Artists in Action: Gadsden prepares for the arts this summer
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Jun 02, 2013 | 5961 views |  0 comments | 175 175 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Summer isn’t officially here yet. But when it makes its entrance, it will bring with it events for fun and learning. And this summer, Gadsden is seeing plenty of that arts action.

Take a closer look at ‘The Mikado’

To understand why critics have long said that Gilbert and Sullivan integrated drama, music and dance “as never seen before,” catch the talented vocalists, exotic sets and colorful costumes of “The Mikado.”

The Jacksonville Opera Theatre will give four performances of the operetta at Wallace Hall on the Gadsden State Community College campus. On the evenings of June 7 and 8, curtain time is at 7:30 p.m., and two matinee performances on June 8 and 9 begin at 3 p.m. Tickets for students are $12, $20 for adults. You may purchase tickets online at

To get a deeper appreciation of the operetta, come to JOT’s Dinner with the Opera at the Courtyard Café in Gadsden on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. JOT’s director of operatic activities, Dr. Nathan Wight, will discuss the plot and give a behind-the-scenes look at staging the performance. The Courtyard Café is located inside the Mary G. Hardin Center for the Cultural Arts. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at or at the door.

Theater camp in Gadsden

For kids and teens who want to learn about performing, The Theatre of Gadsden’s theatre camp may just be the perfect opportunity.

The lessons, held at the Historic Ritz Theater in Gadsden, will offer a week of instruction on the inner workings of theater, according to instructor Amy Bennett. Bennett, along with Michael Sweetin and Allie Guffey, will teach classes in acting, music and dance. Campers will also learn about lighting and makeup.

“Our special treat will be a tour through the haunted history of the Ritz Theater,” Bennett added. “Supposedly, we have some ghosts that have made themselves known.”

The camp is open to students ages 7-15. The cost is $50 for the week. Classes run July 8-12 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Bring a sack lunch each day.

For more information, or to register, call Amy Bennett at 256-927-6177. Or come early and register at 9 a.m. at the Ritz Theatre.

EYO’s new season has Latin flair

The EYO Summer Strings program, as announced in last week’s column, will be on Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon June 4-July 23 at the Music Center of Temple Beth Israel in Gadsden.

An exciting lineup awaits the 13 area students who were taken into the Etowah Youth Orchestras after May auditions. The season is titled “Espiritu y Alma” (Spirit and Soul), and the fall and spring concerts feature compositions written by Latin American composers and inspired by the Latin American musical sound. Even more exciting is why the pieces were selected — because of their correlation with the EYO’s seven-day tour to Puerto Rico in June 2014, said Music Director Mike Gagliardo. A public performance with a municipal band in Ponce, Puerto Rico, is the works, said Gagliardo, as is a student-exchange concert in Guanica.

Latin American music is characterized by a distinct rhythmic sound, said Gagliardo, including a great deal of syncopation, a rhythmic technique where weak rhythmic beats are accented instead of strong ones.

“This is extremely prevalent in the dance forms that are characteristic to the music of the region, including the merengue, the bomba, the rumba, the salsa and the cumbia,” he said. “The music is also characterized by the call and response technique, where two or musical parts go back and forth in response to each other.”

One of the highlights of EYO’s Nov. 3 concert will be “The Latin American Symphonette” by American composer, pianist and conductor Morton Gould. Written in 1933, it illustrates how effective and convincing “light”concert music can be when well crafted, said Gagliardo.

Another highlight will be a symphonic movement from "The Ponce de Leon Suite"by Robert Kerr. The harmonies and rhythms reflect the enthusiasm and optimism felt by Ponce De Leon and his crew in the early days of his quest through Florida’s uncharted wetlands, swamp regions and coasts to find the legendary Fountain of Youth and the Seven Cities of Gold. The exotic Spanish harmonies reflect the image of the journey, Gagliardo said.

And Wendy Snellen, who plays the viola with the Jacksonville University Orchestra, is putting the finishing touches on the “Puerto Rican Guitar Suite,” which can also heard in the fall concert.

The EYO’s Holiday Pops Concert, featuring a full rock band, will be December 15. All three concerts will be in Wallace Hall in Gadsden.
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Artists in Action: Gadsden prepares for the arts this summer by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star

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