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21 thoughts on “Submit Your Summaries Here

  1. Concert of Efraín Amaya’s Works for Flute and Piano

    Jeremy Reynolds

    Venezuelan born composer Efraín Amaya’s music has been steadily gaining popularity since the beginning of the 21st century, perhaps prompting Alexa Still, associate professor of Flute at Oberlin Conservatory, to program a recital comprised entirely of Amaya’s music. The concert, which took place in Stull Recital Hall on the evening of February 3, featured a sampling of music infused with the rhythmic drive of the South American country before finishing with the world premiere of Archipiélagos, a colorful work that celebrates different Venezuelan island chains.

    Professor of Piano Robert Shannon, OC ’72 joined Still for the duration of the recital; before beginning, the flautist explained that Amaya possesses a vast collection of flutes from around the world. The composer incorporated the unique timbres of the extended members of the flute family in each of the four works on the program.

    Still and Shannon began with the celebratory strains of Jubilee. According to Amaya’s own program notes, this work celebrates the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Carlyn Loyd (flute) and Jon Warfel (piano), and each of the movements reflects a different aspect of the performer’s history. Malagigi the Sorcerer is an example of program music, or, music written to express a specific idea or narrative. In this case, Amaya invokes some of the more exotic techniques of the flute and even called for handheld percussion instruments to increase the boundaries of his soundscape. Finally, Dúa Ami is a cheerful example of the composer’s earlier, more minimalistic work.

    http://oberlinreview.org/7231/arts/still-shannon-present-contemporary-venezuelan-duets/

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  2. Dessa Rose

    Jeremy Reynolds

    Originally conceived as a novel in 1982 by Sherley Ann Williams, the 2005 musical adaptation of Dessa Rose premiered in Hall Auditorium at Oberlin College on February 5th and ran through 8th. With lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music composed by Stephen Flaherty, the production explores the complex relationship between the white, privileged Ruth (played by fourth year Katy Early) and the African American slave girl Dessa Rose (portrayed by Tiffany Ames) in the antebellum south. Narrated from the memories of these two characters, Dessa Rose tells the story of revolution and hope, fear and friendship.

    Caroline Jackson Smith, professor of Theater and Africana Studies directed the Oberlin realization of the production. Since joining the college faculty in 1989, Smith has directed over 30 shows at the school and worked with local theatres including Cleveland Playhouse and Great Lakes theater Festival. According to Smith, she insisted that all of the actors in Dessa Rose read the novel to gain additional perspective on their characters and situations, and in a recent interview she described how the production is particularly suited to the campus’s current climate: “[Dessa Rose will frame the [African American] experience for people who don’t know this history in a very specific way. I also think that this is a story of hope. It’s a story of allyship, which is a big question on campus.”

    A small pit orchestra of classical and jazz students alike accompanied the singers under the baton of Oberlin Alumna Courtney-Savali L. Andrews, OC ’04.

    Quote taken from the Oberlin Review:
    http://oberlinreview.org/7201/arts/on-the-record-with-caroline-jackson-smith/

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  3. “Metastasis” by David Baker

    Jeremy Reynolds

    “Then the breakers turning back to brightness, if the light’s/ opaque ocean-blue sameness in the sky can be said to break…” So begins David Baker’s (1954) recent poem, “Metastasis,” as it appeared in the Poetry Foundations January edition of their digital publication, Poetry. This particular example of Baker’s work is dedicated to one Stanley Plumly (1939), an Ohio born poet now director of the creative writing program at University of Maryland, College Park. Baker, who has reportedly spent over 40 years in the Ohio and its surrounding states, perhaps composed his poem as a tribute to a fellow Midwesterner.

