Thursday, December 13, 2018

DuPont Donates 1 Million to Free Sundays at Delaware Art Museum

The content of this post comes from a Delaware Art Muesum press release...
Photo courtesy of the Delaware Art Museum.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) generously fulfilled their $1 million dollar pledge made to the Delaware Art Museum late last year. This gift, which honors the Delaware-based company's priorities and corporate giving philosophy to invest in its communities, underwrites the Museum's Free Sundays program.

As funding for the arts diminish, DuPont's investment in the Museum's strategic vision to be a welcoming and inclusive hub emphasizes the company's commitment to our region by making art accessible to a diverse range of audiences. 


The community is invited to partake in "Free Sundays Presented by DuPont." The Delaware Art Museum is also free on Thursday evenings between 4:00-8:00pm thanks to the support of generous individuals.

For over 100 years, the Delaware Art Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in the state. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other through the visual and the performing arts. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum's collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most significant Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom. 


Monday, December 10, 2018

There They Go Again...CTC Opens with Blockbuster for 25th

By Mike Logothetis

To open its 25th season, City Theater Company (CTC) presents an energetic production of Mamma Mia! in its new space 
— Studio One of The Grand Opera House. The beloved 1999 musical is a celebration of love, friendship and female empowerment with a nostalgic soundtrack featuring some of pop music’s favorite songs from the 1970s.

Mamma Mia! is based on the songs of the Swedish supergroup ABBA (1972-1982), one of the most popular international groups of all time. Going in, the music may seem dated, but Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus crafted songs that have aged very well. The excellent “Taverna Ensemble” led by Joe Trainor had my foot tapping all night.

On a small Greek island, 20-year-old Sophie (Darby McLaughlin) dreams of a perfect wedding — one which includes her father giving her away. The problem is that Sophie doesn’t know who her father is. Her hotel-owning mother Donna (Kerry Kristine McElrone), the former lead singer of the fictional ‘70s pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands. Sneaking a peek in her mother’s old diary, she discovers three possible fathers: Bill (Dale Martin), Harry (Nick Hunchack), and Sam (Righteous Jolly). She secretly invites all three to her wedding, convinced that she’ll know her father when she sees him. But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought.

Sophie’s bridesmaids Ali (Emma Orr) and Lisa (Pam Atkinson) arrive on the island to help their friend celebrate her upcoming marriage to Sky (Trevor Fayle). The girls plan a bachelorette party while hotel employees Eddie (Jeff Hunsicker) and Pepper (Dominic Santos) are raring to join Sky on his last night as a bachelor.

Meanwhile, Donna’s former bandmates Tanya (Kat Pigliacampi) and Rosie (Dionne Williford) arrive and seem more content to rehash their days as the Dynamos. The women question why “Donna the dark horse” would allow her daughter to marry at such a young age.

Once all the principal players are on the island, full-stage musical numbers like Dancing Queen and the title track Mamma Mia almost encourage the audience to sing along. Donna and the Dynamos signature number Super Trouper was also a highlight of Act I.

The three paternity candidates each get their time with both their old flame and potential daughter. All come away thinking they will be walking Sophie down the aisle on her wedding day. Donna and Sam’s duet SOS hit all the right notes and epitomized the caring each once felt for the other.

But the main action circles around the two female leads McLaughlin (Sophie) and McElrone (Donna). Both are outstanding, but the script allows McElrone more range to emote, which she does masterfully. When Donna helps Sophie get dressed in her wedding gown, there is genuine tenderness and disbelief that her daughter is going to be a bride (Slipping Through My Fingers). Donna admits to Sophie that her own mother disowned her when she learned that she was pregnant. After absorbing this heretofore unknown family secret, Sophie asks her mother to walk her down the aisle, bypassing her fantasy of a stranger/father escorting her.

