Leonard Bernstein at 100 at Ole Miss

Around the country this year, hundreds of shows are being held in remembrance of the brilliant composing of Leonard Bernstein who would have turned 100 years old this year.

This Tuesday, Ole Miss is hosting their celebration of the American composer who has inspired millions through his musical soundtracks, music education videos, and overall charisma and passion for music.

Selections from Chichester Psalms, Candide, and the recently unearthed Peter Pan will be performed by Dennis Shrock, Emannuel Tsao, Bradley Robinson, Stefanie Moore, the University of Mississippi Chorus with Don Trott, and the Bernstein Festival Orchestra.  

“When he died in 1990, they started to archive everything pretty quickly,” Trott said. “Lot’s of scores written and apparently Karen Bernstein, who is Alexander’s Cousin, became active as the archivist and then they quickly made a connection with the Library of Congress that this is where they should be housed.”

Ole Miss Choral Director Don Trott said that the discovery of the Peter Pan sheet music would be comparable to finding original letters written by Abraham Lincoln.

“Apparently he was asked to just write some incidental music and he got kind of carried away with it at the time so he just got into a mood and wrote several pieces and created basically this whole musical,” Trott said.

Once the play was discovered by an old protege, it was turned into a concertized version so that audiences could enjoy “new” music posthumously from Bernstein. The new concertized version will be the one that will be performed at the Ford Center.

Trott studied under Bernstein himself at Westminster Choir College, and published an article in Choral Journal based on interviews with Alexander Bernstein, Leonard’s son. Alexander Bernstein will be making an appearance at the concert this Tuesday at the Ford Center.

Dr. Selim Giray, Director of Orchestral Activities, shares the enthusiasm of the Peter Pan discovery with Trott.

“This is something for music historian’s, concert-goers, and performers,” said Dr. Giray.

The sheer volume of Bernstein’s catalogue of compositions is something to marvel at, and will presumably stand the test of time, as it already has for more than half a century.

 

Possible Increase In Cost of Living Through New Proposed Ordinance

The seemingly ever-increasing cost of living in Oxford may be rising yet again due to a proposed ordinance that will require townhouse residents to have “automatic fire sprinkling systems.”

Section R313 in the proposed ordinance reads, “Townhouse automatic fire sprinkler systems. An automatic fire sprinkler system shall be optional and not mandatory in townhouses.”

Jason Bailey, Alderman of Ward VI, immediately took issue with it, pointing out the burden it will put on the homeowners in Oxford who are already struggling with the rising cost of living.

“Y’all realize every time we do this, the ability to provide affordable housing in this town gets less and less,” said Alderman Bailey. “Every time we require sprinkler systems or things like that, it gets put back on the consumer.”

City Building Official, Randy Barber, who delivered the ordinance to the Aldermen didn’t show full support in Alderman Bailey’s discontent with the article on the ordinance, but agreed that they could try and work towards a compromise on the section of the article.

The previous draft of the ordinance had the automatic fire sprinkling systems as optional, but the update on it has flipped the position. 

“One- and two-family dwellings automatic residential fire sprinkler systems. An automatic residential fire sprinkler system shall be optional and not mandatory in one- and two family dwellings,” stated in section 313.2 of the ordinance.

“I have a lot of experience with sprinkler systems and if you require sprinkler systems, I think you ought to require them to be insulated properly,” said Alderman Bailey.

Also, according to the ordinance, the installation and design of the sprinkler systems must be in accordance with NFPA 13D.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill had a few concerns with how the insulation would be regulated, but said that “this is not my area of expertise.” Mayor Tannehill posed questions to Barber about the specifications of the insulation, but specifics were not resolved during the meeting.

Alderman John Morgan noted that this is only the first reading of the ordinance, needing a total of three readings with updates before the ordinance can be passed and possibly enacted. 

