Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Brandywine Baroque Season Opens with a Virtuous Performance


By Christine Facciolo

If Brandywine Baroque’s impressive inaugural concert of the new season is any indication, we can look forward to a year of eclectic and interesting programs.

This past weekend’s series, called The Triumph of Virtue, was held Friday and Sunday, October 12 and 14 at The Barn at Flintwoods and Saturday, October 13 at The Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Rehoboth Beach. The concerts featured instrumental and vocal works by a range of composers (including several obscure ones) from England, France and Germany.



The ensemble consisted of soprano Laura Heimes, violinist Martin Davids, gambists John Mark Rosendaal and Donna Fournier, and violone player Heather Miller. Karen Flint, founder and artistic director of Brandywine Baroque, played continuo on a 1635 Ruckers harpsichord from the Flint Collection.

The afternoon opened with an excellent rendering by Davids and Rosendaal of the thematically rich and technically demanding first violin sonata by Joseph Gibbs (1698-1788). Published in 1748, the sonata is one of eight exhibiting the Italian influence of Corelli and Geminiani. Especially charming were the expressive Largo, Aria Andante and a series of Variations of real interest, excitement and beauty.

Next up was Vitali’s Partita sopra diverse sonata (c. 1680), featuring Heather Miller playing the violone. It was a rare treat to hear the virtuosic capabilities of this deep-throated instrument in this rarely heard four-movement work.

The prolific Dietrich Buxtehude was represented by two works from his set of six sonatas. The Sonata in A minor (?1694) — a true ostinato sonata — brought Davids, Fournier and Rosendaal together for a vigorous performance that demonstrated their technical mastery, playing concerted solo passages alternating with segments in which they exchanged parts.

Likewise, the Sonata in D major (?1694) featuring Miller and Rosendaal exhibited the same daringly expressive harmonies, masterful fugal technique and virtuosity in the solo movement.

The violone made yet another appearance in the Sonate a 2 in G minor (1610) by Giovanni Paolo Cima, a composer better known for his religious compositions.

The Quatrieme Sonate in E minor (1713) by Jean-Fery Rebel featured some exciting music in the best French baroque style. Davids played every line with affected commitment while his collaborators — gambists Fournier and Rosendaal and harpsichordist Flint — enriched the texture and expressiveness of the music.

The concert also introduced attendees to the secular side of English composer William Croft. Known primarily as a composer of church music, Croft also wrote a set of six sonatas for violin which do not get performed or recorded nearly enough, even though they are in fact some of the earliest examples of English sonatas for the instrument.

Davids’ account of the G minor sonata was thoroughly accomplished in terms of dramatic phrasing and rhythmic vitality. Harpsichordist Flint emerged equally strong, reveling in the sonata’s unusually elaborate bass parts and accompanying with insight and style.

Continuing this nicely varied afternoon of music were three cantatas exquisitely performed by soprano Laura Heimes: John Stanley’s Compell’d by sultry Phoebus’ Heat (1742); Rameau’s L’Impatience (c. 1715-22); and Bousset’s Le Triomphe de la vertu (1735). The ever-dependable Heimes delivered them with persuasion and commitment in a wonderful reading. As always, she was remarkably adept at the style, offering a lithe and bouncing artistry that really brought the music to life. 

Major Acquisition & Installation in Art Museum's Copeland Sculpture Garden

Artist Chakaia Booker's sculpture, One Way.
The content of this post comes from a Delaware Art Museum press release...

At the Juried Craft Exhibition Members Preview on Friday, October 19, 2018, the Delaware Art Museum will celebrate its most recent large-scale sculpture acquisition in the Copeland Sculpture Garden — Chakaia Booker's One Way (2008). Made of recycled tires and stainless steel, the work of art was recently part of Booker's solo exhibition in Chicago's Boeing Galleries at Millennium Park.

Chakaia Booker is best known for her sculptures made of discarded materials which are most often recycled tires.  Her work explores race, globalization, feminism, and ecology. Booker received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Rutgers University, her master of fine arts degree from City College of New York, and has been included in countless group exhibitions beginning with the Whitney Biennial in 2000.

Her work is in the public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Storm King Art Center, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2012, the National Museum of Women in the Arts installed four of her large-scale sculptures along New York Avenue adjacent to the museum, and in 2014, Towson University presented a survey of recent sculpture. That solo exhibition travelled to the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University in 2015. A large-scale wall sculpture by the artist is also featured in the Heritage Hall of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

The Delaware Art Museum is committed to acquiring works of art by women and historically underrepresented minorities. Chakaia Booker is the first African-American artist to be represented in the Museum's Copeland Sculpture Garden.

The artist explains that One Way conveys her concerns about diversity, mobility, and hope. The sculpture's interconnecting circles are meant to resemble movement and perceptual cycles. This significant addition further supports the Museum's ability to showcase the diversity in process, materials, and interests occupying contemporary art today.


Chakaia Booker installs her work at the Delaware Art Museum.
About Chakaia Booker
Chakaia Booker received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Rutgers University, her master of fine arts degree from City College of New York, and has been included in countless group exhibitions beginning with the Whitney Biennial in 2000. In 2012, the National Museum of Women in the Arts installed four of her large-scale sculptures along New York Avenue adjacent to the museum, and in 2014, Towson University presented a survey of recent sculpture. That solo exhibition travelled to the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University in 2015.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mélomanie Opens Season with New Venue, New Music

By Christine Facciolo

Mélomanie welcomed a new season on Sunday, October 7, with a new venue, a new cellist and a couple of eclectic works new to Delaware audiences.

The award-winning ensemble, known for its provocative pairings of early and contemporary works, has established a relationship with the Delaware Historical Society, which will host its Wilmington performances at Old Town Hall adjacent to the organization’s museum on North Market Street in downtown Wilmington.

Mélomanie also welcomed the addition of Ismar Gomes, award-winning cellist who has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.

The ensemble performs Christopher Cook's piece, Hubble's Eye. Photo by Tim Bayard.
The season-opening concert also served to introduce first-time audience members to the ensemble’s repertoire as well as the individual talents of its musicians as each performed a solo work showcasing his or her capabilities.

The entire ensemble opened the program with a technically accomplished and courtly rendering of Couperin’s La Sultane, one of the composer’s most colorful instrumental works.

