Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Unveiling Augusta – ART on the River in Milford

Milford is filled with amazing arts and culture opportunities, with more populating this lovely town each year. Here’s one more to enjoy. The Art on the River Tour (ART) Project will unveil six sculptures on Sunday, June 9, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Joan and Sudler Lofland's Vinyard Ship Building Site, 6 Columbia Street in Milford.

The featured sculptures are Phase 1 of the public art project which features 4-foot sculptures of the classic yacht Augusta built by the Vinyard Ship Building Yard in 1927. The sculptures will be displayed permanently along the Mispillion River and throughout downtown Milford over the next 3 years. A total of 18 sculptures (6 per year) is the goal of the project’s organizers.

The artists were commissioned to create based on the theme "River Town. Art Town. Home Town". Five of the six boats were created by Anne Jenkins, David Rule and Cathy Walls, and one was decorated with mosaic tile by Scott & Gail Angelucci — all Milford professional artists — with assistance by Milford High School students Ann McGehrin, Evelyn Orta, Carlo Rodriguez and Kim McKinney.

The unveiling will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception, and the original, fully renovated Augusta will be at the dock for tours. Tickets are $10 adult, $5 children under 13 at a maximum of $25 per family. Tickets are limited and are available at the DMI office, 115B North Walnut Street, Milford. 

For more info, contact Lee Nelson at 302.839.1190, e-mail Director@DowntownMilford.org or visit the Downtown Milford website.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Visit with Brazilian Composer, Sergio Roberto de Oliveira

Composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira

On Sunday, May 19, Wilmington ensemble Mélomanie joins Philadelphia jazz duo Minas in a collaborative concert exploring the diverse landscape of Brazilian music, from classical to pop to jazz, with compositions by Orlando Haddad of Minas and Brazilian composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira, who has traveled from Rio to be here for the performance. Delaware Arts Info visited with Sergio this week to talk about the performance and his works.

You wrote the piece, Incelença de Domingos, in homage to beloved Brazilian popular musician, Dominguinhos. Why did you choose to honor him in this music?
Dominguinhos is revered as one of the great musicians of Brazil.  He hails from the interior of northeast Brazil; he became a very sophisticated musician, yet makes very traditionally simple yet broadly appealing songs. Sadly, he has been in gravely ill for some time.  I think it's important to honor him and his accomplishments; I have such great admiration and respect for him, although I have never met him in person.

My piece is reminiscent of music that is traditionally sung at a viewing or a funeral, asking God to send angels to guide the soul to its proper place, wherever that may be. I intended the piece as a request for God to release Dominguinhos from his pain and guide him on his journey, to be either with the angels or among us again.

Did your writing process for this piece differ because it brings together two very different ensembles? How did you approach writing with that in mind?
Yes, this was a very different process, although I've written arrangements many times for popular music. The writing process for a popular piece is very different from a classical piece.

For this work, I was thinking about how all the musicians could feel comfortable with the material. Artists of different genres often process things in different ways. For example, classically trained musicians can understand the music straight from the text; popular musicians need to feel the music they are playing.

This piece, it's really simply "a song" but with classically written elements. And, each ensemble brought something that the other perhaps could not.

What do you think of the collaboration between Melomanie and Minas? How does each ensemble complement the other?
Some parts of the piece were very natural for Minas, while others were very natural for Mélomanie. It's an ideal blend of Brazilian language and classic contemporary language. Each ensemble brings a musical sensibility to the performance that the other doesn't.

I believe that a good artistic collaboration comes when you have to change the way you view art.

In this concert, Mélomanie will also perform another of your compositions, Angico, which is a very personal piece for you. Tell us about that piece. This is very emotional piece for me. Angico itself is a tree on the property of my family's summer home. This place—a lifelong dream of my mother's—is my personal paradise: where I go to relax, recharge, to create and just enjoy my family. This piece is the story of the tree and house, in four movements; the Angico has a spiritual presence throughout the piece.

The First movement is about the tree itself—the first thing to appear in creation. It's about perfection in nature. The Second movement is about the construction of the house and arrival of the family (more broadly the arrival of man). It is very happy and bright. The Third movement depicts the fight against the removal of the tree in the way of modern needs. We felt there were good spirits around our home that would protect the tree and all of us. The music embodies the spirits that protected the tree. The final movement is a musical party—celebrating the tree, our family and the entire journey.