Rock Music’s “Modern Saviors,” Greta Van Fleet, Release Debut Album

Greta Van Fleet, the band who has been branded as rock music’s modern saviors, released arguably the most highly anticipated debut rock album in decades — “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” — last friday. The album kicks off with a six-minute tune titled, “The Age of Man” that, in a way, reflects “The Dawn of Man” sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 space epic, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The sound is tranquil and ominous, but eventually leads into the band’s trademark bluesy riffs and blasting vocals that fans fell in love with the first time they heard “Highway Tune” from Greta’s incredible debut EP, “From the Fires.”

Although “From the Fires” produced more hits for the four boys from Frankenmuth, Michigan, than most artists can only dream of, it also set them up to be held to a higher standard than any band in recent memory. Hard-rocking hippies and die-hard rock fans may permanently place “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” on their favorite playlist, but the album doesn’t always live up to expectations throughout all 11 tracks.

“The Cold Wind” and “When the Curtain Falls” are the album’s hardest-hitting — straight rock tracks that take clear inspiration from an ever-so-familiar sounding group from the ‘70’s. This horse has been bludgeoned to death several times over, but similarities to Led Zeppelin are impossible to ignore when listening to the songwriting duo of Jake and Josh Kiszka. “The Cold Wind” and “When the Curtain Falls” rhythmically and vocally truly capture the essence of Led Zeppelin’s monumental sound. That being said, they are not as catchy as Zeppelin’s classic hits.

Of the softer tunes from the album, “You’re the One” clearly sits above “The New Day” and “Anthem.” “You’re the One” may be the catchiest song on the album, and has a great acoustic guitar on it that feels like a hippie soundtrack to a time of free love and loosened inhibitions.  “Anthem” is the one song on the album that drones on as background music and can be difficult to get through without being tempted to skip to the last epic track, “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)”.

This is an album with four tracks that should be remembered in the band’s overall discography. “The Cold Wind,” “When the Curtain Falls,” “You’re the One,” and “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” are all great rock n’ roll tracks that match the quality of the “From the Fires” EP.

“The Cold Wind”, shoots straight at you with a staccato riff followed up by a classic Josh Kiszka high-pitched shout and into a free flowing melody highlighted by Josh’s Robert Plant-esq rasp. The chorus is not as catchy as the verse melody, but it provides a needed lapse in the energy until the riff cuts right back in.

The lead single of the album, “When the Curtain Falls,” includes Jake Kiszka’s best riff since the opening track off their EP, “Safari Song.” Josh Kiszka takes care of the rest of the song writing cheeky lyrics of a modern Hollywood lifestyle. The youngest brother, Sam Kiszka, has his most memorable bass line yet that is so catchy you can sing along to it alone.

“You’re the One,” is not Josh Kiszka’s best lyrical performance and does not follow the fairy-telling feeling that his lyric’s typically evoke, but it is definitely his best chorus melody on an acoustic track, with the one exception being the epic “Flower Power” on “From the Fires.” Drummer Danny Wagner does not get enough credit in the band of three brothers, but he does a great job lifting the feeling of “You’re the One” from a slow acoustic tune into a powerful outro jam. It can be easy for a drummer to get overzealous on an acoustic track, but Wagner does a great job of playing for the song and not himself.

The six-minute “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer),” is a constant rocker that comes alive on all fronts after the pounding intro is dropped out from under the listeners ears and is replaced by the open chorus, where Josh Kiszka simply screams the song title with intermittent musical accompaniment. It is a solid jam that might hold Jake Kiszka’s best solo’s yet in Greta Van Fleet’s limited discography.

The remaining six tracks, excluding the abridged version of “Lover, Leaver,” leave something more to be desired. Each song has bright spots, but “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” is just shy of the legendary album that it could be. However, it needs to be taken into account that Greta Van Fleet is comprised of four kids whose songwriting abilities will presumably grow with their fame. “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” is a good album, in fact, it is one of the better debut albums to be released. The band is on an undeniable trajectory for rock n’ roll glory, that is aided by the masses who are rooting for Greta Van Fleet to bring back the visceral feeling and authenticity that rock n’ roll once soaked in.

7th Annual Harvest Supper at Rowan Oak Will Use New Online Auction

The 7th Annual Harvest Supper fundraiser at Rowan Oak will be held this Thursday with guests and performers alike supporting the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses.

