As the Kennett Symphony of Chester County enters its conductor search series, it began with an opening concert that had the audience giving standing ovations and cries of 'Bravo!'
The first conductor to lead the orchestra in this series was the exciting Michael Hall. His dramatic, emotionally involved style of conducting inspired the musicians to perform a performance that had hall absolutely grinning with delight at their performances. It was the first time I have ever seen orchestra members smiling en masses at the completion of playing.
Hall's conducting style varies from gentle hand movements to focused attention on one player or group of musicians to dramatic jabs in the air for precise emphasis. It was an exhilarating evening.
The orchestra played the 'Intermezzo from Hary Janos Suite' to such perfection, bringing out all the warm Hungarian influences, that Hall was obviously delighted at their performance.
The orchestra performed the Grieg 'Piano Concerto in A minor' with pianist Igor Resnianski, who has won numerous piano competitions. He has performed with numerous orchestras, teaches at several noted music schools including West Chester University. He was named Music Teacher of the Year in 2012 by the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association.
His playing was mesmerizing as he gave precise intonation and emotional balance to the sections of the piece. Part of the magic of his performance was the instinctive understanding and harmony apparent between him and the conductor who worked together so perfectly.
There was an amusing moment when the grand piano was moved onto the stage and then there was a long wait as the pianist did not appear. It seems the stage hand had not locked the brakes on the piano. As vigorously as Resnianski plays, he could quite easily have inadvertently moved the large instrument across the stage.
While the first half of the program was exciting, the orchestra was brilliance personified as they played Dvorak's 'Symphony from the New World.' The music was so incredible that the musically knowledgeable audience applauded enthusiastically at the wrong place simply because the music had been played so marvelously they couldn't resist showing their appreciation.
This is a real tribute to the musicians, several of whom had small solos that were done exquisitely.
This was quite a memorable concert. Conductor Hall raised the bar in this first concert in the conductor search series to quite a height. We can't wait for the other two. As Symphony Board President Paul Merluzzi said before the concert, 'You ain't heard nothing yet'.
Two towns The two historic towns of Delaware City and New Castle have joined to present festivals in each town and a 10-mile bicycle ride between the two towns on Saturday, Oct. 5, from noon to 5 p.m. The ride will be on the bike friendly Route 9. Competitive cyclists are encouraged to participate in the River Towns Time Trial for cash and prizes while recreational cyclists can pick their distance and ride for fun or to earn a distance medal.
Each town will have live music stages, rides, attractions, games, tours, vendors, pumpkin carving as well as food and drink. Speaking of drink, both towns will have craft beer with more than a dozen craft breweries participating. At Battery Park in Delaware City it will be available from 1 to 5 p.m., and in Historic New Castle it will be available at all the restaurants. For more information call Julie Miowenger at 302-545-8305.
Posters The Sunset Hill Fine Arts Gallery, 23 N. High St. in West Chester, will have a fascinating look back when they show the posters of Harry Dunn, made at a time when graphic art was done by hand. The show opens Friday, Oct. 4.
Acrobatics Cirque Eloize Cirkopolis, a combination of acrobatics, images, drawings and illusions will open the Broadway Season for the DuPont Theatre on Oct. 1 through 6. This is described as 'a vibrant imaginary world, pushing the boundaries of visual and audio innovation.' In the rest of the series the theatre will offer 'West Side Story',' Dancing With the Movies,' 'Man of La Mancha,' 'Million Dollar Quartet' and 'Stomp.' For tickets call 302-656-4401.
Winterthur Estate Historian Maggie Lidz and Associate Furniture Conservator Stephanie Auffret will speak at Winterthur on caring for outdoor objects at Winterthur. The talk will be on Sept. 26 at 12:15 p.m.
Brandywine Internationally acclaimed saxophonist Jonathan Wintringham, Astral Artists Winner 2013, will perform in concert with award winning pianist and composer Michael Djupstrom at the Brandywine River Museum on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $25. Full bar and small plate offerings will be available. Call 610-388-8326 for tickets. This should be a riveting performance as Wintringham was described as 'a major force in the saxophone world' by American Record Guide while Djupstrom's original composition, Walimai, is quickly becoming part of the American classical saxophone repertoire.
