LiveConnections, Volver and the Kimmel Center, Nalani and Sarina Bolton

LiveConnections

Producer: Michael O’Reilly

LiveConnections operates out of the World Cafe Live building on the edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus where you’ll find Hal Real, founder of World Cafe Live and co-founder & president of LiveConnections. The “what” of LiveConnections is a little harder to describe, as they bring together disparate musical sources (Philadelphia Orchestra musicians and Indie Rock songwriters) for 70 minute “bridge sessions” that involve hundreds of middle and high school students from all over the Greater Philadelphia Area. It can be a transformative experience for the musicians involved, since when do orchestra players hang out with singer-songwriters? It can also be transformative for the students that attend and participate in the sessions. Many of these students are from the Philadelphia School District which has had it’s programs – like art and music – slashed into non-existence with the past few years of budget cuts. Not only does the “bridge session” offer a way to connect musician to musician, it serves as a way to expose students to art and music. And in the case of a “great” bridge session, like the one captured by Friday Arts cameras on the day we visited, students not only learn about music, but also learn about history and geography. A “great session” will teach in a way that is engaging, that doesn’t seem like teaching. Students find themselves wanting to know in which country a particular beat originated, and how it changed over time with the forced movement of enslaved peoples all throughout the Americas, because they are invested in the music. It is not just “talking” about all of these things, it is a matter of feeling connections through time and place and realizing that this coming together of music. movement and learning is really how all school should be. Thankfully, LiveConnections continues to make that a reality one bridge session at a time

Volver and The Kimmel Center: A stage for the performing and culinary arts

Producer: Monica Rogozinski

Volver, Chef Jose Garces’ flagship restaurant, has joined the Kimmel Center to further enhance visitors’ experience by combining great performances and fine dining.
 
Culinary Director Garces aims to make performance as important to his dishes as it is to the guests who visit the Kimmel. He looks at everything from the design of the food to the custom plates on which the food is served. Volver’s high level of service hasn’t gone unnoticed; Forbes Travel Guide just named it the only restaurant in Philadelphia with five stars.
 
This month alone, the Kimmel Center will feature orchestra performances led by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, a ballet score created by Balanchine, Neenan, and Scarlett, a comedy routine by Brian Regan, an Italian opera produced with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and more. The Kimmel Center was originally designed as a public gathering space. With the addition of a restaurant, the center now has even more to offer its guests.
 
Last month on Friday Arts, The Art Alliance and Le Cheri banded together ideals of craft and design. Next month, see how restaurant LAPEG was conceived with the new FringeArts building, as FridayArts continues to explore the interconnection between art and food.  

Nalani & Sarina Bolton

Producer: Karen Smyles

The quick rise of 22-year-old twin sisters Nalani & Sarina — from a small town in west-central New Jersey to national notoriety and recognition — is such an astounding story. These two audacious young artists have developed a distinctive blend of traditionalist soul-rock and modern pop, and their stylistic alchemy is likely to keep their faces in the spotlight for years to come. Legendary music critic and Sirius radio host Dave Marsh, recently called their latest EP, Scattered World, the singing duo’s latest set, “some of the best music being made in 2016”, and fans, critics and taste-makers have echoed his praise. The pop marketplace can be fickle and fractious, but Nalani & Sarina have all the elements in place for success and stardom.

Dave Marsh is hardly alone in his admiration for Nalani & Sarina. David Bianculli of NPR’s Fresh Air lauded their charisma, their musicianship, and their songwriting. The Philadelphia Daily News noted the pair’s musical flexibility and predicted great things for the act. And New Jersey’s notoriously discriminating music press has embraced Nalani & Sarina: The Aquarian, NJArts, and CentralJersey.com have all run glowing features, and the Star-Ledger / NJ.com recently named the sisters one of the top new acts in the state. They’ve earned the enthusiasm of industry insiders, too. Scattered World was produced by Julian Herzfeld and Greg Drew, long-time music business veterans. They helped assemble an experienced band to back Nalani & Sarina that includes Oscar Rodriguez of chart-toppers A Great Big World on guitar, Tommy Mandel (Bryan Adams) on keyboards, Jim Hines (Brian Wilson) on drums, and the legendary Will Lee of the David Letterman Band on bass.

Nalani plays her guitar right-handed; Sarina is a lefty. When they’re both singing and strumming, it feels like the song has come to greet the listener with arms wide open. Their captivating look is on display in the video for “Get Away”, a propulsive cut from Scattered World that recently won The Freshmen contest on mtvU, and remains in regular rotation on the channel. In the clip — and in their stage show, too — Nalani & Sarina present themselves with the swagger and confidence of established stars who know they’ve got something essential to share.

In January, Friday Arts sat down with them for an interview here at WHYY. It was easy to see why they have become so popular, so fast. Besides being very stylish and attractive, their personalities are sure to win you over. They shared what it was like growing up in a musical family and how that influenced their current musical tastes, and talked about their creative process. Later that evening, we shot one of their performances at MilkBoy in Center City Philadelphia. It was freezing outside, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way they heated up the stage and audience inside.

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