Two members of the ensemble chose to perform works by contemporary composers writing in the “old style.” Violinist Christof Richter captured the fragile delicacy of Alfred Schnittke’s Pantomime, a piece that despite its charming melody features bare, exposed rhythms, striking pizzicati and searing dissonance.

Gomes offered some very impressive playing in works by Benjamin Britten and Luciano Berio. Berio’s Les mots sont alles for solo cello uses as its foundation Britten’s Tema Sacher, a musical rendering of Swiss conductor Paul Sacher’s last name. Gomes’ handling of this complex miniature masterpiece was riveting.

Gomes joined with gambist Donna Fournier for a performance of Jean Daniel Braun’s Sonata Sesta in D major for two bass instruments. It’s not often that two such instruments get paired in a composition, so this was a rare treat indeed. Their beautiful burnished tones produced goosebumps, especially in the slower movements.

Fournier gave a splendid performance of Telemann’s intimate but technically difficult Fantasia in G minor, one of 12 works discovered in 2015.

Harpsichordist and Mélomanie co-artistic director Tracy Richardson gave a spot-on reading of Jacques Duphly’s finely wrought and thoroughly enjoyable Courante (from Book 1) for solo harpsichord.

Flutist Kimberly Reighley (also co-artistic director) offered one of the most interesting pieces of the afternoon. Le Vent a Travers Les Ruines by Yuko Uebayashi. Reighley’s pristine tone and perfect intonation underscored the placid, non-judgmental character of the work, the later stages of which explore the instrument’s lower register as it moves to bring this intriguing work to an understated conclusion.

The ensemble (sans cello) regrouped for the Delaware Premiere of Christopher Cook’s ethereal Hubble’s Eye, a multimedia musical interpretation of the jaw-dropping images taken by the Hubble space telescope.

While one might be tempted to draw comparisons with Holst’s The Planets, Cook has undoubtedly imbued this seven-movement work with his own voice. Saturn is mysterious yet delicate. Mars is definitely a strong character with decisive rhythms and emphatic chords but hardly bellicose. The work exhibits some programmatic elements as well: the harpsichord “climbs and descends” the Mystic Mountain of the Carina Nebula, while the Supernova Bubble is buoyant and whimsical.

The trio of Reighley, Richter and Richardson concluded the event with another Delaware Premiere, Café au Triolet by Cynthia Folio. Folio, a Temple University music professor, wrote the work for Ensemble Triolet, which premiered it in 2016 at the National Flute Association Convention.

The first movement (Caramel Macchiato) takes the instruments out of their comfort zones to explore the full range of their capabilities. Special attention is given to the harpsichord, which Folio says she got to know up close and personal in the harpsichord room at Temple’s Boyer School of Music. The second movement (Café do Brazil) is a lively fugue spiced with Brazilian rhythms and harmonies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Renowned Local Artist Honored With Ceremonial Street Renaming

The content of this post comes from a City Of Wilmington press release...

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki was joined Tuesday, October 9, by City Council Members Samuel Guy, Zanthia Oliver and Rysheema Dixon, as well as family and community members to ceremonially rename a street in honor of the late Wilmington-born artist Edward L. Loper, Sr. On hand for the street sub-naming ceremony, held in the 1200 block of North Heald Street where Loper was raised, were Loper’s son, Edward L. Loper Jr., and two grandchildren – Jamie Loper and Steve Washington. Mayor Purzycki signed an Executive Order renaming the block on Wilmington’s East Side as “Edward Loper Way.” 
Jamie Loper, Council Member Samuel Guy, Edward L. Loper Jr., Steve Washington,
Mayor 
Purzycki, Council Member Zanthia Oliver and Council Member Rysheema Dixon. 


Restating his words as expressed in the Executive Order, Mayor Purzycki said today that Edward Loper, who gained national acclaim and received numerous awards and accolades throughout his life, gave back to the community by teaching for over sixty years, helping countless aspiring artists to “see color.”

“Wilmington is pleased to honor individuals such as Edward Loper who have significantly and positively affected our City’s history and culture through their exemplary accomplishments,” said the Mayor. “Mr. Loper, a self-taught artist who went on to become a nationally recognized painter and teacher, deserves this honor for his many contributions to the quality of life of our community.”

Born in 1916 in Wilmington, Edward L. Loper, Sr. grew up on North Heald Street on the city’s East Side. Inspired by fellow Delaware artists Andrew Wyeth and Howard Pyle, Mr. Loper taught himself to paint. In 1937, he became the first African-American to enter the Annual Delaware Exhibition at the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts, where he won an honorable mention award and, a year later, won the first prize.

In 1945, Mr. Loper gained national acclaim when his works were included in the historic exhibition “The Negro Artist Comes of Age” at the Albany Institute of History and Art. Mr. Loper became a nationally recognized artist whose paintings are displayed in numerous distinguished museums and are celebrated for their vibrant use of color. He also received many accolades and awards throughout his life, including an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters, and the Governor’s Award for the Arts.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Musical "Thank You" from Music School's All-Star Orchestra

By Christine Facciolo
Select member of The Music School of Delaware faculty with a little help from Rossini, Bach and Mozart, opened the school’s 2018-19 season on Wednesday, October 3, with a concert thanking donors and fans for their support.

The Music School's string chamber orchestra featured faculty and guest artists.
This short but very sweet program opened with Rossini’s String Sonata No. 3 in C major. Rossini wrote the six string sonatas at the age of 12, in the space of three days in 1804 at the home of a wealthy grain merchant. Years later, the composer confessed he didn’t think they would have amounted to anything but wrapping for salami when in fact they had already proven to be perennially popular.

Granted these sunny compositions are the “light music” of their time, but there’s no mistaking the talent that produced them. Like its siblings, this is a delightful work played here by a group that clearly enjoyed it. Brief solo passages were ably executed by violinists Amos Fayette, Lingchin Liao, cellist Jennifer Stomberg and guest bassist Arthur Marks.

J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C minor delivered a more serious tone. Though the original manuscript to this concerto was lost, a reconstruction was possible because in 1736 Bach had arranged it as the Concerto for Two Harpsichords and Orchestra (BWV 1060), a work whose score had survived and served as a model for the original.

