Category Archives: Local Events

Crittenden creates ‘lights-out’ exhibit

Submitted photo

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Community Arts Center of Cambria County’s first exhibit of 2017 is titled “Art in the Dark.” The exhibit, which opens to the public Jan. 28, features work by local artist Malcolm Crittenden, whose artwork focuses on black light pictures.

“My study and observation of the heavens has inspired me to become an artist by means of black light pictures,” Crittenden said. 
“I have chosen black light pencils as a medium to capture the details of the night sky. It is my desire to recreate the awe and wonder that falls upon those who stand out under the night sky.”

Crittenden signs each piece of his work with “Psalm 19:1.”

“The setting of David’s Psalm is familiar to my artwork: a nightscape, with both the earthly landscape of the Judean hills and the vastness of a starry night sky,” he said.

Crittenden, who served as a Pennsylvania state mine inspector, spent much of his career in the outdoors appreciating the vast landscapes. 

He has always been interested in astrology, too.

When the comet Hale Bopp appeared in the late 1990s, for instance, he purchased a large telescope and, several years later, painted his first black light poster titled “In the Beginning.” The poster was used as a teaching tool for a high school astronomy class.
Over the years, Crittenden developed an artistic approach that involved the use of fluorescent paints and pencils to capture nightscape-visions.

Angela Godin, the arts center’s executive director, said she admires Crittenden’s art, and is thrilled to display his paintings in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery.

“The opportunity for the community arts center to hold a uniquely diverse exhibition is a true honor,” Godin said. “We are excited to constantly offer new experiences and mediums for our members and the general public.”

Godin described the exhibit as being true to its name: The art will be experienced in the dark, as each piece will be displayed inside its own individually lit shadowbox.

“This exhibit is going to be a total experience,” she said. “The room will be, for the most part, completely black, and there are so many pieces that it will illuminate the room. This is something that hasn’t even been done in the area before.”

An opening reception for “Art in the Dark” is scheduled for Feb. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. inside the arts center’s historic Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center. 

During the reception, Crittenden is to present a gallery talk, which will give him the opportunity to discuss his creative process. Crittenden is also sharing a finished piece plus a work-in-progress.

Local musician Dan Becker is set to perform during the opening reception.

“Art in the Dark” is scheduled to continue through Feb. 28. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

“We’re trying to do more diverse and unique things and offer all different forms of art to really capture the essence of every type of medium,” Godin said. “There’s no doubt that this exhibit provides a great start to 2017.”

In addition to viewing the exhibit, people are also invited to vote on their favorite paintings. Those who do will receive a free raffle chance, and the winner of the raffle will receive a black light piece of his or her choice. 

The raffle drawing is scheduled to take place Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased from a staff member of the arts center.

Crittenden said he hopes that his work will inspire others to take a longer look at the night sky.

“The Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center has a unique gallery in that the grounds surrounding the arts center lend a scenic quality to the normally plain gallery room,” he said. “Viewers, upon seeing my black light nightscapes exhibit, will likely want to step outside and peer at the night sky.”

Russian ballet to perform ‘Cinderella’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The latter half of the Pasquerilla Performing Art Center’s 25th anniversary season commences with a full-scale production of “Cinderella” by The State Ballet Theater of Russia.

“Cinderella,” one of the most popular fables of all time, is to be presented at the arts center Jan. 25 beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a beautiful, family-friendly evening,” arts center Executive Director Michael Bodolosky said. “Anybody who is interested in dance should plan to see this.”

Fifty-five dancers from The State Ballet Theater of Russia bring “Cinderella” to life through their dancing talents, wearing elaborate costumes and moving to a score composed by Sergei Prokofiev.

“I love Prokofiev’s music,” Bodolosky said. “It’s beautiful. Plus, the cast is great.”

Choreographed by Vladimir Vasiliev, former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Theater Ballet, “Cinderella” is suitable for all ages.
Bodolosky mentioned that The State Ballet Theater of Russia has performed at the arts center several times over the past few years. Most recently, they’ve presented “Swan Lake” and “Romeo and Juliet” there.

“We get a solid crowd because people in the area really like and appreciate ballet,” he said.

