Ren Marketing Director Talks Blogging

Here’s a link to an excellent blog post at Americans for the Arts by Colleen Cook, the Director of Marketing at the Renaissance Theater in Mansfield, Ohio, and a great friend and colleague of VFTB. Colleen is talking about how the Ren has used blogging and podcasting to engage people in the north central Ohio area.

 

VTFB contributor Mark Sebastian Jordan has previously appeared on the podcast, talking about upcoming concerts of the Mansfield Symphony. We’re glad to hear the success Colleen is having with this modern marketing tool!

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Walt, Gus, & the Shimmering Black Elephant

 

          An essay by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

 

Fuck me.

Not in a bad way. In a just-got-laid-out-flat by the energy of the universe way.

Every once in a great, rare while, you hear exactly the right piece of music in exactly the right performance at exactly the right time in your life. And it will shake you.

For me, it happened tonight, October 5, 2017, in Severance Hall, when I heard the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Möst own Mahler’s Sixth. It immediately lept to my short list of greatest concert experiences, ever.

Why the piece matters and why this concert matters goes back a ways. It’s not performed all that often, glittering black beast that it is. Not only is this symphony fiendishly difficult, it’s also long—about 80 minutes—and ends darkly after tumultuous struggle. Not exactly a crowd-pleaser, it would seem, yet the piece is beloved by many, because it is a powerful emotional statement.

About what?

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A Sorcerer Takes the Stage

A renaissance

Is a renaissance about to begin at the Renaissance? Octavio Mas-Arocas opens the season as music director of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. (Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography, courtesy of the Mansfield Symphony.)

A review/commentary by Mark Sebastian Jordan

Last Saturday saw the beginning of a new era at the Mansfield Symphony and, I hope, in Mansfield itself. But before I comment on that, let me offer full disclosure: Not only do I give pre-concert talks for this orchestra, I was on the committee that selected its new music director, Octavio Más-Arocas. Beyond that, however, I want to caution that the thoughts expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the Mansfield Symphony, the Renaissance Theater, or any other organization.

The music director search committee met many times as we waded through almost a hundred applications for the position. Those who habitually run down Mansfield may be surprised to hear that statistic, but the fact is inescapable that Mansfield has an extraordinary orchestra for a community of this size. It was formed back when this town had an industrial base and the wealth that came with it. The money is scarce today, but passionate dedication has kept alive an ensemble that has a fine regional reputation because it is staffed by players from all over the state, many of them professors, independent teachers, or advanced students.

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Young Composer Featured at Academy

A concert preview by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

The music of the brilliant young area musician Wyatt Boggs will be featured in a concert Thursday Evening at the Richland Academy of the Arts in downtown Mansfield. At 17, Boggs is navigating just as packed a schedule as the editors of this blog, so we’re postponing a full interview until later this summer (early August is our target), but this event is too good to not preview. Boggs channels his restless energy into music of an often brooding intensity, often cut by jazzy wit. No question about it: he’s the real thing.

Wyatt Boggs 1I had the brief opportunity to pause in my schedule of work, writing workshops, poetry readings, and concert reviews to hear part of a rehearsal for the upcoming show. The Richland Academy of the Arts is hosting this week an honors band made up of student musicians from around the area, and they are working on premiering a set of original works by Boggs. And based on what I heard (and saw in the other scores the composer showed me), we’re witnessing the emergence of a vital new voice in the arts.

Wyatt Boggs 2The works being premiered are Galactic Fanfare, which arises from a questioning gesture into a glorious blaze; Pets, a playful suite of mischievous portraits; Pandora’s Box, a fascinating conceptual piece that unleashes extended instrumental techniques and strange dissonances; Prometheus, commissioned for the concert, which combines rich chords and otherwise sparse textures; and Rage, a dark, hypnotic work that adds synthesizer to the full band.

The concert will take place Thursday at 6:00 pm at the Richland Academy of the Arts, 75 N Walnut St, Mansfield, but will be preceded by music from the Euterpe Jazz Band, in which Boggs also performs.

Steps in the Journey: “Strangers on the Earth” at the Cleveland International Film Festival

A film review by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

Life is onward.

As I drove from my home in rural Lucas, Ohio, to the Cleveland International Film Festival to see Strangers on the Earth, Tuesday, April 4th, I received a text that I had just become an uncle (well, actually, great-uncle) again. My niece Michelle, the closest thing this crusty bachelor will ever have to a daughter, had just given birth to her first baby, a son named Javier. A new life beginning a journey.

On the return trip a few hours later, I received another message: My beloved friend Kimberly Orsborn had passed away in hospice care. She steered me to the newspaper job that gave me a port in the storm in 2007 when I was transitioning out of the corporate world and into the creative world. In 2009, Kim left that small-town rag and began life as a free-lance writer. That same year, she was diagnosed with a malignant, fast-moving breast cancer. The doctors gave her months. She made it eight years.

Kim beat the odds to live many more seasons because she kept moving, kept doing, kept finding ways around the fog of “chemo-brain.” Before she was done, she said that cancer had ended up being one of the great gifts of her life, something that made her stop and relish every moment of her existence, before continuing on, more aware of her surroundings than before. It deepened her journey.

SOTE the way

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the pilgrimage path featured in the documentary “Strangers on the Earth,” presented this month at the Cleveland International Film Festival. (Photos by Kayla Arend courtesy of Fisterra Productions.)

So, a film about a journey is a good forum for savoring the life in us and around us. But how many feet can walk a road before it becomes a stampede? Strangers on the Earth is a film by Tristan Cook about the ancient pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of northern Spain. Dedicated to the Christian Saint James (who is said to be buried in Compostela), the way actually co-opted an older Celtic sacred pathway and Roman trading route running from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
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Does God Work in Mysterious Ways? Hell, Yes.

A review by Mark Sebastian Jordan of the Renaissance Theater’s production “Sister Act.”

It’s not my business here to outrage anyone of a traditional religious bent (though I probably will), but I have devoted my life to finding the places where the truly sacred happens, beatnik beattitudes instead of by-the-rote platitudes. And, truth is, I found my God on Sunday. In a rowdy theater.

I’m not much of a musical comedy person, despite my years in theater. I have performed a grand total of one (1) singing role in a musical, and it may surprise no one to hear that I was drawn to do the part of Benjamin Franklin in 1776, as he’s my hero. But acting, directing, and writing plays has taught me to recognize the infusion of spirit when I see it, and I saw it Sunday in the Renaissance Theater’s performance of Sister Act. Continue reading

The Southern Yankee Visits Mansfield

dan-newlandDan Newland was born and raised in Wapakoneta, Ohio, but has lived and worked in South America since 1973 as a journalist, editor, and freelance writer. While on a recent return visit to the states, he ventured over to Mansfield in the company of his friends (and former high school classmates) Jim Bowsher and Joerdie Fisher, who asked me to help give Dan a whirlwind tour of Mansfield and Malabar Farm. Dan has published a three-part series, full of astute observations and interesting pictures, on his blog, The Southern Yankee, detailing his reflections on the vitality he saw persisting and springing up anew in Mansfield.

Part One: http://southernyankeewriter.blogspot.com.ar/2016/12/mansfield-trip-on-joerdies-magic-carpet.html

Part Two: http://southernyankeewriter.blogspot.com.ar/2016/12/mansfield-part-2-rust-belt-icon.html

Part Three: http://southernyankeewriter.blogspot.com.ar/2017/01/mansfield-part-3-allure-of-malabar-farm.html