CHAUTAUQUA - On June 17 at 6:30 p.m., the public is invited to experience an extraordinary musical experience: a performance by one of our nation's most respected Renaissance vocal quartets.
The Good Pennyworths will perform in Chautauqua Institution's beautiful new Fletcher Music Hall, on that date, to the accompaniment of Renaissance lute and Gothic harp. The singers will perform without admission charge, although a freewill offering will be taken, to help cover the expenses of the performance.
The concert will be presented under the sponsorship of the Chautauqua New York Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters, in support of that organization's goal to support and advance the arts in contemporary society. The quartet's lute player, Garald Farnham, will also offer a master class in singing to the lute, at Chautauqua's Hurlbut Memorial Church, that same afternoon at 3 p.m. There is no charge for the class either, but due to class size limitations, advance registration is absolutely required. Information on how to do so, is below.
Good Pennyworths, a Renaissance quartet which performs with lute and harp, will sing at Chautauqua's Fletcher Hall on June 17 at 6:30 p.m. Singers (from left) are Garald Farnham, Kirsten Kane, Christopher Preston Thompson, and Jacquelyn Penfold.
This week, I'd like to share with you some things about the coming performance, some information about the master class, and some things I've learned in a telephone interview with lutanist Farnham.
Many people in our area tell me they are unaware of the location of Fletcher Music Hall. The hall is quite new and beautiful, and it is very easy to find.
If you drive from the direction of Jamestown on Route 394, go completely past the other gates into Chautauqua. Just past the Brawdy Building, which houses the Chautauqua Theater Company, you will find a gate labeled "Turner School Gate." One gets the sensation of driving into the parking lot of the former elementary school, with the building itself on the driver's left.
Once inside the gate, drive straight away from Route 394. You will find yourself in a large parking lot, but keep your eyes to the right, to look for Fletcher Hall. It is a large, wooden structure, and is located near Elizabeth Lenna Hall. Because the Chautauqua summer season will not have begun, there will be no charge to enter the grounds and no charge for parking. Unlike performances in the regular season, you will be able to park quite near the performance space.
The quartet has named this program "Love is but a Jest: Songs for Fools and Lovers." The program will include music intended to be performed in the style of the Renaissance, regardless of when it was actually composed. Composers whose music will be performed include Dowland, Purcell, Moulinie, Bataille, Boesset, Rossini, Billings, Hopkinson, Billy Taylor, Stephen Sondheim, and Paul Simon, of Simon and Garfunkel.
Also part of the performance will be a work which was commissioned by the quartet, of jazz composer Jordan Clawson, titled "A Perfect Strain."
The performance is expected to last approximately one hour. The performers will be Jacquelyn Penfold, soprano; Kristen Kane, mezzo; Christopher Preston Thompson, tenor and harpist; and Garald Farnham, who is the quartet's artistic director and performs as a baritone and on the lute.
Ms. Penfold is a native of Buffalo, where she was a chorister in the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir and sang with the St. Paul's Girls Choir.
The performance at Chautauqua is part of an 11 concert performance tour which will take them to six different states. The tour includes performances for the Lute Society of America's Biennial Lute Festival, at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, and at the Early Music Festival, in Columbus.
Local sponsors have been operating under the understanding that the 3 p.m. master class was to be instruction in playing the lute. Recently received information indicates that the class is rather in singing to the lute, and singers, rather than instrumentalists, are the target of its lessons. Participants should be at least 12 years of age.
There is no charge for participation in the class, but as stated above, pre-registration is necessary. The hosts have indicated that the only qualification to their invitation is that if participation should be over-subscribed, students will be given first priority, in registering for the class. The duration of the class is expected to be 90 minutes.
Those who wish to participate in the class should send an email to the president of the local chapter of the Society of Arts and Letters. Her name is Juanita Wallace Jackson, and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Students should indicate in their email whether they wish to perform for the class, or only to watch and listen.
Hurlbut Memorial Church is located on Pratt Avenue, in Chautauqua. The church is directly beside the Bratton Family Theater.
Farnham, the class's teacher, is an officer of the Lute Society of America. He is a graduate of Capital University's Conservatory of Music and holds a master's degree in music from New York University. He has worked as musical director for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, at the North Shore Music Festival and with Off-Broadway companies. He performed for 20 years with an organization called The Merry Minstrels, who performed at Lincoln Center, in New York City, and he formed Good Pennyworths in 2007.
