A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Rio de Janeiro and fell in love with the music and the people. I was excited to be able to produce and present a show filled with music that I love with my good friends. There were times during the concert that I felt the audience and the musicians experience a deep connection as we all became immersed in the sounds and feelings of the Bossa Nova and Sambas.
The Michael Ryan and Friends fundraiser at the Claremont Community Foundation involved performances of several works by Brazilian songwriter Carlos Jobim.
Michael Ryan on Guitar
Ken Soderlund (in purple) on Guitar
Hai Muradian (in red) on Flute
Adam Kaplan (in blue) on Flute
Mike Bennett (upper left) on Percussion
Bryan Brock (in the middle) on Percussion
Reed Gratz on Keyboard
Garrett Wolfe on Bass
3 Samba Dancers of Tropidanza Entertainment, Inc.
We did a great job keeping up with the dancers, if I do say so myself! They had different changes of costumes and each one appropriately fit the style of music that we were playing. They also came out into the aisles and danced with feather fans and it was great to see the audience experiencing the dancing up close.
Emily Lopez as Singer
(In this photo she can be seen performing Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 with Michael)
And even a comedic relief from Jim Gallucci or Stage Manager’s Assistant.
Jim had come on stage several times during the breaks in the show to dust off a chair or move a microphone and each skit was met with a small roar of laughter and applause from the crowd. A couple of people thought that Jim was employed with Garrison Theater, but he is actually our Assistant Stage Manager. Usually we have an intermission during our shows, but this time we switched it up with a little comedy and it was fun to have a laugh or two between songs.
We had a terrific time performing as a group and individually. I thought everyone did a great job! Emily Lopez beautifully sang Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5. I thought the flute solos that Adam and Hai did for Black Orpheus were incredible. Michelle Dachary, an audience member stated, “When the two flutes played together it was breath-taking. Just gorgeous.”
I really like a new song that I performed by Carlos Jobim entitled, Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars. This is a new song and for me it was one of the highlights of the show. The encore piece Bim was written by Garret Wolfe and dedicated to Carlos Jobim.
The crowd was right with us and was really experiencing the show well. Bernadette Batista Kendall left us the following comment during the reception after seeing the show, “Michael, my grandmother was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1901 and is to be 96 years old. I loved your beautiful Brazilian music.”
The happy feelings and fun experience was shared by all and filled the entire house. The audience had a great time and there was a magic to the evening! Audience members Barbara & George Adams told me after the show that “We thought the show tonight was as good, if not better, than any show at the Hollywood Bowl! You belong in New York.”
I would like to give a special thanks to Deb Waas our Stage Manager and the sound and light technicians at the Garrison Theater. There was a bouncing energy about the music that night and the lighting helped to set and maintain the mood. Everyone was wonderful, so nice and helpful; it made the performance such a fun and rewarding experience. The Claremont Community Foundation was pleased with the performance and we raised money from tickets and donated gifts for the foundation.
We appreciate the support from all who could attend and we look forward to seeing you at our next event. Remember that we are here to entertain you and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for what you would like to see in our future performances, please let us know! You can feel free to leave us a comment on Facebook, or you can fill out a comment/suggestion cards at an event.
I love the beautiful Brazilian culture. The rich history is rooted in African, European and Indian influences with the first European settlers arriving in the 1500s. The culture adapted and changed with the foreign influences and by the late 1600′s Brazil became more recognized on an international scale. The entertainment life is filled with fast movements, loud sounds ad many vibrant colors. The music, song and dance is eclectic; an accurate depiction of the widely mixed and foreign influenced culture.
photo source: http://www.visitriodejaneirobrasil.com/ipanema-rio.jpg
Most of you know the song “Girl from Ipanema?” The song tells of a man’s hopeless longing for a woman who doesn’t even notice him. Click the link to listen to the song, The Girl from Ipanema, sung by Frank Sinatra and the songwriter Carlos Jobim! Check out this interesting interview featuring the the actual woman the song was written about and revealing the truth behind the lyrics!
This variety of expression and performance is what draws me to the vibrant country. I love the feeling that comes over me when I play the sambas and bassa novas. I can feel excitement from within as I share my passion for performing this music for my listeners.
Do you remember when I introduced you to the wonderful acts of the Claremont Community Foundation a couple of weeks ago? Well, this November I am fortunate enough to be producing and performing a Brazilian show to raise money for the Claremont Community Foundation. The exotic show entitled, Rhythms of Rio, will take place on Saturday, November 23rd and will feature fun and exciting music accompanied by beautiful vivacious dancers. Click here for more info: Claremont Community Foundation
Come and enjoy a taste of the Brazilian culture. We would love to see you there!
Are you looking for an animated and fun atmosphere to enjoy a drink with friends and catch some live tunes? Then you are in luck, because I have recently found a venue called POP Champagne in the heart of Old Town Pasadena which is excellent for just that! I performed here last week with Hai Muradian and Ken Soderlund of Michael Ryan and Friends and we really enjoyed ourselves. This wine and dessert bar is an awesome place to get together with friends while enjoying delectable hor d’oeuvres accompanied by rare alcoholic beverages and quality service.
