Mid-Shore Arts: Marc Castelli’s ‘Swinging the Lantern’ at Massoni Gallery Begins October 20

For nearly a quarter of a century, Marc Castelli has been exhibiting his stunning watercolors of the workboats, watermen, historic log canoes and sporting events of the Chesapeake at the Carla Massoni Gallery in Chestertown, Maryland.  Swinging the Lantern, his annual one –man exhibition opens on October 20 and continues through December 2.  Collectors and friends will have the opportunity to visit with Castelli and attend the Collector’s Reception on Friday, October 20, from 6-8 pm.

The festivities continue the following week with the Sultana Education Foundation’s annual Downrigging Weekend from October 27-29.  Massoniart is proud to have been an event sponsor of this premier tall ship and wooden boat festival since its inception.  The Gallery is hosting a reception for the opening of Downrigging on Friday, October 27, 5-7:30 pm where they will welcome the return of the Kent County Watermen’s Association to shuck oysters out on the sidewalk followed by Sultana’s Fireworks at the foot of High Street.  During the weekend we sponsor an Open House on Saturday from 10-7 pm and Sunday From 11-3 pm.  But wait – there’s still more – plan to stay in the party mood through Chestertown’s First Friday Celebrations November 3, 5-8 pm and December 1, 5-8 pm.

During Downrigging, Marc Castelli will be honored with a special exhibition, Building Sultana – A Selection of Marc Castelli Paintings, at the Sultana Education Foundation’s new center. Between 1997 and 2001, Castelli captured the construction of the schooner SULTANA in more than 50 vibrant watercolor paintings. Taken together, these works represent one of the finest and most complete artistic surveys of the construction of a traditional wooden schooner produced over the last half century. Most of Castelli’s paintings of Sultana’s construction were rapidly acquired by private collectors, and haven’t been seen by the public for almost 20 years.  With the assistance of Marc Castelli, MASSONIART, and multiple private collectors, the Sultana Education Foundation is assembling a selection of these paintings for a special Downrigging Weekend exhibit. Also of note, Castelli’s “Building Sultana” exhibit shares its name with a new limited-edition book of his pen and ink drawings of the construction of Sultana that will be released during a special event at 6:00pm on Saturday, October 28 at Sultana’s Holt Center.

Castelli is considered a master of his genre.  He is on the water over 100 days a year gathering material to paint. Forty years of crewing on racing sailboats, and over twenty years actively participating on workboats has enabled him to get past the spectator view that represents the majority of marine and regional art.

The potential for abstraction, still life, figurative, atmospherics and sharp focus vignette, may exist in all the subject areas he explores but for Marc it is the strongest when on the water. It is the light, as it moves on and in water and is then reflected back on the watermen and their boats, that pulls at him.  Wherever he trains his focus, from the Sultana to the simplest of skiffs, he brings to the viewer a deeper understanding of the magic of the Chesapeake.

This year his annual exhibition, Swinging the Lantern, features over forty new watercolor paintings with a full range of subjects guaranteed to delight both collectors and those new to his work.

For additional information please contact Carla Massoni at 410-778-7330 or visitwww.massoniart.com. To learn more about Sultana Downrigging Weekend visitwww.sultanaeducation.org

Mary Poppins Flies into Easton High School Auditorium October 20 to 28

Mary Poppins is set to fly onto the stage of Easton High School October 20, 21, 22, 27, and 28.  This high energy, toe tapping, chimney sweeping, high flying family musical will be one you will not want to miss.

Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS delighted Broadway audiences for over 2,500 performances and received 44 major theatre awards from around the globe.

