More New York Concert Reviews and Notes from Mark Greenfest

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March 29, 2014 by Admin

by independent New York concert reviewer Mark Greenfest

Ordinarily, I don’t like “cross-over” music all that much.  But I saw the PUBLIQuartet (Curtis Stewart, violin; Jannina Norpoth, violin; Nick Revet, viola; and Amanda Gookin, cello – http://www.publiquartet.com/) perform Changing Night, a concert together with The Mighty Third Rail (Darian Dauchen, poet and vocals; Curtis Stewart, violin; and Ian J. Baggette, bass – http://www.themightythirdrail.com/) on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at the Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space (Broadway and 95th St.), as part of the Music of Now series. The program – balanced, fun, and with great musicianship – was fantastic. These Concert Artists Guild artists tackled Gyorgy Ligeti, String Quartet No. 1 as well as a sci-fi riff on biotech and the Garden of Eden called Changing Night, as well as a piece by Jessie Montgomery; the Mighty Third Rail improvised with John Coltrane, and so on…..This turned out to be one of the most entertaining evenings I’ve had this season.

The New York Woodwind Quintet, resident at Julliard, has been around for seven decades.  Yet, they have the freshest sense of play imaginable. On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at 8pm in Paul Hall, the Quintet (Carol Wincenc, flute; Stephen Taylor, oboe; Charles Neidich, clarinet; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; and William Purvis, horn) performed pieces by Irving Fine (1914-62), Partita for Wind Quintet; John Steinmet (1951-), Three Pieces for 10 winds (2013); Charles Neidich, And Then There Were… (2014) – a theatrical and thorny piece – and Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47, at 18), Quartet in A minor, Op. 13, No. 2, arranged for winds by William Purvis.  The musicianship was fantastic; the music, lovely! Visit them at http://www.juilliard.edu/about/newsroom/press-kit/new-york-woodwind-quintet.

Pianist and composer Ishmael Wallace, of the Orpheo Duo (with his sister, Vita) and of What a Neighborhood (Upper West Side musical organization) put on a solo recital program at the Nicholas Roerich Museum, A Visit with the Ancestors, on March 8, 2014, as pianist and baritone. The program included Nailah Nombeko, Preludes for Piano; Franz Liszt, two works; Ishmael Wallace, Canto; and Anthony Elia, Sonata No. 3 for Solo Piano “Dodecahedral Sonata” in twelve parts (of course).  Ishmael (http://www.orfeoduo.com/bio.html) is a formidable pianist with strong technique and the pieces were most appealing.

Roulette hosted the 5th annual new music bake sale at its house in Brooklyn, Sunday, March 16, from 4pm – 11 pm. Music showcased included performers from Exapno, Newspeak, Rhymes with Opera, Ensemble Et Al., Hotel Elefant, Talea Ensemble, and Contemporaneous.  Although the pieces were a mixed bag – some wonderful and some just loud – this musical showcase and food fair with booths to introduce performance groups was marvelously energetic and quite useful as a social event….Visit Roulette at http://roulette.org/.

A small regional opera company, Footlight Players, Inc. produced Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Long Island’s Church of the Ascension in Rockville Center. I caught it Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:30pm (until 10pm). Directed by Nathaniel Green, with musical direction and piano accompaniment by Tamara Cashour, this production showcased the talents of some very fine singers. The lead, Christina Moore, as Leonora, has a velvety, luscious tone to her voice; acts very well; and, frankly, I think she’s ripe for the majors (i.e., a role at the Met). She’s taken leads in a lot of regional opera and avant garde productions.  Other praiseworthy singers included Juan Carlos Franco, Nathaniel Green, Jennifer Johnson Osborne, Nanette Norwood, and Sanford Rothenberg as the leads; and, William Cooper, Susan Panzarella, Lydia Paulsen, and Sera Allen as the ensemble.

The Chelsea Symphony is one of the better amateur orchestras performing in the New York metropolitan area. Friday and Saturday nights, March 21 and 22, 2014, they held full orchestral concerts at St Paul’s Lutheran Church (22nd St. near 8th Av.)  Both nights they performed a new piece, La Nuit, by Tim Kiah (b. 1975), (of Nurse Kayah reknown), which sounds nocturnal, a bit like Debussy, and had a text in French by Elie Wiesel, sung by the excellent veteran soprano Janet Steele. On Friday, Morton Cahn performed the double bass in Hans Werner Henze’s (1926-2012) Concerto for Double Bass; and, on Saturday, Sarah Koop soloed in the Aaron Copland (1900-90) Clarinet Concerto, which I heard – a lovely performance. Reuben Blondell did a fine job conducting the first half, and Mark Seto, the second, with Emanouli Manalov as solo violin in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s (1844-1908) Scheherazade, a childhood favorite of mine, based on tales from 1001 Tales of Arabian Nights. The wood-paneled acoustics at St Paul’s Church is nearly perfect for a small orchestra.  The orchestra is online at http://www.chelseasymphony.org/.

Each year, the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) and Opera Index host a program of New American Opera Previews, From Page To Stage, with Midge Woolsey hosting discussions, in collaboration with American Opera Projects (AOP) and Encompass New Opera Theatre.  This year, Sunday, March 18, 2014 at 2:30pm in MSM Greenfield Hall (Broadway at 122nd St.) in New York, NY, the program consisted of Richard Pearson Thomas, A Wake or a Wedding (Deception! Madness! Butterflies!) with Encompass, and Companionship (Excerpts) by Rachel Peters, adapted by a short story by Arthur Phillips, with AOP providing stage director Lemuel Wade and music director/pianist Scott Rednour to a cast of MSM students, who sang exceptionally well – Noragh Devlin, Xiaoming Tian, Stephanie Jabre, Marilyn Obregon and Lesley Dolman. Companionship is riotously funny and involves talking dough and poisonous family dynamics.  A Wake or a Wedding, with Nancy Rhodes as stage director and Mara Waldman as music director/rehearsal pianist/conductor, is a charming period piece of twists and turns – a pastiche comedy of manners from around 1900, with psychological insights. The cast, of emerging regional opera leads, included Lindsay Rider, Adrian Ross, Marie Anello, Caroline Bassett Miller, Scott Lindroth, Alison Davy, and Joy Hermalyn. This was an excellent and most entertaining program.  I’d certainly like to see the finished projects as chamber operas!


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