It’s a touching scene for the actresses and the audience. But the script immediately pushes Sam into the room and a bitter confrontation ensues. Donna tells Sam that he broke her heart, presumably when she found out he was engaged (The Winner Takes It All). It emerges that the two still love each other dearly, albeit against Donna's better judgment. McElrone handles the emotional rollercoaster with subtle but strong stage movements and powerful vocals.

The secondary characters have side adventures and a couple of songs, but Williford’s (Rosie) rendition of Take a Chance on Me in her bid to lure Bill into a romantic interlude was another show highlight.

The show finishes at the wedding ceremony officiated by Fr. Alexandrios (Rob Hull). Everybody is there, but many lingering questions remain unanswered. I won’t reveal the ending, but it’s a satisfying conclusion to a well-told story.

As a new Resident Company at The Grand, CTC has a lot more production space than in its old digs. This allows for the Mamma Mia! set to be expansive and lets the players move freely throughout the room. The setting is a Greek hotel and taverna, which was designed by Vicki Neale and Richard A. Kendrick. The sloped stage juts into the audience, which is seated at tables curving around the front and sides of the stage. A prop bar at one side and small tables at the other allow actors to surreptitiously slide into the action to provide backing vocals or movements to augment the main stage activities.

Director Mary Catherine Kelley has instructed her actors to use every inch of the room and play to all corners of the audience. The pacing is tight and the overall theme includes hints of the Disco Era, but has mostly contemporary elements. The dreamy direction during Under Attack was creative and temporarily switched the bride and groom roles. The jaunty choreography by Jackie Kappus and Dominic Santos blends well with Kelley’s vision and Trainor’s dynamic musical arrangements.

Alas, the new space did have its technical issues on the night I saw the show. Wireless mics unfortunately dropped the audio signal for Trevor Fayle (Sky) during his entire vocal performance of Lay All Your Love on Me. Dale Martin (Bill) and Righteous Jolly (Sam) lost their vocal parts in duets Take a Chance on Me and I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, respectfully.

But this is not a Greek tragedy. This is a show that celebrates life. As City Theater Company's Board of Directors collectively state in the program: “CTC’s productions are as much party as performance.” I suggest you join the party on Market Street…Opa!

City Theater Company offers a wide selection of soft and alcoholic drinks to enjoy during the show. With the setting of Mamma Mia! being Greece, why not serve some Greek wines and ouzo?

Mamma Mia! will conclude its two-week run on Saturday, although as of this posting, only tickets for Wednesday and Thursday remain. All performances begin at 8 o’clock. 
The show runs about 2.5 hours, which includes one 15-minute intermission (and one post-curtain disco sing-along). 
The CTC cast of Mamma Mia! Photo by Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography

City Theater Company’s new home is in Studio One at The Grand Opera House located at 818 North Market Street in Wilmington. General admission is $35 and tickets can be purchased at the box office or online. 

 Special ticket pricing is available for military personnel, students and youth (ages 15 & under). Please call the Grand Box Office at 302.652.5577 or visit www.thegrandwilmington.org for details.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Rainbow Chorale Shines and Shares the Holiday Light

By Christine Facciolo

The weather outside was frightful...but the voices of The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware were oh so delightful at St. David’s Episcopal Church in North Wilmington on Friday evening, November 30.

The Rainbow Chorale
Delaware’s first LGBTQ vocal ensemble offered its holiday concert — Share the Light — under the very capable direction of Anthony M. Condoluci-Smith, the group’s interim artistic director.

The success of any choral concert naturally lies in the quality of the singing and this was an evening of some mighty fine singing.

Condoluci-Smith assembled a program that showed off the voice to best advantage as it underscored the ensemble’s mission of inclusion and acceptance.

The program opened with a welcoming gesture to the audience as it sang the playful You’re Home for the Holidays and the concert’s namesake Share the Light, which emphasized the urgent need for people of diverse backgrounds to come together in love and acceptance. The theme continued with Where There is Light in the Soul, a setting of a Chinese proverb and True Light, featuring the solo voice of Jay Simmons.

