1_1Jack White releases song in record time

The Associated Press reported on Sunday morning that Jack White of rock duo the White Stripes had broken the record for fastest-released song. White, who owns his own label called Third Man Records, performed for a small group of fans on Saturday. The performance included the debut of his new single “Lazaretto,” which was the song that made the cut onto the record. The track was pressed and available for purchase three hours and 55 minutes after the recording. This stunt was part of a promotion for White’s new record of the same name Lazaretto, which will hit stores in June.

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Prince releases surprise single

This Saturday, Prince unexpectedly released a brand-new single, “The Breakdown.” Entertainment Weekly reports that Prince has officially dubbed the track “the saddest story ever told.” This is the Purple One’s first single since 2009 and comes off the heels of the news that Prince would release a deluxe edition of Purple Rain in honor of the album’s 30th anniversary. He has also made plans to include previously-unreleased tracks from the ‘80s Prince era on his new recordings.

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HBO renews “Veep” and “Silicon Valley”

HBO has officially renewed “Veep” for a fourth season and “Silicon Valley” for a second season. Many TV critics have speculated that the shows’ time slot after the insanely popular “Game of Thrones” (6.6 million viewers, HBO’s highest ratings since the series finale of “The Sopranos” in 2007) has contributed to their popularity. “Veep” stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Seinfeld” and has become famous for its profane, hilarious, politically satirical style. “Silicon Valley” is created by Mike Judge, who previously worked on “The Office,” “Beavis and Butthead” and “King of the Hill.”

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies

Novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez died Thursday at age 87. In 1982, Marquez became the first Colombian and fourth Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Marquez’s most beloved works include One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. His writing explored ideas such as solitude, the combination of magic and reality and violence. Marquez’s work paved the way for the future of Latin American literature and allowed it to step outside tradition and become more progressive.

ingrid

I must admit, I just began listening to Ingrid Michaelson. Her sixth album, Lights Out, was shown to me by a friend. Though the music initially gave me an eerie feeling of shopping at the local Anthropologie store, I began to understand why my friend was a fan. Filled with reflective ballads backed by a percussion-driven rhythm, Lights Out displays Michaelson’s affinity for witty lyrics coupled with catchy background music.

I had always known Michaelson for her fuzzy, feel-good coffeehouse music, a quality which I definitely found this on the album. The first two tracks on the album, “Home” and “Girls Chase Boys,” are full of the whimsical and light background music and lyrics that I had expected from Michaelson’s music.

Listening to Michaelson’s soft voice singing “This is my home / Where I go when I have nowhere else to go” on “Home,” harkens back to the aura of comfort and happiness that comes across in “The Way I Am” from 2006’s Girls and Boys, perhaps Michaelson’s biggest commercial hit to date.

Even so, as the album progressed, I was surprised when she showed a deviation from the feel-good songs that made her popular.

There’s still the inescapable wit of “Be OK” and “Everybody,” but she takes a slightly different approach to the tunes this time around.

“Wonderful Unknown,” which features singer-songwriter Greg Laswell, creates an entrancing slow tempo that brings the listener on a journey with Michaelson “into the dark and wonderful unknown.”

Laswell’s appearance on the track only promulgates this solemn vibe, as his deep voice balances Michaelson’s airy voice perfectly to create a wonderful chemistry.

But that was far from the only surprise on Lights Out.

On “Handsome Hands,” the tremendous build-up with her atypical vocals accompanied by singular drumbeats and a monotone backdrop created a track that was far more intense than I previously thought Michaelson was capable of.

The sad ballads on this album are also executed wonderfully and gave a real glimpse into Michaelson’s search for love and coping with a loss of love.

“Open Hands,” which features singer-songwriter Trent Dabbs, is strikingly emotional and relatable.

As Michaelson mourns over a lost love, crying out “Now go on and drift away / The tide can hold you out,” it’s hard to not feel a twinge of empathy.

She continues to stray from the feel-good with her track “Over You,” which features the band A Great Big World.

Her sultry voice conveys the universal pain of trying to get over someone, although I personally did not find A Great Big World to be a complementary voice.

Overall, Michaelson delivered on this album.

Although her old-time fans may not enjoy this new, slightly darker version of Michaelson, I found that the emotional tracks were a great new dynamic.

Her album was cohesively diverse with all tracks bearing her signature sound while still reaching a larger emotional range.

— By Saher Fatteh

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons The Atlanta Opera, here pictured performing Lucia di Lammermoor, will present The Barber of Seville at the end of the month. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre will host The Barber of Seville on April 26 and 29 and May 2 and 4.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Atlanta Opera, here pictured performing Lucia di Lammermoor, will present The Barber of Seville at the end of the month. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre will host The Barber of Seville on April 26 and 29 and May 2 and 4.

I am going to make a controversial statement: opera is fun.

“No!” cries every single person who’s under 70.

One might very reasonably ask, “How can listening to people scream in a language I do not understand be fun?” or “How can I spend more than two-and-a-half hours watching this when I find a movie this long to be too long?”

I feel these common questions come from misunderstandings of how an opera would be presented today and what it fundamentally means to see an opera.

And with The Barber of Seville performed by the Atlanta Opera at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on April 26 and 29 and May 2 and 4, coupled with cheap student tickets available at $25, now is a fantastic time to take a step forward and try something new.

First, the most pragmatic fear must be assuaged: you do not need to speak Italian, German or French to appreciate what is being presented on stage.

