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February 11, 1994 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-11

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 11, 1994 - 9

*Feltsman's life after the Fall

"This may sound cynical," Russian pianist Vladimir
Feltsman said last week, "but freedom and democracy
have their price." According to Feltsman, who will appear
with the Ann Arbor Symphony tomorrow night, there is
no question that life is much more difficult now for the
average Russian musician than it was before the fall of
communism. With Russia's economy in shambles, it
might not be surprising that money and job security are
hard to come by for the performer.
Nevertheless, it is hard to believe that for Feltsman the
plight of the musician could be worse than it was when he
lived in the Soviet Union. In 1979, the 27-year-old pianist
applied for an exit visa, hoping to experience greater
artistic freedom than the government was allowing him.
Instead, his application was denied and his career
nearly shut down. Two hours after leaving the visa office,
his concert tapes were removed from the State Television
and Radio Studios, his records dropped from Soviet stores.
For two years the government granted him no concert
engagements, and when he was finally allowed to perform
in public, it was often for factory and kindergarten audi-
ences in remote towns.
After eight years of a purgatorial existence in which he
was allowed neither to emigrate nor to pursue the career
his talents warranted, Feltsman was finally granted a visa.
This was due in no small part to the efforts of several
influential musicians and politicians - including Isaac
Stern, Daniel Barenboim, George Schulz and Ronald
Reagan - who knew of the pianist's predicament. In
August, 1987, Feltsman arrived in New York City a hero,
and was sought after to perform in the country's most
prestigious venues, from the White House to Carnegie
He il.
But all of this is yesterday's news for Feltsman, who
would much rather talk about music than politics. In

recent years Mr. Feltsman's musical activities have ex-
panded beyond the recital hall. Of all his new projects, he
is clearly most excited about the school for gifted young
musicians he is establishing in New York City.
"It will be like no other school," boasted Feltsmani-
it will combine rigorous study in academics and music
beginning with the youngest schoolchildren. Feltsman,
however, does not plan to teach in this school, which he
anticipates will begin classes within a few years. He
admits to being better suited to teach older students for
whom he can "be a mirror," allowing them to learn from
themselves. Feltsman currently instructs a select group of
piano majors at SUNY New Paltz.
Mr. Feltsman is also pursuing a conducting career. In
tomorrow's concert-- his Midwest conducting debut-
he will lead the Ann Arbor Symphony in Beethoven's
"Coriolan" Overture and Symphony No. 8. He will also
perform Mozart's A-major Piano Concerto, which he will
direct from the keyboard.
He has only begun his public conducting career, he has
been studying the conductor's art since he was a teenager
in Moscow. Still, he plans to start out modestly, conduct-
ing only occasionally and working with a small group of
works he knows intimately. "I'm no megalomaniac
planning to conduct Mahler's Eighth next week," he said,
referring to the gargantuan "Symphony of a Thousand."
Nevertheless, he is apprehensive about this aspect of
his career. There are two types of pianist-turned-conduc-
tor, he remarked, "those few who are good, and those -
well, we all know who they are. I hope I'm the first type."
VLADIMIR FELTSMAN will perform and conduct with
the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra works of Mozart
and Beethoven at 8 p.m. Saturday night at the Michigan
Theater. Tickets are available at the Michigan Theater
box office, 668-8397. Student tickets are half price at
the door.

"The Colored Museum" will be playing through February 16 at the Trueblood Theatre.

The gospel of the

Teenage Fanclub bring their "hook-enriched" guitar pop to Detroit tomorrow night.
Fanclub leaves patterns behind

Teenage Fanclub seemed to come
out of nowhere a few years back with
their brand of hook-enriched guitar
pop. The Scottish foursome's latest
effort, "Thirteen," proves that the band
has a true knack for writing catchy,
addictive songs that snag the listener
the first time through and refuse to let
go Throughout their musical career,
their style of beautiful pop melodies
combined with heartfelt lyrics has
won over fans of all types of music.
-wRather than striving to forge a new
genre of music, the band members
prefer to think of themselves as the
newest additions to a long tradition of
songwriters whose songs are easily
accessible to everyone. As bassist /
songwriter Gerry Love explained,
"The tradition that we follow has been
going in Scotland for 500 or 600 years
..: and if you listen to folk or blues
music, it's just about simple things
that ordinary people can relate to. It's
just the same as country and western
music in America. The tradition has
been going for hundreds of years, and
it's only since the late '60s that music
has progressed toward what it's be-
come today, so maybe it's just an
aberration at the moment."
"People will always sing about
what they think and how they feel,"
he continued, "and some people might
make music more intimidating, and
other people just want for ordinary
people to relate to the songs." In their
particular pursuit of this ideal, the
band members write many of their
songs about love and relationships,
which are themes that, as Love put it,
"affect every person that's ever been

alive." The band's simple chorus
hooks often sum up feelings in rela-
tionships in just one line, such as "If
you don't care, why are you standing
there," from "Ret Liv Dead," and the
undeniable truth in the title of the
song "Tears Are Cool."
Despite Love's confidence in his
own musical approach, he appears
somewhat cynical when it comes to
Rather than striving to
forge a new genre of
music, (Teenage
Fanclub) prefer to think
of themselves as the
newest additions to ,
long tradition of
songwriters whose
songs are accessible
to everyone.
the music around him in his home
country. "It's not so much wishing
that songs would return to a certain
structure," he explained. "It has more
to do with the motivation behind songs
these days, and I think lots of bands
are actually playing the game of ap-
proaching the press and the public in
a manner that will sell records.
"You can produce sales by pro-
motion and by journalists creating
scenes, (and) Britain's a very small
country so it's really easy to manipu-
late the record buying public, not by
letting them hear the music, but by
telling them everything about a band