The jack-of-all trades, Bert (Matthew Keeler), introduces us to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. Disconnected and disjointed George Banks (Jonah Sanders) and his wife Winifred (Haley Anderson) are struggling to run their household under George’s strict reign. Young Jane (Claire Weedon) and Michael (Connor Flaherty) have sent many nannies packing before Mary Poppins (Madelyn Hancock) arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she takes the Banks Family on a journey where they must learn how to value each other again. Things take a twist, however, when George’s old nanny, the nasty Miss Andrew (Eve Van Horn) shows up and tries to offer her version of “Spoonful of Sugar”, which happens to be “Brimstone and Treacle”. Along this journey, the family also encounters The Bird Woman (Emily Wittman) who teaches and represents hardship, love, compassion, empathy, and hope—the themes of this musical.

Easton High’s production features a cast and crew of over sixty, as well breathtaking flying effects provided by “Flying by FOY”, who provided the flying effects for the original Broadway production. Illusions, spectacular dancing, elaborate scenery, special effects, stunning original costumes, and some of the most beloved and memorable songs ever written for a musical including “Spoonful of Sugar”, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite”, “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “Step in Time”, “Feed The Birds”, and “Jolly Holiday”, as well as several new songs that have been written just for the stage production.

Director, Richard A. Vitanovec, states, “The musical MARY POPPINS is a beautiful fusion of various elements from the beloved Disney film and the classic series of books by P.L. Travers. The characters that everyone has grown up with and the values and message that the musical presents, is a heartwarming story that everyone young, old, and those in-between needs to see.”

Show days and times are Friday, October 20 at 7 pmSaturday, October 21 at 7 pmSunday, October 22 at 2 pmFriday, October 27 at 7 pm, and Saturday, October 28 at 7 pm.

Tickets for the show are $10 for an adult ticket and $5 for a child/student ticket (18 years and under) and are on sale at the door or in advance ONLY at Easton High School’s Main Office.

CFF Preview: Tom Horton and the Rising Sea Levels of Dorchester County

The Chesapeake Film Festival has gone out of their way this year to emphasize the important theme of conservation, and has consequently assembled a first rate collection of the most current documentaries on climate change, sea level rising, and other global warming issues to screen in the last weekend in October in Talbot County.

Ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio to short films on forestry and the fishing, the festival’s curatorial hand has carefully vetted out the the very best in international filmmaking, but it is suspected that the film that will have the most impact locally is case study of rising sea levels in Dorchester County.

The local dream team of filmmaker Sandy Cannon-Brown, photographer David Harp, and environmental author Tom Horton, who were responsible two years ago for the popular Beautiful Swimmers Revisited, a documentary inspired by William W. Warner’s classic book on of the Chesapeake Bay, have now reunited to tell the sobering tale of the disappearing landscape of Dorchester and the possible for the thirteen other Counties.

The Spy caught up with High Tide in Dorchester writer and narrator Tom Horton a week ago at Bullitt House to talk about the film and its mission to send an important warning to the entire Chesapeake Bay region.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Film Festival please go here

“Carrie: The Musical” at Chesapeake College and Church Hill Theatre

Carrie the Musical, playing at both the Cadby Theater and Church Hill Theatre during the Halloween season, offers supernatural thrills to a classic rock genre score.  Blood, fire and telekinetic powers will have audiences gasping as the naïve and innocent Carrie takes on the high school mean girls. Bullied by both her classmates and her fanatically religious mother, Carrie finds some support from her gym teacher and a sympathetic classmate. But in this musical version of Stephen King’s psycho-horror novel, we know Carrie will find her own solution as the torments continue. Prom night will never be the same.

The kids sitting in class. From L-R, Morgan Jung, Shannon Landers, Brandon Walls, Olivia Litteral, Jacob Wheatley, Shannon Whitaker, Albert Conteh, Reilly Claxton, Catharine Jacobs, Sean Priest, and Briana Litteral.

