The Kennett Symphony of Chester County had an absolutely marvelous evening of music last weekend. The weather was perfect, and a big crowd came -- so many, in fact, the line waiting to get in to the theatre extended up the hill toward the Peirce house. Guest Conductor Markland Thakar, current music director of Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and co-director of graduate conducting at the Peabody Conservatory, also has a worldwide resume that exceeds impressive. He is a charming man who speaks with relaxed humor before extracting brilliant performances from the musicians. He had chosen a well-rounded program with classics, opera, a little bit of folk music and even a symphony by Beethoven. The program and performance were a smashing success.
The concert opened with the” Italian in Algiers Overture” by Rossini directed by Thakar with delicacy and precision with some outstanding flute music. The orchestra played the spirited “St. Paul’s Suite” by Gustav Holst very solidly with excellent tonal modulations. After some intricate violin extravaganza including a precise solo by Concert Master Emma Kummrow, the selections ended with a rollicking drift into the English folk tune “Greensleeves.”
A delightful surprise of the evening was the introduction of Kennett Symphony vocal winner, the multi-talented Stephanie Scogna, who has a well-trained, true voice, is an excellent actress, is loaded with personality and is lovely to look at. What a package. She impressed the audience performing the lyrical “Exsultate Jubilate” by Mozart, the popular, and the well-known “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, but delighted everyone with her amusing “Art is Calling for Me” by Victor Herbert. This young lady should go far in the field of musical performance.
The concert ended with Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 2” composed when he was already plagued with failing hearing. It begins a typically Mozart classic adagio, followed by the mellow larghetto. The third section was a new unique light hearted piece of music rather than the traditional minuet. It ended with the Allegro molto that was full of quicksilver changes in tempo, volume and Jack rabbit fits and starts. Just watching Conductor Thakar conduct had him practically dancing on the podium. It was a delightful ending to a glorious evening
The Brandywine River Museum of Art will hold its first exhibition of works of Charles Burchfield (1893-1976) opening Aug. 23 until Nov. 16. This major exhibition of more than 50 paintings has works borrowed from museums and private collections across the United States. Called “Exalted Nature: The Real and Fantastic World of Charles E. Burchfield,” it is described by Thomas Padon, director of the museum with “To spend even a moment with one of Charles Burchfield’s hallucinatory watercolors is to experience the artist’s visceral response to nature.” Co-organized by the Brandywine River and the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, the exhibit will be presented at the Burchfield Penney Center from Dec. 12 through Feb. 22.
There will be a world premiere experimental performance based on the 1896-1898 Penn Museum expedition made to northern Borneo. Collections from the archives are re-interpreted into performance featuring a talking orangutan recounting tales of discovery with audience interaction. This will be on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 3 p.m. with free admission at 3260 South St., Philadelphia.
Congratulations go to the Penn State Chester County Master Gardeners headed by Master Gardener Barbara Rinehart, who received first place in the Pennsylvania State Search for Excellence. They won in the Special Needs category for their work at the Bournely Special Camp in West Chester teaching gardening to intellectually disabled campers. They put in pollinator butterfly garden that should give pleasure long term.
Congratulations to Catherine’s Restaurant in Unionville as it celebrate 15 years this week as one of the more popular restaurants in the area. As a thank you to their patrons they have put a $15 gift certificate on line that can be printed and used through Sept. 30 for either brunch or dinner. What a lovely gift to their loyal patrons! Aren’t we lucky to have them here?
Wednesday, Aug. 13 – Real Diamond – this is a really great Neil Diamond tribute band at the Nixon Park summer concert. Supper will be available from Portobello’s. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, or even a picnic. Free concert at 7 p.m., rain or shine.
The last concert of the summer at BVA Myrick Conservation Center, Route 842, six miles west of West Chester will be this Thursday, Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m. The Pennsylvania Flute Choir will perform both pops and contemporary music. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a picnic. The gates open at 6 p.m.
The People’s Light & Theatre, 39 Conestoga Road,Malvern, has lined up a terrific roster of plays for the coming season. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play “Fences” is a dramatic, humorous view of dreams denied to a black family and will run Sept. 10 to Oct. 5. “Row After Row” has two hard core Civil War re-enactors have their after performing beers interrupted by a woman with her own battle scars. The year 1863 and today converge in this dark comedy Oct. 15 through Nov. 9. The theatre continues its holiday tradition with an original panto in the English tradition, this one “Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon,” Nov. 19 to Jan. 11.