    The work is composed in free verse and makes abundant usage of nature and color as thematic gestures. The sea and the sky are equated through their “blue sameness;” blue appears five times and each repetition references the shade of either sky or sea, consistently blurring the distinction between the two. Other themes include light shading and birds, both of which are used to expressly muddle the distinction between sky and sea. After a pastoral reference to the rugged life of an Ohio farmer (also softened through the references to color), the verse concludes with a lurid metaphor that ties each of Baker’s images together and references the repetitious cycle of the natural world, which of course is figuratively realized through the recurring language of “Metastasis.”

    Baker currently holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing at Denison University and is the Poetry Editor for The Kenyon Review.

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/249452

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  4. By Julia Rudolph

    Can you show an uncensored dildo on a basic cable comedy show? The answer, I found out thanks to Broad City’s latest episode, is yes, you can. No topic is off limits for the creator-writer-actor duo Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. In the show my contemporaries claim is “like Girls, but better” the exuberant best-friend team takes pleasure and revels in strange and uncomfortable situations. Last night’s episode is perhaps the pinnacle of their elevation and normalization of the awkward and crude.
    The episode begins like any other Broad City episode: with the two zany leads engaging in a fast-paced witty repartee on the streets of New York City. The aforementioned dildo comes into play during a scene in which Abbi Abrams, a heightened and fictionalized version of Jacobson, finally goes on a date with her long-time crush and neighbor Jeremy. In the midst of their first date and first time having sex together, Jeremy misunderstands Abbi’s suggestion to “switch positions” and in turn pulls out a strap-on equipped with a lime green dildo. He wants Abbi to penetrate him using the neon and leather apparatus, an act called, “pegging.” The episode unearths the topic of pegging in the bedroom, but goes on to talk about it at a variety of places, including a Jewish funeral with men and women of all ages (including Ilana’s parents). Broad City refuses to let pegging be stigmatized. Though it is the main theme of the episode, the other plotline with Ilana and her mother searching for the best knock-off designer bags, makes pegging seem as though it is a common sexual act in Ilana and Abbi’s world.

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  5. by Julia Rudolph

    Dorothy’s ring sits slightly off-kilter three quarters of the way down her wrinkled middle finger. Her similarly veiny and wrinkled hand holds an unlit cigarette and covers her right eye. Her skin is reminiscent of a fruit basket left out to wilt and dry: once full of delicious life, now the folds in her peachy skin reflect years of wear. She purses her lips, accentuating the curvature of her chin and rosacea stained cheeks. She appears surly at first, but her left eye suggests a kind soul and vivacious personality. Her clear olive toned iris sinks into the back of the eye socket. “Dorothy, The Wanderer” stares at onlookers and gives them all the same squished but loving facial expression. She lives, immortal, a concoction of oil paint strategically placed on a wooden panel by hyperrealist artist David Kassan.
    Kassan, a Brooklyn resident, began committing “Dorothy, The Wanderer” onto her 22 by 19 inch panel in late 2014 and finished early this year. Beyond the desire to mimic life the way realism does, hyperrealism employs “trompe-l’oeil” (trick of the eye) in order to convince viewers they are in the presence of a high definition photograph rather than just a standard oil painting. Kassan creates the impressive effect through building up thin layers upon layers of paint until the desired visual and emotional impact is achieved. Kassan aspires to illuminate and communicate human emotion through his impossibly real paintings, but he also delves into the human experience through documentary films and his philanthropic organization, the Kassan Foundation.

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  6. by Julia Rudolph

    Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods was all the rage this holiday and award season. Amidst the Hollywood induced craze, a group of Brown University theatre graduate school alums opened their unique rendition of Into the Woods off-Broadway at Roundabout Theater Company’s Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. The alums’ company, Fiasco Theater, has been performing and refining Into the Woods since its first performance and the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ in spring of 2013. Each member of the company not only performs a role in a subdued costume, but also plays several instruments on stage, thus eliminating the need for a pit orchestra. Sondheim is known for his intricate and full orchestrations but Fiasco took a different approach utilizing instruments foreign to Sondheim repertoire such as the banjo and harmonica. The music of the show lives in the set of the Fiasco Theater production as well. Grand piano frames and strings adorn the left and right stage walls and crisscrossed ropes appear taut in the background.
    The whimsical musical ties together stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella using a baker and his wife’s desire for a child as the impetus for the action. During the 12-minute first song, we find that every character in the show has a wish that can be fulfilled through an adventure in the woods. The ensemble cast works together to breathe new life and vision into the high school drama club classic. Not your usual Into the Woods, Fiasco Theater shows the audience “what happens when you get exactly what you wish for.”

