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Ryan Anthony Francis's "Album for Guitar."

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

One of our talented interns, Eric Boodman, interviewed composer Ryan Anthony Francis ahead of the premiere of his "Album for Guitar" at the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble shows this weekend, at City Theater on the South Side. Eric has written up a short preview about the composer's ideas for the commissioned work. More information is available at www.pnme.org.

From Eric Boodman:

Imagine a Mark Rothko, the way the rough swatches of color seem to shimmer.

That is the effect composer Ryan Anthony Francis was going for in his suite “Album for Guitar," which premiered Friday night in a performance by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and guitarist Mattias Jacobsson. Mr. Francis wanted to move away from the structure that many classical pieces have. Instead of the movements being linked by a narrative arc, he wanted each one to stand on its own, as a track on a recorded album might.

“It’s like a series of paintings. The canvases would be four inches by fours inches. You can’t really focus on the whole series at the same time,” he said. “You come up close, and there’s a sense of intimacy.”

The composer, who is based in Portland, Oregon, has been in Pittsburgh all week, rehearsing the piece with the ensemble. Although “Album for Guitar” is written for a soloist and ensemble, Mr. Francis wanted a more fluid relationship between the guitar and the other instrumentalists -- less back-and-forth, and more blending. “Guitar is the center of gravity of this piece, and the rest of the ensemble orbits around it,” he said.

He was surprised to find that PNME’s performance will not have a conductor, given that each instrument’s line often has its own pulse. “I was pretty amazed they were able to keep it together,” said Mr. Francis.

The program also includes pieces by Christopher Cerrone and Amy Williams.

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Affleck sports stubble as Batman

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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Zack Snyder tweeted this new image of Ben Affleck as Batman and, according to Variety, it also turned up as part of a 75th anniversary montage of images of the character created for Comic-Con in San Diego.  
 
Batman doesn’t smile but he apparently also doesn’t always shave. You can see some stubble in the picture which continues to build anticipation for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” 
 

 

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21+ Night at Carnegie Science Center to feature PSO

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Looks like a neat event! More from the Carnegie Science Center (www.carnegiesciencecenter.org or 412-237-3400):

PITTSBURGH, July 23, 2014 – Carnegie Science Center is teaming up with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a special adults-only evening, featuring symphonic sounds with a scientific twist. "The Sounds of Science" is the theme of the Science Center's next 21+ Night on Friday, Aug. 1, from 6 – 10 pm.

Throughout the evening, musicians will demonstrate their instruments, including a double bass and a bassoon. They'll even hook up instruments to the Science Center's Rubens' Tube, which visually demonstrates an instrument's sound waves and pressure by shooting flames into the air.

Visitors can dance on a giant floor piano and play a tune with Boomwhackers, hollow percussion tubes. Stations throughout the building will offer the materials for DIY musical instruments, including a one-note harmonica.

Guests can test their musical knowledge at a live action Trivial Pursuit game, complete with a prize giveaway. Visitors can pose with a Mozart-cut out – and enter to win a Mozart prize pack.

Fiddlesticks, the orchestra's "fiddlin' feline" ambassador, will make a special appearance.

As always, 21+ Night features music, cash bars, and the chance to experience four floors of hands-on exhibits – with no kids!

Participants get a discount on Omnimax films and laser shows that evening.

The cost of the event is just $10 with advance registration before noon on the day of the event or $15 after noon at the door. Guests will receive a voucher for $15 in free slot play at the Rivers Casino when they arrive, while supplies last.

 

 

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Foxcatcher, Equalizer reuniting Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington heading for Toronto

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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Antoine Fuqua’s “The Equalizer,” reuniting him with Oscar winner Denzel Washington, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Fuqua is in Pittsburgh now with “Southpaw” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams and others. 
 
In other festival news just announced, “Foxcatcher” will have its Canadian premiere at the event. It was filmed in Western Pennsylvania but set elsewhere. 
 
“The Equalizer” stars Washington as a man who believes he has put his past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But then he meets a girl under the control of violent Russian gangsters, comes out of self-imposed retirement and finds his thirst for justice is back. 
 
The cast also includes Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.
 
Directed by Oscar nominee Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher” is about John du Pont, great-great-grandson of E.I. du Pont, the industrialist who founded the chemical company. 
 
In January 1996, he shot and killed David Schultz, a 1984 gold medal winner who came to live and train at the state-of-the-art Foxcatcher National Training Center that du Pont had built on his 800-acre property in Newtown Square, Pa. 
 
Steve Carell, already being touted as a likely Oscar nominee, plays the chemical fortune heir, Mark Ruffalo is the slain wrestler and Channing Tatum is his brother and a champion wrestler in his own right. (Carell and Tatum pictured below.)
 
The festival, Sept. 4-14, today announced 13 galas and 46 special presentations. 
 