Civil War The Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford is holding a three-day celebration of the Civil War. On Friday, Sept. 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. there will be the opening reception with refreshments, music and a Civil War re-enactor dressed in an authentic uniform. You will see an exciting weapons demonstration and learn about his clothing and his equipment. It will make history very personal when you see a letter written by W.S. Hammer who lowered the Union flag at Fort Sumter and other personal items from the war Reservations are suggested (call 610-388-6545. $5 for members, $10 for non-members.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., there will be the recorded reading by Maya Angelou of 'Lil-'l Dan,' 'The Drummer Boy,' a Civil War Story. Children may make a replica of Li'l Dan's drum. On Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. local author Bruce Mowday will tell the untold story about the decisive Confederate defeat at Gettysburg. There will also be a book signing of his latest book, 'Pickett's Charge, The Untold Story.' Signed prints by renowned artist Karl Kuerner will also be available.
Sunflowers Everyone loves sunflowers, and we lucky people have acres of them growing all around us. Myrick Conservation Center is holding a Sunflower celebration on Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 3 p.m. These beautiful flowers are locally grown, locally milled and locally sold. You will meet Charles Shattuck of Wild Birds Unlimited and James Hicks of Hicks Brothers L.L.C. for a personal tour while learning about these amazing flowers. You will travel by hay ride, which is the perfect vantage point for photography, and enjoy refreshments and sunflower snacks. Each family gets to pick their own sunflower souvenir. Admission is 5 for members and $10 for non-members.
Route 1 The acres of sunflowers at Route 1 at Route 52 has attracted so many visitors there have been police cars stopped to ease the traffic. The acres of flowers have been crowded with photographers and flower lovers enjoying the view. These plants appear to be the miniature variety rather than the tall variety, but they are still gorgeous sunflowers.
Small World Last week we were at the Rainbow Theatre in Lancaster, a dinner theatre that specializes in comedies and farces. A happy group at the next table turned out to be winners in the Mary Kay organizations. Most of them had won an evening at the dinner theatre, but one. Megan Kalbach of Mountville, had won that coveted pink Cadillac that Mary Kay suppliers work to win. To win it she and her team of 147 ladies had sold about $196,000 worth of cosmetics in six months. That's a lot of selling! One of the dinner theatre winners, Sarah Hauck, was from West Chester. So if you are in need of some cosmetics, give her a call at 646-291-7002.
'Rainmaker' People's Light & Theatre, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, is presenting 'The Rainmaker' by Philadelphia playwright Richard Nash. Although the story revolves around the Currie farm family, suffering in a killer drought, and the sly, fast talking rainmaker, Bill Starbuck, it is really a love story. Starbuck is a dreamer, and he inspires plain talking and plain looking Lizzie Currie into believing in herself. The farm folk tend to be on the stereotypical side – the sullen brother, the stupid brother, the ineffectual father, etc. With these characters having been given a little too much verbiage, the first act does tend to drag a bit. However, the second act gets moving. The show runs through Oct. 13 with performances Tuesday through Sunday. For tickets call 610-644-3500.
'Hunger' Those who have enjoyed either the 'Hunger Games' best-selling books or blockbuster film have riveted audiences across the world. Now it is coming as a live stage comedy to the DuPont Theatre, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. The show is an unauthorized production and is not associated with author Suzanne Collins or Scholastic. It is suitable for ages 13 and up. For tickets call 1-800-338-0881.
'Annie' The Delaware Children's Theatre will present that heartwarming story about the red-headed orphan, her dog Sandy and Daddy Warbucks, Oct. 5 through Nov. 3. As this is a benefit for the theatre. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for seniors and children. For tickets call 302-655-1014 or mail to 1014 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, DE 19806. All performances are on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Doors open a half hour before show. Seats are first come, first served.
Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.