    quote taken from the Roundabout Theater Company website

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  7. Horns

    Horns is the latest film in Daniel Radcliffe’s slowly but surely unfolding career post-Harry Potter. He stars as Ig Perrish, who has been falsely accused of murdering his long-time girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). Horns is adapted from the fantasy novel of the same name by Joe Hill and helmed by horror director Alexandre Aja. Ig strives to prove his innocence and find Merrin’s real killer while being ostracized by everyone in town. The film also circles the relationship between Christianity and the devil. Ig denounces God, who, despite Merrin’s piety, didn’t save her life. The next day, he wakes up with horns growing out of his forehead. Although others sometimes can’t see the horns unless Ig points them out, the horns cause everyone around him to act on their vices and to confess their worst secrets to Ig. They grow steadily more as Ig becomes more devil-like (he also gains the power to conjure snakes and wields a trident). He uses the power of the horns to confront suspects and get them to confess, but ultimately, he must decide whether to forgive or get revenge. The be-horned Radcliffe makes for a stark image, complete with leather jacket and yellow sweatshirt, with hood up to shut out the world. The vivid cinematography enhances the moody Pacific Northwest landscape as a crime scene. Radcliffe has proven that he can handle dark comedy well in A Young Doctor’s Notebook, showcases his deadpan while returning to his fantasy roots.

    Labyrinth

    “Labyrinth,” by Amelia Gray, is the author’s first short story in the New Yorker. Gray is the author of the novel Threats and the forthcoming short story collection Gutshot. This story, a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, features the real-life mysterious artifact called the Phaistos Disk. This clay disk is covered in hieroglyths and dates from the 2nd millennium BC from the Minoan palace of Phaistos, but its purpose and meaning remain unknown. In Gray’s fast-paced, surreal story, a small-town figure named Dale has been reading up on Hellenic myths and changes his yearly corn maze to a corn labyrinth. Jim, the narrator, gamely volunteers to go first, with the Phaistos Disk in hand. As he gets further into the maze, reality becomes more and more distorted as the Phaistos Disk seems to have an agenda of its own. Gray exercises subtly dark humor when sketching the stock characters in this rural town: a football coach takes a knee to talk to his young sons, a pedophile is rejected by a young girl and immediately goes off to do drugs. The conversational way that Dale explains his purpose is strikingly at odds with his mysterious intentions. Gray disarms the reader with the way Jim blithely begins his journey: Jim’s fortune — and the tone — change very fast.

    Dessa Rose

    Dessa Rose, with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, and based on the novel of the same name by Sherley Anne Williams, went up at Oberlin College from February 5-8. The musical, set in the South in the early 19th century, presents the relationship between Dessa Rose, a fugitive slave, and Ruth, an upper-class white woman. Williams’ book is loosely based on the stories of two real women. The story is told in flashbacks, with the elderly Dessa Rose and Ruth recounting the story of their relationship. Dessa Rose earns the reputation of being a devil woman when she lands herself in jail for disrespecting her owner after that owner kills the pregnant Dessa’s lover in front of her. Dessa breaks out of jail for what won’t be the first time by attacking her white jailer, helping her fellow jailed slaves escape. They encounter a white ally in Ruth, a woman is neglected by her absent husband at a remote estate and has decided to open her doors to black vagrants in need. Despite their stubbornness and the social conventions standing between whites and blacks, Ruth and Dessa become friends. Ahrens and Flaherty are the team behind the musical Ragtime; it is not their first time adapting a period novel into a musical. The music of Dessa Rose is characteristic of modern musical theater, but with American roots music, hymns, and spirituals integrated in. Director Caroline Jackson Smith is careful to emphasize the sense of community and strength among the black characters as much as the atypical friendship between a white and a black woman.

