Kennett Symphony gives well polished brass concert

Photo by Caryl Huffaker
The view from the London Ferris wheel enables riders to see for many miles.
Photo by Caryl Huffaker The view from the London Ferris wheel enables riders to see for many miles.

The Kennett Symphony of Chester County presented an unusual concert, “Sound the Brass!” at Longwood Gardens last Saturday. With four trumpets, four trombones, four French horns, one tuba and a truckload of equipment for the timpani and percussion, it was a perfect group for swing music.

However, they played seldom heard classical music instead. They began with a somewhat wooden performance of Handel’s “Overture to the Royal Fireworks.” This well-known piece had a glorious reception in 1749 at a rehearsal in the Vauxhall Gardens in London when 12,000 people paid to hear the rehearsal. Unfortunately it caused a three hour traffic jam of the carriages when the main arch of London Bridge collapsed.

At its first official performance, the fireworks shed caught fire and people fled in terror. Nothing untoward occurred at Longwood. The modern piece “Of Kingdom’s and Glory” by trumpeter Anthony Di Lorenzo describes musically parts of the King Arthur legend with extraordinary work by percussionist William Kerrigan and Timpanist William Cain.

Trombonist Tim Soberick wowed the audience with a magnificent performance on the trombone of the usually sung aria “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini. As Maestra Mary Woodmansee Green commented to doubters, “a trombone can sing.” The first half ended with the Sousa “Liberty Bell March” that the ensemble made rattle. The music was originally named when Sousa’s son marched in a parade in 1893 when the Liberty Bell was returned to Philadelphia after a nationwide tour. Green left the orchestra to direct themselves in the spirited music while she joined the timpanist and played the triangle quite happily.


The second half opened with the dramatic “Olympic Fanfare” by John Williams who wrote it for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Three Renaissance Dances by Tielman Susato from the 1500s was a group of lively dances with a gaiety and light heartedness that is missing in many of the other pieces played.

The audience was very receptive to the playing of “Blue Topaz” by teenage David Hoch. It was written by Tommy Pederson, one of the great trombonists of all time. As David comes from a musical family well known in the area, it was pleasing to hear a second generation playing in the Kennett Symphony.

David, currently a student at the Curtis Institute, did splendidly showing mature technical skill and virtuosity in interpretation. For the finale he joined the orchestra and held his own, playing with the professional musicians.

The program ended with the dramatic “Fanfare Liturgique” by Henri Tomasi. The orchestra did something I have never seen before. The musicians all walked out, leaving the stage to principal percussionist William Kerrigan, who gave a brilliant performance alone with his assortment of drums and instruments that held the audience mesmerized. The concert finished with a rip snorting performance of Louis Primo’s “Sing! Sing! Sing!” made famous by Benny Goodman. While the concert showed the use of brass instruments from the Renaissance to Ragtime, I would have preferred a little more Benny Goodman and a little less classical music.

The next concert will be on Aug. 10 at Longwood Gardens. The next performance will be Gershwin at the Gardens on Aug. 10. For tickets call 610-444-6363.


This Friday, June 28, will be the fourth annual Deadfest at the Myrick Center from 6 to 9 p.m. Come and hear music of the Grateful Dead with Montana Wildaxe, Mallory Square, and The Cameltones. Advance tickets are $10, $20 at the gate with under age 12 free.


The traveling water exhibit at the Delaware Museum of Natural History through Sept. 2 is quite appealing to children, to judge by the reactions of the children who were there at the same time I was. The exhibit is designed like a maze with marvelous sound effects that sound as water is crashing just around the corner but you can never find it. There are noisy spin wheels the children enjoy working, but I suspect the biggest thrill is riding the monorail zip line. It goes only 20 feet and then returns, but the children I watched wanted to go again and again.

The idea of the zip line ride is to show how a drop of water travels from precipitation to evaporation to condensation and starts all over again. It also emphasizes its travel through streams to wetlands where it gets cleansed to the ocean.

Along with this are some interesting facts such as that 90 percent of the earth is covered in water, 3 percent of it is fresh and of that only 1 percent is available for human and animal use (there is much of it underground. There are sections on how to conserve water, the importance of wetlands, the endangered species of animals, the methods Stroud has discovered to clean up streams since have half of them in poor health. When you realize that 75 percent of a living tree is water and it takes 20 trees and 7,000 gallons of water to make a ton of paper, it gets one attention. Also of interest is the fact that the human body is two-thirds water. The exhibit will be there through Sept. 2.