Chekhov’s masterpiece, the century old “The Cherry Orchard” will have Academy Award nominees David Strathairn and Mary McDonnell heading the cast Feb. 11 to March 8, followed by Neil Simon’s Tony Award winning comedy “Biloxi Blues” in Sept. 10 to Oct. 5. Jesuit priest and award winning playwright Bill Cain will have a Philadelphia Premiere for “How to Write a New Book For the Bible,” a tribute to a family caring for a maddening, dying mother June 3 to 28. Another regional premiere will be given for “Stella and Lou,” a tender love story when two lonely spirits meet in a south Philadelphia bar on July 15 to Aug. 23. An extra offering is “Jason and the Argonauts,” telling that Jason, who had been banished as a baby has come back to claim his rightful throne occupied by his murderous uncle. This production will be performed by the Scottish company, Visible Fictions, that arrives with a blazing reputation March 12 to April 4. Subscriptions to the seven play series are available from 610-644-3500.
Young teenager soprano prodigy Jackie Evancho will perform at Longwood Gardens in the Open Air Theatre on Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Evancho won acclaim as a 10-year-old when she was runner-up on America’s Got Talent (I wonder who won). She will perform selections from her upcoming CD release “Awakening” in addition to other classical and pop favorites. The performance will be recorded and air nationally on PBS in December. General admission tickets are $50. Call 610-388-1000.
The Brandywine River Museum of Art will have a performance of blues music in the courtyard by Philadelphia Blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter Steve Cal on Friday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. The galleries will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. After Aug. 13 tickets are $25 and $10 for students.
The Mid-Atlantic Wine and Food Festival’s “Top 100 Scavenger Committee” has found some bottles of wine on the Top Ten List for this year. One of the lots was auctioned off at the gala dinner and went for $10,000. Another lot is being raffled off to benefit one of the beneficiaries. If you buy your $100 tickets from OperaDelaware they will receive $50. The top prize is all 100 bottles, the second prize is 20 wines – including the top wine – valued at $800 and third prize is 10 of the top wines valued at $300. Only 250 tickets will be sold. To check to see if there are any left call OperaDelaware at302-658-8063.
I am a pack rat. Even as a child I saved everything, even every scrap of paper that came my way. I well remember my father saying to me “There is nothing special about a piece of paper just because something is written on it.” But as I drown in pieces of paper, I know I didn’t listen. Last week I found two small pieces of paper. One was my high school graduation program from a small Episcopal school in Virginia. It wasn’t very large. After all, there were only 28 people in my class. Frankly I was surprised I had so many clear memories of as many of my classmates as I did, as I had not stayed in touch with anyone.
The other piece of paper was the passenger list on the S.S. Cecelia out of New York for Antofagasta and Valparaiso, Chile. There were the names of my parents, my grandparents, my brother and myself taking my father’s parents to see our new home in Argentina. I had not thought about the trip for years. After going through the Panama Canal, we had taken a narrow gauge railroad over the Andes. The train was so narrow there were only two seats across, one on each side of the aisle. It was loaded with Indians who were traveling home with livestock that roamed the aisles and seats and all sorts of food they had bought. It was snowing in the mountains, but the railroad cars were much too warm for the Indians who threw open the windows to let the cool breezes in. After all, they lived in unheated huts and they were tough. They continually leaned out to watch the jack rabbits running across the pampas and the condors with their eight foot wing spans spiraling overhead.
I enjoyed my few moments of looking back the papers gave me. I just must not find too many touchstones to my past, or I will never get anything done.
Acclaimed Broadway actress and recipient of the Theatre World Award and two Tony nominations, Christine Andreas will headline the performers for a concert of Broadway classics Aug. 23 at the Media Theatre. With lead roles in many top Broadway shows, her resume is impressive. For tickets call
The Player’s Club of Swarthmore, 614 Fairview Road, just off Route 320 will be presenting “The Jungle Book” Aug. 12 to 17 with week day performances at 7 p.m., Saturday the 16th at 2 p.m. and Sunday the 17th at 11 a.m. This show is recommended for ages 3 and up. All tickets are sold at the door the day of the performance.
“Always, Patsy Cline” – through Aug. 23 at New Candlelight Theatre, Arden. – This is a beautiful show that brings back memories. For tickets call 302-475-2313.
Candlelight Comedy Club – August 21 with Geno Bisconte and Julia Scotti. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $27 with a light fare buffet.
“The Book of Mormon” at the Forrest Theater. For tickets call 800-447-7400.
Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.