Composer-in-Residence Arun Luthra to Perform the World Premiere of “Monarchs of Queens” on April 28

On Saturday, April 28, Flushing Town Hall Composer-in-Residence Arun Luthra will present with his band, Arun Luthra’s Konnakol Jazz Project, the world premiere of the music he composed during his Exploring the Metropolis (EtM) Con Edison residency.

The music is inspired by Queens’s extraordinary yet little known jazz history. Queens has been the home to many of jazz’s most iconic artists, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Heath, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley.

Arun Luthra’s music blends jazz with Indian classical rhythms, which he performs vocally using the art form konnakol, a reflection of his South Asian heritage. This cultural fusion in Luthra’s music highlights and celebrates the diversity of Queens and of the musicians who call it home. Arun Luthra was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to an Indian father and a British mother. He began his formal music training in Belgium at age nine, studying European classical guitar. He eventually focused on the saxophone and began an active performing and writing career, subsequently adding konnakol to his musical repertoire.

Performing with Arun Luthra on saxophones and konnakol are James Francies on piano, Sam Minaie on bass, and Kenny Grohowski on drums. (You can get a taste of his group’s music here.)

This composition was created with the support of the E.t.M. Con Edison Composer Residencies, administered by Exploring the Metropolis. This concert is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

This free performance (RSVP requested) is on Saturday, April 28 at 6:00 PM at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing.

Flushing Town Hall asked Luthra about his career and upcoming presentation.

What can an audience expect to experience at your performance?

The concert will be a world premiere of the music I have composed during my E.t.M. composer’s residency at F.T.H.  The music is celebration of Queens’s jazz history, having been home to many of jazz’s greatest and most iconic figures, as well as a reflection of modern Queens’s unsurpassed cultural diversity.  My music blends jazz (perhaps the original “fusion music”) with Indian classical music rhythms.  In addition to my saxophone playing, and the piano, bass, and drums in my group, the audience can look forward to hearing me perform these Indian classical music rhythms vocally using the art form of konnakol.

Tell us about you – how you started as a musician?

I have loved and wanted to play music for as long as I can remember.  I was lucky enough to have grown up hearing all kinds of music from the very earliest age, from Indian and European classical music, to jazz, to the rock ‘n’ roll records of my older brother and sister, to everything else in between.  I took classical guitar lessons at a young age as I wanted to play guitar like my older brother.  From there, I explored more and more music and musical instruments, until I finally settled on the saxophone and konnakol (Indian classical music vocalized rhythms) as my two vehicles for musical performance.

Where did you grow up?

I am fortunate to have an international and multicultural family, upbringing, and life.  I was born in Massachusetts, and moved to Belgium when I was about 3 years old, and I returned to live in the U.S. right before high school.  I spent time both on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. during my teenage years.  I finally settled in New York City when I came here to study for my degree in jazz performance at The New School.  My father’s family is from India, and he was born in Kenya.  My mother’s family is British, and she was raised in eastern, central, and southern Africa, as well as in Britain, France, and Belgium.  These varied international and multicultural influences have enriched my life immeasurably, and have a deep effect of my music.  Since moving to New York City I have lived in Morningside Heights and Chelsea in Mahnattan, Boerum Hill in Brooklyn, and I have called Astoria, Queens home since 2000.

What do you hope audiences discover at your event?

I hope my audience will be delighted to discover the art form of konnakol (Indian classical music vocalized rhythms), and how it blends so beautifully with jazz.  I also hope that my piece “Monarchs of Queens” will instill a new awareness and delight in my audience of what an incredible jazz history Queens has, and instill a sense of pride in Queens residents and New Yorkers in the amazing cultural legacy of Queens.

What does Flushing Town Hall mean to you? 

Having a sense of history, and of how my work connects to the legacy and history of the music I play, has always been very important to me.  Flushing Town Hall is one of those historic venues which connects the artists who perform there to the history and legacy of the music.  To be a part of that as a composer and performer is deeply moving, and instills in me a great sense of responsibility and of pride.

