Tag Archives: Latapi

The Notebook (horror recut)

Edited by Juan Latapi, using Adobe Premiere.


Ensemble Dal Niente brings a contemporary tone to the 8th Latino Music Festival

Chicago–Sitting on a dimly lit stage and facing a crowded auditorium, members from the Ensemble Dal Niente forcefully pluck away the strings, gently hit the keys, valiantly blow the woodwinds, and gently vocalize stories situated somewhere between the baritone and alto range as they embark on a journey through time and space.

This presentation marks the ensemble’s debut at The Latino Music Festival in a setting that had its fair share of emotional as well as eccentric moments through an act that journeyed through the classic as well as the contemporary in an attempt to spread awareness of the diverse background of Latino music.

Dal Niente’s performance at The Harold Washington Library’s Cindy Pritzker Auditorium on November 14th was both traditional and innovative in its delivery.

Along with some classical Spanish pieces such as the baroque “Con que la lavare”, the ensemble also performed more contemporary pieces such as  “Apartamento Polsen Apartamento” Peterson by Mauricio Pauly, which  had never been played in the United States before, and “Who Cares if She Cries I” by Jocy de Oliveira.

Austin Wulliman, Dal Niente violinist and program director said “ the programming (of the performance) is meant to represent a wide array of musical styles and diverse voices.”

“We hope the audience comes away with an appreciation for the wide array of musical styles and poignant voices of the composers highlighted for this festival,” Wulliman said.

Both of the modern pieces were chosen because of the composers’ Latino background and their significance in the contemporary art world.

“Apartamento Polsen Apartamento,” written by Mauricio Pauly (b. 1974), a Costa Rican composer based in the UK who is co-director and founder of the Distractfold Ensemble and the Altavoz Composers, is an avant-garde piece that features saxophone, cello, and piano.

The production, which runs approximately nine minutes, is spatially performed as the instruments are sporadically played, thus reflecting a wide spectrum of themes including passion, violence, and peace through bursts of distorted notes. The most interesting feature of  “Apartamento Polsen Apartamento” is the constant and at times menacing presence of silence, as if it was being played just like any other ordinary instrument would.

It was originally debuted at the Premiered at the Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporáneo (Galician Centre for Contemporary Art) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain on November 2011 and was revised by Pauly himself for the Ensemble DalNiente performance at the Latino Music Festival.

“Who Cares if She Cries I,” written by Brazilian composer Jocy de Oliveira (b. 1936), whose work has been featured in prestigious musical festival such as the Berliner Festspiele in Germany and the International festival of Campos de Jordao in Brazil, is a simple yet haunting piece that features the cello and a soprano vocal performance.

This contemporary orchestra piece, which debuted in 2000 and was revised for smaller ensembles such as Dal Niente in 2003, plays out like an emotional rollercoaster by featuring haunting multi-scale string performance ranging from an ever present hum to an exalted jump in notes as the piece progresses.

The other half of the song comes in the shape of an unusual and daring vocal performance, which invocates the wide array of human emotions through spoken word, chirping, and aphonic chants. In this case the magnificent vocal performance was delivered by 2010 Mcknight Artist Fellow and baroque soprano Carry Henneman Shaw.

According to Wulliman, Henneman Shaw as chosen for this piece because “ she is a truly magical and versatile musician, with an incredibly flexible voice.”

“Her musical talents show in full with music ranging from early Spanish music (Carrie is a well-respected early music expert) to the newest of the new (music written for Dal Niente this year),” Wulliman said.

For the Ensemble Dal Niente the show has a special significance as it marks their first collaboration with The Chicago Latino Music Festival.

Founded in 2004 at Northwestern University by composer Kristen Broberg, the ensemble consists of young artists and international virtuosos. The ensemble is well known for “presenting the best of music being written today by established, emerging, and as-yet-undiscovered composers.”

Now an established institution, Ensemble Dal Niente will often hold residencies at different schools and universities.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The ensemble also includes in its ranks “faculty from DePaul University, conducting staff and members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, former participants in the Lucerne Festival and International Ensemble Modern Academies, and past fellows of the Aspen Music Festival’s Contemporary Ensemble.”

Dal Niente’s program for the show was chosen in conjunction with the festival organizers in an attempt to promote awareness of music from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, ranging from the baroque period to the modern composers in the 21st century.

The performance is meant to reach audience members like Carelia Drake, 62, who may come from more traditional music backgrounds but are looking to expand their musical horizons.

