August 28, 2007

A & E Spotlights (part 2): LYO, Ground Floor, Yandell

Spotlight On:THE LOUISVILLE YOUTH ORCHESTRADirector challenges youth during their formative yearsJason Seber: PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LOUISVILLE YOUTH ORCHESTRA Jason Seber is starting his third year directing The Louisville Youth OrchestraIn 2005 Jason Seber moved to Louisville from Cleveland with a master’s degree in conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music, plus stints as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and the National Repertory Orchestra, as well as guest conductor work for several regional orchestras.In his third year as music director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra, Seber, 31, is bringing new challenges to its young musicians during the organization’s 49th season.Those include a suite from Zoltán Kodály’s opera “Háry János.” Seber describes the piece as very Hungarian in flavor, about a soldier dreaming comic and dramatic tales, such as defeating Napoleon and stealing his wife. Seber says that in Hungarian culture, if someone begins a story by sneezing, you should take the story “with a grain of salt,” so the piece begins with what he calls “a huge orchestral sneeze.”The piece, to be performed by the LYO’s Symphony Orchestra on March 9 at the Brown Theatre, uses two instruments rarely used in orchestra — the saxophone (to evoke the character of Napoleon) and a cimbalom, which resembles a small piano. While it is used in many eastern European cultures, this is the first time the LYO is using the instrument in a piece.LYO has four core orchestras and members for each are determined through auditions. The Symphony and Repertory orchestras are full orchestras with highly developed players, while beginners play in the Serenade Orchestra and intermediate string musicians play in the Concert Orchestra.Seber says young people in Louisville with advanced skill and talent are fortunate to have two full youth orchestras. While there are dozens of full youth orchestras in the United State, they are not common.Seber says students gain an advantage by participating in a full orchestra because they learn more and different kinds of music than they would by taking lessons with one teacher. It also, he adds, teaches them how to play pieces written for performance.Seber wants to teach students the importance of music and turn them into great performers, but, moreover, he wants to “turn them on to arts in general.” He strives to impart to his students that learning about music or art is far from drudgery, of the kind one thinks of in practicing the piano as a child.“I want them to work hard and learn, but I mostly want them to have fun,” he says. “They have an important role in society as far as playing music and making people aware of how important the arts are.” BY ERIN CLEPHASleo@leoweekly.comSpotlight On:THE GROUND FLOOR GALLERYTraveling gallery turns heads to art It all started with the quest to have a good time. Sara Robinette and Jesse Levesque, former roommates and two of the principles of The Ground Floor Gallery, were chatting when an idea come to them.Ground Floor Gallery: PHOTO COURTESY THE GROUND FLOOR GALLERY Louisville artist Sarah Lyon (far right) talks to visitors about her work presented in The Ground Floor Gallery’s “Inhale” show. (The hanging sculptural piece is by sculptor Jonathan Miles Stich.)“Wouldn’t it be fun to go to something like this?” Robinette said. “Then we realized we could pull this off.”“This” was their idea of themed events featuring a mix of visual arts, performing arts, music, food and people dressing in costume at venues around the city. Thus The Ground Floor Gallery was born, with a focus on local emerging artists.From the idea, the group grew to include Levesque’s sister, Amanda Bishop; her mother, Cynda Bishop; Amanda’s friend, Teresa Huarte; and several volunteers. They planned four events based on the elements of air, water, fire and earth.In April 2006 they held “Inhale” at River Bend Winery and drew about 500 people. The Ground Floor had asked the selected artists, many of whom they knew, to relate their works to “air.” Five months later at the St. Francis Building, the second event, “Saturate,” was larger, with attendance estimated at 700.In January they staged “Ignite” at Glassworks, then brought out “Dig” in June at 110 West Main St. Both saw crowds of 500 to 600. This year the group also made changes, most notably the showing of a more manageable number of art works. Ignite had 35 works, compared to 70 in “Saturate.”The group has consciously tried to encourage work and ideas from more artists throughout the community, and to ensure greater variety and better quality at exhibitions.The Ground Floor is a gallery of sorts, albeit one without a permanent location. The artwork it shows is for sale, with 25 percent of the purchase price going to the gallery and 75 percent to the artist. About 5 percent of an event’s profits go to charity, such as Breaking New Grounds, an organization that recycles coffee grounds and other food waste.As for what comes next, Robinette says it is time for a reevaluation. “We want to sit back and get feedback,” she said.That has been prompted by the loss of two members: Bishop recently moved to Chicago, and Huarte will soon move to Portland. But there are no doubts that The Ground Floor Gallery will keep going. To get on the mailing list for future events, visit JO ANNE TRIPLETTjtriplettart@yahoo.comSpotlight On:ENID YANDELLLouisville pioneer paved a path for women artistsThe 7-foot tall likeness of Kentucky frontiersman Daniel Boone stands at a circular entrance to Cherokee Park. It celebrates the man, of course, but is also a creation of Louisville’s first nationally known woman sculptor, Enid Yandell (1869-1934).Enid Yandell’s sculpture of Daniel Boone greets visitors to Cherokee Park who enter by way of Eastern Parkway.The statue is an interesting convergence of symbolism between subject and creator. Both were up to challenges. Boone settled the frontier. Yandell’s task was difficult simply because a career as an artist was widely considered on the edge of proper society and morally suspect, even for men. Yandell’s drive and self-assurance paved her way. While studying at the Cincinnati Academy of Art (finishing the four-year program in two years), she traveled unchaperoned and occasionally carried a gun.  The accolades came quickly. She won a medal for her work on the Women’s Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.Her gender led to an embarrassing incident in 1894, when she was forced to withdraw her winning design for Louisville’s Confederate monument. Later that year, Yandell moved to Paris to work with Auguste Rodin and Frederick MacMonnies, master sculptors who would accept female students. Monuments, portraits, garden sculpture and fountains became her forte, eventually earning her a place in the National Sculpture Society, one of the first females.Yandell’s work is spread across the country. In Louisville, the Speed Art Museum, Louisville Free Public Library and the Filson Club are depositories.  Beside “Daniel Boone,” Cherokee Park also houses her “Hogan’s Fountain,” and Wayside Park at Third Street and Southern Parkway has “The Wheelmen’s Bench.” More recently she inspired a group of Louisville-area female sculptors. Formed in 1998, ENID today has 17 members. Current president Elizabeth Kirkwood described via e-mail why Yandell is such an inspiration.“As 21st century sculptors, our group has chosen (her) as inspiration because she had integrity and found a way, despite the status quo, to expand her world and use her gifts to express her impression of life. We are ENIDs because we, too, have an unstoppable drive to create and make our truths known, each in our own unique ways.” Well said. So maybe the next time you hit the roundabout the encircles “Daniel Boone,” your thoughts will be of more than one pioneer.BY JO ANNE