Tickets for “Cinderella” are on sale and can be purchased online by visiting www.upjarts.org or by calling 814-269-7200.
“It’s going to be really nice to see a good Russian ballet,” Bodolosky said. “This is going to be your classic rags-to-riches fairy tale, and I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed.”

Upcoming play

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“Love, Loss and What I Wore” is to be performed Feb. 2 through Feb. 4 by the theater group at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson. Written by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron, the 80-minute play explores memories of joy, heartache and hope through monologues and ensemble pieces provoked to memory by the clothing the characters wore. Curtain time is at 7:30 p.m. each night in the college’s Alumni Hall, and the recommended audience is those 17 years of age and older. For more information, contact the box office at 814-886-6684. Shown preparing for the performance are, from left to right: (front row) Courtney Moyer and Rachel Mackrell; (second row) Ashley Stough, Brianna Ports, Rachel Haywood and Kylee Chuhran; (back row) Victoria Johnson, Amanda Loscar, Shyleigh Ulery, Kristy Magee, Anne Volk, Dr. Elizabeth Mansley, Michele Foley, Sami Aurandt, Claire Kirsch and Corrine Wollet.  Absent when the photo was taken were Dr. Jessica Jost Constanzo, Dr. Julie Smith and Eiler Stickley.

Bandshell group readies for Fat Friday fundraiser

By KATIE SMOLEN
Our Town Correspondent

Members of the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance are getting ready to host Fat Friday, the group’s biggest annual fundraiser.

This year’s event is to be held Feb. 24 at the St. Francis Activity Center in the West End with doors opening at 6 p.m. Flood City Brass is scheduled to provide entertainment for the night, which includes a meal catered by Anthony’s Restaurant, numerous items for Chinese Auction, a 50/50 drawing and numerous chances.

Tickets are being sold with the chance to be entered to win $10,000 or for just a meal. Each section of tickets is limited to 250.

According to the group’s president, Mary P. Borkow, the event is perfect for this time of year.

“It’s just a great event for people who are looking for a great night out after the holidays,” she said.

The event benefits the preservation of the Roxbury Bandshell, which has been ongoing since the group formed 11 years ago.

According to Borkow, $500,000 has been raised for the restoration thus far, but the effort is not completed.

“It’s an ongoing effort. We have a lot of ongoing projects,” she said. “The exterior is pretty much completed with the exception of the exterior lighting, and it’s just the interior that needs finished.”

Those looking for information or to purchase tickets can contact Sue Heller at 814-509-6623.

Walther hired by Johnstown Symphony Orchestra

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By OUR TOWN

After a six-month national search, retired Johnstown attorney and federal executive Mike Walther has been selected as the new executive director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, according to a Jan. 10 announcement by the symphony’s board of trustees.
 
John Coyle, board president, described Walther as “exactly the kind of dynamic leader we had been hoping to find. His creative energy, business acumen and financial management experience will be a perfect complement to the artistic vision of our new music director, Maestro James Blachly.”

Walther served as director of the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown from 2007 until it closed in 2012. He has operated a boutique legal practice with offices in Johnstown and New Orleans since his retirement from the Department of Justice.

Walther is also a retired U.S. Army Reserve military judge whose assignments included a deployment to Iraq in 2006 and 2007 on the staff of Gen. David Petraeus, where he served as director of the Law and Order Task Force in Baghdad.

“Michael Walther has, over the past decade or more, proven himself to be a strong leader and respected member of the Johnstown community,” Blachly said. “He is also a military veteran and he is passionate about the role that this orchestra can play in furthering the growth of Johnstown. We are fortunate that he has chosen to dedicate his abundant talent and prodigious energy to the future of our orchestra, and I am excited for what we can accomplish together.”

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is midway through its 88th season, with upcoming performances scheduled for March 11, April 1 and May 13. 

The concert scheduled March 11 features the music of American composer John Williams, with selections from his work in the blockbuster movies “ET,” “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park” and “Harry Potter.” An April 1, a “French Brilliance” concert is to feature the music of Debussy, Saint-Saëns and Berlioz. The symphony season concludes on May 13 with two of the most recognizable pieces in classical music, Wagner’s “Overture to Tannhäuser” and Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.”

