DPO celebrates youth & age with concerto debut
The Dayton Philharmonic celebrated youth and age. On stage were guest conductor Sara Jobin and pianist Ian Parker. Both are very young, very handsome and very talented. The contrast was the debut of a piano concerto by Robert Ward whose demeanor and vitality belie his 91 years.
Maestra Jobin, replete in tuxedo and pony tail, took charge of the artists of the Philharmonic with authority and enthusiasm. She began the program with the Symphonic Metamorphoses by Paul Hindemith. A complex work of four varied movements, the lively music featured wonderful performances by the woodwinds, particularly Rebecca Andres’ flute and Eileen Whalen’s oboe. The percussion section was very busy, as well.
Ward’s concerto followed. The markings of the two movements, adagio and grave, made me anticipate a funeral dirge. The music was far from that. Lively and jocular, it was almost a concerto for orchestra with piano.
Ian Parker’s piano had brilliant runs and reveries of arioso passages which seemed to augment the major sounds from the orchestra. There were some issues of balance but the overall effect was exciting and delightful.
After intermission, Maestra Jobin “let it all hang out.” Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony is not for the faint of heart. It is a big work with interludes of joyful song from the woodwinds, horns and percussion. Yes, even the cymbals seemed to sing their own song.
The famous third movement, pizzicato ostinato, had the strings plucking away joyously. If violins and celli could smile, they would have been grinning from ear to ear.
The concert was another testimony to the artists of our orchestra and the acoustics of the Schuster. There is no place for sound to hide; everything is spread buffet-like for the audience to hear. What a wonderful place to spend such an important part of our musical life.
The Dayton Ballet
The annual repertory concert of Dayton Ballet is, to many dance lovers, the high point of the season. As appealing as the full-length story ballets are, giving the artists of this wonderful company an evening of pure expression is a real reward for audience and dancers. The beautiful and talented dancers paraded four works which were all dance delights at the Victoria Theatre last weekend.
The evening featured two works by Karen Russo Burke, illustrating just how communicative dance can be. The first was Canyons. It celebrates the American Indian heritage and the feeling of Southwest beauty.
To interesting drum and flute music, the fourteen dancers created elaborate movements which began with stunning tableaux in dramatic silhouette. There was no “war dancing”, Indian style. Instead the movements created pure spirit. The entire company would, at intervals, leap across the stage. Each of the leaps was the very soul of an animal. What animal? All animals were evoked in these beautiful controlled bursts of soaring energy.
Karen’s second work was for four women dancers, Freudian Slip. The cast of Jennifer Grund, Christy Forehand, Keenan McLaren and Halliet Slack performed on Thursday evening. Each of these beautiful artists took classic poses, collapsing them into exciting but indescribable configurations.
Between Karen’s works, the ballet revived Septime Webre’s D-Construction. Again, a double cast performed the demanding dance. Dressed in 1920’s era athletic costumes, Case Bodamer, Grant Dettling, Eduard Forehand and Richard Grund elevated exercise into an art form. Handsome to a fault, the men looked like Olympian gods who had dropped into a gym.
The final half of the evening was the delightful Play Ball, the effervescent work of choreographer Christopher Fleming. Instead of gods in a gym, the entire company turned out as baseball players. The battle of the sexes was played before the audience who joined in by singing the national anthem and “Take Me out to the Ball Game.”
The dancers took cute and sassy into the stratosphere. Everything was pseudo-authentic - throwing, catching, batting. The only disappointment was that the technical advisors failed to teach them to spit at proper intervals. Who ever heard of baseball players who don’t spit?
Over the years, we have had to say goodbye to some of the great artists of the company. This year it was a sad farewell to the beautiful husband and wife team of Jennifer and Richard Grund. I have described their artistic greatness again and again. I will always remember them as the souls of beauty, talent and love. Their relationship with each other, their art, their colleagues and the adoring audience have made them Dayton Ballet icons. They are in my personal Hall of Fame, as well.
Croatian guitarist wows crowd at DAI
It has been many, many years since the prestigious Vanguard Concerts have programmed a classical guitarist, usually presenting more traditional performers of chamber music. Saturday’s audience of around 300 demonstrated their appreciation for this creative programming as 27-year-old Croatian guitarist Robert Beleniç brought them to their feet.
Beleniç brought to the stage a European-style of performing where the music is the sole medium of communication. This differs from a 30-plus year trend in concert presenting where artists routinely talk about the music, the composers, etc. Other than a few comments about his guitar (which he was urged to do), Beleniç was definitely up to the task of delivering the experience of the classical guitar via the music alone.
After a period of initial fidgeting to get comfortable in his seat, the first thing that captured everyone’s attention was his sound. With an assured technique, he delivered notes with extreme clarity and purpose through a Bach Sonata whose fugue was one of the most musical interpretations this reviewer has ever heard. Beleniç made it look easy, allowing the music to be expressive. A classical set of variations by Fernando Sor was delivered with élan, with sparkling scales and rippling arpeggios, and a sense of space which reflected the composer’s borderline classical/romantic style. The concluding bars were one of the quietest, most ethereal moments this reviewer has ever experienced at a guitar concert.
Having established himself in the first half of the program with baroque, classical and Latin American music, after intermission Beleniç invited the audience to experience more contemporary examples of the classical guitar repertoire. He guided us through a Sonata by Cuban composer and masterful guitarist Leo Brower, with its unusual and unfamiliar sonorous territories, laden with harmonics and deliberately-chosen dissonances. The concluding movement contained enough energy to satisfy anyone needing a boost.
It is important to note that Beleniç did not only play his guitar - he played the hall as if it were an instrument at his command. The 400-seat NCR Renaissance Auditorium, which lies at the heart of the floor plan at the Dayton Art Institute, is larger than some rooms which favor the quieter dynamics of the classical guitar. Beleniç used the entire range of the guitar’s dynamic spectrum quite effectively in this setting, treating the audience to some extremely delicate pianissimo passages which were made even more effective because of the audience’s quiet, rapt attention.
All in all, the directors of the Vanguard Concerts are to be applauded in selecting such a fine artist to enrich their series. Bravo!
Bach Society concert March 29
On Sunday, March 29, at 4 p.m., the Bach Society of Dayton, under the direction of Music Director John Neely, will present a concert entitled, “The Art of the Magnificat.” The Bach Society will perform Bach’s “Magnificat” and “Cantata 10”, as well as John Rutter’s “Magnificat” with soloists Andrea Chenoweth, soprano, Emily Landa, mezzo soprano, Liza Forrester, mezzo soprano, Randall Black, tenor and Randall Levin, bass-baritone and orchestra.
Art from the University of Dayton Marian Library will be on display and projected during the concert. A concert preview will be presented at 3 p.m. by Rev. Johann Roten, S.M., Director, Marian Library/IMRI.
Bach Society singers who reside in Oakwood are Donna Reece, Faye Seifrit, Mary Beth Rodes, Laura Thie, David Grupe, Larry Hollar and accompanist Alan Kimbrough.
The concert will take place at the Ketterng Adventist Church, 3939 Stonebridge Road. Tickets $15 - general admission, $10 students, (Children 12 and under free) are available at the door or may be purchased in advance by calling the Bach Society of Dayton, 294-2224 (BACH).
Noted pianist to perform Mar. 28
The Soirees Musicales International Piano Series presents Yaron Kohlberg on Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. at Shiloh Church, N. Main Street at Philadelphia Dr.
“A consummate concert artist, destined to become one of the world’s greatest pianists thanks to the brilliance of his playing, his magnificent technique and his passion for music,” wrote one critic.
Selections from Robert Schumann, Leos Janacek and Sergei Prokofieff will be part of the program.
Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 seniors, $12 students (ages 19-22) and 18 & under free.
Due Colori to perform at St. Paul’s April 1
The 2008-2009 St. Paul’s Artist Series will conclude on Wednesday evening, April 1, at 7 p.m., with a concert featuring Due Colori, the musical pairing of soprano Megan Monaghan and Daniel Boring, who plays baroque, classical, and romantic guitar, lute, and theorbo. Due Colori’s repertoire embraces music from the Renaissance to contemporary commissioned pieces, and they have recorded a CD, Irish Airs and Ballads.
The performance will be followed by refreshments in the Cloister. There is no admission charge for concerts in the St. Paul’s Artist Series, but a free will offering, which helps make possible this unique musical ministry to the wider community, will be taken. As part of St. Paul’s long tradition of musical outreach, Director of Music John W. Johns has extended a special invitation to music students from area high schools, including Stivers School for the Arts, Oakwood High School, and Kettering-Fairmont High School, who do not always have access to regularly priced tickets for concerts by artists of the caliber featured at St. Paul’s free events.
Please mark your calendars for the upcoming concerts in the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Artist Series, and spread the word that St. Paul’s doors are open, providing magnificent music in sacred space for the enjoyment and inspiration of all. The church is located at 33 W. Dixon in Oakwood.
For more information, call 937-293-1154.
Watercolor exhibit at Town & Country
The Town & Country Fine Art Center presents the WOWS (Western Ohio Watercolor Society) Spring Show. March 20 - April 5. The Fine Art Center is located at 300 E. Stroop Rd. in Kettering, Ohio.
March 24, 2009
Volume 18, No. 12
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