From January to June, the venue will host dozens of performances and exhibitions ranging from jazz musical performances led by NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath to improv storytelling sessions. Last Thursday, Flushing Town Hall hosted a preview of those upcoming performances. Musicians such as Falu Shah took to the stage to sing or play classic traditional music, while artist Skip La Plante demonstrated a small sample of his unique Symphony of Chimes.
The Symphony of Chimes, which takes place on Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m., includes hundreds of items created into various chimes, including the use of forks, spoons, tweezers, compasses and license plates.
“This is an amazing opportunity because I lived in a loft in Manhattan for so many years and never thought to make a definitive piece until my building got sold,” La Plante said. “The place we have in RIdgewood now can hold about 30 chimes on the ceiling.
“Flushing Town Hall said we could make the piece here so there’s not much of a more definitive statement.”
Not only are the chimes visually quirky and appealing, but the harmonious sounds that the chimes can give off are quite surprising. One of the more unexpected, bizarre items that La Plante has used as wind chimes includes aspects of a broken lobster pot such as the metal cage, aluminum rings and string webbing. A lot of the process is trial and error, but the result is a wonderful interactive musical display.
Shah, meanwhile, will be backed up by her Bollywood Orchestra when she performs on March 26th. Trained in Northern Indian classical music, Shah comes from generations of female singers. She’s known for her involvement in the creation of a genre of music called Indie Hindi, where all the songs are in English but are based on Indian ragas, or melodic scales.
For her performance at Flushing Town Hall, Shah and the Bollywood Orchestra will perform classic Bollywood songs from the 1960s and 1970s.
“Those are my favorite songs, done before I was even born, but they’ve lived for 30 years and I want them to live for 30 more years in a way that my kids’ kids can love them too,” Shah said. “We try to figure out how to modernize the same songs to make them relevant while keeping the same melody.”
One of the biggest events of the season, if not the year, is the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers show on Saturday, January 16th at 2:15 p.m. Headed under Director and founding member of the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, Louis Mofsie, the group will give a booming performance complete with traditional tribal songs and dances.
Mofsie, of the Hopi and Winnebago tribes, is a celebrated Brooklyn-native and has won awards including NYC Indian of the Year in 1984 and was given the NYC Leadership Award from the Law Department and Mayor’s Office in 1991.
Before the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers perform, there will be a music and dance workshop based on learning the Robin Dance from the Iroquois Nation.
Other cultural celebrations being hosted by Flushing Town Hall includes Lunar New Year events. Throughout February, there will be a number of musical performances such as the “Bamboo Meets Jazz: Starlight Forest” show, which uses the Bamboo flute to cross genres of jazz, classical music and K-Pop.
Annie Chen, the only female Chinese jazz vocalist and composer on the New York jazz scene, will perform a septet that incorporates Chinese traditional, gospel, Middle Eastern and alternative rock in a modern jazz setting.
Besides music, a Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20th. That same weekend, learn calligraphy by participating in a calligraphy workshop with Asian arts specialist Dr. Hsing-Lih Chou. Participants will practice writing out their New Year wishes before writing on a Chinese silk fan. The wishes are put onto the silk fans in order to spread positive messages every time they are in use.
During the special exhibition “Lucky in Love: Asian Wedding Dress Exhibition,” visitors can explore the cultural significance behind wedding fashion for both women and men in countries such as Taiwan, Korea, India, China and more.
Expanding on family events from the fall season, Flushing Town Hall will partner with the Department of Cultural Affairs as well as the students of Junior High School 189 for a rendition of Disney’s “Aladdin.” The production, directed by musical theatre teacher Daryl Ware, brings to life some of Disney’s beloved characters such as Aladdin, Jasmine, the Genie and villains such as Jafar.
If you’ve always wanted to check out puppetry, Teatro Hugo and Ines will be performing short stories with the use of puppets. The Peruvian duo will also use their hands, feet, elbows and knees to put together an entertaining set of characters that both children and adults will enjoy.
For upcoming events, regularly check out FlushingTownHall.org/all-events.