Showing posts with label David Schelat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Schelat. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Concerts on Kentmere: 10 Years IN & Stronger Than Ever

This post appears courtesy of
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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mélomanie Welcomes the Holiday Season with Music

By Christine Facciolo
Mélomanie welcomed winter with a program of some very tuneful music on Sunday, December 3, at The Delaware Historical Society in downtown Wilmington.

Sonatas, a traditional air, Christmas music, and of course, contemporary offerings were exquisitely performed by flutist Kimberly Reighley, gambist Donna Fournier and harpsichordist Tracy Richardson.

Reighley and Richardson opened the program with a performance of the Sonata 4 in A major from Il Pasto Fido by Nicolais Chedeville, a Vivaldi contemporary who published the work under the more famous composer’s name. Reighley brought plenty of pastoral charm to the music with clearly shaped and articulated phrases and effective embellishments. Richardson offered strong support.

The Sonata in D major by Boismortier found all three musicians playing sensitively. The phrasing was attractive with long, arching lines contrasted with taut, short ones.

The harpsichord emerged from its role as “utility” instrument with Richardson giving energetic readings of Dupuis’ Rondo and Courante.

Fournier offered a gentle and sensitive interpretation of the typically melancholy Greensleeves.

Mélomanie’s contemporary side was represented by works of David Schelat and Mark Hagerty. Reighley and Richardson reprised Schelat’s Just a Regular Child, which was written for the ensemble in 2016. Schelat captured the whimsy of his childhood in Ohio in three movements: Rough and Tumble, Dreaming and Full of the Old Nick. Jangling harmonies of the third movement conveyed the mischievous nature of a young boy, while the soaring melody of the middle movement recalled endless days of daydreaming. Perhaps Schelat was looking to the day when he would become the virtuoso organist and composer that he is.

Fournier’s gamba and Richardson’s harpsichord contrasted nicely in Arias, a movement from Hagerty’s Civilisation. That work was a recasting of the composer’s Clavier Book I, a work for harpsichord which explored what might have been had the music of the late Renaissance and Baroque not given way to what he terms the “less ambitious” Rococo and early classical styles.

The three musicians concluded the concert with a performance of LaLande’s Noels en Trio, celebrating the Nativity and the upcoming holiday season.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Organist David Schelat Opens Market Street Music's Festival Concerts

By Christine Facciolo

Organist/composer David Schelat explored the Baroque and beyond Saturday, October 14, kicking off a brand new season of Market Street Music at First & Central Presbyterian Church on Rodney Square in Wilmington.

Schelat’s program traced J.S. Bach’s steps back to his admirer Dietrich Buxtehude then forward to  his “rescuer” Felix Mendelssohn as well as offering a sampling of Bach himself.

The first half of the program featured three Baroque “Bs”: Bruhns, Buxtehude and Bach. Their work spanned the years 1664-1750, a time when north German mercantile trade funded both composers and construction of pipe organs on increasingly grander scales.
The music of this period was largely improvisatory and known as stylus fantasticus, characterized by short contrasting episodes and free form. Bruhns’ Praeludium in E Minor exemplifies this style and Schelat delivered it with insight and intelligence, maintaining the thematic material clearly while providing auditory interest in the repeated ornamentation with a variety of colorful registrations.

Buxtehude’s O Morning Star, how fair and bright (Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern) again showed Schelat’s expertise with the articulation of Baroque musical gestures.
Bach received his due with a rendering of the Prelude and Fugue in G Major (BWV 541) that was both meaty and full of energy. Tucked between them was the melodic simplicity of the chorale prelude Blessed Jesus, we are here (Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (BWV 730).

From Spain came Juan Cabanilles’ Corrente Italiana, a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque. Schelat added a subtle touch of percussion to good effect.

There were more surprises following intermission, including an organ sonata by C.P.E. Bach, J.S. Bach’s second surviving son. Although much better known for his harpsichord works, Bach did produce six organ sonatas on commission from Princess Anna Amalia, sister of his then employer, King Frederick the Great of Prussia. The writing is for manuals only, because the Princess was — reportedly — unable to play the pedals.