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  8. “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Metropolitan Live HD Broadcast

    Michael J. Davis

    The Metropolitan Opera’s latest installment of their HD broadcasts transported the vivid colors of Bartlett Sher’s production of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” to the Apollo Theater. This opera that has it all: a lovelorn tenor, a malevolent baritone in four incarnations, and three sopranos portraying the three different lost loves of Hoffmann. The opera is in three acts with a prologue and epilogue, and the plot is anything but basic.

    The poet, Hoffmann, is drinking with friends when his mind begins to wander to his lost loves. He begins to tell their story, each one getting their very own act. Olympia, a robotic doll with stratospheric high notes and arguably the best aria in the show, is ripped apart, much to Hoffmann’s horror, by this act’s baddy, Coppélius. Antonia, who is forbidden to sing for fear of her failing heart, does just that. In true soprano fashion, she sings herself to death. Giulietta, a Venetian courtesan, steals Hoffmann’s reflection after being bribed by Dapperdutto with a comically large diamond and runs off with a dwarf. In the epilogue, we come to find out that all of these women were actually different aspects of one woman, the opera singer Stella, the current object of Hoffmann’s desire. Stella enters, fresh from the stage, and upon seeing Hoffmann drunk and disheveled, leaves with his nemesis, Lindorf.

    This revival of a 2009 production evokes 1920’s film noir with a demented twist. The ensemble includes cross-dressers, nipple pasties, and a troupe of bright pink animatrons. It is as if the audience was swallowed into a three and a half hour psychedelic dream that could only work in the world of opera.

    See the trailer below and peruse the video highlights to the right:
    http://www.metopera.org/video/2014-15/les-contes-dhoffmann/watch/les-contes-dhoffmann-trailer/3993366369001#play

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  9. “How the States Got Their Shapes”

    Michael J. Davis

    The title of History 2’s series “How the States Got Their Shapes” doesn’t leave much to be imagined about the content of the show, but you would be surprised at how engaging a show about lines on a map can be. In season one, each episode takes on a certain overarching theme, such as states with borders on a river, and explains how those states came to be. Aside from the obvious states along the Mississippi, I was surprised to learn that Nevada got its shape from a need to dip down and touch the Colorado River, and that extra land was given to Nevada to teach Arizona a lesson for siding with the south in the Civil War. It’s peppered with fun facts that leave a trivia nerd like myself hungry for more. For instance, did you know that Utah started as part of Mexico, was bigger than Texas, and was called Deseret? Or that Chicago only became a Midwest powerhouse because of the Erie Canal? I sure didn’t! If I were a high school geography teacher, this would be my rainy day go-to series. The host, Brian Unger, is engaging and funny as he travels the country exploring what makes each state unique, and would surely keep a class of angsty high-schoolers entertained without realizing that they are learning simultaneously. Who needs geography books when you have a Netflix account? I certainly wouldn’t!

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  10. “Donker Mag” – Die Antwoord