Rob Thompson, a Chesapeake College professor, directs this joint Chesapeake College-Church Hill Theatre production. Shannon Whittaker will play Carrie; Maureen Curtin will portray her mother, Margaret.  Carrie’s classmates Sue, Tommy, Chris, and Billy are played by Reilly Claxton, Jacob Wheatley, Olivia Litteral and Brandon Walls. The sympathetic teacher, Miss Gardner, is Samantha Smith. Other featured characters are played by James Kaplanges, Kiya Cohen, Shannon Landers, Catherine Jacobs, Morgan Jung, Sean Priest and Albert Conteh. Students, dancers, telekinetic spirits, police officers and others include Anna Terry, Savannah Bixler, Briana Litteral, Gracie Jordan, Megan Kaley, Alyson Farnell and Morgan Jung.

Musical Director William Thomas will conduct from the piano. His musician are Gary Caffrey, on guitar, Tom Anthony on bass, and Ray Anthony on drums.  The backstage and production team includes a set by Richard Peterson and Carmelo Grasso, with lights by Nic Carter, costumes by Miranda Fister and Jennifer Houghton, Maddie Baynard is acting as stage manager, and Jacob Blades is assistant stage manager.  Shelagh Grasso is producing Carrie with Sylvia Maloney as associate producer.

Carrie’s shadowy telekinetic spirits threaten to enter the auditorium.

Based on the King novel, Carrie the Musical was adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore. It opened on Broadway in 1988 and enjoyed a successful revival in 2012.  While some critics panned Carrie, it has become a cult favorite, with many unofficial spoofs and campy tributes. It’s not for the squeamish or small children but if you enjoyed CHT’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, you’ll certainly appreciate Carrie.

Carrie the Musical opens on Friday, October 27, 2017, and runs through Sunday, November 12. Because this is a joint production, with performances at two locations, please note the theaters and times carefully.

CHESAPEAKE COLLEGE: Friday, October 27, Saturday, October 28, and Sunday, October 29 at the Cadby Theater.  Shows are at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.

CHURCH HILL THEATRE: Fridays, November 3 & 10, Saturdays, November 4 & 11, and Sundays, November 5 & 12 at Church Hill Theatre, with evening shows at 8 pm and matinees at 2 pm.

At Chesapeake College, tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. Reservations for Cadby Theatre can be made by calling 410-827-5867 or by visiting www.chesapeake.edu/tpac

At Church Hill Theatre, tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and $15 for members.  Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org.

Remembering Bill Cummings at Tilghman Watermen’s Museum

Well known artist, Marc Castelli, has created a very unique print exclusively for the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum.  When Tilghman artist Bill Cummings passed away in September of 2014 he was working on another painting. Marc and Bill had become very good friends and in light of their friendship, Mr. Cummings’ daughter asked Marc if he would do a painting based on Bill’s last sketch.  The result is “Remembering Bill, Remembering Fishing” painted by Marc in December, 2014. Marc has worked with Museum to issue 25 limited edition prints with the remarque of Bill’s sketch attached. The 25 prints produced will be named, numbered and signed by Marc Castelli. The cost of each unframed print will be $800.  All proceeds benefit the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum  which is dedicated to the documentation and preservation of the history, traditions, heritage and culture of Tilghman Island.

Dr. Rachel Franklin Presents “William Wyler, The Films and His Music”

Dr. Rachel Franklin presents William Wyler, The Films and His Music at the Academy Art Museum to close Chesapeake Film Festival, Sunday, October 29, 4:30 p.m. Tickets for sale at $12/ticket or $50 for a Sunday pass. www.chesapeakefilmfestival.com

Dr. Rachel Franklin, a British-born concert pianist, and a renowned speaker and performer in the Mid-Atlantic, will present a lecture on film music, William Wyler, The Films and His Music, at the Academy Art Museum.  Her performance closes the 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival. A reception follows with an awards presentation for the Festival’s best films in different categories.

