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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Robert Helps would be proud that the festival bearing his name brings a week of contemporary classical music to the Tampa Bay area. Helps, the virtuoso pianist, composer and teacher who died in 2001, was a witty critic of musical institutions that timidly hewed to the tried and true.
Helps once sent a note to the music director of WUSF-FM 89.7, the area's classical station, saying that his nerves couldn't stand all the baroque music being broadcast in the morning and asking instead that the programming include more works by Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions.
Helps, who taught at the University of South Florida, would also be proud that the festival presented by the school gives a $10,000 prize to an up-and-coming composer. This year's winner is Kyong Mee Choi, whose Gestural Trajectory, a work for two pianos and percussion, will receive its premiere at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Music Recital Hall on the Tampa campus. Also on the program are works of Helps, Duparc, Ravel and Beethoven. $4, $8.
Choi, a native of South Korea who teaches composition at Roosevelt University in Chicago, has a formidably brainy resume. "Her compositions have incorporated algorithmic compositional devices, geometric charts, visual art and analogues of musical elements with nonmusical concepts," a press release says. "Choi's dissertation topic focused on the study of spatial relationships in painting and electro-acoustic music."
The festival begins Monday and runs through Sunday, when the Wednesday program is repeated at Merkin Hall in New York. Events include a lecture by music professor John Robison on Korean female composers at 3 p.m. Monday at the USF School of Music, and a master class held by Choi at noon Tuesday at the school.
William Wiedrich conducts the USF Orchestra in Helps' Gossamer Noons and Ned Rorem's Symphony No. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg; a half-hour beforehand, Wiedrich will give a talk: "Helps, the Romantic and Renegade." $8.
The Richard Zielinski Singers perform works by Libby Larsen, Dominick Argento, Norman Dello Joio and other American composers at 8 p.m. Friday at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Tampa. $5, $10.
For a festival schedule, go to http://helpsprize.arts.usf.edu. 813 974-2311.
CHAMBER MUSIC: Herald Vocal Arts Ensemble, primarily made up of choir directors, sings Ward Swingle arrangements of J.S. Bach and Antonio Soler, Eric Whitacre's This Marriage with a Lily in Your Hand and other works at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Palladium Theater. Premiered will be David Clark Isele's Soli Deo Gloria, inspired by Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. Florida Orchestra associate conductor Susan Haig hosts a talkback after the concert. $12-$20. (727) 822-3590; www.mypalladium.org.
VISUAL ARTS: Museum of Fine Arts director Dr. John Schloder has been named the 25th Anniversary Fellow of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College. The academy of more than 300 is a group of retired professionals who gather for lectures and talks in a range of subjects. Schloder, who received a doctoral degree in art history from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, will conduct programs on the visual arts.
Times art critic Lennie Bennett contributed to this report. John Fleming can be reached at (727) 893-8716 or email@example.com.