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January 2008

Art From the Heart

Over 100 soldiers from Georgia have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the number keeps climbing. The families of these soldiers are also casualties of war, and in 2005 a group of Atlanta artists decided to help in the best way they knew how – through their art. Portrait painters Lisa Gleim, Leah Hopkins Henry and Geri Zaki are the founders of the project which became known as “Art from the Heart.” Enlisting the aid of dozens of other artists, they formed an organization called the Atlanta Fine Arts League, which has donated hundreds of hours to paint the portraits of Georgia’s fallen soldiers.

The paintings were initially exhibited at the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta in September 2007 and then were given free of charge to the soldiers’ families across Georgia. State of the Arts followed Lisa, Leah and Geri through the process of contacting the families of Army Specialist Jamaal Addison of Lithonia, Army Specialist Justin Johnson of Rome, and First Lieutenant Tyler Brown of Atlanta. In each case the artists formed a bond not only with family members, but also with the soldiers, whom they came to care about in the process of creating their lifelike portraits.

As long as Georgia soldiers continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, the artists of the Atlanta Fine Arts League are committed to continue their project, “Art from the Heart.” To learn more, visit the Atlanta Fine Arts League website.

Leah Partridge: Rising opera star from Georgia

Soprano Leah Partridge has received consistent praise for her virtuosic technique and dramatic insight. She has made some of the great bel canto roles her own, and her career already includes many performances of the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, Violetta in La Traviata, and Gilda in Rigoletto.

In the 2008 season, Leah Partridge makes her Metropolitan Opera debut singing the First Niece in a new production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.

Born in Lincolnton near Augusta, Partridge lives today in Macon, Georgia. She attended Mercer University there as an undergraduate music major and went on to study the operatic repertoire at Indiana University as a graduate student. In between her globe-trotting engagements in opera houses around the world, Partridge found time to perform for State of the Arts at the GPB studios with Craig Kier, esteemed accompanist for the Atlanta Opera. Learn more about Ms. Partridge at the Columbia Artists Management website.

Headwaters: Stories from a Goodly Portion of Beautiful Northeast Georgia

Stories collected from seven counties in the northeast Georgia mountains make up the plot, action and excitement of Headwaters. Co-written by nationally recognized folk play author Jo Carson and Sautee Nacoochee native Jerry Grillo, Headwaters employs the talents of 30 volunteers from around the area. The stories focus on the lives and trials of people in northeast Georgia. Stories ranging from those telling of local communities coming together in times of need to picnics interrupted by bears highlight life in the mountains. Under the guidance of director Lisa Mount, Headwaters sings, dances and laughs its way into State of the Arts.

Visit the Sautee Nacoochee Center's website.

Susan Booth

I didn’t want to just do theatre, I wanted theatre to do society. I wanted to participate in theatre that deeply, truly mattered. – Susan Booth

From small town Ohio to big city Chicago and now in Atlanta, such drive has led Susan Booth to nurture, direct and create plays and musicals that speak to their particular communities and leave their audiences buzzing. Since 2001, Susan Booth has been the Artistic Director of Atlanta’s flagship Alliance Theatre. With her husband, Max Leventhal, as the theater’s General Manager, the Alliance is now a family business that is paying big dividends for Atlanta’s artistic prestige. In 2007 the Alliance was awarded the Tony for Regional Theater in recognition of the theater’s programming and community engagement – but Susan Booth has big dreams for even more.

A Passion for Pipes

The Ancient Greeks had a version powered by water. They are described in many ways, from the “King of Instruments” to “musical 747s”. And we often hear one without seeing it or its player. They are pipe organs! In recent years, metro Atlanta has seen a renaissance in pipe organ music as churches and concert halls have invested in expensive new instruments. Together with some stellar older pipe organs, they are drawing audiences back to the artform. Pipe organs are complex machines, gorgeous to see, glorious to hear and, as we learn from some local experts, devilishly difficult to play.

In this segment, we meet: Bruce Neswick and the vintage Aeolian-Skinner organ at the Cathedral of St. Philip; Timothy Albrecht and the new Jaeckel organ at Emory’s Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts; Scott Atchison and the massive Mander organ at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, and Norman Mackenzie and the new Petty-Madden at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Visit the Atlanta Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for more information.