Saturday, January 19, 2019

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of January 21, 2019

The concert scene this week includes a Star Wars movie event at Powell Hall and a chamber music concert inspired by the moon landing 50 years ago.

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The Kim Portnoy Trio
Eliot Unitarian Chapel presents a Friends of Music concert featuring the Kim Portnoy Trio plaing jazz and the Linjadi Trio playing Dvorak's Piano Trio No. 3 on Sunday, January 27, at 3 pm. The concert takes place at Eliot Unitarian Chapel is at 100 South Argonne in Kirkwood. For more information: fomcstl.org.

The Sheldon Concert Hall presents the St. Louis Brass Band in a Low Brass Spectacular on Tuesday, January 22, at 7:30 PM. “The Saint Louis Brass Band is pleased to return to The Sheldon Concert Hall again this season. We are also please to feature as Guest Artist St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Bass Trombonist Gerry Pagano! The intimate setting of the Sheldon is perfect for the Brass Band to present soloists and give the audience an opportunity to hear them and meet them up close and personal. This will be an exciting evening of low brass extravaganza!” The Sheldon is at 3648 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: thesheldon.org.

Peter Henderson
The Sheldon Concert Hall presents the 1969 - The Moon Landing on Wednesday, January 23, at 8 pm. “Pianist Peter Henderson and the Ilex Trio, with violinist Kristin Ahlstrom and cellist A ne Fagerburg, commemorate the wonder and significance of the moon landing 50 years ago with lunar-themed pieces such as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Debussy's Suite Bergamasque with its Clair de lune movement, and a new composition by Peter Henderson written for this concert entitled Sun Valley: Sunset, Moonrise, and Milky Way.” The Sheldon is at 3648 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: thesheldon.org.

Gemma New conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert, Thursday through Saturday at 7 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm, January 24-27. " Journey to a galaxy far, far away and relive the intergalactic adventure of Star Wars: A New Hope In Concert like never before as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs the score live. Experience the iconic film on the big screen at Powell Hall for the most epic space adventure of all time!" Performances take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

Xiomara Mass
The Washington University Department of Music presents a faculty recital by Xiomara Mass, oboe, with Peter Henderson, piano, on Sunday, January 27, at 7:30 p.m. The concert includes music by Loeffler and Saint-Saëns and takes place in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information, music.wustl.edu.

The Washington University Department of Music presents The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, St. Louis District, on Saturday, January 26, from 10 am to approximately 4 pm. "The St. Louis District typically hosts up to 35 singers. Each participating singer is expected to prepare five arias, two of which they will perform at the audition- one of their choosing and one chosen by the judges. Typically there are three District winners who go on to compete in the regional competition with the hope of continuing to the national level in New York." The event takes place in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information, music.wustl.edu.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of January 18, 2019

Shows at the Rep and the Black Rep are on the hit list this week, along with cabaret showcases at the .ZACK.

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New This Week:

Alabama Story
Photo by John Gitchoff
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Alabama Story running through January 27th. "A determined librarian and a segregationist senator face off over an innocent children’s book in 1959 Montgomery. Depicting the marriage of two rabbits – who happen to have different-colored fur – the story has Sen. E.W. Higgins calling for a book ban. But even as the pressure mounts, librarian Emily Wheelock Reed refuses to yield to censorship. Inspired by true events, Alabama Story is a stirring testament to free expression." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org,

My take: If recent political developments in this country have demonstrated anything, it's that the kind of lunatic racism and contempt for free thought depicted in this play is alive and very well. Critics have expressed reservations about the credibility of a fictional subplot in the show, but overall Alabama Story is getting a big thumbs-up. At STL Today, Calvin Wilson at Review STL, "bring these topics to life in a way that not only enlightens – yet entertains and truly captivates. It’s a show that should be seen, and one that we honestly need to see right now."


