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.
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.
The “We Are United” Hurricane Benefit at La LUNA last Friday raised money and collected donated items to send down to people affected by the recent hurricanes. The event featured performances by musicians, comedians, and writers from the central Ohio area. Here we have collected the works of the three writers and video of their performances.
Mansfield, a Love Story by Llalan Fowler
You fall like rust off an unused warehouse, you sound like broken glass under my heel, you taste like the lead paint curling down walls in your empty Gothic homes. You scream like the trains passing through every morning at two and you are as silent as the empty storefronts whose dusty windows throw back a dirtier version of myself. Mansfield, you birthed me, you raised me, and I left you. Continue reading →
So often we find ourselves caught up in arguments of politics, discussing race and gender, citing articles we have read, or anecdotes we have been told without questioning our personal truths. As Chico’s Brother, Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz rejects this PC banter and academic discourse in favor of introspection in his new album “qPOC…&LMNOP” (available on Bandcamp). This series of songs replaces politics with heart, pushing grand narratives into the periphery in order to locate the personal narrative in the forefront.
It must be noted that Aurelio has not broken form from his previous album. Each song is derived from specific experiences. There is a vivid dream, a short history of his father and grandfather, a song for friend who passed away. Each track is personal, an internal struggle, but when converted to music and shared with the world, it becomes something we can all relate to. Continue reading →
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.
I 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.
The 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.
No stranger to the Brickyard, the Jimmy Warner Band returns tonight to headline June’s Final Friday event in Mansfield. Last year, Warner roamed the brickyard with a Go Pro camera attached to his guitar while his band continued to jam in the background. Video courtesy of Downtown Mansfield, Inc. is below.
Even if he doesn’t pull off a similar stunt this year, the band’s bluesy rock will be memorable and fun. Learn more about their sound and their history in this Mid Ohio Rock Show interview with Tommy Barnes, also recorded last year in the Brickyard.
Blending Tex mex, swing and southern rock, Gringo Stew mixes of all types of bar room and honky tonk music for northern Ohio crowds. Their bio includes a dash of this and a little of that – plus experience playing around Boston, Nashville, Austin and other cities of musical renown.
You can hear them on June 30 at Mansfield’s final Friday show in the brickyard, or check them out in the video below.