Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SPOTLIGHT Encore: Joshua Bell!

To celebrate the release of "French Impressions," Joshua Bell's new CD of French music for violin and piano, Mountain Lake Journal Extra has an encore presentation of Paul Larson's exclusive interview with the world famous violinist. Bell discusses his career, his passion for the arts, and the mishaps he's had with his 300 year-old Stadivarius, an instrument worth millions.

The "Spotlight" segment on Joshua Bell runs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra beginning January 5 at the following times,

Thursday 8:30pm
Friday 6am and 12:30pm
Saturday 7:30pm
Sunday 6am and 10:30am

"French Impressions," Joshua Bell's first recital program for Sony Classical features the Grammy Award-winning violinist and his longtime friend and recital partner, pianist Jeremy Denk, offering a passionately nuanced interpretation of works by Saint-Saens, Ravel and Franck.

When Bell and Denk performed Saint-Saens Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor during their 2010 recital tour, the New York Times raved "Mr. Bell and Mr. Denk gave a passionate performanceThere were plenty of fireworks in the whirlwind of the concluding movement."

Says Bell, "French Impressions is the culmination of my last decade of exploration and performance with pianist Jeremy Denk, and I hope that with this recording we can affect the listener with the same joy and spiritual enrichment that these masterpieces have provided us over the years."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SPOTLIGHT Encore: The Boobie Sisters

To celebrate our upcoming Holiday Spectacular show and a national award we recently won, the Boobie Sisters story will have a special encore presentation on Mountain Lake Journal Extra. This story, about breast cancers survivors who offer hope through humor, received an award from NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association, for outstanding work in public affairs content. The Boobie Sisters, with their funny name and humorous songs, actually sing about some pretty serious issues. Their performances tackle breast exams, cancer treatments, dealing with family issues and changing bodies. This encore"Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am. Also, the Boobie Sisters will perform some festive music on the Mountain Lake PBS Holiday Spectacular this Saturday night at 7, and I will interview some of them live in our studio.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Olivia Newton-John!

The singer and actress had a benefit in Albany on Saturday for her Cancer and Wellness Centre in Australia. It's a facility for medical research, treatment and wellness care. So nice to meet Olivia after being a fan of hers since I was nine years old. She is a breast cancer survivor of nineteen years.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: The Reindeer Keeper

Ogdensburg, New York author Barbara Briggs Ward discusses her first novel aimed at adults, The Reindeer Keeper. She has written books and short stories for children, and this is her first work of fiction geared for the Baby Boomer audience. The project grew out of a chaotic holiday season, during which she lost the Christmas spirit. Writing The Reindeer Keeper helped the author recapture the nostalgic wonder of the season.

You may see the story on the Spotlight segment ofMountain Lake Journal Extra, Thursday at 8:30pm, on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You're invited to visit the studio of Joel Prevost

Joel Prevost, sculptor, invites you to the second anniversary celebration of the opening of his studio, gallery and student workshop in Montreal this month. You may recognize sculptures by the Monteral artist, because they decorate the set of "Art Express." The second anniversary celebration will showcase new works by Prevost, as well as pieces by students of his art classes. The celebration begins at 5pm on Saturday, December 10 and lasts until 9. The gallery is located at 1206 boulevard de Maisonneuve E in Montreal. You may learn more about the opening from our Spotlight story: http://video.mountainlake.org/video/2172740531

NUTCRACKER: Pacific Northwest Ballet


Seattle, Washington has a real treasure to reveal every holiday season. In the early 1980s, the director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, a Seattle-based ballet company, decided he wanted to set his Nutcracker apart from every other version of the ballet in the country. He asked the famed author/illustrator of the children's classicWhere the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, to design the sets and costumes for a slightly re-imagined version of The Nutcracker. The result is a ballet extremely faithful to the glorious music of Tchaikovsky, while referencing the darker elements of the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann more than other stagings of the ballet do.

Actually, the least successful aspects of this show involve trying to weave in the rather complicated backstory of the nutracker and his grudge against the mouse king into the production, an effort that includes the addition of a brief opera piece by Tchaikovsky just to allow for more time to tell the story. This awkwardness in narrative can easily be forgiven, thanks to the eye-popping sets, dazzling costumes, and a few special effects I'd never seen before in any version of The Nutcracker. Also, the music of Tchaikovsky never fails to enchant me, and the choreography, by Kent Stowell, is beautiful.

After I saw the Pacific Northwest ballet version and read the tie-in book, the original Nutcracker story illustrated by Sendak, it occurred to me that the narrative of the ballet has never been all the strong. It's simply an excuse to see a big Christmas party, the giving of gifts, a growing Christmas tree, a spectacular battle between soldiers and mice, a lovely journey through a forested winterland, and a series of exotic dances in an otherworldly setting. These are precious images to behold during the holiday season, accompanied by music that is sometimes whimsical, sometimes sensual, often dramatic, and forever linked to Christmas. Whatever the strange story of the Nutcracker is, the ballet just works!

Seeing the sets, designed by Sendak, is definitely worth the trip to Seattle. They resemble a giant, magnificently illustrated pop-up book, complete with moving parts. Because Sendak also created the look of the costumes, colors and patterns blend to create a unified whole.

What's a bit of a shame is that the Seattle Nutcracker seems like a well kept secret. When I told my friends and family that I was seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet version of the Nutcracker, I had to explain to them why this was so special, and why I would bother to go to Seattle to see a ballet that is in pretty much every city in North America during the month of December. Among fans of the Nutcracker, the Seattle-based show is indeed the most famous, along with the New York City Ballet spectacle, choreographed by George Balanchine. In fact, these two versions of the Nutcracker were both filmed for release in cinemas.

Even though the Pacific Northwest Ballet Nutcracker has toured briefly and minimally, many people who might marvel at its wonders still do not know about it. Perhaps a bigger tour one day will allow Mr. Sendak to share his magical visions with a much wider audience.

At any rate, the option remains to do as I did and make a trip to Seattle. I also enjoyed the Space Needle, the EMP, and some fine dining.

Performance photos by Angela Sterling.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hosting Mountain Lake Journal

You'll see me as the anchor of Mountain Lake Journal this week, filling in for Thom Hallock. The roundtable discussion focuses on economic development in the North Country of New York State. My guests include Garry Douglas of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University. They are the co-chairs of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, an organization that is competing with nine other regions of New York for up to 200 million dollars in state aid. You will find more information, and places to submit your own ideas and opinions at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com

Sunday, September 25, 2011

SPOTLIGHT - Robotic Surgery

Robotic-Assisted Surgery is a relatively new technology at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, New York. As it grows in usage, people who have not experienced it wonder just how much of the "human touch" of the surgeon gets directly involved in the operation.

I enjoyed working on this story, as it was the first time CVPH had allowed cameras in the operating room to let viewers witness this technology in action. We found a willing patient who allowed us to record her hysterectomy, and she also gave us a great interview.

Dr. Dane Larsen, pictured with me, will speak about robotic surgery at "Girls Night Out" on Tuesday, October 11. "Girls Night Out" is a relaxing evening of entertainment and education, with an emphasis on healthy living. It is one way CVPH commemorates Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For tickets and times of the "Girls Night Out" programs, head to the CVPH website: www.cvph.org

You may see the story on the Spotlight segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra, Thursday at 8:30pm, on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am.

"Author Visits" Presentation

Our Director of Outreach and Education Jane Owens hosted a meeting of teachers and librarians at the station. She invited me to give a presentation about "Author Visits," our online educational initiative. "Author Visits" takes our pre-existing "Spotlight" author interviews and transforms them into a video series that has uses for classrooms, libraries and book clubs. The project is a collaboration among the production, education and communications departments. Plattsburgh author Amy Guglielmo, a former teacher herself and featured "Author Visits" guest, also spoke to the educators about the uses of "Author Visits" in the classroom, and her Touch the Art book series. Her books may also be used to enhance curriculum. www.mountainlake.org/authorvisits

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Bill Haugland

For the second time, former CTV news anchor Bill Haugland joined me in the studio to talk about a novel he's written. This time, he discusses his new book The Bidding, inviting us into a sinister world of abduction, murder and demonic cults. Haugland's news reporter protagonist Ty Davis, whose earlier adventures he'd related in the book Mobile 9, returns for a second adventure. You may see the interview on the "Spotlight" segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra, tonight at 8:30pm, on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am.

