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Monika Herzig
Jazz from Bloomington

Janiece Jaffe
Jazz from Bloomington

Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2010

Music performances pick up the beat of ArtsWeek 2010

Feb. 8, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two very different musical performances will have audiences thinking about the natural world and our relationship to it during ArtsWeek 2010.

Jazz guitarist Brad Shepik will present his 10-part "Human Activity Suite" on Feb. 26. Earlier in the week, compositions written by Bloomington-area schoolchildren will be featured in an afternoon concert on Feb. 21.

ArtsWeek 2010, IU's annual winter arts festival, runs from Feb. 18-Feb. 28. This year's theme is Arts and the Environment.

Brad Shepik

Photo by C. Mardok

Brad Shepik

The "Nature Songs and All That Jazz" concert will showcase work drawn from more than 200 submissions by children in grades 2-6. Bloomington jazz vocalist Janiece Jaffe organized the event, inviting children to write short poems about what they love about nature. Thirty young authors will be featured in the free concert.

About half of the featured poems have been set to music by Jaffe and jazz pianist Monika Herzig. Musicians Tom Clark (sax), Peter Kienle (bass), Dan Deckard (drums), and Curtis Cantwell Jackson (voice) will help perform the songs. The remaining selected poems will be read aloud by local radio personality and storyteller Arbutus Cunningham.

"Monika and I used a minimum of editing," said Jaffe. "The poems just grew into the melodies of the songs. We originally planned to select only five songs, but so many of the poems called to us that we wanted to include them all."

All of the poems will be displayed during the concert. The poems set to music feature genres from folk to punk rock to calypso to gospel. The "Nature and All That Jazz" concert starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21 in the Monroe County Public Library Auditorium. A reception for the young writers will follow the concert.

On Friday, Feb. 26, Monika Herzig and the Jazz from Bloomington organization host a concert presenting the "Human Activity Suite: Sounding a Response to Climate Change," composed by Brad Shepik and performed by his quintet. The event takes place at KRC Catering at 216 S. College Ave. beginning at 7:30. A dinner buffet for $12 will be available preceding the concert.

Shepik's composition in 10 movements offers a global tour of the impact of human activity on global warming. It features world music and jazz styles, using unusual instruments such as the tambura and electric saz. For this concert, Shepik will be accompanied by leaders of New York's current jazz scene: Ralph Alessi (trumpet), IU Jacobs School of Music graduate Matt Mitchell (piano), Bloomington's own Matt Pavolka (bass), and Michael Sarin (drums).

"I tried to create a piece of music that takes the listener on a 90-minute-plus journey and focuses on how global warming issues affect us as people living on the earth rather than people living in a nation," said Shepik in an interview on "My hope is that [the musical] context provides an opportunity for greater awareness."

Concert organizer Monika Herzig says, "The solutions to halting and reversing the effects of climate change lie not just with world leaders, but with ordinary citizens of every nation. To remedy harmful human activity, in other words, we need different, better human activity. Music won't solve the problems, but it can raise awareness and spur us to action."

Advance tickets for the Shepik concert are available to Jazz from Bloomington members for $10 and to the general public for $15. Tickets can be purchased at Sunrise Box Office, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. and Tickets will be available at the door for $15 (Jazz from Bloomington members) and $20 (general public).

For more on ArtsWeek 2010, see

About ArtsWeek

Begun in 1984, ArtsWeek is a wide-ranging annual showcase for the creative work of artists from Indiana University and the city of Bloomington, with prestigious performers, artists, and writers from across the country taking part. For more information and a complete schedule of events, see the

About Jazz from Bloomington

Jazz From Bloomington is an all-volunteer organization. Membership dues cover all operating expenses, with 100 percent of donations and sponsorships going directly to programming. For more information, visit