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.