In addition to its six-concert subscription season, the orchestra is scheduled to perform a Mother’s Day Concert on May 14 in Somerset and a free concert, with fireworks, July 4 at Johnstown’s Point Stadium.

Symphony tickets are available online at www.upjarts.org or by calling 814-269-7200.

New mystery awaits at Westmont arts center

Submitted photo

BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Community Arts Center of Cambria County, in conjunction with Mystery Theatre Pittsburgh, will present a murder mystery dinner theater event at Sunnehanna Country Club on Jan. 21 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Arts center Executive Director Angela Godin said that the nonprofit’s first murder mystery dinner theater took place last year and was such a success that she and her staff decided to host another.

“Last year was the premier of our murder mystery dinner theater fundraiser, and it was an astounding success,” Godin said. “Those who attended were extremely pleased with the interactive experience.”

This year’s performance, titled “Diamonds to Die For,” will once again be fully interactive. A few lucky audience members will even have an opportunity to perform alongside the cast.

During the performance, audience members will be introduced to mega-celebrity and stylist to the stars Philippe Le Fleur. Le Fleur will debut his brand-new jewelry collection, and those in the audience will include world-famous supermodels, ex-lovers and Minnesota housewives. 

Rumor has it that the launch of this collection will be his final.

“This year’s show, ‘Diamonds to Die For,’ was written specifically for the center’s 2017 murder mystery dinner theater,” Godin said. “As the Community Arts Center grows through its new ventures in the performing arts, we are continuing to develop ourselves by branching into new areas. We are overwhelmed by the positive response of the community and attendees from last year’s dinner theater. 

“We are also excited to continue growing the future of the performing arts here at the community arts center.”

To coincide with the performance’s “jewelry” theme, arts center staff members have invited jewelry vendors to sell their jewelry during the duration of the event. Vendors are to offer a wide selection of jewelry for purchase.

“We’re hoping to get a good response to the jewelry vendor idea,” Godin said, “and we’re excited to promote their items because it definitely goes with the theme of ‘Diamonds to Die For.’”

The evening’s dinner menu features flank steak and chicken caprese, plus green beans, carrots, herbed potatoes, salad, rolls and refreshments. A dessert trio rounds out the menu; desserts include diamond-shaped cookies, mini crème brulee and salted chocolate caramel pie. The food is to be prepared by the chefs at Sunnehanna Country Club.

Godin added that a themed drink will be available for purchase that evening; the specialty drink will be a sugar cubed champagne garnished with mint. A portion of the proceeds from these drinks will be donated directly to the arts center.

“Sunnehanna does this to help us as a nonprofit,” Godin said.

This year’s murder mystery dinner theater corporate sponsor is Stifel. For more information about the show or to purchase tickets (table sponsorships are available as well), call an arts center staff member at 814-255-6515 or visit www.caccc.org.

The deadline to purchase tickets is Jan. 17. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Community Arts Center of Cambria County.

“I’m very pleased with Mystery Theatre Pittsburgh overall,” Godin said. “This is going to be a great experience, and I think everyone’s going to have a wonderful time.”

Brass show opens Grand Halle’s 17 schedule

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Local students and five music educators will perform at The Grand Halle on Broad Street on Jan. 6, marking the venue’s first live entertainment event of 2017.

The brass quintet known as BrassWorks is set to entertain audiences with a variety of classical and contemporary musical selections beginning at 7 p.m. that evening.

“The Johnstown BrassWorks got its start at The Grand Halle four years ago,” said Kim Rauch, The Grand Halle’s program director.

This is to be BrassWorks’ fourth appearance at The Grand Halle. The group formed in 2014 specifically to perform at the historic former church. They’ve since shared their talents inside other venues in the region.

BrassWorks members include Eric Pfeil and Tom Hiravi on trumpet; Jerrod Cannistraci on French horn; Josh Brumbaugh on trombone; and Jason June on tuba.

