So much music happening here, I’ve barely had time to blog about it. My compatriot in Savannah Music Festival revelry, Lisa Love, director of music marketing for Georgia’s tourism office, arrived from Atlanta Monday afternoon just in time for us to attend the third installment of the Chamber Music Series at the Trinity United Methodist Church. The program, featuring violinist and Associate Artistic Chair of the SMF Daniel Hope and a group of stellar American and European players, included Brahms’ “Prater Quintet,” as well as works by Antonin Dvorak and Anton Webern.
All of the chamber shows in the acoustically superb Trinity space have been marvelous, and Monday’s recital was no exception. The Dvorak Piano Quintet No. 2 in E-Flat Major was exceptionally divine with Hope and friends wrenching every possible nuance from its four movements, especially the elegant second passage (lento). There is no better way to train your ears how to appreciate music – to really hear the sound of music – than by listening to a world-class acoustic ensemble doing its thing in a live setting with no amplification or technical adornments of any kind.
On Tuesday, Lisa and I had to miss the Dave Stryker Quartet noontime performance because we had a lunch date with Erica Backus, public relations director at Visit Savannah, at the Olde Pink House, one of the city’s landmark restaurants. Erica tried to persuade me into writing nice things about her city by introducing us to pulled pork nachos topped with smoked avocado and drizzled with Cheerwine barbecue sauce, and “Southern Sushi” (smoked shrimp and grits rolled in coconut-crusted nori) – and I’m here to tell you the ploy worked.
In the early evening, we were back at the Church of the Sublime Acoustics for Arias & Encores, a co-production featuring singers from the Sherrill Milnes VOICE program all of whom had supporting roles in the staging of Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi at the Lucas Theater over the weekend.
The program included arias, ariosos, duets and ensembles from both well and lesser known operas including Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Franz Lehar’s Giuditta, and Verdi’s Rigoletto. There were two selections from Alice Riley, a new opera specially written for the SMF by Michael Ching; and a medley from Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.
Given the austere environs of the Methodist church, with its neatly spaced rows of dark brown, straight-back wooden benches and clean white walls devoid of any ornamental distraction, the presentation was cleverly staged by seating the singers among the crowd. At the beginning of each number, the singer or singers stood up and walked toward the stage, sometimes interacting directly with the audience. When Rachael Marino, in character as the cabaret singer in Guiditta, made her way down the center aisle singing “Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiss,” she stopped to caress the neck and shoulders of a couple of male audience members. The simple gesture was like a well done “special effect,” which heightened the drama and enhanced the immersive impact of the performance.
Following our operatic immersion we headed over to the Charles H. Morris Center where The Barr Brothers opened for The Apache Relay. The nearly packed house clearly enjoyed The Barr Brothers performance, which had a kind of semi-edgy Americana/Canadiana rootsy vibe to it – and I think I’m going to leave it at that. (March 23 & 24 Entries – DD)
Each day of the 17-day Savannah Music Festival, music journalist Doug DeLoach shares reviews, recommendations and musings on his adventures in Savannah. Read all of his daily dispatches here.
Today – Wed., March 25
The perfect way to start off the seventh day of the Savannah Music Festival is with the 12:30 performance of “Bouncin’ with Bud,” a concert featuring Tardo Hammer showcasing the compositions of legendary bebop pianist Bud Powell, who along with his colleague, Thelonious Monk, took Charlie Parker’s musical language and adapted it to the piano. Tardo will be joined by bassist Nicki Parrott and drummer Leroy Williams at the Charles H. Morris Center show. Back at the Morris for two performances at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., the Warren Vaché Quintet plays Benny Carter, joined by the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet. Trumpeter Vaché is joined by tenor saxophonist, 81-year-old Houston Person, and percussionist Marsalis on vibes along with pianist Austin Johnson, bassist Will Goble and drummer Dave Potter. Over at Trinity United Methodist Church at 6 p.m., world-renowned classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić performs a recital. Born in Montenegro in 1983, he came to international attention in 2011 with the release of his album, The Guitar, which topped classical charts around the world. His extraordinary story is detailed in the 2012 documentary, Miloš Heartstring.
About the Savannah Music Festival
The historic district of downtown Savannah plays host to more than 100 performances during the annual Savannah Music Festival (SMF), which celebrates exceptional artistry in jazz, classical and a variety of American and international musical traditions. Now through April 4, more than 100 programs will be staged in SMF’s most international festival to date. A full schedule and tickets are available at savannahmusicfestival.org. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 912-525-5050 or at 216 E. Broughton Street in Savannah. For information on lodging, attractions, places to eat and tours, check out VisitSavannah.org.