Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Couple of Ladies Visit "The Odd Couple"

By Guest Bloggers Dottie Verne — lifelong Ardentown resident and artist and Kathleen Ford — Wilmingtonian recently returned home, former Wilmington Arts Commission Administrator and Art lover.

Once again, the New Candlelight Theatre (NCT) was a delight. On June 20, we trekked over to the woods of Arden for NCT’s production of The Odd Couple, which ran from 6/6-6/22. The play was presented with a clever twist from the original — the two (historically male) characters with very opposite personalities were both played by women.

Tori Healy played Olive Madison and Gerri Weagraff played Florence Unger with great humor. The actors seemed to be having fun with the fast-moving witty repartee. The show really came alive in the second act, when the two charming Spanish gentlemen arrived, hysterically played by Dan Healy and Anthony Connell.

New Candlelight Theatre certainly is a local gem!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Summing Up the 2014 Delaware Chamber Music Festival

Delaware Chamber Music Festival Quartet, L-R:
Clancy Newman, Burchard Tang, Hirono Oka, Barbara Govatos 
Alas, all things must end — as did the Delaware Chamber Music Festival today (Sunday, June 22, 2014).

The programming must be commended for variety and standards.  Barbara Govatos and friends have consistently chosen works from the past which often are seldom used — either because they are not known or because they are so wildly difficult (such as the Tchaikovsky Trio Opus 50 performed in the first concert) — or they choose women composers who never got a fair shake (e.g., Rebecca Clarke's piece in the second concert themed "The Expressive Viola").  And speaking of fair shake, when you hear such artists as Burchard Tang and Che-Hung Chen play the viola up close and personal, it shows the audience that the viola deserves a role as solo instrument.

The incredible ability of Marcantonio Barone and the joy with which he and Charles Abramovic tore through excerpts of the Brahms Hungarian Dances for piano, four hands; the energy and excitement of Benito Meza's clarinet giving new impetus to Louise Farrenc (a woman composer who DID get a fair shake, but was later relegated to the attic); the introduction of new works by Clancy Newman and Kenji Bunch.  All are enough to make this series an experiment in innovative programming for some of the best musicians in the region.  How lucky we are, too, that The Music School of Delaware is such an acoustically inviting venue, convenient to Wilmington and Philadelphia as well as points south.

The first concert in the Festival (Friday, June 13) featured a chestnut — Beethoven's Piano Trio in E-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1 — played with daring and flawless passion by Govatos, Clancy Newman and Marcantonio Barone.  The introduction of a piece so hard it is rarely performed — Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, Opus 50 — was a distinctive treat.

The second concert (Sunday, June 15) let the viola shine with a stellar performance of Rebecca Clarke's Sonata for viola and piano.  It also included the Lament for two violas in c minor by Frank Bridge and the Brahms' String quintet in G major, Opus 111.  This concert let us hear more of Burchard Tang's fine viola playing as well as that of Che-Hung Chen.

The third concert (Friday, June 20) was entitled Fresh Ink! as it featured the US Premiere of Clancy Newman's Collision Course for piano, clarinet and cello (2013).  Guest clarinet player Benito Meza not only put his fresh energy to work on the new piece by Newman, but also breathed new life into the Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in E-flat major, Opus 44 by Louise Farrenc.  The performance of the 2002 Broken Music for cello and piano by Kenji Bunch was also a new experience, with Bartok fretboard slapping on the cello by Newman and damping of hammers by Marcantonio Barone.  But the boyish vigor with which Charles Abramovic and Barone gleefully played the excerpts of Brahms' 21 Hungarian Dances for piano, four hands, was the freshest 'ink' of the evening.

The final concert (Sunday, June 22) was all string quartets, performed by the Festival Quartet themselves.  They coordinate so well to communicate Franz Josef Haydn's jokes, Dvorak's passion and Schubert's complex and often operatic sounding works.  Each has a special gift that is hard to describe.  Hirono Oka, so shy and quiet in person, pushes her violin bow to create a round, secure, sometimes aggressive sound.  Burchard Tang had some very high and exciting lines, sometimes in duet with the violin and sometimes with the cello.  Clancy Newman had cello notes which soared high in the range with ease and his smooth sound belied his ability to rock out for Broken Music and his own Collision Course.  DCMF Music Director Barbara Govatos, who manages everything from reception cookies to recognizing her music students from decades past, puts all those thoughts down when she bows her head to decide on her tempo and expression before each movement of the grand Schubert quartet.

How sad that we have to wait one more year to hear more!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Music 'Collides' in This Year's Chamber Music Festival

Composer & Cellist, Clancy Newman
By Guest Blogger, Chuck Holdeman

Chuck is a regional composer of lyrical, contemporary classical music, including opera, orchestral music, songs, chamber music, and music for film.

