Popejoy Hall


V.26 No.7 | 02/16/2017

Event Horizon

Kung Fu Buddhists

Friday, Feb 24: Shaolin Warriors: The Legend Continues

Zen Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple give a world-class performance of martial arts.
V.25 No.50 | 12/15/2016

Event Horizon

Hallelujah

Friday, Dec 16: Handel's Messiah

Roger Melone conducts the New Mexico Philharmonic performing the beloved, sacred symphonic work.
V.25 No.44 | 11/03/2016

Event Horizon

He Said, She Said

Sunday, Nov 6: Much Ado About Nothing

The acclaimed Aquila Theatre Company returns in their 25th anniversary season with one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated comedies.
V.25 No.36 | 09/08/2016
Courtesy of the author

Creative Non-Fiction

"He Had a Far Out Decorator"

As 1991 began, I lived north the university. That year, it happened the weather did not get really cold until the end of January. There were patches of ice on the sidewalks near my house, also near the apartment of my friend, Kenneth W. Seward.

Seward was a lighting designer whom I worked with at the University of New Mexico. I had recently graduated from art school. I worked at Keller Hall, in the department of Music. Seward studied in the Theatre department and held a part-time job at the concert hall.

We were friends, collaborating on multi-media projects, discussing literature and music, generally encouraging the other’s reading and art-making. We were both Eagle Scouts; we both played the piano. But while I struggled with the instrument, he killed it–gracefully and courageously hammering out Beethoven while I kept getting lost after a dozen bars.

Listen: In those halcyon days, Ken was dying of a brain tumor. At the end of the previous summer, he had come into my office and complained of numbness in his hands, a dark circumstance for a manipulator of lights and electricity. Concerned, I suggested he go to the student health center.

One thing then led to another. By mid-autumn 1990, he had been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly type of brain cancer.

By January he had lost the ability to walk and manipulate tools and therefore, to work. His parents were in California. He had become estranged from them for he was gay and they could not accept that fact.

But he had loads of friends in Burque. We pitched in to help him. We all took turns keeping him company, taking him to the UNM Cancer Center, feeding and bathing him while Bartok and Gilbert and Sullivan played in the background.

When his parents finally arrived to make their peace in February, I resignedly noted that his father looked more like Ken than Ken did.

Kenneth W. Seward died on March 6, 1991 while I was eating lunch at the New Chinatown with some deadhead buddies of mine. That day, beautiful puffy clouds filled the sky over dirt city and it rained and rained that night. The next week, the College of Fine Arts held a glorious memorial service for him in Rodey Theater.

I kept a picture of him on the crew bulletin board at Keller Hall. In the picture he looked young and brave and full of life, holding a crescent wrench in his hand, smiling up towards the bright lights that beckoned him.

Soon after Ken died, I broke up with my long-time girlfriend. She was a classical musician. I'd like to believe we drifted apart during Seward’s illness, but the truth was much simpler and profoundly more tragic. I was a hipster; she was L-7.

After all of that, spring came, anyway. It was warm again; the grass was greenly lush at the duck pond. I kept busy by painting large abstract, loathsomely bright pictures and managing the concert hall.

Sometime in late March, some news went around the Fine Arts Center. The Dalai Lama was going to be visiting the university and would be speaking at Popejoy Hall.

I knew little about the man. The organization Friends of Tibet had occasionally visited the college, had brought around a group of touring monks to entertain and perplex the patrons of art and music who haunted the foyer. These followers of the lama performed traditional dances and chants and were magically entrancing to those who had the privilege of attending.

Coincidentally, my roommate, a graduate student in art history, was a devout Buddhist. He filled me in on concepts and events related to Tibetan Buddhism and the preeminence of the fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Anyway, it came to pass the Dalai Lama and his entourage needed a place to camp out before his speaking engagement. These were in the days before UNM renovated the Fine Arts Center. Much of it was an unkempt old joint–that included the Popejoy Hall green room, which was mostly a place the technical crew hung out to smoke and nap.

Owing to the fact that Keller hall was a genteel venue where chamber music and avant-garde compositions were performed, its green room was chosen as a headquarters for the visitors. The Keller Hall Green Room was tastefully decorated, well furnished and looked out onto a small verdant garden.

