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Butler's Schrott Center opens, ArtsFest kicks off

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Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.
  • Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.

"I'm feeling like a very lucky man to come in just at the right time." That's Ronald Caltabiano, who became Dean of Butler University's Jordan College of the Arts in July 2011, right around the time when the university's Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts was coming to fruition. The April 18 grand opening of the multi-purpose, 450-seat theater/concert hall kicks off this year's ArtsFest, which has taken the theme of "revolution." We spoke this week with Caltabiano about the ArtsFest, which runs April 18-28 and will feature both professional and student/faculty groups, and the center.

NUVO: Butler seems to be on a growth pattern, both in sports and the arts.

Caltabiano: We're looking to do bigger things, to make our presence known and really become a nexus for the arts in Indianapolis. Over the next few weeks during ArtsFest, we have DK, ISO, the Children's Choir; groups that are important to Indianapolis but that perform in different places. It's going to be quite something to see them all in one place, generally talking about a similar thing. Every program that we're doing has some tie-in to revolutionary thinking, either in arts or in politics.

NUVO: And the advantage for the average attendee is that she gets to take advantage of all the expertise of a university in her backyard.

Caltabiano: We have to do a really terrific job on the educational side of this. And I look at the other mixed arts festivals in the world, like Spoleto, for example, which has the occasional pre-concert talk. That's fine, but they're not associated with a university. We have this incredible luxury of having an abundance of thoughtful thinking that we can bring to bear. We're going to put it out there, and we're making it free to the public.

NUVO: What should we know about the Schrott Center for the Arts?

Caltabiano: It's a true hybrid performance center. Rather than being shoebox-like as some concert halls are these days - Boston's Symphony Hall, Alice Tully Hall in New York, Clowes Memorial Hall - it has raked audience seating, so that it's great for theater and for dance but the acoustics are really adjustable and work well for music. And we have lots of gallery space. This year in addition to a student and faculty show about revolutionary art, we have some guest artists. We have Michal Lile, an artist that I found in town who I've given one of our largest upper lobbies to do an exhibition of his work. In the east gallery, we have Marianne Glick. And something we're really proud of in the main reception area is a new piece by the Ghanian artist El Anatsui, on loan to us for ArtsFest from Kuaba Gallery, where it isn't publicly exhibited.

The hall itself is a classroom. It's not only this 450-seat performance space; it's where the orchestra, band, chorus, opera and theatre rehearses. Just as important: Butler has an arts administration program, so the Schrott becomes the laboratory for that program. It serves so many needs for us.

Twelve to see (according to Butler):

April 18 - Dance Kaleidoscope: The Best of DK!
Featuring selections from PIAF Plus and Ole Blue Eyes, plus a preview of the in-progress Les Noces (Stravinsky).

April 18-20 - Butler Theatre: Lunar Revolution 2.0
A student-created show taking its structure from Schoenberg's 1912 song cycle Pierrot Lunaire (in three parts and seven songs) and featuring improvised scenes and sampled images, sound, music and text.

April 19-21 - Butler Ballet: Giselle
The quintessential Romantic ballet, about a peasant girl broken by love.

April 19 - Revolutionary Chamber Music
Featuring works by Beethoven (his Kreutzer violin sonata and An die Ferne Geliebte song cycle), plus more recently revolutionary work by George Crumb, among others, performed by Butler faculty.

April 20 - Butler Jazz Ensembles with Bobby Sanabria
One of the Fest's biggest guests, a drummer, composer, educator, conductor who has collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, etc.

April 21 - Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
Performing Paul Whiteman's original orchestration of Rhapsody in Blue, plus Copland's Clarinet Concerto, Barber's Adagio for Strings and selections from West Side Story.

April 25 - Butler Wind Ensemble with Steven Stolen
Featuring new music from Butler prof Michael Schelle (with Stolen along as soloist) and Karl Husa's Music for Prague 1968.

April 25-26 - Butler Theatre: Journeys from SEVEN
Butler Theatre reprises a play featuring the stories of women activists from around the world.

April 26 - Pianists Michael Rosenkrantz and Michael Sheppard
Two American Pianists Association classical fellows present Bartok's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated!, comprised of 36 variations on a Chilean socialist song.

April 27 - Pierrot Lunaire and The Rite of Spring
A two-part extravaganza featuring Paul Taylor's Le Sacre du Printemps, a reinterpretation of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring circa 1980 NYC, and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire with new choreography and conducted by Indy Opera's James Caraher.

April 28 - Butler Symphony and Chorale
ISO conductor laureate Raymond Leppard (making his first appearance at Butler) leads the school's forces in music by Beethoven, Dvorak, J. Strauss, Britten and Vaughn Williams.

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