“I listen to all kinds of music because music is language,” Drake said. “I am here because I want to be versatile and learn, whether it’s Latino, Chinese , old, new,etc.”

Dal Niente violinist Austin Wulliman said that their participation in the festival is exciting because the festival,   “is a very respected and (an) established part of the musical landscape in Chicago.”

Thanks to events like The Latino Music festival and their organizing institutions, Chicago has seen an increase in awareness of the influence of Latino music culminating in more pro-active performances including a recent performance by Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, 35, with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

This year’s acts mark the 8th edition of The Latino Music Festival.

The festival was created by Latino musicians and composers Elbio Rodriguez Barilari and Gustavo Leone in an attempt to bring Latino music to broader audiences in the city and beyond.

“The purpose of the festival is to create awareness,” Leone said. “We want to create awareness of different music that comes from a Hispanic heritage.”

Presented by the International Latino Cultural Center, the festival includes an impressive roster of internationally acclaimed artists while emphasizing local talent.

The festival is possible by generous grants and donations from the Joyce Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust, along with 18 different supporting institutions.

The festival runs from September 20th until December 15th, and includes 23 shows by 22 different artists, at 10 different venues all across the city including The Harold Washington Library and The University of Chicago and one theatre in Peoria.

Infographic by Juan Latapi,2013.
Infographic by Juan Latapi,2013.

Q&A: Len Dominguez on “Carlos and Dominguez Art Gallery”

Ever since opening 18 years ago, “Carlos & Dominguez  Fine Art Gallery”  has served as an open space for a diverse artistic community where they can express their emotions through different mediums.

Carlos Dominguez and one of his favorite pieces from “Puntadas del Alma / Stitches of the Soul “  (photo by Juan Latapi,2013)
Carlos Dominguez and one of his favorite pieces from “Puntadas del Alma / Stitches of the Soul “ (photo by Juan Latapi,2013)

Sitting in the middle of the gallery located at the intersection of Cullerton and Ashland in Pilsen, Len Dominguez, art collector, former art magazine editor, retired board of education member, and owner of the gallery, proudly discusses his gallery’s involvement in the community while showcasing his latest exhibit “Puntadas del Alma / Stitches of the Soul “ which was created for the Pilsen’s Open Studios event earlier in October this year.



Q: How does your gallery fit in the Pilsen/Chicago art scene?

Well, we’re a pretty well known community-art gallery. We often try to have a good mix of lot of veteran artists, and young upcoming artists.  We do a lot of first time exhibitions for photography, sculpture and of course regular plastic arts. It’s not about money, but helping and supporting arts and artists will know that and appreciate it.  The community of artists knows we’re here, everybody supports each other, and it’s a pretty tight community. We will occasionally do art auctions to help artists that are ill or that are recently defunct to help with the families with the different costs. This exhibit in particular was for the Open Studios event that just passed and it is possible thanks to women that work in the back rooms of The National Mexican museum of Art and it involves them telling their stories through quilts. When we proposed to them the idea of doing an exhibit, they were immediately excited to do it and it has a received a good response form the community so far.

Q: You mentioned Open Studios, do you think that these kind of events help to support the artistic community?

Yes, it’s been going on for ten years now and it’s something that most everyone participates… it increases the sense of community and forces artists to go out and see different art while creating a support network.

Q: Since we’re talking bout Pilsen being a tight community, what role do you think it plays in the art world as a whole?

Pilsen artists are well known around the world.  Thanks to modern technology, once something is posted online, we’ll have people from places like Germany contacting us when visiting to make sure they come see the pieces. A lot of the pieces have been exhibited in places like Berlin and Paris. I think it’s only going to grow because of multimedia elements like twitter and blogs, I just started myself and I’m enjoying it because I can get more information from different sources about art.

Q:  Do you think besides technology and media, are there other factors that are changing the way artists express themselves now at days?

Ever since I started in the 1970s, I always knew that artists are very sensitive to stuff going on around them. They’re sensitive to politics to culture, they are open and they way they absorb information and translate into art mediums. They illustrate the essence of their stories; I call them the soul and conscience of society. They often think about where is society going. That will affect their delivery and message. Unfortunately you see more violent images, because society and the world is a mess and that affects everyone especially artists and you cant put your finger on it but they are able to react to everything going on out there in their neighborhood, city, etc. more effectively. I think that’s always been the case and now they can get information more quickly now through technology. The standards of how much we can push issues like sexuality and violence are rising as well and that changes a lot of the imagery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Carlos & Dominguez Art Gallery

1538 W. Cullerton St. Chicago, IL 60608




DePaul’s Theatre School to premiere new building with an Americana classic

As their 2013-2014 season approaches, DePaul University’s Theatre School is ready to show off their brand new shiny facilities with a classic old story that integrates current students and famous alumni as well, trying to give a sense of community and their proud past, while moving forward into the future.

