David Heiss and Warren Jones make for a dynamic duo on the cello and piano. Heiss, a native of Endwell, recalls announcing his determination to play the violin in the second grade – but his “very wise” mother convinced him to pick up the cello. His parents took him to hear the Binghamton Symphony as a child (he remembers hearing the great American cellist Leonard Rose play), and he had his first opera experience here in the Triple Cities, at the Triple Cities Opera, as the only cellist in the orchestra, “a kid trying to play a big opera like that”. Heiss spent close to six years with TCO. Today, cellist David Heiss is a longtime member of The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and principal cellist of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.
The line between fact and fiction is not always very bright. A storyteller must draw on personal vision, life experience and actual events to create a work that is itself a new reality. The novel “Dead Center” by Joanna Higgins is a fine example of a writer discovering depths of understanding from characters she has molded, based on an extraordinary real-life situation. The action commences abruptly with a respected pediatrician suddenly taken into custody to be returned to Michigan to stand trial for a killing that took place twenty years before. Dr. Ben Weber was present when his friend Pete Hyland was shot to death at a Michigan hunting camp, and though it was ruled accidental suspicions remained. Following the shooting, Dr. Weber divorced his wife to marry Pete’s widow, Karen, adopt her two young daughters Laura and Lin and then move to Hawaii. The doctor’s fine reputation, the family situation and the passage of time turns the trial into a sensational event in the small town of Tunley, Michigan. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-960258.mp3
An aggressive prosecuting attorney draws out lies in Dr. Weber’s testimony, and along with new forensic evidence the “cold case” begins to thaw. The staggering fact about “Dead Center” is that most of its incredible details are true and will likely be familiar to people in the Twin Tiers region of Pennsylvania and New York. The plot is drawn in large part from the trial of Dr. Stephen Scher, who in 1976 was present at the shooting death of his friend Martin Dillon. Scher did marry Dillon’s widow and raise her two daughters. He was brought to trial in 1997 and found guilty of first-degree murder, the conviction was overturned in 1999 but he was tried and convicted again 2008 and sentenced to life in prison. He died in prison in 2010. Many of the details of the Scher case turn up in “Dead Center”, including the revelation that the accused was having an affair with the wife of the man who was killed. Joanna Higgins attended the trial in Montrose, PA. The dimension of the case that would evade spectators, journalists and others is the pain and personal responses of a family whose respectable life was being ruined. This is the heart of “Dead Center”. Laura is living in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Lyn is in Ithaca, NY, not terribly supportive but willing to come to Tunley for the trial. Their mother Karen is a cancer survivor and bearing up worst of all. Dr. Weber seems optimistic, almost cheery through the courtroom drama. Most of the chapters in “Dead Center” are headed by the name of a character or two, as Higgins delves into their thoughts and feelings. Moods, the weather of the soul, Laura thought later, exhausted but unable to sleep. The beat of a mosquito’s wing, somewhere changing the whole mental atmosphere. In this case, her sister’s words, again, the doubt embedded within, their dull tone, the leaden pessimism and distrust, her weird need not to believe, all easily overtaking her own defenses, the incipient happiness, moving in upon it like a cold drizzle. She kept hearing her dad’s voice, kept trying to visualize exactly how it happened, but it woould blur, images on water.
The Expressions Summer Series of 2010 continues with an hour of live music from local singer/songwriter Lukus Wells. Although the inspiration is familiar, it’s Lukus’s angelic vocals, haunting melodies, and unique perspective that’ll have you watching this performance again and again. Lukus plays both acoustic guitar and piano during this emotional set. Filmed before a live studio audience at the WSKG Studios. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5eRQ6YNkBY
For more information about Lukus Wells please visit his website at: http://www.lukuswells.com
For a small island nation with a present-day population of about five million, Ireland continues to have an outsized influence on the world’s culture. The works of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney are among the literary high spots of the twentieth century. Irish music has an emotional range and depth that gives it connections to both Early Music and New Age sounds, and an influence that extends into contemporary American country and western songs. With a tradition so rich, spread by centuries of Irish emigration, it may be expected that Irish ethnicity and local custom might mingle and mix into something else. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-958160.mp3
So the plot of Mary Pat Hyland’s new novel “3/17”, while often bizarre, does not strain credulity. A four-member Irish musical group has been booked to play around St. Patrick’s Day at a few college campuses and pubs in upstate New York. Fionn, Diarmuid, Peadar and Aisling fly to Boston, rent a car and head for the hills. While driving down a country road in Cortland County a mysterious black pony runs across their route and the car careens off the roadway and breaks an axle. Help arrives soon, but the musicians are stranded. They take their instruments and settle down to become short-term emigres. The Irish band would like to play for the locals, but they soon discover that the Ireland they left behind is not the one that’s celebrated on this patch of American soil. “Be on the lookout for a suitable pub, restaurant or banquet facility. A place with a dance floor and drink.” “Let’s figure out a playlist, then,” Fionn said. They got out their instruments and had a pickup practice session. Fionn asked Aisling if she’d care to sing some sean-nos songs in Irish. That’d be really different for the folks around here. Diarmuid knows most of those rebel songs. Nuthin’ like them to get the crowd goin’. He wanted Peadar to play the songs people associated with highland pipe bands, songs with a high emotional factor such as “Amazing Grace” and “The Minstrel Boy”.