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Wednesday, April 22,2015

Flags of our fathers

Historian offers a rare look at historic battle flags

by Lawrence Cosentino
At a recent Civil War roundtable commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Chicago historian Matt VanAcker pulled out a battle flag from the 24th Michigan “Iron Brigade,” which suffered 80 percent casualties at Gettysburg. “Nine men died carrying that flag,” VanAcker said. “It has bloodstains on it.”
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Wednesday, April 15,2015

UPDATED: Rocked by the living and the dead

Two local concerts mix silent films and live music

by Lawrence Cosentino
Two exhilarating greater Lansing events mixed silent film and live music last weekend. Saturday´s mashup of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and the Capital City Film Festival was great fun, but the sleeper was Sunday´s energized screening of Buster Keaton´s masterpiece, “Sherlock, Jr.,” at MSU, presented with an original score for piano and string quartet.
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Wednesday, April 8,2015

His name is Mudd — got a problem?

Descendant of vilified Civil War doctor kicks off month of Civil War events

by Lawrence Cosentino
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and local partners are pulling out all the stops for a monthlong series of events and exhibits, turning up a surprising number of Lansing-area connections to one of the bloodiest and most fateful of our national dramas.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Containing the containers

Dart hustles to recycle itself after New York City bans plastic foam

by Lawrence Cosentino
Tour the Mason headquarters of Dart Container Co., the world´s largest maker of foam cups and take-out food containers, and you´d think the corporate cup runneth over. The glassy 110,000-square-foot administration building that opened last fall still smells of new carpet and wood. It houses Dart´s offices, engineering and IT departments, a fitness center and dining complex. Nearby, a new half-millionsquare-foot warehouse is almost finished. Renovations and additions are going on everywhere you look.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

'Not of this moment'

Michael Rush, founding director of MSU’s Broad Museum, dies at 65

by Lawrence Cosentino
Time-based art, especially video and performance art, was an obsession for Michael Rush. The first exhibit Rush curated as founding director of MSU´s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum captured dozens of elusive moments in a haunting array of photographs, paintings and videos called “In Search of Time.” Time caught up with Rush only two and a half years after landing his dream job as director of a spectacular new contemporary art museum. Rush died Friday, at 65, after a twoyear battle with pancreatic cancer.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Bookends and deep ends

Grand piano disc starts with Schubert and sails into the unknown

by Lawrence Cosentino
Sailing off the edge of the map into unknown territory might seem like a quaint idea in the age of GPS. Here there be dragons — ha ha! That was nervous laughter. Have you seen the news lately? Been to a hospital or a cemetery? The third part of “The Ends of the Earth,” a grand, terrifying and beautiful new work for piano by Honolulu-based composer Thomas Osborne, heaves like ocean swells, shudders like the crack of doom and tolls like a mariner´s bell. It´s a fantastic foretaste of the storms at life´s uttermost margins — part ecstasy, part fever.
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Wednesday, March 25,2015

Barge of slow ravishment

'Xerxes' brings delicate Baroque opera to MSU

by Lawrence Cosentino
It´s a heady week for music winos. For the first time in MSU Opera Theatre´s history, director Melanie Helton is going all the way to the back of the cellar and uncorking the really good stuff — from 1738. Baroque opera is about 30 years into a worldwide resurgence at places like Cooperstown´s Glimmerglass Festival. Finally, the barge of slow ravishment is penetrating the wilds of the Red Cedar River in the form of George Frederic Handel´s “Xerxes,” the “Messiah” composer´s last operatic masterpiece.
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Wednesday, March 11,2015

Turning the soil

Sustainable farming conference sows the seeds of a new food system

by Lawrence Cosentino
As a panel of experts chewed over the obstacles facing the nation´s small farmers at MSU´s Kellogg Center Monday, a craggyfaced man in the back of the room rose to ask a question. "I invite you to spend two nights in migrant worker housing in Kent County," the man said. "Will you come?" The panelists agreed the housing must be terrible. The whole point of the "Less = More" conference was to call out the hidden costs of industrialized farming, from the runoff that turned Lake Erie into green poison last year to crates of immobilized sows to the neardemise of the small family farm.
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Wednesday, March 11,2015

Delicate work

Lansing Symphony and Richard Sherman bring ethereal new epic to life

by Lawrence Cosentino
Something out of the ordinary happened about halfway through “Seven Ascents for Flute and Orchestra,” one of two major works the Lansing Symphony Orchestra played Saturday night. An invisible, wet finger descended from the skies, poked through the brick walls of the Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall and gently stroked the rim of the orchestra, as if it were a giant wine glass.
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Wednesday, March 4,2015

Offense and defense

Sharpton challenges Wharton Center crowd to make more black history

by Lawrence Cosentino
As about 600 people assembled to hear a speech by the Rev. Al Sharpton at Michigan State University´s Wharton Center Feb. 26, several attendees noted, with a touch of regret, that they were missing the MSU- Minnesota basketball game. Sharpton gave them reason to be happy with their choice, and not just because the Spartans lost that night. No Big 10 squad mixes defense with offense as deftly as Sharpton does all by himself.
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