Showing posts with label Music School of Delaware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music School of Delaware. Show all posts

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Warmth of Winter Winds

The Music School of Delaware took a defiant leap and presented a delightful menu of winds – which, in spite of the chilly title and weather, attracted quite an audience. The programming was surprising, refreshing and delightful and unexpected like an amaryllis opening in the middle of winter.

The first piece was Wind quintet No. 3 in F major by Giuseppe Maria Cambrini.  Although Cambrini did not make it to the standard repertoire as did his contemporary and teasing competitor, Wolfgang Mozart, his style is evocative of that era in its light classical lilt.  The interweaving themes and Mozartian style were a great vehicle for combining the dark sounds of horn (Anna Skrupky) and bassoon (Chuck Holdeman) and the filigree of clarinet (Jared Eastridge), oboe, (Susan Ritter) and flute (Melinda Bowman).

The Three Irish Songs by john Corigliano with Jessica Graae, soprano, and Lynn Cooksey, flute presented and intriguing combination with some harmonies that were rather surprising, but this could be due to the small auditorium and the big sound of diminutive Ms. Graae’s surprisingly strong voice.

And when was the last time you heard kettledrums in a chamber ensemble?  The Nightwatch: a dialog for horn, flute and kettledurms by Ellis B. Kohs was an amazingly delicate morsel.  The flute starts with a birdsong, the horn follows with a frog call and the kettledrum provides a beat and drone and then the flute and horn move into a duet and the kettledrum joins for a trio.

The Sonata for flute, oboe and piano by Madeleine Dring,  a British composer (1923-1977) --who,  by the way,  sounds surprisingly like Francis Poulenc-- is a fun romp.  Ms. Ritter and Ms. Bowman played the wild cadenza beautifully. 

Ms. Cheng, piano, was the backbone of the second half with her collaboration.  The Dance from “Ballade, pastorale, and dance” by Eric Ewazen for flute, horn and piano and the Tarantella for flute, clarinet and piano, Opus 6 by Camille Saint-Saens profited from her expertise.

The Concertino pour flute, opus 107  by Cécile Chaminade showcased a very talented student of Mindy Bowman,  Genevieve Hahn whose technique and poise were outstanding. 

The concert was topped off by the Sonata for horn, trumpet and trombone by Francis Poulenc which was played in a no-holes-barred romp by Anna Skrupky, horn, Katelynn Griess, trombone and Malcolm McDuffee, trumpet. 

Even on that grey winter evening, the winds warmed up the smiles in the audience.  Music School Dean Cheri Astolfi created a fantastic event to show off her wind staff.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Things to “Artify” Your Holidays

The holidays are a time to celebrate, make memories and give a little back. We’ve compiled an arts-centric list so you can do just that. Happy (Arty) Holidays from Delaware Arts Info!  

1. Shop the Arts
There’s nothing like finding that perfect, one-of-a-kind holiday gift — and nowhere better to find it than shopping with the Arts!  The Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts’ Alternatives Museum Shop Holiday Craft Show on December 6 & 7 features more than 20 artists’ work in jewelry, ceramics, woodworking and fun accessories.

That same weekend, the Delaware Art Museum’s Winter Art Fair on December 7 & 8, features museum Studio Art instructors and their works. Plus, 25% of proceeds benefit the museum’s education department.

 And also this weekend: Rehoboth Art League Holiday Open House on December 7, offering plenty unique gift options, art demonstrations, activities for adults and children, refreshments and maybe even a visit from Santa!

Barry Schlecker and friends certainly know how to throw a Fest. And, they're doing it again on December 6 with Taste of the Holidays, at the Delaware Center for Horticulture. Not only can you find great arts & crafts for gifting, you can sample yummy holiday sips (beer, wine & spirits) and hear some great live music!  Taste of the Holidays  

2. Support an Artist and Her Cause
Sarah Davenport is a designer, a photographer, an ardent supporter of the Arts…and a sufferer of chronic late-stage Lyme disease.  Her fundraiser — FEARLESS: A Fight Against Chronic Lyme Disease — will help defray the cost of her extensive treatment and raise awareness for the disease. On December 7, the event features a mix of music, art and charity, including a silent auction of some fantastic objet d'arts.
Tickets available at

3. Go “Nuts” with Dance

It’s a holiday tradition, and Delaware provides plenty of chances for you to experience The Nutcracker. Take your pick:

  • December 7 & 8 with the Delaware Dance Company at John Dickinson High School
  • December 7 with New Castle Dance and Music Academy's Ballet Company at the Smyrna Opera House
  • December 7 & 8 with Diamond Dance Company at Milford Senior High School
  • December 13 & 14 with Mid-Atlantic Ballet at UD
  • December 21 with First State Ballet Theatre at the Grand Opera House December 21 with Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance at the Dupont Theatre
Details: or

4. The Greatest Story Ever Told…Through Music & Dance

Christina Cultural Arts Center and Eleone Dance Theatre present Carols in Color.” CCAC brings back this powerful show, based on the gospel according to St. Matthew, on December 15 at the Grand. “Carols in Color” re-tells the story of the birth of Christ through exuberant dance, contemporary music and powerful narration.

5. Rejoice in the Voice(s) of the Holidays

There’s plenty of holiday chorale music this time of year; here’s a sampling of the voices you’ll hear exalting the season:

Celebrate Christmas with the Mastersingers on December 8. The celebrated Mastersingers, organist Marvin Mills, conductor David Schelat and orchestra provide some of the greatest Christmas music of all time.

The Music School of Delaware ensembles partner with neighboring synagogues for a stunning performance in Winter Reflection: Winter Choral Concert on December 15. The program features the Delaware Children’s Chorus, the Delaware Women’s Chorus and choirs of Congregation Beth Emeth and Beth

The “Singing Ambassadors of Wilmington” bring their annual performance and amazing talent to the masses with the Wilmington Children's Chorus Candlelight Holiday Concert on December 13 &

6. Laugh Your Way Through the Holiday
Need a good laugh to brighten your Blue Christmas? Head to World Café Live for The Second City's Nut-cracking Holiday Revue on December 5. The troupe that bore many SNL faves brings you magic and mayhem of the season with original songs, new sketches and classic favorites. 

7. Love Live & Local Holiday Tunes
Local and national musicians get into the holiday spirit with these awesome seasonal sets:

TOMORROW, December 4, Lunasa: Christmas from Ireland comes to the Grand, with a blend of homey nostalgia, rollicking high energy and what The Irish Voice calls “the hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet.”

Market Street Music presents the Cartoon Christmas Trio on December 5.  Celebrate with a nostalgic repertoire of classic cartoon themed-music including Vince Guaraldi “Peanuts” music.

Our very own favorite DOCK-ROCK power duo, HOT BREAKFAST!, release their single, An Idiot for Christmas, just in time for your holiday party playlist! Get it here:

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with the David Bromberg Quintet. Bromberg’s played with everyone, toured everywhere, and now hosts a New Year’s Eve bash at the Queen just for Delaware fans on December 31.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reporting from the Grand Opera House Stage

The Grand Opera
On Monday, May 14, I hurried home from work, wolfed down a cold supper and zoomed off to the Grand Opera House.  Dr. Tim Schwarz had offered the Wilmington Community Orchestra a chance to warm up in the hall so we could get the feel of it before the concert.  Unfortunately, when I arrived to warm up, the people in charge would not let me touch the piano, so I sat on the bleachers and played air piano during the warm up.

After the air warm-up, I zipped over to the Sarah Bernhardt Room – a beautifully paneled side-room on your left as you enter the Grand Opera House.  There was a short chamber concert before the orchestral performance which was a great program performed mainly by the adult members of the Wilmington Community Orchestra and some of their friends.  A flute trio by Kaspar Kummer, a modern tango for strings, the first movement of the Beethoven Wind Octet in E-Flat Major, Opus 103,  a movement of the Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major by Mozart and a wind quintet by Darius Milhaud called La Cheminée du Roi René.  Note:  Bassoonist Jennifer Hugh came in as a last minute sub and did a great job in both the chamber works and the symphonic works and she has a heavy gig this coming Sunday in the Newark Symphony.  Brava!

Then I followed the crowd back to the main hall for the concerto winner performances.  The orchestra sounded fantastic in the Grand – man, do they have wonderful acoustics.  I enjoyed hearing the young concerto winners.  Marius Sander(student of Eliezer Gutman)  played the first movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor, Opus 64,  Madeline Cheong (student of Jennifer Chen) played the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G Minor, Opus 25 and Alexis Meschter (student of Lee Snyder) played the Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor by Henri Vieuxtemps.

