Tag: music

Musical Menus is in in full swing

On April 4th and 5th at 6:30pm, Clarke students will be taking part in Musical Menus, a fundraiser that celebrates the work of the drama, music, and theatrical departments. Throughout the two nights, many students, as well as Clarke ensembles, will be performing a variety of songs coming from the jazz era.

Kylie Gougler, a visiting professor and head of the vocal performance program, described Musical Menu’s as a way to not only fundraise as a program, but to give back to the community.

“In general, Musical Menu’s is really just a way for us to showcase Clarke University’s musical department and the talent that we have on campus,” says Gougler.

“This year, I’ve decided to change the program a little bit because it’s Clarke’s 175th year, and my first year here, so I wanted to put a fresh little spin on it. In the past this performance has been a lot of solo performances, and I wanted to include a lot of group performances with an overarching theme. I was watching Urinetown last semester and then it came to me— 1920’s jazz.”

Influenced by Gershwin and Cole Porter, Gougler searched through a number of popular composer’s repertoires. Finding pieces for bands, choruses, and solo performers alike, students have begun rehearsing, running musical numbers and blocking their performances. The show itself has an overarching narrative theme, according to Gougler, and the set itself will follow the pace of dinner.

“Every single course in the meal has its own theme. The first is getting around New York City, the second is the trials and tribulations of Love, the third is an illustration of how great love can be, and the fourth is a hodgepodge of fun and witty songs that are reflective of the era.”

Despite being new at Clarke University, Gougler has invested plenty of effort into this fundraiser. “I’ve chosen all the music, I made all the cuts, I assigned all the singers their repertoire, I’m going to be doing some very minimal staging for the show, and I’m also spearheading a silent auction and working with marketing and advertising to get our show out to the community so we have as many patrons here as we can.”

To fill the seats at Musical Menus, and to experience a show the likes of which you haven’t seen before, pre-order tickets right now. If you are looking to come to this event, please email Dora Serna at Dora_Serna@clarke.edu.

 

 

by Dane Shaull

Dirty Computer: The biggest snub of the 2019 Grammys

From the get go, I will admit that I am biased. I have been a fan of Janelle Monáe since she released the song “Tightrope” in 2010. From the moment I saw her dancing across an asylum in a tuxedo, I was in love.  Through the releases of her more eclectic ArchAndroid and ElectricLady albums, I retained a deep seated respect for her and her work.

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 9.20.41 PM

via Rolling Stone

The 2018 release of her fifth studio album, Dirty Computer, only strengthened my love and respect for Ms. Monáe. A fusion of Afro-funk, rap, ‘90’s R&B, bubblegum pop and Prince-esque guitar riffs, Dirty Computer is a futuristic celebration of diversity. Paired with a gorgeous 48 minute visual or, as Monáe calls it, “Emotion Picture,Dirty Computer is a concept album which follows the life and rebirth of Jane 57821. Featuring hits like “Pynk”, “Make Me Feel,” and “Django Jane,” it was no surprise that Monáe earned Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Music Video.

It was a surprise that she lost.

I hold nothing against Kacey Musgraves, the winner of this year’s award. However, I do have to question the criteria the Recording Academy are using to decide their winners. Are they looking for originality? Musicality? Creative lyricism? Because Janelle Monáe, in my book, checks every one of those boxes.

If you give Dirty Computer a listen yourself, which I highly recommend, you’ll see exactly why I’m so outraged. Not only is the album full of empowering hits that cross nearly every genre line— each and every song is filled with unmistakable heart. As a queer woman myself, songs like “Don’t Judge Me” and “Screwed” sound like anthems. The lyrics range from heartbreaking to funny, flirty, and outrageously relatable.

Past the wit, though, there is an underlying tone of seriousness and sincerity. In Monáe’s Emotion Picture, the character Zen (played by Tessa Thompson) admits at a pivotal part in the story that “People used to work so hard to be free. But we’re lucky here. All we have to do is forget.”

This single quote holds boatloads of cultural significance, especially in our current political climate when topics such as freedom and expression are highly debated.

At the end of the day, I believe that the Recording Academy avoided granting Dirty Computer Album of the Year for one reason and one reason alone: fear. The album itself is practically a love letter to progress, individuality, and independence. If I were to compare this years snub to a another famous Grammy brush-off, I’d say it was similar to the 2016 Adele vs Beyoncé debacle. People were outraged when Queen-Bey didn’t win Album of the Year for Lemonade, a stunning audio-visual masterpiece that celebrated and illustrated her experiences as a black woman in a strained relationship. Even Adele herself dedicated her acceptance speech to Beyoncé.

