Spy Review: Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival – Week Two

The second week of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival fortnight of concerts opened with “Love Story”—not to be confused with the cloyingly saccharine 1970 novel and movie of the same title best remembered, or forgotten, by the line: “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” (Are you kidding? I’ve been in love with the same woman for decades and must have apologized a thousand times. But that’s another story.)

Pianist Diane Walsh

This “Love Story” celebrates the marriage and partnership of Clara and Robert Schumann, 19th-century musical geniuses whose lives are the stuff of tragic opera. Clara Wieck’s father so opposed her marriage to Robert Schumann that his daughter’s husband-to-be dragged him into court. Friedrich Wieck held such pride in Clara’s composing skills as well as her brilliance as a pianist that he feared her being subjugated by Robert, who would prove to be a loving but not entirely supportive spouse. The couple and their eight children—four of whom died young—lived on the earnings of Clara as a concert pianist. She had little time to write her own music and in any case gender bias restricted women composers from publishing or having their works performed in public. Meanwhile, her husband, who composed what is considered the first great chamber work for piano and string quartet—anchoring Wednesday’s recital at Easton’s Academy Art Museum—suffered the final in a series of mental breakdowns, condemning him to an asylum and early death.  It was in these last tortured years of his life that Clara, who survived Robert by four decades, wrote the sole chamber piece of her career, opening Wednesday’s concert.

Perhaps it is their personal story that influences my perception of these two masterpieces. But I cannot help but to classify, hopefully without gender bias, one as tenderly feminine and the other as virulently masculine.

Clara’s Piano Trio in G minor, Opus 17, as performed on the 200th anniversary year of her birth by pianist Diane Walsh, violinist Carmit Zori and cellist Marty Rosen, evokes a wistful remembrance of a treasured moment. Zori’s violin fulfills its melodic role throughout. In the lighter second movement scherzo, it leads us in a restless search perhaps for a place to lay one’s head, while in the third movement the weeping violin is echoed in tragic undertones by Rosen’s cello. The more hopeful finale is piano-driven as Walsh leads with dramatic flourishes to the string evocations of romantic sentiment.

J. Lawrie Bloom

By comparison, Robert’s quintet, taking advantage of the extra violin, here played with her usual flair by Catherine Cho, makes a defiantly robust statement as if announcing who’s boss. A soulful viola-and-cello duet, played by Maiya Papach and Rosen, leads to a big first movement finish with twin teardrop notes on violin. A wandering second movement—lost with no direction home—balances dual violin tenor against viola/cello baritone. A scherzo with agitative staccato riffs gives equal voice to all instruments racing pell-mell toward a pause before a final tumult that dives into a soft landing as if executed by an ace pilot—in this case a quintet of expert artists.

Week 2 of the chamber fest followed on the heels of Saturday’s gala at Easton’s Temple B’nai Israel, featuring clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom performing in his finale as co-artistic director of the festival with cellist Rosen, Bloom’s co-founder/director, and violinist Cho, his successor in 2020. Bloom earlier distinguished himself, as ever, in the “Romantic Interlude” concert at the Academy Art Museum re-introducing Louise Farrenc’s trio for clarinet, cello and piano—a piece written by the only 19th-century female professor of the Paris Conservatory re-published at the dawn of this millennium. Bloom’s bright clarinet soared in contrast to Rosen’s emotional cello underpinning as pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute bridged the two with tonal stepping stones across their melodic river. That concert concluded with a Brahms piano quartet expressing the anguish of his unrequited love for Clara, now a widow, unwilling to share her life with his. Such are the inspirations for great art.

On Thursday, the festival makes its debut in Cambridge, followed by two more concerts Friday in Easton and Saturday in Oxford, wrapping up its 34th season.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts critic and editor now living in Easton.

“From Rags to Riches” (concert, reception), Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Lilburn, Psathas, Bolcom, Gershwin; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, Christ Church, Cambridge
“Romancing and Dancing,” Clara Schumann, Ravel, Bartok, Dvorak; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, Trinity Cathedral, Easton
“The Art of the String Quartet” (concert, reception), Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann; 4 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Oxford Community Center
Tickets/info: 410-819-0380, chesapeakemusic.org



Spy Review: The 34th Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival

The 34th annual Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival opened its two-week run Tuesday on as glorious an afternoon-into-evening as you could imagine or hope for—particularly considering this “Festival Opening Extravaganza” was followed by an outdoor wine-and-hors-d’oeuvres reception at Mason’s Redux, a short stroll down Harrison Street from the Christ Church concert venue.