A contemporary, legitimate operatic presentation will invariably give its attendees a way to understand what is being said.

Most of the older opera houses will project the translated libretto, essentially an operatic script, over or under the stage (super- or subtitles, respectively).

The words follow just like subtitles in a foreign film. Some of the major opera companies, like the Met in New York, even have small screens on the back of all the seats that allow you to view the translation directly in front of you.

While many old-school opera enthusiasts say that these projections and translations detract from the experience, it has been an important movement in making opera more accessible to more people.

Not understanding the language is certainly not a fear that should keep you from the opera in this day and age.

The second most common fear I often hear is that going to the opera is a boring experience. This might not be unreasonable, but the problem with saying this is that it’s a generalization.

Just as one might find a movie boring, one might find an opera boring: but just because one is dull does not mean all are bad, and just because one is exciting does not mean all are as invigorating.

While there are elements that make opera uniquely opera, each work is its own experience.

Watching a Handel opera is an entirely different experience than watching a Wagner one.

Handel’s works have sparse instrumentation and feature the dry recitative, a form of dialogue in operas in which the singing is more speech-like while accompanied with only a harpsichord.

On the other hand, Wagner’s works have massive pit orchestras playing almost non-stop music.

With Handel, I quickly grow bored, while I cannot take my eyes off of the stage with Wagner. Each work is wholly its own.

What positive comes from going to the opera? It gives you an amazing insight into Western culture that nothing else can. Everything from moments in “Looney Tunes” cartoons to the entire conception of incidental music in movies can be traced to operatic origins.

From a historic perspective, prevailing and progressive trends in European culture can be picked up much more easily (and often faster!) from an opera than from other primary sources.

Opera has often acted as a medium for social commentary.

And, as with most forms of classical music, it seeks to keep at least one foot in the past, thereby allowing the work to keep its original message.

The authenticity of an operatic performance is greater than that of a translation alone.

It is not simply the words that carry the message, it is the set, the music, the entrances and exits of characters.

Music conveys the listener to the past, and when combined with the power of the theatrical stage, you can be taken a world away.

It is a powerful exploration, safe and secure.

In conclusion, I would urge you to consider attending The Barber of Seville as put on by the Atlanta Opera, or maybe look at getting tickets to a staging next season.

The Barber of Seville is a particularly approachable work, and many of the gags you’ll hear and see go right in line with what we laugh at today.

Blown-up egos, mistaken identities and drunken soldiers abound.

The Barber of Seville is one of my very favorites.

Simply be adventurous and open-minded, and it will pay off more than you could ever imagine.

— By Samuel Budnyk

Courtesy of Ali Reubenstone Emory’s improv comedy group Rathskellar collaborated with professional Atlanta troupe Dad’s Garage this Saturday for You’re Not My Real Dad’s! The performance featured unscripted hilarity from members of both ensembles.

Courtesy of Ali Reubenstone
Emory’s improv comedy group Rathskellar collaborated with professional Atlanta troupe Dad’s Garage this Saturday for You’re Not My Real Dad’s! The performance featured unscripted hilarity from members of both ensembles.

It was standing room only in Harland Cinema on Saturday night as Rathskellar Presents: You’re Not My Real Dad’s! left audience members doubled over in fits of laughter. Rathskellar, Emory’s improv comedy troupe, and Dad’s Garage, an Atlanta comedy group, worked together to improvise hilariously outlandish situations.

Dad’s Garage was formed in Atlanta in 1995 and has since grown to be the most acclaimed improv group in the city, entertaining more than 30,000 audience members a year.

For anyone who has seen a Rathskellar show (and if you haven’t, you definitely should), Saturday’s performance was similar but definitely more dynamic as a result of the collaboration with Dad’s Garage.

Rathskellar never fails to render a few laughs by using varying accents and odd physical movements to tell a made-up-on-the-spot story that somehow makes perfect sense.

This show was no exception to the norm but was made even more special by the addition of three comedians from Dad’s Garage: Tommy Futch, Rueben Medina and Perry Frost.

Though all of the Dad’s Garage comedians were fantastic, my personal favorite was Futch because he unapologetically expressed himself through emotional and engaging dialogue.

His believability in each and every character that he portrayed made it impossible to take your eyes off him.

The night began, as every Rathskellar show does, with its Emperor, College junior Josh Jacobs, engaging the audience. The first half of the audience was asked to shout out their favorite breakfast item; the second half of the audience was asked to shout out their favorite color.

Then, the entire audience was asked to scream the dirtiest thing they could think of to encourage and remind people that Rathskellar runs a “no-smuck” show.

“New Choice,” an improv game where a bell is rung and the improviser must pick a new phrase for the phrase said right before the bell, was the first game of the evening.

In this case, Dad’s Garage’s Rueben Medina and College junior Neel Ghosh teamed up for a nautical-themed game.

The duo was hilarious together as they were able to bounce off of each other and make transitions seamlessly.

From Ghosh inviting himself into Medina’s boat to Medina’s discomfort towards the idea of Ghosh using his towel, the two had a charismatically witty banter.

Ghosh and Medina later paired up for a game called “Music On-Off,” in which a character must switch from saying to singing his or her lines on cue. In the game, Medina and Ghosh played sisters, and they were flawless.

From brushing their hair to putting on mascara to commenting on the fact that the mirror made them look fat, the two were perfect together.

Throughout the entire sketch, the laughter from the audience never died down.

Another improv game (and one of my favorites) is called “Song Styles.” Frost, College sophomore Rebecca Han, College junior Ali Reubenstone and College senior Kristie Denlinger all participated. From reggae to country to spicy Latin music, Reubenstone and Denlinger made up lyrics to the tunes all following a goldfish theme.

Frost and Han played the roles of radio commentators and they definitely provided some entertaining commentary to accompany the musical stylings.

Reubenstone was especially on point with rhyming lyrics and interpretive dance moves.

Following “Song Styles” was a film noir sketch with Jacobs and Frost.

The sketch took place at a laundromat and was insanely hilarious.

Jacobs delivered his deadpan lines with sharp accuracy, and Frost did not miss a beat in her responses.

An interesting talent of Jacobs’s is his ability to incorporate musings from earlier in the skit and even from other sketches entirely. This interconnection between sketches made the entire program flow together fluidly.

 

Another fun improv game that brings in audience participation is called “Confessions.”

Once again, anyone who has been to a Rathskellar show knows how this game works, but essentially audience members write confessions down before entering the room and the improvisers incorporate the confessions into their sketch. Reubenstone and College junior Julia Weeks acted out the roles of an annoyed, inconsiderate personal shopper and a fabulously wealthy client.

While “Confessions” is usually a laugh-out-loud sketch, this one was less entertaining than previous games.

The final improv game of the night was a long-form that included all members of both Rathskellar and Dad’s Garage.

Though there were many funny sketches, it was a little difficult to follow as the sketches kept changing quite quickly and then picking up again a few minutes later. Nonetheless, seeing all members on stage and getting to experience all of their talent was enjoyable.

Overall, the evening was an astounding success both in terms of the turnout and the content. Rathskellar was as good as ever, and the incorporation of professional improvisers made sketches that much funnier.

A much-needed break from the stressful onset of final exams, Rathskellar provided a comical compilation of sketches that left everyone wishing they could improvise their way through finals.

For those who missed Saturday’s show or for those who just can’t get enough of the immense improv talent, Rathskellar will be having their final show of the year on April 28 in Harland Cinema.

— By Annie McNut

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Emory Alums Adam Hoffman, Matt Lipkins and Scott Schwartz make up the Shadowboxers, who got their start opening for The Indigo Girls and released their first full-length album Red Room in 2013.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Emory Alums Adam Hoffman, Matt Lipkins and Scott Schwartz make up the Shadowboxers, who got their start opening for The Indigo Girls and released their first full-length album Red Room in 2013.

As the members of the Shadowboxers took the stage at the Masquerade last Thursday night, a subtle smile came across lead vocalist and keyboardist Matt Lipkins’ face.

The crowd was filled with fans eager for headlining indie pop band MS MR, so at first they were pretty uninterested in the soul pop sounds of the relatively new, lesser-known opener. But Lipkins, calm and confident, knew he could turn the audience’s ritual and polite clapping into genuine applause.

The Shadowboxers learned of this opportunity just two days prior and jumped at the chance to test out their new material.

The Masquerade is definitely one of Atlanta’s more unique performance spaces, but the two-story “heaven and hell”-themed building lacks the physical structure to deliver a clear and audible sonority.

Nevertheless, the Shadowboxers’ strong performance soared and made the audience forget the imbalanced acoustics.

The iconic harmonies of the three vocalists sliced through the audience and turned heads. During the show, I had trouble keeping my eyes off the group’s most recent addition: bass player Carlos Enamorado. Armed with a fretless bass and a style reminiscent of jazz bass legend Steve Bailey, his addition has allowed the group to explore new territory while providing a jaw-dropping visual.

When Lipkins met his now-bandmates Adam Hoffman and Scott Schwartz at Emory in 2008, there were no established bands on campus and limited avenues for the arts. Lipkins and Hoffman joined a cappella group No Strings Attached, which allowed them to develop their vocal abilities and cultivate their chill-inducing harmonies early on. With no other groups competing for shows, they became the go-to band at and around Emory.

Over the course of their four years at Emory, the group honed their craft while developing a true musical bond with one another. Local performances grew in size, and so did their fan base.

In 2010, the Shadowboxers became the opening act for fellow Emory alums the Indigo Girls, validating their hopes to pursue music professionally. But after the tour, the group was back to square one.

With no label or the fan base to support a headlining national tour, the group began shifting their focus to refine their style and attract fans through an online marketing campaign: #covertuesdays.

For the last year the group has released YouTube videos on the first Tuesday of every month, putting their unique pop soul twist on songs spanning a vast array of artists, from Paul McCartney to Frank Ocean.

Validation for a group can come in many different forms, but nothing really compares to a tweet from Justin Timberlake. In December, none other than JT himself retweeted the Shadowboxers’ cover of “Pusher Love Girl.”

The tweet garnered thousands of new listeners, and after two more posts praising their performances, it’s clear that the Grammy Award-winning Renaissance man is a fan.

So what’s next for the Shadowboxers? When we sat down to chat last Monday, Lipkins explained, “There’s no master plan.” Recently, the band has been focusing on their songwriting.

The members joked that they “lock themselves in for days,” individually pitching riffs and ideas and then collectively experimenting with new song structures, vocal styles and fresh sounds. They approach each song as if it was a cover, trying to rewrite material the same way they arrange their covers.

The greatest struggle of an emerging band is producing a unique sound distinguishable from a large and mostly generic market.