    Michael J. Davis

    The South African Zef-side rave/rap duo Die Antwoord have been noted for their outlandish, brash attitude, infectious dance beats, and the oddly enticing sound of singer/rapper Yolandi Vi$$er’s voice. Their most recent album “Donker Mag” attempts to fit into the mold of a traditional rap album, with interludes tying the album loosely together. One such interlude “Uncle Jimmy” is deliciously despicable. In it we hear Yolandi asked to come sit on Uncle Jimmy’s lap in an unctuous, disturbing tone. “Cookie Thumper” is the albums first single and it is a stand out track, evoking a hip-grinding dancehall beat with a distinctly Zef-side twist. “Ugly Boy” emulates more traditional hip-hop songs, with a catchy hook, a simplified beat and lots of stand-and-deliver rap. “Raging Zef Boner” slides into the vein of early Slim Shady, with references to boobs on Instagram, getting catfished, dick pics, and psychedelics all earning genuine laughs on the first listen. “Strunk” offers up something that the group hasn’t ventured into before: a ballad. Here is where Vi$$er’s token high-pitched raspy voice reaches its peak. It gives the song a haunting ethereal sound that is altogether surprising, especially considering that the lyrics are talking about being stoned and drunk. “Pitbull Terrier” is a foray into the world of more electronica geared music and is more reminiscent of the band’s original sound. Hard-hitting rave beats also drive “Happy Go Sucky F*cky” and induce an uncontrollable urge to drive really, really fast. Overall, this album stays true to Die Antwoord’s gutterpunk rave roots while exploring new realms that add variety and reprieve from the fast paced staples that drive this group.

    Cookie Thumper Music Video

    Ugly Boy Music Video

    Pitbull Terrier Music Video

    Full Album

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  11. My apologies… I didn’t realize that the video links would load on the page. Sorry to take up so much space with startling screenshots.

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  12. Dessa Rose

    Eliana Steinberg

    Over the course of winter term, Ms. Caroline Jackson-Smith (directed) a team of Oberlin students in the production of Dessa Rose. The musical, written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, explores acts of resistance during the pre-civil war era through the unfolding alliance of young slave Dessa Rose and an affluent white woman named Ruth. Dessa Rose first premiered in 2005 in New York City and will be performed on February 6,7 and 8th at the Hall Auditorium.

    While chained to a post, Dessa Rose, portrayed by Tiffany Ames, asserts that her name is not “Odessa” but “Dessa Rose.” Throughout the show, Dessa Rose continuously reaffirms her identity and corrects the figures that oppress her. Spurring a rebellion, Dessa Rose becomes known as “the devil woman” amongst white slavers. But this name does not tarnish Dessa Rose’s spirit or the strength of her community. As they all flee to an isolated farm belonging to Ruth, the group survives through small acts of resistance. In song, Dessa Rose remembers the names and histories of her deceased twelve siblings. Through their songs and dances the group upholds their duty to preserve their families’ memories.

    At the farm, Ruth’s loneliness and compassion prompt her to help the group move North. Dessa Rose and Ruth struggle to destabilize the power structure inherent in their friendship. On their journey together, Ruth and Dessa Rose begin to recognize the courage in the other and the thread connecting them together.

    Wild- movie

    ‘Wild,’ starring Reese Witherspoon, follows young Cheryl Strayed on a lone trek across the Pacific Crest Trail in a pursuit of self-healing. This 1,000 mile hike gave Cheryl the emotional and physical space to reflect upon her mother’s death and the impulsive behavior that followed. Constructed as a non-linear narrative the film employs flashbacks to capture the complexity and unevenness of Cheryl’s experience. This composition allows for Cherly’s abusive childhood to live side by side with her affection towards her mother, without insinuation or causality.
    As Cheryl hikes along the trail, her physical frustration is met with a larger contemplation of the ways in which she had since chosen to live her life. Years after her mother’s untimely death, Cheryl falls into a series of reckless behavior. Sneaking around her husband, Cheryl sleeps with numerous men and is eventually introduced to heroin. Sulking in her own mess, Cheryl rejects help from her husband and walks out on her first session of therapy. When Cheryl and her husband sit down to sign their divorce papers, Cheryl applies to change her last name to “strayed.”
    On the PCT Cheryl is forced to parse together the fragments of her painful past. Throughout her revisiting of these memories, she is guided by her mother’s spirit and words. As Cheryl’s power peaks through her messiness, Wild’ offers forgiveness; for others and for the self.

