Opera, orchestra team up to tell story of deadly 1913 flood
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
Thursday, February 7
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A new opera revisits the Great Flood of 1913, a Midwestern disaster that killed hundreds, left thousands homeless, and destroyed countless bridges and businesses, but that also paved the way for flood control innovations.
The dark subject matter is well-suited to opera, said Peggy Kriha Dye, general and artistic director of Opera Columbus.
“We’re used to drama and death and dealing with those topics,” she said. “Opera is the perfect form to do that because everything is heightened in this art form. It can handle heavy topics.”
The inundation began on Easter weekend as usually heavy rain fell on ground either frozen or already saturated from snowmelt after a harsh winter, eventually flooding most rivers and streams across the region.
The same weather system led to significant flooding in more than a dozen states, from Illinois through Connecticut, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Many smaller Ohio River communities from Cairo, Illinois, to Wheeling, West Virginia, were all but destroyed.
“The Flood,” opening Friday at the historic Southern Theater in Columbus, is the first collaboration between Opera Columbus and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.
The opera tells the story of the flood through a mystery involving a family affected by the destruction. It begins in Columbus after the flood has struck and follows family members through time to the present day as the personal and public effects of the disaster are examined.
While not everyone has experienced a flood, most people are familiar with tragedy of one kind or another, said Janet Chen, ProMusica’s executive director.
“There’s an element within this work that I think people can take away on a personal level,” she said.
“The Flood” is in English and just over an hour long. It was commissioned through a $150,000 Arts Prize grant from the Columbus Foundation’s Arts Innovation Fund.
Some details about the flood and its aftermath:
— The June 1912 eruption of the Novarupta volcano in Alaska — 30 times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens explosion — pumped so much debris into the atmosphere that it led to a long, cold “volcanic winter.” As a result, rainfall produced by the convergence of three extreme storm fronts in late March had nowhere to go, according to historian Conrade Hinds, author of “Columbus and the Great Flood of 1913.”
— The catastrophe began with a series of deadly tornadoes in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa that killed more than 150 people on Easter Sunday and injured hundreds more before the storm system creating the tornadoes pushed eastward.
— State historians say that at least 467 people died in Ohio during the flood, and that more than 20,000 homes were destroyed. A list of victims published in the Columbus Evening Dispatch included “Mr. and Mrs. George Eckert and seven children.” In hard-hit Dayton, the amount of water that passed through the Great Miami River and its tributaries in three days equaled the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in a month.
— In response to the flood, Ohio passed the Ohio Conservancy Law, giving the state authority to establish watershed districts, implement flood control projects and raise funds for improvements through taxes. The Miami Conservancy District was created in response to the law, becoming the first major watershed district in the nation.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.
Otterbein University Theatre and Dance presents “Hay Fever”
Westerville, OH—Otterbein University’s Department of Theatre and Dance presents “Hay Fever” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14; 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17; and 8 p.m. on Feb. 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23, in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street. Tickets cost $22. Call 614-823-1109 or visit www.otterbein.edu/drama.
A quiet weekend in the country is not what you might expect where the eccentric Bliss family is concerned. Judith, a retired actress full of melodrama, David, a reclusive novelist, and their children Simon and Sorel love intrigue, arguing and are always looking to be in the spotlight. When each family member arrives at the rural escape with a surprise guest, the games begin, making this one outrageous house party!
Tickets are $22 each and can be reserved by calling the Otterbein University box office at (614) 823-1109 or purchased online at www.otterbein.edu/drama. The box office is open 12-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour prior to performances. The box office is located in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street.
Otterbein University Theatre and Dance presents:
By Noël Coward
February 14-17 and 21-23, 2019
Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville
Director: Lenny Leibowitz
Scenic Designer: Edith Dinger
Costume Designer: Rebecca White
Lighting Designer: Matt Hazard
Sound Designer: Braxton Maloney
PRINCIPAL CAST LIST
Judith Bliss……………………………………………………………………………. Payton Tevis
David Bliss………………………………………………………………………….. Daniel Kunkel
Sorel Bliss……………………………………………………………………………… Grace Rucci
Simon Bliss……………………………………………………………………. Kenneth Remaklus
Myra Arundel…………………………………………………………………………. Emma Shine
Richard Greatham……………………………………………………………… Mathieu Wiesner
Jackie Coryton………………………………………………………………… Shelby McSwords
Sandy Tyrell……………………………………………………………….. Desmond Hernandez
Clara………………………………………………………………………….. Emma Lou Andrews
(Female Swings……………………………………… Emma Kate Lampe & Abby Messina)
All performances at the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street, Westerville.
