The Special in the Special: 2012-2013 Season Special Events
by Erin Bannen
This week the three fabulous (and graduating!) Wisconsin Union Theater marketing interns compiled a guidebook to document our collective knowledge and insight for interns to come. We agreed that the best blog articles go deeper than wikipedia to find something unique, less known, and utterly fascinating about an artist. So I give you a snapshot of the artists in theWisconsin Union Theater's Special Events Series that goes beyond the award-winning records of these artists, and into their quirky pasts.
Scott Alerik of The Globe says this of Fiddler Alasdair Fraser & cellist Natalie Haas: "you would think they'd been playing together for centuries. While his fiddle dances, her cello throbs darkly or plucks puckishly. Then she opens her cello's throat, joining Fraser in soaring sustains, windswept refrains, and sudden, jazzy explosions. Their sound is as urbane as a Manhattan midnight, and as wild as a Clackmannan winter."
Looking past the awards these two have garnered (like their duo release, Fire & Grace, which was awarded the Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004), you'll find a story of a great student and a master instructor.
Two decades ago Fraser opened Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School. When Haas was 11, she attended the school and it was here (according to her biography) that her "musical journey found purpose" and she "fell in love with Celtic music." Watch the dynamic of these two onstage as the student challenges the master and the master challenges the student!
It's easy to brag about The Acting Company (who will be performing Shakespeare’s As You Like It); they have performed 136 productions for over three million people in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. Ticking off their alumni is like reading a Tony Awards winner's list. But did you know that they educate teachers?
Meet Shakespeare for Teachers, a series of "professional development workshops" that give teachers tools in "role-playing, text analysis, writing-in-role and other drama-based techniques." This is the kind of thing they don't tell you in your basic Shakespeare graduate seminar, and it's all in the name of getting students excited about the bard.
So Karan Casey has recorded five solo albums, won Best Irish Female Vocalist twice and Best Irish Folk album and a Grammy for her collaboration with Paul Winter. And her musical partner, guitarist John Doyle, has not only been nominated for a Grammy, he also played for President Obama on St. Patrick's Day 2009 and was named a "dream guitarist" by Irish Edition. But what I love about these artists is the wordplay on their latest album, Exiles Return.
The last time these two played together was in the band they helped found, Solas, which they left in 2000. So we've got two Solas "exiles" reuniting on our Wisconsin stage. In an interview about the album, Doyle talks about how he always wanted to make an album with someone who liked taking a "modern approach to old songs." This album is rooted in songs that have been exiled by popular music, returning to the current music scene in modernized versions. I can't wait to hear the stories these two will tell onstage, I already love how they think.
The Special Events category is reserved for events that resist categorization, so Zoë Keating fits right in. Her brand of music is the "avant cello," in which she records herself onstage and layers recording after recording to simulate a veritable orchestra of cello players. Her fun fact? She worked in software for years after graduating college, and her "grass-roots, label-less approach" upholds her persona as an independent, new sound in the land of cellists.
Zoë Keating will be performing on Saturday, May 4, 2014 location TBA.