Janesville to spotlight artists in our midst

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Ann Fiore
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

JANESVILLE—More playwrights, composers and musicians call Janesville home than many of us realize.

Problem is, we don't always see their work.

That will change in January, when the Janesville Performing Arts Center opens its stage to hometown performers for Local Talent Month.

The itinerary so far features two plays, a symphony, a flute performance and a concert by teachers who moonlight as musicians. The Janesville Area Creativity Awards ceremony wraps things up Feb. 1.

Elizabeth Horvath, JPAC's executive director, said the effort grew out of a desire to spotlight talented Janesville natives and residents. It's no “American Idol”—just a way to turn the stage over to local folks.

“People should know all the great things we have going on in town,” Horvath said. “We have all of these talented people in town who spend hours and hours of their lives doing wonderful things. I just think it's really cool.”

Here's the schedule for Local Talent Month:

—“Mirror Image,” an original play by Jim Lyke, 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 9-11. Tickets: $9.

“I'm really excited about this opportunity. I've had this story a long time,” said Lyke, a well-known local playwright who describes this play as “kind of a 'Twilight Zone-y' love story.”

“Mirror Image” started as a short story in Lyke's 2001 book, “Five Trips to the Edge.” It's about a young man, Eric Wright, who falls in love with the ghost of a murdered woman who once lived in his house.

Lyke said the play has elements of surprise and the supernatural along with a dash of creepiness. And because he's drawn to come dies, he managed to make it a little funny, too.

Symphony in G Major by Jeff Suarez, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16. Admission: free.

Suarez, an associate professor of music at UW-Rock County, teaches classes and directs several music groups at the college. On the side, he arranges and composes music, including two works for orchestra and a piece for French horn quartet.

 Suarez said he likes working in the classical style used between 1750 and 1825. His symphonies usually have eight themes, similar to the middle symphonies of Joseph Haydn— “although I do not even come close to pretending to compose as well as he did!” Suarez wrote in an email.

He wrote the Symphony in G Major to tap into the strengths of his UW-Rock County Orchestra. For example, a clarinet-oboe duet within the piece will showcase the excellent low range of the first clarinet, Suarez said.

The orchestra also will perform Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. JPAC's Elizabeth Horvath, who plays flute, will be among the soloists.

—Rock the School House, 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan 18. Tickets: $15 adults, $10 students.

This event is a musical talent show that puts Janesville teachers to the test. The concert will star these instructors: Bill Conway, Parker High School; Trygve Danielson, retired from Parker; Kyle Elsbernd, Craig High School; Brian Knutson, Washington and Jackson elementary schools; Jan Knutson, Parker High School; Chris Kohn, Harrison Elementary School; Seth Matuszak, several district schools; Steve Pease, Edison Middle School, and Evan Riley, Jefferson and Kennedy elementary schools.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Dec. 16, at JPAC. Proceeds support student educational programs, including Washington Seminar, Global Youth Summit and Badger State.

—“White Buffalo,” an original play by Don Zolidis, 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Jan. 24-26, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, with a post-show talk by Zolidis. Tickets: $14 adults, $9 students.

Zolidis, a 1993 Craig graduate, was a college freshman when he visited Val and David Heiders' farm, where the white buffalo calf Miracle was born. The calf became a spiritual icon for American Indians, and an estimated 250,000 people came to see her.

Now a creative writing professor, Zolidis wrote “White Buffalo” more than a decade ago, basing it loosely on the Heiders' experiences. In his play, a woman must decide whether a white buffalo calf born on her farm is the answer to her financial troubles or a door to a new kind of spirituality.

In real life, the Heiders never considered selling Miracle.

“White Buffalo” has won awards, including the 2004 Princess Grace Award for Playwriting, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It made its world premier last year in Michigan. Due to strong language, the play is recommended for ages 14 and older.

—Flute recital by Elizabeth Horvath, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Admission: free.

Horvath doesn't really use her skills as a flautist in her executive director job at JPAC. She's excited about the recital—her first since college.

“I had an empty date to fill, and the easy thing to do was have me playing,” she said.

Horvath has a degree in flute performance from Northwestern University and has studied under Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians. She has played with the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra, Evanston Symphony Orchestra and Classical Symphony of Chicago and runs a private flute studio in her home.

—Janesville Area Creativity Awards, sponsored by the United Arts Alliance, 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. Tickets: $8.

These annual awards are Janesville's version of the Tony Awards. Residents pick their favorite artists—from musicians to culinary experts—and the top vote-getters are honored at the awards ceremony. “It's a nice culmination of everything,” Horvath said.

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