“Our Town” will be the first production to be performed in the new theatre school, which is located in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood at 2350 N. Racine, just a few short blocks from DePaul’s main Lincoln Park school campus. The new building contains  a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat flexible theatre. The building also includes costume, makeup, prop and scene shops, rehearsal studios, lighting laboratories, movement studios, as well as classrooms and a conference center on the top floor that offers a breath-taking view of the Chicago skyline.

The season starts on October 5th and kicks off with Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” a 1938 three-act play set at the turn of the 20th century. The show, directed by Damon Kiely, is going to be different from other DePaul productions because is set to feature famous alumni each week in guest roles, including famed Hollywood actors John C. Reilly and Gillian Anderson.

Sitting down in one of the new avant-garde space age-looking spaces that’s designed for public performances, Catherine Miller, the play’s dramaturg said that  “A lot of alumni are excited to come back and perform here, they feel like they’re still part of it because it represents their legacy.”

Some of the famed alumni that will guest in "Our Town." In alphabetical order: Tom Amandes, Gillian Anderson, W. Earl Brown, Ann Dowd, Mary Grill, John Hoogenakker, Lisa Joyce, Adam Poss, PJ Powers, John C. Reilly, and Lucy Sandy. (Photo courtesy of DePaul's School of Theatre)
Some of the famed alumni that will guest in “Our Town.” In alphabetical order: Tom Amandes, Gillian Anderson, W. Earl Brown, Ann Dowd, Mary Grill, John Hoogenakker, Lisa Joyce, Adam Poss, PJ Powers, John C. Reilly, and Lucy Sandy. (Photo courtesy of DePaul’s School of Theatre)

As the school moves into a new era and a brand new building, it is no coincidence that the opening play is historically themed and has themes such as loss, despair, hope, and unity through adversity.

“This is a classic Americana play with a story that deals with the themes of community and our relationships with our fellow human beings,” Miller said. “We want to send the message that this new building is about feeling safe in a community environment, where you can deal with different issues, that might be hard to talk about.”

According to Miller the actors were trained to reflect this by detaching themselves from technology and media for at least three hours a day and were forced to interact with one another and others in close environments.

Besides “Our Town”, the season schedule will include hits such as, “Arabian Nights,” “A Free Man of Color,” and “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”

Students such as Jill Ibach, 30, a senior DePaul student, have been surprised by the aesthetics and functionality of the new building.

“The new space finally seem to fit the school’s persona,“ Ibach said, “I’m glad to see that the theatre school is finally living up to their reputation with this modern building.”

Past vs. Future.
The historic Merle Reskin Theatre (left) in the loop will be repurposed as a youth and children oriented theatre, while the new building (right), located in Lincoln Park, will serve as the school’s main performance from now on. (Photos courtesy of DePaul University.)

According to the school’s website, their former theatre school building, the historical Merle Reskin Theatre, will still be open and serve as a space for “Chicago play works for families and young audiences.”

“Our Town” will run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until October 13 at the Fullerton Stage.

New production of ‘Evita’ aims to revitalize a West End classic

September 25, 2013 by Juan Latapi

Eva Peron’s tragic but sweet story is part fairy tale and part Greek drama. Hope, love, ambition, and greed, are the main themes on this delightful new touring production playing in the Oriental Theatre until October 6th.

Written by modern musical virtuosos Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and directed by Michael Grandage, this new production of the classic seeks to charm and thrill new audiences, some of whom were born long after the original premiered in London’s Prince Edward Theatre in 1978.

The cast headed by Carolina Bowman and Josh Young (Evita and Che), bring to life classics such as “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” and “And the Money Kept Rolling in (And Out).” Young showcases his talents by delivering high-octave performances that can shoot past the ceiling of The Oriental Theatre and straight into the stratosphere, while Bowman gives us a confident, yet vulnerable Evita through performances such as, “Buenos Aires,” in which a wide-eyed Evita realizes all the opportunities to seize in the big capital, to “You Must Love Me,” in which Eva realizes her role past the political aspects, and  the true and unconditional love given by her husband and her people.