Friday evening (June 20, 2014) witnessed the American Premiere of Clancy Newman's Collision Course as part of the third program of the annual Delaware Chamber Music Festival, held at The Music School of Delaware in Wilmington. Collision is in one movement, scored for clarinet, piano, and with Newman playing the 'cello. It is a very listenable work with considerable expressive range, and the audience loved it — their applause accented by enthusiastic bravos. The intense young virtuoso clarinetist was Columbian Benito Meza, and the perpetually masterful Philadelphia pianist was Marcantonio Barone, who also read Newman's poem about the piece, a dramatic and appealing scenario about three musicians on separate ships approaching and then separating.

Newman sometimes performs in Australia, where he received the commission to write his new trio. On the long flight home over the ocean, he had the vision which provided the form for his trio. It reminded me of Charles Ives, the American original and composer of enduring music, who loved it when his bandmaster father arranged for three marching bands playing different music to converge. Some call it cacophony, but Ives made it work and composed much music with several seemingly disparate things happening at once. Newman's approach was a bit different, in that when the three musics do finally converge, the three voices gradually start playing together in a boisterous and celebratory unity. One of my favorite sections was just before the total convergence when the three kinds of music are still distinct and clashing with each other a bit as they grope toward consensus.

I know it is true that part of the fun for the audience was knowing the story in advance and then being able to follow the scenario as it played out in sound. I also felt, with the wisdom of hindsight, that I would have enjoyed hearing the piece knowing nothing about it, and then trying to figure out what was going on. In that case, when the three instrumental styles/ships separate after the collision, it would not be predictable and therefore more mysterious. I also felt that the clarinet "personality" was less defined and arresting as compared with Spain-inspired ardor of the 'cello music and the cocktail charm and finesse of the piano music.

Newman is a great performer, and as a composer he has terrific stage instincts — how to grasp and hold an audience. As we leave the era of modern classical music which seemed not to care much about the listener, I applaud this composer/performer, who so warmly embraces his audience.

There is one more remaining concert in this series: Sunday, June 22, at 3:00pm, and Newman will be there with the Festival Quartet regulars, performing music by Haydn, Dvorak, and Schubert.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Delaware Art Museum Calls for Artists!


Selected artisans will join us on Friday, December 12, 2014 from 6:00 to 10:00pm for Art is After Dark: Winter Arts Festival and Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 9:00am to 4:00pm for the Holiday House Tour to sell art, jewelry, books and other creative handmade items. There will be 20 spaces available for selected artisans at the Museum.

Please email your application form and JPEG images to Label all images as explained on the application form.  Do not send slides or photographs without prior consultation, as a non-refundable processing fee will be required.  For more information, visit

Click here to download the application form.  Deadline: June 30, 2014.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Local Authors & Artists Highlighted in Hockessin

The Hockessin Art & Book Fair is happening this Saturday, June 21, from 11:00am until 3:00pm at the Hockessin Community Recreation Center (7259 Lancaster Pike
Hockessin, DE 19707) in Hockessin.

The event is a first-time celebration Delaware's independent and self-published authors and local artists, with 62 authors and artists participating. Some authors/artists include Lee Anderson, Gene Castellano, Karen O’Lone-Hahn, JM Reinbold, Billie Travalini, Johnny Tucker Jr., Justynn Tyme, and Bob Yearick. Writers groups such as The Cape Henlopen Writers, Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime, The TransCanal Writers and The Written Remains Writers Guild will also be on hand.

“New Castle County is extremely excited to be a part of this free, public event, which will highlight local talent,” said County Executive Thomas P. Gordon. “This is a wonderful partnership to support small businesses. Come out to buy a signed book or piece of art.”

The Hockessin Art & Book Fair is collaboration between New Castle County’s Hockessin Community Recreation Center, Art Studio, and Hockessin Library; the Hockessin Book Shelf and The Written Remains Writers Guild.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Exalting Arden's Richard II

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.


I have to admit: Richard II has never been one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.  Sure, it’s got all the elements: psychological interest, pageantry and beautiful verse.  But this is also a play where even a gardener talks in rhymed couplets and uses his trade as a moral allegory for good government.  And its principal theme — the divine right of kings —is a concept few, if any, Americans can grasp.  And since we almost never get to see Richard do the deeds that so many unite to oppose, the aristocrats’ complaints appear petty and trivial—much ado about nothing, except maybe greed.

Luckily, this production by the Arden Shakespeare Gild dispels all doubts with this compelling and cogent production.

Greg Faber is simply splendid as Richard.  Physically slight and soft-spoken, Faber portrays a king so convinced of his own regalness that he has become completely devoid of compassion and removed from the needs and desires of his subjects.  He dismisses Gaunt’s death with a pert “So much for that” then seizes his lands.  He exhibits a callousness borne not of intended malice but of breeding, which makes his deposition all the more engaging.  We see him gamely trying to bear the crown’s responsibilities in the first half, but find him having much more fun when forced to relinquish it. Throughout the entire performance, Faber never loses a center — every utterance and gesture is well-conceived.