Director William Wyler made some of the most memorable films in the Hollywood canon, and worked with many distinguished composers. Among the dazzling array of musical talent are Max Steiner, Miklos Rosza, and Aaron Copland.  How did Steiner conceive his score for Wyler’s Ben-Hur and what unique qualities did Aaron Copland bring to his exquisite and searing music for The Heiress?  Audiences will thrill to Jerome Moross’ fabulous theme to The Big Country and admire the subtle, heartwarming genius of Hugo Friedhofer’s score to The Best Years of Our Lives.  Franklin also discusses the near miraculous ability of Wyler to frame a great shot and how his composers managed to reflect his masterful intentions.

The 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with a series of national and local films followed by film maker Q & A, and expert panel discussions.  The CFF headquarters is the Avalon Theatre. Satellite theaters include the Talbot County Public Library, Easton Premier Cinemas, and Academy Art Museum. This year, for the first time, CFF extends to a second city at the Cambridge Premier Cinemas.

Chesapeake Film Festival Hosts a Day of Film and Discussion about Climate Change

On October 28th, the 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival shows the power of documentary film in a full day of national and local films on the topic of climate change.  A subject widely discussed and sometimes contentious, audiences will view a series of dynamic films that both inform and entertain.  Thought leaders in the field will be on hand to clarify the impacts of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and beyond, and on the human, public health, and economic losses for those who live on the shoreline and work its waters.

The Avalon Theatre opens its doors at 10:30 a.m. with a series of environmental shorts: When I Plant A Tree, directed by Jonah Moshammer; Fisherman Without A Sea, directed by Lucas Bonetti; The Next Epoch Seed Library, directed by Candace Thompson; and The Last Boat Out, directed by Laura Seltzer-Duny.

The program’s formal launch begins at noon with opening remarks from Program Chair and Tilghman resident George A. Nilson, and from Charles O. Monk, II, Board of Visitors Chair of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES, Horn Point).

Leonardo DiCaprio has long brought his celebrity to raising awareness of climate change.  In National Geographic’s Before the Flood produced by Martin Scorsese, DiCaprio meets with scientists worldwide to discuss the impacts of climate change. The film opened to acclaim at the Washington DC.

Environmental Film Festival last April, and CFF Artistic Director Cid Collins Walker succeeded in securing permission to show the film in the Easton festival.

A partnership with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy brings substantive expertise to the film discussions.  Following the DiCaprio film, Town Creek Foundation Executive Director Stuart Clarke will moderate a discussion among Maryland Secretary of the Environment, Benjamin H. Grumbles and Dr. Donald Boesch, Professor of Marine Science, President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) until September 2017. Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environment and Climate Justice Program has been invited and confirmation is pending.

The next film, The Ashes, also a NatGeo film, is directed by Michael Bonifiglio, and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.  The devastating impacts of coal mining, storing and exporting are vividly shown. The film presents the divergent views between the miners, environmentalists, and government policy makers.

Next up are three films presented together that present the dangers we face on our treasured bay and shoreline.

Waterman, directed by Jess Jacklin, presents a portrait of her grandfather Harry and his relationship to the Chesapeake Bay. After writing songs for over 50 years spent out on the water, Harry performs at the Waterfowl Festival for the first time at age 87. The film follows his journey- a last attempt to save the bay advocating through his music, aiming to remind us all of what’s at stake.

In The Ballad of Holland Island House, director by Lynn Tomlinson uses clay-on-glass animation to tell the true story of the last house on a sinking island in the Chesapeake Bay, off Tilghman Island.

In High Tide In Dorchester, writer and narrator Tom Horton recalls hitting softballs with friends in front of his dad’s hunting and fishing cabin on the Honga River in lower Dorchester County.  Today, the ballfield is four feet underwater and 200 feet from the shoreline.  The film addresses the lack of adequate planning needed to meet the imminent challenges of living on the edges of a rising tide.

The discussion following this trilogy of films will be moderated by Brian Ambrette, Coastal Resilience Manager, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and includes William C. “Bill” Boicourt, Professor Emeritus, Horn Point Laboratory UMCES, Tom Horton, Writer, High Tide In Dorchester; David Harp, Director, High Tide in Dorchester; Jess Jacklin, Director, Waterman (and her Grandad appears in the film), and Laura Seltzer-Duny, Director, The Last Boat Out.

