The colorful carousel of art continues to go merrily around on Whidbey Island.
Once upon a time in Langley the community turned out an arts council. The arts council turned out a center for the arts. The center for the arts built a stage. The Rural Characters band created a fundraiser on that stage. Funds from that annual foot-stompin’ musical event in turn makes WICA’s Local Artist Series possible.
It is this circle of artistic life that reflects the revolving community of artists on South Whidbey and, this year, the series offers the stage to four local women artists — a dancer, a violinist, a singer and a storyteller — who perform on four consecutive Fridays in March.
The circle continues its orbit.
Dancer and choreographer Marta Mulholland presents “Island Rhythms,” a benefit performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 2 on the WICA mainstage. Mulholland calls it an entertaining and inspiring evening of rhythms, dance, drumming, songs and poetry in honor of Ethiopia and international adoption.
“This is a benefit performance to help bring a child from Ethiopia into our family,” Mulholland said of the event.
“In some ways, adoption is another world — the process, the travel, other cultural experiences — and yet it’s so intensely familiar to anyone who longs to bring a child into their family. That is what has motivated me to put together this performance — that and my love of the arts,” she said.
Mulholland compared her adoption process to the creation of a performance and the fact that neither would be possible without the support of a community. In adoption it is the support of friends and family. In the artistic process, it has been the community of her fellow artists who have made the circle of this benefit for her family’s adoption possible.
Joining Mulholland onstage are Judith Adams, Sommer Albertson, Katrina Collins, Eric Conn, Donita Crosby, Elizabeth Grant, Dyanne Harshman, Leslie Larch, Lars Larson, Dana Moffett, Ron Rossel, Graham Vanderwood, Wade Wilcox, Peter Yanz and Leslie Yingling.
When she started creating the show, Mulholland didn’t realize it would evolve into her feelings about Ethiopia, and adoption.
“But I did want to include elements of Africa, which are found in Sarungano’s songs and stories from Zimbabwe and Wade, Eric and Ron’s world rhythms and dance music,” she said.
Raffle tickets will also be available for a basket packed with Ethiopian treasures. Raffle tickets can be purchased by emailing Mulholland at firstname.lastname@example.org, and at WICA during the performance and cost $5 for two or $10 for five tickets. All proceeds from the basket will go toward the Mulholland family’s adoption. Raffle ticket holder need not be present to win.
For more information about the service the family is using for their adoption, visit www.childrenshouseinternational.com.
Tickets for “Island Rhythms” are $12 for all seats. Call the box office at 221-6268 or visit www.wicaonline.com.
Fifteen-year-old violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan continues to wow audiences with her uncanny ability to perform well beyond her years. She graces the WICA mainstage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9.
Ferry-Brennan will perform the program she is preparing for the Johansen International String Competition in Washington, D.C. on March 21. She was one of 12 violinists in the 13-17 age group selected to compete in the semifinals of that competition. She will play the entire Beethoven Violin Concerto, Poulenc Violin and Piano Sonata, Bach’s Partita No. 3, Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantella, and a new work commissioned for the competition.
“I hope to share my love of music with the WICA audience,” said the modest young artist.
She also said the audience can expect to experience a range of moods with this program, from soothing to edgy to dramatic.
This past Sunday, Ferry-Brennan performed the first movement of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at Benaroya Hall in Seattle with the Seattle Youth Symphony and then was off to Maine later that day where she will play on National Public Radio’s “From the Top.” The prestigious NPR program features talented musical students from around the country, for which performers receive monetary awards for up to $10,000 to help offset the often-prohibitively expensive costs of studying classical music at a high level. Her performance will be broadcast on NPR later in March. Check it out at www.fromthetop.org.
Admission for Ferry-Brennan’s performance at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts is by donation.
Indie folk singer-songwriter Karin Blaine will sing a solo concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16 on WICA’s mainstage.
“I describe my live performances as a ‘Liza-Minelli-meets-Bob-Dylan-meets-Dick Cavett’ kind of experience,” Blaine said, describing herself as part diva, part poet, and part smart aleck.
Blaine is celebrating the release of her new recording, “Modern Day Living,” and will feature songs from her new project which will be on sale at the performance.
“We’re all craving connection with others and with ourselves,” Blaine said.
“My live performances and original songs are my attempt to satisfy this modern day ‘jones.’”
Blaine made the record at Sound Trap Studios in Freeland with sound artist extraordinaire Robbie Cribbs. A seasoned performer, Blaine has performed at Seattle’s Bumbershoot, the Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle’s Out-To-Lunch Concert Series, the Woodland Park Zoo concerts, and at ClubPassim in Boston and the Crypt in New York, NY.
With one voice and one guitar, Blaine said she sifts through the infinity of human experience and delivers emotional connection in her songs that hook up listeners with
with the puzzles, pain and the beauty of being human.
“Live performance is the most creative thing I do as an artist,” Blaine said.
“It’s kind of like a jazz solo between me and the audience — an exchange; immediate, real, maybe even risky; never ever to happen again in the same way.”
Tickets for Blaine’s show are $10 for all seats and are available at WICA’s box office or by phone at 221-8268.
Visit www.wicaonline.com for more info.
JILL AND REBECCA
Storyteller Jill Johnson tells the story of Rebecca Ebey in her premiere performance of “Rebecca,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23 on WICA’s mainstage.
Johnson stumbled across the diary of Rebecca Ebey at the Island County Historical Society Museum in Coupeville. After three years of gathering the story of Rebecca’s journey from Missouri to what was then called the Oregon Territory during the Great Migration of 1851, she has created a full-length theatrical production made vivid through the voices of the people met by Rebecca and her family along the way. The show includes authentic Oregon Trail music, choreography, photographs, sound effects and lighting.
“The production has been fueled by my growing excitement at the power of this story,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the story revolves around Rebecca Ebey, her husband Isaac and their two young sons who all settled on Ebey’s Landing in Coupeville in 1852.
“I’ve read lots of pioneer journals, but this one is unique. It reveals so much about Rebecca and the early settlement of Whidbey.”
A grant from the National Storytelling Network helped Johnson complete her research at the Special Collections Library at the University of Washington into the correspondence between the Davis and Ebey families. In September 2011, Johnson wrote:
I can see it now … the land. It stretches out — bands of green, yellow, and black: squash fields, hay stubble, and black earth, ringed by forest and shore. For centuries Native Americans gathered camas root and nettles on this prairie and then burned it… year after year, layer after layer of ash, rich in nutrients, which became the farms and fields of Ebey’s Landing. I stroll down the road, munching apples from a tree near the Ferry House. The wind whistles in my ear and I can hear the surf sounds below. Rebecca heard those same sounds; yesterday was the 158th anniversary of her death. Now … for just a moment … it is almost as if we share this landscape together.
Although the production is a one-woman show, Johnson said it would not have been possible without the many people who helped her to bring Rebecca Ebey’s story to life and to whom she is eternally grateful.
“I hope the audience will grow to like and respect Rebecca as much as I do and come away with new ideas about what it meant to be a pioneer settler on Whidbey Island,” Johnson said.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for youths, seniors and military. Call the WICA box office at 221-8268 or 800-638-7631 for tickets or visit www.wicaonline.com.