Thursday, Feb. 14 7:30 p.m. (Opening night performance; includes post-performance reception.)
Friday, Feb. 15 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16 8 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 17 2 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 21 8 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 22 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 23 8 p.m.
Otterbein University to Host Acclaimed Spoken Word Artists Andrea Gibson and Megan Falley
Westerville, OH—Otterbein University invites the community to an evening of spoken word poetry with Andrea Gibson and Megan Falley at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, in Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street. This performance is their only stop in Ohio and is one of a handful of performances that these two spoken word poets will be headlining together this year. A book signing and reception will follow the performance.
Gibson is the recent author of Lord of the Butterflies, a book that Publishers Weekly describes as “a tour de force of performance poetry …propelled by all that is raw, heartfelt, and confessional.” Falley has recently completed “Drive Here and Devastate Me,” a book that Autostraddle called “a love letter to the queer community.” Together, both poets are widely acclaimed, deeply revered, powerful voices of and for spoken word poetry.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Otterbein’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program and Student Life Fee, the performance is free for the Otterbein community as well as the general public. If you are not a student, please consider a $10 cash donation at the door for Otterbein’s newly founded LGBTQIA+ Student Emergency Fund, a much needed source of emergency relief for LGBTQIA+ students who need housing or food assistance; financial help with books or academic supplies; or other safety, wellness, or academic necessities.
Seating is general admission. There is a limit of four tickets per order. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Otterbein University box office at (614) 823-1109 or purchased online at www.otterbein.edu/drama. The box office is open 12-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour prior to performances. The box office is located in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street.
Sign language interpreting will be available. Please call the Otterbein Theatre Box Office to request reserved seating in front of the interpreter.
For more information about the performance, contact Tammy Birk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbus Symphony Announces 2019 Music Educator Award Winners
The Columbus Symphony today announced the winners of the 2019 Music Educator Awards, honoring individuals who make a difference in the community through a dedication to music education and promotion of a greater understanding of and appreciation for the art form.
Three nominees have been selected in the categories of elementary, secondary, and community education. Each winner will receive a $2,500 grant to spend at their discretion on music education endeavors. Past winners have used these funds to host guest instructors, repair instruments, take professional development classes, or purchase new instruments, computer software, and music.
The winners will be presented with their awards at a dinner on Saturday, April 6, at 5:30pm at The Sheraton Capitol Square (75 E. State St.). Tickets to the event are $65, and include admission to that evening’s Columbus Symphony concert, The Trumpet Shall Sound, at the Ohio Theatre at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling 614-221-4916 before March 25.
The Music Educator Awards were made possible through the generous support of Kim and Jude Swanson with additional support from Canneto Studios.
The winners of the 2019 Music Educator Awards are:
2019 Music Educator Award – Elementary Education
General Music Teacher, Indian Trails Elementary School, Canal Winchester Local Schools
An elementary general music educator for 25 years, Cherwinski currently teaches 1st and 2nd grade music at Indian Trail Elementary. She earned a Bachelor of Music from Capital University, Kodály certification from the Kodály Institute at Capital, and a Master’s in music education from The Ohio State University. She was recently named the director of the Kodály Institute at Capital and coordinator of the music education track of Capital’s Master of Music program. Cherwinski is currently working as the program co-chair for the 2019 Organization of American Kodály Educators National Conference that will be held in Columbus in March. A classically trained pianist, Cherwinski teaches private piano lessons, performs and directs services at David Evangelical Lutheran Church, and accompanies high school students for solo and ensemble contests.
2019 Music Educator Award – Secondary Education
Director of Bands, Logan Elm High School, Logan Elm Local Schools
Currently in his 44th year of teaching instrumental music, Chickrell has served as director of bands at Logan Elm High School for the past 31 years. As such, he is responsible for 5th and 6th grade instrumental instruction, directing the McDowell Junior High School band, and teaching music theory and history at Logan Elm High School as well as direct its marching band, concert band, and pep band. Chickrell previously taught in the Trimble Local and Nelsonville-York City School Districts in southeastern Ohio, and as a graduate teaching associate at Ohio University. He received his Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude and his Master of Music degree from Ohio University. His professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education, the Ohio Music Education Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and Kappa Kappa Psi. Chickrell currently resides in Powell and is an active member of Northwest Christian Church where he also performs with the Chalice Ringers Handbell Choir.