The McDonaldChoRosen Trio

Before the music commenced—performed with panache by pianist Robert McDonald, violinist Catherine Cho and cellist Marcy Rosen—festival co-founder and co-artistic director Rosen was honored as an endowed cello chair providing scholarships in her name by Michael and Ella Bracy. (Rosen’s fellow founder/director, clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom, has announced his retirement from his festival role. Cho will succeed him in 2020.)

To get the near-capacity audience in tune, Jonathan Palevsky, WBJC radio host of “Opera Today” and “Music in Maryland,” offered a primer on the main-course selections: Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 4 (he wrote 10 in all) and Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Opus 90 “Dumky.” Beethoven, described as “irascible” by Palevsky, was experiencing the early onset of eventual total deafness as he wrote his fourth violin sonata in 1796. Dvorak, “the sort of guy you’d like to have a beer with,” Palevsky said, dubbed his fourth and final trio “Dumky” after the plural for the Russian word “dumka,” a literary term denoting lament and melancholy.

More on musical lamentations later. First, the festival’s opening chamber piece by newly hard-of-hearing Beethoven: The sonata’s presto movement features McDonald’s tumbling piano syncopation, grounding wind-swept violin chords as if a storm is brewing. The middle-movement scherzo suggests an ecclesiastical call-and-response evolving into a less formal keyboard-and-strings conversation.  The concluding allegro picks up the tempo in sprints, interspersed with notes of quiet reflection, before a furious head-shaking pace by Cho settles into a placid finish.

By comparison, Dvorak’s “Dumky” was more challenging and, to my ear, more emotionally inspired than standard Beethoven, however brilliantly written and beautifully played. Its six movements begin with teardrop piano accompaniment to weeping violin and cello waves. A dramatic shift evokes a staccato piano riptide countered by long, almost moaning, bowstring glides. A pastoral respite, rolling with downhill momentum tempered with pauses as if to take in the view, anchors one of the most affecting middle movements, performed with deft timing and touch by the Rosen-Cho-McDonald trio. It’s followed by a march cadence on piano introducing a violin-and-cello leitmotif and a running-the-rapids buoyancy that swirls into a becalmed pool of—what?—contentment or resignation? The finale mixes many of the preceding themes without repeating them verbatim with a departing note of defiance that might also be heard as triumphant.

Certainly, the performance of this accomplished and attuned-to-one-another festival trio was triumphant.

Wednesday’s open rehearsal offered a free peek into upcoming festival concerts, focusing again on Dvorak, this time his first piano quartet to be played at Sunday’s gala. Next up is “Romantic Interlude” Thursday, with music by Louise Farrenc, a rare 19th-century female composer, along with pieces by some of the usual male suspects, Brahms and Debussy, featuring harpist June Han, who also plays in Saturday’s concert.

Steve Parks is a retired arts critic and editor now living in Easton.

Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival

“Romantic Interlude,” Farrenc, Debussy, Brahms; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, Academy Art Museum, Easton
“Spotlight: Flute and Harp,” Kuhlah, Ravel, David Bruce, von Weber; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, Prager Auditorium, Easton
Festival Gala (concert, reception, silent auction), Mozart, Debussy, Dvorak; 4 p.m. Sunday, June 9 Temple B’Nai Israel, Easton
“Love Story,” Clara and Robert Schumann; 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Academy Art Museum, Easton
“From Rags to Riches” (concert, reception), Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Lilburn, John Psathas, William Bolcom, George Gershwin; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, Christ Church, Cambridge
“Romancing and Dancing,” Clara Schumann, Ravel, Bartok, Dvorak; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, Trinity Cathedral, Easton

“The Art of the String Quartet” (concert, reception), Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann; 4 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Oxford Community Center
Also, free open rehearsal, 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, Academy Art Museum, Easton

Tickets/info: 410-819-0380, chesapeakemusic.org


Spy Review: The Broadway Jukebox by Steve Parks

The classic jukebox with the flip-over 45s is a museum-piecethrowback, although you can still drop a quarter into table-booth mini-models at chrome-framed American diners. “The Broadway Jukebox” format performed by the high-energy Brown Box Theatre Project, a Boston-based troupe now touring the Delmarva Peninsula, practically guarantees you’ll hear the song for which you cast your ballot just before the opening curtain.

But it’ll cost you more than a quarter.

It’s worth the investment. You won’t hear the original recorded version. Instead, you’ll be treated to a live onstage interpretation of your top Broadway choices accompanied by a bigger-sound-than-you’d-imagine from a three-piece ensemble, led by music director Liz Kantor.

Arriving early for the show gives you time to vote for two Broadway songs or medleys in each of five categories. In this new “Broadway Jukebox: Revolution” musical revue—no do-overs from last spring’s tour—selections fall under the Diva, Contemporary, Classics, Animation and Written by Rockers designations. Although it’s fun to pick your favorites, the conceit that the cast will sing only the most popular audience choices is a ruse. A harmless one, for sure. In most categories all or all but one of the song candidates were performed, at least in part.

Among my faves—by performance, not by my vote—were the back-to-back baleful love dirges from wildly divergent Broadway vehicles: “Fine, Fine Line,” as in “there’s a fine line between love and a waste of time” from the puppet-dominated “Avenue Q” and the rueful “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles from “Waitress.” Lisa Kate Joyce deploys baby-girl lamentations in drawing a fine emotive line between devotion and devastation while Carly Grayson ranges from whispering to wailing in romantic regrets.

However, the show’s earliest numbers seemed over-miked, producing some vocal distortion. Also, lighting was insufficient for the large Ocean City Performing Arts Center stage Thursday night. You couldn’t make out singers’ faces unless they stepped forward from the raised onstage orchestra pit. As the show progressed, tempo and volume varied and the players wanderedenough to ameliorate such distractions. In other respects, Kyler Taustin’s direction resulted in a crisp and inviting one-and-a-quarter-hour presentation.

In the Rockers grouping—though I’d rate Carol King as more singer-songwriter than rocker—Neo Gcabo put a mean Motown spin on “I Feel the Earth Move” from the jukebox-musical“Beautiful.” The gentlemen of the cast led in a firearmscrossover of shows designated as Rockers and Classics. Cam Torres delivered a raucous “21 Gun” salute from Green Day’s “American Idiot,” while X. Alexander Durden” dramatically reminded us of the historical havoc squeezed by “one little finger” in “The Gun Song” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins.”

The most contemporary of the Contemporary ballot choices was “Moving Through a Window” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” reflecting the perils of social media addiction, while “Who I’d Be” from “Shrek” among the Animation picks lent a sense of the isolation of freaks, such as green ogres. Diva credits go to “Dreamgirls’ “ “Listen,” urgently sung by Gcabo.

Among medleys, the ensemble shined to ABBA, the Swedish disco wonders whose repertoire featured “Dancing Queen” and the jukebox musical’s title song “Mamma Mia!”

The revue’s “Revolution” theme emerged throughout, from “Les Miserables’ ” anthem to “Run Freedom Run” from the tragi-comic “Urinetown,” where failing to pay to pee can cost your life. Among the off-ballot surprises adding to the theme was the title song from “Tick, Tick . . . Boom,” the posthumous Off-Broadway musical by Jonathan Larson, Pulitzer and Tony winner for “Rent.”

I won’t give away the encore, lest it differs in subsequent tour stops. (Hint: John Waters.) But it sent the audience away on an upbeat note.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts critic and editor now living in Easton.

The Broadway Jukebox: Revolution”Oxford Community Center, 8 p.m. Sunday, May 26

Snow Hill, The Blue Dog, 8 p.m., May 29

Chestertown, outdoors, 200 block of High Street, 7:30 p.m., May 30

Salisbury, outdoors, Pohanka Riverwalk Amphitheater, 8 p.m., May 31

Cambridge, Dorchester Center for the Arts, 8 p.m., June 1

Berlin, Worcester County Library-Berlin branch, 8 p.m., June 2

Tickets: 443-808-1215, brownboxtheatre.org


Save the Preakness by Steve Parks

It’s been 35 years since the Colts were stolen from Baltimore in the dark of night. Now, a new interloper seeks to steal another franchise from Baltimore.