We spoke by telephone with Garald Farnham from his home in New York City, where the quartet maintains their home base at Advent Lutheran Church, at West 93rd Street and Broadway.
"I have two different friends, here in New York, who visit Chautauqua every summer," Farnham said. "Both have suggested that Chautauqua would be a perfect place for the quartet to perform, and one of them gave me the address of Hurlbut Church."
Good Pennyworths stopped by Chautauqua, in the spring of 2010, while on a concert tour, and performed then, at Hurlbut Church. Present in the audience was Juanita Wallace Jackson, who suggested that the singers return for a more formal performance, and offering to help them arrange their next performance.
Farnham said that unlike many performers on the lute, he did not begin as a guitarist. "I was a singer who wanted to learn to accompany myself, and I started studying guitar and lute at roughly the same time," he told us. He found that he loved the sound of the lute and that it seemed especially well-suited to his voice, and he has been performing on it and with it, ever since.
Farnham said that his ensemble's name comes from a Renaissance minstrel song, titled "Good Knacks for Ladies," by John Dowland. The song's first verse says:
Fine knacks for ladies, Cheap, choice, brave and new;
Good pennyworths, but money cannot move.
I keep a fair, but for the fair to view;
A beggar may be liberal of love.
Though my wares be trash, the heart is true.
It turns out that the membership of the ensemble is somewhat flexible. Farnham is the constant, but he said that professional singers must accept opportunities when they are offered, so when he schedules a concert, sometimes not all the usual singers are free to participate.
Tenor Thompson has been with the ensemble for about two and a half years, for example. Soprano Penfold will be performing with the quartet for the first time on this present tour.
The title of this concert, ''Love is but a Jest: Songs for Fools and Lovers" refers to the meaning of the word "fool" which relates to a minstrel, rather than to someone who is foolish, Farnham said. He has especially chosen songs for this program which are humorous, or which deal with love in a lighthearted, romantic way.
"This is the third of three programs which we usually perform," he said. "Our first was 'Music from Shakespeare: True Love Never Did Run True,' and we performed it like a play with music. This program and the second one, also, are only concerts, although we try to connect the songs, one to the next."
The lute player said that there are two principal kinds of lutes: Renaissance and Baroque lutes. "I perform only on the Renaissance lute, in this program," he said.
The quartet loved Chautauqua in their previous visit, and they are looking forward eagerly to June 17, when they will be here once again. I hope you're able to take advantage of the opportunity to hear them and learn from them.
The Critical Eye mourns the passing, last week, of Sam Paladino, who has served our community and our arts throughout his long and profitable life.
In recent years, several cultural organizations have encouraged Sam to share with us how life in our community has progressed through the nearly 90 years in which he has been an important figure in the development of the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown, and in which he has been a businessman and an active and accomplished citizen.
Sam's stories of the years when there were 13 live theaters in Jamestown, and when they used to make high quality pianos in the Brooklyn Square area, and the like, were always interesting.
Many is the time when I personally have been writing a story about our community's history, and came up against an area in which there seemed to be no information available, until I picked up the phone and called Sam, who nearly always had exactly the answer I needed.
Sam's hard work for LBLT and his remarkable performances on the company's stage are a chapter in Jamestown history, all by themselves, and when people needed help in putting on a play or they needed a capable and charming narrator or the like, Sam was always generous with his time and his knowledge. And somehow he always looked as though he was wearing a tuxedo, even when he was in everyday togs.
And, how he loved appearing as Count Dracula.
He was an artist and a first rate person, and he will be greatly missed.
For many years Helga Hulse was one of the finest teachers of piano in our community, and she was a talented performing artist and a hard-working supporter of keyboard performances, as well.
Ms. Hulse has left our community, to live with one of her sons, but she will be returning soon to offer another concert. Hear her June 17 at 4 p.m., in the auditorium of Jamestown High School. The concert is in celebration of her 90th birthday. I'm sure it will be a splendid opportunity.
A reception sponsored by the Association of Piano Teachers at First Baptist Church will follow.
The public is invited and there is no admission charge. A freewill offering for concert expenses will be taken.
Through July 18, Westfield resident Cletus Johnson will have a show of his artworks on display at the Nina Freudenheim Gallery, 140 North St., in Buffalo. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The community is invited to take part in Steppin'Out Days, Thursday through Saturday of the coming week.