What is on the horizon for you?

I am working on recording an album of my band, Arun Luthra’s Konnakol Jazz Project, as well as continuing to tour with the band.  I am also continuing my collaborations with Indian classical music masters and collaborating with them on various projects.

What has it mean for you to be a composer in residence at Flushing Town Hall?

Flushing Town Hall is such a historic venue, and there is such a strong sense of history being there, touching the walls, breathing the air.  It’s deeply moving to think of all the great artists who have performed at Flushing Town Hall, and the countless audience members who have attended performances there.  To work at Flushing Town Hall is to feel connected to that history and to those great artists, which is a deeply inspiring and joyful feeling.

What has being an EtM Con Edison Composer-in-Residence meant to you?

To be recognized as a composer by EtM is wonderfully gratifying.  Institutional recognition and financial support for my work as a composer affords me the opportunity to compose larger-scale works, and it brings me greater exposure and recognition from colleagues, arts institutions, and audiences.  I couldn’t be happier or prouder to have been awarded an EtM Con Edison Composer’s residency.

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Enjoy Arun Luthra’s Konnakol Jazz Project – “Monarchs of Queens” – on April 28

Flushing Town Hall 2017-2018 composer-in-residence Arun Luthra presents with his band, Arun Luthra’s Konnakol Jazz Project, the world premiere of the music he is composing during his Exploring the Metropolis composer’s residency. The music tells the story of Queens’s extraordinary, yet little known, jazz history – Queens having been home to many of jazz’s greatest and most iconic figures, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley.

Arun Luthra’s music blends jazz with Indian classical music rhythms, which he performs vocally with the art form of konnakol, a reflection of his South Asian heritage.  This cultural fusion in Luthra’s music highlights and celebrates modern Queens’s unsurpassed diversity, and the musicians who call it home today.  With Arun Luthra – saxophones & konnakol, James Francies – piano, Evan Gregor – bass, Kenny Grohowski – drums.

This composition was created with the support of the E.t.M. Con Edison Composer Residencies, administered by Exploring the Metropolis.  This concert is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNblfLDgZw8

Flushing Town Hall Presents The Polar Bears Go Up on Saturday, April 28

The Polar Bears are coming to Flushing Town Hall on Saturday, April 28! Two intrepid explorers are going up in the world. There aren’t many balloons in the Arctic, so when you find one, it’s precious. And if it gets lost, you must go and find it. The Polar Bears step up and explore unknown territory: the sky above their heads. They climb trees, jump on clouds, and reach for the stars as they race each other all the way into space (and stop for a sandwich along the way, of course).

Presented by the UK’s The Unicorn, The Polar Bears Go Up is a funny, captivating show that is especially enjoyable for children under the age of five and their families and friends. The performance is entirely visual and can be enjoyed by everyone, with its gentle humor, visual gags, and surprises around every corner. The Polar Bears Go Up has toured the world and is loved by audiences in China, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and now, Queens!

Before the show, join the Polar Bears for an interactive arts workshop with music and dancing, using the music specially created for The Polar Bears Go Up! The performers who play the Polar Bears will lead participants on a fun journey, exploring the themes from the show. Get ready to move and dance and shake your bottom like a polar bear. Space is limited, so sign up early.

The Polar Bears Go Up is presented by The Unicorn, the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences. The Unicorn produces an eclectic program of work year-round for children aged 6 months to 18 years. Based at London Bridge, the theatre aims to connect artists and audiences through a broad range of work that is honest, refreshing and international in outlook, across a range of disciplines.

The Unicorn presents and tours around twenty shows each year, in the UK and abroad, to around 80,000 children and their parents, and works extensively with schools and in the community to invite children from all cultures into a conversation about art and the world we live in.

You can view The Polar Bears Go Up trailer here.