The Shadowboxers recognize that and, from the very start, have utilized their tight vocal harmonies to add a unique twist to their once squeaky clean pop sound. For years, the band wanted to infuse their pop songs with funk and soul.

With the additions of bassist Carlos Enamorado and drummer Cole McSween, Schwartz explains, “We can finally make the sounds we hear in our heads.” Adam says their music is “Stevie Wonder songs with Crosby, Stills and Nash singing them.”

It’s their songwriting process and new musical direction that will set them apart in an extremely competitive market of new artists.

The band’s first full-length album Red Room was released in January of last year. The album showcased raw talent and breadth of musical ability; however, the songs were disjointed and left the listener wondering what type of band the Shadowboxers aspired to be.

Hoffman says Red Room “spanned the full spectrum of what we could do and liked at the time.” The Shadowboxers attempted to capture what they do live with mixed results.

Given the influx of electronic sounds, correction software and other studio technologies, studio and live performance have become two entirely different worlds.

However, the band promises to “harness a sound for [their] next album,” something more concerted and unexpected. It’s a common problem for new artists, but it’s clear that the Shadowboxers have learned from experience and plan to wait some time before returning to the studio.

As we discussed their history, the three singers stressed the role Emory played in their success.

In our conversation, the bandmates agreed that although opportunities in the arts at Emory are somewhat limited, there are a ton of talented students just waiting to find each other. Their senior year, the harmonious trio lived with two filmmakers and an actor.

Their advice to current Emory students interested in pursuing the arts: surround yourself with other creative people.

All six of the students living in that house went on to pursue their dreams, defying professional norms and abandoning their academic pursuits.

The band concedes that although it may set them back a few steps in “cool points,” being Emory grads is something they are truly proud of. Schwartz explained that Emory gave them the critical thinking skills, determination and work ethic to set themselves apart from other acts their age.

As we wrapped up our interview, I asked the Shadowboxers a difficult question: where do you want to be in 10 years? Aside from hoping to be the same weight with 12 kids, Lipkins humbly responded that he simply hopes they are still growing as a band and as individuals.

Hoffman jokingly interjected, claiming that they will surely be “the biggest band in the world.” With such immense potential and an unpredictable future ahead, we can only hope he’s right.

— By Jason Charles

Courtesy of MS MR Producer Max Hershenow (left) and vocalist Lizzy Plapinger comprise the duo of MS MR, who released their first full-length album Secondhand Rapture last May.

Courtesy of MS MR
Producer Max Hershenow (left) and vocalist Lizzy Plapinger comprise the duo of MS MR, who released their first full-length album Secondhand Rapture last May.

Sometimes things are just meant to be. That’s certainly true for Brooklyn-based duo Max Hershenow and Lizzy Plapinger, the names behind MS MR.

Although they attended the same university together, it was not until after they graduated that their creative energies joined Plapinger’s vocals and Hershenow’s music, thus forming the euphonious universe of MS MR.

Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” MS MR released their debut EP Candy Bar Creep Show anonymously via Tumblr in 2012.

And while Hershenow and Plapinger’s identities may have been a mystery to most at the time, their entrancing sounds were a full experience of artistically crafted beauty.

Ever since Candy Bar Creep Show, the gates to MS MR’s musical universe have opened to the world, and the beauty of their sounds remains riveting today.

Last year, MS MR released Secondhand Rapture. Each song — from the escalating darkness of “Dark Doo Wop” to the pristine smoothness of “Strings” to the shadowy sultriness of “Hurricane” — has a radiating rawness that raids deep into the core and mind of listeners. Synth-pounding MS MR is currently on tour until June.

Hershenow and Plapinger took the time to answer some questions via email for Copy Chief Benazir Wehelie, discussing everything from Tumblr to their favorite television shows to world domination.

Benazir Wehelie: You both attended the same university but did not make any music together during that time. When did you eventually decide to pursue music together?

MS MR: We only started to make music together after we graduated as a result of a somewhat blind email exchange. We didn’t know each other very well, but Max was looking for opportunities to explore production and Lizzy was looking for an unbiased critique of her voice and songwriting. We connected pretty much instantly, and the rest is history.

BW: When you initially began releasing music, you kept your identities a secret. What was the reason behind that, and how do you feel now that MS MR is no longer a mystery?

MS MR: So often pop music becomes more about the personalities creating the music than the music itself, so we decided to release our initial tracks anonymously so people would come to it for the right reasons. Additionally, Lizzy has worked in the industry most of her life and we didn’t want that to color the listener’s experience (for better or worse), or to make the project more about Lizzy than Max. But it was never our intention to stay mysterious — even at our first shows we didn’t wear masks or anything, and since then it’s been great to open up and share who we are beyond the music.

BW: You released your debut EP Candy Bar Creep Show via Tumblr. What role does Tumblr play in your music today?

MS MR: For us, Tumblr is an ever-evolving mood board that we pull from when we need inspiration for videos, photo shoots and even the music itself, but it also serves as an incredible way to relate to and engage our fans.

BW: You have said you struggle to define your musical influences and draw inspiration from all kinds of music genres and styles. How does drawing inspiration from a wide variety of music impact your creative process?

MS MR: It further emphasizes our love and dedication to experimentation and opens the door for us to continue to push our music in unexpected ways. Our best songs come from combining seemingly disparate sources of inspiration.

BW: Describe the creative process and meaning behind your first single “Hurricane.”