Soloists Christof Richter (violin) and Meredith Hite Estevez (oboe) captured the rhythmic vibrancy and catchy themes of the first movement and by contrast, the dreamy serenity of the Adagio second movement. The sense of energetic playfulness returned for the finale, as the soloists engage in essential contrapuntal commentary and other colorful writing.

Mozart’s perennially popular Eine Kleine Nachtmusic provided a pleasant post-intermission palette-cleanser to the Bach. The superbly disciplined ensemble served up as fine a performance as one could wish for with a mixture of legato, springing exuberance and elegant phrasing that produced a most delightful result.

The concert ended the way it opened, with a Rossini string sonata 
 this time, No. 2 in A major. It, too, exhibited the lightness and humor that would be evident in much of the composer’s mature work as well as his distinct gift for melody. There was something a bit more earnest and serious about No. 2 but still eminently enjoyable and beautifully played.

See www.musicschoolofdelaware.org. 

DSO Opens Season with Tribute to Leonard Bernstein

By Christine Facciolo

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) wowed a near-capacity audience at The Grand on Friday, September 28 as it opened its 2018-19 season with a quintessential American program.

The concert, titled “The American Dream: A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein,” celebrated the composer’s centenary as it honored contemporary composer Robert Paterson, this year’s recipient of the Alfred I. du Pont Composer’s Award.

The concert opened with Paterson’s Dark Mountains. Prior to the concert, the composer offered some thoughts about his compositional processes and attitudes. He told the audience that he was not a “lab coat” composer who wrote not for his colleagues but for the concert-going public. Moreover, he added that no special knowledge is needed to enjoy classical music and that no one is obligated to like a piece of music because it’s “classical” or otherwise.

Commissioned by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Dark Mountains takes inspiration from the terrain and the shifting atmospheres it creates in the state. The work unfolds in three connected but contrasting sections. The first and third sections depict placid scenes with plenty of lyrical and expansive passages replete with sounds of chirping birds and crickets. The middle section recalls a drive through the twisting roads of the mountains under a darkening sky. Jagged rhythms with shifting meters and slashing dissonances make for a most intriguing and eclectic work.

By contrast, Aaron Copland’s perennially popular Appalachian Spring is characterized by an optimistic sound that evokes a boundless but tempered optimism. Appalachian Spring recounts in musical terms the struggle and joy of those in the American Christian “Shaker” movement of the mid-19th Century who created a new life in the wilderness. In eight short moments, Copland takes us on a challenging musical journey. The tempi alter dramatically, making it challenging not only for the musicians but for the conductor, both of whom poured everything they had into their performance of this complex work.

Like Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance derives from a ballet Samuel Barber wrote for Martha Graham. But whereas the Copland work is placid and idyllic, Barber’s Medea is unsettling and deranged.

The tone poem extracted from the music progresses from a bleak inward concentration to the murderous Medea’s climactic final frenzy. Under Amado’s exacting direction, the orchestra handled the complex cross-rhythms with crackling virtuosity, rising inexorably to the bravura coda depicting Media’s unbridled fury.

The highlight in a program full of highlights was guest violinist Jennifer Koh’s brilliant outing in Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium). The celebrated Serenade is a work for solo violin and orchestra inspired by Plato’s dialogues about the nature and purpose of love. Each of the work’s five movements features a philosopher’s views on the subject as well as commentary on the others’ views.

Amado and the DSO made much of the work’s contrasting moods, from the lyrical first movement to the chaotic finale with its constantly changing meters. Koh was of a similar mindset, as her brilliant and polished playing alternated from sinewy to serene while always maintaining a beautiful rich tone.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Delaware Ensemble ‘Launches' to Space for Opening Season Performance


This post content comes from a release from Melomanie...

Mélomanie — the Delaware music ensemble known for ‘provocative pairings’ of baroque and contemporary works — celebrates its 26th season with a Launch Party & Concert on Sunday, October 7, at 3:00pm in their new performance home, Old Town Hall of the Delaware Historical Society in downtown Wilmington.

The event, which leads off at 2:00pm with a wine & cheese reception and tours of the Delaware Historical Society, will feature the Delaware Premiere of two pieces — Hubble's Eye by Christopher Cook and Café au Triolet by Cynthia Folio. Hubble’s Eye will be performed with accompanying video projection of photos taken by the Hubble Deep Space Telescope.

Additional music on the program includes baroque works Sonata Sesta in D Major by Jean-Daniel Braun and La Sultane for baroque ensemble by François Couperin.

Tickets for the performance are $25; $15 students age 16 & older; youth through age 15 are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at melomanie.org or at the door via cash or credit. The Delaware Historical Society is located at 505 N. Market Street in downtown Wilmington.

This season, Mélomanie will present new music by composers Suzanne Sorkin, Richard Belcastro, Roberto Pace, Christopher Cook and Larry Nelson. From the baroque era, they will perform works of Couperin, Telemann, Abel and Rameau throughout the season. Also new this year is a special collaboration with Delaware jazz composer Jonathan Whitney and his quintet

Mélomanie was founded in 1993 by co-artistic directors and ensemble members, Kimberly Reighley and Tracy Richardson. Mélomanie has delighted audiences throughout the East Coast and internationally with their brand of musical 'provocative pairings'. Mélomanie is: Donna Fournier, viola da gamba; Ismar Gomes, cellos; Kimberly Reighley, flutes; Tracy Richardson, harpsichords; and Christof Richter, violins. Mélomanie's artists also appear as soloists and with orchestras and ensembles in the region, including the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Reading Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, OperaDelaware, Tempesta di Mare, La Bernardinia Baroque Ensemble, and Le Triomphe de l’Amour. In 2014, Mélomanie was invited to Rio de Janeiro to perform in Compositores de Hoje (Composers of Today), an international festival of contemporary music. Mélomanie has recorded works of Telemann on Lyrichord Discs and can be heard on Winterthur's benefit CD, Playing in the Garden: Musical Inspirations from the Winterthur Garden (2008). Their contemporary music CDs, Florescence (2011) and Excursions (2014) from Meyer Media, each feature five pieces written for and premiered by Mélomanie. The ensemble is currently recording their next CD project.

Christina Cultural Arts Center Hosts Grammy Nominated Duo, Local Artist Exhibit to Open Season

This post content comes from a release from Christina Cultural Arts Center...

On Friday, October 5, as a part of Art Loop Wilmington, Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) will host an artist reception for local artist Stephen Kingsberry and his exhibit, “Burden of Palestine,” from 5:00 to 8:00pm.

Kingsberry’s love for art was reinforced after visiting Palestine in 2017. Kingsberry was moved by the oppression of the Palestinian people and wanted to express the emotions that consumed him on the trip.

Visual Artist Stephen Kingsberry
presents his exhibit, "Burden of
Palestine," opening October 5 at CCAC.
“The exhibit seeks to inform people about the struggles of the Palestinians living under occupation,” Kingsberry said. “I want to express what I have witnessed through the lens of art while helping to promote peace.”

Additional exhibit pieces promote the rich beauty, heritage and traditions of Africa and its people throughout the world. A Gallery Talk will be led by Mike Abel of Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights on Friday evening at 7:00pm.

“We are excited to show Stephen’s compelling copper pieces in Christina’s Edward Loper Sr. Gallery,” said Executive Director H. Raye Jones Avery. “It’s an exhibit that will undoubtedly draw strong responses from viewers and, hopefully, stimulate conversation and action.”

Also this weekend, Christina begins its live music series on Sunday, October 7, at 3:00pm in the intimate setting of its Clifford Brown Performance Center. Opening Night of Live @ Christina features the Christina debut of two-time Grammy® nominated jazz/R&B duo, The Baylor Project — Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor. 

Jean and Marcus Baylor perform at CCAC on October 7,
opening the Live @ Christina series. Photo by Deneka Peniston.
Tickets for the performance are $25 until September 29 and $35 thereafter. They can be purchased at ccacde.org.

As the children of Pastors, Marcus and Jean Baylor's musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul and jazz to make its mark. Their debut CD "The Journey", released on their own label, Be A Light, topped the Billboard Jazz Chart at Number 8 and a year later garnered 2 Grammy® nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.

The engagement of The Baylor Project is made possible through the Jazz Touring Network program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Christina has become known for its intimate performances by acclaimed jazz and R&B artists, and Live @ Christina continues with an appearance on Friday, November 2, by five-time Grammy® nominee, pianist Christian Sands.

ABOUT CHRISTINA CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
Christina's mission is to make all genres of arts education and experiences accessible to all, but most especially low-income communities. Christina is celebrating more than 70 years of delivering impactful arts experiences and education to the community. Christina faculty provide arts learning in such diverse areas as music, dance, visual art, drama, martial arts, early childhood arts education and youth violence prevention. One of the hallmarks of Christina is its annual presentation of intimate live performances of local, regional and internationally known artists in its own Clifford Brown Performance Space. 

For more information, call 302.652.0101 or visit ccacde.org.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Music School of Delaware Honors Supporters with a Musical 'Thank You'

This post content comes from a release from The Music School of Delaware...

The Music School of Delaware welcomes a new concert season with its first Music Masters performance, Opening Night - The Magic of Music! A Thank You Concert, on Wednesday, October 3, at 7:00pm at its Wilmington Branch at 4101 Washington Street in Wilmington.

The musical event is a thank-you performance for its families, faculty and donors, with an 'all-star orchestra' of its distinguished faculty as well as guest artists from regional ensembles and orchestras. They will perform noted works by Rossini (String Sonatas #2 in A Major and #3 in C Major), J.S. Bach (Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C Minor) and Mozart (Eine Kleine Nacht Musik). Soloists on the program are violinist Christof Richter and oboist & Meredith Hite-Estevez, who are both on the faculty of the Music School.

The complete orchestra also includes Violins: Amos Fayette, Kate Ransom, Stefan Xhori, Julianne Ruiz, Lionel Thomas and Lingchin Liao; Violas: Maria Rusu, Nina Cottman, and guest Marka Stepper; Cellos: Jennifer Stomberg, Eric Coyne and Lawrence Stomberg; Bass: Arthur Marks; Harpsichord: Tracy Richardson.

Tickets for the event are only $10 or $5 for students and seniors and may be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.

The Music School boasts of busy fall of performances, both student and professional. Additional Wilmington Branch professional concerts will feature the music of the 1930s; the 50th anniversary of Woodstock; and an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Additionally, faculty recitals at both Wilmington and Milford Branches will be presented throughout the season. The Wilmington Community Orchestra, under the baton of Tiffany Lu, will perform works from Mozart to Mahler. Alumni return to share their musical stories in concert. 

And, the school continues to host its Classical Cafe sessions (complimentary coffee and donuts included) where attendees engage in lively discussion with faculty on music-related topics. The Music School also hosts and presents events from classical to rock, including Open Mic Nights, a monthly Bluegrass Jam, and jazz and rock ensemble performances.

ABOUT THE MUSIC SCHOOL OF DELAWARE
It is the mission of The Music School of Delaware to provide excellence in music education, training and experiences for people of all ages and levels of ability. Founded in 1924, The Music School of Delaware is a nonprofit organization that reaches thousands of new people from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland through its instructional programs and over 100 public performances each year. The Music School is the only nationally accredited program of its kind in Delaware and is the only statewide accredited community music school in the nation. The Music School offers standard-setting instructional programs for all ages and has a faculty of nearly 100 expert artists and educators with branch locations in Wilmington and Milford and over 20 satellite and outreach sites statewide. 

For more information, please call the Wilmington Branch at 302.762.1132, the Milford Branch at 302.422.2043 or visit the website at musicschoolofdelaware.org.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Cuckoo for Chapel Street's Latest Production

By Carol Van Zoeren

In the program’s Director’s Message, Brian Touchette states his objective is to immerse the audience in the world of the play. He begins even before the play starts by cleverly presenting the curtain speech as a letter from Nurse Ratched, welcoming the audience to participate in this “group therapy session” while also reminding us to turn off our cell phones. 

The cast of Chapel Street's Cuckoo's Nest.
Photos by Peter Kuo.
 
He furthers this with a gorgeous set that evokes a decaying industrial setting, rusty, dirty and dented, with incongruously cheery Christmas lights in the “Control Room”. He pairs Chief Bromden’s monologues with mechanical imagery and sound that augment the Chief’s terror of the destructive machines that consumed his family, his tribe and his sense of self.