    Hi Custodian- Dirty Projector movie

    he Dirty Projectors partnered with Pitchfork and premiered their movie “Hi Custodian” on September 6th, 2012 in Manhattan at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. They had been basking in hype since the release of their successful “Bitte Orca” in 2009. In 2010, with their “Mount Whittenberg Orca” EP collaboration with Bjork, their music was less polished and stranger, but retained a comparable level of earnest
    The film presents a few different narratives of scantily-clad band leader Dave Longstreth, internalizing his conceptions of death. In one of the scenes of his hospice, Dave lays in a white room with mountains for a ceiling. On his side, bandmate Brian McOmber stands in Royal Tenenbaums-esque tracksuit, and the girls, Amber Coffman and Haley Deckle, in summer intern business attire complete with sunglasses. A Dalmatian enters the room, just for kicks, I think. Then, in another portrayal, Dave, lit by a candle, unironically sings the chorus of “About to Die”, as he lies on his deathbed, surrounded by his bandmates in religious garb.
    As he moves closer to death, or possibly in his escape from it, more and more of his face becomes obscured by gauze. He also loses a lot of his clothing. At the climax, he is sprayed with garden hoses by a group of teenage girls in bikinis buoyantly washing a car to instrumental music. An elderly woman later uncovers Dave from under a wet blanket on the street. The two wobble down suburbia together, her in a red getup and him in a diaper.

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  13. Kanye and Paul McCartney: Only One

    Released December 31st, Kanye West’s single “Only One,” in which he honors his young daughter North, marks his first ever collaboration with ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, though the song was a collaboration that extends beyond this male duo. Only One, his first single since “I won” appeared earlier in 2014, debuted His freshman single of 2015 “Four Five Seconds,” featuring McCartney and Rihanna, only a month later. McCartney’s last single, “Hope for the Future” was composed for the video game Destiny and has not breached any top music lists. Kanye’s Only One, which climbed to #35 on Billboard’s Hot 100 by January 17th— not quite as high as West’s “Heartless” which reached number 2 in 2009 — marks McCartney’s top US hit in 40 years. West’s spouse, TV personality Kim Kardashian, has outwardly praised the song, which is written from the perspective of West’s late mother, Donda West. West previewed a snippet of the music video for Only One, directed by writer, producer Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are, Her), on the Ellen Degeneres Show and later released full footage via twitter later the same day. The video, featuring West and North, was filmed on a country road in his hometown, L’Erable, Illinois. The song which was recorded in Mexico along with 9 other currently unreleased tracks, features backround lyrics from Ty Dolla $ign, auto-tuned vocals and a brief organ solo from Sir Paul, former rock idol. The two allegedly began their collaborative process in Los Angeles, improvising on keyboard and vocals.

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  14. Take Me To Church… and to the ballet.

    Photographer David LaChappelle released a video five days ago featuring ballet dancer Sergei Polunin dancing and emoting to emerging Irish singer-songwriter Hozier’s Grammy-nominated song Take Me to Church. Polunin, a former principal dancer with the British Royal Ballet, now performs with The Stanislavsky Music Theatre in Moscow and the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. Adorned with tattoos and wearing nothing but a pair of nude-colored tights, Polunin
    performed contemporary movements alongside more traditional tour jétés and pirouettes in choreography constructed by Irish ballet dancer Jade Hale Christofi. Set in a white, geometric room, with pointed arches resembling those of a cathedral, and surrounded by an abundance of outdoor sunlight and greenery, Polunin’s expressively dark movement deliberately counters his environment to reflect Hozier’s message. Despite the clever set design, Polunin’s poignant and technically impressive dancing is the focus of the video. Born in the Ukraine, he began training as a gymnast at the age of four before training at the Kyiv Choreographic Institute. The 25-year old award-winning dancer was the youngest ever principal at the Royal Ballet, where he first joined as a soloist in 2009; he resigned in 2012 after receiving an invitation to Stanislavsky Music Theatre by a prestigious artistic director. Clearly not his first claim to fame, the video will hopefully add to Polunin’s already impressive resume including multiple New York Times write ups.