Tickets to the interactive arts workshop at 12:30 PM are $8/$5 for children/free for members with tickets to the 2:15 PM show. Tickets to the 2:15 PM show are $14/$10 for members and students/$8 for children/$6 member children. You can access details by visiting http://www.flushingtownhall.org or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222.

This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for FREE. Under the new “Teen Access Program”, all 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available.

Queens Jazz OverGround Presents Sixth Annual Spring Jazz Fest on April 14

The Queens Jazz OverGround, a collective that promotes jazz performance and education in the borough of Queens, will present our 2018 Spring Jazz Fest, a free, daylong series of jazz workshops and performances.  All events will take place at Flushing Town Hall on Saturday, April 14th from 12:15 pm – 10:00pm, 137-35 Northern Blvd (corner of Linden Place), Flushing, NY.

The annual event highlights the talents of the many renowned and emerging jazz instrumentalists & vocalists in the borough of Queens. The day will include performances by student jazz combos, jazz master classes open to all students and aspiring performers, and middle school and high school student bands.  The evening will feature an exciting lineup of six professional Queens-based jazz ensembles. Audiences are welcome at all workshops and performances, which are free and open to the public.

To create a more inclusive experience, we are integrating the educational and professional components of our schedule.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

 Educational Events

  • Master Classes – Members of the Queens Jazz OverGround will guide students in developing a basic jazz repertoire and then lead a jam session utilizing that repertoire. Open to all.
  • Student Performers – Student big bands and small combos from Queens based schools will perform and participate in clinics with professional jazz musicians. Audiences are welcome at all performances and clinics.

Professional Performances

  • 3:00 pm –Jazz Triangle 65-77
  • 3:45 pm – Steve Kortyka Quartet
  • 6:45 pm – Daisuke Abe Quartet
  • 7:30 pm – Bogna Kicińska Quintet
  • 8:00 pm – Ron Horton/Hashem Assadullahi Quartet
  • 8:45 pmThe OKB Trio, celebrating their new release, “The Ing…,” the first on QJOG Records

For more details, see below and please visit www.queensjazz.org or email queensjazzoverground@gmail.com. For directions to Flushing Town Hall, visit http://www.flushingtownhall.org/visiting/directions.php.

About Queens Jazz OverGround

The Queens Jazz OverGround  (QJOG), an artists’ collective, is a not-for-profit organization. QJOG supports the professional growth of jazz artists in Queens, provides musical enrichment and education to local communities, and helps to stimulate wider awareness of Queens as a destination for arts and culture. QJOG offers low- or no-cost jazz performances in Queens for diverse audiences; supports young and emerging artists by providing jazz education; and promotes the work of local jazz artists and composers.

About Flushing Town Hall

The Queens Jazz OverGround is proud to present this event in collaboration with Flushing Town Hall, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts (FCCA) is a revitalizing force for its community and a creative catalyst for developing and promoting the arts throughout the borough of Queens in New York City. Each year, FCCA presents an array of high quality arts and educational programs at Flushing Town Hall, as well as providing vital services to local artists, arts organizations and community residents. FCCA offers a range of programming, including musical, dance and theatrical performances and exhibitions of diverse cultures from around the world. FCCA collaborates with the Smithsonian to bring artifacts, scholars, and educational programs to Flushing.

The Queens Jazz OverGround’s 2018 Spring Jazz Fest is supported (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.

 

 

Flushing Town Hall Presents Global Mashups #2: Egypt Meets Haiti on Friday, May 4

On May 4, Flushing Town Hall continues its popular Global Mashups series with Global Mashups #2: Egypt meets Haiti. Each season, musical artists from across the globe present – and then unite – their melodies in one-of-a-kind performances that are emblematic of Flushing Town Hall’s mission to provide global music to a global community.

Representing Egypt is Zikrayat, an Arab music and dance ensemble dedicated to presenting the classical music and dance traditions of Egypt, Lebanon and the greater Arab world. The Agoci Band combines hip-hop, roots, and calypso flavors with Haitian compas. Each band plays a set, then the two meet and jam.