Following a late afternoon reception, at 7 p.m.Oyster, an Australian film directed by Kim Beamish screens. It tells the story of a passionate Australian  oyster farmer who swears that the water is getting warmer and the storms more severe.  The only oyster legal for them to grow is the gourmet’s delight, the Sydney Rock Oyster. The story follows his work to keep a few million oysters alive, and necessary decisions to deal with the pressures of climate change and environmental damage, and their  far reaching consequences.

And finally, Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, addresses the progress made to persuade government leaders to invest in renewable energy, culminating in the landmark signing of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. This film will be shown at the Easton Premier Cinemas on Saturday, October 28, at 9:30 p.m., and on Sunday, October 29 at 1 p.m.  In Cambridge, the screening is on October 29 at 7:45 p.m.

The Avalon Theater is the Chesapeake Film Festival headquarters, with satellite venues at the Art Academy Museum, Talbot County Public Library, and Easton & Cambridge Premier Cinemas.  Tickets are reasonably priced: $12 per film, or $50 for a full day program.  Friday Opening Night tickets are $30. Saturday and Sunday programs combined are $85.   For further information about all films and special events, and to purchase tickets, visit www.chesapeakefilmfestival.com.

The Chesapeake Film Festival welcomes public support with sponsorships and program advertisements.  Please contact executivedirector@chesapeakefilmfestival.com to support its mission.

Theatre Review: Garfield’s “Sylvia” a Winner by Peter Heck

Cast of “Sylvia”: Bryan Betley, Christine Kinlock, Will Robinson, Jennifer Kafka-Smith              Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Sylvia by A.R. Gurney, opening this weekend at the Garfield Center, is a romantic comedy about a man, his dog, his wife, and his mid-life crisis. – and, once you get beyond the surface, about the role of love in the modern world.

Directed by Bonnie Hill, the play is set in New York City sometime in the early 1990s.

Sylvia had its Off-Broadway premiere in 1995, with Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie of Sex and the City) in the title role. It ran for 197 performances and received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Play. Parker was nominated for Outstanding Actress, and the costume design by Jane Greenwood was also nominated. Oddly enough, it was 2015 before a Broadway production took place, although it had a number of productions elsewhere – including one at Church Hill Theatre in 1999, also directed by Hill.

Reportedly, Sylvia originally had trouble finding a Broadway production because potential backers found the play’s main plot device – a young woman playing the role of a dog – objectionable. Gurney’s answer was that the play was about connecting in an increasingly impersonal, alienated world, with the dog Sylvia the means by which the other characters ultimately connect.

Sylvia is part poodle and all beautiful after Greg takes her for a grooming. – Christine Kinlock and Will Robinson      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

The play begins as Greg, a middle-aged New Yorker, brings the dog Sylvia home after finding her in the park. Greg has left work – at a financial institution – early, and we soon learn that he is on the edge of burning out at work. Sylvia, who says at the outset that she loves Greg unconditionally, is a welcome relief from the cold business of commodities trading that makes up his day at work.

Sylvia the dog sits on the sofa with Greg – but only when Kate isn’t there!    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

But when Greg’s wife, Kate, arrives home, she makes it clear she has no interest in adopting a dog. Her career is just taking off, and the couple’s children are now in college, so they can begin to enjoy a more independent social life. Having a dog in the city would only burden them, she says. Greg convinces her to let Sylvia stay “a few days” to see how it works out. Of course, the few days extend to a much longer period – and the strain on the couple’s relationship builds, especially as it becomes clear that Greg is on the verge of losing his job.

Meanwhile, Sylvia goes about being very much a dog —  although a speaking dog who makes no bones about what she thinks and how she feels about things. Sylvia also tangles Greg up in the leash when they go for walks.  Kate sarcastically calls her “Saliva.”