other than the music that they play."
Love attributed the negative reac-
tion of the English press towards Teen-
age Fanclub to the fact that the band
refused to buy into this pattern.
"We've never tried to present a public
image, and that's annoyed a lot of
British journalists. All we've got is
songs, and that's all we're really will-
ing to give away.
Teenage Fanclub's talent for pop
songs has carried them nicely through
their current work, and the freshness
of ideas on "Thirteen" shows that
there's no telling how far they can
take it. But Love admitted that he
doesn't tend to think too much about
what lies ahead, and instead prefers to
let their music take whatever course
seems best. "I've never thought about
(the future)... we just kind of do what
we feel is right to do ... there's no big
philosophy behind it." Hopefully their
irresistible style will feel right to them
for a long time to come.
Saturday at St. Andrews Hall with
Yo La Tengo. Doors open at 9 p.m.,
and 18 and over are welcome. Call
961-MELT for more information.

When one first reads George
Wolfe's "The Colored Museum," it
seems didactic and preachy, an in-
The Colored
Trueblood Theatre
February 9, 1994
dictment of those who have oppressed
the Black race and those who have
given up their Black roots. One might
even feel a bit guilty for not having
been born Black and therefore not
quite understanding the history or the
But, of course, Wolfe understood
that a play was to be performed, not
read, and once "The Colored Mu-
seum" is on its feet and with the right
cast, it's not preachy anymore - it's
gospel. And we're not talking about
the sanitized stuff a la Amy Grant, but
Black gospel.
Now, being Jewish and white, I
have not had much experience with
Black gospel. All I know of it was
whatkwas shown in the tribute to gos-
pel great Marion Williams on the
"Kennedy Center Honors." But what
I did see was big and loudsand boister-
ous and utterly joyous.
I saw it again in the production of
"The Colored Museum," which was
performed last year in the Arena The-
atre and is running at the Trueblood
Theatre through February 16 as the
centerpiece of The Colored Museum
Project. The indictments are still there,
but they are shrouded in humor and
More than anything, there was a
celebration going on here, a celebra-
tion not only of the heritage, but of the
"madness" - the paradox that
"whereas I can't live inside
yesterday's pain, I can't live without
it." As one of the characters, a woman
with a perpetual party going on in her
head named Topsy Washington, pro-
claimed, "There's madness in me and
that madness sets me free."

That madness was set free in all
sorts of ways on Wednesday night,
when director Julie Nessen and her
stellar group of actors put on a show
that entranced an audience composed
mostly of high school students.
Against a plain white background
(which by now will have moldings
and reliefs on it), they enacted a series
of vignettes that ranged from the bit-
ing wit and bitchiness of "The Gospel
According to Miss Roj" and the eeri-
ness of "Soldier with a Secret" to the
poignancy of "Permutations" and the
rather bizarre humor of "The Hair-
piece." Through it all, despite some
slight technical difficulties (under-
standable in a dress rehearsal), the
cast remained consistently outstand-
ing. More importantly, they also ap-
peared to be having a great time.
Of course, there was a lot to have
fun with. The production started with
"Git on Board," in which Angela
Peaks played an overly perky stew-
Wolfe understood that
a play was to be
performed, not read,
and once "The Colored
Museum" is on its feet
and with the right cast,
it's not preachy
anymore - it's gospel.
ardess aboard Celebrity Slaveship. It
continued with Rhonda Williams fill-
ing the entire-theater with a low, rich
contralto as the "down-home" host-
ess of a cooking show in "Cookin
with Aunt Ethel." Kevin Clayborn
was chillingly persuasive as the res-

urrected Vietnam War soldier who
knew "the secret to your pain" in
"Soldier with a Secret" and Nyima
Anise Woods was innocently proud
in "Permutations" as the young girl
who laid an egg.
Amidst all the fine work, though,
there were still standouts. Williams
and Elise Bryant threw attitude back
and forth at each other as two talking
wigs in one of the funniest segments 3
of the performance, "The Hairpiece." '
Clayborn flounced onto the stage as
Miss Roj, a cynical, drunken queen
who was "quintessential style" ("I
cornrow the hairs on my legs so that
they spell out M-I-S-S R-0-J.") in
"The Gospel According to Miss Roj."
But the centerpiece of the evening
was "The Last Mama-on-the-Couch
Play", a parody of "A Raisin in the
Sun," complete with Jason Hackner's
overly intense male lead and Bryant's
overly emoting, "well-worn" Mama,
which transformed itself into a song-
and-dance number.
In fact, I can't say which version
of "The Colored Museum" was bet-
ter, this year's or last year's. There
were things that were different about
each, including the replacement of
one actress and the fact that it's being
done in a larger theater, which both
added to and detracted from the past
production. But even though the
church is different, it is well worth
going to hear the gospel.
the Trueblood Theatre through
February 16. Performances are
tonight at 7 and 10:30 p.m.,
Saturday through Wednesday at 8
p.m. There will be no Monday
performance. Tickets are $6
students, $12 others. For informa-
tion on "The Colored Museum" or
its surrounding events, call 763-


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Bring back -8-tracks

. _.._e. ._ ..._. _.:


Weekend Yoga Seminar
All Levels From Beginning to Advanced
with Swami Brahmavidyananda of India
Febrwary 11 - 13
- - Free Lecture

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