GALLIPOLIS — The Ariel Opera House will be hosting WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour’s Michael Johnathon along with conductor Tim Berens as the performing arts centre will play host to the world premiere of Songs of Rural America.
The event is slated for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
According to a release, among the throngs of musicians in the folk world, supporters say few have elevated “dreaming” to such a high art form as Michael Johnathon. From composing the Woody Guthrie Opera to writing the Walden play, creating the national Song Farmers movement to producing the successful broadcast of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, solo concert tours of coffeehouses to recording his song The Dream about the earth at piece with a 61-piece orchestra and choirs in English, French, Spanish and Russian, his accomplishments can easily overshadow an important point: Michael Johnathon is an excellent musician, supporters say.
“Musically, it is a celebration of America’s front porch,” said Johnathon. “The reason that it’s important is because, right now, we are so divided and people are so socially angry that we’ve forgotten as a culture the idea of neighbors and family and slowing things down. The world is exploding at cyber speed all the time. Sometimes taking that deep breath and realizing that real life is family and music and friends, it’s much calmer than it seems to be right now.”
“(Songs of Rural America) roots the audience with the elements of the classical world and turns symphony stages literally into a front porch,” continued Johnathon. “Songs of Rural America was developed to bring these two worlds together…We’re going to travel from the Civil War to Buddy Holly. It’s going to be a musical adventure and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Some of the stories the audience is going to hear during the concert, I think, will leave them rather amazed. These are the songs that ended up shaping their culture. It’s really a beautiful experience but it’s the stories that go along with the songs that become special. The performance is being filmed for public television and will air nationwide.”
Johnathon said Gallipolis was chosen as the key performance location because it was “sort of the epitome of rural America.”
Johnathon said the Ariel was a “beautiful theatre and it’s not one of these overly fancy big city theatres. It’s a comfortable beautiful, rural American theatre in a beautiful rural American town.”
Conductor Tim Berens was ultimately the one who connected Johnathon with Ariel Executive Director Lora Snow.
“We connected with Tim and Tim is connected with Gallipolis,” said Johnathon. “They all came to a WoodSongs broadcast taping in Lexington (Kentucky). And the next morning, we had a little coffee and donuts meeting in my log cabin and Lora was very excited and wanted this to happen. She’s a force of musical nature.”
For more information, visit arieltheatre.org or call 740-446-arts.