Galas also include: “Black and White,” “Haemoo,” “The Judge,” “A Little Chaos” (closing night film), “Maps to the Stars,” “The New Girlfriend,” “Pawn Sacrifice,” “The Riot Club,” “Samba,” “This Is Where I Leave You” and “Wild.”
 
Here are descriptions of the galas, which get splashy red-carpet treatment, courtesy of the festival: 
 
 
Black and White, directed by Mike Binder, USA,  World Premiere
Black and White is the story of a widowed grandfather who is left to raise his bi-racial granddaughter. When the little girl’s paternal grandmother seeks custody, a bitter legal battle ensues that forces the uneasy family members to have an honest conversation about life, death, anger and America’s racial divide. Starring Academy Award-winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer, as well as Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Ehle, Gillian Jacobs, Bill Burr, Andre Holland and Jillian Estell.
 
The Equalizer, Antoine Fuqua, USA, World Premiere
In this big-screen adaptation of the cult ‘80s TV show, McCall believes he has put his past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets Teri, a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by — he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to extract vengeance upon anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer. Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.
 
Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller, USA, Canadian Premiere
Based on true events, this film tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Ruffalo and Sienna Miller.
 
Haemoo, Shim Sung-bo, South Korea, International Premiere
The ragtag crew of a fishing boat takes on a dangerous commission to smuggle a group of illegal immigrants from China to Korea, in this tense high-seas adventure co-scripted by South Korean genre-movie guru Bong Joon-ho. Starring Kim Yoon-seok and Park Yoo-chun.
 
judge 03 o3  8020010  1406034675The Judge, David Dobkin, USA, World Premiere
Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.
 
alittlechaos 01-USE-THIS-ONLY-FOR-TUES o3  8206447  1406034718Closing Night Film,  A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman, United Kingdom World Premiere
A landscape gardener with a taste for the unconventional is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her. Starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Alan Rickman and Matthias Schoenaerts.
 
maptothestars 01 o3  8021546  1406034682Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg, Canada/Germany, North American Premiere
David Cronenberg forges both a wicked social satire and a very human ghost story from today’s celebrity-obsessed culture. Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Sarah Gadon, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson.
 
The New Girlfriend (Une nouvelle amie), Francois Ozon, France, World Premiere
When her best friend Lea dies, Claire falls into a deep depression. However, after making a surprising discovery about her late friend’s husband, she’s given a new lease on life. Starring Romain Duris, Anais Demoustier and Raphael Personnaz.
 
Pawn Sacrifice, Ed Zwick, USA,, World Premiere
In this remarkable true story set in the height of the Cold War, chess legend Bobby Fischer is locked in a gripping championship clash with the Soviets as he struggles against his own psychological demons while the whole world anxiously awaits the outcome. Starring Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard and Liev Schreiber.
 
The Riot Club, Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom, World Premiere
A privileged young man is inducted into the exclusive, debaucherous company of Oxford’s elite “Riot Club,” in this scathing dissection of the British class system. Based on the hit play Posh, the film stars Natalie Dormer, Max Irons, Sam Clafin, Jessica Brown Findlay and Douglas Booth.
 
samba 02 o4  8207262  1406034730Samba, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, France, World Premiere
Samba migrated to France 10 years ago from Senegal, and has since been plugging away at various lowly jobs. Alice is a senior executive who has recently undergone a burnout. Both struggle to get out of their dead-end lives — Samba’s willing to do whatever it takes to get working papers, while Alice tries to get her life back on track — until fate draws them together. Balancing light-hearted moments with heavier emotion, Samba is a story about two strangers on a new path to happiness. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Omar Sy and Tamar Rahim.
 
This is Where I Leave You, Shawn Levy, USA, World Premiere
Shawn Levy’s dramatic comedy follows four adult siblings who return home after their father’s death to spend a week with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and frayed relationships among those who know and love them best, they reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways. Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll and Kathryn Hahn.
 
Wild, Jean-Marc Vallée, USA, International Premiere
After years of reckless behaviour, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed makes a rash decision. Haunted by memories of her mother Bobbi and with absolutely no experience, she sets out to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own. Wild powerfully reveals Cheryl’s terrors and pleasures as she forges ahead on a journey that maddens, strengthens and ultimately heals her. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffmann and Kevin Rankin.
 
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Michael Caine joins Last Witch Hunter shooting in Pittsburgh

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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And the big names just keep coming. 
 
Variety reports that Oscar-winning actor Michael Caine is joining “The Last Witch Hunter,” which will start shooting in Pittsburgh by late August.
 
Vin Diesel stars as an immortal  witch hunter who partners with his natural enemy — a female witch —  to stop the covens of New York City from unleashing a plague on humanity. 
 
Squirrel Hill native Bernie Goldmann is among the producers of the movie being directed by Breck Eisner and also starring Rose Leslie. Many moviegoers know Caine as Alfred in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films but his resume is as long as it is diverse and distinguished.
 
Photo by Barry Wetcher from “Now You See Me.”
 

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