Schelat offered an effervescent rendering of the Sonata No. 5 in D Major (Wq70), indulging in much hopping between the two manuals — and adding a bit of pedal — to create a sheer delight for the ear.

Another pleasant surprise came with a performance of the Andante sostenuto from Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphonie Gothique. This sweet, meditative piece allowed Schelat to reveal a whole other side to a composer better known for the pyrotechnics of his Toccata in a work we rarely get to hear.

The program concluded with a performance of Mendelssohn’s Sonata in B-Flat Major. Mendelssohn had a great love for Bach and played a major role in his revival. While this music is Romantic in its approach, it displays a certain restraint which is very appealing. Schelat obviously loves this music and that affection came through in this assured and sensitive delivery.

Schelat reached into his own catalog for an encore with a performance of Kokopelli, a whimsical piece dedicated to the flute-playing trickster deity who represents the spirit of music and who presides over childbirth and agriculture. Schelat wrote the piece for the Fred J. Cooper Organ Book, which was commissioned by the Philadelphia chapter of The American Guild of Organists to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the organ in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mélomanie Premieres Local Composer's Work, Features Violin Duos in February Performance

By Christine Facciolo

Mélomanie opened the second half of its 2016-17 season with an eclectic program that showcased the talents of two virtuoso violinists and featured the World Premiere of a commissioned work by organist/conductor David Schelat.
Violinists Daniela Pierson and Christof Richter. Photo by Tim Bayard.
The ensemble welcomed Daniela Pierson, principal violist with Philadelphia’s Tempesta di Mare and conductor of that city’s Musicopia String Orchestra. In addition, she has performed on violin or viola with many early music groups including New Society, New York Collegium and Washington Cathedral Baroque Orchestra.

Pierson teamed with Melomanie resident violinist Christof Richter to perform selections from Bela Bartok’s 44 Duos for 2 Violins, which were interspersed throughout the program. Although the composer never intended these pedagogical exercises to be played in concert, these fine artists performed with a style and accuracy that helped to reveal composer’s limitless imagination and his ability to write in the historic styles of Eastern and Central European ethnic groups.

Pierson said the duo chose to perform the selections on Baroque violins rather than modern instruments because, as she explained in an interview during the concert, that’s probably the way the composer heard the original folk melodies.

Pierson and Richter also delivered an outstanding and refined interpretation of Les Folies d’Espagne by the Italian Jean-Pierre Guignon, who brought that country’s musical style to Paris via the famed Concert Spirituel.

Pierson and Richter were joined by Tracy Richardson on harpsichord and gambist Donna Fournier in a performance of Archangelo Corelli’s Sonata de Chiese in A Major, the last of the set of twelve published as Op. 3 in 1689. Though modest, the music of this Italian composer-violinist was key to the development of the modern genres of sonata and concerto, in establishing the preeminence of the violin and in the coalescing of modern tonality and functional harmony.

Pierson and Richter engaged in a lovely duet in thirds during the second movement. Fournier provided heroic support, confidently executing demanding semiquavers. The piece concluded with three short Allegros, the last of which an attractive fugue in gigue form.

By far, the lengthiest work on the program belonged to Couperin’s well-known La Piemontoise, the fourth Ordre from Les Nations, his masterful dictum on the merger of the French and Italian styles. The concert opened with the Italianate sonata of the ordre and closed with its elaborate French dance suite. Mélomanie executed the ornamentation crisply and with ease, and did a beautiful job with Couperin’s harmonic color.

Just a Regular Child for flute and harpsichord by organist/conductor David Schelat added a charming levity to the program. Schelat introduced the work by explaining how he took inspiration from growing up as a regular kid in a regular home in a regular town in Ohio. The work consisted of three movements. “Rough and Tumble” and “Full of the Old Nick” conjure up the delightful — and sometimes misguided — energy of a very active and curious child while the loping melody of “Dreaming” catches him in his quieter moments.

