How It’s New York: Artists Without Walls produces multicultural showcases in and around New York City
How It’s Irish: Founded by two Irish-Americans who are proud of their heritage, but who also believe that art comes alive when all cultures interact.
“Arriving at the AWoW Showcase with winter still chilling my bones, I was met by the high spirit of the Celtic fiddle and the warmth of Italian opera, proof that AWoW is becoming the United Nations of the cultural scene here in New York City,” said member Jim Rodgers.
The Celtic fiddler Jim referred to is German born, classically trained, Annettte Homann. Annette opened the show with an original blues tune for voice and violin. The audience responded instantly to her witty delivery, as evidenced by collective outbreaks of enthusiastic laughter. Her second piece called “The Fiddle Set” started lyrically and ended with a rhythmic, virtuosic burst of playing. Shouts of “bravo,” “brava,” and “bravissimo” rang out.
“A young Anita Pallenburg meets Jimi Hendrix.” Billy Barrett.
Michele Cetera supplied the evening’s wit and charm reading from a collection of monologues, Pieces of Me. Macy Grant’s life is in shambles: divorce, wild kids and mob threats. When she finally finds sanity and comfort in a new relationship she opens her journal and writes HAPPY, but soon, things change. It’s a break up. She’s been here before and doesn’t want to feel the hurt, but her ”foolish heart “ learns she can still hear the music without him. A passionate and compelling reading.
Tokyo born, Yoko Inagi, now a librarian at CUNY, performed on a traditional Japanese instrument called the Taisho goto or Japanese harp. Evoking the spirit of her grandmother, Yoko knelt in front of her harp and performed a short, sweet song called “Sakura.” (Cherry Blossom) A beautiful change of pace in an evening filled with rousing performances.
“I’m going to be at the Showcase tonight,” Honor Finnegan wrote. “I guess I’m too late to play a few tunes.” But timing is everything and Honor got her chance when a classical pianist canceled earlier in the day. Bringing her great voice, songwriting talents and ukulele to the stage, Honor sang two songs from her CD, The Tiny Life. She followed by putting down her instrument and finishing with a rousing rendition of Jack Hardy’s “Ain’t I A Woman.”
High school students Bianca Love and Agenis Castillo Jr., opened the second half of the Showcase. Bianca sang “Fool That I Am” by Adele and an excerpt from an original piece called “Mira Mi Corazon,” both with Agenis’s fine guitar accompaniment. “The crowd was amazing,” said seventeen-year-old Bianca. “They were so warm and welcoming. It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to do it again!”
Moley and Owen O Suilleabhain followed and announced that this was the perfect opportunity to sing two English language songs from their forthcoming Folk Songs album. The first song was a nineteenth century folk tune called ‘The Young May Moon Is Beaming’, the second the traditional Scottish song ‘Red Is The Rose’. “We love The Cell as a venue and the site as a workshop space. We’re looking forward to the Lehman College gig with spoken—word—artist Koro.” In Feburary, Koro, a grad student at Hofstra University, and a native of Lagos Nigeria, wowed the crowd with poems of her native land. The uniting of the O Suilleabhains, master of Gregorian chants, drone and Sean Nos, with Koro’s brilliant stylizing of her poems is a highly anticipated event.
First time presenter Noel Lawlor presented the opening prologue of Shakespeare’s Henry 5th. Noel, a regular at Showcases, had not presented his acting skills in front of a Showcase audience before Tuesday. But the wait was worth it as Noel gave a beautifully paced and compelling reading from Shakespeare’s play, which focuses on events during the Hundred Years’ War.
Classical vocalist Ellen Scarsella closed out the show singing the playful aria “Vedrai Carino” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, followed by a smoldering rendition of the jazz standard “Nature Boy.”
The next Artists Without Walls will be at Lehman College on April 25th. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Charles R. Hale