“These are all music teachers who, of course, also are musicians who don’t get much chance to perform,” Grand Halle Manager Dave Hurst said. “We’re pleased that The Grand Halle gives them that opportunity — and that they want to come back year after year. Their brass instruments sound brilliant there.”

The students accompanying Pfeil, Hiravi, Cannistraci, Brumbaugh and June will represent the following school districts: Greater Johnstown, Penn Cambria, Richland, Somerset and Westmont Hilltop.

“We’d like to think that by providing students with the opportunity to perform here, perhaps these students will be inspired to pursue a career in music,” Rauch said.

This concert is part of The Grand Halle Performance Series, which is underwritten in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

The Grand Halle on Broad Street is located at 306 Broad St., on the corner of Broad and Third Avenue, in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

Tickets for the BrassWorks show can be purchased at www.GrandHalle.com and also will be sold at the door. For more information about the concert or The Grand Halle Performance Series, call 814-536-7986.

Hurst said that this will be the first of many concerts to look forward to inside The Grand Halle this year.

“We have some great choral programs scheduled, including Duquesne University’s choir in March and the annual Broadway show in April,” Hurst said.

As for this show, Hurst labeled it as one not to be missed.

“Instrumental music sounds spectacular in The Grand Halle,” Hurst said. “The Gothic space is beautiful, and the Halle is still decorated for the holidays. 

“There aren’t that many opportunities to hear good classical and contemporary music played by brass alone. So this should be a very satisfying evening.”

Dancers invited to annual Beginnings Inc. event

By OUR TOWN

Those willing to dance for a good cause are invited to join in the seventh annual Dancing Like a Star for Autism, to be held Feb. 4 at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown. The annual event raises funds for autism support programs offered to the community by Beginnings Inc. 

Those with skills in the visual arts are also invited to donate pieces for the Art for Autism Auction, held in conjunction with the dancing competition. Beginnings Inc. is to accept art donations in various mediums until Jan. 13 to auction at the February event.

To participate in the dance competition or the art auction, contact Beginnings Inc. at 814-539-1919 or email dduncan@beginningsinc.org for more information.

Auditions to begin for V-day performance

By OUR TOWN

Performers of all ages, experiences, genders and backgrounds are invited to audition for an upcoming production of Eve Ensler’s “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer: Writings to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls.” The show is to be performed live Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 for the celebration of V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls.

Auditions are scheduled to take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at the offices of Beginnings Inc. at 111 Market St. in downtown Johnstown. To schedule an audition, email vdayjohnstown@gmail.com. Actors are going to be given a monologue from the performance to read during the auditions. 

Ensler’s collection of monologues features works by authors on topics such as: Maya Angelou on women’s work; Michael Cunningham on self-mutilation; Dave Eggers about a Sudanese abduction; Edwidge Danticat on a border crossing; Carol Gilligan on a daughter witnessing her mother being hit; Susan Miller on raising a son as a single mother; Sharon Olds on a bra; Patricia Bosworth on her own physically abusive relationship; Jane Fonda on reclaiming your mojo; and others.

The Community Connection Team in Johnstown — a group of artists, citizens and nonprofits with a shared desire to create opportunities for the community to connect and engage in meaningful activities — is sponsoring the event. Proceeds are to benefit the Trauma Sensitive Yoga program, a collaboration of Yoga Song, Victim Services Inc., Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Center and the Women’s Help Center.

More information about the VDay movement is available online at vday.org, at facebook.com/vday and @VDAY on Twitter. To learn more about the Community Connection Team, visit facebook.com/CCTJohnstown. 

Gallagher, 38 Special to headline Thunder

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Johnstown’s popular motorcycle rally, Thunder in the Valley, will bring to town this year some more impressive names in live entertainment.

The Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau — the official tourism promotion agency that sponsors Thunder in the Valley — recently announced that “The Voice” top-four finalist and Cresson native Josh Gallagher will perform Friday, June 23, and classic rock icons 38 Special will headline Saturday evening’s concert.

Jayne Korenoski, the Thunder event coordinator, said that she and her fellow staff members are excited for the 20th annual rally, and this entertainment lineup is part of the reason for their excitement.