Take advantage of the opportunity to dine at one of our area's fine restaurants. Many of them will honor your showing them a ticket or a program to a present or future play or concert, to give you some boon, such as a free drink, a discount on your bill, an appetizer, or some such benefit, depending on the restaurant.
What good is sitting alone in your room, when you could be steppin' out?
Today, from noon until 2 p.m., the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, on Elmwood Ave., in Buffalo, invites you to see world famous art, brought to life by students from area art programs, and their friends, parents, and others, over the age of 20.
Participants will try to present living tableaux as identical as possible to famous works of art, down to props, backgrounds, and more. The event is called "Art Alive," and it will take place on the grounds of the gallery, adjacent to Delaware Park. There is no admission charge.
Participants will compete for more than $1,000 in prizes. The event was originally scheduled for an earlier date, and had to be re-scheduled due to inclement weather.
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Buffalo's Irish Classical Theatre Company is currently presenting a production of the very first play I ever saw on Broadway: "Da" by Hugh Leonard. Performances will continue through July 1.
"Da" is an Irish term for a person's father, rather like "Dad" in our country. The play is the story of a young man who returns home for his father's funeral, and as he sorts through his father's possessions, he relives and rethinks a number of incidents from his family's past, and even experiences a visit from his father's ghost.
The company's artistic director, Vincent O'Neill will direct. O'Neill's late brother, Chris O'Neill, originated the role of young Charlie, in 1973, under the direction of the playwright, and the production is dedicated to him.
Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., plus matinees on Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The company performs in the Andrews Theater, at 625 Main St., in the Downtown Buffalo Theater District.
Tickets range in price from $34 to $42. For information or to reserve tickets, phone the company at 853-4282, or see their website at www.irishclassicaltheatre.com.
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Glimmerglass opera performs an annual season of performances, featuring four major productions performed in rep, meaning you can go to as many as four different productions on adjacent days, rather than needing to return for each separate production.
The 2012 season will begin July 7, and performances will take place every day but Mondays, through Aug. 25. This season the company will perform Verdi's "Aida," Meredith Willson's "The Music Man," Lully's "Armide," and Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "Lost in the Stars." A number of lectures, solo concerts and other supplementary events are also scheduled.
Among those who will participate are internationally recognized soprano Deborah Voight, Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and actress Estelle Parsons.
We used to review their season a number of years ago, and I still want to go back, every year, so badly I can taste it. The company is located in Cooperstown. For more specific information, or to order tickets, phone them at 607-547-2255 or go to www.glimmerglass.org.
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Today, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m., the Buffalo Historical Society will host events called 'Building Stories," in which staff members will collect personal stories from individuals attending, about the construction of a number of historical and architecturally important buildings in the Buffalo area.
If your family used to farm on a piece of land on which an important building was built, or if your grandfather was a construction worker on one of the buildings, you are exactly who they're looking for.
Admission is free to the events, although there is an admission charge to the museum itself. For additional information about the specific content of the events you may phone the society at 873-9644 or go to their web address at www.buffalohistory.org.
The History Society will sponsor three Parties on the Portico, on June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17. All three parties will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and all will feature upbeat live music, free appetizers and a cash bar. The events are an opportunity to meet people with similar interests, and include brief tours of the museum facility and outstanding views of Delaware Park, Mirror Lake, the Japanese Gardens, and the museum's beautiful grounds.
The society is located at the intersection of Nottingham Court and Elmwood Avenue. Questions may be directed to the phone number or computer address above.
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June 18-22, world-celebrated marimbist Keiko Abe will teach a week-long workshop and give performances at the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Performances will be Monday and Friday, at 8 p.m., in Rosch Recital Hall. The public is welcome. To purchase tickets, phone 673-3501 or go to their website at www.fredonia.edu/tickets.
Approximately 35 students from countries around the world will attend to study with Ms. Abe and her associate teachers, at the week-long workshop. The most successful students will participate in the Friday concert.
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The Philadelphia Museum of Art will open a new show, titled "Visions of Arcadia." The show features original paintings by Gaugin, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Seurat and a total of 23 artists, who each chose to envision a place of natural perfection in their artwork.
The show is just one of the exhibitions on view at the beautiful museum in downtown Philadelphia, which is one of our country's finest collections of fine arts. For additional information, phone 215-763-8100 or visit www.philamuseum.org.