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Cherry Blossom Musical Arts: History/Bios/Shows

History/Mission of Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom’s Visual Music: “Art Music Meets Dance, juggling and mayhem- vaudeville style Cherry Blossom Musical Arts- a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization Cherry Blossom Musical Arts was founded by Paul Safar and Nancy Wood. Our mission is to promote new music and create performances in which composers collaborate with artists from a broad spectrum of the performing arts, presenting live shows to the community.

In 2005, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Lane Arts Council and private donors sponsored Cherry Blossom’s original production, “Nisse’s Dream, a children’s theater musical”, at Eugene’s Lord Leebrick Theater, delighting an audience of over 800 people.

In 2006, Cherry Blossom produced Visual Music, bringing together composers, choreographers and visual artists in an adventurous show at Lord Leebrick. Then Tsunami Books hosted New Music, New Words, New Moves- two free shows with a literary flair!

Visual Music 2007 was presented on the vaudeville stage at the Oregon Country Fair, complete with musicians, jugglers, sound sculpture and dancers. Aerial arts were part of the mix as Islando Bocock and Ukoiyah Mastin from Dream Science Circus performed high among the trees.

Visual Music 2008 included collaboration with the Agnieszka Laska Dancers, who have performed in Mexico and Europe, as well as Bianca Sapetto, formerly of Cirque Du Soleil. The highlight of 2008 was three rolicking performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon! Also in 2008 a concert featuring the work of NW composers Derek Healey, Jeff Winslow, Daniel Heila and Paul Safar was produced at Central Lutheran Church.

Visual Music 2009 was called the Cat and Bird Vaudeville Show- a family-oriented bit of theater in which Yellow Warbler, a flighty little bird, decides to try to become a Cat for awhile. In this show birds "meow" and cats fly, and everything goets topsy turvy! This show was performed at the Oregon Country Fair and at Agate Hall at the U of O.

2010 brought part one in the series "Art Music Live in the 21st Century" and featured a new work written by Derek Healey specifically for Cherry Blossom's Artistic Director Nancy Wood. Works by the internationally respected Oregon composer Tomas Svoboda were also featured on this concert. Performers included the Oregon Brass Quintet, a group comprised of faculty from the U of O School of Music. Earlier in 2010, Cherry Blossom hosted a 3 day a workshop for pre-professional dancers taught by Mansur Kamaletdinov, former ballet master of the Bolshoi Ballet.  

2011 began with part 2 of "Art Music Live in the 21st Century", promoting the work of Paul Safar, Douglas Detrick and Dan Senn, with the highlight being the premiere of Safar's "Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra" with soloist Olem Alves. Looking further into the future, Derek Healey has written another piece for Nancy Wood- this time with chamber ensemble. The piece, "The Coast of Oregon" will utilize more of Nancy's acting skills as well as her skills as a new music interpreter. In addition, Paul Safar is in the process of writing a fantastic piece for chamber ensemble, soprano and modern dance troupe in honor of the 100th anniversary of John Cage's birth! Discussions are underway to premiere both of these pieces at Bodyvox in Portland on March 29th 2012!.

Nancy Wood - Artistic Director

Nancy Wood has spent her life studying the performing arts. Growing up in Minnesota, she started singing in the Lutheran church as a teen, and performed as a soloist, in ensembles, choirs and musical theater throughout college. She is also a United States Figure Skating Association Gold Medalist and she toured professionally with Holiday on Ice International. She attended Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota, during which time she studied theater, dance, literature and voice. As a vocalist, she has performed throughout Oregon, including headlining at Jazz De Opus, one of Portland’s premiere jazz venues, as well as performing in the classical concert series, “The Seventh Species”. She wrote the book for the children’s theater musical Nisse’s Dream, and co-wrote the lyrics with composer Paul Safar. She directed, choreographed and performed in Visual Music 2006-2009. She is an accomplished interpreter of contemporary classical art songs and performs regularly for Cascadia Composers, a chapter of the National Association of Composers USA in Portland Oregon, and was the soprano soloist in the Agnieszka Laska Dancers multi-media piece 'Lamentatio". Nancy has performed works by many living composers including Derek Healey, Tomas Svoboda, Jeff Winslow, Jack Gabel, Gary Noland, John McKinnon,and Dan Senn. Nancy is a member of BMI, and the International Dance Council.

