Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kiss My Art: JR Falkinburg at the Chris White Gallery

A lifelong, self-taught artist, JR Falkinburg got his start like many kids -- by drawing his favorite comic book characters. Art was a hobby that helped him relax after a day's work as an architect. Two years ago, he started painting, and opened up a whole new world of art and experimentation.

Rarely does he work with the same medium twice. His Shipley Lofts studio is filled with pieces that reflect his adventurous nature, from found object art to pieces made with wax, or plastic wrap, or paint chips. There are multi-media collaborations, photographs, and even paintings that, with the help of a smart phone, create sound. His eclectic style is meant to appeal as many senses as possible, to evoke a feeling.

For his first solo show, "Kiss My Art," opening at the Chris White Gallery on Friday, February 1, Falkinburg will show 30 pieces, plus collaborations with other Shipley artists such as Brad Turner, John Camacho, Lorraine Foster and Kevin Bielicki.

"The idea," he says, "is to be an event instead of an art show; instead of coming in and moving from picture to picture, the whole show will be a feeling. You want to hang out."

Contributing to the event feel will be a variety of guests, including DJ Biz, tattoo artist Larry Dineen with a live tattoo session, and hip-hop dancers.

"Kiss My Art" is a collection, an experiment not hemmed in by a theme or style. Experience it on Friday from 6 to 9, or visit the gallery throughout the month a January.

Chris White Gallery
701 N. Shipley St.
Wilmington, DE 19801

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BOEING BOEING — a Full Flight of Funny

Opening weekend at Delaware Theatre Company saw a bevy of Who’s Whos hoot, holler and howl at the third production of its 2012-2013 season, Marc Camoletti’s French farce, Boeing Boeing.  It also welcomed back to the local stage three graduates of the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program (now UD’s REP Theatre). (Saw pal Deenie Howatt of UD get a huge hug from actor Jeffrey C. Hawkins in the lobby post-performance.) 

The 2008 Tony Award-winning script, originally translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans and directed here by Steve Tague, takes us on board the comedic trip of American businessman Bernard (Jason O’Connell) as he attempts to juggle his trio of international fiancées – all flight attendants – as well as a surprise visit from his old college pal, Robert (Jeffrey C. Hawkins).

Bernard has successfully (thus far) kept all three on a tight schedule of romance, all managed through the master flight timetables he keeps on hand.  He describes his setup to Robert as “…so mathematic, it’s almost poetic.” But suddenly, reality – or more precisely, modern technology – takes control in the form of faster jet engines and colliding schedules.  Then the real fun starts: early arrivals, sneaky departures, and plenty of door slamming, pratfalls, and the ubiquitous calming cocktail.   

The women in Bernard’s life – feisty Texan Gloria (Sara M. Bruner), lusty Italian Gabriella (Gisela Chipe) and uber-passionate German Gretchen (Heidi-Marie Ferren) – are at the heart of the frenzied, titillating tale.  Each was a well-played over-the-top parody, but Gretchen was downright hilarious.  However, it was the one who must keep them all straight – Bernard’s long-suffering maid, Berthe (Sarah Doherty) – who I thought delivered the most genuine laugh-out-loud moments.  Many of Doherty’s scenes were priceless even without words: her body language and subtle reactions delivered in true comedic timing.

My other favorite was Hawkins as Bernard’s nerdy, excitable pal, Robert.  While Bernard cavorts with his trio, Robert and Berthe struggle to maintain order, whatever that might be.  I loved the banter of Berthe’s and Robert’s scenes together, and at one point found myself even rooting for them to hook up and leave this dysfunctional band to themselves!  There’s plenty of clever quips, including an explanation from Gloria on what truly makes American great, which sent a roar through the audience.

I had a little problem with the actors’ blocking from my seats (at a few points, a character would completely obstruct our view of others) but I came away extremely amused and pleasantly surprised (thought there would be much more ‘dated sexism’ in the content). In the end, after the mania ensues and the smoke clears, everything is wrapped up in a classic neat little package. No spoiler alert here, though; as Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket; take the ride.”

The production runs through February 10. See

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The DSO is BACK!

By Guest Blogger, Christine Facciolo
Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music.  An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer.

There’s nothing more magical than when great music comes to life in the hands of expert players under the direction of a conductor who breathes animation into the music.  And that’s exactly what happened when the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Maestro David Amado opened the 2013 season on Friday, January 25.

The program featured three late 19th Century works: Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and the overture to the opera Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. And while the heavy lifting of the Romantic era was pretty much over by this time, the continued popularity of these selections shows the enduring appeal of this most influential period in the history of Western music.

Dvorak spent the years between 1892 and 1895 in America, having been invited to develop an “American sound.”  Indeed, people often comment on the “American-ness” of his final symphony—that its themes recall Negro spirituals or Native American music.

