting, and the gear he uses to create his joyous music.
In-Sync Siblings: Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason's concert for UMS
On October 25, siblings Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) and Isata Kanneh-Mason (piano) played a free concert exclusively for UMS from the music room of their home in Nottingham, England. Presented by U-M alum and NFL great Braylon Edwards, the concert was available to stream through November 4 on UMS’s website.
Sheku was supposed to play in Ann Arbor twice this year: once with the Chineke! Orchestra and another performance with the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus but both performances were canceled.
Like many others, I was introduced to Sheku Kanneh-Mason when he performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 royal wedding, an event watched by more than two billion people worldwide. During that performance, he played with an intense connection to his instrument that was admirable and captivating. Sheku's won the Classic Brit Award and the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Instrumentalist Duet Prize, and he's also released two albums to date, Inspiration and Elgar. Isata is also a wonderful artist who released her debut album, Romance, which topped the UK classical charts in 2019. She’s also currently a graduate scholar at London’s Royal Academy of Music. The duo and their five other siblings make up the classical group The Kanneh-Masons, once called the “world’s most talented family” by Simon Cowell. The group just released their first album, Carnival.
Writing Through It: WCC Poetry Club releases the "Going Viral: Pandemic and Protest" anthology
During the past eight months, people have found different ways to cope with the pandemic and politics, from meditation to activism.
Other people, like me, like to punch a heavy bag covered in effigies of my enemies. (I can't remember what the kid looked like who roughed me up in fifth grade, but trust that his crudely drawn face is on there and I made him look like Jabba the Hut, mostly due to my terrible drawing abilities; sorry, dude.)
But the folks in Washtenaw Community College's poetry club turned to writing to process their feelings, and the group recently released its latest anthology.
Going Viral: Pandemic and Protest features work from WCC students, faculty, staff, and alumni, all written between April and September of this year. The 60-page ebook collection, edited by WCC professor Tom Zimmerman, is free and can be acquired as a digital version or as a PDF:
Bootleg Washtenaw: Vulfpeck live at The Blind Pig, April 24, 2015 (plus a new LP)
An occasional series highlighting live recordings made in Washtenaw County.
Vulfpeck began in 2011 as students in U-M's school of music. Last year the band sold out Madison Square Garden, which you can watch here.
Between those extremes, the jammy funk band regularly played The Blind Pig, and the enthusiastic live-music guy known as DSA was there to document it with five cameras and a multitrack recording direct from the soundboard. The gig sounds and looks great, and Vulfpeck, as ever, has a lot of fun.
Now based in Los Angeles and sundry other locales, Vulfpeck also released a new album, The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate, on October 2020.
Check out The Blind Pig concert and stream The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate below:
Friday Five: Athletic Mic League, Mirror Monster, Kawsaki, Cyrano Jones, and Stormy Chromer
Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists.
This week we feature hip-hop from Athletic Mic League, electronica by Mirror Monster and Kawsaki, fuzz-rock courtesy of Cyrano Jones, and original jams via Stormy Chromer.
U-M Professor Stephen Rush debuts new choral work in the Quincy Mine
On October 18, 2019, Stephen Rush mined the depths of his artistry to create the Invisible Quartet. The University of Michigan professor of performing arts technology debuted this new project in the Quincy Mine, in the Upper Peninsula town of Hancock, as part of a concert organized by Michigan Tech. But unless you lived up there, you couldn't see the concert; it wasn't streamed or recorded (or if it was, it hasn't been posted).
Because of Covid, this year's Music in the Mine concert on October 18 was a virtual event, which means not only was it livestreamed, it was archived on the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
Visual and Performing Arts' YouTube channel.
Works by six composers, including John Cage, were performed at the concert—you can read the program to find out more—but since we're all about Washtenaw creatives here at Pulp, we'll focus on Rush's piece, "Tattiriya Upanishad (excerpt)*."
For many years, Rush has been studied Indian music, and led trips to the country for his students, and the piece he debuted in the mine is based on the Hindu sacred text Upanishads. Dressed in hardhats and worker jumpsuits, the 24-voice conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers sang the song of joy that Rush used as his inspiration for the piece. As he describes in the concert program:
The Genesis of "Abiro": Ben Willis and Dr. Pete Larson discuss the new animated video for the Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band
This post contains mature content.
In Genesis 3:5, the snake convinced Eve to eat forbidden fruit: "your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Then God punished the snake for telling the truth and sharing the knowledge.
But according to Larson 10:27:2020, a different story is told: And the man said of the serpent, "Snakes are just really cool."
And rather than kill the serpent, Dr. Pete Larson celebrated it.
He asked Detroit bassist and illustrator Ben Willis to animate a video featuring the slinky reptiles for "Abiro," a song off last summer's radiant, joyful, self-titled album by Dr. Pete Larson and His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, which mixes hypnotic Kenyan folk music with psychedelic rock.
"There's not a culture on the planet—at least in temperate zones—that doesn't include snakes in its legends and folklore," said Larson, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan who also runs the Dagoretti Records label. "Snakes are just this odd, mythical, and fantastic animal that's associated with evil and malevolence, but actually plays an incredibly important role in maintaining the balance of ecologies around the world."