Ferris Wheel

When I saw Ed Fahey at the Kennett Symphony concert he told me he also had just returned from sailing on the Queen Mary 2. He got off the ship the same day we got on. I can’t figure out how we missed seeing one another as 2,500 passengers got off the ship followed by 2,500 who got on Cunard does well though. It is the most elegant herding you could imagine.

One of the great things we did in London was to ride on the huge Ferris wheel on the Thames called the London Eye. Built in 1999, at 443 feet high, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. Of course once it was built the Chinese built one that was520-foot Star of Nanchang in 2006 and then the Singapore Flyer in 2008 that was 2008 feet.

This enormous symbol that won the 2007Pritzker Architecture Prize was popular immediately and is the most popular attraction in England. It attracts 3.5 million people annually. People ride in sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal capsules, each of which can hold up to 25 people. It moves at a very slow rate, only stopping to accommodate wheelchairs.

Located in the heart of London, it can enable you to take extraordinary photos of the city from a great height. The trip around takes about half an hour and it is just an exhilarating feeling to be up in the air. Even people who are afraid of heights (We had one in our Ovoid and he was perfectly all right), enjoy it as it seems very safe.

When we were there, about 300 children were lined up in their school uniforms to ride the Big Eye. Within minutes of our getting off, it broke down, and all the children were disappointed. We, like them, then got on one of the numerous small launches that ride up and down the Thames, If was overcast, and my camera had run out of juice. If or when I return to London, I would like to go around again.


The Brandywiner’s rehearsals are well under way for the upcoming performance of that comedic musical “Annie get Your Gun” to be given at Longwood Gardens on July 25, 26 and 27 and July 1, 2 and 3.

This marvelous story has Annie Oakley, sharpshooter Frank Butler and Buffalo Bill plus a host of friendly Indians from the Wild West Show in which they are involved. That marvelous song “Everything you Can Do I Can Do Better” is in the funny, funny show. Tickets are $28 for adults, $23 for 17 and under and $23 for groups of 25 or more. There is a $2 service fee for each ticket. For tickets go to The Brandywiners, P.O. Box 248, Montchanin.DE.19710. DE 19710.


The Brandywine Valley Association will hold a free summer music series at the Myrick Conservation Center on Thursday nights. On June 27 the Bryn Mawr Mainline Barber Shop Chorus , one of the top American barbershop groups will perform four part harmony at 7:30 p.m. It is recommended that you bring a blanket or lawn chair. Picnickers are welcome. In case of inclement weather call 610-795-1090.

On July 4th the well-known Lukens Concert Band will entertain with patriotic songs and marches. They will also have songs from the Lion King and “Les Miserables” on the program.


The Kennett Symphony of Chester County doesn’t just play exquisite music, they are sponsoring a Beat Beethoven! 5K Run/1-mile Walk on Thursday, July 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the Radley Run CountryClub. The object of the run is to finish before Beethoven’s famous “5th Symphony” finishes. Not only that, but Beethoven himself will be running and you should make it your goal to finish ahead of him. Put the date on your calendar –- more details to follow.


The other week I wrote about the show “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians” being given at The Media Theatre. The way the press release was written I thought it was the Disney film, “101 Dalmatians.” Not so. They have taken the story and are performing it with children dressed as Dalmatians. This interpretation could be equally charming, but it is not the file. The show is being given on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. through July. For tickets for the show call 610-891-0100. I am sorry to have caused any confusion.

Kennett Flash

FILM – “Quartet” –This delightful film is filled with gorgeous music. It takes place in an English retirement home that looks like Downton Abbey, only it is filled with retired musicians who are constantly practicing away in every nook and cranny. A retired and obnoxious diva arrives and upsets the plans for a concert commemorating the birthday of Verdi . After you have enjoyed the marvelous music and read the credits you realize it has been played by the foremost musicians in the United Kingdom. Thursday, June 27 at 7:30 pm

LIVE –Dan LaVoie & Trevor Gordon Hall – LaVoie is noted for his combination of rhythm and blues, soul, jazz and rock and roll. Hall is touted as one of the guitarists with extraordinary musical ingenuity.

Theatre N

Something In The Air –This French language film follows a high school student in Paris who has difficulty with his compatriots as all they want to do is talk politics while he just wants to paint and make films. June 28 at 2 p.m., June 29 at 5 p.m.and June 30 at 5 p.m.

“Blancanieves” –This silent film tells of a girl with an evil stepmother. She learns how to bullfight from her father and then runs away with a troupe of elves. This won prize for Best Actress at San Sebastian Film Festival, Rated PG. June 28 at 8 p.m., June 29 at 2 and 8 p.m. and June 30 at 2 p.m.

Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.