The ensemble celebrated the holiday traditions of other cultures and ethnic groups with performances of Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Candles) featuring the soaring soprano of soloist Anne E. Shuman, An African Celebration, Ding Dong Merrily on High (the beloved French carol) and from Estonia Ule Lume Lagedale (Over Snowy Winter Roads).

The program recognized that the holidays are not always a happy time for some (Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind) but gave hope that there is still peace (There Will Be Rest) to be found if we look to the light of the stars and listen to the music of the stillness.

Of course, there is plenty of joy in the holidays and that was reflected in a jazzy rendition of the traditional We Three Kings (think Dave Brubeck’s Take Five) Deck the Halls (in 7/8 time no less) and Irving Berlin’s Snow, which recalls a child’s playful romp in the white stuff.

PRISM, the chorale’s ensemble of select voices, offered two selections 
 Northern Lights and Sure on this Shining Night — that described the mystery and emotion of starlight as it guides us through life as well as O Magnum Mysterium, which told of the mystery of the miraculous birth.

The ensemble would return in the second half of the program with a rollicking rendition of Jingle Bells and Dashing Through the Snow.

The concert concluded with members of the chorale surrounding the audience to sing The Work of Christmas, reminding everyone that the good will of the season does not end with the holidays.

See therainbowchorale.org

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Music School Piano Faculty Shine in Performance

By Christine Facciolo


Four members of The Music School of Delaware’s esteemed piano faculty displayed their performing and compositional talents in a program entitled “Piano Majesty” Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at the school's Wilmington Branch.

No piano concert would be complete without at least one work by Frederic Chopin, and this program featured two, both brilliantly rendered by David Brown. Brown is a pianist of unwavering mastery and musicianship with a towering but sublime strength and nuance that is both personal and telling. He was especially glittering in Chopin’s melodic Fantasy Impromptu, Op. 66 and the happy, cantabile character of the Barcarolle, Op.60, one of the composer’s finest works.

Pianist and composer Jennifer Nicole Campbell performs
in the Music Masters program, Piano Majesty.
The program also featured a generous helping of original compositions. Jennifer Nicole Campbell applied her usual charm and impeccable technique to a rendering of Brown’s ethereal In the High Meadow. She also offered two of her own compositions, Prayer for the Right Hand, a left-hand piece she wrote to compensate for an injury she suffered to her right hand, and the lively Variations on Loch Lomond, which featured musical motifs from the pop and classical repertoire. The audience had great fun identifying the themes. She rounded out her set with a performance of Leschetizky’s Ballade Venitienne, Op. 39, No. 1 (Barcarolle).

Brown offered a more solemn set of variations on the Baroque aria Bist du bei mir. Brown wrote the variations in 1993 and revised the work this year. In some pre-performance remarks, he noted that he was responding to the loss of loved ones by several of his friends over the past year.

Liliya Maslov and Oleg Maslov delivered an edge-of-your seat rendering of Lutoslawski’s piano-slam Paganini Variations. The audience was transported to a cliff-edge zany and dissonance-allowed zone with superb playing from the duo in an intrepid choice of repertoire.

The duo of Brown and Campbell opened the program with a performance of two selections by Schubert: the Allegro moderato and Andante (D. 968) and the March in D major, D. 733.
  
See www.musicschoolofdelaware.org

Friday, November 16, 2018

Light Action to Build World Class Music, TV & Film Facility on 7th Street Peninsula

Content of this post comes from a City of Wilmington press release...

Out and About broke the story this morning about the facility and all it can mean for Wilmington

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki today congratulated and thanked Scott Humphrey, President of Light Action Productions based in New Castle, for his decision to build a new multi-million dollar sound stage on Wilmington’s 7th Street Peninsula. The Mayor said he had encouraged Humphrey to move forward with his unique idea for some time and is very pleased that this project is finally moving forward. The Mayor and Humphrey said a groundbreaking will be held within the next month.