2019 Music Educator Award – Community Education
Founder, Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra.
In 2007, Willis founded Urban Strings Columbus, a central Ohio-based community youth orchestra of students ages 7-18 that perform classical music, as well as preserve and perform the music of traditional and contemporary African-American composers and arrangers, focusing on the enrichment of the musician through the incorporation of expressive music such as jazz, gospel, hip-hop, pop, and R&B. A former teacher with Columbus City Schools, Willis’ focus on education grew the program from two youth musicians at an urban middle school to more than 50 participants today that host more than 35 performances each season. She is a founding member of Friends of Art for Community Enrichment Inc., and a long-time trustee and past president of the Columbus Youth Foundation.
Additional nominees include Travis Damicone, Columbus City Schools; Debra Keller-Perry, Columbus City Schools; Nick Gonzalez, The Goddard School; Kara Johansen, Worthington City Schools; William Giacomelli, Hilliard City Schools; Angel Hillyard, West Jefferson Schools; Nick Crowther, Hilliard City Schools; Chris Kuhn, Westerville City Schools; James Becker, The Wellington School; Keith Watson, River View Local Schools; Tom Traini, Southwestern City Schools; Susan Larson, Newark-Granville Symphony; and Chad Wulf, Singing Buckeyes.
The 2018-19 season is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. The CSO also appreciates the support of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, supporting the city’s artists and arts organizations since 1973, and the Kenneth L. Coe and Jack Barrow, and Mr. and Mrs. Derrol R. Johnson funds of The Columbus Foundation, assisting donors and others in strengthening our community for the benefit of all its citizens.
About the Columbus Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1951, the Columbus Symphony is the only full-time, professional symphony in central Ohio. Through an array of innovative artistic, educational, and community outreach programming, the Columbus Symphony is reaching an expanding, more diverse audience each year. This season, the Columbus Symphony will share classical music with more than 200,000 people in central Ohio through concerts, radio broadcasts, and special programming. For more information, visit www.columbussymphony.com.
New Young Ag Professionals leaders announced
COLUMBUS, Ohio (OFBF) – Bennett and Liza Musselman of Orient are the new chaircouple of Ohio Farm Bureau’s State Young Ag Professionals Committee. Emily Krikke of Greenwich is the new vice chair.
Young Ag Professionals are 18 to 35, singles and married, who are interested in improving the business of agriculture, learning new ideas and developing leadership skills. The group includes full- and part-time farmers, OSU Extension agents, teachers, consumer educators, former Ohio Farm Bureau Youth members, FFA and 4-H alumni, farm media communicators, livestock and equine enthusiasts, seed representatives, green industry employees, gardeners, foodies and more.
The Musselmans farm with Bennett’s father. Liza is an accounting manager at WillowWood, owns a photography business and is active in Ohio Agri-Women and as a school volunteer. Bennett is a vice president and agribusiness banker at HeartlandBank, is president of Pickaway County Farm Bureau, on the ag committee of the Pickaway Competitiveness Network and a Pickaway County Farmers Club member. They have two sons.
Krikke farms with her parents raising crops and hogs. She is a Certified Pediatric Registered Nurse at Akron Children’s Hospital. She is active in her county Farm Bureau and Ohio Pork Council.
Other members of the State YAP Committee are Jessica and Nick Dailey, Kristen and Justin Dickey, Cassandra and Luke Dull, Casey and Charlie Ellington, Aaron Harter and Kaitlyn and Ross Meeker.
To learn more about Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals program, visit experienceyap.com.
The Ohio State University Alumni Association seeks nominees for 2019 alumni honors
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State University alumni are working in all corners of our world to make it better. To recognize outstanding graduates, the alumni association requests nominations for the 2019 Ohio State Alumni Awards.
Buckeye alumni can be nominated in eight award categories that acknowledge numerous achievement areas. To submit a nomination or find more information, please visit go.osu.edu/AlumniAwards2019.
The nomination period closes March 31.
2018 honorees included dentist-turned-doctor, David Hamlar, and human trafficking activist, Sue Helmreich.