When the day arrived, the Dalai Lama was driven to the loading dock in back of the UNM art museum. Advisers, a meteorologist with magical abilities, members of Friends of Tibet and a small press corps accompanied him. Though he had recently won the Nobel Prize, he was not nearly as famous as he is now; the issues surrounding Tibet had just begun to creep into the public’s consciousness.

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso was immediately whisked to the Keller Hall green room, where different dignitaries, including the President of the University, came and went, presenting him with fresh fruit and prayer shawls.

Late in the afternoon, I noticed there was an empty space on the couch next to the lama, so I went over and sat down next to him.

He looked over and remarked, “You are brave!” He put his arm around me, said something in Tibetan to the monk sitting next to him and continued, “Don’t worry,” he whispered, “everything will be fine.” He laughed. It was a deep and happy laugh.

Then motioned to one of his advisers and the two got up from their seats. The lama needed some time alone, to eat and meditate, the adviser told everyone in the room.

The Dalai Lama waved at me, then retired to the downstairs lounge in Keller Hall. Later I was asked by one of his aides to join his procession over to Popejoy Hall. I didn’t have another opportunity to speak to him, though. He and his followers left soon after the event was over.

The rest of that spring and then the summer seemed to zip right on by. I finished a decent painting, figured out a tune by Bartok and then welded together a sculpture that held a bit of Ken’s ashes inside of it. When someone stole it from in front of the Art Building at the end of May, I felt the same pleasure Duchamp must have felt when workmen dropped and shattered Le Grand Verre.

In June, I got the only tattoo I would ever sport–from the legendary J.B. Jones, who decided to paint a picture of the Holy Spirit on my left shoulder. In August, my roommate and I decided to rent out a room in the old, rambling house we shared.

The ad we placed in the Daily Lobo was answered by a group of exchange students from Britain. They were young and brave and full of life. Two of them would end up living in the house and loudly introducing us to a thing called EDM.

The third was a long-haired wandering anthropologist from Wales. In the year that followed, she took me abroad. We traveled through Amazonia, basked on the beaches of lower Antilles, squatted in a shack in Middlesex and finally took a journey to the place where Nepal borders Tibet. In September 1996, we trekked up a river that followed a long, steep valley–into the kingdom of Mustang.

This was the place where lamas dwelt, walking amidst fields of buckwheat and dusty trails. They were in search of light, I remember thinking to myself as the straps from Ken’s old backpack dug into my shoulders and the mountains beckoned us.

V.24 No.9 | 02/26/2015

Alibi Picks

TV Didn't Kill the Radio Star: Ira Glass at Popejoy

Reinventing Radio

Ira Glass talks about "This American Life," what makes a compelling story and pushing broadcast journalism into new territory.
V.24 No.7 | 2/12/2015
Jack White at Popejoy Hall
All photos courtesy of Jack White

Music

Jack White comes into his own at Popejoy

On Tuesday, Feb. 3, Jack White and his five-piece band played a full house at Popejoy, and the performance was refreshingly classic. It was apparent that White is intent on bringing back something that's been missing from rock 'n' roll for decades.

In a crowd of mostly college kids, it was easy to be taken back to a time when a love for a band was so fervent that the band could do no wrong. The sound quality and stage presence didn’t much matter. The fact that this iconic figure was right there in the flesh—right in front of you—was enough. Tastes evolve and become more discerning, and sometimes it’s not so easy to get lost in the moment—especially if the sound guy is too stoned, the band members don’t seem interested in giving their best, or the musicianship just isn’t there. Thank goodness Jack White continues to care about what he pumps out and how he presents it.

The White Stripes was the perfect platform for White to find his style. Now, he has the resources, freedom and drive to tailor his sound and handpick incredibly talented members for his band to help him realize that vision. Mixing White Stripes hits with more recent solo tunes and covers, White delivered a lengthy concert that included peaks and valleys. His versatile backing band of multi-instrumentalists kept the set fresh. White also headed over to the piano at one point, playing a haunting ballad and looking and sounding quite comfortable on keys. It was obvious that drummer Daru Jones has chops for days, but he kept it simple per Jack’s preferences without losing any precision or energy. Visually striking musician Lillie Mae Rische switched seamlessly back and forth—from fiddle to mandolin—and her voice could put a siren to shame; she harmonizes with White so sweetly that it almost makes you want to go to church … for the choir.

