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 →

Witness the Strength of Street Knowledge – A Day Talking Race, Culture and Percussion with Conga Legend Gumbi Ortiz

I. The Lesson, Part 1 “Don’t be scared! You’re tip-toeing like you’re nervous.” We were nervous. There we were, in Gumbi Ortiz’s private recording studio in Gulfport, FL, getting an impromptu conga lesson—and Gumbi Ortiz is, after all, one of the greatest percussionists alive. We don’t play drums. “Put the tips of your hands here... Continue Reading →

Music on the Brain

Better Living Through Chemistry The human brain, full of its folds and electric highways and chemical conversations, brews in the skull like a micro-universe, hailed by many as the most complex organism in the known universe—the ever-expanding, macro one. When scientists and researchers began opening the doors of how music affects the brain, no one... Continue Reading →

Art as a Survival Tool Series: IV

Remembering Oliver Sacks and Musicophilia This blog is the fourth in a series of five on Art as a Survival Tool, blogs that examine the crucial role art plays in the fulfillment of the human experience. On August 30, 2015, the beloved neuroscientist Oliver Sacks died in his Greenwich Village apartment in Manhattan surrounded by... Continue Reading →

Art as a Survival Tool Series: III

Good Vibrations Polyrhythms, sound healing and the significance of vibration This blog is the third in a series of five on Art as a Survival Tool, blogs that examine the crucial role art plays in the fulfillment of the human experience. Famed scientist Nikola Tesla once revealed “if you want to know the secrets of... Continue Reading →

FROM THE VAULT: Natalie Cole

Friday, March 20, 1992 In the early 90’s, the Tampa Tribune had a “Friday EXTRA!” section, an arts and entertainment tabloid, chock full of local and national entertainment news and events for the upcoming weekend. The section for March 20, 1992, featured the headliner of weekend events at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Natalie... Continue Reading →

Building Instrumental

   The Straz Center invited Los Angeles-based performance ensemble String Theory to turn the riverside corner of Morsani Hall into a working harp with 200-foot strings. This original, site-specific Fin Harp is on display with demonstrations through May 3. Look closely at the design of the newly-installed wooden harp on the river side of Morsani’s... Continue Reading →

FROM THE VAULT: Alice Cooper

March 2, 1990, St. Petersburg Times Proto-typical shock rocker Alice Cooper performed in “Festival Hall” (Morsani) on, ironically, a Sunday. The March 4 show here marked a stop on Cooper’s 1990 comeback tour, the same year a young man the world would know as Marilyn Manson was taking classes at Broward Community College in Fort... Continue Reading →

Cool Facts About Performing Arts: Afrobeat

The journey of rhythm is like water. It is a building block of life, to make and sustain it, and water takes many forms, traveling, growing, changing, and converging with other water sources to create incredible phenomena such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana or Florida’s very own Everglades. In its own way, rhythm works... Continue Reading →

Cool Facts About Performing Arts: Entrainment

Have you ever heard that clocks ticking at different beats will eventually synch up to tick in time? Well, it’s true. Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch physicist who first identified this process using pendulum clocks, called this curiosity ‘the sympathy of the clocks,’ although what he actually identified was the phenomenon of entrainment, an exceptionally cool... Continue Reading →

The Lioness Returns

Kissy Simmons’ early career began on stages around the Tampa Bay region, one of which was our Jaeb Theater. She left for New York City the week of Sept. 11, 2001, to audition for Aida, a Disney production. Her audition led to an interest in her for The Lion King, and she and her husband... Continue Reading →

How It Works: Rodgers+Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Big, blockbuster Broadway musicals come with singers, dancers, fabulous costumes ... and many trucks. How do those whopping set pieces end up on Carol Morsani stage? The answer is lots of (literal) manpower. We took some after-hours and behind-the-scenes photographs of the “load-in,” which is the usually very quick turn-around time between when the show... Continue Reading →

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