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  15. Time Page Class Summary
    Pulitzer-Prize winning Music Critic and USC Journalism Professor Tim Page will teach an advanced course on Music Criticism in the Conservatory each Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. this semester, though Arts and Sciences students are encouraged to participate. Originally from Connecticut, scholar-in-residence Page lived and wrote in New York City on the Upper West side for several years, taking inspiration from the dangerous yet exciting culture and music scene that characterized the city. After attending the Mannes College at The New School to study Music, Page went on to graduate studies at Columbia University where he unexpectedly began writing about music rather than studying it. After spending time broadcasting for WNYC-FM, Page ultimately began writing as a music critic for the New York Times and Washington Post. After having worked with author Dawn Powell for some time and teaching in sunny Southern California, Page is happy to be revisiting the Oberlin community for an extended period of time. Though he will commute from the Cleveland area, Page looks forward to enjoying the coziness of a smaller town, much like his own hometown. Furthermore he is excited to work with young musicians and writers who are still finding their own career paths.

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  16. BOOK: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1); Monica

    Ally Carter has already secured her place as the contemporary reigning author of detective girl power stories. In All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1), her latest novel, she contributes yet another tale of the intrigue surrounding the life of a clever female protagonist. Grace is the granddaughter of a famous ambassador, and she lives on Embassy Row: Carter has set up a precarious scene in which any major move Grace makes has worldwide reverberations. Unfortunately for the heroine—but luckily for drama-craving readers—daredevil Grace will make just such an international impact. She has resolved herself to investigate the death of her mother, and she won’t stop until she has the answers she craves, the facts that the community around her ensures are not worth learning. In All Fall Down, we learn what these people are hiding, and Grace uncovers a conspiracy that is larger than she could possibly have imagined.

    Ally Carter—in what can by no means be a sales ploy—has informed her fans that this may be her “best book yet.” Check it out to experience the thrills of suspense. Even more importantly, read it for its relevance in this age of 3rd wave feminism, as an example of a girl who fights to be taken seriously when those around her believe her to be emotional and “crazy.”

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  17. PERFORMANCE: Panorama: February 2, 2015; Monica

    When you think “steel drum,” you probably recall the U.S. Navy Band… or maybe you imagine that street musician you once heard and assumed to be from Jamaica. In Trinidad, a small island off the coast of Venezuela and the actual birthplace of the steel drum, the instrument is alive and flourishing, though most of the world doesn’t know it. This February kicks off the 52nd anniversary of the prestigious competition “Panorama,” in which thousands of spectators gather in Trinidad’s capital of Port-of-Spain to watch steelbands contend for monetary prizes and fame.

    Throughout January, bands across the country intensely rehearsed their arrangements of Trinidadian pop tunes. After basic elimination rounds, dozens of bands in varying sizes—the smallest around 20 players, the largest over a hundred—assembled on February 2nd for semi-finals. Port-of-Spain’s iconic giant field, fondly known by locals as the “Savannah,” was packed with eager listeners. Most were unwilling to purchase an expensive seat in the stands, satisfied instead to watch bands rehearse around the stage. In typical Trinidad fashion, the day brought blazing sun and monsoon-like rains, but neither discouraged the players and audience members. As the event wore on, bands of increasing size took their turn vying for a spot among the legendary list of Panorama winners.

    Achieving first place was Trinidad All-Stars, a group that formed in 1935 and has lately been successful in Panorama, even winning the entire competition in 2012. Next up is the final round of Panorama, which will take place on Saturday the 14th. Tune in to see whether the All-Stars can hold onto their spot in the top place.

