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Kohlberg recital a study in youth, talent, devotion

Don Hageman’s Soirées Musicales piano recital series has provided, for nearly 40 years, great musical experiences for its devoted audience. The March concert at Shiloh Church had one unusual feature. It began at 4 a.m.

Lest I get my readers too excited, the concert began at the customary 8 p.m. For the soloist, Israeli pianist Yaron Kohlberg, it was in the wee hours of his morning. As a testimony to youth, talent and pure devotion, handsome young Kohlberg flew into Dayton from Israel the day of the concert and played a difficult program magnificently.

After charming the audience and a few hours sleep, a 5 hour bus ride would take him to Cleveland for a pair of recitals. A musical “ironman” in action.

The recital featured works from a continuum beginning with Robert Schumann, moving 50 years to Leos Janácek, then another half century leap to Sergei Prokofiev. The first half of the concert was devoted to Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze.

Davidsbündlertänze is a series of 18 dialogues Schumann set between two mythical characters. The variations in dynamics, tempi and expression can lead, and often do, to a rather disjointed musical fabric. I am more familiar with its
use by Balanchine and the New York City Ballet. To hear it played with sensitivity, power and élan by this young master made me realize what a pure manifestation of musical joy it is under the hands of a virtuoso.

Kohlberg then introduced the audience to a new experience. Leos Janácek has an exciting opus. His varied works delight and intrigue. His piano sonata, October 1, 1905, is in two parts, The Presentiment and the Death.

The opening was a sine-wave of changing dynamic. I began trying to relate the piece to previously heard Janácek works but I surrendered to its beauty and grace. It was unique and played marvelously.

The second section, The Death, began with placid acceptance, moved through a stormy resistance to the grim reaper and ended with quiet resignation. Each expression was sculptured and full of the colors of which a great piano is capable.

Impresario Don announced that an unforeseen accident had occurred. A seven foot long string had broken as he prepared the Grotrian piano just before the concert. Irreplaceable, he stated that the final note of the Prokofieff sonata would be altered. You couldn’t prove that by anyone in the audience as Kohlberg was entrancing with this complex and appealing work.

An encore by Chopin Prelude ended another great Soirées Musicales. Next comes a return of Janina Fialkowska on May 16th. Another certified “don’t miss.”

Human Race’s Doubt

Now, for a confession. I had seen the film, Doubt, with an Oscar nominated cast led by Meryl Streep. A dynamic interplay between a relentless nun and a more liberated priest, the film was good, not great.

We subscribe to the Human Race’s remarkable theatre series. Doubt was the next play. Conflicts led to canceling our initial night and my hesitation after the film led me to almost eschew the performance.

Fortunately, we experienced this remarkable play set on an equally remarkable revolving set by Mark Halpin. The work was meant for the magic of live theater. The interplay of the four characters did not need the embellishment of cinematic expansion.

The agon of the play is the unremitting suspicion of the parish priest by the nun principal of the parish school. Sister Aloysius is played to perfection by Wendy Barrie-Wilson. A paragon of strict adherence to her own code, she resents the modernization of the Church as represented by the friendly and helpful Father Flynn and a joyous and idealistic nun teacher Sister James.

With no evidence except her preconception of wrong-doing, Sister Aloysius weaves her spider-web of deceitful intrigue. The play and its conclusions represent some of the important values of our age. The experience of acting by Barrie-Wilson, Timothy Fannon, Jennifer Joplin and Sarah Ellen Stephens, under the enlightened direction of Richard Hess, is unforgettable.

I must apologize to my dear readers. By the time you get this, the play will have closed. I must also note, with pride, the local connections of several of the artists. Joplin is a WSU graduate, Stephens and Director Hess are from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Who needs New York?

Wicked booked for February

I’m Wicked, are you? We are all aware of the blockbuster musical Wicked which has established itself on Broadway and several other cities breaking all records. But, click your heels together, “there is no place like home.”

Wicked, in all of its grandeur, will take up residence at the Schuster next February for a three week stay; as part of the Victoria Broadway Series. There is no doubt that it will be a sell-out. After hearing and seeing the elaborate preview presented last week, I feel it deserves sell-out status.

My experience with previously oversold Broadway denizens such as The Producers and Rent has left me dissatisfied. Wicked is based on an intriguing spin off from the immortal story of Dorothy, Toto and her fabulous companions.
The plot focuses on the two witches, Glinda, the good witch, and the Wicked Witch of the West. This new look has revealed that good is not always good and bad is – well you guessed it.

The preview hyped the spectacle, the emotional story and the music. I was tempted, caught up in the enthusiasm, to remain at the Schuster until next February. Cooler heads and an absence of a change of clothes changed that decision. I will be there next February.

Group ticket sales are available now and it only takes 20 friends to make a group. Tempting? Call Barrie Denmark at 937 228 7591. Your friends will love you.

Call for entries - The View 2009

Rosewood Gallery in Kettering, Ohio, announces a call for entries for The View 2009, A Landscape Competition-a juried exhibition created as a showcase for Ohio artists presenting traditional or contemporary views of landscape or land imagery, environmental themes and world issues.

Entries must be original works in any media (2-D or 3-D), completed within the last four years, and not exceeding 60 inches in width. Jurying will be done from slides and digital images. Work previously exhibited at Rosewood is not eligible. Completed entries (slides or CD, entry form and non-refundable check of $20. for up to 3 works), will be accepted through May 15, 2009. An entry form is required, and are also available on the Rosewood Gallery website,

The exhibit runs from June 29 through July 24, 2009. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, June 28, 2009, from 2 to 4 p.m. with the United Art and Education Awards presented at 3 p.m.


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April 7, 2009
Volume 18, No. 14

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