Willow woman in running for Grammy

Mike Dunham

Tonight's Grammy Awards will find Kirsten Gunlogson, born and raised in Willow, on the edge of her seat.

The mezzo-soprano is in the running for the recording industry's award in the category of Best Classical Album of 2009. She's featured in the CD of Maurice Ravel's opera "L'Enfant et les Sortilèges," recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

The Maurice Sendak-style story follows a naughty child whose abused toys, furniture and animals transform into animated agents of retribution to teach him a lesson in respect.

Gunlogson played flute with the Anchorage Youth Symphony, sang with what is now the Anchorage Concert Chorus, won the Anchorage Symphony's Cassetta Scholarship and was the Anchorage District winner of the Metropolitan Opera tryouts in 1998, going on to the regionals where she did well.

She's currently assistant professor in the University of Utah's School of Music and has a distinguished resume with major roles (Maddalena in "Rigoletto," Hansel, as in "and Gretel," and a couple of Carmens) in regional companies.

We've linked to pertinent Web sites about her at adn.com/artsnob.

Readers chime in on "Exposition"

I've seldom received as many e-mails about a review as I have about the one for the Anchorage Symphony's premiere of Gregory Prechel's "Exposition on the Anchorage Museum" (published Jan. 18). The piece featured slides of work at the Anchorage Museum accompanying the music.

Among the more thoughtful responses I received:

"We very much enjoyed the visuals with our auditory banquet, and wished afterward that the Hartmann drawings (which inspired Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition") were known and used similarly," wrote one reader. (The same correspondent also said, "We thought the Debussy reading memorable as well for displaying ASO's mature balance and intonation, even at ppp.")

An artist with work included in the show had the opposite view: "I would have liked less ambient light on the artwork. If the room had darkened, and if the screen had glowed more, it would have been a lot different. I liked the art and the synchronization with the music, and the music itself, but the lighting design notched the quality of everything else down."

Another set of ears took me to task for going easy on the musical content. "I believe the piece was very well performed ... but, come on, Mike, it was film music. 'E.T.' and 'Superman' literally flew out of the first movement. The cloud of John Williams hung over the whole thing. Did we really need another symphony by another Hollywood guy? I wonder if perhaps a local composer could have done an acceptable job which may have been different but just as professional." (And this reader felt that the Debussy "was a bit lackluster and not as precise as perhaps it could have been.")

No arguments here, just a variety of opinions all scoring some accurate points. It's nice to know that people are attending concerts with their ears wide open.

February is fashion month

There is a rash of fiber and wearable art events coming up in the next few weeks. The International Gallery of Contemporary Art is bringing up international designer Christopher Straub to jury its "Object/Runway" show, which will be on display at the gallery, 427 D St., through February.

The preview, on Friday, will include a look at Alaska T-shirts and work by Christopher Straub. On Saturday, the show's apparel will be modeled at the Anchor, on Fourth Avenue and G Street. Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 in advance. Models get in free; contact igca@alaskalife.net.

At 6 p.m. Feb. 12, "Tie the Knot, Community and College," a dinner/auction event sponsored by Mat-Su College Fine Arts Advisory Council, will take place at the train depot in Palmer.

Tickets are $50 and the food will be catered by Turkey Red. Live music and a live auction highlight the night. It's not technically a fashion show, but I'm lumping it in with these listings because proceeds will support a family arts and crafts festival in the summer of 2011 on the Mat-Su campus -- and you can bet there will be a fabric component to that. To donate auction items or to buy tickets, contact Suzanne Bach at sbach@matsu.alaska.edu or call 1-907-745-9755.

Still more in Palmer, the Valley Arts Alliance will host its Fourth Annual Wearable Art and Runway Fashion Show at 7 p.m. on Feb.20, again at the train depot.

Looking ahead, the Alaska Fiber Festival will take place in Anchorage from March 5 to 14. More details when we get closer.

Allen Foundation grants

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation named four Alaska organizations in its latest round of grants.

The foundation awarded $60,000 to the National Wildlife Federation to expand a green jobs program for teens in rural Alaska; $75,000 to the Alaska Native Heritage Center to support the commissioning and presentation of works honoring Alaska Native heritage and culture; $45,000 to the Koahnic Broadcast Corporation to support 2010 programming of "Earthsongs," a Native public radio program showcasing contemporary Native American and indigenous music; and a $45,000 grant to Perseverance Theatre in Douglas for its 2009-2010 performance season.

Find Mike Dunham online at adn.com/contact/mdunham or call 257-4332.

Blog: Art Snob