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December 19, 2014

Artists in Action: Elaborate costumes, record cast make JOT’s ‘Carousel’ a feast for all senses

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Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014 12:25 am

Starting this week, local entertainment holds treats both for the ear and eye, beginning Monday in the manner of Mozart with the JSU/Community Orchestra spring concert. Then mark your calendar for early May to see “Carousel” by Jacksonville Opera Theatre, where the largest JOT cast yet will represent Broadway in eye-catching costumes, thanks to some special hands-on help from an International House student.

JSU concert tomorrow evening

The musical lineup from university and community musicians will be primarily Baroque style Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the performance center in Mason Hall. The free event will feature Classical period composer Mozart, as well as Bach and Vivaldi, master composers of the Baroque period (1600-1750) when music was the public’s main diversion. Baroque music — as well as paintings and architecture of the period — is characterized by action and movement with much ornament and detail. Orchestras, usually with no more than 40 players, became very important and composers experimented with different combinations of instruments while keeping rhythm and harmony as primary elements.

The concert will mark orchestra director Mike Gagliardo’s final conducting performance with the JSU/Community Orchestra. before he returns to his full-time management and artistic direction duties with the Etowah Youth Orchestras.

Musical program will include:

• “Divertimento No. 1, Movement 1” by Mozart, written between 1773-76, highly productive years for the musicians living in Mozart’s home of Salzburg, Austria. At 22, he was already a mature composer, according to “Music” by Roger Kamien. Divertimentos were written for special occasions. Warm and sunny, this one’s dreamlike quality sets it apart. Lauded the world over for his genius, one critic said: “Mozart could feel deeply and write clearly, whether his scores were for piano, voice, chamber groups or orchestras.”

• “Short Overture for Strings” by Jean Berger, a contemporary German composer who became a U.S. citizen in 1943. His song “The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee” is still a standard in church choirs.

• “Air on the G String” by J.S. Bach, written between 1717-23 for his patron, Prince Leopold of Anhalt. Leopold appointed Bach as director of music for this region of Germany, a mark success for musicians of the time. According to “Music,” this was one of the happiest periods of Bach’s life.

• “Concerto for Two Flutes and Orchestra” by Antonio Vivaldi, a bright and brisk piece featuring flutists Jeremy Benson and Elizabeth Laird. One of 18th-century Italy’s violin virtuosos, Vivaldi developed new forms of instrumental music while penning most of his concertos for an all-girl orchestra as musical director of an orphanage-conservatory in Venice.

• “A Suite for Strings from the Twelve Sonatas” by William Boyce, who is widely regarded as one of the most important English-born composers, according to “Music” by Frederic Grunfeld. Written in 1747, Boyce’s sonatas were used in private concerts, theaters and public gardens, confirming his position as a leader of English musical life.

Behind the scenes at JOT

It’s always been Lara Lubienski’s dream to be a professional in musical theater. Since the Austria native came to JSU in 2011 on a scholarship from the Jones International House, she has moved closer to her goal by performing for the music and drama departments.

In JOT’s upcoming performance of “Carousel,” opening May 2 at the Oxford Performing Arts Center, she’s putting another skill to work as an assistant to costume designer Chaney Billips, one she learned from her mother and grandmother: sewing.

“My grandmother is a professional seamstress,” Lubienski said. “I have always been fascinated by her creativity that enabled her to look beyond a fabric and envision wearable art.”

The drama major started working behind the sewing machine last year. She’s getting better at the craft, she says, and that’s exciting.

Designing the wardrobe for the Rogers and Hammerstein musical poses a double challenge, according to Billips, whose vision was to create a setting in 1947. The costumes represent the fashion of the 1940s with the flair that appeared in 1947. Then the story flashes forward to 1962 and the fashion on stage must follow.

Lubienski is content just to be helping the production come together. “I’m convinced that it’s art that makes us see the bigger picture of the world, even with all of its controversies,” she said.

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