Touchette more than succeeded in immersing me in the world of the play. Yes, I was fully invested, but was also especially gratified that these elements highlighted many themes of the play that I might have otherwise missed.

For those unfamiliar with the play, or the 1975 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, a brief plot synopsis: Randall P. McMurphy is committed to a psychiatric ward after “a couple of hassles down at the Work Farm and the Court ruled that I’m a psychopath.” The ward is ruled by Nurse Ratched. A war for control ensues between McMurphy and Ratched, with both tragic and uplifting results. But this plot is merely a vehicle for deep examination of how institutions can destroy, how power can corrupt, and how one can both lose and win at the same time.

OK, enough of the English 101 essay. This is a community theater review, so let’s talk about the performances.

Scott F. Mason is a talented actor with whom I have shared the stage, and I was delighted to see him play McMurphy. Mason portrayed the bravado that has carried McMurphy through every hardship, and also well conveyed moments of doubt when he realizes the power of the forces aligned against him. My only quibble with the entire production is the choice for him to use a deeply gravelly voice throughout. This was distracting, at time made his lines difficult to understand, and generally detracted from the authenticity of the character.

As Nurse Ratched, Shelli Haynes embodied the iron fist beneath the velvet glove (thinking of the cheery Christmas lights in the Control Room). Ratched’s highest priority is control and power. Haynes expertly played Ratched’s repertoire of tools  sing-songy comfort, intimidation, emotional blackmail, flat-out baiting. In the context of Touchette’s design, I realized that Ratched intentionally sacrifices her most vulnerable patient so she can goad McMurphy into an attack that will secure her victory over him. Power corrupts. Yes, it was there all the time. But without the rusty set, I might have missed that.

As Chief Bromden, Arthur D. Paul broke my heart. As mentioned above, the video and sound accompaniment helped reveal the deeper meaning of his poetic monologues. So too did his demeanor  frightened and confused, yet hopeful. In the Act II scene between Chief and McMurphy, when Chief reveals that indeed he can hear and talk, it was simply beautiful to see genuine affection develop between these two flawed men. It set us up to accept Chief’s final act of kindness, not to let his friend live as a vegetable. And, again thanks to Touchette’s overall concept, It is not lost on me that Chief escapes after shorting out the power of the machine, thereby reclaiming his own strength.

In direct contrast how Ratched beats people down to service her need for total control, McMurphy is all about building people up. It is touching that Dale Harding (Alan Harbaugh) eventually finds the courage to convince Chief to leave.  McMurphy convinces the excruciatingly fearful Billy Bibbit (Stephen Ross Ashby) to embrace life, even though this leads to both of their downfalls.

The other patients  Scanlon, Cheswick, Martini (Josh Pelikan, Frank Newton, Andre Wilkins)  are clearly delineated with their own individual quirks, but also serve collectively as a kind of Greek chorus. This was notable in group therapy scenes when the three moved and reacted in sync, and most poignant when they try to convince themselves that the lobotomized McMurphy is just a mock-up, a dummy, and the real McMurphy escaped.

This all sounds like a very depressing evening. Indeed, that was what I expected. So I was pleasantly surprised at how funny the show is. The cast expertly plays up the comedy and was rewarded with raucous outbursts of laughter from the sold-out opening night audience. Coupled with the uplifting elements in otherwise dire circumstances, Chapel Street’s Cuckoo’s Nest offers a deeply satisfying exploration of the worst, and best, of humanity.

See http://chapelstreetplayers.org

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Candlelight's "Brigadoon" Enchants and Delights


By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Candlelight Theatre opens its 50th season with Lerner & Loewe’s classic musical, Brigadoon. As the legend goes, a village called Brigadoon awakens every 100 years in the Scottish highlands and remains awoken for only one day.

Director Bob Kelly does a fine job of bringing this magical story about two current day Americans (Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas) who are exploring Scotland and happen to be visiting on the day Brigadoon comes to life. They get pulled into the mystery and romance that surround the residents within the fantasy village. 

Brigadoon is whimsical, but the story is slim…it’s the typical boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl in the end. The twist is that the boy (Tommy) has to make a decision within a day…is he willing to give up everything for the girl (his newfound love, Brigadoon citizen Fiona MacLaren). 

According to the laws of Brigadoon, a person can only move into the village if it’s for true love. Once a person comes to Brigadoon, he/she can never leave because if a resident should leave it would cause the village to disappear forever.   

However, the timeless score written by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) soars through the historic barn and into your heart. Songs include The Heather on the Hill, Almost Like Being in Love and my personal favorite, Come to Me, Bend to Me.

Kelly has assembled a magnificent cast, that do a great job using a Scottish accent. Sophie Jones is absolutely delightful as Fiona. She has a stunning voice and brings a sweetness to the character that would make a man fall in love with her within 24 hours. The man (Tommy) is played by the handsome Andy Boettcher. With his matinee idol looks and beautiful voice, it’s easy to see how Fiona would be wooed by him.

They are supported by a wonderful cast, that includes Analisa Wall as Fiona’s friend Meg Brockie and Jared Calhoun as Tommy’s friend Jeff Douglas. Both Wall and Douglas bring comedic fare to the show, especially when Meg recounts the many loves of her life to Jeff during her tongue-in-cheek number, The Love of My Life.  

The show also boasts both exuberant and passionate dance numbers by choreographer, Jody Anderson. Deirdre Treacy as Maggie mesmerizes in her solo dance to mourn the death of a Brigadoon resident who accidently dies while trying to leave the village. Her subtle and exquisite moves express the love and sadness felt by all the villagers.

Tara Bowers has created gorgeous period costumes that allow the dancers and cast to move freely on the beautiful set by scenic designer, Jeff Reim. Bowers’ tartan patterns on the wool clothing perfectly compliment Reim’s stoned outlined set with a sumptuous Scottish landscape that sits in the distance.

I say treat yourself and your family to an enchanting night at Candlelight Theater and see Brigadoon before it disappears on October 28. 

For tickets visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org or 302.475.2313. 

DTC Presents A Bruce Graham World Premiere in "Sanctions"


By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

The Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) opens its 40th season with Sanctions, a World Premiere play by Bruce Graham. This timely piece touches upon controversial topics discussed daily in the news.