But what’s at work here: fact or the mere power of suggestion?   If it hadn’t been composed in America or been nicknamed “From the New World,” would anyone on this side of the Atlantic have made the connection?  Dvorak never acknowledged use of particular melodies, but rather attempted to transfer the idioms of folk music to the symphonic form. The Ninth Symphony is every bit as Dvorak and Czech as anything he’d ever written — right down to the bucolic trio in the Scherzo.

But none of that matters, for Dvorak has given us one of the greatest gems of the symphonic literature — and the DSO one of its finest performances. The rhythmic vitality of the opening movement was present throughout with some excellent horn playing in particular.  The gorgeous Largo melody was presented with a graceful poise bookended with a series of sonorous chromatic harmonies. Bursts of orchestral sunlight punctuated the dramatic Scherzo. The brass came blazing back in the Finale which under Amado’s direction was full of urgency, drive and passion.

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is a fascinating but still underrated piece.  It contains some of the composer’s most beguiling melodies and one of the finest cadenzas ever written.  DSO principal pianist Lura Johnson rendered the first movement with an air of confidence and ease — her cadenza powerful yet insightful and moving.  In the following movements, Rachmaninoff’s Romanticism blossoms while her virtuosity sizzles.  Amado and the orchestra did well with a score that really doesn’t give the instrumentalist much to chew on.

The concert opened with the overture to Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel.  The composition is imaginative, mixing childlike simplicity with feisty depth.  The brass shined in the opening bars of this holiday favorite, a perfect selection for a snowy Friday night.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Buon Giorno, Pinocchio!

By Blogger Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Tom Marshall converts the Delaware Children's Theatre (DCT) into a whimsical 19th century Italian village where a marionette-maker designs a puppet that eventually becomes human.

For 40 years, DCT has produced family-friendly musicals based on beloved children stories and nursery rhymes, and they continue the tradition with their current production of Pinocchio. The boisterous production is cheerful and bright - perfect for children of all ages!

The show opens with our narrator for the afternoon, Antonio (Andrew Stewart), a cabinet-maker in the Italian village who leads the cast in a rousing opening number. Antonio's shop is across the street from the puppet-maker, Geppetto's (Tripp Ivie) store. Geppetto has recently completed his first life-like puppet, Pinocchio (Will Rotsch). Wishing he had a child, Geppetto treats his human-like puppet as his son.

One day the Blue Fairy (Mary Spacht), disguised as a peasant girl, walks by Geppetto's store asking for bread, instead of acknowledging her request, the extremely generous Geppetto gives her five gold pieces so she can buy bread and additional food. Because of his kindness, the Blue Fairy grants Geppetto's wish and transforms Pinocchio into an "almost" little boy! Although he can walk and speak, he's still made out of wood.

Like every little boy, Pinocchio needs to learn responsibility and respect for his father, but like most children, Pinocchio disobeys and we all know what happens when he lies! Pinocchio's actions lead him to a troubled adventure, from skipping school with The Bad Boy Gang to traveling to the mysterious Land of the Toys and from being conned by the fox, Signore Valpone (Dan Healy), and the cat, Signori Gatta (Lynne Lew) to being swallowed by a whale.

The production is delightful with a storybookesque set by David Schuh and colorful costumes by Carolyn Czipoth. The cast sparkles; I particularly enjoyed their Italian accents! Mr. Rostch is superb as Pinocchio. He perfected the movements of a puppet, clunky walking at the end of strings to being limp. It's most impressive to see a young man, as Mr. Rostch, carry a show with great charisma and showmanship. Both Mr. Ivie as Geppetto and Mr. Stewart as Antionio delight the audience with stirring performances. Great comic relief comes from Mr. Healy and Mrs. Lew's number, as they quibble about their evil doings and eventually conning Pinocchio.

Pinocchio is an enchanting production that shouldn't be missed. The show runs through February 10. For more information visit or call (302) 655-1014.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Visit with Tiffany & the Trinity

By Guest Blogger, Mary WilcoskyMary is OperaDelaware's Marketing Manager, and a longtime supporter and lover of the Delaware Arts scene.
I’ve attended concerts at Wilmington's Trinity Episcopal Church for years – but it wasn’t until this fall that I realized the beautiful stained-glass windows were the work of the Louis Tiffany Studio. Were it not for the lecture and organ recital on Saturday, January 19, as part of The Arts at Trinity series, I still may have been blissfully unaware!

The name ‘Tiffany’ would be a draw itself; the fact that this was a lecture and improvised organ performance combination made it an event not to be missed!  (Living for many year across from the National Cathedral in Washington DC, I grew to love organ music and the improvisations that organists used to entertain audiences.)  