The Preakness Stakes, middle jewel of horse racing’s fabled Triple Crown, has run at Pimlico Race Course in northwest Baltimore since 1873. That’s 146 years of Preakness tradition, nestled between the Kentucky Derby at Louisville’s Churchill Downs and Belmont Park on Long Island. A feuding Canadian family—father and daughter are suing each other—controls the Stronach Group, racetrack owners who have systematically starved Pimlico of basic infrastructure upkeep, never mind improvements, in 15 years of lame stewardship. The facilities at Pimlico are so dilapidated that 6,700 grandstand seats were deemed unsafe for the biggest day in horse-racing this Saturday. Meanwhile, both Country House, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Maximum Security, the disqualified first horse across the finish line, are skipping the Preakness.

Stronach has scrimped on Pimlico from the outset of its 2004 acquisition of Old Hilltop. There are now just 12 days of Pimlico racing. In the last five years, Stronach spent nearly 90 percent of the state’s Racetrack Facilities Program funds—$22.5 million—which the company is required by law to match. Of that $45 million, only $6 million went to Pimlico (Wi-Fi, air-conditioning). The rest—$39 million—benefitted Laurel Park and nearby Bowie stables. The Stronachs’ goal is to create a “super track.”

That goal apparently includes moving the Preakness to Laurel, making it the new home of this premier international event. Stronach is attempting an end run around state law mandating that the Preakness stay in Baltimore except in emergencies. Stronach created said emergency by forcing Pimlico into disrepair to the point of condemnation. It happened on the Stronach watch. Their excuse? Who knew that wind, rain, snow, ice and sun can cause structures to require, say, a coat of paint or repairs over a decade and a half.

The Preakness predates the most celebrated of Triple Crown races. Two years before the Kentucky Derby hosted its first run for the roses, Pimlico debuted the Preakness Stakes for 3-year-olds. It was named for the colt Preakness, winner of the first Dinner Party Stakes, long since discontinued. The Belmont, final leg of the Triple Crown, was the first to launch—1867.

Baltimore’s legislative delegation and its former mayor, Catherine Pugh, turned up the heat on the Stronach Group. But their efforts may be way too little, far too late.

“Allowing a wealthy family from another country to use Maryland tax money for a racetrack to anchor the development of their 300-acre property in Laurel would be a travesty,” Pugh wrote in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate Majority President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.

Beyond a travesty, if the Stronachs get away with destroying Pimlico through neglect, losing the Preakness would be still another Baltimore tragedy. It took 13 years before the city landed an NFL franchise to replace the Colts. There are no more Triple Crown gems to be had if Stronach “jewel” thieves succeed in stealing the Preakness.

The Maryland Stadium Authority, along with Baltimore lawmakers, recommend a multifaceted Pimlico renewal—a rebuilt racetrack (Oriole Park at Camden Yards for inspiration?), plus entertainment, shopping and residential add-ons—at an estimated cost of $400 million. Since 2010, Maryland’s horse-racing industry—breeders, harness racing as well as track owners—has received $415 million in state gambling proceeds. Investment in a Baltimore treasure is a bargain compared with the cost of disinvestment. Think of cultivating a tax base, non-existent in distressed neighborhoods. Think of slashing murder rates.

While Pugh stood up for Baltimore and its iconic racetrack, she’s now mayor emerit-less, having trashed her credibility. More tragically, Speaker Busch died just before the end of the 2019 legislative session, while Miller is undergoing cancer treatment. Notwithstanding those misfortunes, the city may gain some clout in the 2020 General Assembly through the unanimous election of Adrienne Jones of the 10th District, which borders Baltimore to its southwest. Dereck Davis, an early speakership frontrunner, is from Prince George’s, which would have given the suburban D.C. county a Maryland leadership trifecta. Both Miller and Hogan have political roots there. Laurel is in northeast Prince George’s.

Hogan spurned Baltimore in his first term. He nixed the Red Line light-rail project connecting job opportunities downtown and points east to West Baltimore, where 2015 riots followed the death of Freddie Gray. He also blocked renewal of the State Center hub in West Baltimore.

