Monday, June 29, 2009

Flavors of Spain at the DCMF

John-Andrew Fernandez, baritone, didn’t just sing Siete canciones populares españolas by Manuel de Falla, he acted them out. With Fermin Maria Álvarez’ La Partida, the Delaware Chamber Music Festival audience was his.

Pablo Zinger was the perfect collaborative pianist for the Spanish program.

Navarra by Pablo de Sarasate was breakneck for two violins and piano – no problem for duo Hirono Oka and Barbara Govatos and Pablo Zinger.

Oka and Govatos joined Burchard Tang, viola and John Koen, cello for Teresa Carreño’s String Quartet in B Minor and La Oracion del Torero by Joaquin Turina – giving Delaware a taste of music truly off the beaten path.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ladies First at the DCMF

The Delaware Chamber Music Festival devoted their June 26 concert to Sylvia Glickman, pianist, composer and advocate for women’ music who died in 2006.

Charles Abramovic played Glickman’s Dances and Entertainments
with insight and gave singular character to each vignette.

Glickman would no doubt have applauded the commission the DCMF gave Ingrid Arauco, an associate professor at Haverford College.

Divertimento is “light, not long for a summer evening. You can look at the pieces as five little experiments, five little essays,” said Arauco. Frank Ferraro played his trumpet delicately, giving Barbara Govatos, violin and Yumi Kendall, cello ample room for dynamic variation and expression.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Newark Arts Alliance

On June 23, a visit to the Newark Arts Alliance finds Nancy Breslin having finished a session on Artist Self-Promotion and Doortje Shover raving about it.


Terry Foreman has this as one of myriad activities she manages to run in the leanest of times.   “We still have Camp Imagine, but we have cut all the fat,” she said. 


The NAA has more than just visual arts – they have open mike poetry nights, acoustic jams, music performances, children’s writers groups and even fibers and embellishment groups.


A courageous organization championing art for all is well worth the visit. 



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Couleurs exotiques at DCMF

Carla Dirlikov, mezzo-soprano showed her love for the music of Maurice Ravel in Shéhérazade in the Delaware Chamber Music Festival’s second concert.

Barbara Govatos, violin had both delicate and forceful sounds and remarkable harmonics for Olivier Messaien’s Fantaisie pour violon et piano.

Clancy Newman’s fingers were a blur of motion in the Cello Sonata in D Minor by Claude Debussy.

With the Piano Quartet in G Minor by Gabriel Fauré, Marcantonio Barone played piano for each demanding piece in the first two programs of the series. His brilliant playing supported Barbara Govatos, violin, Pamela Fay, viola and Clancy Newman, cello.

The festival players and guests were more than happy to talk about their playing with the audience after the concert which made you realize that in Delaware, the world is small enough to mingle and yet the music is as good as you will find anywhere.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Song Yet Sung: McBride's Novel Set to Life in Word & Song

~By guest blogger, Jessica Graae

On June 19, the second floor of Wilmington’s Ameritage Bistro burst alive with the words of James McBride’s Song Yet Sung and the beat of African drums and griot cries. In conjunction with the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival and the celebration of Juneteenth, The Delaware Humanities Forum presented a dramatic reading of McBride’s historically influenced novel set in Dorchester County. The character, Liz Spocott, who has suffered a blow to her head rendering her prophetic, is loosely based on the life of Harriet Tubman.

TS Baynes, an actor with City Theater Company, performed Spocott’s monologue. Baynes’ performance was warm and thoughtful. She made clever use of her performance space, pulling the audience into the pre-Civil War town and its outlying swamps. The steady drumbeat provided by Kamau Ngom helped establish urgency to Spocott’s message of freedom and escape, carrying us back to her African roots at the same time.

In the second portion of the program, Ngom gave an informative performance and lecture on Underground Railroad songs and handmade musical instruments. The audience learned that “Wade in the Water” wasn’t just a song about baptism, but a song slaves would sing to warn others to get to water quickly to throw off the chase of nearby dogs. Ngom reminded us of the powerful influence this early African American music has had on the blues, jazz and popular music.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hungarian Flavors from DCMF

From the gypsy lilt and rubato in the Jenö Hubay Hejre Kati to the Hungarian Dance #5 by Johannes Brahms, Music Director Barbara Govatos played the gamut of range and color of her 1619 Amati violin.

Igor Begelman, clarinet and Jeffrey Lang, horn were jazzy and unfettered in the Sextet in C major by Ernö Dohnányi. The contrast of winds and strings with Barbara Govatos, violin, Burchard Tang, viola and Clancy Newman, cello soared above Marcantonio Barone’s piano.

Kudos to Marcantonio Barone for his telepathic anticipation of each player. The Piano Quartet in G minor by Johannes Brahms was passionate, yet perfect.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Who Wants a Mai Tai?

OK, this is not really “arts”, but it is retro funky, which I love…If you’re headed to the Clifford Brown Jazz Fest on Saturday, June 20 and want some later-evening, campy fun, be sure to hit Wilmington’s newest old tradition—Saturday Night Supper Club!

This increasingly-popular theme night returns to Deep Blue Bar & Grill, this time as Copacabana Night. With dinner seating from 7:00pm on, you can grab a 3-course nosh and complimentary bubbly ($35 fixed price), then stay for Mai Tais & dancing with spinning by the ultra-hip DJ Zip at 10:00pm. Dress to impress and don’t be afraid to go with the theme—music and passion is always the fashion at the Copa!

Miss it this time around? Catch SNSC monthly on the third Saturday at Deep Blue, 111 W. 11th Street in Wilmington.


Delaware Chamber Music Festival

Delaware Chamber Music Festival 2009


The 24th annual Delaware Chamber Music Festival starts Friday, June 19 at 7:30 at the Wilmington Music School.  The festival core group consists of  Barbara Govatos, violin, Hirono Oka, violin, Burchard Tang, viola and Clancy Newman, cello.


Outstanding guest artists join them for the two-week festival, Charles Abramovic, piano, Frank Ferraro, trumpet, Marcantonio Barone, piano, Yumi Kendall, cello, Igor Begelman, clarinet,  John Koen, Cello,  Carla Dirlikov, mezzo-soprano,  Jeffrey Lang, horn,  John-Andrew Fernandez, baritone,  Pablo Zinger, piano and Pamela Fay, viola.


Music director Barbara Govatos, a native of Delaware, welcomes audiences with a warmth and humor that invites you to enjoy the music.


June 19 and June 26 at 7:30 p.m.

June 21 and 28 at 3 p.m.


See for details.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

July 4th musical salute

Before the fireworks at Wilmington's Riverfront, hear the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Delaware Valley Chorale do patriotic music at 8:30 p.m. July 4. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to Tubman-Garrett Park for the 8:30 p.m. concert. It's all free.

WDEL 1150 AM radio will broadcast the concert live that night too.

The orchestra plays Hollywood hits July 11 at the Freeman Center at Bayside, 4 miles west of Fenwick Island at the intersection of routes 54 and 20. This concert's at 7 p.m. -- with a July 12 rain date. It's also free.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3 Arty Things You Need to Know

I love promoting new, unique, or "underground" projects. While I don't consider these "underground", I do believe more people should discover them!

1. DHF Books & Authors Series
Delaware Humanities Forum features City Theater Company actors in a monthly book discussion series called Interpreting Dreams. The first of three programs starts June 19 at 7:00pm at Ameritage Bistro, featuring Song Yet Sung by James McBride, which details the story of runaway slaves. CTC favorite, actor TS Baynes, will no doubt give another of her dynamic performances for the reading that kicks off the program. Also, percussionist Kamau Ngom performs African drum music and talks about connections among blues music, country shouts, and the Underground Railroad.

See or

2. New Wilmington Art Association
This group of contemporary artists has steadily created buzz, and I couldn’t be more jazzed to see their work — sculpture, installation, photography, video and more — arrive on the Wilmington art scene. It’s refreshing, thrilling, sometimes even bewildering — and you need to see it all. NWAA member Ron Longsdorf has a solo exhibition in DDOA’s Mezzanine Gallery through July 17. But July’s Art on the Town (7/3) will see a massive group show from NWAA members at 605 Market. Get there!


3. Brandywine Guitar Quartet
The group features a fave musician of mine: guitarist, composer and teacher Chris Braddock. All its members are classically educated and accomplished performers and instructors around the region, and they’ve joined forces to perform a range of music including classical, jazz, flamenco, and more. Check them out August 9 at 6:00 p.m. at the Cecil County Summer Music Concert Series at Pell Gardens in Chesapeake City, MD.

See or

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Copeland Quartet

A string quartet is a rare jewel among musical ensembles for many reasons:  first, four musicians have to agree to a great deal of their time practicing together.  Second, players must adjust to each other’s idiosyncrasies while learning to perform as a single entity.  Third, the four must agree on the musical interpretations of the pieces they play.

Delaware has such a jewel in the Copeland Quartet.  Eliezer Gutman, violin, Thomas Jackson, violin, Nina Cottman, viola and Mark Ward, cello have reached a high point in their ensemble playing since the quartet was formed in 2003 and they proved it with a performance on June 14 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Wilmington – an acoustic haven for their sound.

But it is not just the acoustics which make the gifted group sound so good.  The group has established a level of communication that allows them to complete lines of very fast scales in the Arriaga String Quartet in A Major so that one voice simply melts into the next as if one player were pushing a ‘now cello, now viola, now violin button’.  And when they played a variation in the Andante movement with pizzicato and forte on the offbeat eighth notes, they were perfectly syncopated.  That is difficult for one person to do – try it as a foursome.

The concert continued with one of the more difficult quartets in the repertoire:  The String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel.  Sleeves rolled up, the players provided the tone color Ravel painted in the score with fantastic intonation and listening to the chords they created in each movement.  The effect of the double stop pizzicati against the legato notes in the second movement was electric.  The audience seemed to lean forward to see how it was done.

The Copeland will play four concerts at the Church of the Holy Trinity next year: October 11, January 24, April 18 and June 13 – all concerts at 4 p.m.


See for more information.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Art camp in Middletown

The Gibby art center offers two weeks of kids' summer camp on nature themes too.

From July 27 to 31: Look to the environment to recycle stuff into sculpture, mixed media and fabric arts.

From Aug. 3 to 7: Plants and animals inspire ideas for making prints, painting and drawing.

Classes range from one hour for preschoolers with an adult present; half-days for kindergartners and first-graders; and full days for second- to eighth-graders. Morning and afternoon care is also available.

Teen and adult volunteers are needed to help too.

For fees and hours, see Or call (302) 449-5396.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eo Omwake's landscapes

Eo Omwake's landscape paintings now at the Gibby gallery in Middletown have an alive quality that freshens the familiar meadows and hedgerows and iconic animals.

His theme "Honoring Nature" is straightforward enough, but the pictures are not so simple. Eo's roots as an abstract painter in mixed media are evident in the poised compositions and patterned backgrounds. It's his affinity for Buddhism and Eastern philosophy that suggests a beckoning spirit in these places beyond the usual Brandywine scenes.

His misty, diffused handling of acrylic paint is another wonder. He said he layered paint in the typical oil method, but the acrylic surfaces come up drier and warmer. He told me he used airbrush on big expanses plus brush work on the figurative subjects. That yielded a borderless sense of space and distance - to serve his meaning about nature's mystery.

So "White Sound of Winter," a 36-inch canvas with a hint of snowy field and woods, has tenderness despite its blank austerity. And "Rock" in mossy greens and browns somehow looks reptilian rather than sedimentary.

Eo said his ornery and irreverent impulses came out in two portraits of his pet cats hunched atop a Buddha statue and a totem pole. After all, the Buddha didn't take himself so seriously. The cats' inscrutable eyes and muscular tension are not just whimsy, though. Beware of life.

This show continues to June 27. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays at the Gilbert W. Perry Jr. Center for the Arts, 51 W. Main St., Middletown. It's next door to the Everett Theater. See

Eo Omwake teaches at the Gibby, and will start new workshops this fall. He also holds classes at the Delaware Art Museum and Buzz Ware Village Center in Arden, as well as a good many Philadelphia colleges.

His Web site is

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

K. O. Simms on the June Art Loop

A truck with a large painting in the back pulled up to Veritas Wine Shop, and a man unfolded himself from the driver’s seat. Artist K. O. Simms is here to meet and greet people at his exhibit inside the new riverfront wine store.

Simms is a man who enjoys creating his work among his “subjects”. He has often set his canvas up on busy street corners in Wilmington. He told me he likes to paint things as they happen, and he would love to paint a concert in progress.

His work at Veritas includes a sizeable interpretation of the Wilmington Riverfront, done in acrylic with a palette knife. The knife strokes form a rough texture and shapes that made me feel as though I could reach into the painting and touch objects inside. “People ask me, ‘don’t you ever use brushes?’, says Simms. “But I prefer working with a palette knife.”