MS MR: “Hurricane” was inspired by Hurricane Sandy, which threatened New York City in 2011. Even though we spent the night apart preparing for the storm, we separately started working on the ideas of what would become the song. The next morning Max sent Lizzy the track he had started and Lizzy used the lyrics she had started the night before. It all came together seamlessly and more quickly than any other song we’ve written — we recorded it the very next day.

BW: “Hurricane” was featured in a runway show by designer Tom Ford, and “Bones” was used in a trailer for the HBO television series “Game of Thrones.” What are your must-have or favorite clothing items and television shows you love to watch when you are on tour?

MS MR: We’re huge fans of “Game of Thrones” and now that it’s back on we’ll definitely be watching as it unfolds on tour! Aside from that, Lizzy has been watching “True Detective,” “Cosmos” and “Nashville.” Max has been rewatching “Twin Peaks” and guiltily binging on “Scandal.” We both can’t go anywhere without our black motorcycle jackets.

BW: Max, you have lived in Latin America and Lizzy, you grew up in London, but you both now live in New York. What are your favorite aspects of each of these areas in the world?

MS MR: The culture in each of these places significantly influenced our love of music and continues to shape our work in often unexpected ways. But it’s sort of impossible to choose a favorite aspect of a place you’ve lived for a long time!

BW: What is something your fans would be surprised to know about each of you?

MS MR: If we weren’t in the music industry, we could have both potentially ended up in fine arts or dance.

BW: Complete the sentence: MS MR is looking forward to _____.

MS MR: … world domination (and meeting Beyonce).

— By Benazir Wehelie

chambermusic

The Emory music program never ceases to amaze. This Sunday, various student chamber ensembles performed in two concerts at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts’ Emerson Concert Hall. Each concert featured student musicians in more intimate settings than those afforded by large ensembles such as the Emory Symphony Orchestra and the Emory Wind Ensemble. With fewer than 20 performers in even the largest ensemble performing Sunday, every musician played a crucial role. Since this was a setting so focused on the individual, it was exciting to see my peers perform this way.

To begin the first concert, which featured various woodwind, brass and percussion chamber ensembles, the Emory Percussion Ensemble took the stage with two pieces featuring a range of percussion instruments.

The opening work of the performance, “Trio per Uno” by Nebojsa Zivkovic, was written for a percussion trio (and in this case, performed by College sophomores Matt Gallub and Cole Owens and Goizueta Business School sophomore Dan Martin) circled around a large bass drum turned on its side. Necessarily rhythmic, it started the show off with energy and fun and set the stage for what was to come.

The Emory Percussion Ensemble then put on a larger ensemble of keyboard percussion instruments (think instruments related to the xylophone!), which presented the surreal and ethereal “Ceiling Full of Stars” by Blake Tyson.

Next came various woodwind and brass groups, the first being the Emory Saxophone Quartet featuring College senior Max Farina, College freshman Moon Young Lee, College sophomore Ryan Sutherland and College freshman Jaehoon Cho, performing a selection from Russell Peck’s “Quartet for Saxophones: Drastic Measures.” This work was a challenging selection, which the quartet played exceptionally well. Following the Emory Saxophone Quartet was the Emory Tuba-Euphonium Trio, featuring College sophomore Rohin Aggarwal on euphonium and College juniors Stephanie Mundel and Will Vander Pols on tuba, who performed two works arranged by Vasille Babuseac, including the “Renaissance Suite” and “Tico Tico non Fuba” by Zequinha de Abreu. With the Emerson Concert Hall’s bass frequency-friendly acoustics, the performers were both well-heard and well-received.

Afterwards, the Emory Woodwind Quintet took the stage and performed Thomas Schneider’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue, No. 22” from “The Well-Tempered Clavier.”

The group consisted of College senior Melanie Zhang on flute, College senior Alexander Zhang on oboe, College sophomore Michelle Rosenthal on clarinet, College junior Alex Lutz on horn and College freshman James Cahill on bassoon. Ultimately the piece sat quite well with the instrumentation and was light and recognizable.

The Emory Flute Ensemble sat down to play after the quintet had left the stage, presenting the audience with an arrangement by Nourse of the overture to Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Appreciated by the audience for its positive airiness, it provided a great contrast to the previous pieces.

Ending the concert with a very real bang, the Emory Samba Band stormed the hall. The largest group that performed on Sunday, the Emory Samba Band featured 17 Emory students on various percussion instruments from the Brazilian Samba tradition. It was a riveting performance, with not a single still-body in the audience — no one I noticed could resist at least tapping their foot to the Afro-Cuban rhythmic symphony before us.

My personal favorite moment of the concert was in the first piece the band played, one of two traditional sambas, in which the ensemble as a whole danced around in time to what they were playing.

They were clearly in love with their music — a powerful end to the first chamber concert of the day.

The evening concert, featuring two piano duos and various small string groups, programmed some serious music.

College sophomores Casey Costello and Oscar Gryn performed two pieces for piano duo, specifically selections from Maurice Ravel’s Debussy transcription “Nocturnes for Two Pianos” and Manuel Infante’s “Danses andalouses for Two Pianos,” both of which were technically challenging and quite invigorating for the audience to watch.

The second Emory Piano Duo, which included College sophomores MaryAnn Haynie and Daniel Latzanich, performed Darius Milhaud’s “Scaramouche for Two Pianos,” a work that garnered significant applause from the audience.

