Reviews - James R. Carlson

Carlson's "vividly bright and festive" Hodie for choir and orchestra was premiered by the Knoxville Symphony and Choral Society and proved to be "a perfect showcase work."
It was featured in the following:
Knoxville News Sentinel, December 15, 2008
Metropulse, December 17, 2008
Review by Alan Sherrod in Metropulse, December 23

This write-up about ART MOVES 2005 appeared in the Knoxville weekly newspaper Metropulse.

Art Moves is the moniker of a unique grassroots artistic event, and also a statement, a subject-verb recipe for the revolutionary and revelatory notion that art is an active experience. A combination of dance, music and visual art, Art Moves strikes on multiple senses, breaks and blends boundaries and expectations. It's a one-of-a-kind event that transforms a staid and still gallery into a studio, a space alive with sounds-the whirl of fabric, the thud of bare feet, exhalations, bow hairs pulled across strings. Against a visual backdrop of Knoxville Museum of Art's permanent collection and paintings by native son Beauford Delaney, dancers from UT's Dance Company and Austin East Dance Company perform original choreography by Angela Hill, Kimberly Matibag and Melinda McGinnis, among others. Compositions by James Carlson performed by faculty members of UT's School of Music provide the soundtrack-and the third layer of originality in this remarkable presentation. Brilliant, progressive and wholly inventive, Art Moves exemplifies our art community's dynamic creativity.

-Paige M. Travis

This review of Hocket appeared in the April, 1998 volume of Percussive Notes.

"Hocket" is a short duet for French horn and timpani (four timpani and one roto-tom capable of sounding a B-natural are required). According to the composer, the piece is modeled after the polyphonic pieces of the same name from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Although no tempo marking exceeds quarter note = 100, the work has momentum. The triplet and sixteenth-note passages between the horn and timpani make for excitement and a challenge for the performers. The composition starts with a theme in the timpani, which is continued on the lower pitched drums while the higher pitched drums embellish it. There is imitation between the horn and timpani, constant use of dynamic contrast, some mixed meters and many tuning changes.

..."Hocket" is an excellent composition and would be appropriate for either a college horn recital or percussion recital.

-John Beck

These reviews of the dance/theater production Walking Miracles appeared in the Raleigh/Durham arts newspaper the Spectator.

"Manbites Dog Theater premieres Walking Miracles" (June 26, 1997)

Creative inspiration can spring from the most unlikely places, as elegantly proven by Manbites Dog Theater's lastest production, Walking Miracles. Produced in cooperation with Ways and Means Dance Co., WM is a seamless combination of dance and drama created from the stories of survivors of sexual abuse,

The performance began with a short introduction by... the psychotherapist who led the group whose stories inspired the work.... What followed was an hour and a half of the most interesting, benificent and creative theater I've seen in some time....

Directors Barbara Dickinson and Jeff Storer have raised experimental theater to a new level, once again keeping Manbites Dog Theater on the cutting edge. Walking Miracles is a touching, therapeutic piece. I only hope that they rethink the incredibly short, one-week run and revive the production for another few weeks.
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"Walking Miracles Back by Popular Demand" (November 20, 1997)

Walking Miracles, the dance and theater piece that played to rave reviews last year, is being produced again by popular demand....

The performance... offers the audience participation by witnessing the end of the silence and secrecy victims of abuse suffer and so becomes the a means of healing them. Watching the spunk and grit of these phoenixes who rise from the ash of their experience is like watching long-winged birds taking flight as the power of words meets movement....

You'll have to be there to see the exquisite ways the dance moves to the narratives, and the ways the participants relate to one another.

Regarding the Walking Miracles video production, Esther Giller, President and Director, The Sidran Traumatic Stress Foundation writes:

"Walking Miracles is one of the most moving and effective tools I've encountered for educating the public about the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. The artful weave of dance, theater and survivor's stories creates a compelling picture that gets to the core of the experience in a way that didactic teaching materials cannot. The painful subject matter is handled with great respect, and the ultimate message is one of hope, strength and empowerment."

This excerpt is from a review of the dance show Contents Under Pressure which appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer.

"Dancers honor struggle for racial justice" (January 22, 1999)

Composers James Carlson and Beverly Botsford achieve an almost right-brain/left-brain dichotomy in places in their score for violin, keyboard and three African percussionists. It varies from the amusing "refinements" of a sarcastic, neo-classical "polite-ness dance" to the controlled dissonance of primal, angular jazz.

-Byron Woods

Professional saxophonist Randall Hall on Labyrinth:

"Labyrinth by James R. Carlson is a wonderful union of expression and virtuosity. The composer uses the full potential of the saxophone to take the listener on a labyrinthian journey, with moods ranging from reflection to violence."


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