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  18. MOVIE: Into the Woods; Monica

    Ushering in 2015 with pomp and a bit of magic is Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods, a cinematic rendition of the esteemed Sondheim musical. Fans of the theatrical version have eagerly awaited this release for months; film buffs are just excited for another opportunity to watch Meryl Streep for a couple of hours. While many will find in it elements to love, the movie was ultimately designed for a family audience. Drastic cuts are made to the story’s darkest plot points, and death scenes are skated over quickly to keep the focus on more pleasant action.

    In general, however, the film follows the plot of the old musical: in fact, the screenplay was adapted by James Lapine, the author of the original script. James Corden and Emily Blunt star as the Baker and Baker’s Wife, who attempt to reverse the spell of a witch, played by Meryl Streep, in order to have a child. Over the course of their quest, they meet fairytale characters like Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), whose classic storylines will be familiar to viewers, but are retold with more humor and realistic nuance. As the rag-tag group of fabled personalities journeys through the woods to achieve its myriad ambitions, mistakes are made, hurdles are faced, and adventure is found. The film urges viewers to learn from the characters’ mistakes—to be careful what we wish for. Perhaps audience members should take another look at those holiday wish lists and New Years resolutions.

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  19. New York Magazine review of Taylor Swift’s 1989
    If everyone seems a little peppier, and you’ve noticed the occasional person bopping on the subway, feel free to cancel the meeting with therapist, you’re not crazy, it’s because Taylor Swift released her newest album 1989 on Monday. Swift is trying to bring her listeners back to a time of sweatbands and funky dancing. In all seriousness Swift has found the perfect balance between modern and 80’s pop to not alienate her young following, but also focus on the decade she’s inspired by. 1989 has 13 songs including already released hits like “Shake it Off” and “Out of the Woods.” Swift is known for writing an album or a song every time she ends a relationship; she gives details about the person and the break-up in the song. 1989 is different in that most of the album is about being single, and independent and accepting who you are. This is her best album by far, it has songs for every occasion. Shake it Off and Blank Space are fun dancing songs, All You Had to Do Was Stay, is the closest song on the album to a break-up song, and, the final song, Clean, is spiritual in a way. Go out and find a copy of the album. I almost guarantee you’ll become one of the bopping people on the subway.

    Oberlin Review review of Dessa Rose
    Speechless. Moved. Fantastic. These are some of the words I over heard people saying as I walked out of Hall Auditorium on Friday. Dessa Rose takes place shortly before the civil war and is about the life of a 16-year-old slave girl including her friendship with a white woman named Ruth. The cast, which was just unbelievably wonderful and super talented, brought this show to life in the most compassionate way.
    Using theater as a tool for social change can be very powerful, and that was shown through this production of Dessa Rose. Given the recent events, Dessa Rose was one more way of connecting with people who perhaps did not fully understand the atrocities of the recent events in New York, Cleveland and Ferguson. Dessa Rose is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flahrty based on a novel by Sherley Anne Williams.

    The Grape’s review of Lena Dunham’s book,” Not That Kind of Girl”

    Everyone’s favorite not “it” girl Lena Dunham, has released her first, of what I’m sure will be many, books. It is just as witty, clever, funny and honest as her and her HBO television series Girls. The book is separated into five sections, Love & Sex, Body, Friendship, Work and Big Picture. Throughout these five sections Lena takes you on a tour of her life and offers, “advice.” It’s one of those wonderful books when the reader gets the opportunity to say, “so there is someone out there who also did this stupid thing or that stupid thing, and wow the author might even be stranger than me.” Lena also addresses important issues like mental health and sexual assault. She writes about these topics from a place of personal experience, which lets the reader have the opportunity to listen and try to understand without criticizing. The last section of the book “Big Picture” also deals with heavy topics, and she goes into some detail about the way she dealt with her Grandmother’s death. While the book does end on a sad note, all it takes it flipping to the first page again to get a good laugh. Not That Kind of Girl is a must read!

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