Rowan Oak will be hosting around 550 guests that bought tickets before they became available for public purchase. 

“This time for the first year we actually sold out our tickets to sponsors so we don’t have have left to sell. So most of our money this year is coming from sponsors,” said Kate Wallace, Museum Membership, Events, & Communication Coordinator.

However, the money doesn’t stop coming in after the ticket purchases. Friends of the Museum is hoping for another $40-$50,000 to be raised during the online silent auction this year.

“This year instead of a live auction we are doing an online and silent auction, and it is the first year we’ve done that. It will be with all local and regional artists,” Wallace said.

Hosted by the volunteer organization, Friends of the Museum, the event has always been proud to keep the lineage of performers, artists, and chefs local during the annual event.

“We tell Friends (Friends of the Museum) what we need funding for and they’re able to use the money to support projects, activities, and our jobs in general,” Wallace said.

Rowan Oak and the Bailey’s Woods Trail have been one of the main attractions in Oxford for decades, and the Harvest Supper fundraiser is the main supporter of the Universities museum sites.

“The historic houses are all apart of the museum complex, so once we pay off the event and everything, the money will come back to the museum,” Wallace said.

The UM Museum has been named on several blogs and publications as one of the premier University museums throughout the entire country. Associated with the museum and the venue for the event is the famed home of William Faulkner, named Rowan Oak, which was acquired by the University from Faulkner’s daughter in 1972.

“Harvest Supper was started with the idea that we celebrate the artists,” Wallace said.

A few of the artists celebrating Oxford’s history and auctioning off their pieces include Jonathan Kent Adams, who graduated from Ole Miss in 2014 and currently works and lives in Oxford, Ashleigh Coleman, whose “work explores the complexities of family life, her relationship to the landscape, and what it means to be southern,” according to her website, and John Haltom, who was the youngest member to be admitted to the Mississippi Craftsman’s Guild.

The music performers during this years event will be The University of Mississippi Steel Drum Band and Young Valley, who describes themselves on their website as a band that “offers points of view from songwriters Zach Lovett, Dylan Lovett, and Spencer Thomas with a trading of styles from traditional country to southern-tinged rock ‘n roll.” The food will be provided by A&N Catering and Elizabeth Heiskell who also catered the 2017 Harvest Supper event.

The grounds to Rowan Oak will be open to the night’s guests at 6:30 and begin a night of celebration of the storied past artists in Oxford’s history, along with the current thriving art scene.

Filmmaker Jing Niu Comes To Ole Miss 10/8

On Wednesday, October 17th, first generation Asian-American filmmaker Jing Niu will be coming to Oxford to talk with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture about growing up as an immigrant in the South.

Although Niu is now a freelance journalist with a residency at Crosstown Arts in Memphis, TN, her journey started long from here. Niu immigrated from China when she was a child and grew up in take out food industry in the south.

“I was born abroad in China and moved here and grew up in an African American neighborhood and was highly influenced by African American culture,” Niu said in the Indie Grits interview.

Her dream of becoming a filmmaker was not shared by her parents, but she went on to earn an MFA from Duke’s Documentary and Experimental Arts program

“I love working with people, and when I realized that making visual art is an isolated practice, I wanted to move into an industry where I was working with my friends on a regular basis,” Niu said.

Niu was contacted by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture through Instructional Assistant Professor, John Rash.

“We both lived in North Carolina and studied our MFA’s together at Duke University,” Rash said.

Niu was a great choice for the Brown Bag lecture series with of her expansive body of work and life story.

“I was a big fan of her work and continued to follow her work after we left there and she went on to L.A. and branched out into doing journalism and working for Wired Magazine,” Rash said.

Recently, Niu was inspired by Takamure Itsue, as she was one of the only Asian female explorers that Niu could find information about. An account of Itsue’s famed pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku emboldened Niu to try and retrace her steps while filming a documentary about her backpacking trip.