Not every detail fits, but the parallel is clear.

Regardless of the Recording Academy’s decision, I know in my heart that I will never find a more well-thought out, creative, and joyful album than Dirty Computer. It’s not only a collection of songs, it’s an experience— one filled with joy, hope, and above all, love. In years to come, I hope to see Janelle Monáe get the kind of recognition she deserves. After all, she’s Jane Bond, never Jane Doe.

 

 

by Mimi Ottavi

Chicago 17 – Album Review

chicago172front

By Christian Perez


 

Imagine the perfect band.

For some, that might involve massive guitars, pounding percussion, and vocalists that hit astronomically high notes. Others may be picturing a traditional ensemble, draped in the velvety colors of the symphonic orchestra. You might even prefer the artist’s focus on songwriting instead of musical skill!

My idea of the perfect band comes in the form of Chicago. Not only is their individual musicianship excellent, but their collective knowledge and application of jazz sets them apart from other rock groups from the 60s-80s. They found a way to seamlessly blend the intricate harmonic devices of that genre with an accessible approach to songwriting and lyricism.

While Chicago 17 maintains that essential integrity, this album doesn’t always stay consistent in terms of re-imagining the 80s pop formula. Some songs fare better than others, but the overall vibe seems much more manufactured and produced than their earlier jazz-rock works (such as Chicago V).

The opening song of this album is a wonderful example of this supposition. “Stay The Night” sits in this strange middle ground for me. The guitars, synths, and drums hit harder than a brick wall, but the rather odd delivery of the lackluster lyrics brings the whole track down a couples of notches. There’s just not enough depth to this song to keep me engaged, and that tarnished the initial impression I got from the excellent instrumental track.

However, the album gets progressively better after the opening.

Take for example, one of my favorites off of the album, “We Can Stop The Hurtin'”. It directly proceeds “Stay The Night”, and immediately lifted my hopes for Chicago’s seventeenth collection. It opens with an arpeggiated synth bass, a funky clean guitar, and a bare drum beat. Robert Lamm starts his verse by describing the rather desolate condition of society, but transitions into the harmonically-dense chorus by admitting that “If we found a way to reconcile, we could stop the hurtin’ for a while”. I’d recommend that you give this track a listen!

I couldn’t really complete this review without mentioning the two hit ballads off of this album: “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re The Inspiration”. These are some of my favorite songs of all time, and I’d like to share why these stand out to me.

“Hard Habit to Break” is one of the most intricate power ballads I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In terms of the song’s composition, I find that Steve Kipner keeps the song interesting by changing the keys many times, as well as emphasizing his wonderful lyrical contributions. Of course, this song wouldn’t have been as successful and as poignant without the fantastic vocal performances provided by Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin! The unique timbre of both of these performers only supplement the excellence of their vocal abilities.

Performed at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas.


The song “You’re The Inspiration” follows a similar standard in performance. However, this song serves as a wonderful vehicle for showcasing Cetera’s vocal ability and his skills as songwriting (with a little bit of help from producer David Foster). I don’t believe I can properly explain to you all how great this song is, so here’s a link to a live performance of the song:

Peter Cetera performs this song, independent of Chicago, for the DVD Peter Cetera with Special Guest Amy Grant.


Overall, I think that this album deserves a listen, but keep in mind that the songwriting and 80s aesthetic can sometimes feel both underwhelming and overwhelming. The high points on this album are glorious, but the low points seem to bring you down as well.

Here’s the album on Spotify:

Final Score:

7/10

 

Additional Information

Chicago 17 came out on May 14, 1984 to massive sales (1). It became the group’s best selling album of all time, and cemented the aging group’s musical influence for years to come. The singles from this album include “Stay the Night”, “Hard Habit to Break”, “You’re The Inspiration”, and “Along Comes A Woman”.

Sources:

  1. https://www.chicagotheband.com/albums/chicago17.html
  2. http://vinylalbumcovers.com/chicago-17/

 

 

$4 Million Festival In Cedar Rapids Ft. Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson

By Allie Evans

Cedar Rapids, IA, is debuting a brand new $4 million cultural festival named newbo evolve, in the heart of little bohemia featuring headliners Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson, from August 3rd through 5th. newbo evolve celebrates not only the Bohemian creative spirit in Cedar Rapids, but the rebirth of the city after the 2008 flood.

