Showing posts with label Grace United Methodist Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace United Methodist Church. Show all posts

Monday, February 1, 2010

Two world premieres

Mélomanie played two new works on January 30! To think that a small local group can commission works in these hard times is nothing short of great – and they used a little inventive cooperation to do so. Elaine Funaro, harpsichordist who also heads up a non-profit organization in Durham, North Carolina, which promotes new music for harpsichord (, joined forces with Mélomanie to commission a new work by Sergio Roberto de Oliveira.

Oliveira’ s work, Angico, was a vivid descriptive piece of the acacia tree which survived a threatened felling. The story gives a vehicle for Oliveira to evoke Brazil with bird songs, angry workers, and traditional rhythms. He skillfully orchestrated his motives on cello, harpsichord, violin and flute. My favorite movement was The construction into which he snuck a few habañera rhythms.

Mark Hagerty’s piece, After Duchamp, was a provocation in keeping with the provocative pairings Mélomanie strives to achieve. He tackled the spirit of Marcel Duchamp’s statement: “I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.” Hagerty decided to go against his natural tendency to write long and serious pieces. For Duchamp, he wrote a frivolous and jocular set of vignettes for harpsichord. His program notes set up the facetious objectives: ‘bird/anger: Two totally unrelated ideas that do not interact musically’ and ‘Werk ohne Opus’ where he takes on the established music world’s pretensions. But how do you praise a composer who is working against his own taste? Do you tell him he achieved the bad taste he was seeking?

And paired with the exciting new pieces were six fugues from Bach’s Art of the Fugue played with subtle dynamics and intonations. The group also played four movements from Louis de Caix d’Hervelois’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for flute and continuo in which they allowed themselves a joyous mood of the dances. Their next performance will be March 13, 2010 at Grace United Methodist Church.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pyxis Quartet at Grace United Methodist Church

The Pyxis Quartet is brand new, but you would not know it by their ensemble playing in their November 1 concert at Grace United Methodist Church.

This was the dedicatory concert for the brand new Mason and Hamlin grand piano, which the church has purchased in memory of Ruth McFarlane. The lid was fully open, but Ms. Yamazaki’s playing could get so soft it became a whisper under the strings.

First violinist Meredith Amado has a steely focus but her touch on the 1662 Nicolò Amati was so delicate that the high notes came out in silken tones – and yet had the power in crescendo to blossom forth without overwhelming the group.
Jie Jen had some lovely lines in the Brahms Quartet Opus 26 in A major that showed the strength and power with which she could play – sometimes dominating Ms. Yamazaki’s pianissimo sound and then smoothly quieting to let the piano, viola and violin back to the fore.

The entire concert was delightful, but the reverberating stone walls tended to blur the clarity of the Mozart. But that which was robbed from Mozart was paid to Brahms as the resonance of the romantic quartet brought many members of the audience to their feet at the end of the concert.

Encore, please!


Monday, May 25, 2009

A concert for peace

At 8 p.m. June 5, the Melomanie ensemble will present a joint benefit concert with the justice advocacy group Pacem in Terris.

Known for intriguing programs combining early period music and new commissions, Melomanie’s round-the-world itinerary features local composers Chris Braddock and Mark Hagerty. Works by Telemann, J.S. Bach, Diego Ortiz and Astor Piazzolla are also in the mix.

The concert is at Grace United Methodist Church, 900 Washington St., Wilmington. For tickets, call (302) 764-6338 or see

The evening coincides with the 20th SOWETO Festival art exhibit in the Grace Church gallery. A reception with poetry runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. This is also a city Art Loop night.

Composers Mark Hagerty and Chris Braddock talk about the works to be heard below: