The Michigan Daily Thursday, November 7, 1991 Page 5
Hot music for
the cold nights
0 Campus Orchestra heats it up
with Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky
by Elizabeth Lenhard
H ill Auditorium as rehearsal hall had an unusually frigid air on the
first day of the cold snap this week. The Campus Orchestra members'
fingers were stiff and blue and the flutists could almost see their breath.
One violinist's bow gave in with a snap. He stalked off the stage with a
hank of horsehair trailing behind him. But through it all, conductor
Cindy Egolf-Sham Rao maintained a dynamic cheer and, several days be-
fore its actual concert, the Campus Orchestra gave quite a show.
Undergoing notable growth in recent years, the Campus Orchestra has
progressed to much more than a group of music-loving students getting
together for an extracurricular activity. For their concert this Thursday,
the members are tackling ambitious works - Stravinsky's Firebird
Suite and Tchaikovsky's mesmerizing Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
"This is really hard!" exclaims Egolf-Sham Rao on the technical in-
tricacies of the two pieces (especially the Firebird Suite). When rehears-
ing Stravinsky's highly varied and often dissonant, contemporary
masterpiece, Egolf-Sham Rao remembers, "There was a lot of frustration
in the beginning - some tears, because these are people who do very well
in their fields."
Egolf-Sham Rao is referring to the "amateur" status of the Orches-
tra's members. Hardly any of them are music majors, although all are
mature players. "The thing about this group," Egolf-S ham Rao says, "is
that they're very busy people, and.., in the last week, they'll practice like
crazy. It's like studying for an exam. By the time Thursday rolls around,
you won't believe what they sound like."
As for her own opinion of the orchestra's quality, she laughs, "Not
too bad. Not bad for a bunch of architects and math majors!" In rehearsal,
the group handled with aplomb the sudden mood changes and often
bizarre tonalities of the Firebird Suite.
You may remember Maxim Vengerov, the 17-year-old wunderkid
who played Tchaikovsky's violin concerto with Zubin Mehta and the
Israel Philharmonic in Ann Arbor last year. The Campus Orchestra has
staged a similar coup with the acquisition of its soloist - first year mu-
sic major and award winner Xiang Gao.
"(The Tchaikovsky concerto) is one of the biggest, most wonderful
violin concertos written, and it's been a dream of mine to do this piece,"
Egolf-Sham Rao says. Tchaikovsky's work for violin seems to bring out
every possibility in the instrument's capacity. From impossibly high
wavering notes to the mellowed and expressive melody, the concerto is
truly a challenging feast. In rehearsal, Gao's concentration was intense,
and the emotion of his playing rang out above the Orchestra's subtle
"For me, the most fun thing in all of conducting, I think, is to accom-
pany somebody else," Egolf-Sham Rao says. "It's like dancing. He's lead-
ing and I try to guess his next move."
The conductor's good relationship with her musicians extends
throughout the orchestra. "These are friends," Egolf-Sham Rao says,
"and they're friends with each other, too.... We laugh a lot... it's kind of
This enjoyment pervades the Orchestra's musical expression, and
proves infectious in its audiences. The Campus Orchestra's, with a little
help from Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, will offer a warm and melodic
perch for all you cold birds.
THE CAMPUS ORCHESTRA will perform tonight at 8 p.m. in Hill
Auditorium. Admission is free.
who what where when
addressed in Blancs
by Liz Keiser
T his weekend, the University
Players will present Les Blancs, a
heated drama by Lorraine Hans-
berry, the author of A Raisin in
the Sun. The play recognizes the
racism and the struggle for free-
dom in colonial Africa. Accor-
ding to director Charles Jackson,
this play is not a romanticized
depiction of the African revo-
lution. "Although the play was
originally based on Africa in the
Sixties," he says, "it should not
be relegated to the past. Like
South Africa today, Les Blancs
shows us a world where Black
Liberation is a necessity."
Les Blancs is the story of the
English-educated son of a tribal
chieftain who returns to his na-
tive land. The main character,
Tshembe, along with his brothers
and a diverse mixture of other
characters, are forced to endure
the inevitable consequences of
human oppression. The play may
incite controversy, but, according
to Jackson it "doesn't advocate
rebellion - it applies to all hu-
man beings. Lorraine Hansberry
wanted to affect the goodness and
common humanity in people, and
for them to see what can and will
Les Blancs follows Jackson's
previous pattern of productions,
including last year's critically ac-
claimed Joe Turner's Come and
Gone, which explored relation-
ships and powerful issues through
provocative music, dance and set-
ting. Although Les Blancs' ex-
otic scenery (a South African jun-
gle complete with trees, vines and
eerie shadows), intriguing cos-
tumes, mysterious lighting and
authentic African dances may
prove aesthetically enjoyable,
Jackson would like to make a
more meaningful impact on the
audience. "I want this show to be
entertaining, but also educating,"
he says. "I hope people will en-
gage in dialogue regarding the
Charles Morris (Mark M. Wilson) struggles with Tshembe (Jiba Molei
Anderson) in the University Players' production of Les Blancs.
state of affairs in America and
worldwide, that they leave talk-
ing about man's inhumanity to
through Saturday at 8 p.m. and
Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Lydia
Mendelssohn Theater. Tickets
are $12, $9, $6 students. Call
764-0450 for more info.
Obsession dominates Sam Shepard's Fool
by Sue Uselmann
T onight, the voice of modern
American drama will come to the
Ann Arbor Civic Theatre. Sam
Shepard's unique characters and
emotionally explosive situations
unfulfilled dreams, the play looks
at one chapter in the life of Eddie
(John McGowan) and May (Cassie
Mann). The characters' world is de-
fined by their interaction with each
other and, consequently, is aggra-
vated by their juxtaposing periods
of love. "(The play) is intense and
emotionally gripping, but also hu-
morous," says Magee.
Written in the early '80s, Fool
For Love is frequently performed
because of its accessibility. She-
pard's conventions appeal to smal-
ler theaters, which offer a close
interaction with the audience.
The play's small cast, its short,
uninterrupted running time and its
single set all enhance its intensity.
"The dialogue is excellent, real-
istic, without being awkward or
stilted," says Magee. Consequently,
the play calls for zest as well as
talent. Magee considers her own
time and effort to be an important
part of the play's production. Her
"hands-on" directing extends the
interaction between the audience and
the performers to a similar close-
ness behind the scenes.
"I like to think that I help make
it clear, understandable and accessi-
ble to everybody," she says. After
six weeks on the set, Magee finds
Shepard's play to be "enjoyable and
well-crafted, with well-spoken,
Moreover, Magee's work as an
English teacher at a local high
school has magnified her enthusiasm
- her strength in interpreting lit-
erature has come to the stage. As
both an actor and a director, Magee's
passion for drama shines at the
AACT, as she has not only acted in
or directed 12 plays, but also serves
on the board of directors. Ironically,
Magee sees "the acting and directing
skills as more helpful in teaching
than vice versa," because at school
she is essentially put on the stage
every day in the classroom.
As the excitement of Shepard's
poignant script becomes a part of
the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre stage
this month, Magee, who "dislikes
being influenced by other produc-
tions," will bring her enthusiasm
with it to create an intense perfor-
mance of Fool For Love.
FOOL FOR LOVE plays tonight
through November 23 at the Ann
Arbor Civic Theatre, Thursdays
through Saturdays at 8 p.m. Tickets
are $7, two for one on Thursdays.
Students Working Against
Today's Hunger (S.W.A.T. Hunger)
sponsors American Pictures, a
photo-journey through the contrast-
ing realities of peoples' lives in the
United States, tonight and tomor-
row night at 7 p.m. in Rackham
Auditorium. Admission is free, but
donations of canned food are encour-
aged, and will be given to the Bryant
Community Center. A follow-up
workshop will be held on Saturday
at 11 a.m. in the West Quad Wedge
Have you ever wondered who
was behind the intriguing mysteries
of Sherlock Holmes? Actor, play-
wright and performance artist Mark
McPherson will be piecing together
clues to uncover the life of Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle in the premiere
of his one man play, An Evening
with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; A
Memoir of Mystery and Myth, this
Saturday, November 9, at 8 p.m. at
the Washtenaw Community Col-
lege Towsley Auditorium. Tickets
are $7, $5 students. Call 973-3528
for more info.
will take the stage in a community
production of Fool For Love.
Although the title itself sug-
gests a gentle mood, director Anne
Kolaczkowski Magee describes the
play as an ironic contrast. "It deals
with the most serious type of fool
you can be: one in a situation where
you cannot get out," she says.
Fool For Love tells the story of
a twosome trapped in an obsessive
relationship. Suggesting a history of
UAC is accepting
applications for the
Chair of Mini-Courses.
Applications are available @
2105 Michigan Union.
Application deadline is
Call 763-1107 for more info.
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