Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Governor and First Lady Markell Perform "Love Letters" for DTC Fundraiser

It's not every day that you get to see your governor and first lady perform on stage, and even rarer for such an event to be a dramatic piece, and not a political skit. And that's exactly why Carla Markell's idea to stage a reading of the two-person play Love Letters with her husband, Delaware's Governor Jack Markell, was such a great fundraising idea. Who wouldn't want to see that? The 80-minute reading of 50 years of letters between the fictional Melissa and Andrew was mesmerizing -- the novelty wore off quickly, and the characters came to life. The fundraiser included performance samplings from the Totally Awesome Players, Barbara Willhide of the Ingelside Retirement Community Playwriting Residency, and Dan Jones of the Delaware Young Playwrights Festival.

This was a special one-night event, but Love Letters will be returning to the Delaware Theatre Company next fall, starring Michael Learned and Ralph Waite (best known as Olivia and John Walton of TV's "The Waltons"). For more information on upcoming shows, programs, and events, see delawaretheatre.org.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Wilmington Community Orchestra opens season with Mozart and Stravinsky

The Wilmington Community Orchestra has grown so much that they could hardly fit anyone else on the stage at the Music School of Delaware, but that growth is due to the patience, enthusiasm and energy of Dr. Timothy Schwarz, who has been conducting the orchestra since 2007. 

The first program of their 2013-2014 season began with Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major, K417 played by Music School of Delaware faculty member Dr. Anna Skrupky.  Dr. Skrupky, whose inspiration to study music started in her public school music classes, played entirely from memory.  She is young and quite petite, but her sound on the horn is robust and lively.  The orchestra was able to lower their dynamic level easily and smoothly for the horn solos and the ripieno parts where the orchestral horns joined in were also quiet and controlled – but when full orchestra was called for, they also had a strong and well-intoned response.

 After the spritely Mozart came the tough nugget of the concert version of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, a ballet which is based on a traditional Lenten character of Petrouchka,  the puppet who is made of straw, but comes to life.  Petrouchka falls in love with a beautiful ballerina puppet and contends with the Moor puppet for her affection.  An evil charlatan spices up the mix and this gives Stravinsky license to compose all sorts of musical scenarios like wild spring fairs, contrasting rhythms and harmonies and dueling clarinets, trumpets, contrasting chords and other musical innovations which the orchestra played with gusto – quite a feat for an amateur orchestra. 

 Having guests Mark Livshits, a doctoral candidate from Temple University on the piano and Elizabeth Morgan-Ellis, a Temple graduate, on the harp provided great musical anchoring for the performance which brought the Wilmington Community Orchestra to a new level of achievement. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

News from the Delaware Division of the Arts

Information reposted courtesy of The Delaware Division of the Arts Arts E-News Email.
New Deputy Director at Division of the Arts
The Division of the Arts is pleased to announce the appointment of Kristin Pleasanton as the new Deputy Director of the Division of the Arts, replacing Susan Salkin who retired at the end of October.

DelawareScene.com: 5 Years of Promoting Delaware Arts
The Division’s website of arts and cultural events launched in October 2008. The site provides search options by date, discipline, location, and key word for events happening state-wide. Sign up to receive the Scene Stealers e-newsletter published every other week featuring highlights happening over a two-week period.

Updated DDOA Artist Roster Now Available
We invite Delaware performing, visual, literary and media artists to join the artist roster by visiting http://www.delaware.gov/artistroster/ and applying to this free marketing tool. Artists can add their biographies, resumes, artist statements, documents, and links to YouTube videos, articles, social media, and websites.

State of Delaware Employee Art Exhibition
DDOA is working with The National Arts Program to exhibit the artwork of State of Delaware employees and their families. This year the exhibition will be held at the Arts Center/Gallery at Delaware State University in Dover from February 24-March 15, 2014.

Sussex Arts Organizations: Dogfish Head Offers Awards
Dogfish Head’s Beer & Benevolence program is accepting entries from nonprofits in each of three categories – art, community, and the environment.Organizations must be nonprofits based in Sussex County, and provide an executive summary along with a one-minute video. Entries are due by November 15, 2013. For details and how to apply, read more at Dogfish.

Tourism Office’s Video Contest: Great Way to Showcase Delaware Arts!
Amateur and professional videographers alike are invited to enter the Delaware Tourism Office’s inaugural Video Contest, a competition to highlight Delaware’s appeal. Entries accepted  through December 31, 2013. For more information, go to www.visitdelaware.com/videocontest.

NEA Funding Opportunities Available
Our Town Grant Program
Organizations may apply for creative placemaking projects that contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core. Matching grants range from $25,000-$200,000.
Deadline: January 13, 2014
Notification: July 2014
Earliest Start Date: September 1, 2014

See more at: http://arts.gov/grants/organizations-apply#sthash.8179exld.dpuf

The Big Read, 2014-2015
The Big Read is accepting applications from non-profit organizations to develop community-wide reading programs between September 2014 and June 2015. Organizations interested in applying should visit The Big Read website for guidelines and application instructions.
Application procedure: Submit applications electronically via eGrant
Application deadline: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. (CST)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Delaware Symphony Chamber Series

The Saint Paul’s Suite is a joyous collage of folk tunes which Gustav Holst wrote to express his gratitude for a soundproof studio provided by his employers at Saint Paul’s Girls School. The string chamber ensemble of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) made it a glorious celebration of sound — from the dancing Jig to the exciting dance of the second violins in the Ostinato, the popping pizzicato of the Intermezzo and impressive first violin solos by Erika Miller to the resounding echoes of Greensleeves against the Dargason in the Finale. A great piece in the hands of great musicians is a treat.

Jeffrey O’Donnell was in top form playing the Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto in A minor for oboe and strings.  Although I heard many recordings in preparing for this review, I felt Mr. O’Donnell produced the most rounded tone, smoother than any of the recordings I found. Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote the piece for oboe virtuoso Leon Goosens and left little space for the oboe to rest.  Mr. O’Donnell seemed to have no trouble with the demanding part and even made his sound have a punchier and more reedy character for the Minuet and Musette, calling to mind a bagpipe. The seventeen-member chamber orchestra was perfect for the balance, the room and the piece. The ensemble and soloist had plenty of energy and power left for the effervescent Finale.

The Serenade in E Major for string orchestra, op. 22 by Antonin Dvorak was yet another style of composing with folk inspiration. The composition is a wonderful canvas on which to illustrate the great strings of the DSO. The audience could experience the fine bass playing by Daniel McDougall and Arthur Marks and get the full thrust of the viola section as rarely heard so clearly in full orchestra. The high notes of the three celli alternating with the violins seemed effortless. The flexible response to Maestro Amado’s ritardandi in the Scherzo and the sheer joy of the performance convinced me that the donations by those who would save the DSO have been well worth the investment — and the large audience indicates the investment will benefit us all.

See delawaresymphony.org.