Bowman, Young, and some of the cast of "Evita" Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago, 2013.
Bowman, Young, and some of the cast of “Evita” Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago, 2013.

One of the greatest moments in the show comes in the form of a tango delivered by Juan Peron (played by Sean MacLauhlin who delivers some of the most intense performances of the night) and the generals in “The Art of the Possible” during the first act. Here Peron and other generals, dressed in typical military attire, dance to an intense tango (which symbolically accurately represents Peron’s rise in the army) in low lights with each other and recite lyrics such as, “One has no rules / Is not precise / One rarely acts / The same way twice.”

Another highlight of the show comes in the first act as well, through a sweet rendition of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” one of the main songs for which the show, album, and film are known for. Delivered by Krystina Alabado, who plays The Mistress, and backed by Che and the men’s chorus, this beautifully poetic rendition pulls the heart strings by evoking themes of despair and loss, and yet hope, through a sweetly sung melody that asks “Where am I going?” in a dark and cold stage.

Through and through, this new production manages to keep the audience’s interest piqued, while delivering a powerful story about a woman who is one of the greatest and most relentless public figures of the 20th century.

Michael Grandage and company still have a few kinks to work out, including some technological issues involving glitches with the projection screen during the second act, but considering that this was opening weekend, they manage to pull it off and live up to one of the grandest theater productions of the last 50 years.

The production will play in Chicago until October 6th,  after which it will  hit the road and visit a dozen American cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, and Las Vegas.

It is not easy to fill such big shoes, but the cast and crew of this new production have done that, and judging by the standing ovation given by the diverse audience, they have captivated a whole new crowd, including this humble writer.


There’ so much that’s been said about that day, but for me it signaled the beginning of a new era.

The events that took place on that day changed not only the way that I looked at the world, but the way that I looked at myself.

On that day I had been living in the Chicago suburbs ( and in the US) for almost exactly six months.

For me, even though I was brand new to this country and opportunities seemed endless, I still yearned for everything I used to know in my home in Mexico City, and found it hard to adapt and accept it as my new home.

I remember sitting in the locker room at my high school changing from my gym clothes, the first class of the day, when our principal announced on the overhead speakers that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York.

I still remember the echo of the laughter in the room when a couple of my classmates joked about of the possibility of an inebriated pilot crashing a small plane into the building by accident.

I decided to head to the library and check it out for myself, but there, no one was laughing.

As I entered the library, I saw some footage of a commercial airliner crashing into one of the towers.

Many of the students sitting down were holding the hand over their mouths, and shaking their heads in disbelief. I asked one of my classmates if they were still replaying the crash over and over. The time was 8:05, 9:05 New York time.

It took me a couple of minutes to realize that I was witnessing the events as they were unfolding, a second plane had just crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

As the bell rang, I went to my algebra class and assumed that the worst was over. I was wrong.

A couple of minutes before the class was over, our principal announced in a very solemn tone that both of the towers had collapsed.

At that point, everyone and everything stopped.

I remember looking at the somber expressions in everyone’s faces as I walked to my locker. To this day, I can still feel the stillness and limbo-like silence that roamed through the hallway like a cold gentle breeze.

As soon as I got home, I found my mother glued to the television and proceeded to join her for the next eight hours or so, until my eyes could take no more.

The scenes that were played over and over possessed my dreams that night, and the next day I could still not believe it.

“It’s all a bad dream,” I said to myself. “That cannot have happened in real life.”

And still, years later, many of us still have trouble figuring out what to make out of these senseless attacks of violence. Some people do it by concocting juicy conspiracy theories, others by trying to find a higher meaning to it.

For me, it signified the end of an era.

That is a day that not only changed the world, but also changed me in many ways that i would not comprehend until years later. Because for the very first time, I found something in common where I could consider myself part of America and the United States my new home.

As I look back in this solemn day, I find comfort in knowing that even though nothing good comes out of violence and nothing ever could, it brought me closer to the good people of the United States, and catalyzed the process in which I accepted this great country as my new home.

That’s the day in which Me and I, became Us.

An immigrant’s dream and the collapse of American society

CHICAGO– Freedom and equality are no longer traits upon which this nation was built on.

Most people cringe at pictures from horrible crimes committed against humanity such as World War II’s Holocaust, yet they turn a blind eye to the horrible abuse immigrants face in this country.

Most people that are against immigration fear what they don’t understand and are usually unfamiliar with the deporting process. Continue reading An immigrant’s dream and the collapse of American society