The actors march onto the stark stage in silence. They turn and face the audience and still don’t say anything, not until all have taken their positions. Then August Wilson’s language — incantatory and rich with life — bursts into the theater.
We learn that the five people on stage are returning from a funeral, reconvening in the backyard of a house in Pittsburgh. As they keep talking, it seems clear that they could be doing something else, or anything at all, dressed in their funereal finest. Maybe one could be loosening his tie. Maybe someone could be putting up coffee, or getting out beers.
But they don’t do anything; they just stand there. And it works.
Eleven-year-old José Sarango has been to a fair number of concerts in his young life in New Haven. A member of the All-City Honors Ensemble, he’d been exposed to big-name composers like Aaron Copland, Jean Sibelius, Beethoven, and Mozart, all before his 10th birthday.
But never had he heard how Alexander Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 in B Minor approximated folk music, early jazz, and work songs at its best moments.
Or received a free book about that tradition, tracing the work of 19th-century composers to Troy Andrews, known more widely as “Trombone Shorty,” wielding his horn through the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans.
One has been operating a private community art school for 11 years. Another recently retired from teaching in a public school art classroom — which he affectionately called his “studio” — for, count ‘em, 36 years.