Graham focuses on the darker side of college football — revealing the questionable business decisions that occur off the field and behind the scenes.  It’s a gritty inside view of the challenging choices that some people make to ensure a successful team, regardless of the cost.

Catharine K. Slusar and Edward O’Blenis in Sanctions.
Photo by Matt Urban.
Graham has written a gripping play with four layered characters challenged by ethical and moral dilemmas about gender, race, and sexual assault. The superb cast features Catharine K. Slusar, in a terrific DTC debut, as the tenured English professor Claire Torrance, who is not only a great fan of the university’s football team, but is also the players’ educational supervisor.

While Claire has recently lost her beloved father, with whom she attended football games throughout her life, and is grappling with a personal scandal in her marriage. Now, she faces a choice of what is more important  the love of the game, educating students or protecting the welfare of the student body.

Slusar gives a textured performance. She’s able to bring a vulnerability to the strong role, delivering a completely formed character. The superb supporting cast includes Susanne Collins as the naïve freshman; Abby Barton, who works for Claire’ tutoring program, but also befriends Clair; Kimberly S. Fairbanks as the stern head of Claire’s department; Tonya Mann, who is not phased by Claire’s previous accomplishments, but is concerned about her current actions and comments; and Edward O’Blenis as the university’s go-getting recruiter, Ronald Hitchens, who works closely with Clair.  

O’Blenis is quite engaging as the ruthless Ronald, who will stop at almost nothing to form a winning team. He and Graham’s interactions intensify to a point that is easily palpable.

The stirring cast is led by director (and DTC Producing Artistic Director) Bud Martin who has created a pace that never lulls but continues to reveal unexpected twists and turns. He’s able to do this with the help of the exquisite set by Dirk Durossette, which provides the scenes for Claire’s and Tonya’s offices; seats in the stands; and Claire’s living room, and the play moves seamlessly without having to move sets and reconfigure the stage.

Graham has done a fine job of capturing the senstive issues and themes around the #metoo movement and university scandals that have recently and sadly continue to make headlines.

Sanctions closes on September 30 2018. For tickets, visit delawaretheatre.org or 302.594.1100.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Concerts on Kentmere: 10 Years IN & Stronger Than Ever

This post appears courtesy of inWilmDE.com...
By Christine Facciolo

The Delaware Art Museum INvites you to join in celebrating the 10th anniversary season of its’ Concerts on Kentmere series, featuring performances by Pyxis, Wilmington’s premier piano quartet.

The ensemble — Luigi Mazzocchi (violin), Amy Leonard (viola), Jennifer Jie Jin (cello) and Hiroko Yamazaki (piano) — will perform three concerts during the 2018-19 season, the final event featuring a commissioned work by David Schelat.

Commissions are playing a greater role in the Museum’s offerings. “That’s something the Museum is doing across all programs, trying to respond in the moment to art and to current times,” said Jonathan Whitney, performance & community engagement manager at the Museum. “So we’re bringing Pyxis in on that because they’re one of our ensembles.”

The milestone season will also see a closer relationship between Pyxis’ repertoire and the exhibits.

“We met with all the curators last spring before we planned our season because we wanted to see what we had to work with,” said Leonard.

The first concert which takes place on September 27 provides the musical response to the work of conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas. The commissioned exhibit — “Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot” — tells the lesser-known stories of the 1968 riots and occupation of Wilmington through a series of fourteen retro-reflective prints drawn from the photographic archives of the Delaware Historical Society and The News Journal. Viewers become “activists” when they apply light to the prints revealing hidden images.

Pyxis will complement the exhibit with a performance of Alfred Schnittke’s Prelude in Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich. “There are many layers involved and secret meanings and things that aren’t immediately apparent,” said Leonard. “And we’ll be performing it in a very kinetic way, spreading ourselves out in the space.” The program will also feature a performance of Debussy’s cello sonata, a work written as the composer struggled under the physical and psychological oppression of terminal cancer.

The artistic accomplishments of women will be the focus when Pyxis performs on January 10, 2019. “The Feminine Mystique” honors the work of pre-Raphaelite artist and mid-19th Century feminist and women’s rights activist Barbara Bodichon. Leonard and company will offer a musical response with works by such trailblazing composers as Germaine Tailleferre, Rebecca Clarke, Dora Pejacevic and Gwyneth Walker whose “Letters to the World” reflects on the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

“Tailleferre was the only female member of the group known as Les Six and Rebecca Clarke was one of the first women to play in a symphony orchestra,” said Leonard.

Pyxis’ final concert on May 2 will explore the relationship between color and sound. The ensemble will perform vibrant works by Brahms (Piano Quintet in F minor featuring guest violinist Dara Morales of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and Beethoven (the String Quartet in E-Flat Major nicknamed the “Harp” for its use of pizzicato).

The concert will also feature a newly commissioned work by David Schelat. Leonard doesn’t know much about it yet but hopes it’s challenging. “I hope it’s really hard and that he gives us plenty of ‘crunchy’ harmonies.”

Concert dates: Thursdays, September 27, January 10, (Snow date Sunday, January 13), May 2. Prior to each concert, the museum's curator will offer a brief personal insight.

Curator talks begin at 7:30 p.m. Performances begin at 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Two Organizations to Call The Grand Home This Season

This post content courtesy of a press release from The Grand Opera House...

 In front of The Grand. Pictured clockwise, top left:
Melissa Bernard, actor & Fearless Improv member;
Grace Tarves, actor; Jana Savini, Fearless Improv Director;
Kerry Kristine McElrone, CTC Interim Artistic Director;
Joe Trainor, CTC Music Director. Photo by Joe del Tufo.
Mark Fields, Executive Director of The Grand, is pleased to announce the addition of two new resident companies to The Grand’s roster of artistic partners in the building. Effective immediately, City Theater Company (CTC) and The Rock Orchestra (TRO) will perform their mainstage seasons at The Grand at 818 North Market Street.

“The non-profit Grand Opera House is a shared asset that we manage on behalf of the residents and citizens that we serve,” says Fields. “Having The Grand now be the artistic home for these organizations gives us the opportunity to more fully connect to the community and share the joy of the performing arts with more members of that community.”