Schelat wrote to flutist Kimberly Reighley’s amazing virtuosity, and she did not disappoint. Reighley executed the first and last movements with a pearly lightness and purity of tone while rendering a gauzy quality to the middle movement. Richardson supplied the contemporary harmonies which gave the work a mischievous quality.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Organist David Schelat Features Bach & Original Works on Gabriel Kney Organ

Market Street Music Artistic Director and Organist, David Schelat
By Christine Facciolo

Organ concerts aren’t usually a big attraction, but David Schelat drew a respectable crowd to his Market Street Music Festival Concert on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at First & Central Presbyterian Church on Rodney Square in Wilmington.

Schelat took the audience on a wonderful journey from Bach to Schelat in a program that demonstrated not only his musicality and virtuosity, but also the breathtaking capabilities of the church’s Gabriel Kney organ — the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic region.

Schlelat devoted the first half of the program to works by J.S. Bach, believed by many to have been the greatest composer in the history of Western music. Indeed, the selections here amply demonstrated that Bach was much more than a mere mathematical counterpoint machine — which is why he is accorded such importance by composers of the Romantic era and beyond.

The concert opened with a performance of Bach’s most recognizable work, the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor (565). The church nearly seemed to shrink under the mighty sounds of that infamous opening motif. Schelat turned in an energetic yet deliberative reading, revealing details of this intricate and powerful work which are usually glossed over in more frenzied renderings.

Schlelat then offered three chorale preludes from the Schubler, Leipzig and Orgelbuchlein (Little Organ Book), which represent the summit of Bach’s sacred music for solo organ.

Some of the pieces were very familiar, like the Schubler chorale prelude Wachet auf or Sleepers Awake, BWV 645. Schelat’s gentle reading of the beautiful melody of this simple Lutheran hymn revealed the quiet sanity of Bach.

Likewise, Schelat’s understated approach to the chorale prelude from the Orgelbuchlein O Mensch, bewein dein Sunde gross, BWV 622 brought out not only the pain and regret in the opening of the piece but also highlighted the curious serenity and mystery in the music.

The Leipzig selection Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, BWV 655 offered a nice contrast to the previous two. Its infectious rhythms and lighter texture made the music a joyous, swirling experience.

Schelat bookended the section with the quietly monumental Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, BWV 544, one of Bach’s more mature essays in the genres and a fitting complement to the pyrotechnics of the opening Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.  The second half of the program featured more modern fare, opening with Hindemith’s rarely performed Sonata I. Schelat delivered Hindemith’s sparse textures with clarity and articulation. The rhythms were crisp yet never mechanical, giving the reading an invigorating sense of purpose.

By contrast, Vierne’s diaphanous Clair de Lune, Opus 53, No. 5 seemingly dissolved metrical rigidity, producing an almost ethereal quality while the organ sang the deeply affective melodic line.

Schelat concluded the program with one of his own compositions, an organ sonata in three movements: Folk Song, Sarabande and Allegro. The short melodic piece was written in 2011 for colleague Michael Brill who premiered it in France. Most interesting was the first movement — Folk Song — which featured the melody played in the petals accompanied by arpeggiated harmonies in the keyboard.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

J. S. Bach and His Circle - Market Street Music Festival Concert

Market Street Music Director David Schelat
My sneak preview of David Schelat’s upcoming organ recital was a trip through the world of Johann Sebastian Bach through examples of the music Bach heard as a young man, the composers he influenced and the late works of the great composer himself.

The recital opens with a Praeludium in C Major by Dieterich Buxtehude, a composer and artist whom Bach admired greatly.  This large work is as grand as any organ work of Bach, and to hear the varied registrations chosen by Mr. Schelat for the Gabriel Kney organ is a moving experience. The second composer whose music influenced Bach was Georg Böhm.  The chorale prelude shows a contrasting style of French influence. 

Mr. Schelat then played the compositions of three of Bach’s students.  Two of the three preludes Mr. Schelat chose by Johann Christian Kittel sounded as if Mozart had gone backwards in time to write a few operatic songs for organ, but what we really see is how Bach sowed the seeds of the Classical era.  The third prelude is a large and exciting prelude in D minor which calls to mind the great master’s toccata and fugue in the same key.

The second Bach student may not be as well known, but has a large catalog of compositions.  Gottfried August Homilius’ Dearly I love you, O Lord is in trio form and the registration Mr. Schelat chose maintain a brilliant contrast with the two manuals and pedal all in distinctive voices. 

The Fantasia and fugue in F Major by Johann Ludwig Krebs reveal another intersection of styles as Bach’s student tries a wildly rococo fantasia and a more baroque full fugue.

The final works — those of the great master Bach — start with one of his six trio sonatas, Sonata in C Major (BWV 529).  Wilmington is lucky to have an organist who can play such a challenging work with the rich sound of the organ at First and Central.  The other two pieces, the chorale prelude Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness and the Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 547) complete the tour.  In a little more than an hour, Mr. Schelat takes the listener to hear what Bach heard as a young man, how his students interpreted his teaching and how the mature composer created some of the most complex and intriguing works for organ which are still fresh today.  The concert — Bach and His Circle — is at First and Central Presbyterian Church on Rodney Square on Saturday, October 19, at 7:30pm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Market Street Music features Organ Recital at First & Central

Gabriel Kney organ at First & Central Presbyterian
When you walk into the First and Central Presbyterian Church at Rodney Square, you walk out of the night and into a brightly lit space.  The organ console is at the very center of the chancel.  The organ case is behind the console with its beautiful white wood housing encasing the massive ranks of the 1989 instrument built by David Kney.

David Schelat started with Dieterich Buxtehude’s  Praeludium in D major and the church filled with sound.  The acoustics  created a swirl of sound as each new line chased the prior one into oblivion.  

Mr. Schelat then played selections from Bach's Orgelbüchlein, choosing several short pieces which demonstrated the range of sounds the Kney can produce such as the Zimbelstern bells for the New Year: In you is joy (BWV 615).

David Schelat, organist &
Music Director, Market Street Music
The Toccata and Fugue in A minor by Johann Ludwig Krebs was the centerpiece of the program.  Mr. Schelat has such technical mastery that the complex pedal lines, the fast scales, contrasting themes played simultaneously and the registration seemed to magically unfold.   The virtuosity of this piece rivals anything by Bach, with whom Krebs studied.

After the intermission, Mr. Schelat played one of his own compositions — an organ sonata in three movements.  The piece is quite melodic, but has innovative ideas such as the melody line played in the pedals for the folk song movement, with the keyboard playing an arpeggiated harmony.  The relatively short piece, with its clear conception, was written for a colleague, Michael Britt, who premiered it in France.

Mr. Schelat used a lot of dynamic variation with the swell pedal for the Cesar Franck Fantaisie in A and the Piece Héroique,  His encore, one of the Noel variations by Charpentier gave us an opportunity to hear the organ’s reed and piccolo stops.  

This was a great tour of an amazing organ led by a local virtuoso, right in the center of Wilmington.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mastersingers of Wilmington Present Ein Deutsches Requiem

On Saturday, April 2, at 7:30, David Schelat and his Mastersingers present Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, in a program which includes other German anthems by Eighteenth and Nineteenth century composers for a lush, romantic evening.

The first part of the concert has some short a capella pieces which show off the great control and uniform harmony David Schelat has achieved with his 34-member chorale.

The Frohlocket, ihr Volker auf Erden by Felix Mendelssohn has such a perfect compositional structure that the voices resound and return in the marvelous stone environment of the First and Central Presbyterian Church sanctuary. The Mastersingers’ spirited rendition makes this piece exciting and moving.