Rendering of Light Action Productions' future sound stage,
The Pine Box. Photo courtesy of Light Action.
Light Action will build 150,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres of land 
along the 7th Street Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Light Action. 
In an exclusive interview with Out & About, Humphrey said his company is building a 150,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres of land along the 7th Street Peninsula. The $8 million project will feature a 25,000-square-foot, 95-foot-tall sound stage called the Pine Box, which Humphrey says will be lit up and visible from Interstate 495.

“This sound stage will be for crews and companies that are either doing pre-production on a Broadway musical, or for a touring band that’s about to go out on the road, or for film or TV crews,” said Humphrey. “We’ve looked at moving to the city for a while, and I think this space will bring a sort of organic energy and lots of opportunity to the area.”

Mayor Purzycki said the City of Wilmington has been eager to facilitate the sale of the 20 acres of land that Humphrey’s company purchased on the peninsula. The Mayor said the location and availability of the 7th Street Peninsula property, while somewhat neglected, makes perfect sense for Light Action.

“There aren’t that many places in the city where you can find a piece of property that large, especially for a company of Scott’s size, with the need for external parking, all his big rigs, storage, and equipment,” says Purzycki. “We wanted to do everything we could to make the site attractive, but there was no particular assistance from us other than the commitment that we will improve road access at the site.”
The Out & About article quotes Humphrey as saying that once the facility is built, Light Action Productions’ warehouse – which will be filled with live entertainment production elements – will occupy 90,000 square feet, along with 30,000 square feet of space designated to design, video and lighting studios and conference rooms. Another 5,000 square feet will be reserved for office space, and the final 25,000 square feet for the Pine Box.

Humphrey says he’s already spoken to industrial and manufacturing neighbors in the 7th Street vicinity about future plans for the area such as a restaurant, bar or possible hotel accommodations, although no plans have been confirmed. Humphrey said a grand opening celebration is tentatively scheduled for late 2019.

Friday, November 2, 2018

DSO Opens Chamber Series with Woodwind Program

By Christine Facciolo

In a commendable change of pace, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) opened its Chamber Concert Series with a a memorable evening of music for woodwinds.

The DSO Woodwind Quintet proved to be exciting and dynamic performers by offering a program that was both eclectic and entertaining.

Playing works that were stylistically distinct the five musicians in the group — Kimberly Reighley, flute; Lloyd Shorter, oboe; Charles Salinger, clarinet; Jon Gaarder, bassoon and Karen Schubert, horn — showed the diversity of the woodwind quintet despite the paucity of repertoire for it.

The ensemble warmed up with expertly crafted works by notable French flutist and teacher Claude-Paul Taffanel's Wind Quintet in G minor and his contemporary Charles Lefebvre's Suite for Winds No. 1, Op. 57. The latter is a standard of the wind quintet repertoire, demonstrating a superior understanding of how to orchestrate for these five instruments.

Taffanel’s Suite for Winds is thoroughly French and late Romantic in style with rapidly changing moods.

The most interesting piece in the concert was Paquito D’Rivera’s Aires Tropicales, written in 1994. This charmer of a piece contains a wealth of melodic traditions, playful inventions and enticing rhythms. Noteworthy movements included “Dizzyness,” a tribute to the late, great Dizzy Gillespie, Habanera, a trio for flute, clarinet and bassoon in the style of Ravel, Contradanza, an upbeat Cuban dance honoring Ernesto Lecuonar. Vals Venezolano, a lively Venezuelan waltz and Afro, an energetic dance over an African ostinato.

The evening of varied music concluded with a performance of Aria and Quodlibet for Woodwind Quintet by clarinetist Arne Running (1943-2016). The Aria contains a chorale in the low winds, the repetition of which features Shorter’s oboe singing high above the melodic line. The Quodlibet is sheer fun; a pastiche of tunes from virtually every corner of the musical world.