This informative and entertaining lecture had the added value of allowing attendees to get up close and even touch the glass.  As guest lecturer Josh Probert noted, the Tiffany Studio used a different approach to more traditional method of stained-glass windows, which could be observed on the sides of the church.  From medieval times to the turn of the previous century and continuing today, the glass was colored with paint to create the image and modeling such as drapery folds.  But Tiffany used layers of colored glass to create the image and the modeling; it was amazing to see and feel the swirls in the glass itself.  The faces were painted, but all other effects were achieved by layering colors and textures. 

As a medieval art historian who has done my fair share of iconographical research, it was interesting to me to hear Probert’s take on Victorian women being considered more ‘virtuous’. Therefore, women’s images predominated many of the depictions, coupled with the fact that women were usually the donors of these windows.  It was also interesting to hear how it was wealthy patrons travelling abroad who returned with urgings for their own churches to have grander interiors.  How many of us enter a church and question it’s design or structure?  Moreover, how many generations of us have enjoyed the resulting beauty, all due to Americans congregants wanting to be on a par with European counterparts?

Organist Richard Fitzgerald did a wonderful job of conveying the subject of each window with his selections and improvisations.  I especially like the improvisation for the Main Altar Window, based on the literary text “Come unto me, ye that labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”. As he played, the light coming through the window seemed to be one with the music, and I was totally mesmerized by the beautiful image of the window and the swirling notes of the organ.

The Arts at Trinity series presents a variety of music, lectures and performances throughout the year – all free-will donation to attend!  Next up, City Theater Company's troupe, Fearless Improv, takes over the stage at Trinity on Saturday, February 23, at 7:30pm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Seeking New Friends for Penn's

Tucked into the quaint spaces along Delaware Street in Old New Castle is the fantastic coffee spot/artisan shop/tranquil hangout with yummy nosh, Trader's Cove at Penn's Place. Run by Matthew & Esther Lovlie (longtime Delaware arts & commerce supporters), it's become a destination for your day in Old New Castle "must-stops."  It's a friendly and welcoming, not only housing a coffee and wine garden (that sold me, right there) with a menu of local and organic selections, but also providing a showcase for local artists' works and products you can't always find anywhere else.  Some of their current "tenants": artist Donna Teleis, jewelry by Sami Campbell and Sarah Rose Originals, the Snicker Ditch Trunk Company, and candles from Originals by Kate.

Now, Penn's Place is looking to expand their internal neighborhood, offering retail/office space.  For info or a tour, contact Matthew Lovlie at 302.593.5908 or  Or, just go down for a cuppa joe or a nice glass of malbec, wander through and enjoy the local talent! Tell Matthew I sent you.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Weill’d ride at the REP’s Threepenny Opera

Matthew Earnest has created an updated version of Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill’s production of the Dreigroschenoper which opened in Berlin almost exactly 200 years after its model, John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera opened in London in 1728. Since Brecht and Weill updated the Eighteenth Century ballad opera, why shouldn’t we update the 1928 version? The times they are a-changin’ as that fan of the songs once said.

Earnest used the authorized translation (Robert David MacDonald for the dialogue and Jeremy Sams for the lyrics), but perhaps allowed a bit of colorful interjection into the script. That color fit in and didn’t seem to make anyone in Friday’s audience bolt for the door, but note that your ten-year-old may add a few undesirable words to their vocabulary should you take them to see the show.

The musicians were hidden backstage – against Berthold Brecht’s desires but perhaps for the best with the sound in the Wilhemina Press Thompson Theatre. Ryan Touhey must have had a way of seeing the singers, though, because the orchestra was spot on with musical cues and attacks.

The set and costumes by Mathew LeFebvre deserve special commendation as they invoked the simplicity of the ‘poor’ and the exaggeration of the ‘wealthy’ villains whom we get to know so well. The projected titles were quite dramatic and the darkened set with its red and brown overtones gave the opening the feeling that they had discovered Jenny on a dark and abandoned street. Elizabeth Heflin (Jenny) belted the beloved Mack the Knife song with gritty harshness which got us into the underworld mood. Lovely touches like a mini-harpsichord for the wedding in the barn, a bathtub on a conveyor belt for Jenny’s Solomon song, a carousel horse bearing a Beefeater, a shower-sized jail cell and a revolving barn door added that farcical touch.

Deena Burke (Polly) has quite a beautiful voice and Mic Matarrese had the powerful baritone for the wicked MacHeath. Erin Partin (Lucy Brown) has that comic edge and her voice blended beautifully with Burke’s in the Jealousy Duet. Kathleen Pirkl-Tague was a broadly comic Mrs. Peachum who helped us laugh at the futility of life.

The songs are bawdy and their message of futility and injustice apply to any society at any time. Brecht and Weill’s protest of the fascist and bankrupt Germany of 1928 with foreign war service as the only way out for the downtrodden is a perfect vehicle to protest the unjust distribution of wealth in the United States of 2013.