Following some preliminary adjustments on stage, the first of two Emory String Quartets approached the stage, featuring College junior Meg Winata and B-school sophomore Iris Yeonjae Lim on violin, College junior Rebecca Flank on viola and Marcus Autism Center fellow Carolyn Ranti on cello.

The quartet played a selection from the “String Quartet in F major, Op. 96 ‘American’” by Antonin Dvorak, a very famous and popular piece that many in the audience immediately recognized.

Emory String Quartet II, featuring College senior Benito Thompson and College junior Sunny Yue on violin, College senior Emily Caesar on viola and College junior Thomas Sandlin on cello, then performed a thoughtful rendition of a selection from Felix Mendelssohn’s “String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2.”

The Emory String Quintet followed, featuring College junior Joseph Matthews and College freshman Michael Crawford on violin, College sophomore Caroline Holmes and College junior Kara Goldstone on viola and College junior Caitlin Anderson on cello, performing a selection from Antonin Dvorak’s “String Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 97,” better known as the “Viola Quintet” that was methodical and forward-moving.

The last group of the evening was the Emory Piano Quintet, featuring College seniors Dallas Albritton and Nimia Zoe Maya on violin, College junior Minjee Kim on viola, College freshman Clifford Redwine on cello and College senior Xiaoqing Carey Shi on piano.

This group presented a selection from Antonin Dvorak’s “Piano Quintet,” offering a rousing end to the evening that left the audience wanting more: only after a few moments of an empty stage, and silence, did the crowd slowly file out the door.

The Emory music community has many talented students, and this evening certainly proved that it is worth the effort to make it out to their performances — you will be amazed at what your peers can do.

— By Samuel Budnyk

Courtesy of Scott Rudin Productions Ralph Fiennes (center) stars in writer/director Wes Anderson's latest effort "The Grand Budapest Hotel." The film also features Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Adrien Brody and many more.

Courtesy of Scott Rudin Productions
Ralph Fiennes (center) stars in writer/director Wes Anderson’s latest effort “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The film also features Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Adrien Brody and many more.

Wes Anderson has out Wes Anderson-ed himself.

It’s not to say that Anderson’s eighth feature “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will turn you sour to his mad scientist inventions of make-believe stirred up with violence and deceit and finished with gilded elaborateness and Pantone color schemes. But it might make you tired.

One watches an Anderson film as though one has received a pair of 3D glasses in the lobby. It’s hard not to want to reach out and touch the misted mountaintops or take a bite out of the rows of boxed Mendl’s courtesan au chocolats or push all of the buttons on the hotel’s elevators.

Anderson has a way with extreme wide and traveling shots as well as a strong attention to mise-en-scene that makes each frame a postcard. Call it over-particular or persnickety, but it’s all so clearly a product of what Anderson sees when he closes his eyes: dream stuff.

Set in a fictional eastern European spa town during the downtime between world wars, “Grand Budapest” tells the story of Monsieur Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes, “The English Patient”), a concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel with an incredibly high opinion of himself and a taste for blonde, down-on-their-luck, wrinkled old maids.

Gustave soon hires Zero Moustafe (newcomer Tony Revolori) as a lobby boy, a kid with wide eyes and a drawn-on line of a mustache, who, for the entirety of the film, follows him around at a six-inch distance. Zero, we learn, is in love with the lovely and brilliant Agatha (Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”), a pastry chef at the famous Mendl’s bakery who wears a birthmark on her right cheek in the shape of Mexico.

As soon as we feel like we’ve met the whole group, we find that Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton, “Moonrise Kingdom”), the 84-year old widow countess who had been in love with Gustave, has been murdered just as Gustave and Zero steal celebrated Renaissance painting “Boy With Apple.” All of this triggers a breakout from any established homeostasis and results in a chase through the bleak and snowy countryside. Closely pursuing our protagonists are Inspector (Edward Norton, “Fight Club,” a buddy of Anderson’s), Dmitri (Adrien Brody, “The Pianist”) Madame D’s F-word abusing son and hitman Jopling (Willem Dafoe, “Spiderman”) who wears brass knuckles, all black and a shark-like smile.

In the spirit of all things Anderson, this story is told within another story. And that story is told within another story, making the guts of the narrative a product of not only Anderson’s imagination, but of the many characters telling it. The first frame is set up in the 1985 home of a seasoned writer (Tom Wilkinson, “Batman Begins”), who lives in a town called Old Lutz. The writer remembers 20 years earlier staying at the nearly deserted Grand Budapest Hotel and meeting Moustafa. We are then transported to the hotel in 1968 in what is referred to as the Alpine Republic of Zubrowka, where everything is faded and depressed from Cold War infection.

In this second framing device, the writer (now played by Jude Law, “Sherlock Holmes”) shares a thousand-course meal with Moustafa after meeting him in the Arabian bathhouse, and Moustafa recalls how it all started — back when the Grand Budapest was, as it suggests, grand.

Budapest is a visual spectacular with cinematography that cannot be contested. Anderson utilizes three different aspect ratios for the three different time periods. He employs unconventional cutting patterns in the dialogue-driven scenes. He even throws in some stop-motion animation to take us even further out of reality. Still, there’s something about this film that makes it hard to grip. This slipping feeling can partly be attributed to the complications of its double framing device, but the je ne sais quoi is also a product of the fact that Anderson’s movie is so clearly a movie.

This piece is so heavily stylized and closely manicured that we’re incredibly aware that we’re watching something. It’s hard to lose oneself in Anderson’s world when it’s more reminiscent of a puppet show than the world we know.

