Friday, March 23, 2018

Spotlight: Singer-Songwriter, Marie Miller

Singer-songwriter Marie Miller recently visited Wilmington, opening for Five for Fighting at The Grand Opera House on March 10. Delaware Arts Info sat down with Marie to talk music, touring, a charity she loves and more. Check out our interview below...

Singer-Songwriter Marie Miller. Photo by Sarah Barlow.
*Since March is Women's History Month, tell us about some of the women who've inspired or mentored you early on.
Yes! So many wonderful women have influenced and inspired me. My female heroes are Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Sheryl Sanberg and my mom.

*Is there anyone -- female or male -- you've modeled your career after?
I model my career after Sara Barielles. She is so talented, and her lyrics are so raw and real. My goal is to be able to sing her high notes with ease.

*Tell us about your work with the Imprint Hope project. How and why did you get involved?
Imprint Hope is a non-profit that works with children with disabilities and educates their parents on how to care for these special kids. In Uganda, many people see persons with disabilities as 'cursed,' and Imprint Hope is a place where these children are loved and celebrated. I heard about [the organization's] founder Clare Byrne through a mutual friend and had to see her and the work she was doing. I visited Uganda and performed for the children and their families there. I also brought back some beautiful bags and headscarves that the mamas made to sell at my concerts. We donate the proceeds back to Imprint Hope, and we've raised almost $1,000 on this tour alone!

*Congratulations on touring with Five for Fighting. Is there anything you're excited about experiencing during the tour? How did you connect and decide to tour together?
This tour has been amazing! John from Five For Fighting is a killer performer and a wonderful person. It's a blessing for me to watch the show every night and soak up his obvious professionalism and artistry. My awesome manager, Josh Terry, got me this tour though his connection with Five For Fighting's manager.

*How long will you tour? Do you record while you're on the road? This tour is only a couple weeks, but I'll be on and off the road all summer. I haven't! I can't imagine recording while touring, although I know a lot of people do.

*Is there any anxiety associated with touring? How do you manage stress? I don't have very much anxiety on tour. We don't sleep very much, so a ton of coffee is a must! I try to keep up with my workout routine, prayer/meditation time and a healthy diet. I don't always succeed, but I think that makes a big difference. 

*Your label is in Nashville; is that your home base? What do you miss about home when you're touring?
I have a room I rent in Nashville, and I love my life there, but I also spend a bunch of time in Shenandoah Valley Virginia, where my family lives. I love being on the road. Besides my family, I don't miss much! I think I was built for this life.

*Letterbox is your first full-length album. Was the process different for you than producing singles or EPs?
The process of recording the album was uhhhhmazing! I recorded it in L.A. and Nashville with two incredible producers, Eric Rosse and Chad Copplin. Recoding a full-length is really just twice as much fun as an EP.

*What's your favorite song on the new album and why? My favorite song is Glitter Gold. The production is exactly how I wanted it to be, and I felt like it captured the emotion of the song in such a beautiful way. I always seem to like sad songs.

*Where do you get most of your inspiration when you write?My inspiration comes mostly from my own personal relationships either with friends, family, or love interests. My songs are very much like reading my journal. I usually write solo, but I am getting better at co-writing!

*Do you think full-length albums can still be relevant in today's music scene?I think people are always going to want full-length albums — or at Ieast, I know I will.

*What other music do you listen to? Are there any singer/songwriters or bands that you follow now?
I listen to a lot of different kinds of music now, anything from The Lumineers to Thomas Rhett to broadway musicals.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Voices & Viols Filled The Barn at Flintwoods

By Christine Facciolo

First appearing in Spain in the 15th Century, the viola da gamba — or viol — was a most popular instrument in the Renaissance and Baroque eras, holding an honored position even in the court of the Sun King. But by the mid-18th Century, the viol fell out of favor as concert halls grew larger and the more penetrating sound of the violin family became more popular.

The viol attracts little attention today, even though the 1991 film Tous les Matins du Monde about two of the greatest composers for the instrument, Marin Marais and Saint-Colombe, and a number of contemporary composers have written for it.

But the rich sounds of this once princely instrument were duly showcased in Brandywine Baroque’s March 16-18 concerts, “Voices and Viols.”

Joining Brandywine Baroque Artistic Director Karen Flint on vintage harpsichord were violists Catharina Meints, John Mark Rosendaal, Donna Fournier, and Rebecca Humphrey Diederich, flutist Eileen Grycky, soprano Laura Heimes and tenor Tony Boutte.

Meints pointed out that she and Flint had been friends for a very long time because of their passion for collecting period instruments. Meints then proudly displayed her treble viol, which dates back to 1700 and is, remarkably, in virtually the same condition it was when it was first made.

