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Osborn, orchestra, others team up
Sioux City symphony utilizes technology to put on 'live' performance

SIOUX CITY -- Saturday's upcoming Mad About Opera show pushes the old adage "The show must go on" to the extreme.

The efforts to make the show, featuring world-renowned tenor and Sioux City native John Osborn and his wife, Lynette Tapia, along with members of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, come together are an amazing example of technology, perseverance and a desire to keep the arts alive at a time when live musical and theatrical performances are nearly nonexistent.

Streaming at 7 p.m., the mixture of live performances and prerecorded material enabled Osborn and Tapia to perform virtually with the orchestra, though none of them ever were in the same room.

"It's essentially a virtual orchestra," symphony music director Ryan Haskins said. "It truly is ground-breaking just because of the combination of all the elements."

Provided 

Haskins

Those watching the show will see Haskins appearing live from his home in Toronto, Canada, where he will also perform a solo piano work.

Concertmaster Bacco Liu and his wife, Zoe Wu, will appear and perform live from their home in Minneapolis.

Osborn will appear live from Spain, where he is currently working with a live production. Tapia will appear from their Orange County, California, home.

Osborn and Tapia, a well-known soprano, will not perform live, but the story behind how their vocal performance was paired with the symphony shows the ingenuity so many have found while adapting to life during a pandemic.

The hour-long show isn't what everyone had in mind when Osborn found an open week in his busy schedule and was set to appear with Tapia for a gala fundraiser that was to be broadcast live on Iowa public television on April 25.

Though he's performed at recitals in Sioux City before, Osborn had never been the featured performer. Haskins had been trying to secure such a show since Osborn last appeared at the Orpheum in 2016.

"For all of the stars to align and to work with John in that capacity in front of his hometown crowd, his hometown orchestra, was amazing," Haskins said via phone from Toronto.

Osborn said he and Tapia had long dreamed of doing this type of show and were excited to finally get the chance.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Opera star John Osborn, a Sioux City native, talks from Spain with Sioux City Journal reporter Nick Hytrek via video conference Wednesday. Osborn and his wife, Lynette Tapia, will perform with the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra via remote technology during Saturday's streamed performance of Mad About Opera.

Then the coronavirus ruined everything. The show was canceled and rescheduled to an October date before it was called off for good this summer.

Haskins wasn't going to let that deter him, so he came up with an idea that would allow Osborn and Tapia to sing with the orchestra, even if none of them could gather together for so much as a rehearsal.

Nearly 40 orchestra members each recorded video and audio playing their individual parts and sent them to producer Adam Gonshorowski at the symphony office in Sioux City. He and Haskins, working from Toronto, spent two weeks editing the parts to bring every note together into one piece. They sent it to Osborn and Tapia in California to record their voices over the music. Once completed, Haskins and Gonshorowski again synced the music and movements into what Haskins said is a "10-minute masterpiece."

Speaking via videoconference from Spain, Osborn said it was a challenge, much like singing to a soundtrack, something Tapia has had lots of experience with, but still no easy task.

"The hardest thing is not having a conductor to keep everything together. This was tricky. Lynette and me, we found a way to do it and we made a track," said Osborn, the son of Michael and Marge Osborn, who grew up in Leeds and graduated from Bishop Heelan High School in 1990.

Osborn will hear the finished piece along with everyone else on Saturday, when he appears live on video from Spain, where it will be 2 a.m.

The challenge, he said, was worth it in order to remind people the arts are still here. Companies across the world have canceled live shows because of COVID-19 since March. Some have even canceled their 2021 seasons already. It's a big deal to be able to perform, even if it's not on stage before the symphony and in front of a live audience.

"With this lockdown, any performance we have now has outstanding significance," Osborn said.

So while everyone enjoys Saturday's performance from their homes, they'll see some live music and hear a native son sing in what has painstakingly been edited to appear live. Haskins said he looks forward to the live snippets in which the performers will explain their pieces and the reason they chose them for the show.

Though the Orpheum will be empty, viewers can experience a sense of gathering that's been lacking since March.

"I think it's going to be a sweet event," Osborn said.

It's music to everyone's ears.

USD expands esports with high-tech arena

Filled with state-of-the-art computer stations, a couple 65-inch TVs and some of the most back-friendly chairs made, the room is a statement USD is taking esports seriously and wants any high schooler who likes video games to come to Vermillion.


Govt-and-politics
top story
Parties bemoan campaign yard sign 'sabotage' in Sioux City

SIOUX CITY -- The two major political parties in Woodbury County have combined to call out a high degree of vandalism that's impacting yard signs in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election.

The Woodbury County Democratic and Republican political parties in a joint release said the signs are a longstanding part of campaigns and should be left alone. This time of fall is often a time of high vandalism to campaign signs, and 2020 is shaping up to be a bad year for that, said Democratic chairman Jeremy Dumkrieger and Republican chairwoman Suzan Stewart.

"We are seeing extraordinary levels of sign sabotage even this early in the election season. Signs are disappearing and being defaced throughout the county," they said.

Stewart and Dumkrieger said the election should play out with opportunities for candidates to reach people in many ways, so they urged "Woodbury County residents to leave the signs alone and let their neighbors exercise their free speech rights."

They added, "Yard signs are not cheap and represent a significant investment by candidates."

The slate of offices going before voters include the presidency, congressional seat, legislative and county positions.

Back in 2004, the two county chairmen also jointly urged people to stop vandalizing signs, when it reportedly was happening in large fashion. A Sioux City Police Department official said most of the sign vandalism is the work of kids, including a spike that occurs during the fall school homecoming celebrations.