The governor could atone for snubbing Maryland’s urban core—its financial, cultural, medical and, yes, sports hub—by saving the Preakness for Baltimore with a visionary redevelopment of Pimlico.

(BTW: I’ve boycotted Mayflower ever since they moved the Colts.)

Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.


Art Review: Richard Diebenkorn at the Academy Art Museum by Steve Parks

By the time young Richard Diebenkorn attained stature as an Abstract Expressionist, he was itching to move on—again—to explore new horizons with his painter’s toolbox. “You see, I was trying to demonstrate something to myself,’ he said in an interview for John Gruen’s 1955 book, “The Artist Observed.” “Namely, that I wouldn’t get stuck in any dumb rut.”

While he never totally abandoned his abstract inclinations—producing art as he felt it rather than as seen—Diebenkorn eluded ruts for the rest of his long, prolific career.

“Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955,” a traveling exhibition receiving its only East Coast exposure at Easton’s Academy of Art Museum through July 10, presents 100 paintings and drawings—many never shown before—that reveal the artist’s evolution from student to 33-year-old master of a modern American art form.

Because the show reflects Diebenkorn’s progression from classroom assignments—depicting the folds and shadows of a draped length of patterned fabric—to ever-searching expressions of mind’s-eye creativity—it’s best to view it chronologically. Start at the gallery to your left as you enter the museum and proceed clockwise from the introductory panel outlining Diebenkorn’s formative years, beginning with his 1922 birth in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco childhood. First, you’ll see his student assignment. (It deserves an A.) Other early works from his Stanford University days, before his other calling—World War II active duty—include representational watercolors of residential rooftops and fine-line ink drawings of fellow marines while stationed at Quantico, Va. (Art supplies weren’t allowed.)

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1952. Oil on canvas, 41 1/2 x 77 in.

His early Berkeley period preceding officer’s training (he flunked) exposed him to faculty disciples of Hans Hoffmann, although one instructor favored Cezanne. Both influences are evident in Diebenkorn’s untitled geometric watercolor-and-graphite pieces and the mortal combat in “Duel at Dawn.” The artist/marine renders loosely recognizable architecture in and around San Diego’s Camp Pendleton, where he was based before his dreaded mission to parachute behind enemy lines in Japan. But the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced Japan’s 1945 surrender. Diebenkorn’s team never deployed.

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1945. Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 x 11 7/8 in

Married during the war, he and his wife Phyllis were parents of an infant daughter as Diebenkorn resumed art studies at the California School of Fine Arts, where the faculty included Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. Diebenkorn’s abstracts began to reflect a more defined approach epitomized in three untitled paintings displayed as a triptych—two with geometric shapes on a flat plane and another of irregular shapes in a perspective alignment. His 1947 “Untitled (Magician’s Table)” is a deft nod to Surrealism while you might glimpse De Kooning with a darker palette in an untitled gouache from Diebenkorn’s 1948 solo exhibition at San Francisco’s California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Abstracts with a sense of place, on larger canvases that Diebenkorn could by then afford, dominate the gallery across the lobby: structured but still nonobjective landscapes on beach (Sausalito period) and desert (Albuquerque) from the early ‘50s. His Urbana period at the University of Illinois was inspired by a major Matisse exhibition, leading to abstracts that playfully hint at identifiable figures. You might spot an owl (unintentional?) among these 1952-53 watercolors.

In a small gallery down the hall, there’s no mistaking the objects in Diebenkorn’s first mature figurative painting, “Untitled (Horse and Rider)” from 1954.

Untitled (Horse and Rider), 1954. Oil on canvas, 21 x 24 in

Where his “Beginnings” eventually led—spanning a lifetime up to 1993—are seen in catalogs beneath a huge black-and-white photo of Diebenkorn, the marine. The 1997-98 Whitney exhibition volume includes images from his “Ocean Park” series featured in the 1978 Venice Biennale—sea and sky, maybe both, as viewed from a window. As usual, Diebenkorn keeps you guessing and engaged, avoiding ruts and realism for a half-century.