Leave your ten-year-old with a babysitter, but take your grandmother. She understands more of this history than you do. Show continues until February 2, 2013 at the Roselle Center for the Arts in Newark.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Mėlomanie Plays to a Packed House….at the Library

Music in a library? What better way to introduce the public to musical instruments like the gamba, baroque flute and baroque violin? The Friends of the Newark Free Library are devoted to making their library a community education center and they attracted quite a crowd for the concert by Mėlomanie. Over 90 people came to hear the Sunday afternoon concert – many of them brought children.

The group started the concert by playing the first part of La Piemontaise from Les Nations by François Couperin. The room, which has almost no echo or reverberation, was a great venue for the harpsichord, gamba and baroque flute and baroque violin. Each instrument could be heard distinctly, yet the blends of harmony were quite good. Christof Richter’s baroque violin and Eve Friedman’s baroque flute kept a very even match, especially in the Gravement – vivement et marquee. In the Seconde Air, the harpsichord’s lute stop sounded beautiful – and the entire ensemble went from forte to piano in a very natural and easy way to recreate the baroque dynamics.

The concert included two pieces by contemporary composers. The first was an excerpted verision of Dreams (2013) by Sergio Roberto de Oliveira played by Kim Reighley on modern flute and Doug McNames on cello. Oliveira was trying to depict the mysterious world of dreams in a series of musical vignettes. McNames and Reighley managed to hold a strict rhythmic unity – coming in absolutely together after rests and managing the exact same tone qualities on two-note slurs. The entire piece will be premiered on January 19 at Grace United Methodist Church in Wilmington.

The other contemporary piece was Fantaisie Mėlomanie by Roberto Pace which he had written for Mėlomanie in 2009. The clarity of the acoustics really brought out the individual voices in the piece. The groupings of cello, gamba and violin as well as the two modern flutes and violin were well-balanced and beautifully voiced.

The concert ended with the second part of La Piemontaise, the dances. The delicate sounds of the Allemande and the two Courantes were a great introduction to the very low and plaintive sounds of the gamba and low harpsichord notes in the Sarabande. The final Rondeau was a cheerful end to a short and fun concert.

The Friends of the Newark Free Library and Pam Nelson have really given something special to the community when they provide unusual music in a friendly and informal setting.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Art is Even More Awesome...After Dark

June 2012 Art is Social. Photo by Alessandra Nicole.
The Delaware Art Museum expands after-hours fun in Wilmo with Art is After Dark. This month, the Museum will stay open late and offer exciting events and activities for adults on select Friday nights. Perfect for the over-21 crowd, evenings include beer and wine tastings courtesy of FranksWine, as well as musical performances, salsa lessons, trivia, film screenings, themed parties and more!

And, Art is now DATE NIGHT: Clay Date and Make a Valentine invite guests to mix, mingle and get a little messy in the Museum's studio where art supplies, beer, wine and light snacks are provided. The galleries and special exhibitions also will be open for all indoor events and the Copeland Sculpture Garden for outdoor activities in warmer months.

The “After Dark” year kicks off this Friday with the popular Art is Social, featuring beer and wine tastings and JD3, a Wilmington-based keyboard jazz trio.  Prices for the new evening series vary from free to $35. Museum Members receive discounted rates for all events.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Masterful Work by Mastersingers of Wilmington

By Guest Blogger, Barb Bullock
Barb is the Director of Development and Communications for Wilmington Renaissance Corporation. Barb has worked for a variety of arts organizations (Kennett Symphony Orchestra, Grand Opera House, OperaDelaware  and Delaware Theatre Company) and was the Executive Director of First Night Wilmington, a family celebration of the arts held on New Year’s Eve.

On Sunday, December 16, the Mastersingers of Wilmington – under the superb direction of Market Street Music's Artistic Director David Schelat – presented their exquisite annual holiday concert, The Wonder of Christmas with guest organist, Marvin Mills.  Warm holiday cheer and spirit filled the beautiful First and Central Church, as the remarkable musicians of Mastersingers presented four centuries of Christmas music – a wonderful mix of classical pieces and favorite carols to an enthusiastic audience of nearly 400 listeners.  This packed house is one of the largest audiences the Mastersingers have experienced at a performance.
The program's highlights included Surge, Illuminare by Mastersingers conductor, David Schelat; Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow arranged by Marvin Mills; Ríu, Ríu, Chíu, Ave Maria and the beautiful Quem Pastores Laudavere by New York City composer, James Bassi.
The Mastersingers of Wilmington is a 28-voice choral ensemble of the finest professional and amateur singers in the region. Highly regarded for its choral sound and impeccable singing, the group explores classics of choral repertoire, new music and world music in its riveting!
Up next for the Mastersingers: Rich Increase: Shakespeare to Spirituals, Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 7:30pm at First and Central.