Art Beat: Performers have fun with terminal prognostication in Dec. 21 show

Mike Dunham
"Silver Light, Grapeville Creek," by James Coe, in "Birds in Art" at the UAA Student Union Gallery.
Pianist Natasha Paremiski sorts her sheet music prior to Friday's Concert to Save the World. Photo: Andrea Joynt.
Zuill Bailey at the concert by the Women's String Orchestra of the Hiland Correctional Facility on Dec. 8. With him is former inmate Sarah Coffman, who has continued to perform with the orchestra after completing her sentence. Photo courtesy Felipa Solis.

Cellist Zuill Bailey got out of jail just in time for the world to end.

Bailey, director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival, was the guest soloist with the Women's String Orchestra of the Hiland Correctional Facility on Dec. 8. He performed three concerts (two open to the public, one for the residents) that included pieces by Bach, Chopin and Massenet.

On Friday, Dec. 21, he'll take part in an Anchorage recital that organizers are marketing -- perhaps with a note of superciliousness -- as the "Concert to Save the World."

The title, and in fact the idea, plays off the alleged end of the world that some have said will take place on Dec. 21 of this year as foretold by the Mayan calendar. (Mayans and other authorities say that the conjecture is based on a misreading of the calendar and, personally, I hope they're right since that happens to be payday at the Daily News.)

Promoter Rick Goodfellow, owner of KLEF classical radio, insists that he "discovered encoded messages for extending the Mayan Long Count Calendar and undoing the apocalyptic prophecies of Nostradamus while listening to recordings of Beethoven played backwards."

Goodfellow says the messages instructed him to arrange the performance of certain pieces of music in a certain order with certain performers and headlined by Bailey.

Be that as it may, we saw the secret playlist and admit that it looks impressive and entertaining, with selections by Bach, Brahms, Paganini and more -- all played forward we hope. Local magician Eric Giliam will join the musical team, which will include violinist Paul Rosenthal and pianist Natasha Paremiski. Paremiski has been co-concertizing with Bailey around the state this month; at their performance in Talkeetna on Dec, 15 she played Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." That's a hint.

The Concert to Save the World will take place at 8 p.m. on Dec. 21 in the Discovery Theatre. Tickets, $25-$35, are available at

Music before apocalypse includes Holiday Pops

Noting that 8 p.m. Alaska time will be 11 p.m. in Mayan country, the above program will be cut short after the first hour as the Yucatan Peninsula rolls into either Dec. 22 or oblivion. The former seems more likely, but why take chances? The Anchorage Concert Chorus' annual Family Holiday Pops, with seasonal favorites sung by the choir accompanied by orchestra and featuring "a few surprises for the kids," will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16 (Beethoven's birthday), in Atwood Concert Hall. Tickets are at and may still be available at the door. Those attending this performance will be assured that they will get their full two hours' worth without a pre-ballyhooed cataclysm bringing down the house.

Dancer returns for Christmas show

Michelle Katcher began dancing at age 7 as a student of the Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy. She studied here for nine years before moving on to graduate with honors as the valedictorian of her Kirov Academy class. She now performs with the Gelsey Kirkland Academy Studio Company in New York, but will be back here to perform in Anchorage Ballet's Christmas 2012 concerts. She'll be working with her old mentors, Farah and Michelangelo Canale, in the program, which will also include guests from the hip-hop inspired Underground Dance Company.

The dancers aren't concerned about the Mayan calendar thing. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21 and 22, in Atwood Concert Hall. Tickets are available at

Shaw's latest to debut at Out North

Peggy Shaw -- not to be confused with the late George Bernard Shaw -- is an award-winning "gender bending" autobiographical performance artist from New York. She's received high praise for her previous collaborative and solo work, including "You're Just Like My Father" and "Menopausal Gentleman." She'll be trying out her latest piece, "Ruff," at Out North at 8 p.m. Dec. 20-22. It will make its New York debut three weeks later at Dixon Place in Manhattan.

Trained as a visual artist, Shaw turned activist/performer and helped establish The WOW Café in New York, which produces only new original work. She received national attention for her humorous and insightful observations on society, sex, fashion, romance, art and "exploding every box that might be used in some vain attempt to contain her."

One expects some possibly weightier perspectives in "Ruff." Shaw suffered a stroke last year and this is her first piece since then. The publicity calls it "a tribute to memory and loss -- a rediscovery of what's been forgotten, and the letting go of what we thought would always be remembered."

Bird show on display

The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count for Anchorage took place on Dec. 15, but a traveling show from the Woodson Art Museum of Wausau, Wis., remains on display at the UAA Student Union Gallery. We're told that it's the first time in a long time that the gallery has hosted a traveling show from somewhere else. "Birds in Art" has 60 works by notable wildlife artists, including a piece by Anchorage artist and UAA instructor Hugh McPeck. You can see it between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday-Friday through Dec. 20, with the same hours Jan. 14-25. The gallery will also be open from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Jan. 3-11, during which time parking will be free at the university.

Prints for toys

Last week we noted artist James Havens ongoing work featuring prehistoric animals. In a not-so-small footnote this week, Havens' wife, Andi, says the Havens Studios annual toy drive is dedicated to "the birth of our miraculous new baby girl." Rubee' Sahara Havens "was born early" in September at the University Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. The toy drive benefits the Downtown Soup Kitchen and Helping Hands program. Those who donate three bags of new, unwrapped toys (all ages) will receive a signed copy of Havens' limited edition print titled "Deliverance" and featuring an angel figure. The Havens' press release says donations can be dropped off at the Sadler's entrance of the University Center at the Old Seward Highway and 36th Ave. between noon and 6 p.m. through Dec. 22.

Alaskans receive fellowships

Three Alaskans are included in the list of 12 fellowships announced by the Native Arts and Culture Foundation of Vancouver, Wash., on Dec. 4. They are writer Joan Kane of Anchorage, filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean whose roots are in Barrow, though he lives in New York City, and weaver Teri Rofkar of Sitka. Each will receive an award of $20,000.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.