Canfield Drive
Photo by Peter Spack
The Black Rep presents the world premiere of Canfield Drive running through January 27. "In this World Premiere production, two high-powered news reporters from across the aisle are thrown together during a ratings frenzy in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. As they untangle the real cause of Brown's death, they struggle to keep their own secrets out of the spotlight. Created from diverse interviews of people from around the corner and around the world, Canfield Drive shines a light of hope as it wrestles with the greatest questions of our age. Canfield Drive, written by Kristen Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker, is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation and Development Fund Project co-commissioned by 651 Arts in partnership with The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, and NPN." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

My take: No doubt about it, the death of Michael Brown turned over some big rocks in our national psyche, and some pretty nasty things came crawling out--in come cases, right into elected offices. As Paul Friswold writes in his review for the Riverfront Time, the playwrights "show more courage than most, walking right into the bloody mess of America's festering Achilles heel, racism. It's painful and honest and, ultimately, cathartic to watch because it doesn't take the easy way out." As Ann Lemmons Pollack writes on her blog, "this is our story. We have to be able to listen to what other people are saying about their experience. It may be uncomfortable to hear, but these things not only must be said, they must be heard."


Lina Koutrakos
Mariposa Artists presents a Master Teachers' Performance featuring Rick Jensen, Jeff Klitz, Charles Busch, and Lina Koutrakos on Thursday, January 17, at 8 pm, as well as a Participant Showcase on Sunday, January 20, at 3 pm. The shows are part of the Gateway Performance Workshop for cabaret and musical theatre singers and takes place at the .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

My take: Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen have become familiar figures on the local cabaret scene over the years, first as regular faculty members in the St. Louis Cabaret Conference, and then as directors and advisers for many local performers. And, as I wrote in my review of their appearance at the Gaslight Theatre back in 2015, that fact that they have been performing as creative partners for decades, giving their work on stage the kind of easy camaraderie that comes only with experience. They're also excellent teachers, so I would expect great work from their students (many of whom have graced local stages int he past) as well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Symphony Preview: Known unknowns

Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820
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It's an all-German program this weekend (January 18 and 19, 2019) as guest conductor Karina Canellakis leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and violinist Renaud Capuçon in an evening of music by Beethoven, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Paul Hindemith. The names are familiar to most music lovers, but some of the program might not be.

The concerts open, appropriately, with an overture. Specifically, it's the second of four overtures Beethoven wrote for his opera "Fidelio" (originally titled "Lenore") so, naturally, it's known as the "Lenore" Overture No. 3.
Allow me to explain.

With a libretto adapted from Pierre Gaveaux's 1798 opera "Léonore, ou L'amour conjugal," Beethoven's opera is the story of Lenore's efforts to free her husband Florestan from a political prison by disguising herself as a guard named Fidelio. In fact, management at the Theater an der Wein, where the opera was first performed, insisted on changing the name from "Lenore" to "Fidelio" to avoid confusion with the earlier opera.

With each production, "Fidelio" got a new overture. The overture now labeled "Lenore" No. 2 was actually the one performed at the first production in 1805. An 1806 revision got the overture we'll hear this weekend, "Lenore" No. 3. A planned performance in Prague in 1808 never happened, but the revised overture was discovered after the composer's death and labeled "Lenore" No. 1 on the mistaken belief that it was his first attempt. These days when the opera is performed, it's in the 1814 revision.

Of the four overtures, "Lenore" No. 3 gets the most attention, primarily because it's the one that best encapsulates the story of the opera. As Michael Steinberg writes in notes for the San Francisco Symphony, it's "too strong a piece and too big, even too dramatic, to be an effective introduction for a stage action, something that Beethoven realized almost at once. It does, however, stand as one of the great emblems of the heroic Beethoven, a potent and controlled musical embodiment of a noble humanistic passion." In short, what works as a concert opener doesn't necessarily work as an opera opener.

