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April 20, 2004 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-20

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April 20, 2004
* artseditor@michigandaily.com




Courtesy of New Line
If he had a gun, he'd be more accurate.
'Lord' top of the fims

By Andy TaylorFabe
Daily Arts Writer

It's acoustically perfect: You can hear the power tools all the way in the back.


Although comparisons to "Harry Pot-
ter and the Sorcerer's Stone" are
inevitable, a more apt parallel to Peter
Jackson's triumphant epic "Lord of the
Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" is
"Star Wars;' for both films are about the
ultimate struggle between good and evil.
Although no movie can perfectly adapt a
book, especially one as painstakingly



By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer

For a year and a half, Hill Auditorium was an eye-
sore and a headache for University students, faculty
and administration. The beautiful red and tan mosaic
that lies between the building and North University
Avenue had been covered with tarps, bricks, chunks
of insulation, dust and debris. A tall chain-link fence
and contractors' trailers surrounded the site. To make
matters worse, the University Musical Society had
difficulty finding large venues for world-famous
musicians. Academic ceremonies like convocation
had to be held elsewhere. The School of Music's large
ensembles were forced to relocate concerts to less-
than-ideal settings like the Michigan Theater.
Hill Auditorium, dedicated on June 25, 1913, was
in dire shape before the renovation. The brick pattern
that lies in front of the building's stately white
columns was faded and damaged. Aesthetically,
Quinn Evans repaired and reworked the brick mosaic,
cleaned and replaced exterior doors, windows and let-
tering, and repaired or replaced roof tiles.
Band-O-Rama, an annual fundraising concert that
features the University of Michigan Symphony Band,
Concert Band and Marching Band, had to be elimi-
nated in 2002 and 2003. Symphony Band concerts.
featuring the music of John Phillip Sousa and George
Gershwin were held in Michigan Theater to substitute
for Band-O-Rama, and the Collage Concert was relo-
cated to the Power Center.
But the scheduling problems and ugly construction
are finally gone. At 1:00 this afternoon, Hill Auditori-
um's status as a historic site will be reaffirmed by an
unveiling ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony will
include representatives from Quinn Evans Architects,
the firm that oversaw the renovation, School of Music
Dean Karen Wolff and UMS president Ken Fischer.
The auditorium will be open for self-led walking
tours until 7:30 this evening.
"You've got a great hall that's large. It's half the
size of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Avery Fish-
er Hall (the former home of the New York Philhar-
monic);" said Fischer.
There's no question that Hill is a hallowed site for
the performing arts. Musicians, like vocalists Jessey
Norman, Cecilia Bartolli and Enrico Caruso, cellist
Yo-Yo Ma and bandleader and jazz clarinetist Benny
Goodman have performed there. Leonard Bernstein
conducted the Vienna Philharmonic on Hill's stage

during his 70th birthday tour. He chose to play only
three American cities: New York, Washington D.C.
and Ann Arbor. There's definitely something special
about Hill Auditorium.
Fischer said of the renovation, "There has been
interest in renovating Hill for a long, long time, and it
was simply a matter of when the University felt it had
the resources to be able to do the job.
"So they're handling the renovation in several
phases, and this first phase is the renovation and
restoration of the hall as we know it now. The next
phase of renovation will be, we hope, a backstage
addition." This addition will accommodate visiting
artists as well as School of Music bands and orches-
tras that regularly perform concerts. "Anyone who
has used Hill Auditorium knows that the backstage
needs major expansion and improvement," Fischer
First phase of the Hill renovations began on May
13, 2002. It was estimated that the renovation would
take 18 months to complete and cost $38.6 million.
To begin the process, the University secured the
expertise of Quinn Evans, an Ann Arbor firm that
specializes in restoring historic buildings. The firm
has worked to maintain and preserve structures like
the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert
Hall, George Washington's boyhood home and parts
of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
Here at the University, it has worked on the Detroit
Observatory, the School of Natural Resources and the
Environment, and classrooms in the Law School.
Some of the renovation's more practical changes
include an increased number of restrooms, from 14 to
22 for men and from 10 to 30 for women, as well as
one unisex restroom. Sound and light locks have been
added at the entrance of the auditorium from the
lobby. Sound locks will keep noise from the lobby
and the sound of traffic out of the performance space,
and light locks will prevent light from opened doors
during daytime shows from seeping into the auditori-
um. "If someone was walking around in the lobby,
you could hear a clip-clop sound inside the auditori-
um," said Wolff.
One of the most pragmatic - and most anticipated
- additions to the historic performance venue is the
installation of an air conditioning system. Electrical
and ventilation systems have also been replaced.
The most important renovation, however, is the
addition of ramps and elevators. Until now, the stage
had been only accessible via stairs; artists, audience