POP opens for dinner to the public throughout the week and weekend, with Mondays reserved for special groups or events. You can arrange for a party to celebrate those special moments in life at a memorable location with beautifully crafted desserts and imported beers and wines. The staff is also very friendly and helpful which adds to the positive feel of the bar.
POP Champagne is decorated with different artistic elements which match the culinary beauty of the craft. Hai appreciated the decor of the venue stating that,
“It was a very cool looking place. There were different size circular mirrors made to look like bubbles of champagne, and frames without pictures… an eye for the artistic.”
Further embracing this art of entertainment, there are sommeliers, or trained wine stewards, who are more than willing to help the patrons carefully select the perfect wine to compliment the delicious deserts and hor d’oeuvres. Hai mentions there are plenty of options to choose from and “as a vegetarian, I liked the selection.” This cozy spot has a classy feel that will entice your sense of taste as wells as visual, and auditory senses!
We had a great time playing a wide range of music for our audience from Spanish and Latin jazz to covers of the beloved Beatles. “We mainly played originals and the crowd responded well,” Ken noted. Our music fit in nicely with the cocktail hour ambiance of the bar and we performed our set on a small stage set near the corner. There were many people at the venue that evening and through the laughing, story sharing and joke telling of each party we could be heard serenading the diners.
POP Champagne was packed on the night that we were performing! The bar had so many patrons that night that people were being turned away at the door. Ken noticed that “there were a lot of people there; a good mix of those who already knew our music and regular patrons of the wine bar.” We had gotten a great response from the audience; several of the guests attending were our own supporters from our hometown of Claremont!
A Reason to Go Back
As Ken put it simply, POP Champagne has “great wine, great food, and a great audience!” There are many new flavorful experiences awaiting at POP Champagne! Hai has actually been savoring a new experience with a rare beer that he encountered at the bar. This Pennsylvania brew hails from the oldest American Brewery and is not found on the west coast. The brewery has been family run since the late 1820’s and even served nonalcoholic beer during the prohibition era. Hai said he “tried to find it the next day and found out it was from Pennsylvania and they don’t deliver it to the west coast.” he continued to say, “I want to go back just to have the one beer!”
So when you have some time to enjoy this delightful treat, go there sometime! It’s a very nice place to visit whether there is music or not.
The chance for success is greater when we as individuals are involved and interact with one another in a community. It takes a village to maintain a village and the Claremont Community Foundation, and its members, understand the importance of making social improvements at the grass roots level. We were fortunate enough to interview a caring and dedicated member for seventeen years, the Executive Director Nickia Cleaves.
What Does the Claremont Community Foundation Do?
The Claremont Community Foundation is a carefully orchestrated organization which focuses its efforts on philanthropic activities designed to make a positive impact on the community and preserve its culture by hosting displays of artistic expression. The Foundation was initially established in 1989 as a way to organize the many charitable donations which were made to the city of Claremont.
“We are a very small foundation…” said Cleaves; “we really only have myself and one other part time assistant. So, the person who basically plans and runs the fundraisers that raise the money for the grants that we give, that would be me, the executive director, with the help of my board of directors.”
The main aim is to maximize the positive effects of proper allocation of project funding and member involvement within the community while keeping operation costs to a minimum. The Foundation relies on annual contributions from kind-hearted donors to operate and continue funding community projects, so its members continue to encourage citizens of the Claremont and surrounding communities to get involved and support this tradition of giving to enhance the community for later generations.
Why Should the Local Community Give Support?
The caring citizens and gracious donors supply the Claremont Community Foundation and partnership foundations with the ability to keep nurturing the needs of and empowering the local community while ensuring that costs of internal operations and costs of internal organization are minimized. So, you can be sure that each donation is being optimized at the Claremont Community Foundation. With the carefully planned financials and a focus on “Community Impact and Arts,” this foundation is of choice when deciding how to contribute toward a better future for the local community.
This focus allows Cleaves and the members of the board to invest more time, energy and funding into the beneficial projects of most need such as:
- Theatrical and musical performances
- Artist of the month showcases
- Public Sculpture Program
To see the charity events going on with the CCF, visit their events page at http://www.claremontfoundation.org/news/events/
I am excited to be working with Nickia and the foundation, I love what they stand for and what they do. Cleaves also expressed that she is”thrilled to have this concert!” She said, “I’m looking forward to the program. It is a dynamite show!”
The grants funded mainly impact Claremont, and there also are other organizations across the Inland Valley area which are able to benefit from this financial community resource. To hear more inspiring stories, take a look what the community organizations had to say about the foundation and its efforts at http://www.claremontfoundation.org/grants/testimonials/
Being involved with this foundation proves to be a truly rewarding experience as Cleaves explained.
“Oh, I love it! I would not have stayed here and worked for so long, so hard if I hadn’t totally believed in what we’re doing. I know that we make small differences, but those small differences matter to people. So I feel that the role of a community foundation is very important and I really have dedicated myself to that for some years now.”
We are grateful when individuals step forward to try to make a positive impact on and difference in the community. To learn more about this impressive foundation you can visit www.claremontfoundation.org