Another piece on the program is actually a Dominguinhos song, correct?
Yes. This last piece is my arrangement of a song by Dominguinhos called I Just Want a Sweetheart. This is his most well-known piece.  It was written about a person saying how longs for a sweetheart; a feeling that everyone can understand and share.

You'll also be in the studio with Mélomanie to record Angico for their next CD. How do you view the recording process as the composer? Recording is about making your work eternal; it's about having these musicians be my voice and perpetuate my feelings and ideas through the music.

You've written for Mélomanie several times over the years. What draws you to the ensemble?
It's great to write for this caliber of musicians. This idea of 'provocative pairings' I think is brilliant. It's good to think about Bach or Telemann as colleagues, and not just shadows of the past. Bach is the guy, you know, but I like [contemporary composer] Mark Hagerty as well.  Mark and I have worked together on two CDs now.  Mark thinks about music in a way no one else does. And he does so very kindly; he doesn't impose his music on listeners, but rather seduces listeners with the music. I feel we're so similar yet our music is so different.

What's next on your calendar?
In September, I'll launch a CD of my music performed by the Brazilian ensemble GNU. In the same month, I'll attend an Italian festival of jazz and Brazilian music; one concert will specifically feature my music. In November, I'll celebrate the launch of my new festival, Composers of Today, which will feature composers from Rio and all over the world. Mark Hagerty will be one of the guest composers, and this will be the opportunity to unveil our new CD.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Get Ready! Hot Breakfast! has a Full-Length Album!

With two Homey Awards for their self-produced, self-titled EP (one for the EP itself and one for lead singer Jill Knapp), the first full-length album from Hot Breakfast!, 39 Summers, is highly anticipated, and has a lot of expectations to meet. The album, which officially drops on Saturday May 18 with a release party concert at World Cafe Live at the Queen (featuring special guests The Honey Badgers and The Joe Trainor Trio), continues their "Acoustic Dork-Rock Power Duo" tradition, with help from producer Ritchie Rubini and engineer Ray Gagliardino. The result is clean, tight, and catchy, with a superfun mix of song types.

If you're tempted to write Hot Breakfast! off as a novelty act (not that there's anything wrong with that), don't. Knapp, who also plays percussion, and Guitarist/vocalist Matt Casarino are skilled musicians and songwriters who excel at playful upbeat songs (think "oh-oh"-laden '60s bubblegum -- the real stuff that gave birth to melodic punk rock) and stripped down acoustic story ballads. The silly songs are there, but there's a layer of cleverness and complexity that raises them above sheer novelty.

39 Summers kicks off with the title track, with a frothy pop sound that contradicts (and enhances) its beaten-down lyrics, and right away you know this isn't simple goofball rock 'n roll. There's the acoustic-folk-meets-hard rock "Defender," the self-deprecating retro-rock "I Am Not Cool," the clever "Hole in Your Pants," which sounds a bit like a Renaissance Faire folk song, but is about, well, a literal  hole in your pants. There's even some electronica in "Maybe You Saw it Too." The dozen songs weave together flawlessly, with a balance of styles and sounds, Knapp's clear, versatile vocals taking center stage throughout.

You can pick up a copy of 39 Summers at the release party (get your tickets online at http://queentickets.worldcafelive.com or call (302) 994-1400). For more information on buying the album, check out hot-breakfast.com.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Call for Artists: Wilmo Comic Con!

Wilmington's very first comiccon will hit the town in July 2013 as Underground Comic-Con! Organizers are seeking a few good artists & vendors to exhibit.  Visit the website – www.undergroundcomiccon.com – for more details and an application.  Stay tuned for more fun info as we get it!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

OperaDelaware's Transformative Macbeth in Verdi Translation

By Guest Blogger, Bradford Wason. Brad is the Founder and Director of 23rd & 5th Design Group and currently works with DMG Marketing in Greenville. He is also on the faculty of Delaware College of Art & Design, and is an ardent Wilmington Arts & Culture supporter.

To say I was a little excited for Verdi's interpretation of Macbeth – presented by OperaDelaware – would be an understatement.  I grew up on Shakespeare, and Macbeth has always been a particular favorite of mine.  It has a little bit of everything that makes for good drama: love, violence, blood, war, mystery and intrigue.  The characters are full of depth, secrets and desire, all of which translates beautifully into an opera that Giuseppe Verdi carefully crafts.  The precise execution (no pun intended) by OperaDelaware leaves you a little breathless, after listening to the likes of Courtney Ames (Lady Macbeth), Ben Wager (Banquo), Jason Wickson (Macduff) and Grant Youngblood (Macbeth).

