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Henry Butler: Inclusive By Design Concert (Part 1)

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Henry Butler, a New Orleans piano legend who has been blind since birth, along with visual artist, Nancy Ostrovsky, demonstrate principles of Universal Design in the performing arts. The creative team includes deaf and hearing ASL interpreters, live captioning, audio description, and Nancy Ostrovsky, painting a mural live on stage. John Hockenberry serves as Master of Ceremonies, and VSA Massachusetts, in collaboration with WGBH, hosts this live, all-inclusive performance.

A five-time W.C. Handy "Best Blues Instrumentalist - Piano" award nominee, Henry Butler knows no limitations. Although blinded by glaucoma since birth, Butler is also a world class photographer with his work displayed at exhibitions throughout the United States. Playing piano since the age of six, Butler is a master of musical diversity. Combining the percussive jazz piano playing of McCoy Tyner and the New Orleans style playing of Professor Longhair through his classically-trained wizardry, Butler continues to craft a sound uniquely his own. A rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, R&B and blues influences, his music is as excitingly eclectic as that of his New Orleans birthplace. Mastering baritone horn, valve trombone and drums, in addition to the piano, at the Louisiana State School for the Blind in Baton Rouge, as a youngster, Butler began formal vocal training in the eleventh grade. He went on to sing German lieder, French and Italian art songs and operatic arias at Southern and Michigan State Universities, earning a Masters degree in vocal music. He has taught music workshops throughout the country and initiated a number of different educational projects, including a residential jazz camp at Missouri State School for the Blind and a program for blind and visually impaired students at the University of New Orleans.
Nancy Ostrovsky was born in North Africa and lived in various countries in Asia. Her early influences in Asia permeate her work in a way that is uniquely original. Her paintings reflect some of the reflections of growing up in different Asian countries particularly Taiwan, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Living in these countries, left images and reflections about universal themes of human aloneness and human interactions that take place everywhere and in all cultures. Ostrovsky has been called "one of the pioneers of performance painting." Her "Paintings To Music" are done "live" while Ms. Ostrovsky is on stage with the musicians as they play. Ostrovsky uses the immediacy of the musicians, the music and environment to record the performance in a highly original and innovative contextOstrovsky has exhibited in Germany, New York, Boston, and California. Her work is included in many private collections and the painting from the concert featured here hangs in the WGBH Radio offices in Boston.
John Hockenberry is a three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy award winner and former Dateline NBC correspondent. John has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. He has reported from all over the world, in virtually every medium, having anchored programs for network, cable and radio. Hockenberry was responsible for two of the most innovative programs to air on MSNBC. The program *Hockenberry* was a smart provocative news interview program which broadcast live from the war in Kosovo in 1999, while *Edgewise* was a unique blend of raw documentary filmaking and interviews with newsmakers passionate about politics and culture. Hockenberry joined NBC as a correspondent for *Dateline NBC* in January 1996 after a 15-year career in broadcast news at both National Public Radio and ABC News. Hockenberry's reporting for *Dateline NBC* earned him three Emmys, an Edward R. Murrow award and a Casey Medal. His most prominent Dateline NBC reports include an hour-long documentary on the often-fatal tragedy of the medically uninsured, an emotionally gripping portrait of a young schizophrenic trying to live on his own, and extensive reporting in the aftermath of September 11th. John currently hosts *The Takeaway*, a multi-media radio program on Public Radio International