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Violinist Vadim Gluzman merits standing ovation

Guest Conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith returned to the Dayton Philharmonic with some prize plums as enticement.  Smith had conducted the DPO in 2000 playing an all Copeland concert to copious bravos.  Now, he had the opportunity to lead our fine orchestra in the acoustic wonders of the Schuster Center.

He also had the opportunity to showcase the rising violin sensation Vadim Gluzman in the beloved Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.  Smith’s pre-concert discussions were full of enthusiasm for orchestra, hall and Gluzman.  The concert verified that this enthusiasm was absolutely deserved.

William Schuman’s New England Triptych opened the concert. Based on tunes by William Billings, a major figure in the music of the Revolutionary War era, the three sections vary greatly.  The music, full of the religious and patriotic zeal of the period, was given a rather dynamic, even brazen, reading under Smith’s baton.  

Young and handsome Vadim Gluzman entered, carrying his 1690 Stradivarius violin. This instrument was once owned by 19th Century violin virtuoso Leopold Auer.  It was to Auer that Tchaikovsky dedicated his violin concerto. Auer’s response was to render the opinion that it was “unplayable.”  

That belief has been invalidated for more than a century. Gluzman’s stunning evocation of the very soul of this great work, on Auer’s own violin, was the final judgment.

In the concerto, both orchestra and soloist speak to and with each other. This rapport, so essential, was perfectly demonstrated by Smith, the orchestra, Gluzman and the rapturous acoustics of the hall. Not a note, not a nuance was lost. The violin spoke, the orchestra retold the tale with sympathetic clarity.

The tonal qualities Gluzman produced enhanced those highly personal statements from the violin, as well as the more vivace lines.  As a music lover, I try not to compare or rate performances.  After receiving the glow of Gluzman’s mastery, I can easily say, “I never heard it played better.”

The cadenzas in the outer movements seemed to be the traditional ones. I detected special virtuoso effects added by Gluzman which complemented the totality of the experience.    

Special kudos must be given to the woodwind section of the orchestra.  The oboe, clarinet, flute all had important solos, enhancing the voice of the violin.  At the finale, allegro vivacissimo, the only problem was keeping the audience in their seats. The spontaneous and rousing standing ovation clearly marked the joy spread by these great musicians.  

The final work on the program was Robert Schumann’s Spring Symphony.  The joys of spring were much needed on this coldest night of the season.  Much of that joy
was evident in the music.  

WSU’s Holidays in the Heartland

Wright State University’s annual Holidays in the Heartland is a well designed gift for the entire city.  The fact that it shows the depth of talent teeming from the WSU students and faculty is a fortunate by-product.

The Schuster Center hosts a full house for this concert of highly varied, “down home” music. The concert, replete with bright shining young persons having a ball, is filled with sophisticated performances.

The WSU student groups included the University Collegiate Choral, the Men’s Chorale, Chamber singers, University Chorus and Woman’s Chorale and The Paul Lawrence Dunbar Chorale.  Members of the Kettering Children’s Choir appeared as guests.  All were supported by the Faculty Brass Quintet and the Wright Winds.
The listing of the groups really describes the program.  Each group put their special stamp on patriotic, religious and fun music.  All this plus some joyful sing-alongs make this Dayton’s official holiday kick-off.

Michael Bashaw’s Theater of Sound

The move from “down home” to “out of this world” was only a few blocks from The Schuster to the Convention Center. Michael and Sandy Bashaw are innovators to the extreme.  Well-known artists in both music and sculpture, their scope and enthusiasm know no bounds.

They are presently establishing a Theater of Sound in the transportation center, the space once occupied by Chin’s Restaurant.  They will provide a showcase for Michael Bashaw’s unique and often monumental musical instruments.  The new Performance venue will also highlight collaboration with arts and musical groups of every genre.  

As a foretaste, they organized a two night stand demonstrating their creations and playing, along with others, their music.  Sandy and Michael, along with Erich Reith and John Taylor, held forth for a concert of what was, to me, an entirely new musical experience.

Their collaborative guests were Stivers’ Dance Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra, dancer Michael Grooms and the manifold talents of Rick Good, Sharon Leahy and Ben Cooper of Rhythm in Shoes.  Oh yes, there was also an attractive belly dancer Laylia, f any who were not pure music lovers.

I must confess an embarrassing goof.  Last week, I attributed the opera Dr. Atomic to John Cage.  Somehow, in my late-night writing sprees, John Adams, the rightful composer, lost his place to his contemporary John Cage.  Mea Culpa!


Oakwood ballerina has Nutcracker lead role

Miami Valley School sixth-grade student Elizabeth Wood, of Oakwood, will join the cast of the Dayton Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, becoming the youngest lead cast member in the local show’s history. The 11-year-old will play the role of Clara in one of the show’s two casts. Wood said when she found out the good news, she thought it was a joke.

“I thought they were kidding, so I didn’t know how to feel at first,” she said. “But when they finally told me I actually was this part, I was so excited.” Wood has practiced ballet since third grade.  

The production kicks off Friday, Dec. 12 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Schuster Center.


Fenstermacher to perform with St. Olaf choir

St. Olaf College First  Year Student Kira Fenstermacher of Dayton  will participate in the 2008 St. Olaf Christmas Festival, one of America’s longest-running celebrations of Christmas. Fenstermacher , a Soprano II and member of the Manitou Singers, will appear in four performances Dec. 4 through Dec. 7.

Kira is the daughter of A. Walter and Laurie H. Fenstermacher of Oakwood.

Quilt show at Kettering Center

15 quilt artists belonging to the Miami Valley Quilt Network and hailing from Oakwood , Kettering, Washington Township, Yellow Springs, Centerville, Dayton and Springboro will be exhibiting their quilts at the Kettering Government Center Gallery, 3600 Shroyer Rd. from Nov. 3 to Nov. 28.

Entitled Uncommon Threads:

Brilliant Stitches, artists from Oakwood include Kate Burch, Sharon Weltner and Susan Schaller as well as Kettering quilt artists Carroll Schleppi, Ron Lundquist and Winnie Fiedler, among others, will be exhibiting their works Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public.

Youth piano competition seeks entries

The Dayton Chamber Music Society is calling for entries to the Eleanor McCann Piano Competition for Youth which will take place April 4, 2009 at Christ Episcopal Church, 20 W. First St. in Downtown Dayton.  First place prize is $1,000; second place prize is $500.

The competition is being held in memory of the late Ms. Eleanor McCann who “dedicated her life to the introduction of area young people to the excitement of music and its developmental effects,” according to the announcement received.

The number of finalists will be limited to a maximum of eight to ten and will be chosen from CD recordings. Each finalist will be allowed a total playing time of twenty minutes.

The competition is open to contestants between grades 9 and 12 as of the 2008-09 school year (no exceptions) and must reside in Montgomery, Miami, Greene, Clark, Warren, Clinton or Preble County.

To receive an application form and entrance procedure requirements, call 436-2603 or e mail a request to Materials must be postmarked no later than February 14.

Human Race scholarship accepting applications

The Human Race Theatre Company has opened the application process for the 2nd Annual Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Scholarships, which are designed to support singer/actors in the Dayton area who are training for musical theatre careers. The scholarships - $3,500 for a current college student, $1,500 for a high school student accepted into a college musical theatre program.

Students with permanent addresses in Montgomery, Preble, Darke, Miami, Clark, Greene, Warren or Butler counties or who are currently enrolled at a college in one of those counties are eligible to apply. Complete application information can be found at The application deadline is Nov. 24, 2008.

Preliminary auditions will be held in December, with the final audition before a live audience next April.



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