Many of his works have a jazz theme and incorporate bright or rich coloring. His Billie Holiday piece depicts her with vibrant flowers in her hair as she croons into the microphone. The background is an intense blue, with a bass player vanishing into the space. Clifford Brown shows the trumpet player at the heart of the piece, clothed in a bright green suit.

Other works capture day-to-day city happenings. His East Ninth Street and Pine displays heavy red bricks on the buildings. The people portrayed are those he knows, such as an old man collecting trash on the street. “He was always out there, trying to maintain the neighborhood,” noted Simms.

When talking about his painting of a wedding, he spoke expressively of the young ring bearer and his recovery from childhood cancer. Simms’ art clearly not only illustrates events and people he reveres, but also celebrates the “little things” in everyday life here in Wilmington.

An active art instructor, K. O. Simms teaches primarily at “The Gibby” in Middletown. He’ll also be offering a course on Painting in Nature at Wilmington’s Blue Ball Barn on June 14 as part of Alapocas Run State Park’s summer programming. For details, call the park office at 302.577.1164.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rainbow Chorale turns ten

“June after June giving up, giving in, giving out: trumpeting the exquisite, excruciating pleasure of growing here” is how poet Susan Windle blessed the Rainbow Chorale on its 10th anniversary concert.

Windle recited her work, Into the Blue: A Blessing from The Rainbow Chorale. As gifted a performer as she is poet, her reading sent chills down my spine as I realized how spellbinding a professional recital of a poem can be.

Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki gave a sparkling performance of Clearfield’s music, punctuated with soaring flute played by Mindy Bowman and ringing vibraphone played by Colin Bunnell.

Andrea Clearfield was pleased with the premiere. “It was exciting to be involved because in ten years, this was the first piece ever commissioned by the chorus.”

Chad Nelson, bass, was glad that two former directors had attended the concert. “It’s really exciting to have both Alison Skinner, who was our Artistic Director from 2007 to 2008, and Elliot Jones, who was our founding director, here tonight.”

Jones conducted the Chorale in a spectacular arrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow which he had instituted as a quasi theme song for the group. The a cappela harmonies in this song were impressive indeed.

Artistic Director Stephen Caldwell is carrying the banner of fine performance.

**Above artwork created by Lynn Hessler.

SOWETO Festival double-header

Melomanie co-hosted A Concert for Peace with Pacem in Terris on June 5 at Grace United Methodist Church. The concert featured ensemble members and guest artists in a repertoire of "Music Uniting the World". This was a fundraiser for both organizations, held in conjunction with the 20th SOWETO Festival Art Exhibit at Grace Church.

The music began with three vivacious movements of Paris Quartet in D Major by Georg Philipp Telemann. Guest artist & Baroque violinist Linda Kistler and Melomanie's Baroque flutist Kimberly Reighley played with such verve, switching off parts of the lively Vivement, that in the audience local conductor Lawler Rogers remarked to me, "I wanted to get up and dance after that!"

Composers Chris Braddock and Mark Hagerty had pieces featured in the program. Braddock's Pluck showed the versatility of the harpsichord, the sound of which evoking a "country music" feel, and proved that period instruments are not mired in the sands of time.

Mark Hagerty's Alla Raga (see 5/25 post) ended with a magnificent, rapid stretch of notes played by Richardson with each hand, as she improvised a melody with her right thumb. It sounded as though she had three hands on the keyboard!

The concert ended with the last three movements of Telemann's Paris Quartet. Cello, harpsichord and guitar were joined by fast and furious notes from the Baroque violin, viola da gamba (played by Donna Fournier) and Baroque flute. As the piece concluded, the audience gave a standing ovation.

Before the concert, the SOWETO Festival exhibited works from several noted regional visual artists. From the light blues in Doris L. Hill's Bambi Blue mixed media piece to the deep blue hues of the abstract I Rise from Eunice LaFate, the artwork seemed to depict man's global struggle.

Debbie Hegedus' work There are so many hungry people, is made up of a bottle and landscape with silverware dangling from it. Inside the bottle reads a quote from Ghandi: "And God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread." Michael J. Riley's pencil on paper, entitled No Fancy Parade, showed a lineup of African-Americans unrecognized for their service to society: a soldier, a pastor, a teacher, and the line goes on.

The art exhibit will be open to the public at Grace through August 15, a portion of all artwork sales will benefit Pacem in Terris' charitable efforts.