Keys to the City: Discover world-class music right here at home.
The Musical Arts Society of New Orleans hosts the 25th New Orleans International Piano Competition from July 20-27. The competition does not have an age limit, and it’s open to applicants from all over the world; it’s also open to local music-lovers who would like to listen ($125 for an all-inclusive ticket; discounts for students and seniors are available).
During the weeklong competition, 12 semifinalists — pared from a pool of 152 applicants — will perform memorized repertoire in Monday, Thursday and Friday recitals. The top three pianists will advance to a final, Sunday afternoon recital. “One of the things that makes our competition special is that everyone gets to play twice,” says Cara McCool, a longtime MASNO volunteer who is now the organization’s executive assistant and chair of audience development and community outreach. “Some people would say, ‘How can you judge art?’ and I agree, to an extent — but competitions like this are really great for a lot of reasons. One of these reasons is that often, this is a platform for young artists to be heard.”
MASNO, which was founded in 1980 as the New Orleans Institute for the Performing Arts, supports the city’s development and appreciation of the arts — particularly classical music. The piano competition occurs in conjunction with the New Orleans Piano Institute, which offers talented pianists in high school and college the opportunity to take lessons, hear lectures and attend master classes with distinguished pianists and teachers.
Competition winners receive a cash prize and invitations to perform with top orchestras, including the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. “The competition brings world-class pianists to New Orleans,” McCool says. “We have people who come from all over the country to listen.” masno.org
Adding Layers: Different media work simultaneously for this creative New Orleanian.
Artist, jewelry maker and graphic designer Juliet Meeks began sewing during childhood. “I sold a few clothing items I made at Funky Monkey, and at that time, I also began to experiment with collage and mixed-media artwork,” she says. While in her senior year at Loyola University New Orleans, Meeks took her first graphic design class. “Something just clicked, and I really began to get inspired and realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do as a career,” she says.
Meeks, who in June celebrated her first year as an editorial layout and ad designer for Gambit, also creates collages and jewelry. She finds balance between the structure and limitations of professional design and the more freeform process of collage. “At the same time, the basic principles of collage and graphic design are not really different,” she says. “They both involve placing elements in relation to each other within a layout.”
As the owner of Midnight Girl Designs, Meeks parlays her love of collage into wearable works of art. “The jewelry I make is mostly based on a collage method,” she explains. “I decoupage postage stamps and other found imagery onto metal pendants for necklaces and earrings. I try to use vintage chains and other materials whenever I can.”
Meeks recently took a letterpress printing class, and she plans to continue to experiment with new methods and media. “I hope that as I grow older, I will never stop learning something new and never stop feeling the desire to create something new,” she says. “I’ve also been enjoying working with freelance design clients outside of my day job, and one day plan on having my own graphic design studio full-time, while also keeping up with my more personal artwork.” julietmeeks.com
Producing Creativity: Find new music and art at this CBD site.
Inner Recess, an event space, gallery and media production space at 1068 Magazine St., opened as a recording studio in July 2007. Three years later, it began hosting a series of Friday night art-and-music events — and recently, owner and head audio engineer Aaron Thornton renewed the space’s mission to showcase creative up-and-comers from all disciplines.
“We want to create a fresh space that caters to progressive and contemporary artists and art-lovers of all kinds,” says curator and event coordinator Jordan Koppens. “We will be hosting art shows, candle-lit open mic nights, art markets, local fashion boutiques and dance parties. The space is available to rent for any art-related event as well.” Currently, the space hosts an art market on the second Saturday of each month; the “Dancing Room Only” dance party, featuring visual art by local artist Dara Quick, takes place on the last Saturday of each month.
Inner Recess also continues to function as an audiovisual production studio, where Thornton and his team offer everything from music- and video-recording and editing to mixing and post-production services. The studio provides a membership program to make it easier and more financially feasible for musicians to book studio time.
“We are looking to do many things with the space that reach out to different types of people in the city,” Koppens says. “We would like to work as a multimedia event space that covers many facets and flavors of the city — not sticking to being labeled as a gallery.” On July 25, Inner Recess will throw a party to celebrate its seven-year anniversary and raise funds for future events. innerrecess.com