Pyxis Lights Up Market Street Music Festival Concert Series

By Christine Facciolo
The Sunday, October 14, 2018 concert by Pyxis Piano Quartet — as part of Market Street Music's Festival Concert series — at Wilmington’s First & Central Presbyterian Church revealed once again the abundance of talent within each member of this laudable ensemble.  Members include Luigi Mazzocchi, violin; Amy Leonard, viola; Jennifer Jie Jin, cello and Hiroko Yamazaki, piano.


This 90-minute program offered works from the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, including two of the most demanding in the repertoire: Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478 and Mendelssohn’s Piano Quarter in F minor, No. 2, Op. 2.

Mozart seems to have invented the piano quartet. There are no examples of the genre among his contemporaries or immediate predecessors, including the very inventive Haydn. He left only these two work but they count among the very best in the repertoire.

Mozart’s G minor quartet grew out of a commission from the Viennese publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister for three such works. The remaining two were canceled when the publisher felt the finished work was too difficult for the amateur musician 
 the usual market for keyboard-based chamber music.

Pyxis Piano Quartet (L-R): Amy Leonard, violaHiroko Yamazaki, piano; Jennifer Jie Jin, cello Luigi Mazzocchi, violin.
The quartet features true chamber music equality of part-writing, juxtaposing concerto-like passages in the piano with others in which the instrument fades and blends in with the strings in a lively interplay. The musicians effectively kept up the momentum throughout a cliffhanger of a development section which often hints at a resolution only to give way to other material. The second movement captivated with the sheer beauty of the playing, while the ensemble’s gentle handling of the phrasing in the finale provided a joyous conclusion to this darkly dramatic work.

Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki assumed an even more virtuosic role in Mendelssohn’s F minor quartet, while the string players offered less flamboyant bits, albeit ones that carried the thematic material. Leonard’s viola got to show off its high register during the exposition of the second theme. Yamazaki again displayed virtuosic technique in the rolling figurations throughout the Adagio movement which exhibited pure early Romanticism. The strings at last assumed an (almost) equal footing with their keyboard companion in the whiplash final movement.

The concert opened with a fine performance by Mazzocchi and Leonard of Martinu’s Three Madrigals for the (seemingly) austere combination of violin and viola. Each artist exaggerated the sounds of their instruments: Mazzocchi played up the brightness of the violin while Leonard reveled in the richness and warmth of the viola. 


It would have been tempting to blend the sounds but this approach maintained the independent voices when it mattered most. The result was what sounded like a unique instrument with a remarkable range of timbre and pitch. The two instruments matched when in the same range, establishing unity while preserving the individual capabilities of both. This was exploited to maximum effect during the playful competition of the many imitative passages.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Celebrating the Life of a Delaware Arts Pioneer

Fred Carspecken in his gallery.
Photo courtesy of The Hunt magazine.
Delaware arts lovers sadly mourn the passing of Frederick John Carspecken, founder of Delaware’s preeminent art gallery, Carspecken-Scott Gallery. Carspecken died at home on October 14, 2018.

His gallery staff recently sent a message to friends and supporters, saying, in part: 
"It is with great sadness that we bid a final farewell to our fearless leader, Frederick J. Carspecken, 'founder, chairman, president and CEO of Carspecken-Scott Gallery,' as he was notorious for saying in his booming, bombastic voice. He had an outsized, larger-than-life personality and an outrageous sense of humor, one of many endearing qualities that we will sorely miss."

Longtime Carspecken staffer Laurel Christie told us she worked for Fred for over 32 years, and it goes without saying he played a major role in her life. "Fred was a mentor to many and possessed a certain 'joie de vivre' that made him unforgettable," she said. 

In tribute and love for Fred, his staff plans to continue to run Carspecken-Scott Gallery.

Carspecken was born on September 29, 1946, in St. Louis, Missouri to Harold Carspecken and Charlotte Elizabeth, an artist. He had fond memories of going to art museums with his parents, which he credited with inspiring his early interest in art. 

