Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on defunct, Central Indiana arts website Sky Blue Window on January 31, 2015. Some formatting, content and style changes may differ from the original version.
Avant-garde and opera are two terms that, on the surface, appear more as oxymorons than synonyms. That is, unless you consider the new concert series through IUPUI’s Music and Arts Technology department. It aims to change that notion, at least for a few nights this year.
This coming Tuesday (Feb. 3) at 7:30 p.m., the Basile Opera Center, new home of Indianapolis Opera, will host a concert by bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern. It will be the second in a series of performances by contemporary musicians who employ technology in their acts.
“It’s very hard to keep current simply by having students look in textbooks, which inevitably will be one step behind in a part of the world that moves so fast technologically,” says IUPUI Music and Arts Technology instructor Robin Cox. “So bringing active practitioners in that have a national and international reputation is a way you can truly demonstrate things that are relevant to today.”
Cox says IUPUI lacks a sizable performance space on caliber with the professional musicians his department hopes to attract. But the university’s shortcoming appears to be Indianapolis Opera’s gain. The opera has struggled to sustain itself since taking over the former Greek Orthodox church at 41st and Pennsylvania, and so now it has opened its doors to alternative programming as well.
“They have a wonderful facility … the Basile Opera Center,” Cox says. “The back of that building [the Greek Orthodox church] is a very large, rectangular space of 5,200 square feet. It’s very contemporary looking … not already pre-configured. In a way it’s sort of a blank slate, but it also physically sounds very nice.”
These IUPUI concerts performed there are free and open to all ages. The first in the series featured a performance by Pamela Z and attracted a near-capacity crowd. Lowenstern is the lone instrumentalist in the lineup, which ends in March with a performance by San Francisco soprano Amy X Neuberg. For now Cox is excited about the level of talent that Lowenstern brings to the table.
“He’s maybe one of the finest musical talents I’ve ever met,” Cox says. “He’s very adept at employing technology as a solo artist on stage and does a number of things that are unique solutions. He plays the oddball instrument of a bass clarinet, but he gets you to forget how unusual that instrument is pretty quickly just through his sheer level of capability.”
Prior to his performance, Lowenstern will host on-campus lectures and interactive sessions for students and members of Girls Rock Indianapolis. At the moment, IUPUI is funding the concert series. Cox says the university will assess the success of the series over the summer. He was encouraged by the turnout at the first show, and he’s hopeful it will continue.
“This is, in a sense, the inaugural year of this series,” he says. “Community involvement was more important to us than assessing a ticket fee for the shows. Beyond that, there’s no one really bringing artists of this nature into Indianapolis right now. So, it is giving Indianapolis something unique in that respect.”
Written by Rob Peoni
This Friday marks the 11th annual Tonic Ball in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square. The event showcases nearly 50 local and regional acts at three separate venues. Each year, the Tonic committee selects three acts whose material performers are asked to cover any way they see fit. This year’s event will feature the music of U2, Stevie Wonder and quintessential British invaders The Kinks.
All proceeds from the event help to fund local hunger-relief organization Second Helpings. The evening kicks off with a visual art exhibition at New Day Meadery at 5 PM. Music is scheduled to begin around 8. Check out the full slate of musical performers below. Tickets are $25: purchase online, by telephone (317-632-2664), or in-person at LUNA Music. The event typically sells out, so don’t sleep on an opportunity for a fantastic evening in support of a worthy cause.
Radio Radio (The Kinks)
- 8 PM – Blue collar Bluegrass
- 8:20 -KRS +1
- 8:40 – CW & The Working Class Trio
- 9 PM – Vess Ruhtenberg
- 9:20 – The Haters
- 9:40 – Brian Deer & The Achievers
- 10 PM – Yoko MOment
- 10:20 – Phyllis
- 10:40 – Red Light Driver
- 11 PM – Everything, Now!
- 11: 20 – Cocaine Wolves
- 11:40 – Pravada
- Midnight – Red Rash
- 12:20 – Coolidge
- 12:40 – Odyssey Favor
- 1 AM – Deezen
- 1:20 – The Founders
- 7:40 – South Six 5
- 8 PM – Vertigo
- 8:20 – Rooms
- 8:40 – Sudo
- 9 PM – Everest
- 9:20 – Kaleidostars
- 9:40 – The Common
- 10 PM – Mars or the Moon
- 10:20 – We’re Not Squibnocket
- 10:40 – Gabriel Harley Band
- 11 PM – Circle City Steel
- 11:20 – Byrd House Sound
- 11:40 – Buster Eagle
White Rabbit Cabaret (Stevie Wonder)
- 8 PM – Bat Tattoo
- 8:20 – Crackhead Patty
- 8:40 – Motorboat Mary
- 9 PM – Freddie T & The People
- 9:20 – Mina & the Wondrous Flying Machine
- 9:40 – Ty Causey Band
- 10 PM – Scott Kline & the Illusion of Control
- 10:20 – Goliathon
- 10:40 Tad Armstrong
- 11 PM – Bill Mallers
- 11:20 – Matt Mays & Count Baldie
- Midnight – Echomaker
- 12:20 – Chad Mills & the Upright Willies
- 12:40 – Randy King & the New Positions
- 1 AM – Pink Boyd
- 1:20 – Old Truck Revival
If you’re a regular reader here on Thoughts on Tracks, you know my love for Purity Ring. And if you aren’t a regular reader here on our fun little blog, well then, I’ll just be honest and say you probably should be. In any case, if you’re within a short car ride, megabus trip, riverboat or even walking distance to Cincinnati then you need to get yourself here this Saturday night for when Purity Ring blows the lid off Mayday in the eclectic Northside neighborhood. Having gotten the opportunity to scope them in person earlier this summer, I honestly can’t think of a better way to get some fun on with a Saturday night and can promise some fun electronic vibes to go along with a killer light set. Saturday Night. “Fineshrine”. A few beverages. And maybe even one of Mayday’s famous hot dogs? Yes, please, and thank you.
You can catch up with my review of the debut LP Shrines from early July if you missed it and check out a video below of my personal track of the summer live along with an interview with the duo. Tickets are still available for pre-sale via Ticketfly and will also be available at the door for just $10.
Written by Greg Dahman