The show opens with a child-like lullaby from the orchestra, conducted by Giovanni Reggioli, visually complemented by a rolling fog across the dramatically lit stage, and strong rock-like structures jutting from the ground. It's here that we get the first look at a series of amazing period costumes meticulously crafted fabricated by AT Jones & John Lehmeyer. They skillfully combined modern elements such as re-imagined UGG boots for Malcolm, and other ingenious illusions. These meticulous technical details should not be missed, as they only amplify the drama and passionate performances that are played out over the next four acts of Verdi's Macbeth.

The audience gets their first taste of the amazingly talented artists early in the show, with a soliloquy from Courtney Ames as Lady Macbeth. It's in this tender moment we see her sheer passion for Macbeth juxtaposed by a devious demeanor for the downfall of King Duncan, and quick succession of her husband. Ms. Ames leads the audience on the riveting journey, through summoning the power of dark aid, contriving against the King and questioning the very action and commitment of Macbeth. The scene comes to a close with a distraught Macbeth, hands dripping of Duncan's blood. (Props again go to the technical crew for pretty darn realistic stage blood. These small details sell the moment of desperation playing out before your eyes. in close, Lady Macbeth conjures the idea that water will wash away their wicked deed, and all it brings.

As Act II comes to a close, the reprise by the cast, with highlights from Mr. Wager, Mr. Youngblood and Mr. Wickson set the stage for what lies ahead after intermission. The voiceless ghost of Banquo provides an uneasy tenor for Macbeth as he reconciles his devilish deeds amongst a host of honored guests and members of his court.  At a runtime close to three hours, the show felt more like a sitcom you wanted to binge-watch for the entire day, rather than the dramatic opera it was.

Prepare to sit on the edge of your seat and clear your throat to proudly yell Bravo! during the second half. The deserving monologue by Mr. Wickson during an otherwise grievous moment was one such moment, when several audiences members vocalized their admiration for his raw talent. Before I get too ahead of myself, it's worth stopping to admire some other magnificent talent in this show, and the voices of Eric Bash (Doctor), Helen Huse Ralston (Lady in Waiting), and Toffer Mihalka (Malcolm). The second half of the opera is fraught with drama, intrigue and dark overtones with more mischief from the witches, and Macbeth's foretold future.

While revisiting the witches, Macbeth learns that after his failed attempt on Malcolm (Duncan's son), the lineage of the Kings to come will certainly be from Malcolm, although he is falsely assured that his demise will not happen from any man born from a Woman. Feeling an odd sense of security in his fragile state Macbeth falls to his ills, sending Lady Macbeth into a fit and dark downward spiral.  Director Cynthia Du Pont Tobias should be applauded during this particular scene, as a series of future kings is marched, one-by-one, slowly across the stage in front of a speechless Macbeth. This dramatic moment defines the devilish actions of the first half, with a glimmer of hope for Scotland that lies with Malcolm and Macduff.

The production would not have been the thunderous success it was were it not for the craftsmanship of Set Designer Peter Tupitiza, Lighting Director Donald Thomas, Stage Manager Emily Butzi, and Technical Director and Set Carpenter Robert Parker. At the close of Macbeth, the stage is transformed with magnificent light and colors, emanating a sense of hope and conviction of justice after Macduff and Malcolm send Macbeth to his grave. Overall this production exceeded my expectations, with its combination of vocal talent, soothing dramatic overtones provided by the orchestra and carefully crafted technical details.

Fear not if you don't understand Italian, or this is your first foray into opera, the show is super-titled by two monitors that flank the stage. And if it is your first opera, Verdi's Macbeth is the perfect show to welcome you to this beautifully crafted medium. OperaDelaware should be commended for their great success and execution of this classic production. 

If you go: Friday, May 10 & Saturday, May 11 at 7:30pm, The Grand Opera House, 818 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. For tickets, call the Grand Box Office at 302.652.5577 or purchase online: www.thegrandwilmington.org. Parking is available for free Friday after 6:00pm and all day Saturday on the street; the city-run flat lot on 8th & Orange is open and free after 8:00pm on weeknights and all weekend long. Tickets are $28, $47 and $74, though in the Grand, there really are no bad seats.