Bits 'n' Pieces: Clark’s Appert wins national music award

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There’s arranging music, and then there’s arranging a season of music: programming a yearlong concert series.

Clark College music professor Don Appert is pretty good at both. He was just named 2011 winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Programming.

The head of Clark’s music department actually had two semifinalists.

“I have two orchestras,” said Appert, who also conducts the Oregon Sinfonietta in Portland.

Both his submissions were among the 10 semifinalists, and his sinfonietta season programming took the top prize.

Appert describes his approach to programming as “adventuresome,” matching standards with worthy music from unknown or overlooked composers. A recent example included “Banks of Green Willow,” written in 1913 by George Butterworth. Who?

“He died in World War I,” Appert said. “It’s one of only four pieces he wrote for orchestra.”

Appert also gives a chance to lesser-known works by well-known composers, and he’s tabbed Dvorak’s Fifth Symphony for a future concert.

“I hadn’t heard it until a couple of months ago, and I’ve been in this business a long time.”

The American Prize is a series of national competitions designed to recognize and reward the best in the performing arts in the United States. It is administered by Hat City Music Theater Inc., a nonprofit performing arts group based in Danbury, Conn.

Banned books eyed to get teens reading

Few things are more tempting to a teenager than forbidden fruit.

And Justin Stanley wants to use that against them, for their own good.

Stanley, 37, of Vancouver is building a nonprofit business aimed at encouraging underprivileged teens to read.

The twist? He wants to use books from the American Library Association’s banned and challenged lists to draw the youths’ attention.

“I’ve had an interest in banned books for years,” Stanley said. “And with teenagers, the idea of a banned book is just so much more enticing.”

Banned books include Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and even J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.

“We’re not talking about smut or anything, we’re talking (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s) ‘The Great Gatsby’ or the work of George Orwell,” said Stanley, who works as a systems integration manager at an investment company.

The program will provide books for kids ages 13 to 18 and will teach youth about First Amendment rights and introduce them to a love of reading.

Initially, he hopes to start a pilot project in Clark County, but eventually he wants to expand the program nationwide, Stanley said.

Right now, he’s trying to build up about $10,000 to get the project off the ground. Visit http://www.uprisebooks.org/ for more information.

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