Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: January 11, 2012
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor



+ Construction crews bode well for art scene
If renovation and expansion projects are any indication of economic growth, then the state of the arts in Sarasota is strong.

In the same week that Art Center Sarasota completed a $50,000 renovation of its reception area and front galleries, Florida Studio Theatre broke ground on the new Gompertz Theatre on First Street and Cocoanut Avenue.

The Art Center makeover was paid for by a grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and executed by grad students in the University of South Florida Tampa’s architecture department and Design/Build program.

Using parts machined by G.WIZ’s Fab Lab, the students designed and built a new reception desk and foyer enclosure, giving the 85-year-old art center a fresh look complete with a “recognition wall” to display the names of major contributors.

+ Clear your calendars for ‘Cirque des Voix’
Just when you think everything has been done before and “collaboration” is merely a buzzword arts organizations throw around, a fabulous and groundbreaking new show opens in Sarasota and knocks everyone for a loop.

“Cirque des Voix,” I’m talking about you.

The intoxicating collaboration between Key Chorale and Circus Sarasota is expected to generate major buzz (and ticket sales) this week.

An unusual blend of circus programming and choral music, “Cirque des Voix” managed to sneak under my radar last year.

It wasn’t until I asked local arts leaders which shows they were anticipating most this season that I realized “Cirque des Voix” was at the top of that list.

The innovative performance features the 100-voice Key Chorale, a 20-piece orchestra and a dazzling array of trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, contortionists, fire-breathers and clowns working in tandem under the Circus Sarasota Big Top.

The brainchild of Key Chorale Artistic Director Joseph Caulkins and Circus Sarasota founder Pedro Reis, “Cirque des Voix” is back with a new lineup of artists, including aerialist Annaliese Nock, the teenage daughter of Sarasota clown Bello Nock, and Tino Wallenda of the Flying Wallendas.

“It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever done,” Caulkins says of the marriage. “What’s fun is knowing we have a totally blank canvas on which to create. Setting a circus to live music has been done before, but adding a 100-voice chorus is something entirely new. The effect is dramatic.”

You don’t say. It’s not everyday someone breathes fire to the tune of “Carmina Burana.”

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13, 2 p.m. Jan. 14 and 4 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Circus Sarasota Big Top. For tickets, call 355-9805 or visit

+ The Woman’s Exchange offers grants to student artists
Since its inception in 1962, the Woman’s Exchange has doled out more than $7 million in support of the arts.

In keeping with this tradition, the nonprofit consignment store awards grants and scholarships each year to Sarasota and Manatee County residents pursuing careers in the arts.

Last summer, it awarded $200,000 in grants and scholarships to arts organizations and students.

Proving philanthropy is on the upswing, the organization is planning to add $50,000 to its coffers for the 2012-2013 grant cycle.

Applications are being accepted now through Jan. 31. To obtain one, visit or call 955-7859.

Jazz violinist Aaron Weinste in:
It seems jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein can do no wrong. Regarded as a whiz kid among up-and-coming jazz violinists, Weinstein’s playing has been heralded by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Downbeat magazine. He was 19 the first time he played for the Jazz Club of Sarasota. He’s now 26. The New York-based musician will play at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. For tickets, call 366-1552.

Business of the Arts Forum:
Hosted by the Sarasota County Civic League, this Jan. 17 luncheon will include a panel discussion on how to draw younger patronage to local arts and cultural events. On the panel: Christine Jennings (The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe), Dwight Currie (John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art), Larry Thompson (Ringling College of Art and Design), Mark Famiglio (Sarasota Film Festival), Joe McKenna (Sarasota Orchestra) and Michael Bush (Sarasota Ballet). In an effort to corner the youth market, I was asked to moderate the panel. Join me at 11:30 a.m. upstairs at Marina Jack. Registration is $22 for non-members and includes lunch. For more information, call 925-2970 or visit


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