Niu’s documentaries, “The Traveler Takamure” and “Departing”, are autobiographical and detail successes and struggles of the female Asian experiences in the U.S. and abroad. “The Traveler Takamure” was awarded the Hellen Hill Memorial Grant for best film by a female filmmaker at the 2018 Indie Grits Film Festival.

Niu will be showing some clips of her work during the lecture and hopes that those in attendance will be able to understand what the career of a filmmaker is like post-graduation.

“I think that is the real value is creating an opportunity for students to interact with someone who is out there in the field  that graduated not that long ago and is actually making a living doing the things that some of our students want to do,” Rash said.

The lecture will take place at noon this coming Wednesday in Barnard.

Telling Oxford Fundraiser Coming Back With Adrian Dickey

The third annual Telling Oxford fundraiser is coming back to The Powerhouse on October 16th, and will feature former Oxford based singer-songwriter, Adrian Dickey, telling the story of his road to recovery.

“It really kinda sparked form an idea a graduate assistant of mine in wellness education,” Erin Cromeans, Assistant Director of Wellness Education at Ole Miss said. “She had attended an event on the coast for veterans in the military who were returning from war and telling their stories around their life and what that looked like for them and it really just kind of sparked the idea of, you know, storytelling.”

The events main goal is aimed at raising money for scholarships for those involved in the Collegiate Recovery Center, which it has done exponentially better each year.

“In terms of scholarship funds from the first year to the second year, we doubled the amount of scholarships raised,” Cromeans said. “And this year before it has even started we have raised double what we did last year so I’m hopeful that all in all we have about 10,000 dollars.”

The money raised may be the concrete goal of the event, however, the storytelling aspect of Telling Oxford can help those in recovery know that they are not alone in their struggles, and that they have local organizations to aid them in their recovery.

“Storytelling is very powerful in recovery and substance abuse in general and most people are affected or touched by it in someway,” Cromeans said.

This is the first year that there is a music element being added to the event. Adrian Dickey will be sharing his story of addiction through song, and introducing each new speaker after his song.

“This is where his (Adrian Dickey) addiction began so he felt it only fitting to come back and tell his story of recovery in Oxford,” Cromeans said. 

Brian Whisenant, Community Relations Representative for the Oxford Treatment Center is excited for the upcoming event and hopes that it continues to grow as it has each year.

“This is a true community event at which we hope to draw attention to the needs of the Collegiate Recovery Community as well as continue to further break the stigma that is often attached to substance use disorders.,” Whisenant said.

 

Pathways Commission Discusses Faulty Intersection Signal Detection

On Monday, September 24, the Oxford Pathways Commission gathered for their monthly meeting at City Hall to discuss a few of the ongoing projects during a slow time of the 2018 season.

Although none of the topics were particularly pressing matters for the public, Pathways Commission Chairman, Don Feitel, added an item to the meeting concerning the intersection signal detection at University Ave and S 9th St.

Bike users have been experiencing difficulty tripping the signal sensor when trying to turn left, and can sit for several minutes before the light changes on its own. Committee member, Greg Surbeck, added that even his motorcycle sometimes is not able to trip the sensor.

The reason for the sensor not being able to be tripped is due to the fact that it is a metal sensor that requires a large metal object to be detected.

The commission proposed testing the other sensors around Oxford to figure out which is best for all modes of transportation. Once the commission determines the best method for intersection signal detection, the city could eventually implement the most practical method at every light.

Among the other topics discussed during the meeting was the Belk Blvd and South Lamar Blvd intersection, sidewalks on East Jackson Ave, and the decision for either a roundabout or a signal at College Hill Road and McElroy Drive.

The roundabout versus signal decision was a topic of interest but not heavily debated due to lack of information on the cities plans for the intersection.

“A study was shown that in the morning, a signal would be better,” Vice Chairman Kate Kellum said. “But in the afternoon the roundabout would be better.”

The city is still debating the study in order to put the best plan in place for residents and transportation users.

“An argument could probably be made for either one,” Chairman Don Feitel said. “I think the city is leaning more toward the roundabout there just in terms of long-term maintenance and functionality.”