The name “Sylvia” – imprinted on the dog tag that Sylvia wore when Greg found her – is particularly ironic to Kate as she teaches Shakespeare to teenagers.  She can’t help but be constantly reminded of the famous Shakespeare lyric, “Who is Sylvia?  Who is she/ That all our swains commend her?”

The relationship between Greg, Sylvia, and Kate soon takes on many aspects of a love triangle, although Kate is at first the only one who really understands what is happening. Her husband sees no problems with having a dog in a small New York City apartment.  She sees nothing but. Of course, in the end, as all romantic comedies should, love wins out. But it’s a close race in determining whose love for whom will win.

Jennifer Kafka-Smith as the wife, Kate –    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Christine Kinlock, who recently appeared in Earl Lewin’s Orlando Rising at Church Hill Theatre and Shore Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, delivers an absolutely winning performance in the role of Sylvia. The role demands a good deal of the actor, with considerable use of body language to put over the character’s canine nature – tail wags, jumping up on furniture, and so forth. She makes good use of her voice to suggest barking, and her facial expressions are icing on the cake. Her reaction to seeing a cat on the street is hilarious, as is her “romance” with Bowser, a dog she meets in the park. Her performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Will Robinson, one of the stalwarts of the local theater community, plays Greg. He puts across the character’s amiable nature – and his goofy infatuation with his new “friend” – with considerable warmth. He makes Greg’s half-understood bumbling through a mid-life crisis and ignoring his wife for “the other’ almost forgivable. A very good performance – as we always expect when we hear that Robinson is onstage!

Jennifer Kafka-Smith is the perfect pick for Kate, a sophisticated woman finding her way as an English teacher after spending her early adulthood raising a family. Her objections to bringing a dog into a New York apartment are in fact reasonable, and her frustration that Greg doesn’t’ recognize them is palpable. She creates a sympathetic, likable character out of a role that could easily be seen as a villain – not easy to do but she makes it look easy.

The marriage counselor Leslie – played by Bryan Betley,    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

The fourth member of the cast, Bryan Betley, plays three very different roles – and plays them all well.  There is the fellow dog owner Greg meets in the park, one of Kate’s society friends (in a fabulous dress!), and an androgynous marriage counselor the couple visits.  Betley makes them all distinct and believable, using different voices and clothes to set the characters apart. A nice show of versatility!

The set, designed and built by Earl Lewin and crew from a concept and sketch by director Bonnie Hill, consists primarily of Greg and Kate’s apartment, with a wonderful view of the New York skyline projected on the back wall. The front corner of the stage doubles as Central Park, and the desk plays double duty as Kate’s and the marriage counselor’s offices. Simple but attractive – and with no set changes needed, it allows the play to move along briskly.

Set of “Sylvia” – ta contemporary living room with a view of the New York skyline.      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

The play maintains a nice balance between laugh-out-loud comedy and a tender look at the importance of love in the modern world. While it could easily be played very cartoonishly, Hill’s direction brings out both aspects of the play, making for an unusually rich performance. With all four actors delivering excellent performances, area theater-goers should make every effort to see this one.

Sylvia is an adult comedy, with some sexual references and frequently salty language – mostly from the dog, who expresses herself very directly and without filters. Parents might want to leave younger children home. Hill said the Church Hill performance cut much of the saltier language, but here the original script is presented almost intact.

Sylvia opens Friday, October 13 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 22. Performance times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with 3 p.m. matinees on Sundays. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for the military or seniors aged 65 and older, and $10 for students.

Tickets are available online on the theater’s website or by calling the box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre is located at 210 High Street, Chestertown.