Anderson’s vision earned some serious accolades and grossed 100 million in box offices, suggesting that it resonated deeply with moviegoers despite its often-untidy structure and conscious way of storytelling. Its success can also be attributed to its heavier core, its political jabs and mockeries that make it just as much of a statement as it is a farce. The political violence in Budapest conjures up reminders of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin and the darker moments of the 20th century, even though it’s all done in the most absurd way possible. Anderson has a way of treating history like clay, manhandling it into shapes that will resonate with us. Communism here is turning a grand hotel from bubblegum pink to gray.

This film lacked the psychology and depth of character that pieces Anderson directed previously like “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Rushmore” boasted. We got to know Agatha as a loyal girl in love with Zero who spends her time crafting pastries, but we could gather that from a single frame, making it seem like this film might work even better as a graphic novel.

It’s not to say Anderson went so over-the-top with “Budapest” that this film suffered, but the fact that his fingerprints covered this so heavily should make his fans question his versatility and wonder how much room he’s allowed himself to continue to grow.​

— By Ellie Kahn

Courtesy of Tom Cassaro College junior Tom Cassaro stars in AdHoc Productions’ Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical about the life of President Andrew Jackson. The performance will run through next Sunday, April 20 at the Black Box Theater in the Burlington Road Building.

Courtesy of Tom Cassaro
College junior Tom Cassaro stars in AdHoc Productions’ Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical about the life of President Andrew Jackson. The performance will run through next Sunday, April 20 at the Black Box Theater in the Burlington Road Building.

Of all the American presidents, who was the biggest rock star?

Probably not a question you ask too often. But that was precisely the topic of AdHoc Productions’ newest musical performance Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which opened on Thursday, April 10 at the Black Box Theater in the Burlington Road Building and will run through next Sunday.

In case the title doesn’t give it away, Andrew Jackson is the rock star of the performance. And rock he does.

Played by College junior Tom Cassaro, Old Hickory sings, jams, fights and shouts his way to the top of the United States government.

Along the way, he falls in and out of love with his wife Rachel (College freshman Carys Meyer), tangles with the more “traditional” Washington politicians and completely screws over the American Indian tribes of the South.

But all in the name of working for “the people.”

The show explains that Andrew Jackson adopted his notorious hatred for American Indians after they made his childhood on the frontier difficult. Instead of fuming silently, he decides to become a leader so he can fume audibly and rid the country of the “horrors of the natives.”

In one particularly hilarious (and disturbing) scene, Jackson sits at a meeting with the chiefs of American Indian tribes, searching desperately for a way to get them off the frontier land. When they can’t reach a “mutually agreeable” situation, he jumps out of his chair and begins literally pushing the chief away.

“Can’t we talk about this rationally?” the chief asks, irritated.

“No!” Jackson shouts back, still pushing him.

In that way, most of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is absorbed by the absurdity of this set-up.

Jackson wears tight jeans and guy-eyeliner, which is visually striking against the traditional 19th-century garb of the other characters.

The performers sing their way through political problems (“Populism, yeah, yeah!” chants the ensemble in the opening number).

And the staging itself harkens back to rock concerts of the 70s and 80s: one giant American flag spans the back wall, behind a band who spends the entire show onstage.

And as much as I’d like to say I know the exact meaning for all of these elements, I don’t.

But either way, it’s still just a really fun show.

The songs are just catchy enough and just ridiculous enough: particularly noteworthy are the narrative “The Corrupt Bargain” and the tragic but thoughtful “The Great Compromise.”

These numbers could have easily fallen into the trap of highlighting the outrageousness of these situations, but they ultimately serve as an opportunity to explain the motives of the characters and allow the audience to reflect on the larger implications of the show.

Not to say that they’re not laugh-out-loud entertaining: the political figures’ interactions always garnered a huge laugh, and Jackson’s no-nonsense, shoot-’em-up approach to all his problems were incredibly over-the-top.

“That’s right, motherfuckers! Jackson’s back!” he shouts, in the midst of a musical number.

Each role was cast perfectly, in such a way that no one role really outshone the others. Cassaro was just absurd enough and just sensitive enough to pull off the role of Jackson.

College sophomore Josh Young was, as always, deadpan hilarious, as the pot-bellied Martin Van Buren who ultimately becomes Jackson’s headset-wearing assistant. (“Tell the Indians to get lost!” Jackson cries. Running offstage, Young mumbles into his headset, “Get lost, Indians.”)

And College junior Julia Weeks was enchanting as both Jackson’s silently menacing friend-turned-foe Chief Black Fox and the squirrel-carrying, politically-ambitious Henry Clay.

One final aspect of the show which deserves exceptional credit is the choreography.

College junior Aneyn O’Grady contributed to the steps, which served as the perfect complement to the entertaining, melodic songs.

Through O’Grady’s tight yet buoyant movement, the ensemble members managed to be engaging to watch on their own but not so overwhelming that they detracted from the enjoyment of the songs themselves.

As far as understanding the overarching meaning for this rock concert of a political story, the closest we got for that was one of the final lines of the show.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” winds down as Jackson realizes his political career isn’t going to be quite as straightforward as he had hoped (“They can’t stop me from doing what I know the people want!”), and the storyteller (College junior Chelsea Walton) explains that though Andrew Jackson was pretty popular at the time of his presidency, history has recently begun to question whether he was, in fact, “a people’s president, or just a genocidal murderer.”