In a play with so few women, Melissa Kearney as the Queen and Linda Kimmelman as the Duchess of Gloucester make strong impressions with their limited stage time.  Kimmelman as the widowed Duchess of Gloucester delivers a fiery and impassioned condemnation.  Patti Allis Mengers strikes a fine balance between humor and horror as the Duchess of York.

The production features many noteworthy performances.  Henry Moncure III is convincing as the tormented Duke of York, a traditionalist who is loyal to the crown and deeply upset by any treason against it.  Dan Tucker is a standout condemning Richard as the dying John of Gaunt then doubling as the Richard loyalist Bishop of Carlisle.  The dispute between Bolingbroke (David Hastings) and Mowbray (Lee Jordan) is sharp and fiery, giving us insight into Bolingbroke’s political machinations. The juxtaposition of his character with Richard’s striking.

The costuming is traditional and the accompaniment by the Shepherd’s Pipes reinforces the medieval atmosphere.  This is a powerful production reveling in some of Shakespeare’s most vibrant and intellectually stimulating verse.  The strong, capable cast under the direction of Tanya Lazar engages the audience from the play’s uneasy opening to its sudden and bloody end.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Jeremiah the Bullfrog Needs A New Look

CALLING ALL ARTISTS and creative people...Frank's Union Wine Mart needs your help! Frank is looking for the next face of Jeremiah the bullfrog, Frank's longtime store mascot...(an homage to the Three Dog Night classic, Joy to the World).

Anne Riley of North Star Design has been the creator of each and every Jeremiah.
Now, Frank wants a Jeremiah created by YOU! So here's the deal:
1. Create your own interpretation of Jeremiah
2. Post it on your Facebook wall and SHARE it to the Facebook page
3. Tell your Facebook friends to LIKE your posted pic

Don't have Facebook? Really? Okay... email Frank the graphic and he'll post it for you!

$100 — The Jeremiah with the most LIKES wins a $100 FranksWine-DiBruno Bros Gift Card!
$50 — If Anne Riley chooses your creation, you win a $50 FranksWine-DiBruno Bros Gift Card!
$25 — If Frank chooses your creation, you win a $25 FranksWine-DiBruno Bros Gift Card!
Not the creative type? Forward this info to all the creative peeps in your address book!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Celebrating Summer Love & Music with The Rainbow Chorale

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.

The winter gear is packed away. The sun is shining. And the beach is just a drive away. Summer is a-comin’ in, and The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware welcomed the season on June 30 at the Arden Gild Hall with a program that swept away any lingering memories of the winter we thought would never end.

There was something for everyone in this concert — and that’s before mentioning the raffle, the food and the goodies for sale. What better way to start the program than with a medley of summer anthems from the Beach Boys. The ensemble had Fun, Fun, Fun with In My Room and California Girls (or Guys, depending).  Delaware Baby Boomers probably recalled the first time they heard those tunes played on the radio station of their youth: 1380 WAMS.

Fans of Disney’s Oscar-winning animated film Frozen got treated to a performance of In Summer, as “Olaf” merrily danced along, eagerly anticipating summer but blissfully ignorant as to what the heat had in store for him.

Denise Conner, Evan M. Malin, Chris Phelan and Barbara Williams extolled the powers of strychnine and cyanide, ably demonstrating the black humor in Tom Lehrer’s Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

The imagery in the Tepper-Bennett penned Summer Sounds was rendered all the more nostalgic by the a capella quartet of Tony Adubato, Michael A. Bareham, Anthony M. Condoluci and Michael Hovendick. Their voices were smooth and melodic, and blended remarkably well.

The mood got a bit more serious when sopranos Anne Shuman Urban and Cynthia E. Robinson stepped into the spotlight for their solos. Shuman Urban applied her crystalline voice and expansive range to Gershwin’s Summertime, while Robinson delivered a powerful interpretation of Summer Me, Winter Me.

The ‘60s were again represented with selections like Under the Boardwalk, Those Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer and Dancing in the Street. And what summer concert would be complete without a performance of Alan Sherman’s classic, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh? This one did not disappoint!

Yanaka Bernal assumed the role of the jilted lover in her rendition of Runaround Sue. Her loyal and faithful friends offered support and backup vocals, until “Sue” in the person of Robinson strutted by taking one as conquest.

The Great American Songbook got its due with a performance of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. Spirited performances of Summer Nights from the legendary Grease soundtrack and the B-52's Love Shack rounded out the program. Collaborative pianist Andre Vermeulen capably handled accompanist duties and revealed talents on the accordion as well.

The Chorale’s volunteer coordinator, Josh Yoder, served as “lifeguard/emcee,” sauntering onstage between selections, bantering with the audience and reading with utmost expression water-safety tips from the American Red Cross and The Onion—while never passing up the opportunity to supply a well-placed double entendre or observation.