Fred was a graduate of the University of Virginia and served in the US Navy. Following his discharge from the Navy in Pensacola, Florida, he happened into the gallery business. An acquaintance was searching for a gallery manager, and Fred volunteered. After several months, John Schoonover — grandson of noted Brandywine artist, Frank Schoonover — connected with Fred and suggested they start a gallery in Wilmington. Together, they founded Schoonover Galleries in 1970.
Carspecken-Scott Gallery is located at 1707 N. Lincoln Street
in Wilmington's Trolley Square neighborhood.

Carspecken developed a strong love for contemporary art and began plans for his own gallery with that focus. He founded Carspecken-Scott Gallery in 1973. His first exhibition featured pieces by Mary Page Evans, Tania Boucher and Tom Bostelle. Carpsecken was pivtoal in advancing the works of other well-known Delaware artists including Cleveland Morris (former director of the Delaware Theater Company), Peter Sculthorpe, Carolyn Anderson and Carol Spiker, among others.

Carspecken often joked that his vision was to be the 'Guggenheim of Delaware.' Some would argue he succeeded. His gallery was named “Best Gallery” in Delaware Today's Best of Delaware series. 

While Carspecken is may be best known in Delaware’s art community, friends also knew him as an exceptional chef and host with a clever, self-deprecating charm and a wicked sense of humor. Carspecken was also a dedicated member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, serving as an ordained elder, ordained deacon, a Biblical Storyteller and a Stephen Minister.

There will be a celebration of his life on Friday, November 2, 2018, 2:00pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1502 W. 13th Street, Wilmington, DE 19806. All are welcome to attend. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

CoroAllegro Opens New Season with Partner, Fund for Women

CoroAllegro is led by Artistic Director Jeffrey Sean Dokken.
By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

As CoroAllegro prepares to open their 2018-19 season on November 17, I had the chance to catch up with Artistic Director, Maestro Jeffrey Sean Dokken, to discuss the ensemble’s upcoming concerts.

Dokken is an internationally renowned performer and conductor who lives in Washington, DC. In addition to being CoroAllegro’s Artistic Director, he is also the Music Director and Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia and the Artistic Director and Conductor of The Rome Symphony Orchestra.

“I am fortunate to work with such diverse and accomplished groups,” says Dokken. “CoroAllegro’s Board has given me the great opportunity to explore innovative music and build progressive concerts."

Replacing the group’s long-time director three years ago, Dokken conducted CoroAllegro’s 30th anniversary concert that included international guest musicians and original compositions. He also directed the classical choir’s Broadway-themed concert this past spring.

A mix of professional and experienced amateur singers, for 33 years CoroAllegro has been dedicated to performing choral literature, including less-frequently performed works. With Dokken at the forefront of the group, CoroAllegro is also performing music that speaks to today’s societal issues.

Dokken is partnering with the Delaware Fund for Women to open CoroAllegro’s season with the concert, Music, She Wrote. The performance will only include choral music written by women.

“Although women have been writing choral music for centuries, their music has not had the same exposure as their male counterparts,” comments Dokken. “We want to celebrate the great contributions female composers have made to this art form.”

Since its founding in 1993, the Fund for Women has awarded $2.3 million in grants to nonprofits benefitting women and girls in Delaware, so this was a natural partnership on a concert that focuses on exploring women’s contributions to music and society.

The concert will feature ground-breaking composers, Vittoria Aleotti and Hildegard Von Bingen, whose earliest composition is thought to have been written in 1151. The music of pioneers, Lili Boulanger and Alice Parker, and contemporary composers, Ysaye Barnwell, Jenni Brandon and Abbie Betinis, whose music has been described as “...intricate…with an inescapable allure,” by The Boston Globe.

CoroAllegro will follow up Music, She Wrote with chamber holiday concerts for private and public engagements. The season will end with a nature-themed spring concert. The music will be inspired by the natural beauty found throughout the United States and include songs featuring texts from poems on the topic.