The other three band members, respectively rocking bass, keys and pedal steel, are no less talented; White's band made the jam feel more like a journey than a meandering mishap, as is too often the case with jam bands. Add two semi trucks worth of lighting and sound equipment to the mix, and the result was a bona fide arena show squeezed into the intimacy of Popejoy Hall. It was reminiscent of Deep Purple or The Allman Brothers Band concerts from the '70s I've seen on Youtube—more reminders of being born too late. With an eight-song encore, the show clocked in at just under two hours. White was sheepish and shy, only addressing the audience at the end of the show, but he's a consummate showman who clearly cares about preserving a dying art—one where people write and perform their own songs and pour their souls, sweat and grit into every note.

V.23 No.21 |

Alibi Picks

Sacred Sound: The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Tomorrow night, the monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will culminate four days of ritual practice at UNM’s Center for the Arts with a performance at Popejoy Hall (203 Cornell NE). That upcoming event is a reminder to me, and an opportunity for you, dear reader. It’s been nearly 20 years since I trekked through the Kingdom of Mustang, on my way to the Thorung-La Pass. Though I never quite made it—distracted by altitude sickness and a lodge in Muktinath that featured electric lights, flush toilets and Bon Jovi posters—I had many opportunities to engage the local culture.

I found the ritual music and dance of the Tibetan Buddhists in the area to be more than just fascinating. It was a deluxe experience, at once otherworldly and deeply human, and by turns frightening, calming and transcendent. In the intervening years, the traditional arts of Tibetan Buddhism have gained much recognition in America, mostly due to the continuously joyful touring of certain monastic representatives, tasked with both preserving and maintaining a culture that has richly elaborate and intensely transformative qualities. The coming week’s activities begin with the construction of a sand mandala on Wednesday and end with a once-in-a-lifetime tour-de-force that includes nine sonic pieces designed to engender peace and healing tomorrow evening. Observation and participation in the mandala ritual is free and open to the public, but the performance begins at 8pm, and tickets cost between $20 and $44. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Sat May 31 • 8pm • $20-$44 • View on Alibi calendar

V.23 No.11 |

Alibi Picks

Ogle the Altogether Ooky

The Addams Family

The Addams Family defines the word “resilient.” Starting out as a series of single-panel comics in The New Yorker, the macabre clan became a laugh-tracked camp-fest for two seasons of sitcom history in the 1960s. And while many fondly remember the films of the early ’90s, I say that any franchise capable of surviving the theme-song maw of MC Hammer rapping his way through 1991’s “Addams Groove” is one that must and shall rise again. Which brings us to the musical comedy skittering across the Popejoy (203 Cornell NE) stage for six performances tonight through Sunday, March 20-23. Featuring a schmaltzy new story about Wednesday bringing her boyfriend and his button-down Midwestern folks home to meet Gomez, Morticia and the rest of the uncanny gang, The Addams Family unabashedly panders to lovers of the ghoulish and the goofy with conga-line zombie ancestors, moon puppetry, loony musical numbers and coroner puns galore. Tickets for the spooky spectacle start at $32.50 for the balcony, so whether you’re a fan of Uncle Fester or a lover of Lurch, prepare for some silly, satisfying entertainment from the newest reincarnation of America’s weirdest family. Showtimes are as follows: Thursday (March 20) at 7:30pm, Friday (March 21) at 8pm, Saturday (March 22) at 2 and 8pm and Sunday (March 23) at 1 and 6:30pm. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Thu Mar 20 • 7:30pm • $32.50-$62.50 • View on Alibi calendar

V.23 No.5 |
Logan Skelton

Alibi Picks

Jazz Rhapsody

Randol Bass conducts the New Mexico Philharmonic in a presentation of the music of Gershwin, his contemporaries and successor tomorrow. Gershwin and Company features guest pianist and University of Michigan professor Logan Skelton. Skelton will perform the American Modernist masterpiece “Rhapsody in Blue,” along with companion piece, “An American in Paris.” The philharmonic will also tackle selections from Porgy and Bess, as well as compositions by Ferde Grofé, Duke Ellington and “Sleigh Ride” composer Leroy Anderson.

