The farewell performance of Maestra Mary Woodmansee Green with the Kennett Symphony of Chester County was truly magnificent. It didn’t hurt to be playing almost all Gershwin music and it was a little emotional as Mary has led the orchestra for 25 years, as it built from a partly volunteer/partly professional group of musicians to a full professional orchestra.
The orchestra opened with the delightful “An American in Paris” with its rollicking melodies as it leads the listener through the streets and delights of Paris. All the musicians seemed to be carried away with the music as some were toe tapping as they played. Outstanding small solos by members of the brass section were delightful, while the use of authentic taxi horns from Paris gave it that lovely quirky touch.
Talented violinist Beatrice Hsieh, winner of the Kennett Symphony Instrumental Competition did a beautiful performance of Samuel Barber’s lyrical Violin Concerto: 1 Allegro. She seriously concentrated as she played with great technical skill, bestowing a wide grin on the audience when she had finished the difficult piece.
For the second half of the program the orchestra ripped into the beloved music of “Porgy and Bess” The audience was blessed by having the Mary Green Singers to sing the background ensemble roles and two incredible soloists to sing the different parts in the musical.
Soprano Robin Wilson, who performed with the Kennett Symphony at Mary’s first concert conducting the Kennett Symphony won an immediate fan club with her first solo. “Summertime”, with such crystal-clear tones in this beautiful piece it was breathtaking. In further selections as she took different parts she used her voice like a well tuned instrument, soaring, sneering, wailing – letting her voice express all the emotions in the songs. She was able to indicate each character by an almost unnoticed quick change of shawl or jewelry.
Baritone Lourin Plant has both a marvelous voice and a showman’s skill that filled the stage. Playing some rather disagreeable characters made you really annoyed with him. His acting was good, but then when he played nicer parts he was fantastic. As an encore Mary had him lead the audience, all 1000-plus of them, in an echo rendition of “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” to their absolute delight.
It wasn’t just the standing ovation the orchestra received. In conversations on the way out, comments ranged from “What a wonderful concert!” to “We are going to really miss Mary.” What a great finale!
All year at each concert Mary has been presented with a bouquet of 25 roses. For her final concert Mary was presented with an enormous bouquet of 25 lilies and 25 roses that was so large it dwarfed her. The board also presented her with champagne and walked her to her car helping to carry all the things given to her. The musicians gave her a beautiful picture of Mary conducting with the signatures of all the musicians in the wide margin around it.
The Brandywine Folk Collective will present its second Brandywine Folk Festival in Anson B. Nixon Park on August 23, 24 and 25. It will have feature more than 30 international acts, dozens of vendors, a beer garden and activities for the young fry. Quite a few of the bans are local. Come listen to Secret Sisters, Roadkill, Ghost Choir, Pearl and the Beard, and Mean Lady. This is a family friendly carnival to benefit SPARC – Southeastern Pennsylvania Autism Resource Center. For more information call 484-604-0183.
Tickets are now on sale for the always spectacular Delaware Antiques Show to be given Nov. 8 through 10 to benefit Winterthur. The show will feature 60 of the country’s most distinguished antiques, exciting lectures. The featured keynote speaker will be Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, the eldest daughter of the 11th Duke of Marlborough. You can purchase them on line or call 800-448-3883.
Winterthur has a long series of classes through the rest of the summer. Needlework lessons will be given to teens on Aug. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. Cost is $10 and registration is required. The family garden workshop for ages 7 to 14 will make a Mason Bee Box on Aug. 22 in the Brown Learning Center from 2 to 3 p.m.
The Farm Stand with fresh produce will be open every Thursday through the end of September from 2 to 6 p.m. The stand is located in front of the museum store at the cottage with parking behind the cottage near the post office. No ticket is required to reach the farm stand or gift shop.
The award-winning harpist/singer/songwriter Gillian Grassie will appear at Catherine’s Restaurant in Unionville on Thursday, Aug. 22., at 6:30 p.m. She has had sold out shows from Philadelphia’s Tin Angel to The Matador in Siberia. A three course dinner will be $60. For reservations call 610-347-2227.
The Fringe Festival, the former Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe Festival will run from Sept. 5 and will run through Sept. 22. It is a Who’s Who of International Stars with performers from around the globe. Hosted in venues all over the city, there is theatre, dance, art and multidiscipline events. One drama, “On the Concept of the Face: Regarding the Son of God,” the emotionally harrowing, work that has stunned audiences worldwide. There is also “Life Story Marathon,” the 15-hour story of one person’s life, and the world premiere of “The Object Lesson” -- that ridicules the art of collecting in a dig site.
In dance there is the world premiere of Moses (es) that explores the effect migration has on beliefs and body movements. Then there is all sorts of live music, readings etc. It takes time to sort it all out so go to FringeArt.com so you can make your choices. Then call 215-413-1318 for the tickets you want
Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St., Philadelphia, will have previews on Sept. 3 with the opening on Sept. 11, then running through Oct. 20. This is the universal story of a vibrant community, this one Washington Heights, where three generations are deciding which traditions should be retained and which can be dumped. This musical covers musical style for three generations.
At its off-Broadway premiere it was nominated for nine nominations for Drama Desk Awards, winning two. At its Broadway premiere it received four Tony Awards from its 13 nominations, a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize and won a Grammy Award for best Musical Show Album and received rave reviews. Prices range from $10 to $85 and can be purchased from 215-574-3550.
The newly revamped Delaware Theatre Co. will open its 2013-2914 Season with the funny but dark comedy, “Any Given Monday” Sept. 3 and run through Sept. 22. I am unfamiliar with this play, but who can resist one that is advertised as “A dark comedy so offensive, so amoral and so generally unpleasant that you’ll hate yourself for laughing at it…you’ll hate yourself a lot”. For tickets call 302-594-1107.
One of our local residents had a leak in her swimming pool that apparently could be repaired temporarily by sticking a patch on it. The owner dove to the bottom of the pool but discovered that she could not stay down long enough to attach the patch as she was so buoyant she kept floating to the top. She attached a bowling ball to her foot and leaped into the pool. No good. It wasn’t enough. Next she put on a belt of weights her son wore in the gym. Again – failure – she still floated to the top of the water. Finally she enlisted her husband. He was to hold a long handled brush against her back pushing her down. It seemed to work with her at the bottom of the pool and him leaning on the brush. That is, it worked until it occurred to her that if someone came by and saw them they would think he was trying to kill her, and she started laughing. Unfortunately this caused her to breathe and swallow water so she tried to get off the bottom.
Her helpful husband did not realize the problem and pushed her down even harder. It was nip and tuck whether or not she was going to be able to get to the surface. She did reach air, the patch did get placed on the leak, and best of all the couple did not get a divorce although some words were exchanged.
Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.