Mozart, ahead of his time
Up next is Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 ("Turkish"), performed by Ray Chen. It's a late substitute for the originally scheduled Schumann Violin Concerto due to the illness of the original soloist, Renaud Capuçon. The last and most sophisticated of Mozart's violin concertos, the fifth is, as Blair Johnson points out at Allmusic.com , a forward-looking piece "very nearly in line with the instrumental concerto of the next century":
Though the piece itself is clearly within the Classical chamber concerto tradition, its scale (better than 25 minutes, usually) and the degree of its technical demands mark the work as something new for the violin. Many pieces with equal or greater raw physical demands had already been composed by the time of the Concerto No. 5, but none of them has survived the test of time, and certainly none is as formidable a piece of music -- it is not without reason that this is the only one of the five to regularly receive as much attention from musicologists and historians as do the crown jewels of Mozart's piano concerto catalog. A warhorse of the student repertory and a staple of the professional's diet, this may well be the most frequently played violin concerto ever written.
Regarding this weekend's soloist, Ray Chen began to attract attention when he won First Prize in the 2008 Yehudi Menuhin and 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competitions for young violinists. Since then he has appeared with orchestras in Europe, Asia, and North America. This season his schedule includes the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.

Richard Strauss in 1938
Up next is Richard Strauss's "Symphonic Fantasy from Die Frau Ohne Schatten" composed in 1946 and based on themes from his 1919 opera "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" ("The Woman Without a Shadow"). Like "Fidelio," the opera has a troubled history. The complex fairy tale libretto by Strauss's frequent collaborator Hugo von Hofmannsthal tended to leave audiences cold, and the serious technical demands of the work placed it outside the capabilities of all but the most well heeled companies.

"If ever an opera was weighed down by its creators' joint ambition," writes John Shirley in a review of the Royal Opera's 2014 production, "it is Die Frau ohne Schatten." Strauss and Hofmannsthal saw the work as their masterpiece but "it turned into a complex and unwieldy embarrassment of riches, albeit a glorious one. The charge that this enormous fairy tale represents the librettist and composer at their most pretentious and overblown is difficult to refute."

The "Fantasy," in any case, captures the drama and fantastic atmosphere of the opera in a mere 22 minutes and without the need for elaborate scenery. Besides, Tim Munro's program notes provide a handy breakdown of the themes used and their placement in the opera. The music requires a great orchestra but, of course, we already have that.

Paul Hindemith, age 28
A great orchestra is also a requirement for the last work on the program, Paul Hindemith's "Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber." Originally intended as a ballet for the dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine, the work became a purely symphonic piece when Hindemith and Massine were unable to agree on its final format.

The Weber originals transformed by Hindemith are three piano duets and, in the second movement Scherzo, the overture to Schiller's play "Turandot," an Italian translation of which would later become the basis for Puccini's opera of the same name. Hindemith's reworking of this relatively modest material is striking and colorful. As D. Kern Holoman of the University of California at Davis writes:
The Weber originals serve as mere starting points for Hindemith's invention. Both the first and the last movements are marches, by turns whimsical and rambunctuous; both begin simply with Weber's tunes and transform themselves -metamorphose -into intricate display as the role of Hindemith's countermelodies grows ever more significant. The lovely Andantino, based on a Weber siciliana, consists of increasingly ornamented treatments of the melody first begun in the clarinet; the restatement is dominated by an obbligato for solo flute. The big movement, however, is the Chinese scherzo, where the simple tune works itself into a perpetual motion, ever grander in dimension. The wind and percussion work is for a time in the style of the Turkish band, with brash trills in the woodwind, snare drum, and triangle. When the percussion take over completely it is as though some huge musical clock has come unsprung, the last section discombobulating into irregular cycles of the constituent parts in multiple meters.
Not surprisingly, the percussion section of the orchestra will be a large one for this work, with six musicians (including Principal Tympani Shannon Wood and Principal Percussion William James) banging away at timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, small cymbals, triangle, tambourine, small gong, wood block, tom-tom, glockenspiel, and chimes. Back in the day, this work was a favorite for audio enthusiasts looking to show off their stereo systems.

The Essentials: Karina Canellakis conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and violinist Ray Chen Friday at 10:30 am and Saturday at 8 pm, January 18 and 19. The concerts take place at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand in Grand Center.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of January 14, 2019

We have new shows this week from (among others) Circus Harmony, The Rep, Max and Louie, and Mariposa Productions, along with the monthly singers open mic at Sophie's, hosted by yours truly.

