Friday, November 16, 2018

Light Action to Build World Class Music, TV & Film Facility on 7th Street PeninsulaLight

Content of this post comes from a City of Wilmington press release...

Out and About broke the story this morning about the facility and all it can mean for Wilmington
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki today congratulated and thanked Scott Humphrey, President of Light Action Productions based in New Castle, for his decision to build a new multi-million dollar sound stage on Wilmington’s 7th Street Peninsula. The Mayor said he had encouraged Humphrey to move forward with his unique idea for some time and is very pleased that this project is finally moving forward. The Mayor and Humphrey said a groundbreaking will be held within the next month.

Rendering of Light Action Productions' future sound stage,
The Pine Box. Photo courtesy of Light Action.
Light Action will build 150,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres of land 
along the 7th Street Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Light Action. 
In an exclusive interview with Out & About, Humphrey said his company is building a 150,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres of land along the 7th Street Peninsula. The $8 million project will feature a 25,000-square-foot, 95-foot-tall sound stage called the Pine Box, which Humphrey says will be lit up and visible from Interstate 495.

“This sound stage will be for crews and companies that are either doing pre-production on a Broadway musical, or for a touring band that’s about to go out on the road, or for film or TV crews,” said Humphrey. “We’ve looked at moving to the city for a while, and I think this space will bring a sort of organic energy and lots of opportunity to the area.”

Mayor Purzycki said the City of Wilmington has been eager to facilitate the sale of the 20 acres of land that Humphrey’s company purchased on the peninsula. The Mayor said the location and availability of the 7th Street Peninsula property, while somewhat neglected, makes perfect sense for Light Action.

“There aren’t that many places in the city where you can find a piece of property that large, especially for a company of Scott’s size, with the need for external parking, all his big rigs, storage, and equipment,” says Purzycki. “We wanted to do everything we could to make the site attractive, but there was no particular assistance from us other than the commitment that we will improve road access at the site.”
The Out & About article quotes Humphrey as saying that once the facility is built, Light Action Productions’ warehouse – which will be filled with live entertainment production elements – will occupy 90,000 square feet, along with 30,000 square feet of space designated to design, video and lighting studios and conference rooms. Another 5,000 square feet will be reserved for office space, and the final 25,000 square feet for the Pine Box.

Humphrey says he’s already spoken to industrial and manufacturing neighbors in the 7th Street vicinity about future plans for the area such as a restaurant, bar or possible hotel accommodations, although no plans have been confirmed. Humphrey said a grand opening celebration is tentatively scheduled for late 2019.

Friday, November 2, 2018

DSO Opens Chamber Series with Woodwind Program

By Christine Facciolo

In a commendable change of pace, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) opened its Chamber Concert Series with a a memorable evening of music for woodwinds.

The DSO Woodwind Quintet proved to be exciting and dynamic performers by offering a program that was both eclectic and entertaining.

Playing works that were stylistically distinct the five musicians in the group — Kimberly Reighley, flute; Lloyd Shorter, oboe; Charles Salinger, clarinet; Jon Gaarder, bassoon and Karen Schubert, horn — showed the diversity of the woodwind quintet despite the paucity of repertoire for it.

The ensemble warmed up with expertly crafted works by notable French flutist and teacher Claude-Paul Taffanel's Wind Quintet in G minor and his contemporary Charles Lefebvre's Suite for Winds No. 1, Op. 57. The latter is a standard of the wind quintet repertoire, demonstrating a superior understanding of how to orchestrate for these five instruments.

Taffanel’s Suite for Winds is thoroughly French and late Romantic in style with rapidly changing moods.

The most interesting piece in the concert was Paquito D’Rivera’s Aires Tropicales, written in 1994. This charmer of a piece contains a wealth of melodic traditions, playful inventions and enticing rhythms. Noteworthy movements included “Dizzyness,” a tribute to the late, great Dizzy Gillespie, Habanera, a trio for flute, clarinet and bassoon in the style of Ravel, Contradanza, an upbeat Cuban dance honoring Ernesto Lecuonar. Vals Venezolano, a lively Venezuelan waltz and Afro, an energetic dance over an African ostinato.

The evening of varied music concluded with a performance of Aria and Quodlibet for Woodwind Quintet by clarinetist Arne Running (1943-2016). The Aria contains a chorale in the low winds, the repetition of which features Shorter’s oboe singing high above the melodic line. The Quodlibet is sheer fun; a pastiche of tunes from virtually every corner of the musical world.


Pyxis Lights Up Market Street Music Festival Concert Series

By Christine Facciolo
The Sunday, October 14, 2018 concert by Pyxis Piano Quartet — as part of Market Street Music's Festival Concert series — at Wilmington’s First & Central Presbyterian Church revealed once again the abundance of talent within each member of this laudable ensemble.  Members include Luigi Mazzocchi, violin; Amy Leonard, viola; Jennifer Jie Jin, cello and Hiroko Yamazaki, piano.


This 90-minute program offered works from the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, including two of the most demanding in the repertoire: Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478 and Mendelssohn’s Piano Quarter in F minor, No. 2, Op. 2.

Mozart seems to have invented the piano quartet. There are no examples of the genre among his contemporaries or immediate predecessors, including the very inventive Haydn. He left only these two work but they count among the very best in the repertoire.

Mozart’s G minor quartet grew out of a commission from the Viennese publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister for three such works. The remaining two were canceled when the publisher felt the finished work was too difficult for the amateur musician 
 the usual market for keyboard-based chamber music.

Pyxis Piano Quartet (L-R): Amy Leonard, violaHiroko Yamazaki, piano; Jennifer Jie Jin, cello Luigi Mazzocchi, violin.
The quartet features true chamber music equality of part-writing, juxtaposing concerto-like passages in the piano with others in which the instrument fades and blends in with the strings in a lively interplay. The musicians effectively kept up the momentum throughout a cliffhanger of a development section which often hints at a resolution only to give way to other material. The second movement captivated with the sheer beauty of the playing, while the ensemble’s gentle handling of the phrasing in the finale provided a joyous conclusion to this darkly dramatic work.

Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki assumed an even more virtuosic role in Mendelssohn’s F minor quartet, while the string players offered less flamboyant bits, albeit ones that carried the thematic material. Leonard’s viola got to show off its high register during the exposition of the second theme. Yamazaki again displayed virtuosic technique in the rolling figurations throughout the Adagio movement which exhibited pure early Romanticism. The strings at last assumed an (almost) equal footing with their keyboard companion in the whiplash final movement.

The concert opened with a fine performance by Mazzocchi and Leonard of Martinu’s Three Madrigals for the (seemingly) austere combination of violin and viola. Each artist exaggerated the sounds of their instruments: Mazzocchi played up the brightness of the violin while Leonard reveled in the richness and warmth of the viola. 


It would have been tempting to blend the sounds but this approach maintained the independent voices when it mattered most. The result was what sounded like a unique instrument with a remarkable range of timbre and pitch. The two instruments matched when in the same range, establishing unity while preserving the individual capabilities of both. This was exploited to maximum effect during the playful competition of the many imitative passages.