Paul Safar - Resident Composer, Music Director

Paul Safar received his B.Mus from the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, OH. He is a past recipient of the Erik Satie “Mostly Tonal Award” from the American Music Center and has produced six CDs of original music, both classical and jazz/pop. He has had chamber music performed in New York City’s CAMI Hall, and in 2010 by Fear No Music in Portland, and at the Portland International Piano Festival. His choir pieces have been performed in Seattle and Eugene. In 1995, Paul's folk opera, "Chenoa" was performed by the Dark County Civic Theater in Greenville, Ohio. He has premiered works in the classical series “The Seventh Species Composers Concerts” in Portland OR, as well as in concerts produced by Cascadia Composers, a chapter of the National Association of Composers USA. He composed the music for the children’s theater musical Nisse’s Dream, which was produced at the Lord Leebrick Theater in Eugene, OR in August 2005. Paul also composed and arranged the music for Cherry Blossom's Visual Music Vaudeville shows from 2006-2009 which were performed at the Oregon Country Fair and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. When not composing, Paul teaches piano and composition in his private studio. Paul is a member of BMI and the American Music Center.

Nisse's Dream - A Children's Theatre Musical for ALL ages!

Nisse’s Dream: a boy, his cow, a witch and the TROLLS!
Music by Paul Safar
Lyrics by Paul Safar and Nancy Wood
Book by Nancy Wood

Nisse’s Dream is the story of a young man named Nisse who must retrieve his family's stolen cow from Neem the Queen and her greedy pack of bumbling trolls. On his journey he finds friendship and encouragement from a loyal dog, a pompous bear, and a magical blue witch who just happens to be his mother in disguise. Complete with magic tricks and a “troll ballet” Nisse’s Dream is a delightful addition to the world of children’s music and theater.

In August 2005, Nisse’s Dream was performed at the Lord Leebrick Theater in Eugene, Oregon. Directed by Maggie Tryk, produced by Cherry Blossom Musical Arts and sponsored in part by grants from the Oregon Community Foundation, the Lane Arts Council, and many private donors, this first production of Nisse’s Dream had a cast of 21 children, youth and adults and a six-piece chamber orchestra. Every performance sold out, with a total audience of over 800 people, and enthusiastic reviews, some of which follow:

"Nisse's Dream, an original children's musical by Eugeneans Paul Safar and Nancy Wood, is that rare breed of kid's entertainment: It's fun. It's wholesome. It has a positive message. And the kids you know will love it anyway, without even realizing they're learning something in the process."
Sara Brickner - Eugene Weekly (Aug 12, 2005)

“Nisse’s Dream is a lovely, high quality project full of sweetness and charm”
Landis Smith, Producing Director- Enchantment Theatre Company- Philadelphia, PA

“The music is wonderful and the story and delivery are fun!”
Peter Alsop- Children’s Entertainer & Family Therapist- Los Angeles, CA

"This musical play is delightful, meaningful, and humorous. The music is gorgeous and both artists' voices are lovely and expressive. The pace is just right - not too slow or too fast - for all age groups. Adults will enjoy this CD as much as children. A great story beautifully told."
Susi Halley- Greenville, OH

"This is better than TV!"
Reviewer: Elliot Blackwell-age 4

Nisse’s Dream can be performed with cast sizes anywhere from 7-30, with adults, children/teens, or mixed ages in the cast. The music can be performed by a chamber ensemble or piano only. Scripts and scores are available by contacting the authors directly.

Nisse’s Dream is indeed the kind of children’s musical theater that has it all- great music, a great story, endearing characters, dancing trolls, and a message that helps people of all ages find the courage to pursue their dreams.

For those of you who missed the show, the popular storytelling/music CD of Nisse’s Dream, performed by Paul Safar and Nancy Wood, is available in Eugene at CD World, Tsunami Books, and on the web at www.cdbaby.com/safarp4.