“Our concerts this season go beyond just performing choral music,” explains Dokken. “They will emphasize two very important topics — gender equality and the environment. We have an opportunity to present choral music that’s not only entertaining but also makes a statement on our country’s current situation.”

Music, She Wrote will be presented Saturday, November 17, 2018, 7:30pm at The Music School of Delaware's Wilmington Branch at 4101 Washington Street in Wilmington. The spring concert will be held at Winterthur on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

For tickets and additional information, visit www.coroallegro.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

DelShakes' Community Tour Delivers Art with a Message

By Mike Logothetis
Photo by Alessandra Nicole.

Photo by Alessandra Nicole.
The Delaware Shakespeare Community Tour returns this autumn with a lively performance of The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare’s multi-layered drama about the corrosive impact of anti-Semitism and xenophobia. It’s a timely choice, as the instances of hate speech and hate crimes have risen in recent times (up 57% per the Anti-Defamation League's 2017 audit).

Community Tour productions play in non-theatrical settings such as multipurpose rooms, homeless shelters and gymnasiums. The production values are scaled for those spaces, with live music, minimal sets and whatever lighting is available. In this way, the tour exposes live theater to many people who’ve never experienced it.

Producing Artistic Director David Stradley looks for spaces that can hold a seated audience between 40 and 120 people in a four-sided arrangement. Stradley stressed that Delaware Shakespeare searches for communities which may be underserved by the arts and whose residents might find challenges in traveling to Rockwood Park for its annual Summer Festival.

The Community Tour performs for  diverse audiences, and the cast reflects that diversity. African-American actor Kirk Wendell Brown plays the role of Shylock. In the October 2018 issue of JVoice Monthly, Stradley wrote that “...this [casting] choice was made, in part, to encourage audiences to consider other population groups who may be treated in similar ways to how we see Shylock treated.”

If you don’t know the story, The Merchant of Venice is a tale of a Jewish moneylender (Shylock) who is subjected to hate speech by members of the Christian majority in Venice, Italy. To his great dismay, his daughter Jessica (Michaela Shuchman) deserts him and elopes with Lorenzo (Wilfredo Amill), a Christian. Over the course of the play, Shylock is systematically separated from his faith, family, wealth and status. You can’t help but feel for the man who is humiliated and defeated by a rabble-rousing majority.

Stradley, who also directs The Merchant of Venice, wants to engage the community in a conversation about ensuring that “those who are perceived as different are not treated unjustly.” In the program, audience members will find questions to consider and historical context related to anti-Semitism. Each program has one of four colored stickers which asks a unique question to stimulate thought. For instance, “How do people come to hold prejudiced beliefs?” and “What would you do if you saw someone being treated badly just for being different?”

A structured conversation about the impact of prejudice and stereotyping occurs immediately following each performance. At the Christina Cultural Arts Center, many topics were covered by a wide range of audience members moved by the actions in the play. Stradley was the moderator and kept the discussion moving.

A topic that dominated the post-production discussion was empathy 
 a major theme of the play. The nine-player cast does a wonderful job showing both sides of humanity using love and hate to embrace or ostracize those they consider deserving. As Gratiano, Cameron DelGrosso spits venom at Shylock, but is a hopeless romantic around his fair Nerissa (Tai Verley). Liz Filios’ Portia is a passionate woman waiting for a loving man (Bassanio/Newton Buchanan) to win her hand, but her tenderness takes a dark turn when she tips the scales against Shylock in a court where he feels he deserves justice.

In disguise as young lawyer Balthazar, Portia argues before the duke/magistrate for mercy 
 a sentiment Shylock believes strengthens his case against Antonio, but actually weakens it: “The quality of mercy is not strained…[Mercy] is enthroned in the hearts of kings; It is an attribute to God Himself…in the course of justice none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy.”

But is it true mercy for the agrieved or a ruling in favor of the establishment?

It’s no secret that The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most divisive plays. Depending upon who has his hands on the text, The Merchant of Venice has been used both as a treatise against anti-Semitism and as propaganda to disparage Jewish people, further cementing them as outcasts.

In the end, the production and post-performance discussions hope to shine a light on the painful damage inflicted upon a minority by mob rule. By exploring the themes in The Merchant of Venice, Delaware Shakespeare hopes to “...[highlight] our shared humanity [and] find steps to mend tears in a broader social fabric.” (JVoice Monthly, October 2018)

In the midst of these heavy themes, there is an excellent play! Considered a comedy in its time, The Merchant of Venice has meaty roles, and the Delaware Shakespeare troupe does exceptionally well. You’ll laugh at Lancelot (Emily Schuman) as well as question his motives. You feel the pain and anguish of Antonio (Gregory Isaac) as he realizes his bond of “a pound of flesh” may need to be paid. The pacing and delivery keeps the action moving in the tight confines of theater in the round. The play delivers on many fronts and is a treat for all ages.

The autumn Community Tour of The Merchant of Venice takes place in venues throughout Delaware from October 24 through November 18 
— check delshakes.org for full details. (Performances at Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution and Sussex Correctional Institution are not open to the public, however.) 

Admission to all other performances is free with RSVP at info@delshakes.org or 302.415.3373. There will also be two ticketed performances ($15-25) on November 17 and 18 at OperaDelaware Studios, which have only 125 tickets available for each show.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Psst...There's a 'Rumor' About a Great Play at WDL

By Carol Van Zoeren

Although a bit of a period piece (from 1988), Neil Simon’s closest attempt at farce rings true today. Yes, one must suspend disbelief that any mover and shaker’s reputation would be seriously threatened by the scandal of having a friend who attempted suicide. Today’s confessional culture lauds such faux-empathy as being “authentic.” Emphasis on faux, since the true motivation is self-interest. And it is relevant today, since such potential-scandal-in-the-making leads those in power, as many characters in Rumors admit, to make things up.

In a nutshell, it’s rich people behaving badly. And it’s hysterical how they become contortionists, mentally and often physically, to serve their own self interests.

Director Luke Wallis has assembled a terrific ensemble cast who do not fear, nay embrace, the opportunity to look foolish. Given my experience with runaway train farces, I worried that they’d started at too high a pitch, which could get irritatingly screechy after 2+ hours. And here I give a nod to Mr. Simon, who often takes the most-recently-over-the-top character off stage for a while to cool the heck down. Above I called this Mr. Simon’s “closest attempt at farce.” But now I see it more as his re-imagining farce. In a good way.

Still, my farce radar makes me count doors  there are five in this gorgeous set designed by Helene DelNegro. Director Luke Wallis moved his large cast around this playground with great fun.

So yes, the context, the script, the set are all great. And now I must direct my praise to the ensemble cast. These actors portray four couples, and each pairing artfully portrays a well-delineated state of marital bliss…or lack thereof. That is, until Act 2, when the increasingly ridiculous subterfuge requires many of them to pretend to be married to someone else. 

The audience delights that the characters are just a confused as we are!

Within this ensemble, each actor also gets a chance to shine. All are excellent, yet I must highlight two. Melissa Davenport’s portrayal of odd-duck Cookie Cusack is a deliciously kooky mash-up of Julia Child and Madame Arcati  aided by the perfect costume by Laurene Eckbold. And Zachary Jackson as Lenny Ganz repeatedly “Goes to Eleven” (Spinal Tap reference) at personal risk to life and limb. Jackson’s character is the most noted recipient of Mr. Simon’s wisdom to give an over-the-top character a time out, because when he comes back with a lengthy and absolutely absurd monologue about what “really happened,” we are eager to go along with him for the ride.

Do yourself a favor  go belly laugh for a couple hours at someone else’s expense. It’s not mean-spirited; it’s exactly what the Rumors company is going for!

See www.wilmingtondramaleague.org.

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 members 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.