At that, Jackson cries, “Fuck history!”

The storyteller looks at him skeptically and calmly responds, “You can’t shoot history in the neck.”

And maybe that was the whole point of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

He fought his way to the top, pretty much killing anyone who got in his way — but that method of facing his problems wouldn’t help him change how history perceived him.

Or maybe the whole point was just to have a fun rock show.

And given the laughs, music and story that it provided, that explanation is also just fine by me.

— By Emelia Fredlick

Atlanta Film Festival

I went to the Atlanta Film Festival not having done my research. It’s not to say I didn’t go prepared; I did some due diligence on the directors whose work I’d be seeing and what kind of acclaim some of the films had already received, but I didn’t read synopses or look up plots. For the majority of my life, I’ve walked into theaters and watched movies I’ve basically already seen in full: 50 percent through trailers and another 25 through incessant network plugs, and this weekend I wanted my experience to be nothing like this. I wanted instead to sit down, put my feet up on the chair in front of me, and just go with it. And this is exactly what I did. I saw four films, and each film was a portrait of a different set of lives highly unlike my own that allowed me, for an afternoon, to get out of my head and get back in touch with my own ability to empathize. Most of these films will now travel to other festivals around the country as well as internationally.

“Bobô”

In “Bobô,” a Portuguese film directed by Inês Oliveira, Guinean housekeeper Mariama (Aissatu Indjai) comes to stay at the home of Sofia (Paula Garcia), a wealthy architectural illustrator in downtown Lisbon per the request of Sofia’s mother. The film is beautifully captured and portrays Sofia’s depression with extreme close-ups and long takes that make the film appear more like photography than narrative. Although the politics of the film are highly present — Mariama is protecting the young Bobô (Luana Quadé) from her grandmother who wants to circumcise the girl under Guinean tradition — they are secondary to the film’s emphasis on Sofia’s intellectual but emotionless life. Mariama disrupts Sofia’s silent house and forces her out of her insularity, which Oliveira touches on a lot more than the complexity behind Bobô’s story, so maybe this film may have benefited from sticking to one conflict rather than two. The beauty of this piece is in its pacing, which is slow and extremely representative of how it feels to be alone.

“The Sublime and Beautiful”

Director Blake Robbins of “The Sublime and Beautiful” introduced his film as a piece about grieving, which is really the only way to explain it. The film opens with David Conrad (Robbins) a college professor and father of three in the kitchen getting his children ready for school. As we watch Conrad go about his usual day, we’re treated to sprawling views of rural Kansas and interior shots, until he receives a phone call that causes him to race to the hospital. That’s when Conrad receives the news that his kids have been killed in a car accident caused by a local drunk driver. Grieving, which is traditionally categorized in five stages, makes up the film’s plot structure, which consists of Conrad’s aloneness, his aggression, violence towards his children’s killer, depression and need for control and ultimate acceptance. There is no emotional break in this film or ultimate peace of mind, which makes it both unsettling and limiting artistically. It’s a tough film to watch due to the size of its conflict compared with the size of its possible resolution.

“1982”

“1982” drew the largest crowd of any I saw at the festival, and rightfully so. Directed by Tommy Oliver, the film introduces a family living in 1980s black Philadelphia in the midst of the crack cocaine epidemic. Timothy (Hill Harper) works to protect his daughter Maya (Troi Zee) from his wife Shenae’s (Sharon Leal) developing drug addiction, but struggles to find a voice in his failing marriage and equally deteriorating urban environment. There’s a power behind this film that I got in less than five minutes which can be partly attributed to the strength of Harper’s acting and also to the quality of Oliver’s script. The conversations between Timothy and his daughter late at night, the moments between him and the neighborhood drug lord on the basketball court and the sound of his wife banging on the door desperately trying to enter her own home are all scenes that are incredibly dramatic, well-written and emotionally charged. This is a piece about greater concepts like parenthood and vulnerability and the importance of taking action but mostly depicts a portrait of Timothy as a father. The artistic and creative merit of this film isn’t devalued by its heavy content, and it’s one that deserves to circulate.

 

 

“Workers”

The gem of the film festival was undoubtedly “Workers,” directed by Mexican director José Luis Valle. It tells two unrelated stories, both taking place in Tijuana, that fit together more and more meaningfully as the film’s narrative progresses. One story is of Rafael (Jesus Padilla), a middle-aged janitor who has worked in a light bulb factory for 30 years to the day and is ready for retirement, and the other story is of Lidia (Susana Salazar), one of seven staff members working in the home of a rich old woman with a dog that eats prime rib and takes bubble baths in a temperature-controlled porcelain tub. Rafael, who spends the first half of the film preparing for his retirement by buying himself new shoes and a new tattoo to mark the occasion, is told by his boss that he will not receive pension and must continue working due to his illegal status. Meanwhile, Lidia discovers that the mistress of the house has died and has left her estate and fortune to her dog, Princess, under whom she is now technically employed. Luis Valles’s film is saddening, excruciating and hilarious. It successfully portrays the divided socioeconomic politics of Mexican culture through exaggerated (but not too exaggerated) stories of individuals. The camera moves slowly and allows each frame to last several moments too long in order to make us too feel tired. It’s a farce but also a piece that feels like raw footage of two daily lives. “Workers” is sophisticated in its filmmaking and evocative in its meaning without any pretension.

— By Ellie Kahn 

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