Variety Show: A2 Symphony Orchestra's new season offers something for all


Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, 2017-18 season

Some of the views from A2SO this season (clockwise from upper left): Hill Auditorium, Jinjoo Cho, Arie Lipsky, "Blue Cathedral," Zlatomir Fung, and the music of Star Wars.

Saying the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s 89th season has variety would be a gross understatement.

“We like to feature pieces that were written all the way from the Baroque era to the classical era to the romantic era to the 21st century and beyond, even pieces that were written in the last couple of years,” said Arie Lipsky, A2SO’s musical director and conductor. “I think the variety is much more apparent in this season.”

Shiva Effect: Rasa Festival's dance events will conjure the divine


Rasa Festival dances

The Rasa Dance Festival will present a new work based on the Odissi dance style, which is marked by sculptural poses and a fluid upper body. Pictured left to right: Ishika Rajan, Sreyashi Dey, and Kritika Rajan.

With this prayer, the dance begins:

Angikam bhuvanam yasya Vachikam sarva vangmayam Aharyam chandra taradi Tam numah satvikam sivam.
-- "We bow to the Sathvikam (pure) Shiva whose Aangikam (body) is the world, whose Vaachikam (speech) is the Universal Language and whose Aaharyam (ornaments) are the moon and the stars."

As powerful drumbeats create primal, pulsating energy, Shiva Nataraja, the Hindu God of Dance, comes to life. This dance of Shiva symbolizes the wondrous interplay of dynamic and static energies, symbolizing the five cosmic functions of creation, preservation, destruction, illusion, and emancipation.

When we at Akshara decided to produce the India-inspired, month-long, multi-arts Rasa Festival, a classical dance segment was planned as a key event because it occupies a pre-eminent position in the arts landscape of India. Rasa Dance Festival runs September 23 and 24 at Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti. (As a prelude to the festival, we will present a performance at the Ann Arbor District Library on September 21.)

Journalism advocate Wallace House expands programming to engage the public


Wallace House, Lynette Clemetson, Lydia Polgreen, David Fahrenthold, Alec MacGillis

Clockwise from left: Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson, Huffington Post editor Lydia Polgreen, Washington Post journalist David Fahrenthold, and ProPublica's Alec MacGillis.

Wallace House at the University of Michigan features two major programs that recognize the work of early career and mid-career journalists.

"The Knight-Wallace Fellowships for journalists is a residential program here at the University of Michigan," said Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House. "We bring roughly 20 mid-career journalists to the university every year for an academic year of immersive study related to their work as journalists. Our other program is The Livingston Awards, which is an awards program recognizing excellence in journalism by journalists under 35."

Wallace House was a gift from 60 Minutes's Mike Wallace and his wife, Mary, but its offerings aren't strictly for journalists and the organization is expanding its public programming. On Thursday, September 14, award-winning political reporter Alec MacGillis will give the 32nd Hovey Lecture, and he'll cover income inequality in the U.S. and the perilous implications of winner-take-all cities and left-behind places. The additional talks feature the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold (October 26), who was awarded a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and Lydia Polgreen (January 16), editor of The Huffington Post.

We chatted with Clemetson about these upcoming events, demystifying journalism, and its vital role in a functioning democracy.

Magical Connections: Bookbound's Open Mic & Share Poetry Series turns 5


Bookbound open mic

Leslie McGraw (left) curates the Open Mic & Share Poetry Series at Bookbound, which is co-owned by Megan Blackshear (right).

There are those who believe the poets will save us all, and those people are probably correct. Lucky for us locals, there are several places around town that feature live poetry readings including the independently owned and operated bookstore Bookbound on the north side of Ann Arbor.

Every second Thursday (except in August and January) at 7 pm finds poets and poetry lovers gathered in Bookbound’s comfortable space. Self-described poetry enthusiast Leslie McGraw curates and leads the Open Mic & Share Poetry Series, which can veer from scheduled poets to open mic explorations and pure party slams.

“There are many poets who write it because they love it and not because it’s their 'career,'" McGraw says. "Poets who have self-published or published with independent presses may not get that big 'book launch' feeling and all of them should still have the chance to market their work. One of the best ways to do this is for readers to meet the person, hear them reading their creations.”

Crossing Borders: National Theatre of Ghana explores Tennessee Williams’ "Ten Blocks"


National Theatre of Ghana

National Theatre of Ghana will turn Ten Blocks on the Camino Real into a Ghanaian Concert Party."

Theater-goers in Southeast Michigan will soon have four chances to see a unique production of Tennessee Williams’ one-act play Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, the foundation of his later expanded work Camino Real. The National Theatre of Ghana -- aka Abibigroma, the Ghanaian name of the theater troupe -- will perform the one-act play at outdoor venues in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit in a performance style known as Ghanaian Concert Party.

David Kaplan, the production’s director and also the curator of the annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival in Massachusetts, said he “learned about Ghanaian Concert Party in 1997 from someone in the Peace Corps who had seen performances in Ghana. Concert Party is a form of outdoor theater that combines African stock characters, clowning, singing, and dance -- and social satire. I love clowning that delivers insight."