Grofé is significant here because he was responsible for orchestrating “Rhapsody in Blue.” His arrangement of the piece is considered a key moment in the development of 20th century American music. His signature piece, “Grand Canyon Suite,” is an orchestral standard. The Philharmonic will perform a selection from this deep slice of Americana, as well as Anderson’s notable celebration of American business, "The Typewriter." A medley of Duke’s wide-ranging work, arranged for orchestra, begins the second half of the evening’s program. Tickets for this event, starting at 6pm at Popejoy Hall, range from $20 to $68, and that’s a bargain to spend the evening with such legendary names and their combined sonic output. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Sat Feb 8 • 6pm • $20-$68 • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar

V.22 No.49 |
Photo by Frank Zed

Alibi Picks

Festive Vox Abound

If your holiday celebrations call for choral accompaniment, I heartily recommend the Festival of Voices. Not the one in your head, silly, but rather a concert of the same name happening at Popejoy Hall (203 Cornell SE) tomorrow at 3pm. Albuquerque choral-conducting stalwart Roger Melone will direct the New Mexico Symphonic Chorus and host guest artists including the Albuquerque Youth Symphony and Chorus, the Albuquerque Junior Symphony Chorus and the Albuquerque Bel Canto Choir. These ensembles will joyfully perform works from Mendelssohn’s Opus 70, Elijah; Respighi’s Adoration of the Magi and Laud to the Nativity (featuring the vocal talents of sopranos Dana Bowersock-Ziegler and Karla Kollasch); Christmas Day by Gustav Holst; and a host of other holiday-themed choral creations. Tickets range in price from $12 to $40, and if you're in high school, you get in for five bucks with a valid ID. That’s quite a gift, considering the awesome vocal emanations set to appear that afternoon under the concert shell at PJH. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Sun Dec 15 • 3-5pm • $12-$40 • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar

V.22 No.21 |

Alibi Picks

Two-In-One Date Night: Jersey Boys at Popejoy

The Jersey Boys at Popejoy Hall offers you two shows in one, a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and a pop concert, perfect for spending a night along memory lane with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Fans will reminisce over songs such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and prom-time favorite “Oh What a Night.” Prepare yourself for a night of excitement while reliving the rise of these young men from blue-collar Jersey streets to worldwide pop stardom. This international sensation and Las Vegas hit has been described as a “wild” night of mayhem. In fact, it’s recommended only for those 12 or older, since it contains gun shots, smoke, strobe lights and drug references. The show runs until June 2 at Popejoy Hall (203 Cornell NE). Buy tickets for either daytime or evening shows. Prices range from $40 to $145 at unmtickets.com or call 877-664-8661. If you already purchased tickets, check the Popejoy website for information about date changes. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Thu May 23 • 2 pm • $27.50-$145 • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar

V.21 No.10 | 3/8/2012

Alibi Picks

Charm City Cinema

From casting a young Ricki Lake in 1988's Hairspray and drag queen extraordinaire Divine in cult films such as Polyester and Mondo Trasho, there's been no shortage of creative and controversial carnage in John Waters' decades-long career. Even Beat poet William Burroughs knighted him "The Pope of Trash," a name befitting Waters' sleazy style. Waters talks about his filmmaking career, sexual deviancy, true crime, fashion, religion and more today from 3 to 5 p.m. at UNM's Popejoy Hall (203 Cornell NE). Tickets can be had from $19 to $39 by visiting popejoypresents.com/johnwaters.

V.21 No.9 | 3/1/2012

Alibi Picks

Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind

I don't know of an official study on it, but I'd say with certainty that "Killer Queen" is played just as often at frat parties and sporting events as it is at gay bars. If, like this Queen fanatic, you're of the opinion that fat bottom girls do indeed make the rockin' world go ’round, you should rhapsodize with Gary Mullen and the Works at Popejoy Hall tonight at 7:30 p.m. The acclaimed Queen cover act does an interactive show, inviting concertgoers to sing along to tunes that include 18 No. 1 singles.

V.20 No.43 | 10/27/2011

Alibi Picks

Tonight! Proceeds from dinner at more than 20 restaurants benefit Popejoy Hall

Popejoy Hall mounted its first production in October 1966, opening up New Mexico to professional-grade concerts, theater and dance. You can help the state's largest performance space celebrate its 45th season—and ensure more to come—by dining out on Thursday. More than 20 Albuquerque restaurants will donate a percentage of the day's proceeds to Popejoy. Visit dineoutforpopejoy.com/partners.html for restaurants and details.