England boasts a very rich history of viol composition and performance, more than likely inspired and encouraged by the royal patronage of Henry VIII, and that tradition was well-represented in the first half of the program as the consort accompanied songs by William Byrd, Henry Lawes and Thomas Morley.

Songs from the French Baroque made up the second half of the program with selections by Michel Lambert, Jean-Baptiste Lully and Etienne Moulinie.

Heimes delivered the clear, unadorned vocal quality and needle-sharp intonation that has earned her respect and admiration. Here in consort with the viol she offered heartfelt, vibrant performances that effectively portrayed the texts without losing touch with the songs lovely vocal characteristics. Standouts included Byrd’s My Mistress Had a Little Dog and Lambert’s Ombre de mon amant.

Tony Boutte’s tenor was pure and emotional, breathing much life into songs like Byrd’s Though Amaryllis Dance in Green and Moulinie’s Enfin la beaute.

Heimes and Boutte delivered some delightful — and expressive — duets, including Henry Lawes’ A Dialogue Upon a Kiss and The Mossy Bank.

The instrumentalists gave imaginative accounts of William Lawes’ Airs in C, Nos. 113 and 109. Flint and flutist Grycky explored the rich textures and dense tapestry of ornaments in the Prelude, Courante and Gaillard in G minor from Jean Henry D’Anglebert’s Pieces de clavecin (1689). The ensemble concluded the concert with a lively rendering of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Concert pour quatre parties de violes.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Candlelight's "Drowsy Chaperone" Will Leave You Anything But

By Carol Van Zoeren
Carol is a 40+ year veteran of community theater and retired from DuPont.

Remarkably, as a musical theater geek, I was unfamiliar with The Drowsy Chaperone. Sure, I’d heard of it and was aware that the protagonist was “Man In Chair." But I didn’t know the songs, the plot or anything.

Well I’m a good student, so I Googled a synopsis of the plot the day before. I figured, as a reviewer, my responsibility was to review the production on stage, not the show itself. If I were trying to figure out the plot, I might be distracted from the production I was tasked to review. 

Connor McAndrews as "Man in Chair" in The Drowsy Chaperone.
Photo by Tisa Della-Volpe.
As it turns out, the plot is both familiar and joyously random, so one has no choice but to focus on the production and just go along with the ride.

And what a ride it is! The Drowsy Chaperone actually refers to a fictional 1928 show within a show (or rather “a musical within a comedy” as the tagline says) which features a cornucopia of stock characters from the heyday of American musical theater. This includes the self-absorbed romantic leads (Kevin Dietzler and Audrey Simmons); the very wealthy, very dim matron (Lindsay Mauck) and her long-suffering butler (Anthony Connell); the heavily accented Latin lover (Topher Layton); a pair of gangsters straight from central casting (Victoria Healy and Max Redman) and many others.

These characters must be played in broad vaudevillian style, vocally and physically. And every member of this cast delivers. There are invigorating showcase numbers, such as  Simmons in Show Off, Layton in I Am Aldolpho as well as Dietzler and Shaun Yates tap dancing through Cold Feet

Tiffany Christopher shines as the Drowsy Chaperone herself with As We Stumble Along, described as a “rousing anthem about alcoholism." But what thrilled me even more was when the entire ensemble displayed exquisitely coordinated comic timing. These moments were liberally sprinkled throughout, but a particular dropped cane bit in Act II deserves special mention. The choreography is stylistically spot on and superbly executed. My highest compliment to a show is that it is “tight." Kudos to Director/Choreographer Peter John Rios.

And so we come to "Man in Chair" (although, as my companion remarked, he spends very little time actually sitting in the chair). On the surface, Man is the quintessential wide-eyed uber-fan of musical theater, and Connor McAndrews enthusiastically invites us to share his joy and passion. But there’s also a great deal below the surface. While he seeks escapism via his favorite musical, he cannot avoid the encroachment of the less ideal reality of his life. With a masterfully nuanced performance, McAndrews more than meets this challenge. He engenders warm affection for his character, which makes the somewhat surreal final scene all the more affecting.

The production values are impressive. Jeff Reim’s clever set seamlessly transforms from a somewhat dingy New York apartment to multiple rooms of a mansion in the Hamptons. Timothy Lamont Cannon’s costumes and Lisa Miller Challenger’s wigs & hair transport us to 1928 society. Light and sound cues are intricate and demand split-second timing, so hats off to the operators in the booth.

In sum, The Drowsy Chaperonemuch like the Marx Brothers comedies on which it is loosely modelled  is a madcap, raucous laugh-riot not to be missed!