Zikrayat’s music and dance come together in vibrant stage productions evoking the theatrical atmosphere and dramatic depth of classic Egyptian musical cinema. Alternating vocal and instrumental numbers with solo and group dance numbers, Zikrayat’s mission is to highlight the diversity of Arab culture for mainstream Western audiences in an authentic, yet entertaining contemporary representation.

Inspired by the “golden age” of Egyptian musical cinema (the 1940s to 60s), a period during which most of the major figures in music and dance in the Arab world worked in film, Zikrayat (meaning “memories” in Arabic) researches films from this period and features forgotten gems not performed since this era. Zikrayat’s repertory includes traditional numbers, original compositions in the style of this period, and folkloric music. Led by Arab violinist, vocalist, composer, and teacher Sami Abu Shumays and Egyptian-style dancer Robin “Dameshe” Shumays, Zikrayat also features a talented lineup of performers of diverse backgrounds brought together by their devotion to these rich art forms.

The Agoci Band is a group of Haitian musicians who combine fresh hip-hop, roots, and calypso flavors with Haitian compas, a style of dance music and modern méringue with African roots. The band sings in English, French, and Haitian Creole to a background of African rhythms, bringing the undeniable and infectious energy of compas music to its audiences. The Agoci Band, led by Rol’hans Innocent, is based in New York City and is made up of a dedicated group of musicians eager to share the culture and heritage of Haiti with the world.

The Agoci Band has entertained large audiences in The Dominican Republic and the U.S. The group’s hit single “Rozo,” released in 2014, was well-received internationally. They released a new album in 2017, which includes tracks like “Land of the Drum,” “Banm Tanbou,” “Nèg Ginen,” and “Frè Ti-jean.”

At each of the five Global Mashup events, audiences of all ages experience musical performances from two different regions, and then watch and listen as the music artists come together on stage for a distinctive third set. Before each show, audience members participate in dance lessons and are encouraged to jump onto the dance floor again during the performances!

The season’s other upcoming mashups are: Mexico meets Guinea on May 18; Balkans meets El Barrio on June 1; and, Texas meets Peru on June 15. All dance lessons begin at 7:00 PM, followed by concerts at 8:00 PM.

“It’s amazing to behold how the traditional music of one region can blend seamlessly with the sounds of another region,” said Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director of Flushing Town Hall. “Each year, we endeavor to make this a unique experience, one you won’t see anywhere else, as artists from across the globe meet for the first time, and then present together.”

Tickets to all shows are $16, and $10 for members and students. Discounts are available when purchasing tickets to multiple Global Mashup performances. You can access details by visiting http://www.flushingtownhall.org/globalmashup or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222.

Back by Popular Demand: Tanglewood Marionettes with “Cinderella”

On Sunday, April 22, the award-winning Tanglewood Marionettes returns to Flushing Town Hall for a special presentation of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. This family show and interactive arts workshop are sure to inspire a love for puppetry in children and adults alike.

Set in the eighteenth century and featuring a dozen lavishly costumed marionettes, this production of Cinderella is a Tanglewood Marionettes showpiece. The story unfolds as the pages of a giant book open to reveal each beautifully painted setting–the village square, the rustic kitchen, the magnificent ballroom, plus many more (one of our scenes even “pops” right out of the book!).

All your favorite characters will be there, from gentle Cinderella to the bumptious Step-Sisters and the charming Prince, and each marionette is manipulated with precision and grace by talented puppeteers. While the telling is based on the original beloved tale, this presentation brings a few new surprises: Cinderella’s method of conveyance to the ball is NOT your traditional coach-and-four, and, when all hope seems lost, a clever little bluebird saves the day for Cinderella.

Puppeteers Peter Schaefer, Jennifer Tebo and Stephen Hancock will lead the performance.

In March, Flushing Town Hall’s presentation of Tanglewood Marionettes’ The Dragon King, along with a family-friendly workshop, sold out. The underwater fantasy based on Chinese folklore, featured colorful sea creatures, an exciting adventure, and gorgeous puppets.

Founded in 1993, Tanglewood Marionettes is a nationally touring marionette theater based in New England. Large, beautifully hand-crafted marionettes, colorful sets, and integrated lighting and sound create a fully immersive theatrical experience. Its highly skilled puppeteers have spent many years perfecting their art and delighting audiences of all ages as they bring a repertoire of classic tales to life. Tanglewood Marionettes is the recipient of two UNIMA awards, puppetry’s highest honor, for The Dragon King and An Arabian Adventure.

Prior to the show, the Tanglewood Marionettes will demonstrate the basics of marionette puppet manipulation through an interactive arts workshop. Participants will be provided with handcrafted marionettes and learn simple movement techniques to express emotion. The marionettes are unpainted to showcase the construction and joining techniques.

Tickets to the interactive arts workshop are $8/$5 Children and free for members with tickets to 2:15 pm show. Space is limited to 25 participants.  The workshop is strongly recommended for ages 8 years old and up.  Past experience has taught us that children younger than 8 will find the marionettes too complex and will be frustrated by the workshop.  If a child younger than 8 wishes to participate, we ask that they are accompanied by a parent.

Tickets to family performance – ideal for children in kindergarten through sixth grade – are $14/$10 Members/$8 Children/$6 Member Children. For more information, visit  www.flushingtownhall.org or call (718) 463-7700 x222.

This winter and Spring, Flushing Town Hall will continue to open its doors to teenagers – for free. Under the “Teen Access Program”, which is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture, all 13- to 19-year-olds (whether a member or not) are welcome to attend any performance for free.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available.

Introducing “Solar-Lunar Transcriptions” by Tina Seligman

Photo by Dan Rubin.

The following blog post was provided by Tina Seligman, who will

 exhibit Solar-Lunar Transcriptions in our first floor Gallery from April 7 to 15, 2018.

I’m excited to invite everyone to become part of an ongoing mixed media series, Solar-Lunar Transcriptions, by submitting original haiku inspired by the moon and/or sun, and by interpreting the music for the September Suite project (for details and instructions, please visit www.solarlunarmusic.comsubmission deadline is March 25). 

The work studies patterns created by solar, lunar and tidal cycles in relation to the Gregorian calendar, one of the many man-made formats to describe cycles of time.  Although we all experience the sun and moon daily, I became curious about the shapes of their movements over time and what they would sound like. One project compares shifts of phases for September over four years. Another tracks patterns over four seasons in one year.  I translated those patterns into visual collages and music. At a time when the world is so fractured, shared experiences of the moon and sun remind us that we are all profoundly connected through nature.

Photos by Amos Chan.

My process often begins with graphing moon rise/set, sun rise/set, high and low tides, and/or moon phases from one or more locations within a time period.  Pitch, note value, and dynamics are then assigned.  “Transcription” in music relates to writing sounds as musical notes, as well as rewriting for other instruments.  For some projects, such as September Suite 2009-2012, I created visual variations for the same patterns.

The Solar-Lunar Suite for Four Seasons music was recorded by flutist, Jo Brand, whose unique, creative approach had a tremendous impact on me.  I realized that we all experience the moon in a unique way and I became interested in how different people would interpret the same rhythms so I decided to open the September Suite project to the world.  There is sheet music for those who read notation, and for anyone who hasn’t studied formal notation, the visual patterns of the artwork can be used to inspire music. All instruments are welcome, whether acoustic or computer software (my music is created with Garritan instruments on Sonar x1 program).  Participants’ recordings will be added to the site with the name of the musician.

The haiku project was inspired by Joan and John Digby who had invited me to create monotypes for Joan’s booklet of Moon Haiku translations for the Feral Press. Reading the poems made me think more deeply about haiku and the poetry of the moon and I wanted to share this experience. Submitted haiku will be posted on the site and also written on small round papers to be installed in the exhibit with each writer’s name.  

The work includes other interactive projects, such as the Hawaiian Moon Phase Percussion Cups.  Each cup contains the amount of beads related to that phase (1 – 30) so you can hear the sound of each number.  The colors are related to activities associated with each phase according to traditional Hawaiian beliefs, such as fishing, planting, and harvesting.  I transcribed the phases into music by assigning pitches to the colors.  Viewers are invited to create their own rhythms by playing with the cups.

There will be two free events.  Following a lively afternoon of storytelling about the sun and moon on April 7, there will be a haiku workshop to express our own thoughts. That haiku will also be added to the installation. Photos of the exhibit will be posted for anyone who could not attend.

I have always lived in Jackson Heights, only about 20 minutes from Flushing Town Hall.  My parents, Irene and Max, inspired and encouraged me to be an artist my entire life, and most importantly, to enjoy the journey and what it reveals. In 1994, my mom found a listing about Flushing Town Hall which changed my life. I became a member that year and in 2000, began working as a teaching artist which has become a great passion.

The staff, other teaching artists and member artists have become my extended family and I thank them as well as all of my family and friends for their caring support, especially last year when I lost both of my parents after long battles with illness. This exhibit is a tribute to them and a celebration of their extraordinary spirits.

To learn more, visit www.solarlunarmusic.com.

Tina also will lead several free events:

Saturday, April 7 Storytelling about the Sun and Moon,  1:00 – 2:30pm – Limit of 30 people.

Saturday, April 7 Haiku Workshop,  3:00 – 4:30pm  – Limit of 30 people.

Reservations for both can be made through Flushing Town Hall’s Box Office at 718-463-7700  x222.

Get ready to Grunt! this April at Flushing Town Hall

This April, Flushing Town Hall will unveil a special treat for visitors young and old – Grunt! by Elliot Cowan. This solo exhibition by the award-winning visual artist presents a collection of painting, drawings, sculptures, and digital illustrations that chart 10 years of an Australian living in Queens and traveling through the Complicated States of America.

The exhibition will open on Friday, April 20 in Flushing Town Hall’s first-floor Gallery, and be on view through Sunday, May 13. Suggested donations are only $5. For Gallery hours, visit us here for more information. And Elliot also will lead a workshop at Flushing Town Hall on May 6 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.

What can an audience expect to see/experience at your exhibition?

Although it was never my intention, my show GRUNT! has turned into a bit of a travelogue of my experiences in the US. The diversity and hustle and bustle of Queens, spending time in New England, traveling through the south and my home away from my home away from my home away from home, Philadelphia. I’m also including a number of Australian icons that should be fun for folks to discover.

Tell us about you – how you started as an artist?

I’ve always been an artist! My entire life all I ever wanted to do is draw and make things and that’s what I’ve always done. I started out reading lots of books and watching lots of cartoons and drew what I saw and kept doing it and never stopped.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Melbourne, Australia. I lived there until I was 21 and then moved to the island of Tasmania to the south (Australia’s smallest state). I lived there for 11 years mostly directing low budget television commercials. Then I was in London for 18 months where I met my American wife and moved to Bayside, Queens, right down the road from Flushing Town Hall. I’ve been in Queens for about 10 years.

What do you hope audiences learn/discover/feel at your exhibition?

Joy! Happiness! Relief from the idea that because art is hanging on a wall it’s precious and lofty and beyond the reach of everyday people. I would also like everyone who sees my work to think “Gosh, wow. This stuff is amazing” because all artists want their work to be loved.

What does Flushing Town Hall mean to you?

If you are interested in the world and the arts, music, photography, sculpture, painting, dance, and food, then Flushing Town Hall is a distillation of all these things. What more could you ask for?

What is on the horizon for you?

At the moment I’m still lurching towards finishing everything for GRUNT! I’ve got a few more prints to make and a few more sculptures to paint. In the meantime you could go watching my independent animated feature, The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead, the only animated feature to be produced in Queens: https://tinyurl.com/y7ezez97