Tools of the Trade: Music

We’ve realized Straz fans love knowing what goes on outside of the spotlights, so we’re running a short series called Tools of the Trade, listing some cool and maybe-unheard-of tools for life in the performing arts. This week’s spotlight is on music. Gouging Machine Not just for medieval torture anymore, the gouging machine serves professional... Continue Reading →

The Song Goes on ‘Til the Break of Dawn

Now gallantly streaming on Spotify and Amazon Prime, America’s national anthem is a relatively new idea that found its legal place in our national identity as late as 1931. Imagine the White House burned to cinder. The Capitol collapsing into smoke and char. The lane between the two a soot-choked corridor of smoldering federal buildings.... Continue Reading →

From Suzuki to Itzhak

Ten-year-old music student Mateo Valdes’ violin journey at the Patel Conservatory. Patel Conservatory violin student Mateo Valdes has a very deep and wise gaze under a flop of shaggy, dark bangs. He doesn’t make eye contact much, but when he does, he seems to possess a kind of old-soul way of knowing that belies his... Continue Reading →

Ashe! Ashe!

The Florida African Dance Festival in Tallahassee Celebrates 21 Years June 7-9 “Ashe,” pronounced ah-SHAY, similar to “sashay,” and also spelled “ase,” is the Yoruba word for a West African spiritual concept of the life-force energy. Everything has ashe. Everything has the power to transmit and communicate ashe—and two very powerful forms of working with... Continue Reading →

Funky Drummer

Fifteen-year-old Patel Conservatory student Meghan Lock: “learning drums is my life.” Meghan Lock’s formal musical life began like most, with piano lessons at the bright, young age of five years old. But, when her parents realized she was spending more minutes in time out for not practicing than minutes she was playing, they took a... Continue Reading →

Lady with the Million Dollar Smile

Diamond Teeth Mary sparkles as part of the Straz Center’s Rock the Riverwalk local musicians’ hall of fame. We’ve had a lot of legends grace the stages at The Straz. Around Tampa, we’ve been blessed with our own backyard musical demigods, many of whom people don’t realize grew up, lived or died right here in... Continue Reading →

Secret of the Resonating Chambers

Opera Tampa Singer Vanessa Rodriguez reveals the four parts of the body to “place” the voice. Plus, she shows how to hit those high notes with no microphone. “It’s the Tweety Bird end of the spectrum,” says Vanessa Rodriguez. We’d asked her to explain what she meant when she told us she was a coloratura... Continue Reading →

String Theory

The mandolin and violin share some interesting intersections. From the cave paintings at Three Brothers Cave in France came evidence of the proto-proto-mandolin, a crude lute-like instrument with one string. Or perhaps this cave drawing, which depicts a hunting bow converted to a musical instrument, represents the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of what we know as the violin.... Continue Reading →

The Wild Style of Japanese Hip-Hop

About ten years after the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx, the art form found its way to Japan when young Japanese artists encountered the music and saw breakdancing in New York, taking what they saw back to Japan. In 1983, the film Wild Style, a seminal hip-hop documentary capturing the four pillars of the... Continue Reading →

Live and Local

The Straz Center brings "think globally, act locally" to the performing arts. If you’ve been around The Straz for the past few years, you’ve noticed the changes transforming our outdoor spaces to places meant for getting together, enjoying some cool art, having conversations and making the most of our primo waterfront property. We are blessed... Continue Reading →

The Marchingest, Playingest Band in the Land

Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 and the invention of the black marching band style In 1989, when the French government needed an act to represent American music for their 200th anniversary Bastille Day celebration marking French independence, did they choose Madonna? No. Michael Jackson? No. New Kids on the Block? Quintuple nope. They chose Florida... Continue Reading →

Nacho Everyday Percussionist

Nacho Arimany’s years working with rhythm showed him how natural harmonic patterns heal the human body and mind. At first glance, Nacho Arimany can easily be confused for a European version of holistic healer J.P. Sears in the “Ultra Spiritual” spoofs. But after a few moments into an interview or demonstration, Arimany reveals himself as... Continue Reading →

Helping Y’all People Notice

How Music Wrote the Lives of the Men of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble Ask a member of the seven-piece band Hypnotic Brass Ensemble how they got their name, and you may get a surprise answer. It started as an acronym for the band’s mission: Helping Young People Notice . . . hypnotic. Notice what, though? Music.... Continue Reading →

Call Me Xalam, Banjar, Strum Strum or Merrywang

The story of America’s instrument The meek and pluck-twangy sidekick to guitar and fiddle didn’t get its propers before Deliverance ruined an entire generation on banjo music and canoe trips to rural Georgia. The lone ambassador of a spectacular and truly (colonial) American history, the banjo is considered by folk musicologists to be the only... Continue Reading →

The Piano Guy

The Straz Center official piano tuner Kevin Patterson on what it takes to keep the ivories in the pink. The average home piano needs a tune up about twice a year, but when your livelihood and music critics are on the line, a good concert piano gets its ivories tickled, twisted, polished and pricked before... Continue Reading →

Lizzie Borden Took an Acts

Performing arts adaptations of one of America’s most grisly and haunting murder stories The facts are simple. On Aug. 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found dead in their Falls River, Mass., home from multiple hatchet wounds. Police found no sign of a struggle, no convincing murder weapon, no bloody clothes on any possible... Continue Reading →

Leotard, Check. Make-Up Kit, Check. Valve Oil? Check.

The Patel Conservatory Gears Up for Another School Year There’s no such thing as summer break for the faculty and staff of the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory. We spend the summer months steeped in a camps, classes, workshops, performances and pre-professional productions like this year’s impressive mounting of an almost full-scale Les Miserables. So, we... Continue Reading →

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