I went to the beginning of the intermission chamber concert – an excellent rendition by some young students of the MozartQuintet for Clarinet and Strings, K 581, but left early to check out the stage.  First of all, since the stage hands moved the piano, I had no idea if I would be able to see the conductor from wherever they put it.  Secondly, I feared that I would not be able to get on the stage after the chorus and all the musicians were in place.

I went and dutifully tested the piano bench, closed to half stick so the lid wouldn’t block my view of the conductor and tested a few quiet notes which sounded amazingly loud from the stage.  I couldn’t start practicing full force because the audience had already started to come back in.  So, nerves up and move on.

I enjoyed watching the Delaware Children’s Chorus come shyly on stage from my offstage vantage point.  They were trying so hard to do the right thing and were small and adorable.  Dr. Schwarz mouthed the words for them to help as they sang.  Then the Delaware Women’s Chorus joined them on stage.

Next was my gig on the piano so I went on stage from the piano side (no percussion to stumble over on that side) and survived my piece.  I rushed off and went under the grand in the cavernous passage to the steps to the front lobby.  I was delighted to have seen the backstage that all my friends use before they play with the Delaware Symphony.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It Takes a Special Person

There are tons of gifted musicians, but few who can communicate to others how to make better music. Tim Schwartz proved that he is one of those few with the wonderful performance he conducted of the Wilmington Community Orchestra at the Music School of Delaware on November 15.

The Bacchanal from Camille Saint-Saens’ opera Samson et Dalila showed me how far the WCO string section has come in intonation - providing a smooth background for the delightful snake charmer themes played by the oboe (Gary Walter), flute (Melinda Bowman, Susan Ryan, Emily Waddell) and clarinets (Michelle Webb and Anthony Pantelopulos). Sam Fuhrman’s cymbal playing had a long dynamic build-up which gave the frenzied color to the whole ballet. The spice of Melany Hoffman’s castanets and Debra Bialecki’s timpani added an exotic flavor.

In the Symphony No. 94 by Franz Josef Haydn, the Surprise Symphony, the strings also met the challenge, forming an excellent unison chorus behind solo winds. Susan Ryan’s flute entrances were spot on and the bassoon responses by Kathy Melvin in the Menuetto: Allegro Molto were clear and delightful. Laura Reimer’s first oboe part was delicate in its simple classical line.

But the pièce de resistance for me was the Second Piano Concerto in B-flat Major by Johannes Brahms. I had been listening to a record of Emil Gilels’ performance with the Berliner Philharmonic all week and had concluded that no mortal could play the piano part. Sandra Rivers walked out on stage, sat down and calmly proved me wrong. Her ability to bend to the orchestra showed her mastery of the piece. She made sure that not only were the difficult technical fireworks going to land in the right place, but that her playing could melt into the most delicious soft tones, lifting melody over absolutely quiet arpeggiations and accompaniments and taking the sound of the open lid piano so low that Jennifer Stomberg’s beautiful cello solo could resound without being crowded.

My hat is off to both Ms. Rivers and Mr. Schwarz for using their innate musical abilities and boundless energy to make such a successful performance possible for this dedicated amateur orchestra.

See. and

Friday, July 17, 2009

Music alumni awards

Whether you knew it as the Wilmington Music School or as the now renamed Music School of Delaware, the staff wants to hear how its ex-students are doing. It's organizing an alumni association. Sign up on the web home page.

Know someone who's especially outstanding? Nominations are sought for two Distinguished Alumni awards -- one for accomplishments in music, and the second in other pursuits.
Potential honorees should be 18 or older with noteworthy achievements.

Nomination forms are on the web site Submit by Sept. 15.

The awards ceremony will be Oct. 7 in Wilmington.

Music lessons by site

The Music School of Delaware now offers lessons in Middletown, at the Odessa Townsend Senior Center, 300 S. Scott St. Kids and adults can learn voice, piano, flute, guitar, early childhood activities, even garage band there.

This fine school's main branch is at 4101 Washington St., Wilmington. Its extensive course list for all ages -- including ensembles, conservatory preparation, performances, music history, theory, autism and Alzheimer's therapy -- is at

Other lesson locations are at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Pike Creek; People's Church of Dover; the Drum Pad in Felton; and Long Neck United Methodist Church in Millsboro.