The lyrics of Talismane, Opus 141, Number 4 – a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are inescapably gripping. “The East is God’s, the West is God’s. Northern and southern lands rest in the peace of his hands.” The chorus sings these words with such conviction that it grabs the listener by the ears.

The pièce de résistance is the wonderful requiem, accompanied on the piano by Lotus Cheng and Hiroko Yamazaki in the four-hand arrangement by Brahms. Both the small chorus and the pianists have no trouble creating a build-up of glorious sound that fills the sanctuary. Soloists Eileen Clark, soprano and Edward Albert, baritone have wonderfully strong voices that ring out above the chorus with ease.

If you have never heard the Brahms Requiem, this intimate space and small ensemble provides great opportunity to feel as if you are right in the middle of the music.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mastersingers at First and Central Presbyterian Church

On Saturday, May 1, at 7:30, David Schelat and his Mastersingers will present I do wander everywhere: songs from England and France. They let me hear Thursday’s rehearsal.

The delicate appogiaturas played by organist Marvin Mills introduce a stately Festival Te Deum by Benjamin Britten. The imitative entrances build to a piu mosso ed energico, and the rhythms change wildly. Then a delicate soprano voice rises over a very light organ registration.

The Trois Chansons by Maurice Ravel introduce some jaunty wickedness – my favorite being the rondelay warning of the dangers of the Ormond Woods. The Mastersingers are able to communicate the ironies of Ravel’s lyrics with perfect understatement.

The Choral Hymns from the Rig-Veda by Gustav Holst are a rare treat. Holst wrote these between 1907 and 1918 – translating the Sanskrit himself. Anne Sullivan’s pristine harp playing is brilliantly matched to the vocal sound of this set for women’s voices.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Three Shakespeare Songs show off the fine bass voices and his harmonies are so complex – from the bells ringing in resonant chords with major and minor seconds to the harmonic progression sustaining the lyrics ‘sea change’, the Mastersingers prove their mettle.

O quam amabilis es by Pierre Villette begins with traditional polyphony then moves to jazz harmonies and ending on an unresolved major seventh. Two motets by Marcel Duruflé are more staid and contemplative, a quiet moment of delicate sound.

The concert ends with Benjamin Britten Rejoice in the Lamb, Opus 30. This piece reminds me so much of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols because of the nonsensical lyrics, wildly dancing rhythms and exciting accompaniment.

David Schelat has selected a wonderful program of pieces that are rarely heard. Don’t miss this concert.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Mastersingers of Wilmington at First and Central Presbyterian Church

On Saturday, November 7, at 7:30, David Schelat and his Mastersingers will present In Memoriam – Songs for the Loving Departed. I snuck into a rehearsal to bring you a preview.

The reverberant room lifts the tenor voice for Selig sind die Toten (Blessed are the dead) by Heinrich Schutz and you are transported to the sounds of a European cathedral as the other voices enter and weave the harmony of the early baroque master. The John Sheppard In pace in idipsum continues the European baroque mood, but this time in the English Tudor chapel.

But don’t be lulled. Three pieces by Pavel Chesnokov, a twentieth century Russian composer, sung in Church Slavonic will bring you out of your reverie. Chesnokov, whose works David Schelat recently discovered in the Musica Russica edition, was a composer and choirmaster who struggled to pursue his profession from the Bolshevik Revolution until his cathedral was destroyed during the Stalinist era. Soloists Margaret Anne Butterfield and Charles Warrick provide a delicate cantor line for the second piece.

Organist Marvin Mills accompanies the last two pieces. He keeps a fairly simple and quiet registration for the Bach double-choir motet, Komm, Jesu, komm, letting the myriad voices of the choirs take the fore while providing a basso continuo.

But the organ is a principal voice in the Alfred Desenclos Messe de Requiem which exults in the French twentieth century lush and wild harmonies reminiscent of Ravel and Poulenc. The soloists Katherine Supina, Marjorie Eldreth, Charles Warrick and Paul Stamegna and the rest of the choral group negotiate the pitches without a hitch, showing that they indeed have earned the name Mastersingers.