This festival, according to their website, newbo evolve has a purpose of celebrating “the creative Bohemian spirit through music, art, fashion, dance, food, and technology” by providing 40 keynote speakers, various activities and experiences, alongside the well-advertised concerts of Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

Watch a video by Go Cedar Rapids about newbo evolve, here!

Interested attendees have the option of purchasing a 3-day pass for the festival at $375 dollars, or individual tickets to the headliner shows of Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5. The festival directors are receiving criticism for the pricey 3 day pass, the lack of a-la-carte passes for sessions, and that tickets are limited to 18+ audiences.

In response to this criticism, KCRG, did some research about the costs of festivals and confronted the directors of newbo evolve. Lollapalooza, the 4-day all music festival near Chicago only has a 4-day admission of $335. Aaron McCreight, the President of Go Cedar Rapids, and the creators of the festival stated that “So for the evolve pass for $375 you get reserved seating, preferred seating right up front in front of the stage. You get there whenever you want. Nobody will be in your seat, and it’s actually a chair,” and expressed their desire to create a reasonable and affordable price for all the activities provided.

According to the festival website, the price of everything included in the $375 package is well worth over $600. This price includes reserved seating at both headlining and to-be-announced local artist concerts, access to all celebrity lead keynotes throughout the three days, and exclusive access events and locations that are listed on their website, here.  

However, do not be discouraged by the price tag if you were interested in seeing Maroon 5 or Kelly Clarkson. There are general admission tickets available for purchase through the US Cellular Center for Maroon 5 starting at $70, here, and Kelly Clarkson starting at $54.50, here.

 

What do you think about a festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, costing more than Lollapalooza? Would you attend newbo evolve for the span of 3 days, or would you rather attend only the concerts? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

newbo evolve logo courtesy of gocedarrapids.com

A Delicious and Melodious Night in Japan

By Maggie Christianson

On October 25th, 2017 the Edward and Cathy Gallagher Arts at Clarke series hosted A Night In Japan in Jansen Music Hall. The event, starting at 7:00pm,  began with music ensembles from Clarke under the direction of Andrew Alegria and David Resnick and concluded Tsukasa Taiko’s Japanese drumming performance.  Alongside these acts, the series provided food options ranging from sushi to matcha white chocolate mousse before the event at 6:30 in the Atrium.

My adventure to A Night In Japan started when I arrived at the Atrium with an empty belly, ready to enjoy some sushi, only to discover the long line almost headed down the hall. It felt like forever, but once I received my plate, I grabbed as much food as I could. I tried everything they had, from veggie and tuna sushi to their dumplings filled with delicious pork.

For dessert, the staff had prepared a creme cheesecake puffball and white mousse. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cheesecake, which was perfect for my friend, Mariah, who attended the concert with me because she fell in love with the flavor. I really enjoyed the mousse. It had the texture much like frosting and a sweet flavor that wasn’t too rich, making it easy to enjoy.

After finishing our dish, some friends and I headed into the Jansen Music Hall and found ourselves right in front. The wind ensemble started off the 1st act by beautifully performing Japanese folk songs. My personal favorite was Fantasy on a Japanese Folk Song by Samuel Hazo.

The 1st act continued with Sharon Jensen playing Hanawa- Saku (Flower will Bloom) by Yoko Kanno, on the piano. Following her was Cantabile, singing two songs, Nanatsu No Ko, a Japanese Children’s Song, and Sakura Sakura- arranged by Douglas E. Wagner. All the students and professors did an amazing job performing all these beautiful Japanese songs and created a great beginning to this wonderful night.

The 2nd Act was performed by Tsukasa Tako. Here is where they performed on the taiko drums and showed the different festival performances the drums were used for. Part of the show was demonstrating the movements of the beating of the drums which I found very memorizing. The speaker was very engaged with the audience, telling us stories about the music and how he started this group.I was amazed by the classical dance, getting to listen to live music as well as watching a dancer perform to said music.

 

I honestly enjoyed my evening. It was overall a great experience, from the delicious food to the wonderful music. I feel that whether someone went only for the food or the music, everyone found something to enjoy, as I heard nothing but good things about the night.

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