The intersection at Belk Blvd and South Lamar Blvd will be closed this weekend for paving purposes. Once the paving is finished, the city will move forward with bike lanes on South Lamar Blvd heading towards the Square.

East Jackson Ave will be narrowing the roadway to build the sidewalks out so that they can build smaller retaining walls while continuing sidewalks on both sides.

The Pathways Commission will not meet again until October 22.

Ansley Givhan’s Homecoming to the Oxford Art Scene Was Anything But “Messy”

Ansley Givhan, an Ole Miss alumna who has been establishing herself as an artist in New Orleans, is back in Oxford with her first solo exhibit at Southside Gallery on the Square.

She came into college as a psychology student and slowly morphed into an art major by the end of sophomore year. Since becoming an artist, Givhan has painted and drawn in several styles to have a diversified creative palette.

Her exhibit, called “Messy” to hone in on her creative process, showcases 24 works of mostly large-scale art that were completed in only an eight-week span.

There was a noticeable consensus among viewers, casual and close to Givhan, that they enjoyed the aspect of fun that she brings to a canvas. Elderly citizens and a family with a young boy were all walking around intrigued with the paintings.

“There’s something that kind of touches you emotionally from that childhood appreciation,” said Southside Gallery Director, Will Cook.

Cook has known Givhan since her college days in Oxford when she first exhibited at Southside Gallery on a small scale but knew the first time he saw her work that it had a special quality to it.

“It’s just fun and relatable. People walk through the gallery and like giggle to themselves,” said Southside Gallery Assistant, Victoria Collyer.

However, the relatability does not take away from the sophistication of Givhan’s work. Collyer, Givhan’s best friend, has been a close follower of her work since the beginning.

“I think there’s something for everyone in this show,” said Collyer. “Anyone can kind of relate to abstract work because every person has their own interpretation and it’s very personal.”

Givhan’s combination of abstract art and still life contained in the “Messy” exhibit is one of the main focal points. Walking around the room for the first time, you get hints of deja vu until you’re hit with the realization that some of the paintings are simply scenes in other paintings around Givhan’s studio.

“Painting in a more broad and general sense is an important lesson when painting from life,” said Givhan.

Givhan stressed the idea that an artist can break from the mold of painting only still life and manipulate it to your desire.

“It’s just all learning experience and most of my work is about process and how I learn and discover new things throughout the process of painting,” said Givhan.

The process for the “Messy” exhibit was expedited after Givhan took a month long trip to Australia three months before the exhibit was set to go on display. Givhan thinks the rushed timeline ended up working to her advantage.

“It just kept me in the studio every day all the time, and that’s what makes you better at painting,” said Givhan.

Her diligent work ethic led to her filling the whole first floor at Southside Gallery. Cook noted that sometimes artists have to share events because of the difficulty that comes with filling an entire gallery, let alone on a first showcase.

Although the “Messy” exhibit is mainly an abstract showcase, Givhan doesn’t want to be confined to any genre of art. As stated above, the goal for Givhan is to keep on growing through her art.

“There’s an element of inventiveness that I love about painting,” said Givhan.

Givhan’s element of inventiveness in her work will be on display at Southside Gallery until October 6. 

The Other Mississippi: Dr. David Sansing Previews His New Book at Off Square Books

The audience gathers before Dr. David Sansing discusses the topics in his new book.

In a state often marred by negative outside opinions, Dr. David Sansing stands as a voice of reverence and clarity hoping to educate his audience about the full story of Mississippi’s contentious history.

At Off Square Books on Tuesday evening, Sansing discussed several of the topics and people that will appear in his latest book, “The Other Mississippi: A State in Conflict With Itself”.

A captivating speaker, Sansing held the room in silence as he first discussed the perception of Mississippi to outsiders.

“Things take time in Mississippi,” Sansing remarked.

Although his new book is about the unknown positive sides of Mississippi’s history, the professor is not one to dismiss the ugly face of the state that has reared it’s head in the past.

“Dr. Sansing of course has been here for a long time and is a very well respected and beloved member of the community,” said Off Square Books General Manager, Lyn Roberts. “I think the history of Mississippi is so fascinating and he brings out little known facts and makes it lively and more interesting.”