"The Grand Opera House has been the heart of the performing arts scene in Wilmington for as long as I can remember," says The Rock Orchestra co-founder, Matt Urban, "Having TRO present our shows in partnership with this treasured community organization is an incredible opportunity." Co-founder Joe Trainor concurs, "Not only is it an honor to perform in these spaces, but it allows us the flexibility to develop our productions into 'must-see' events and make them available to a wider audience."

"As we head into our 25th year of programming, and my first as Interim Artistic Director, I am excited for the possibilities ahead for City Theater Company as we move to a resident space within The Grand,” says Kerry Kristine McElrone, CTC’s Interim Artistic Director. “The Grand is a community built on relationships, and I'm thrilled to be renewing ours so that our patrons can continue to remain an integral part of the art we do. Our brand of up-close-and-personal theater will be well-served in Studio One, where we can create worlds that immerse our audiences in the emotion and the action right alongside our actors.”

Resident companies are local or regional performing arts groups that make The Grand their primary artistic home, sharing their art on The Grand’s stages and collaborating on marketing initiatives and other projects. City Theater Company and The Rock Orchestra join the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, First State Ballet Theatre, and Opera Delaware are all resident companies of The Grand.

“The Grand is all about partnerships,” says Fields. “We partner intensely throughout each season with numerous arts organizations, individual artists, and other types of business to advance our own mission and benefit the entire community. Our resident companies are even more in-depth partners since we share these stages and this wonderful building.”

Patrons can purchase tickets to upcoming performances of The Rock Orchestra, City Theater Company, First State Ballet Theatre and The Grand’s own music, variety, comedy and Broadway seasons:

Online at TheGrandWilmington.org 
• 302.652.5577 • 818 North Market Street, Wilmington.

Monday, August 13, 2018

DCAD Launching Dual-Enrollment Program at Cab Calloway

DCAD instructor Aki Torii Sare will teach
the first dual-credit courses DCAD is offering
at Cab Calloway School of the Arts this fall.
Entering college with a few credits already earned is a big advantage for today’s students, saving them money on higher education expenses and helping them graduate with their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees on time or even early. Opportunities for students to bank credits often come through dual-enrollment agreements between their high schools and local colleges and focus on basic courses that serve as the foundation of their degree programs.

Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) and Cab Calloway School of the Arts are teaming up with instructor Aki Torii Sare to provide Cab’s visual arts students with an early start on their art and design degrees. Beginning this fall, DCAD will send instructors and curricula to Cab to offer “Figure Drawing” and “Animation I” that will count toward both a high school diploma and a college degree. Students also will produce relevant drawings and animations for their college application portfolios and have the opportunity to be mentored by a college instructor.

Cab Calloway is a public middle and high school for students in the performing and visual arts that boasts a graduation rate of 100%. Also located in Wilmington, the Red Clay Consolidated School District magnet school combines traditional academics with concentrations in dance, digital media and communication arts, instrumental music, piano, strings, technical theatre, theatre arts, visual arts and vocal music to lead to a State of Delaware High School Diploma.

DCAD, the Mid-Atlantic’s only two-year professional art and design college, is accredited by both the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. It offers associate of fine arts degree programs in animation, fine arts, graphic design, illustration and photography on its downtown Wilmington campus.

DCAD Dean Katy Ro noted that the development of this collaboration exemplifies DCAD’s mission and commitment to cultivating partnerships with local art and design entities. She also said the program will help make students more college-minded while helping them prepare for the academic rigors of college via previously unavailable instruction and experience. Cab Calloway Dean Julie Rumschlag agreed.

“This program gives our students an opportunity for coursework that our school typically does not offer,” Rumschlag said. “Dual-enrollment will provide both breadth and depth to our arts curriculum at Cab Calloway.”

Many students who have graduated from Cab Calloway over the last 20 years have gone on to earn associate of fine arts degrees from DCAD. These include Katlyn Cofrancisco, who earned a diploma from Cab, an associate’s degree from DCAD and a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to continuing to make pottery, she also has worked as one of DCAD’s admissions counselors.

“Giving high school students access to college-level studio classes truly benefits and enriches their learning experience,” Cofrancisco said. “DCAD sees a need to encourage and provide access for students who are talented and dedicated so they may get on an accelerated path to becoming artists and designers, and I believe this program with Cab Calloway will be the beginning of what DCAD hopes to achieve with other schools in the Tri-State area.”

Cofrancisco said moving from the close-knit creative community she experienced at Cab Calloway to the atmosphere at DCAD was a comfortable progression. Both offer a similar environment of support and inspiration.

“As I look back on my transition from high school to college,” she said, “the impact of being encouraged to take risks, learn to be a creative problem-solver and encourage my peers made me a more well-rounded artist.”

See www.dcad.edu

Monday, July 30, 2018

DCAD & Terrance Vann Present ‘Local + Famous’ Artists

Wilmington artist Terrance Vann.
This post content courtesy of a press release from Delaware College of Art & Design...

Painter, illustrator and muralist Terrance Vann is guest-curating an exhibition of more than 50 pieces of contemporary and accessible street art by more than two dozen artists of note, both locally and beyond, for Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) in August. Local + Famous: A Celebration of Homegrown Talent will fill DCAD’s Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery from August 3 to 19.

Vann (also known by his Instagram handle @Terranceism) will co-host the show with fellow Wilmington artist Alim Smith (known as @yesterdaynite on Instagram). Smith is best known for his iconic “Memes” exhibition, which went viral online and attracted national press attention. Together Vann and Smith are known as The Color Brothers, and the works they’re bringing to DCAD promise to be vibrant.

“This show will challenge the traditional formation of how an exhibition looks, nodding to the popular fairs produced in Miami and New York,” says DCAD gallery and events manager Kelicia Pitts. “It will showcase some of the many homegrown and hidden talents in Wilmington.”

An example of this will be Vann’s own vividly colorful work, which Pitts has long admired and says “aims to portray the surreal world of our imaginations.” Vann received a 2017 Delaware Division of the Arts Emerging Artists Fellowship and has exhibited pieces nationwide. He is thrilled to have been asked to curate such a show at DCAD.

“Talent in this area is just as powerful,” says Vann, who considers Local + Famous to be a pop-up art fair. “It deserves to be showcased in this contemporary way.”

