Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, Rowan University Art Gallery, Frecon Farms

The Making of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD

Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

Saxophonist Charlie Parker revolutionized the world of music with his legendary approach to jazz music. His compositions and playing were greatly influential in the development of bebop. Parker’s fast-paced and complicated chords, which often combined other musical genres, were groundbreaking. The nickname “Yardbird” was given to him early in his career, and was later shortened to “Bird”, and stayed with him throughout his life.

Unfortunately, that life was much too short and filled with tragedy. In 1955, Parker died at the age of 34 from excessive drug use. He died in the home of a friend in New York City, but his body remained unidentified in the morgue for days after.

Opera Philadelphia brings his story to the stage in Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, their first world premiere in almost four decades. The opera was created for American tenor Lawrence Brownlee and premieres as part of Opera Philadelphia’s Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater, June 5th – 14th.

But don’t expect the opera to mimic the 1988 film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. The opera will tell his story from a very unique perspective, with mostly original music.

Art of Life goes behind-the-scenes for one of their early rehearsals in the Kimmel’s Innovations Studio. We talk with Lawrence Brownlee, Angela Brown who plays Parker’s mother, director Ron Daniels, composer Daniel Schnyder, and librettist Bridgette Wimberly, and witness the excitement that is building around Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD.


Rowan University Art Gallery

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

Located 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, the Rowan University Art Gallery has been in existence for at least 10 years, becoming operational after Glassboro State changed it’s name to Rowan University at the behest and donation of Henry Rowan, the university’s largest benefactor. As a center for contemporary art by emerging and established professional artists from the South Jersey and Philadelphia region, as well as those drawn from a national and global community, the gallery is committed to showcasing all forms of visual expression and new media. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the shows on view in late 2014 and early 2015.

FRIDAY ARTS visits with the curator of the gallery, Mary Salvante. Ms. Salvante makes clear that while she is the curator of the gallery, she is entirely comfortable bringing in guest curators, as is evident with 2 of the shows. In more than one of these shows, the artworks provide access points to different ways of understanding relationships between digital and physical spaces. Many of the works have been created with a wide range of digital fabrication techniques and different forms of interactive mobile applications, using the idea of “augmented reality” in art. The artists and the work are colorful and compelling, exhibiting risky ideas and taking chances, traits usually not associated with a sleepy South Jersey college town.


Frecon Farms

Art of Food — Produced by Monica Rogozinski

The true beauty about the Frecon Farms is that they mean it when they say they are a “labor of love”. It all started with Richard S. Frecon in Berks County 1944 and now his grandchildren and friends keep it going stronger than ever. With their new website, they sell and deliver products to their online audience, they began on-the-farm events for all to enjoy, and have won the hearts of cider lovers with their recently launched Frecon’s Hard Cider. They run a year-round market and bakery, where fresh produce gets utilized on their sweet and savory tarts, breads and cookies. Now, the Frecon family invites us over to see their cider making process and how this product of theirs is one of the vital factors keeping their farm business alive year round and for generations to come.

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