Photography by Jane Jewell

Greg warily eyes the marriage counselor as Leslie asks him “What gender do you think I am?” (Will Robinson and Bryan Betley)     Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Greg and a fellow dog-owner discuss pooches and their partners. – (Will Robinson and Bryan Betley)      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Sylvia at the park – where she meets Bowser, another dog, (Will Robinson & Christine Kinlock)      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Kate & Greg – He sees no problems with a dog in a small New York City apartment.  She sees nothing but. (Jennifer Kafka-Smith & Will Robinson)  Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Phyllis is the friend Kate confides in about Sylvia. – (Bryan Betley)      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Sylvia after her session with the dog groomer. Isn’t she beautiful? Greg thinks so. (Will Robinson, Christine Kinlock, Jennifer Kafka-Smith)                    Photo credit: Jane Jewell


Upcoming Organ Recital Makes “Note” of the Reformation

On Sunday, October 22nd at 3 P.M., Dr. Bill Wharton, Organist, will perform in a recital demonstrating the musical influences of the Reformation.  The featured instrument for this program will be the Memorial Pipe Organ of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Easton. This October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses of protest of religious practices on the door of his church in Wittenberg, Germany which helped to bring about many changes in the Christian religion and especially its music.

Dr. Bill’s hour long program will present a survey of numerous styles and developments of organ literature that evolved out of the huge library of Lutheran “chorales” or hymns.  He will be assisted by Gail Aveson, soprano, Marcia Fidis, pianist, and Penny Renoll, St. Mark’s Music Director.  This season marks Bill Wharton’s 50 year tenure as St. Mark’s Organist!

The Memorial Pipe Organ of St. Mark’s is a unique instrument on the Shore;  besides being one of the largest pipe organs locally with some 2,437 pipes, it contains an “antiphonal” division of pipes located in the opposite end of the church from the more traditional chancel divisions in the front.  Its pipes range from mere inches in length to some sixteen feet of metal and wood pipes.  Since the organ was first installed in 1961, several ranks of reed pipes have been added, including a stop named “Tates’ Tuba” in memory of local plumber and businessman, C. Albert Matthews.  The organ will also be used in the playing of duets with the church’s Steinway grand piano demonstrating various Reformation tunes.

The music to be played will include works by J.S. Bach, such as his famous “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, “Sleepers Awake! (Wachet Auf)”, and “Now Thank We All Our God (Nun Danket)”.  Some of the other composers represented include Karg-Elert, Mendelssohn, Bennett, Martin, and Pelz.The audience will also be able to participate with the singing of some of the most familiar Lutheran chorales.  The concert will end with an organ  transcription of the finale of Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony No. 5 which solos Martin Luther’s famous “A Mighty Fortress (EinFeste Berg)”.While there is no fee for admission to this event, a free-will offering can be given to help with the expenses of the St. Mark’s concert series.

Taming the Monster at St. Mark’s for Fifty Years with Dr. Bill Wharton

There are very few examples of a partnership that has lasted 50 years where one partner speaks of the other as a “monster.” But that’s what Dr. Bill Wharton says about the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church’s 1962 Tellers organ that he has worked to master since he arrived in Easton as the Church’s principal organist in 1967.

In Bill’s case, however, the use of the word monster is one of great affection and respect. In his interview with the Spy to celebrate his fifth decade not only playing the organ there but also a lifetime career in teaching music on the Mid-Shore, the Centerville native talks about harnessing the power that comes with this colossal instrument with its 2,437 wood and model pipes.

By his own admission, Bill does not put himself in the 1st tier of organists but is extremely grateful that he studied with some of them. The first being Clarence Waters, his college organ tutor and mentor at Trinity College. And it was through his relationship with Waters that he gained access to the famed Marcel Dupré in Paris, considered one of the finest organists of the 20th century.

Bill also talks about the exceptional spiritual connection that music provides a church and its congregation, as well as his personal experiences of sensing the divine when witnessing the masters perform in the World’s great cathedrals.

In celebration of Bill’s 50th anniversary, St. Mark’s has commissioned a unique composition that will be performed by Bill in late November one of a series of official acknowledgments by the Church of how valuable his service has been to the music on the Mid-Shore.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about St. Mark’s and its music programs please go here.