Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Originally founded by Henry Sopkin as a youth orchestra in 1945, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has become a cornerstone in artistic development throughout the Southeast. Winner of over 20 Grammy Awards, the ASO is comprised of a 95-player instrumental section and a 200-member chorus. Its leaders have included the late Robert Shaw and Yoel Levi, who is currently Director Emeritus. Now under the direction of Robert Spano, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra continues to grow and excel.
Spano – born in Ohio and raised in Indiana – grew up in a musical family, and played the piano, flute and violin. He studied conducting under Robert Baustian and Max Rudolf, and spent eight years as the Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra before coming to Atlanta. He is now credited as one of America's top conductors. In the summer of 2005, Spano will conduct Wagner's "Ring" cycle at the Seattle Opera. To learn more about the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its performance schedule, visit the ASO website.
Balzer Theater at Herren's
In 1934, a prizefighter named Charlie "Red" Herren opened what would become an Atlanta landmark: Herren's Restaurant. Known as "Atlanta's Place to Meet," the Lucky Street hotspot changed hands in the 1940s, coming under the ownership of the Negri family. Its fame grew in 1962 as it became the first restaurant in downtown Atlanta to voluntarily desegregate. But the city changed and the restaurant closed, standing empty until two leaders of a local theatre company had an idea.
The Theatrical Outfit - a non-profit organization focused on performing a variety of plays and musicals revolving around Southern culture - needed a home. Its President Bill Blazer and his wife Peg, a Theatrical Outfit board member, thought Herren's was just the place for the troupe, and made the lead donation by buying the space. The result is the Balzer Theater at Herren's, 200-seat and a state-of-the-art energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive theatre. Check out this season's schedule and learn more about the theatre and the company at the Outfit's website.
Food Art: Chocolate
For centuries, chefs around the world have strived to create tasty and beautiful dishes that please both the palate and the eye. Both professional chefs and culinary arts students still work toward that goal today. Chef Bruno Menard of the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead believes strongly in the artistic qualities of food. Coming from a long line of pastry chefs, Menard started his career as an apprentice at Le Domaine d'Orvault at the age of 16. He later moved to Japan to continue his culinary career and even appeared on "The Iron Chef," the Japanese television show with a worldwide audience. Menard was appointed head Chef of the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead in 2001.
The Art Institute of Atlanta, founded 1949, has a long history of culinary education. Believing that dining is the full experience of taste, aroma and presentation, AIA graduates are equipped to begin their careers as culinary artists. With professional chefs as professors, students learn how to create works of art using a variety of food including chocolate. To learn more about the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, visit their website. To find out what other courses and programs the Art Institute of Atlanta has to offer, visit the AIA website.
Georgia Southwestern University, known for its connection to President Jimmy Carter as the first University he attended, has an even bigger accomplishment, a glassblowing studio. Students attending the state university in Americus, Georgia can get a bachelor's degree in the delicate art.
Lead by Professor Charles Wells students learn to manipulate glass into creative and ornate works of art. From bowls to human torsos, students spend their day working around furnaces producing heat up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass is shipped into the school and then melted down giving the students plenty of molten glass to sculpt and craft. Georgia Southwestern University is the only school in the south that offers the opportunity to learn glassblowing. To find out what else Georgia Southwestern University has to offer look them up on the web.
Mexican Ballet of Lupita Sosa
Founded in 1993, the Ballet Mexicano de Lupita Sosa performs traditional Mexican dance, often referred to as ballet folklorico. Although different in appearance from classical western European ballet, the dance steps require the same level of skill, technique and practice. While the dancing appears casual and spontaneous, its moves demand years of training and practice.
Lupita Sosa is a local Mexican Ballet dance instructor based in Gainesville, Georgia. She began her Georgia classes when her priest learned that she had been a Mexican Ballet dancer, and encouraged her to teach the dances to willing members of their congregation. Ten years later, she and her company travel around the South performing at festivals, schools and other celebrations. Featuring elaborate and colorful costumes, the Mexican Ballet helps to preserve the richness of Mexican culture and keep young generations in direct contact with their roots and traditions. To learn more about Mexican Ballet and Lupita Sosa's company visit, her website.
Colquitt, Georgia - home of "Swamp Gravy," the official Georgia Folk Life play - is now also officially Georgia's first Mural City, thanks to a proclamation by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. The 10 murals that spread across downtown began as a way for the city to encourage the arts in the community. The first mural – by Henry Gorham of McRae – tells the story of a Saturday Morning in Colquitt.
Ten years later, the last mural - called Summer in the Swamp and completed in April 2005 - truly brought the arts to the community: it was painted with the help of children from surrounding schools. The project's lead artist, Cheryl Mann Hardin, began by having the children tell her stories about their experiences in the swamp. From there, Hardin designed an outline for the kids to paint. To learn more about the project or to see pictures of the murals, visit the project's website.