A display upstairs features works by a few Diebenkorn contemporaries, drawn from the Academy of Art’s collection, among them Baltimore’s Amalie Rothschild (“Reclining Figure” drawing, 1955) and two Thomas Hart Benton lithographs (“Morning Train” and “Night Firing,” 1943).

“Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955”
Daily through July 10, Academy of Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton

Lecture: “My Father, Richard Diebenkorn,” by Gretchen Diebenkorn Grant, 11 a.m. June 1
academyartmuseum.org, 410-822-2787

Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts critic and editor now living in Easton.



Spy Review: Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s Ode to Humankind

The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Delmarva’s professionally accomplished philharmonic, capped its 22nd season with a challenging masterworks program marked by individual distinction and collaborative virtuosity.

It’s hard to imagine a more inspired finale than the textured and rousing performance of Beethoven’s miraculous 9th Symphony, his own symphonic finale, composed in two years beginning in 1822 when he had gone completely deaf. Deploying his genius and mental dexterity to write with a complex aural beauty he could test only with the inner ear of his mind, Beethoven created a masterpiece that is also the first major symphony featuring the human voice—many of them, actually—as a musical instrument.

But first, the audience was treated to a rare, perhaps unprecedented, encore before the scheduled concert. A pre-core, if you will, was graciously gifted by the evening’s piano soloist Michael McHale, after symphony board chair Jeffrey Parker announced that the concert would start a half-hour late due to a Bay Bridge accident that delayed a quarter of the MSO ensemble. McHale played several short pieces, including a Chopin nocturne and Irish traditionals of his own arrangement.

Once the latecomers arrived to applause, music director Julien Benichou abbreviated his usually loquacious opening remarks to lead the orchestra in Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” an emotionally patriotic salute to his native land that has launched an ecumenical array of hymns. Fittingly accompanied by a large choir— two, in fact: the Carter Legacy Singers named for Nathaniel Carter, the late Morgan State University choral director, and the Southern Delaware Chorale—their reverent vocal delivery was muffled at times by the ominous warlike brass and the prayerful swelling of woodwinds and strings.

McHale, an internationally acclaimed piano soloist from Northern Ireland, distinguished himself far beyond his “pre-core” chops by mastering the notoriously difficult keyboard calisthenics of Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G major. A crack of the whip signals the opening drum-and-piano staccato that wanders from the windchime-y delicacy of a blues dream sequence to a sprinting riff in which McHale all but falls off his bench reaching for the end-of-the-keyboard horizon, punctuated by woodwind bird calls borne by a fluttering string breeze led by concertmaster Jose Cueto.

Following intermission, the audience settled in for the 70-minute 9th. The fourth movement alone is as long as many symphonies. But time flies from the profoundly Beethoven opening notes—robustly delivered as if to awaken Beethoven’s inner ear—to the cello-and-bass overture that rallies with the urgency of a racing heartbeat/drumbeat. The second movement’s uptempo march slows down enough to catch its breath before a pell-mell rush to the finish, standing in stark contrast to the third movement’s soothing pastoral respite.

A pause before the defining 4th movement allowed the solo vocalists to take their places in front of the maestro’s podium: authoritative bass baritone Kevin Short, tempestuous tenor Israel Lozano, with piercing duel phrasing by soprano Allysa Packard and alto Jordan Swett. Sung in German, the familiar “Ode to Joy” refrain, especially when joined in by the let-it-rip voices of the double chorale, delivered a spiritual uplift—much needed these days. “Ode” left much of the audience humming with a smile while exiting after issuing their verdict with an extended standing ovation. Yes, bravo.

See you in September, MSO.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist and former feature editor for Newsday. He now lives in Easton. 

“Ode to Humankind, To Country and to Joy!”
Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra concert, Friday, April 26, Chesapeake College, Wye Mills
“Finlandia,” Jean Sibelius, with Carter Legacy Singers and Southern Delaware Chorale
Piano Concerto in G major, Maurice Ravel, with piano soloist Michael McHale
Symphony No. 9, Ludwig Van Beethoven, with soprano Allysa Packard, alto Jordan Swett, tenor Israel Lozano, bass baritone Kevin Short, Carter Legacy Singers, Southern Delaware Chorale
Final performance, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 28, Ocean City Performing Arts Center


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