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Celebrate for a Cause!

Dangerous Curves and Hershey’s, along with the “BenT but not Broken” team Robyn Toulotte, Marissa Bunting, Alyse Toulotte and Wendy Hershey are holding a gigantic fundraiser on April 1st for the American Foundation for Suicide. This team is walking in honor & memory of Benny Toulotte (May he rest in peace). Benny lit up the room whenever he walked in. Unfortunately, sometimes that life and love is hiding the real innermost pain that is felt by many. We MUST find a way to make the next generation more aware of the help and resources available to those who struggle! When Someone is in need, reach out your hand and help them! When you know something is not right, speak up, saving at least one life is what we can hope for. The BenT but not Broken team will be joining thousands of others nationwide to walk in AFSP's Out of the Darkness Overnight Experience. This walk is an 18 mile walk over the course of one night from Dusk to Dawn on June 4-5, 2016 in NYC.


Safety Improvement Project on Entrance and Access Roads to Great Falls Tavern Area in Potomac

POTOMAC, Md. – Starting October 5, 2015 through January 12, 2016, safety improvement work will be performed on the entrance and access roads in the Great Falls Tavern area in Potomac, Maryland.  The project was developed to improve road safety, improve vehicle flow at the fee collection booth, and enhance emergency vehicles access to the towpath and park area. The road project will be managed by the Federal Highway Administration through a contract awarded to Pavkov Contracting Company from Sumter SC for $476,849.


Ringing in the spring with music


Is it finally spring?  After this past winter, one can never tell despite the great temperatures lately.

One sign that it might actually be spring is that the choral groups, after the holiday/New Year festivities, are returning with their spring concerts, some related to the Easter season. 

The University Chorale at the University of Maryland took a different approach for their spring concert.  In a sleek 70 minute concert they covered 400 years of music from many different countries, going from Renaissance music to a world premier by an American composer.   The concert was well chosen and executed, giving us a lot of variety in the process.

The centerpiece was the Bach Cantata #196 “The Lord is Mindful of us.”  It is surprisingly short for a Bach cantata – opening sinfonia and chorus, a soprano aria followed by a duet, and a closing chorus.  It ran well under 15 minutes and yet was the most substantial work on the program.

The Chorale had an interesting approach to the work – the full chorus of about three dozen singers with a string quartet, double bass and organ for the instrumental ensemble.  That is probably more voices than Bach usually had and probably fewer instruments, but it worked very well.  The somber opening instrumental piece was well played and soprano Anna Mendham did well with her reflective aria.  These were interspersed with livelier choral pieces that the Chorale did very well, keeping the often dense counterpoint clear and easy to follow.

Before the Bach we went back to Renaissance music, beginning with several sacred pieces.  We covered a lot of territory here with the appropriately titled opening work “Sing Joyfully” by British composer William Byrd and the more serious hymn by Spanish composer Victoria.   A little out of place was the lovely “Grant us Piece” by Mendelssohn, a typically lyrical and flowing work by this composer, beginning in the bass and gradually spreading to the full chorus.

Then the ensemble broke apart into smaller groups for a set of madrigals.  These pieces concerned much less heavenly themes than the preceding pieces but were very different from one another.  The subdued madrigal by Des Prez about lovers parting was very different from the upbeat and suggestive work by Arcadelt about a peasant girl Margot working in the vineyards.   Different from both works was the stately madrigal by Monteverdi, elegant despite its theme of “Sweet and tender kisses.” 

After the Bach we went to four choral songs by Brahms.  While not usually considered a lyrical composer, these four settings of poems by German poets showed Brahms could master melody and mood with the best of them, and the settings are full of that autumnal atmosphere so central to this composer.  The themes of these songs – “O Lovely Night,” “Evening Song,” and “Late Autumn” are certainly typical of Brahms.

Also not considered a lyrical age is modern American classical music, yet there were surprises here too.  The works by Samuel Barber and the lesser known Cecil Effinger were very lyrical and accessible, with oboist David Dickey adding more modern counterpoint to the voices.  The selections from “Old American Songs” showed Aaron Copland at his folksy Americana best, while the world premiere of Stacy Gibb’s “This Little Light of Mine” presented a lyrical hymn that gradually grew into a lively spiritual to bring the concert to a rousing note.

Despite all the musical styles and time periods covered, the Chorale sang well throughout.  The conductor chores were split between Cindy Bauchspies and Allan Laino, and when one was conducting, the other was back in the chorus singing.  In fact, while Bauchspies was conducting the Bach cantata, Laino was one of the soloists for the duet. 

It would have been nice for the words to the English songs were also contained in the playbill, and for the period between Bach and Brahms to have been covered with some additional selections.  But the concert was well done and managed to cover a good deal of ground for just over an hour.

The University of Maryland will celebrate Maryland Day on Saturday April 26, an open house with many free activities and that is often when the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center announces their new season.  The current season still has several offerings, including the jazz of the Kenny Barron Platinum Quintet on April 25, a performance of Anna Deavere Smith’s “Los Angeles 1992,” a play about the Rodney King riots, starting May 3, and the Post Classical Ensemble with South American music on May 10.

For more information on the University season, call (301) 405- 2787 or go online to www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.

3 stars                  

David Cannon

Mocovox Entertainment Critic

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Local pub celebrates 25th birthday

503 EARTH HANDSDERWOOD - The Outta the Way Cafe celebrated its 25th birthday in style this week with music by the best local musicians.

The Cafe, long the center of life in the Derwood area has been the site for some of the best local music in the last quarter of a century.

With open-mic nights on Thursday and live entertainment on Friday and Saturdays, The Cafe is one of the must-see stops for local music fans. "It's a boomer-bar," said local patron Pam Russell. "It's a great place to visit for great music and great food."

Music from the 25th anniversary is here:

Passion for Bach

press homeJohn isn’t so bad.  Actually John is accessible, enjoyable, and well worth knowing.  Unfortunately, John has a big brother named Matt – and we all know how that story goes.

It is the same deal with music.  Johann Sebastian Bach wrote five musical Passions, basically choral works about the final days of Jesus, but only two have come down to us intact.  The St. John Passion is a great work, but it lives in the shadow of the St Matthew Passion, which calls for a double chorus and a children’s chorus, has an elaborate structure and all sorts of musical effects.  When Felix Mendelssohn kicked off that whole Bach revival in the early nineteenth century, it was with a performance of the St Matthew Passion, so the larger work made it into the history books as well.


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