“I think when you hit the milestone that we have, you need to celebrate it in a big way,” Korenoski said. “(Over the years) we have seen how the rally has helped to create a new identity for Johnstown, and it has been a wonderful for promoting tourism.”

Gallagher was on Adam Levine’s team on “The Voice.” The country singer ultimately finished in fourth place in NBC’s popular singing competition.

Gallagher now resides in Nashville, but he did return to Johnstown’s Thunder in the Valley back in 2014 to perform an acoustic set.

“He was received quite well,” Korenoski said of Gallagher’s 2014 solo set. “I wanted to book him in 2015 again, but little did I know he was auditioning for ‘The Voice.’”

Korenoski mentioned that her hard work to book Gallagher again paid off.

“I have been working with Gallagher for months to come to an agreement,” she said. “He was so busy with ‘The Voice.’ I obtained the contract about a week or so before he made the final four. I couldn’t wait to announce it.”

38 Special, meanwhile, is known for their hits such as “Hold On Loosely,” “Caught Up in You” and “If I’d Been the One.” The band has toured with other well-known rock bands, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., REO Speedwagon and Styx.

“I try to look for bands that have a large library of hit songs. 38 Special fits the bill,” Korenoski said.

Both concerts are scheduled to take place at the Train Station Stage. Though the concerts are free to the general public, those who wish to purchase premium viewing area vouchers may do so by visiting https://2017thunder.eventbrite.com.

For more information about Thunder in the Valley 2017, visit www.visitjohnstownpa.com or call 814-536-7993. Social media accounts can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ThunderITValley and on Facebook by searching for “Thunder in the Valley Motorcycle Rally.”

Korenoski said that Thunder in the Valley has changed in that entertainment has become as big a highlight as other events held throughout the city that weekend.

“Originally, I was told that the biker enthusiasts come for the vendors and bonding with other bikers. Music was secondary. 

“As more and more rallies have popped up, the entertainment became a very important factor. So throughout the weekend, we’ll also have four stages playing music — everything from country and blues to oldies and reggae.”

Halle to host jazz, Latin American fusion show

Submitted photo
John Bagnato and Tim Wetmiller at a previous performance.

BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

On Dec. 30, Johnstown natives John Bagnato and Tim Wetmiller will present a concert featuring a blend of jazz and Latin American music.

The concert, scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. that evening, will be held at The Grand Halle on Broad Street, located at 306 Broad St. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

This will be Bagnato’s and Wetmiller’s first-ever performance at The Grand Halle. And Grand Halle Manager Dave Hurst said that the show came together unexpectedly.

“John Bagnato contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked about playing in the Halle,” Hurst said. “He’s well-known and respected as a musician, never played in the Halle before and wanted to perform acoustically. I’m excited to see how this comes off.”

Bagnato was a student of Don Cherry at what is now Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. While living in New Orleans, he served as Donald Harrison’s guitarist from 2000 to 2011. He recently performed with Cassandra Wilson and Geri Allen at the 46th annual Pitt Jazz Seminar Concert, and is a doctoral candidate in jazz studies at University of Pittsburgh, where he also teaches.

Wetmiller began his music career while a student in Johnstown public schools as a member of the Johnstown Youth Symphony. 

In 1996, Wetmiller moved to Washington and had the opportunity to study with the late violinists Juan Reynoso and Angel Tavira in the Tierra Caliente region of southwestern Mexico. In 2000, he founded the gypsy jazz ensemble Hot Club Sandwich. The band toured throughout the country and released four CDs. 

Wetmiller regularly performs with bluegrass band Dysfunction Junction and Latin folk band Los Flacos.

“This should be a very intimate concert,” Hurst said. “Because they want to play acoustically, we can seat people up close, where they can interact and the audience can appreciate the subtleties of their musicianship.

“Plus, The Grand Halle’s decorated for the season with evergreens, hardwoods, light strings and hanging crystals. With the Halle’s lively acoustics, people will hear nuances to John’s and Tim’s performances that they might miss in another venue. The evening offers possibilities of being one of those special events that people will be talking about for months to come. It will be a good way to end 2016.”

Tickets for the show will be available at the door.