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4 major arts venues all one week in Dayton

Just another typical week in Dayton!  In seven days, we had four major arts experiences – each one a gem. The unique Dayton Contemporary Dance Company joined The Human Race’s Romeo & Juliet, The Victoria’s Broadway hit, Chicago and the Philharmonic’s Chamber Concert.  What a week - “eat your heart out New York!”

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company at the Victoria

DCDC is nearly impossible to describe. The company, now under the artistic direction of Debbie Blunden Diggs, has 16 of the most amazing dancers on the face of the earth. They respond to gifted choreography with movement and energy, astounding the audience.  

The men, often bare-chested, look like Greek Gods. The women are Goddesses, as well. When they dance they transmit their energy to the audience.  When you think you have seen it all, along comes something special and distinctive to raise the level of your appreciation. The very next dance repeats the sequence and the audience finally leaves the theater exhausted.

Their sold-out Saturday night at the Victoria included works by famous choreographers Talley Beatty and Eleo Pomare. Company member William McClellan and Debbie Blunden-Diggs each added a work of their own.

Each member of the all-star cast took turns in the spotlight. There were outstanding solos by Queala Clancy, Rebecca Sparks Vargas, William McClellan, Crystal Michelle, Sheri Williams, G.D. Harris, Suzanne Payne, James Dixon and Jaysin McCollum.

Called by many “A World Class Company” we are so fortunate to have them make their home in Dayton.  Their extensive touring schedule doesn’t forget their roots.  Look for them on April 19th and 27th, May 10th and June 20th - right here for us.
Romeo and Juliet at the Loft Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has certainly changed since I read it in high school.  Not a word in the play has changed but when interpreted by director Brian Crowe and performed by the incredible actors of The Human Race Theatre Company, it seems different.  

Shakespeare plays lend themselves easily to interpretative alteration.  Often this is a theatrical disaster.  Not so when a sensitive scholar and theater veteran like Brian Crowe makes those changes.  When he selects a cast of actors whose understanding and regard for the play is keen and enthusiastic the result is even more telling.

What was done was to be true to the words of the play, even when shuffling a few scenes.  Actions which intensify the meaning of those lines were the special difference in this performance of the classic.  Through this, even the most minor characters took on a special significance.

The cast was led by Jordan Coughtry as Romeo, Nathan Kaufman – well remembered for his stunning Caliban in The Tempest – as Mercutio, Dale Hodges as the very funny and clever Nurse, Elana Ernst as Juliet, Jarred Baugh as a fiery Tybalt and Jim Hopkins as Juliet’s father, Capulet. They were ably assisted by Buz Davis as Friar Lawrence, Scott Stoney as Romeo’s father and the stunning Jennifer Johansen as Lady Capulet.  

The set was both traditional Renaissance Verona and ultra modern.  The time-warping was entirely comfortable as the message of these spoiled libidinous children who were transformed into star-crossed lovers in this timeless tragedy was made crystalline clear.

Chicago at the Schuster Center

Chicago came to Dayton thanks to the Victoria Theatre Broadway series. To me, it started in Dayton with WSU’s stunning production nearly a decade ago.

Since that time, the girls have remained pretty and very sexy, the boys handsome and energetic. The plot and characters are lots of fun and the music catchy and, for a change, memorable and even hummable.  The on-stage orchestra, well supplied with brass, was superb.

The packed house at the Schuster took complete advantage of this short run of a fun-filled musical.

DPO’s Dimirjian Chamber Concert at the Schuster Center

The final event of this highly varied and exciting week was the Dayton Philharmonic’s Demirjian Chamber Concert.  This season, these wonderful double concerts have moved from the Victoria to the Schuster.  

My initial feeling was that the vast Schuster performance hall would detract from the more intimate ensembles and music.  I had grown accustomed to the pleasant mornings at the Victoria.

Immediately, I knew that I was wrong.  The orchestra and loge areas were quite filled. By keeping the balconies dark, there was no cavernous feeling to detract.  And, then there was the joy of the Schuster’s superb acoustics.

The concert was billed “Baroque and Beyond.”  Music of Vivaldi and J.S. Bach is ur-Baroque.  Maestro Neal cleverly added an interesting piece of Paul Hindemith.  Neal’s justification was that Hindemith considered himself the 20th Century Bach.
The orchestra was superb.  The strings led by Aurelian Oprea, Kirstin Greenlaw, Sheridan Currie and Christina Coletta played masterfully.  Each of the principals had interesting solos.  During the Hindemith, there was actually a short “Principal’s quartet” section.

Both Bach works, Orchestral Suite No. 3 and Cantata No. 29 called for very active trumpets.  To my delight, the horns were crystal clear and made their complex entrances perfectly.  Pianist Joshua Nemith added a powerful organ in the Bach cantata.

The cantata was a paean of praise for everything German.  Hank Dahlman’s Philharmonic Chorus was joined by four soloists.  Unfortunately, each soloist had only one aria.  Such voices deserved much more to sing.  

Tenor Wesley Lawrence had the true Baroque inflection.  Bass Kelvin Chan’s perfect diction and compelling delivery was so exciting.  Soprano Alisa Jordheim looked, and sang, like an angel.  Handsome mezzo-soprano Liza Forester was billed as an alto and handled the lower range beautifully.  Her singing was so convincing that after her recitative, chorus and soloists suddenly sounded a ringing amen.  That certainly woke up anyone sleeping!

Musical Hair to play at Dayton Playhouse
Feb. 8 - 9 and 15 - 16

Dayton Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., will be presenting Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s production of HAIR, the musical with music by Galt MacDermot will perform on Feb. 15-16.  

All shows are at 8 p.m.  There are NO TICKET RESERVATIONS for this production.  ALL PRODUCTIONS ARE FREE, but
donations are welcome!

The lobby opens at 7 p.m., the house opens at 7:30 p.m.and it is first-come, first-served seating. This play contains adult situations & language, and will be staged with full nudity. No patron under the age of 16 will be admitted without proper adult consent.

Amarcord to perform at WSU Feb. 17

Wright State University Department of Music welcomes the vocal ensemble amarcord to its Artist Series on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Creative Arts Center.

Founded in 1992 by former members of St. Thomas Boys Choir, the ensemble’s music focuses on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as collaborations with contemporary composers. Its repertoire also covers all facets of vocal music, ranging from madrigals through romantic compositions to a cappella arrangements of well-known songs.

“One of the most artistic and entertaining vocal ensembles in the world today, we’re delighted that amarcord is making a reprise of their highly popular performance at Wright State two years ago,” said Hank Dahlman, D.M.A., professor of music and director of choral studies at Wright State. “Their performance is certain to be a real treat for all who love great singing.”

Composed of Wolfram Lattke (tenor), Martin Lattke (tenor), Frank Ozimek (baritone), Daniel Knauft (bass) and Holger Krause (bass), the vocal group has won several international competitions, including Tolosa, Spain; Tampere, Finland; Pohlheim, Germany; and the first Choir Olympiad in Linz, Austria.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the night of the performance. Contact the Wright State University Student Union Box Office at (937)775-5544.

Noonday recitals at CUMC

Recital:  12:05 p.m., Admission Free
Luncheon:  12:30 p.m., Cost $8.00
For luncheon reservations call the church office 293-3151

February 20

Dan Rivers, singer/songwriter

February 27

Debra Lindley, piano

March 5

Leora Kline, violin
Daira Skriblis, piano

Christ United Methodist Church Sanctuary
3440 Shroyer Road, Kettering, Ohio

Open to the Public, Handicapped Accessible, Admission Free
For Questions:  Debi DeBanto, Communications Coordinator (937) 293-3151 or debi.debanto@christumc

Youth composition contest taking entries

The deadline is approaching for Heidelberg College’s musical composition contest, a new feature in the upcoming New Music Festival that will celebrate its 20th anniversary in April.

Young composers between the ages of 16 and 22 who currently reside in Ohio are invited to submit original new works written for piano by Feb. 15 to be considered for the competition. The winning composition will be performed as part of the New Music Festival April 11-13. The winning composer will receive an honorarium of $200.

Interested participants should submit pieces between three and five minutes in length, which can be for solo piano, piano four-hand or two pianos. CD recordings are not required for participation, but are strongly encouraged. Electronic or facsimile submissions will not be considered. Clear and legible scores should be postmarked by the deadline.

For the complete list of rules and submission forms, visit or call the Department of Music at (419) 448-2073.

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February 12, 2008
Volume 17, No. 7

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