Kaplan "thought for years about a suitable text" to adapt for a Ghanaian Concert Party "and it seemed a perfect fit for performing Ten Blocks on the Camino Real. The American actor Greg McGoon, who had worked with Abibigroma, introduced me to the ensemble. It fit their mission, too, performing popular theater as a way to build community.”

Share Button: Scott Stabile's "Big Love" encourages people to express themselves


Scott Stabile, Big Love

Share alike: Scott Stabile opens up about his life to let readers know they're not alone.

Love is the answer. Love will find a way. Love the one you’re with. Love is never having to say you’re sorry.

OK, fine.

But what does it really mean to embrace love and share that love with others?

Author Scott Stabile shares his thoughts on this and so much more on his social media accounts (followed by more than 350,000 people) and in his new book, Big Love: The Power of Living With a Wide-Open Heart. (He'll also share his ideas live at Nicola’s Books on Wednesday, September 13 at 7 pm.)

Oliver Uberti launches "Where the Animals Go" at Literati -- where it all began


Oliver Uberti, Where the Animals Go

Oliver Uberti's new book, Where the Animals Go, was conceived in Ann Arbor.

On Tuesday, September 12, designer and author Oliver Uberti returns to Ann Arbor to launch the Where the Animals Go at Literati. It's a full-circle journey for the book and Uberti.

"I discovered graphic design as a student at the University of Michigan. I drafted many sections of Where the Animals Go in Literati’s cafe," Uberti said. "I found the book’s epigraphs on Literati’s shelves. Quite literally, Ann Arbor is where this book originated. I’m very excited to come back to say thank you."

Where the Animals Go is the first book to offer a comprehensive, data-driven portrait of how creatures like ants, otters, owls, turtles, and sharks navigate the world. Uberti teamed up with James Cheshire, whose award-winning maps have appeared in publications like the Financial Times and The Guardian, to create this collection of charts and maps that tell fascinating stories of animal behavior through an intersection of technology and design.

"James and I are not biologists. He’s a geographer; I’m a designer," Uberti said. "That’s the beauty of the animal-tracking revolution. The convergence of ecology and technology invites more people from more disciplines into the conservation conversation. We hope this book will inspire readers to get involved in any way they can."

The book has already earned incredible praise, including from legend Jane Goodall, who called Where the Animals Go “beautiful as well as informative and inspiring.” We chatted with Uberti ahead of his visit.

The Literary Works: Kerrytown BookFest offers a farmer's market of prose and poetry


15th annual Kerrytown BookFest

The 15th Kerrytown BookFest will features dozens of authors while also reaffirming its dedication to highlighting book-making arts.

For the past 15 years, the Kerrytown BookFest has honored and celebrated writers and readers with speakers, panels, and a sprawling book fair held under the farmers’ market sheds.

But for this year, BookFest Co-Chair Linda Kimmel is particularly pleased with the festival’s re-emphasis on book arts, including “letterpress printers, binders, illustrators, papermakers. ... ["W"]e have once again increased the number of book artists who are vendors at the event ... and increased the number of book arts demonstrations to six this year.”

Zilka Joseph will lead a panel of musing poets at Kerrytown BookFest


Zilka Joseph, Sharp Blue Search of Flame

Zilka Joseph (upper left) will moderate a panel with Michigan poets (clockwise from upper right) Keith Taylor, Z.G. Tomaszewski, Cindy Hunter Morgan, and Robert Fanning at the 15th annual Kerrytown BookFest.

On Sunday, September 10, the 15th annual Kerrytown BookFest takes over the Farmer’s Market and Concert House for a full day of book arts demonstrations, author signings -- see the full list here -- and panel discussions, such as "Short Stories From 'Bob Seger's House'" with Ellen Airgood, Loren D. Estelman, Gordon Henry, and Michael Zadoorian moderated by M.L. Liebler. (AADL card holders can download the book they're discussing here.)

It's truly a celebration of this region's rich literary scene, all neatly packed into one of Ann Arbor's most beloved neighborhoods. (See our full preview of the festival here.)

Ann Arbor poet, editor, and educator Zilka Joseph will moderate a 4 pm panel at Kerrytown BookFest called “Poetic Musings” with Robert Fanning, Cindy Hunter Morgan, Keith Taylor, and Z.G. Tomaszewski. Joseph’s most recent collection is Sharp Blue Search of Flame, published by Wayne State University Press in 2016. We chatted with her about Michigan poets, favorite Ann Arbor literary haunts, and being a citizen of the world.

A2CT's “Seussical, the Musical” will transport viewers to a magic kingdom


Ann Arbor Civic Theatre presents Seussical, the Musical

Rob Roy and Eric VanWasshnova in SeussicalM, which takes aesthetic inspiration from a Disney Cruise restaurant. Photo: Lisa Gavan | Gavan Photo

The fanciful world of Dr. Seuss will come to life on the Mendelssohn Theater stage this weekend when Ann Arbor Civic Theatre presents Seussical, the Musical

“We were looking for a family fare kind of show,” said director Denyse Clayton. “Most every show for families is a ‘feel good’ show, but in the particular political climate we’re living in now, I think that to buy a ticket and go someplace magical to escape it all for a while feels particularly good.”