Not so long ago -- last year, to be precise -- in a venue that’s close, close by, the [http://www.a2so.com|Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra] (A2SO) played two sold-out concerts featuring John Williams’ music from the Harry Potter films. The audience response was so enthusiastic that A2SO immediately started making plans to perform two concerts featuring Star Wars music, and those concerts will happen Saturday night and Sunday afternoon (October 7-8) at the Michigan Theater.
“We were so overwhelmed (last year) ... and the audience, some of whom had never seen a live symphony concert before, told us that the music evoked powerful images for them, even though there was no visual component accompanying the music,” said A2SO conductor Arie Lipsky. “They also told us that they’d never thought that music had played such a vital role in the movies, and they thanked us for highlighting the music on its own. So many said, ‘Now we’re hooked on seeing live symphony orchestra shows,’ and we responded by investing in music from all the Star Wars movies.”
[http://billmckibben.com|Bill McKibben] has long been sounding the alarm about our changing climate.
The renowned environmentalist and author (including the landmark The End of Nature) founded [http://www.350.org|350.org], a worldwide organization dedicated to climate-change issues. He will speak at Hill Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 5, on the topic “[https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-wege-lecture-on-sustainability-with-b…|Down to the Wire: A Hot Fight in a Hot World].”
If it seems like the fight has gotten more difficult lately, given the current federal administration’s refusal to even acknowledge the problem, McKibben isn’t about to give up. He says it’s still possible to take significant action.
When Jeffrey Myers, first violinist for the [http://calidorestringquartet.com|Calidore String Quartet], grew up watching the [http://www.emersonquartet.com|Emerson String Quartet], he didn’t imagine members of the world-acclaimed quartet would mentor him -- or that he would share the stage with them.
After all, the Emerson, named for Ralph Waldo Emerson, has accepted nine Grammys for its 30-plus recordings and performed all over the world since being established in 1976. Its members, violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton, and cellist Paul Watkins, have notable careers individually, too.
Yet, when the Emerson [https://ums.org/performance/emerson-string-quartet-calidore-quartet|performs in Ann Arbor] on October 5 at Rackham Auditorium, it will perform with the Calidore, which Myers and three friends -- second violinist Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry and cellist Estelle Choi -- formed when they were students at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles.
[https://www.nancypearl.com|Nancy Pearl] -- coming to [http://www.nicolasbooks.com/event/nancy-pearl-%E2%80%93-npr%E2%80%99s-l…|Nicola’s Books] on Wednesday, October 4 at 7 pm to talk about her new novel, George & Lizzie -- may be the only person in America who could be referred to as a “celebrity librarian.”
For she’s regularly featured on NPR, where she recommends and discusses books; and she was the model for a librarian action figure that boasts “amazing shushing action!”
But locals who’ve heard Pearl on the radio may not realize that she has deep local roots. Though she now calls Seattle home, Pearl grew up in Detroit and studied library science at the University of Michigan.
When [http://www.jonathanedwards.net|Jonathan Edwards]’ song “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” came out in 1971, it seemed to speak to the anger and the frustration that many felt at Nixon, the war in Vietnam, and other aspects of the establishment. But it did it in a memorable, catchy, almost joyful way.
Another song on that first Edwards recording, “Shanty” is still played by many classic rock stations around the country on Friday afternoons as a way of signaling and celebrating the beginning of weekends. (“'Cause we gonna lay around the shanty, mama / And put a good buzz on.”)
Edwards still tours and plays in Ann Arbor regularly, and he’ll be at the Green Wood Coffee House on Friday, October 6 at 8 pm. I spoke with him on the phone recently.
In the '30s and '40s, the most horrific words in Hollywood were "Dracula," "Frankenstein," "Mummy," and the names of the iconic creatures that implanted themselves into the popular culture.
For people who love cinema, an even more horrific word reigns supreme in Hollywood's marketing lexicon today: universe. This is the idea that several movies can be grouped together in order to manipulate ticket buyers into seeing films they might otherwise skip. We have the Marvel Universe (Avengers, Iron Man, Thor) at Disney and the DC Universe (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman) at Warner Brothers, and Universal attempted to launch their "Dark Universe" last summer with the Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy. Yes, Universal plans to make a series of films connecting their classic monsters.
Thankfully, the Michigan Theater comes to the rescue every Monday in October by offering up the [http://www.michtheater.org/monsters|Classic Monsters] series featuring the [http://universalmonstersuniverse.com|Universal originals]: 1931's Dracula (Oct. 2, 7 pm) and Frankenstein (Oct. 9, 7 pm), 1935's Bride of Frankenstein (Oct. 9:45 pm), 1932's The Mummy (Oct. 16, 7 pm), and 1941's The Wolf Man (Oct. 23, 7 pm).
What does having an amazing university, a plethora of fantastic local independent bookstores, and a pretty slam-bang public library system (if we do say so ourselves) bring to a town?
Authors. Lots and lots of authors.
In fact, so many authors pass through the area that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who is speaking and when and where. To help guide you, Pulp curated a highlights list of October 2017 author events.
Colin Simpson was a veteran of bands in Oregon and Washington before returning to his home state of Michigan a few years ago. He arrived in Ann Arbor with no job and no connections to the local music community. But he did have an idea that he wanted to try something a little different.
“I knew I wanted to continue with music, but I also knew I didn’t want to just be the guy at the back of the coffee shop with a guitar,” he recalls now. So he created the concept of The Low Voltage to play out his musical ideas, adding a kick drum and some electric guitar -- and, later, a musical partner, singer-instrumentalist Emily Fox.
The result is a remarkably distinctive sound, sitting somewhere in the realm of Americana/folk/indie rock but managing to find its own unique niche. The sound is effectively evoked by the name [https://www.reverbnation.com/thelowvoltage|The Low Voltage].
Saxophonist [https://www.daverempis.com|Dave Rempis] has fond memories of playing Ann Arbor over the years. The Chicago-based improviser and long-time member of renowned free jazz group The Vandermark 5 fondly recalls late-'90s gigs with locally grown and trained players, such as Colin Stetson, Stuart Bogie, and Matt Bauder.
But none were likely more memorable than a workshop for students at the University of Michigan School of Music, where Rempis had applied and been rejected a few years earlier.
Brian Cox returned to creating theater about five years ago when he began writing his first full-length play, [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/357697|Clutter], based on one of his short stories. Since then, he has written multiple one-act plays, directed, produced, and devised many more shows and storytelling nights, and started his own theater company, [https://www.facebook.com/PencilPointTheatreWorks|PencilPoint Theatreworks] in Ypsilanti. He’s an accomplished director, producer, and artistic director, and earlier this year Cox won Encore Theatre's [http://www.encoremichigan.com/2017/08/winners-2016-wilde-awards-winners|Wilde Award] for Best New Script with Clutter.
After offhandedly mentioning this during the interview, Cox pauses, glancing down and blushing slightly. “But I don’t act. No acting.”
So what is Cox’s newest project? On Sept. 28 he’s opening [https://www.facebook.com/events/302604126822030|Ypsi THRIVE], a three-day, new-play festival at Riverside Arts Center that features seven short plays.