A person could be charged with criminal mischief for vandalizing a sign, fifth-degree theft for stealing a sign or even reckless use of fire in the cases where some have been set on fire. The party officials that year reported a Congressman Steve King sign being burned, while a John Kerry for president sign was set aflame.


National
No charges in Taylor killing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Hours after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor's death and protesters took to the streets, authorities said two officers were shot and wounded Wednesday night during the demonstrations expressing anger over the killings of Black people at the hands of police.

Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect was in custody but did not offer details about whether that person was participating in the demonstrations. He says both officers are expected to recover, and one is undergoing surgery.

He says the officers were shot after investigating reports of gunfire at an intersection where there was a large crowd.

Several shots rang out as protesters in downtown Louisville tried to avoid police blockades, moving down an alleyway as officers lobbed pepper balls, according to an Associated Press journalist. People covered their ears, ran away and frantically looked for places to hide. Police with long guns swarmed the area, then officers in riot gear and military-style vehicles blocked off roadways.

The violence comes after prosecutors said two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor, a Black woman, were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire from her boyfriend. The only charges were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into a home next to Taylor's with people inside.

The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the raid at Taylor's home on March 13.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor's family, denounced the decision as “outrageous and offensive,” and protesters shouting, “No justice, no peace!” immediately marched through the streets.

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters, and some were arrested. Officers fired flash bangs and a few small fires burned in a square that's been at the center of protests, but it had largely cleared out ahead of a nighttime curfew as demonstrators marched through other parts of downtown Louisville. Dozens of patrol cars blocked the city’s major thoroughfare and more police arrived after the officer was shot.

Demonstrators also marched in cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by white officers who entered her home on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron, however, said the investigation showed the officers announced themselves before entering. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

Along with the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Taylor’s case became a major touchstone for nationwide protests that have drawn attention to entrenched racism and demanded police reform. Taylor’s image has been painted on streets, emblazoned on protest signs and silk-screened on T-shirts worn by celebrities. Several prominent African American celebrities joined those urging that the officers be charged.

The announcement drew sadness, frustration and anger that the grand jury did not go further. The wanton endangerment charges each carry a sentence of up to five years.

Morgan Julianna Lee, a high school student in Charlotte, North Carolina, watched the announcement at home.

“It’s almost like a slap in the face,” the 15-year-old said by phone. “If I, as a Black woman, ever need justice, I will never get it.”

Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he authorized a limited deployment of the National Guard. Beshear also urged Cameron, the state attorney general, to post online all the evidence that could be released without affecting the charges filed.

“Those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more,” he said.

The case exposed the wide gulf between public opinion on justice for those who kill Black Americans and the laws under which those officers are charged, which regularly favor police and do not often result in steep criminal accusations.

At a news conference, Cameron spoke to that disconnect: “Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief.”

“But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. ... My mother, if something was to happen to me, would find it very hard,” he added, choking up.

But Cameron, who is the state's first Black attorney general, said the officers acted in self-defense after Taylor's boyfriend fired at them. He added that Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering — and so did not execute the warrant as “no knock,” according to the investigation. The city has since banned such warrants.

“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves," he said. "This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”

Cameron said an FBI crime lab determined that Cosgrove fired the bullet that killed Taylor.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming in and fired in self-defense.

Hankison was fired on June 23. A termination letter sent by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said he had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired his weapon.


Iowa
top story
Expecting absentee ballot surge, Iowa election chief seeks emergency leeway

DES MOINES — Expecting a large volume of absentee ballots as many people avoid in-person voting during the pandemic, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is seeking emergency authority from legislators to give election officials some lead time in preparing and processing those ballots before Election Day.

Provided  

Pate 

The Legislative Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting Friday to consider a request from Pate, in his capacity as the state elections commissioner, seeking to expedite the time-consuming process where election officials open mailed envelopes and separate the sealed ballots for counting starting Nov. 2 — the day before the general election, though the results are kept secret until after the polls close.

Under an emergency election directive, Pate also is seeking authority to allow absentee ballots to be mailed to health care facility residents who request them; allow all identification cards that have expired in 2020 to be considered current and valid for in-person absentee balloting and at Election Day polling places; and to allow absentee ballot envelopes to be opened starting the weekend before the Nov. 3 Election Day.

Pate outlined security procedures under which the Absentee & Special Voters Precinct Boards could meet Oct. 31 to open sealed affidavit ballots received by county auditors and remove the secrecy envelope containing the voted ballot — “but under no circumstances shall a secrecy ballot be opened before the board convenes to begin the tabulation of ballots” on Nov. 2.

Each political party may appoint up to five representatives to observe the Oct. 31 process and, if a ballot is not enclosed in a secrecy ballot or if the ballot is folded in such a way that makes the votes cast visible, a procedure is spelled out for two special precinct election officials — one from each political party — to place the ballot in a sealed envelope.

Pate’s request also would allow his office to authorize the emergency relocation of a polling place due to the coronavirus outbreak in compliance with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ public health disaster proclamation.

The Legislative Council is slated to consider Pate’s emergency election directive — the first time such emergency provisions have been requested before a statewide election — during a 2 p.m. conference call.

The Legislative Council is made up of state lawmakers who act as a steering committee when the full Iowa Legislature is not in session.


Jack Gaukel of Sergeant Bluff-Luton (right) defeats Tyler Brown of Winterset 6-3 in the 152-pound Class 2A semifinals at the Iowa High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournment on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa.