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Along the Avenue

Nell Nolan-Young and Robert Young

Artists Sebastien Lemarie and Meg Moring

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and LPO conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto

The city’s alive with the sounds of music and it’s more than a run-up to the sensational 2008 line-up for Jazz Fest. There has been world-class music in the air all last month, from La Di Dah to Down ‘n’ Dirty.

The New Orleans Friends of Music is a small organization that brings big performers to Tulane’s Dixon Hall. Chamber music never rocked quite so well as when The Kronos Quartet showed their prowess in everything from viola to windbag during a tour of world music. The audience, including Nell Nolan-Young and Robert Young, (now off on a long-dreamed trip to the Holy Land), Henry Sarpy, Karen Eustis and others refused to let the group leave until the third encore was done. Even The Times-Picayune’s music maven Chris Waddington found himself unexpectedly swept away and rose to applaud.

A few weeks later, St. Louis Cathedral reverberated with the sound of the world premiere of Contemporary Art Center’s Jay Weigel’s “Renaissance” by the University
of Southern Mississippi, which commissioned the work, and the Hattiesburg Choral Union. The lyrical piece underscores Weigel’s ability to juggle composition, teaching and overseeing all manner of development –including the return of the “SweetArts” ball to New Orleans – at the CAC.

The CAC always resonates with some sort of music – as does the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Both provided entertainment, along with the regular 1st Saturday – the Warehouse District monthly gallery-crawl – all on the same night! So while
costumed groups scurried between galleries for Ogden’s O-Mazing Race, people like artists Meg Moring and Sebastien Lemarie poured wine at their vernissage (the start of an art exhibition) at the Arabesque Gallery. Julia Street resident, Rich Look, played a few tunes from his CD Louisiana Moon for a few pals of he and wife Cassandra.
Artist George Rodrigue makes music (and art and money) wherever he goes, so while his “Blue Dog” exhibit remains at NOMA, one can expect a second-line, fais do-do and any other sort of hip swinging things to happen, from the opening of the 40-year retrospective straight through to “Art in Bloom” at the beginning of April. I sat at the museum one afternoon listening to the knowledgeable and ethereal Wendy Rodrigue talk about George’s work while George worked on a painting. Afterward, he signed books like the art rock star that he is.

The Hornets are the rock of the Arena and St. Charles Avenue types are out in droves to support them. You can find Louellen and Darryl Berger sitting courtside, ditto businessman John George, plastic surgeon non pareil Calvin Johnson. Yes, that was Rex, Johnny Koerner, Donald Ensenat, formerly of the Bush administration, and Virginia Saussy, wearing the newest Mignon Faget silver bee earrings accented with Hornet’s blue turquoise made to honor the team with buzz.

And creating quite the excitement with the cultural set was the visit of famed violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who at age 8, studied at The Curtis Institute of Music! Wearing sequined trousers by Yves Saint Laurent, she stepped on Tulane University’s McAlister Auditorium stage like a rock star and wowed the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and its audience playing Samuel Barber. Afterwards, it was a caviar, champagne and “molto dolce” at the home of the Bill Hines, where Nadja mingled with conductor and fellow violinist Carlos Miguel Prieto, Jim Atwood, Patti Adams and others. The performer is also an educator spending nine days between New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette playing with orchestras and speaking
to students.

That’s not the only news coming out of the LPO: The orchestra is one of the closing acts of the Jazz Fest. They will be backing Terrance Blanchard and his quintet in his Grammy-Award winning “A Tale of God’s Will: A Requiem for Katrina,” in the Jazz Tent. This 13 song emotional tour de force contains music from and inspired by director Spike Lee’s HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke.

Heard something interesting for “Along the Avenue?”
If so, please send it to:
St. Charles Avenue,
110 Veterans Blvd., Ste. 123
Metairie, La. 70005,
Attn: Diane Sustendal. Or email
Diane at: diane@renaissancepublishingllc.com

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