Saturday, April 25, 2015

LiveArts Grand Rapids ~ 4/24/15

This was a one-of-a-kind, monumental event last night in the Van Andel arena, which is more at home to rock concerts and hockey games. Sometimes the light show made us feel like we were at a rock concert, however :-)
Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, Opera Grand Rapids, Broadway Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Chamber Chorus, Community Youth Chorus, marching bands from East Kentwood and Grandville High Schools, Grand Rapids Ballet and Junior Ballet all came together for this powerful performance. We waited a few minutes for things to begin.
There was a strange little storyline going on throughout the show with a would-be cellist and his two young backpacked companions, something about following your dreams but it seemed weird and forced, and unnecessary.
David Lockington will be playing his swan song to Grand Rapids in a few weeks (the cellist here also played The Swan by Saint-Saens) and it was great to see him so invested in this performance.
Did I mention the lights?
We spotted our friend, Walter, who is a member of Opera Grand Rapids.
The ballet was nicely choreographed for the most part and sometimes enhanced the musical performances.
Intermission took place at 9pm, about 50 minutes after the concert began, and Kathy ran into an old friend, Michael Crawford, member of the GR Symphony.
The second half opened with a flourish ~ marching band members situated and playing from every aisle, and the youth chorus marching throughout the arena waving and winding their way back to their just right and left of the stage reserved seats.
As the youth chorus slowly filed back into their seats and the entire company performed the astounding "I Will Rise" by Sean Ivory, complete with arm choreography, we were struck by how white the waving arms of the youth chorus members were. Not much diversity there. The piece itself was incredible, complete with additional percussionists and the text flashed on screens.

In the Hall of the Mountain King, played by the Youth Symphony with the dances performed by the Junior Ballet company, was pretty great and more effective than earlier numbers by the ballet pros. But the Youth Symphony didn't fare as well when playing in tandem with the GR Symphony on Beethoven's Ninth. Varineau was conducting looking at Lockington's back and they didn't pull it together until the finale when Lockington turned around and they conducted together for the final moments.
Carmina Burana, sung, played, and danced to, was fabulous. The opera singers and selections from Tosca were top notch, as were the Broadway singers who performed tunes from Phantom of the Opera. The Youth Symphony sounded excellent and so professional when playing a Stravinsky piece on their own (Berceuse & Finale from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite?). Just a few sour notes here and there reminded us that this wasn't the GR Symphony.

The entire concert was a mostly tight performance but started 10 minutes late, took about a 20 minute intermission and was finished promptly at 10pm. Lockington took his bows and quickly left the stage. There was no interest in an encore or additional bows.
But do you think we could get a program, listing performers and performances? Nowhere to be found. We saw a few people holding them but apparently they printed a dozen or so and called it good. The titles were briefly posted on the screens above but that's really not good enough. We know the programs were sparse because we could not find one anywhere on the way out and usually they are strewn on the floors and in the trash barrels (yes, we looked). Here's hoping this becomes an annual event but with more programs, please!

A few seconds of Superman! 


Monday, April 20, 2015

Butterflies & More at Meijer Gardens ~ 4/14/15

The butterflies have been in full display at the Gardens and I was tempted to stop in last week, until I remembered it was spring break. Today it was beautifully in the 60s and sunny so I ventured forth. The parking lot was crowded and school buses are never a good sign for anyone who wants a tranquil visit.
But it wasn't bad by lunch time. School groups were present but were outside and easily avoided by changing my route :-) As always, the Garden routes people through the cacti and other indoor garden rooms before you can visit the butterflies.
Visitors are challenged to find the Monarch Butterfly caterpillars.
In the same room, goofing around with mirrors, just because :-)
After finally arriving in the steamy hot butterfly exhibit, I found a few butterflies still enough to get a shot but was more annoyed by people than butterflies on the move.
There was a beautiful Common Morpho posing on a nearby wall and I waited my turn to get a photo but this particular photographer was not budging. So I walked away and went through the rest of the exhibit. Twenty minutes later I went back and he was still there. Photo hog. And just then, another Morpho came by and the two of them flew away. And the photographer had the nerve to whine about it. But by that time I was done. On to the outdoors, where the tram is back.
Crocus, Daffodils, and Helleborus were wonderful to see.
A walk around the Groves is always lovely and today was no exception.
Here's the view from Male/Female.
The wetlands walk is always a favorite and is still a bit arid, winter moving into spring.

There are always people hanging out at the horse, because it's awesome.
Kids like to run down the hill, and play in fountains.
Getting a sneak peak at a new exhibit gave me these photos but no information, until today.
Mlive disclosed today that this was "Iron Tree" by the famous artist, Ai Weiwei, under house arrest in China, an artist who was made known to many Americans by the 2012 documentary "Never Sorry." Just wow. The exhibit opened today, 4/20, and I can't wait to go back for a closer look. In the meantime, we are all still waiting for brown to turn green.
And we're also waiting for the grand opening of the Japanese Garden, which is getting close now. Lots of work is going on.
The stage is empty right now and tickets sales open for members this Saturday. You know the routine. Wait for hours in person at the Gardens, or sweat it out online or by phone to get the hottest selling tickets that will be gone in 15 minutes. For non-members? More than half of the concerts will be sold out before you even have a chance. Good luck to you all ~ I'm already breaking out in a sweat.

Butterflies & Geese Video