The professor drew a large, lively crowd to the event, that was eager to learn about their state. 

“He does very thorough research,” said local Oxford resident, James Webb Jr. “It’s very good and interesting. He uses subjects that someone like me who grew up here, was barely familiar with all of these things.”

Among the little known facts that Sansing brings about in his new book is the belief that Mississippi politician, L.Q.C. Lamar,  would have been elected President of the United States had he not been held back by the fact that he was born in the south.

The south has always carried traditions that are perceived as less than progressive above the Mason-Dixon line. However, it has been making small strides forward further back than some may think.

One of the most relevant people of interest in Sansing’s new book is a man known as “Blind” Jim Ivy. Ivy was a peanut vendor on Ole Miss’ campus for most of his life and was a treasured member of the Oxford community until his death in 1955. It has been speculated that Ivy, a black man, was the original inspiration for the former mascot of the university, “Colonel Reb”.

Along with the hidden facts of Mississippi, Sansing also talks about the rich literary history that has always been a part of Oxford and the state. Faulkner and Grisham are in the new book, but Sansing will also be writing about Richard Wright, Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty.

It is no secret that Mississippi has plenty of ghosts in its past, but it may be a secret to some that there have been so many beautiful cultural traditions and people to come out of the Magnolia State.

Sansing’s lifelong dedication to educating the public on the storied history of Mississippi is a gift that will have a lasting impact on those who decide to pick up any of his books.

Luke and the Rebels Look to Keep Focus Against Salukis

The home opener is three days away and the Rebels are looking forward to putting on another aerial attack for the Vaught-Hemingway faithful against the Southern Illinois Salukis.

Although the Salukis are an FCS team, Ole Miss is not looking past this weekend.

“They got six turnovers in the last game, three for touchdowns,” head coach Matt Luke said. “Offensively they do a good job on mixing personnel. They’re a smash mouth team and they’ll take their deep shots.”

A 20-point win over a solid team the week before would put some teams in a complacent mindset, but the Rebels are approaching this game with the same mentality as any other.

“I think what we have really focused on is us getting better and having a standard,” Luke said. “We didn’t play our best football week one and if we can find a way to get better at all the little things… there’s plenty for us to get better at and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

While the mentality may be the same, the preparation for the Salukis offense is the polar opposite to the Red Raiders.

“It’s totally different,” Luke said. “You’re going from spread to seeing some three tight end sets. It will definitely be a challenge for us to stop the run, and they’re really good at mixing in deep shots off that.”

Another Weapon for the Offense

Braylon Sanders proved he was ready to take his place in the N.W.O. (Nasty Wideouts) against Texas Tech when he reeled in four catches for 60 yards, including a highlight reel sideline grab.

“Coach Peeler had confidence in me to put me in that situation and I just made plays when my number was called,” Sanders said.

Sanders talked about D.K. Metcalf and Damarkus Lodge helping him in the offseason with techniques to improve as a part of one of the best receiving units in the country.

“The way he stepped in last week, it just shows the maturation process and how he’s gotten better and better,” Luke said.

From the Trenches

Allowing only two sacks against Texas Tech, the Ole Miss offensive line gave the Rebels an ample amount of protection to rack up 548 yards of total offense.

“We did really well as a unit,” right tackle Alex Givens said. “We have things to work on like every week but we played really physical, smart. I’m excited to get out there this week against a four-down defense. Play a little bit more physical, should be a fun week.”

Givens landed a spot on Pro Football Focus’s SEC team of the week after a stellar performance against the Red Raiders.

“You look at the film and you never do as good as you think and you never do as bad as you think,” Givens said.

Givens came out against Texas Tech and clarified what happened during the play.

“I was kinda driving someone into the ground and someone came in and hit me on the side of the head,” Givens said. “Shook me up a little bit but I’m good now. Excited to be back out there.”

Injuries

Damarkus Lodge did not practice today but is hopeful to be back on the field tomorrow.

Luke said that Lodge is further along than Kevontae’ Ruggs in his recovery.