Parade! Battle of Plattsburgh

The on-air talent of Mountain Lake PBS, including Thom Hallock, Derek Muirden, Aubery Bresett, Jack LaDuke, and myself met many of our viewers as we marched in the Battle of Plattsburgh parade. We also handed out candy to the young people who lined the streets. Director of Education Jane Owens, Development Director Sophie Mitsoglou, and some volunteers joined us for a beautiful afternoon, celebrating an important battle that helped shape our country. During the War of 1812, the battle ended the final British invasion of the northern states. Thanks to viewer Glenn Estes for taking and submitting these photos.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Justin Hines

Canadian singer/songwriter Justin Hines came to our studio for an interview. What a nice guy! He's funny too. His album "Days to Recall" is the first of his four albums to be released in the United States, and now he's on tour to promote it. "Days to Recall" features a lot of his original material. His live shows also include songs made famous by James Tayor and Jim Croce. You may see the interview on the "Spotlight" segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra, tonight at 8:30pm, on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell not only plays the violin exquisitely, he can also tell a very funny story. During an interview I conducted in his Manhattan home, he kept me entertained with true tales about his 300-year-old Stradivarius, a violin that has had many adventures during the last three centuries. He also shared some humorous anecdotes about performing on stage and traveling around the world. You may see the interview on the Spotlight segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra, tonight at 8:30pm, on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My trip to England 2011 Part 1

In July I traveled to one of my favorite countries: England.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Flight Simulators

I'm really excited about this story, because it's so visually stunning. While I was editing it, I could feel the motion again, as if I were back in the simulator. Flight simulators are large machines that replicate the cockpit of an airplane, with all the instruments in the same place they would be in a real aircraft. The simulator also shows the view outside the windows, projected with high tech equipment. The motion creates a sense of realism too. I could actually feel the small bumps on the pavement below as we taxied on the runway before take-off. I produced the story at CAE in Montreal, the world leader in flight simulator manufacturing and training. You may see the story on the Spotlight segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra, Thursday at 8:30pm, on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am.

Monday, April 25, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Bridge to Terabithia

What absolute joy I felt while interviewing Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia. The book, depicting a close bond between young friends of opposite genders, has a special meaning for me, as I had a similar friendship while growing up. This makes the tragedy of the novel hit very close to home. It was fascinating to hear Paterson discuss the inspiration behind the book, as well as her battles with Hollywood as she fought screenwriters who wanted to change her story into something unrecognizable to its author for the sake of a happy ending. The Katherine Paterson interview airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra this Thursday at 8:30pm on Mountain Lake PBS. Immediately following the interview, I will introduce a new online series of interviews called "Author Visits."

Friday, February 18, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Soovin Kim performs at home.

Fans of fine music can hear world class performers this week in New York and Vermont. It was a pleasure to once again interview violinist Soovin Kim, artistic director of the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, today. He's based in New York City, so we used Skype. He'll arrive in Vermont next Thursday, and he spoke to me from his office at Stony Brook University, where he serves as a professor of violin.

The topic at hand, two upcoming chamber music performances. The 2011 Winter Encore Concerts feature the work of living composers of three different generations who served as inspiration for each other, as well as music by Schubert. I also spoke with 18 year-old composer Tim Woos. He was commissioned at the age of 15 (!) to write a piece for the orchestra, and they played his composition on a world tour.

The concerts are Friday, February 25 at 7:30pm in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium at SUNY Plattsburgh, and Saturday at 7:30pm in the Elley-Long Music Center at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, VT.

Tickets are available from the Flynn Regional Box Office, 1 (802) 863-5966, Angell College Center at SUNY Plattsburgh, 1 (518) 564-2121, and the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, 1 (518) 563-1604.

The "Spotlight" segment airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday at 8:30pm on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Convento Film Music

A film about a European monestary has a unusual sound design, thanks to music by a composer from northern New York. Lawrence Dolan of Plattsburgh wanted a unique sound for his first motion picture score, so he turned to objects usually reserved for meditation, Tibetan singing bowls. On Spotlight this week, I interview the musician about his score for Convento, a documentary about an old monestary in Portugal that has been converted into an artist's studio and nature preserve. New York City filmmaker Jarred Alterman directed the film. Convento had its world premiere at a film festival in Poland in December. North Americans get their first chance to see it in Austin, Texas next month, at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. This Spotlight segment airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday at 8:30pm on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spotlight: La Diva Renée!

Renée Fleming plans to enchant a Montréal audience with her famous voice, but not before giving me an exclusive interview about the origins of her career, her surprising political aspirations and her passion for music. Journalists have labeled her "America's favorite soprano," and I found the opera diva pleasantly down to earth. Raised in Rochester, New York and schooled in Rochester and Potsdam, Ms. Fleming is very familiar with the northern New York region, and says she can't wait to reconnect with her fans in the Adirondack region and southern Québec when she sings at Place des Arts in Montréal on January 25. Our interview took place in her Manhattan penthouse, where she talked about her early reluctance to perform and the challenges of being at the top of one's career. The story I am producing about her will feature career highlights, and some of the funny aspects with being so successful in a job in the performing arts. This "Spotlight" segment airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday at 8:30pm on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.