Among the artists exhibiting alongside Vann and Smith will be Shanina Dionna, who was a winner in Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean’s international “The Dean Collection 20 St(art)ups” or TDC20 competition. Joining their work will be pieces from the area’s veterans of the art world, including Rick Rockroth, Eunice LaFate, K.O. Simms and many more. Local galleries and tattoo shops also will be represented.

Local + Famous will open with a reception from 5:00 to 10:00pm on Friday, August 3, in conjunction with Art Loop Wilmington. Van Gogh Vodka, liquor sponsor for the event, will be 10:00am to 6:00pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10:00am to 7:00pm Wednesdays; and 10:00am to 4:00pm Saturdays and Sundays.

For a full list of Local + Famous artists or for other information about the exhibition, contact DCAD communications director Susan Coulby at 302.622.8000 (office), 302.983.5710 (cell) or scoulby@dcad.edu.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Much Ado About DelShakes

By Mike Logothetis


Before the proverbial curtain rose on Opening Night, Delaware Shakespeare Managing Director Matt Sullivan gushed over the “strong team” of actors in Much Ado About Nothing – the 16th annual summer production for the company.  Although probably biased, Sullivan’s assessment was right on the money: The cast makes this show fantastic.

The cast of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo by Alessandra Nicole.
In her directorial debut with "DelShakes," Bi Jean Ngo pairs Barrymore Award-winning actress Krista Apple (Beatrice) with J Hernandez (Benedick) to lead the merry company of players in the Bard’s lively war of wits between the sexes.  But kudos also go to supporting players like Melissa Fuhr (Balthasar), Eric Mills (Don Pedro), Hannah Van Sciver (Dogberry), and Jo Vito (Claudio).  Each actor embraced the assigned role and excelled in the portrayal.

Apple’s interpretation of Beatrice was at once stern and biting, but also vulnerable and emotive.  While the proudly single Beatrice enjoys a “skirmish of wits” with any man or woman, she revels in squaring off against the formidable bachelor Benedick.  Along with his sharp tongue, Hernandez mesmerized the patrons at Rockwood Park with subtle body language and mannerisms which made his turn as Benedick wonderful.  In the same vein, Van Sciver seized the secondary role of the constable Dogberry and had the audience in the palm of her hand.  (All the while, her character probably couldn’t tell you which hand was left, right or wrong.)

The interplay and timing between the actors is exceptional and Ngo set a good pace for the action.  As the play is one of the few in the Shakespeare canon where the majority of the text is written in prose, the actors have more flexibility in their deliveries.  I credit Ngo with allowing her cast to explore the text and pauses between words, sentences, and themes.  There is a modern feel to the centuries-old script.

Ngo is a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Emerging Artist Barrymore Award and is a founding member of PAPA (Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists).  She most recently received the Fox Fellowship Foundation Award for Artist with Extraordinary Potential from TCG (Theatre Communications Group).

Michael Hahn composed all-original music for this production and Dixon Li choreographed lively dance numbers which fill the stage.  The music is a nice touch and adds great feel to the action or entr’acte.

The physical stage is an asymmetric multi-level space with a backdrop of ribbons which brings to mind a Renaissance event.  Kevin Meehan described the design as “Baz Luhrmann [meets] sexy Etsy wedding.”  The nooks and crannies of the theater set into the trees at Rockwood allow for ample hiding spots in key scenes.  The action moves seamlessly from left to right and from up to down.  It’s quite dynamic.

The plot of Much Ado About Nothing revolves around love, trickery, honor, misunderstanding, hope, deed, and misdeed.  Will Claudio win the fair hand of Hero (Claris Park) even though Don John (David Pica) plots against the union with help from Borachio (Robert Mora) and Conrade (Justin Bowen)?  Can Leonato (Michael Fuchs) find a man worthy to tame his headstrong niece Beatrice?  “6th and lastly,” will the law of Messina, romantic love, and the morality of God triumph?  It’s a Shakespearean comedy, so I think you can probably guess the answers, but maybe not the hysterical proceedings.

The part of the good Friar Francis will be played by a rotating cast of local faith leaders from the Delaware community, including Rabbi Michael Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom, the Rev. Edwin Estevez of Grace Methodist Church, the Rev. Roberta Finkelstein of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, the Rev. Emma Horn of First Presbyterian Church – Newark, Dr. Todd Townsend of The Resurrection Center, and David Savage, a lay leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Wilmington area.  Rev. Brian Lewis of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church may have a secondary calling as a Shakespearean actor by the way he performed his duties on Opening Night.

General admission to the festival is $20.  Tickets are $18 for seniors (65+), and active military (and their families).  Student tickets are $16.  Children age 5 and under are free.  Every Sunday is “Family Night,” with special activities before the performance and free admission for children 12 and under, when accompanied by an adult.  

To buy tickets, go to www.delshakes.org or purchase at the door.  Curtain is at 7:30 from Wednesdays through Saturdays and at 6 on Sundays.  Gates open at 6:15 p.m. for pre-show entertainment and picnics Wednesday through Saturday and at 4:45 p.m. on Sundays.  The festival concludes its summer run on July 29.

Attendees are invited to bring their own chairs, blankets and picnic baskets to Rockwood Park.  A limited number of reserved lawn chairs are available at each performance.  These “Saved Seats” are set up in premium locations in the first row of the “lawn chairs” section, behind blankets and low-backed beach chairs.  Reservations must be made in advance and cost $40.  The concession stand features picnic-appropriate sandwiches and snacks from Janssen’s Market and wine sold by the bottle in the Swigg Festival Wine Shop, as well as soft drinks, candy and Delaware Shakespeare t-shirts.

The new Delaware Shakespeare VIP Tent provides a place for groups of 10 or more to gather with clients, colleagues, and friends before the show.  Wandering Bards will visit each tent plus greet the patrons by name from the stage.  VIP Tent packages can be customized to include catered picnics, wine, reserved seats and more. 

The 2018 Delaware Shakespeare season will include two full productions – the current Summer Festival (Much Ado About Nothing) and a fall Community Tour (The Merchant of Venice) from October 24 through November 18.  The fall run will end with two ticketed performances at OperaDelaware Studios on November 17 and 18.

My recommendation is to “suffer love” and make plans to go to Rockwood.  Get there early to snag a good spot and enjoy the short pre-show modern comedy loosely based on Much Ado About Nothing.