Art is Alive Magazine’s Matrell Wood interviewed me a few weeks back and the article has just been published. It touches upon “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“, its companion piece-in-the-works “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” as well as “I Too Sing America – the Blues According to Langston Hughes”, about which I have not yet blogged much (but there is this) but which was brought up during the interview while discussing my other projects and experiences.
You can check out Art is Alive Magazine here. There is a unique diversity to its contents, as a contents banner that lists bikers next to artists and authors suggests:
Here is Matrell Wood’s article, in full:
Who does not know about the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe? I cannot imagine anyone raising their hand and saying they have never heard of him or any of his works. Death and finality create suspenseful tales of darkness and woe, nonetheless, they remain entertaining. With entertainment comes innovation, and innovation breeds artistry. Artistry thrives in many forms when you are able to witness talents the likes of composer, actor, writer, and filmmaker Danny Ashkenasi.
Ashkenasi is a German born American that grew up in a multicultural lifestyle. He went to a German/English school, walked both sides of their cultural norms, and learned a lot about life while he had his feet in two different worlds at once. His mother was an opera singer, so music followed him closely throughout his life. He told me that he could not remember a time that he did not love performing, but he did not become a composer until later in his life.
Despite doing a whole lot of everything, Danny identifies himself, first and foremost, as a composer. Despite coming into composition farther down the road, it is the core of who he is and what he does. This culminated in his creation of The Tell-Tale Heart: A Musicabre. This is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most universally known stories. As a dedicated fan of Poe, I have never seen it done quite like this. Take the dismal scene laid before you in The Tell-Tale Heart and add some music. This is not the grim drums and eerie background music you hear in some renditions. When the piece itself is turned into an awe inspiring and masterful musical performance, you are now witnessing the work of Danny Ashkenasi.
The work was originally made for stage production, but with the ever-changing landscape that we have been accustomed to this past year, he morphed his vision into a screenplay. His musicabre aired during the Art is Alive Film Festival and was highly regarded (deservedly so), and thus, rewarded for its incredible production.
However, he is not done with his walk down the dark path of Poe. He has already begun piecing together his next venture into the mind of the mad man. His next venture focuses on another of Poe’s popular works, The Pit and the Pendulum. He first got the idea for his music opera for The Tell-Tale Heart from a roommate he had in his early twenties. After bringing that story to life, he wanted to give it a companion piece that had the same depth and presence of the one man show. Hence, this is what drove him to choose this next project. Of course, this comes with its own set of difficulties and creative hurdles. One of the most complex was the creation of lyrics in Latin. They need to fulfill their intended purpose while fitting in this atmosphere, and of course, translate well to the song and overall performance.
Danny Ashkenasi remains a man of many talents. Poe’s works are not the only pieces that he envisions bringing to life. I was particularly captured by a project he detailed to me about the renowned poet and social activist, Langston Hughes. Now you might be asking yourself, why would he want to tackle Langston Hughes’ works. The answer is something I can only hope reaches anyone willing to lend an ear. He embarked on an ambitious adventure – sifting through every single poem he could find by Hughes. He obtained the rights of use, and began putting together a story using Hughes’ poems. Ashkenasi wants to tell a tale that chronicled the world Hughes lived in and the issues he strove to bring out to the forefront.
I, for one, am excited to see what Danny Ashkenasi brings to the table as he further refines his talents and brings his artistic visions to life. I will be the first in line to witness his Langston Hughes production, and I am incredibly excited to see The Pit and The Pendulum: A Musicabre. His ideas are fresh, and they are labors of love. Danny Ashkenasi is someone to keep your eyes on.