members and students receiving degrees if they need-
ed wheelchairs or other assistive equipment could not
easily get onstage. The auditorium's new design
includes ramps on either side of the stage so that any-
one can easily enter the stage area.
Additionally, the mezzanine area was only accessi-
ble by stairs. For the first time in Hill's existence,
attendees who experience difficulty climbing stairs
can access the balcony area via elevator. Seating for
audience members with wheelchairs had also been
problematic in the past, but seats have been created
on both the main floor and the mezzanine to accom-
modate those with assistive equipment. Though the
changes in seating have reduced the number of seats
to 3,710 from 4,169, Fischer thinks that the loss in
revenue is worth it. "I applaud the University for their
overall policy of inclusion and diversity," he said.
Another practical feature Hill lacked was a conces-
sion area. The University worked with Quinn &
Evans to create a snack bar in the lobby in hopes that
concessions will create a mor. fun experience. "More
and more people are looking at concertgoing as a
social experience. They want to meet with their
friends, talk about performances - and now they
have a place to do that right in Hill Auditorium" Fis-
cher explained. Concessions will be served at both
the Elizabeth E. Kennedy Lower Lobby and on the
mezzanine level.
While students, faculty and administration alike
are excited about the modern adjustments made to the
facility, many are still unsure of what Hill will sound
like now that changes have been made.
The final acoustics test occurred this morning.
Wolff explained, "The architects were careful not to
change Hill's signature sound. There was a bounce-
back coming from the back of the auditorium, but
acousticians believe that this problem has been
School of Music alum Corynn Eggener said, "I
always loved (Hill's) clarity. It's so big and resonant, it
has a presence of its own." One of her favorite memo-
ries of Hill was waiting in line overnight for the UMS
Half-Price Ticket Sale. "That was one of the coolest
experiences of my undergrad. We played Scrabble."
Director of Bands Michael Haithcock, who con-
ducts the Symphony Band, summed up his feelings
about the new Hill: "I hope it sounds exactly the
same. It's glorious. The resonance in the hall is almost
-Jan. 8, 2004

elaborate as J.R.R.
Tolkien's three-
volume opus, "Fel-
lowship" comes
close, and stands
out as one of the
best films of the
year and one of the
best adaptations of
all time.

The Lord of
the Rings:
The Fellow-
ship of the
New Line Cinema

Thousands of years ago, in the realm
of Middle Earth, the dark lord Sauron
forged many rings of power for the peo-
ples of the world, but he also made one
for himself that controlled all the other
rings and gave him the power to rule the
world. The ring, which holds all the
strength and evil of Sauron, has an
intoxicating power over anyone who
tries to use it. But the ring has been lost
for roughly 3,000 years, until a Hobbit
named Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) finds
it in a cave in the Misty Mountains.
Years later, when Sauron discovers
that the ring is being kept in the Shire
(the home of the three-foot-tall Hobbits),
Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), a
powerful wizard and friend of Bilbo,
decides action must be taken, entrusting
the ring to Frodo Baggins (Elijah
Wood), Bilbo's nephew. Along with fel-
low Hobbits Sam (Sean Astin), Merry
(Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy
Boyd), Frodo begins a long journey to
destroy the ring in the fires of Mount
Doom, where the ring was forged. Frodo
and his hobbit companions are joined by
Gandalf, the Elf Legolas (Orlando
Bloom), Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-
Davies), the ranger Strider (Viggo
Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean),
son of the Steward of Gondor. They
have much help along the way, from all
manner of creatures, such as the elves,
including Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Gal-
adriel (Cate Blanchett), a powerful witch
who resides in the woods.
This film has the rare quality of being
able to completely draw you in from
start to finish. Despite its near three-
hour length, it is a riveting narrative that
will make you crave a second viewing.
Part of the reason for this is the intense
reality that is given to the various land-