Bebe Rexha calls out audience for jaded response to her song
By MESFIN FEKADU
AP Music Writer
Friday, February 8
NEW YORK (AP) — R&B singer H.E.R. gave a next-level performance, sister duo Chloe x Halle matched the greatness of their recent Super Bowl performance and pop singer Bebe Rexha went off on the crowd when they didn’t sing along to her monster hit song.
The female acts, nominated for best new artist at the Grammys, performed Thursday night at Spotify’s pre-Grammy event honoring rising newcomers.
Rexha was fiery during her performance of “Meant to Be,” her record-breaking hit song featuring country duo Florida Georgia Line. When the crowd of music industry players didn’t sing it back to her at Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, she went ballistic, f-bombs included.
“This song was No. 1 for 50 (expletive) weeks,” she said after telling her band to stop the performance. “I work too (expletive) hard for this (expletive), OK?”
Rexha then looked over to her mom and said, “My mom is like ‘please calm down.’ I love you mom. I’m calming down.”
“Meant to Be” set a record last year when it spent a historic 50 consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot country songs chart. It peaked at No. 2 on the all-genre Hot 100 chart and is nominated for best country duo/group performance at Sunday’s Grammys, giving Florida Georgia Line their first-ever Grammy nomination.
“I worked too hard for this moment. I’m from Staten Island, New York, and I’m standing on this stage right here,” yelled 29-year-old Rexha, who co-wrote Eminem and Rihanna’s Grammy-winning 2013 hit, “The Monster.”
“You’re going to sing the (expletive) words if you know the (expletive) song.”
Rexha’s second try at the song included more crowd participation. Other singers had an easier time Thursday night.
British singer Dua Lipa kicked off the multi-hour event with upbeat hits such as “New Rules” and “IDGAF,” getting some of the audience members to dance; Margo Price, who is six months pregnant, strummed her guitar and sang passionately; and fans rushed to the stage for English singer Jorja Smith, who had a lounge-y feel.
Chloe x Halle, who sang “America the Beautiful” at Super Bowl 53, was top-notch alongside a 10-piece band as they ran through songs from their major-label debut album, “The Kids Are Alright.” It’s nominated for best urban contemporary album, for which they will compete with their mentor Beyonce.
H.E.R. closed the night with a rousing set that confirmed why she’s nominated for five Grammys, including album of the year.
“I am so excited to be here. This is a major week for me,” she said.
She sang in place when she performed the fan favorite “Focus,” nominated for best R&B song, and strummed her acoustic guitar as she sang “Best Part,” competing for best R&B performance. When she sang “Make It Rain,” she played the electric guitar and sang like a seasoned pro, earning a standing ovation from the audience.
Spotify’s event mainly highlighted the six female acts nominated for best new artist. Country singer Luke Combs and rock band Greta Van Fleet are also nominated for the award.
The Grammys will air live on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Florence Knoll Bassett’s mid-century design diplomacy
February 8, 2019
Author: Margaret Re, Associate Professor of Graphic Design, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Disclosure statement: This article discusses an exhibition project “A Designed Life” that received from funding the National Endowment for the Arts and the Coby Foundation. The funding is managed through UMBC. I have not received any personal support from these grants.
Partners: University of Maryland, Baltimore County provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The look, feel and functionality of the modern American office can be traced back to the work of one woman.
Florence Knoll Bassett, whom Architectural Record called the “single most powerful figure in modern design,” died at 101 on Jan. 25.
In the early 20th century, offices consisted of rows of dark, heavy desks and chairs, with the executive desk angled toward an office door.
Knoll, who believed that a building’s interior was as important as its exterior, introduced an office aesthetic based on function. She interviewed people about how they did their job so they could do it efficiently and comfortably. She then went on to design products like the Model 1500 series – a desk that allowed drawers and cabinets to be added to the frame based on need.
The press coined a term for her “humanist interpretation of European modernism”: the “Knoll Look.” Her clients included CBS, Connecticut General, Alcoa and the University of Michigan, and you’ll see her influence in mid-century period pieces like “Mad Men.”
The U.S. State Department had also noticed Knoll’s growing reputation. As part of a Cold War propaganda effort to align consumer choice with political choice, they used her and her “look” to help establish and promote an American identity abroad.
Reimagining the textile
Knoll attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art, a school that’s considered the birthplace of American modernism, where she was a classmate of future star designers Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia and Benjamin Baldwin.
She eventually moved to New York, where she joined the architectural firm of Harrison & Abromovitz in 1941. While living and working in New York, she met Hans Knoll, the owner of a small furniture company, and she joined his firm in 1943. The couple married in 1946; that same year, the H. G. Knoll Company was renamed “Knoll Associates,” and the Knoll Planning Unit, which focused on interior design, was set up. Florence was named head.
“I am not a decorator,” she famously declared in a 1964 New York Times article that credited her for revolutionizing office design as an architect in a predominantly male profession.
Frustrated by the challenge of finding fabrics suitable for use on modern furniture, Knoll initially used men’s suiting fabrics for upholstery and interiors.
Then, in 1947, Knoll Textiles, which worked closely with the Planning Unit, was launched, giving Knoll the opportunity to develop, market and sell printed and woven textiles.
“Textiles were among the most visible and industrially innovative products produced in the U.S. in the 1950s and impacted many aspects of postwar life,” Berry College historian Virginia Troy told me in an interview.
Wartime rationing, which included clothing and textiles, had ended in 1946. As the economy grew, so did the appetite for textiles. Used for upholstery, curtains and carpeting, they were integral to modern architecture: They could unify open floor plans, serve as dividers and separate work areas from living spaces.
Knoll’s unobtrusive textile designs – which tended to feature subtle colors – often included geometric or biomorphic prints and woven fabrics in which vertical and horizontal weaves formed a pattern.
Her textiles were quite different from the brocade and chintz cabbage roses sold in most of the era’s textile showrooms.
Branding and selling America abroad
Around this time, the U.S. government started sponsoring international expositions to introduce the American people and their innovations abroad – what historian Robert Haddow called “Pavilions of Plenty.”
The most famous is probably the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, during which then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev held their “kitchen debate” and argued about the merits of capitalism and communism.
But there were smaller exhibits that preceded the American National Exhibition in Moscow including “How America Lives,” which was held in Frankfurt in 1949, and “America at Home,” an exhibition in Berlin that took place in 1950.
In 1951, the Traveling Exhibition Service – now called the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service – asked Knoll to curate and design an exhibit. She had been recommended by Edgar Kaufmann Jr., the director of the Museum of Modern Art’s Good Design program. It also didn’t hurt that Knoll was known in some government circles. She had designed Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s office, and Knoll Associates had outfitted government buildings in the U.S. and Europe.
Titled “Contemporary American Textiles,” Knoll and the Planning Unit designed an exhibit that, like her office designs, was meant to be experienced as a whole. The self-lit aluminum-framed pavilion included its own drop-in floor, and double-sided wall panels assembled from textiles were hung by straps and braced by cross-wires.
For a 2018 exhibit titled “A Designed Life,” organized by UMBC’s Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture, I recreated Knoll’s original exhibit using photographs and plans from the Archives of American Art.
Brightly colored panels were used to make rooms within a room. Sight lines formed by triangular shapes and patterns directed visitors through the exhibit, offering a continuously changing viewpoint described by the magazine Interiors as “kaleidoscopic.”
The display showcased over 150 well-designed, mass-produced and readily available fabrics; in the forward of the accompanying catalog, Knoll described the textiles as “designs of beautiful color in all price ranges.” Over 50 of these fabrics were sold under the Knoll Textile label.
The goal was to sell the idea of capitalism, America and democracy in a post-war Europe that was anxious to rebuild, and it appeared in West German and Austrian schools, museums and trade fairs.
Government records note that the exhibit was included in the 1952 Berlin Cultural Festival and presented in 1953 in Munich and Essen. The U.S. Embassy in France also sponsored its display in a 1954 Parisian trade show dedicated to household management.
To date, there’s no known physical trace of this exhibit.
Was it thrown away or donated to a German school or museum in order to earn some goodwill? Was it discarded because the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, which authorized international public diplomacy, discouraged the presentation of these exhibitions back in the United States?
I have no way of knowing.
I do know, however, that Knoll was proud of this exhibit: When German architect Walter Gropius praised it, she wrote that it was “a great honor.” And she included sketches, plans and photographs of “Contemporary American Textiles” in her papers that she donated to the Archives of American Art.
The exhibit is a reminder that one of the country’s most influential designers was also one of its great ambassadors.