Au­di­ences

Conversation: Laura Gor­don, Kevin Pearl, Rose Cur­ley and Rachel Blaustein on

Milwaukee Magazine - - Culture -

Art for all! It’s a noble thought, but achiev­ing that goal is no easy task. We asked four Mil­wau­kee-area artists and per­form­ers to weigh in on what’s be­ing done lo­cally to con­nect with a broader au­di­ence.

Ac­tor and di­rec­tor Laura Gor­don has long been one of the Rep’s most cel­e­brated as­so­ciate artists. Oboe player Kevin Pearl out­per­formed hun­dreds of oth­ers to snag a spot in the Mil­wau­kee Sym­phony Or­ches­tra. Nohl Fel­low

Rose Cur­ley cre­ates genre-de­fy­ing art­work, cur­rently on view at the Hag­gerty Mu­seum of Art. And stand­out so­prano Rachel Blaustein sings for the Floren­tine Opera.

RB: As an opera performer, the stereo­type and the stigma is that a lot of peo­ple from the older gen­er­a­tion tend to at­tend our per­for­mances. But this sum­mer we’re do­ing out­side con­certs, and the au­di­ence is shock­ingly young. Last week we were per­form­ing at the Colec­tivo on Hum­boldt and th­ese two guys play­ing bas­ket­ball walked by and heard us and sat down, with their bas­ket­ball, and stayed through the rest of the per­for­mance. I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing like that in any other city.

LG: I do see, no mat­ter where I work in the coun­try, there is a hunger for art, a hunger for sto­ry­telling. Work­ing as an ac­tor and a di­rec­tor, there’s an op­por­tu­nity, and a re­spon­si­bil­ity to demon­strate and of­fer em­pa­thy, which I think, as a cul­ture, we are sorely lack­ing. I think that the power of art is to evoke some­one say­ing, “I feel just like that, I never knew any­one else felt like that,” or “I never thought about that be­fore.”

RC: I think that tech­nol­ogy re­in­forces all of that – we are all look­ing at our cell­phones all the time. Ev­ery­one’s look­ing down at their phones, but if you’re stand­ing there singing, ev­ery­one looks up and sud­denly we’re all in this

mo­ment, in life, to­gether.

KP: We started this neigh­bor­hood res­i­dency with the sym­phony in River­west and Haram­bee. We spent a week play­ing in small groups on the street and in bars. And I would say that it was largely peo­ple who would never come to the con­cert hall, ei­ther be­cause of in­tim­i­da­tion or ac­ces­si­bil­ity. You know, there is a level of priv­i­lege you have to have to be in that world, which is un­for­tu­nate. The more that artists can share what we do out­side of our safe spa­ces can be huge.

RC: I was spend­ing a lot of time in River­west and Haram­bee, and the first per­for­mance that drew me in and kept me there was Sis­taStrings play­ing a duet they had ar­ranged them­selves at Pub­lic House [for 2016’s River­west FemFest]. I was like, “What? This is go­ing on at Pub­lic House?” I was used to hear­ing folk mu­sic at Pub­lic House, which is nice, but this was just so com­pelling.

LG: I’m re­ally in­trigued by all of th­ese off­site events. I think get­ting away from the institutions some­times helps.

RB: Yeah, opera com­pa­nies are find­ing ware­houses or train sta­tions or ob­scure places to tell their sto­ries in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way.

RC: Ac­tu­ally, what I saw was part of a fes­ti­val that was or­ga­nized by the young peo­ple of River­west to raise money for the women’s cen­ter. I think a part of why that Sis­taStrings per­for­mance was so great was be­cause that was their com­mu­nity – it was em­pow­er­ing for them. It was all of the young peo­ple ris­ing up.

Left to right: Kevin Pearl, Laura Gor­don, Rose Cur­ley and Rachel

Blaustein on­stage at the Mil­wau­kee Reper­a­tory

The­ater

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