scapes, from the peaceful and hidden
Shire to the dark and foul realm Mordor,
the home of Sauron. Every craggy tree,
misty river and winding mountain road
has a vitality to it that sucks you into this
fantasy world and wraps you up in every
sight, sound and smell.
The action sequences - with raging
battles between elves, men and the slimy
and evil Orcs - are breathtaking, and
the computer graphics used to simulate
both the battle scenes and the fantastic
battlefields are almost flawless.
The acting is top notch with no weak
link. Ian McKellan is perfect as Gandalf,
a kind and wild-haired wizard who has a
dangerous and powerful side that is
always close to the surface but hidden.
His face holds years of distress and
hardship as well as wisdom. He has the
ability to laugh with his eyes, and he is
able to show fear without losing his
Merlin-esque air of mystery and
Another high point is Christopher
Lee, who plays Saruman the White, a
powerful wizard who was once Gan-
dalf's superior but has joined forces with
Sauron in the hopes of increasing his
own power. Lee, who is most famous for
his Dracula movies of the 1970s, is
unbelievably creepy with his gaunt face
and severe dark eyes contrasting with his
bright white hair and cloak.
The hobbits provide comic relief that
is blended flawlessly with the action.
Merry's and Pippin's antics, many of
which are not in the original text, are a
welcome addition, and Sean Astin's
fiercely loyal Sam is his best role since
the inhaler-toting Mikey of "The
One of the most difficult undertak-
ings in the movie is making all the
actors look like the characters that they
are supposed to be, for Dwarves are
short and stout and Hobbits are even
shorter, yet non-little people play all of
these roles. A combination of camera
tricks and stand-ins are used to provide
this effect, and only occasionally is it
noticeable. However, you will most like-
ly miss these flaws, as the film is fast
paced and has no moments that lack
momentum and allow you to notice
One thing that people unfamiliar with
the "Lord of the Rings" books should
know is that the quest to destroy the ring
does not end with this film. Instead,
"Fellowship of the Ring" has more of a
"The Empire Strikes Back" type ending,
leaving questions unanswered and fates
uncertain. The story will continue with
"The Two Towers" and "The Return of
the King," which will be released in
December of 2002 and 2003.
-Jan. 7, 2002

RCA RXcoos
Let's start off by setting things straight about the popular
Dave Matthews: He is a semi-talented songwriter and a
competent performer but his personality is just annoying as
hell. That pseudo-stoned 35-year-old frat boy bullshit -
well, it's just plain stupid.
But more than even Dave himself, its DMB fans that are
irritating. Tight-clothed females ages sixteen to twenty-two
aid their baseball-cap-donning boyfriends are the only peo-
ple who can possibly find Dave's shtick endearing or
humorous. If those fans aren't nauseating enough, Dave
also attracts plenty of young wannabe hippies (the ones
who wear patchwork clothes but still shower regularly) and
Christian teens who wanna rock but not so hard as to upset
their parents.
All that said, let's get down to Dave's latest release. Live
ai Folsom Field - recorded' at the home of the University

of Colorado Buffalo's football squad - includes twenty-
one tracks spread over two-and-a-half hours for an average
of seven minutes per song!
Needless to say, the band can't keep its shit interesting
for 150 minutes. One can only take so much acoustic gui-
tar-violin-saxophone-whatever jamming before boredom
sets in and you have to start playing Nintendo.
DMB include plenty of the, uh, "classics" in their set like
"Crash Into Me," "Recently," "Two Step" and "Ants March-
ing," but none of 'em are any good. There's also some
newer stuff including "Bartender," "Everyday" and "Dig-
ging a Ditch." None of those are any good either.
When you get down to it, I guess what I'm trying to say
is that this record just isn't any good. Dave's songs are all
middle-of-the-road pop-rock shit, and the jams are mind-
numbingly long. Now that I think about it, maybe I do hate
Dave Matthews completely. *
- Joel Hoard
-Nov. 19, 2002

26th Ann Arbor
Antiquarian Book Fair'
Sunday, April 25th
4 11-5
$5 Admission
* First Editions
" Americana
*"Old & Rare
* Thousands of Books
K. in All Categories
and Price Ranges

Have You
Graduated .. .
From Your





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