Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grand, Open: NCMA Festival Highlights

After playing Shakori on Friday night, Orquesta GarDel was in Raleigh by 11 am Saturday morning to kick off the NC Museum of Art's Grand Opening Festival. The turnout of salsa dancers representing different styles for both Gardel, and again on Sunday for Charanga Carolina, was really awesome. It was a vibrant image of our salsa community. It was truly exciting to see how well-received "our Latin thing" was by visitors to the Grand Opening. A lot of people--including one 81-year-old woman from Garner--told me they hoped to see the Museum do this kind of thing again.

The Beast @ NCMA
The Beast @ NCMA Grand Opening Festival on Saturday

If you haven't yet seen the new gallery upgrade, drop by sometime during visiting hours. Admission is FREE, and it belongs to you, the taxpayers of North Carolina. It's quite an ark.

Link: The Independent Weekly's cover story on the new NCMA

As stage manager at the Plaza Stage, I enjoyed working with the artists and an excellent, excellent sound and stage crew. The 21-piece NCCU Jazz Big Band never sounded better, and Appalachian duo David Holt and Josh Goforth were big crowdpleasers; their CDs sold like hotcakes at the merch table. Southern Sun Drum, the official drum of the Lumbee tribe from Pembroke, came with singers and dancers in regalia. They got the whole community (i.e. the audience) to circle and dance around the drum for the final songs. The diversity of the programming worked really well. Saturday on the plaza closed with The Beast, which energized one break dancer to emerge from the crowd (see video).

The Gospel Jubilators, an a capella group from Durham, had me join their prayer circle before they went on stage. They prayed for the spirit to move someone in the audience. Les Primitifs du Futur, a cabaret-jazz group from Paris, were on next, and sure enough, their saxophone player teared up listening to genuine article, African-American spirituals.

Les Primitifs du Futur @ NCMA
Les Primitifs du Futur Sunday @ NCMA

Les Primitifs are very serious musicians and yet very charming, playing a fantastic array of instruments from accordion to theremin to xylophone. Charanga was in the wings, ready to go on next, and we all enjoyed hearing Les Primitifs play a 1930s Cuban son in the French Musette style.

Inside the former East Building, crowds gathered to hear and observe Greensboro experimental musicians Invisible (aka Bart Trotman and Mark Dixon) play their analog drum machine, Rhythm 1001. Sunday afternoon, a complete performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony, with 200 orchestral and choral musicians, took place inside, which was slightly mindblowing. Tift Merritt, The Monitors, and Carolina Brass played in the Park Theater Saturday night. The Museum posts a total visitor count of almost 15,000 for the entire grand opening weekend.

Summer events in the outdoor Museum Park Theater start soon, in May--see full schedules below.


NCMA Summer Concert Schedule

NCMA Summer Film Schedule

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