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Circus Harmony presents Accelerando - A Circus Spy Thriller Saturdays at 12 and 2 pm and Sundasy at 2 pm, January 19 - 27. "The annual show features Circus Harmony's flying children with all new acts including Chinese Pole and Hoop Diving, some coached by Circus Harmony graduates who are touring the world performing these acts with Cirque du Soleil and les 7 Doigts de la Main!" Performances take place at City Museum, downtown. For more information www.circusharmony.org/accelerando.

Alabama Story
Photo by John Gitchoff
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama Alabama Story running through January 27th. "A determined librarian and a segregationist senator face off over an innocent children’s book in 1959 Montgomery. Depicting the marriage of two rabbits – who happen to have different-colored fur – the story has Sen. E.W. Higgins calling for a book ban. But even as the pressure mounts, librarian Emily Wheelock Reed refuses to yield to censorship. Inspired by true events, Alabama Story is a stirring testament to free expression." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org,

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Bullets in the Bathtub through April 13. The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Canfield Drive
Photo by Peter Spack
The Black Rep presents the world premiere of Canfield Drive running through January 27. "In this World Premiere production, two high-powered news reporters from across the aisle are thrown together during a ratings frenzy in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. As they untangle the real cause of Brown's death, they struggle to keep their own secrets out of the spotlight. Created from diverse interviews of people from around the corner and around the world, Canfield Drive shines a light of hope as it wrestles with the greatest questions of our age. Canfield Drive, written by Kristen Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker, is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation and Development Fund Project co-commissioned by 651 Arts in partnership with The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, and NPN." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

CSZ St. Louis presents The ComedySportz Show on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. The show is "action-packed, interactive and hilarious comedy played as a sport. Two teams battle it out for points and your laughs! You choose the winners the teams provide the funny!" Performances take place on the second floor of the Sugar Cubed, 917 S Main St. in St Charles, Mo. For more information: www.cszstlouis.com.

The St. Louis Family Theatre Series presents the Two Beans Productions presentation of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm, January 19 and 20. " From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the funniest, most mischievous cat they have ever met. With the trickiest of tricks and the craziest of ideas, he is certainly fun to play with. And he turns a rainy afternoon into an amazing adventure. But what will Mum find when she comes home...?" Performances take place at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre at Parker and Waterford in Florissant, MO. For more information, call 314-921-5678 or visit florissantmo.com.

Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents the thriller I'll Be Back Before Midnight through January 20. "The play centers on the experiences of Jan, a young wife who recovering from a nervous disorder. She and her husband rent a remote cabin from an odd farmer who delights in telling gruesome ghost stories. Then the husband's strange sister arrives, and all manner of frightening events occur. What happens to fragile Jan as bodies appear and disappear give this classic thriller its tremendously frightening impact." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre of the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road. For more information, call 314-821-9956 or visit ktg-onstage.org.

Debby Lennon
Max and Louie Productions presents Debby Lennon in the one-woman show Love, Linda January 17 - 27. "Linda Lee Thomas was the Southern beauty who married and was the driving force behind legendary song writer Cole Porter at the dawn of the roaring twenties. Though Cole Porter was gay, their companionship and love lasted through 35 years of marriage and a spectacular, glamour-filled life. With innovative jazz arrangements, the timeless music and lyrics of Cole Porter weave through “Love, Linda” examining the darker sides of their life, while also celebrating the deep love that blossomed through their unconventional relationship." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center. For more information: maxandlouie.com

Hard Road Theatre Productions presents The Marvelous Wonderettes Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, January 18-26. “The pop doesn't stop in this smash hit musical! A high school prom in 1958 and a 10-year reunion in 1968 provide the backdrop for some of the biggest hits of both decades, performed by an irrepressible quartet of young women. Featuring a stacked playlist that includes “Mr. Sandman,” “It's in His Kiss,” “Respect,” “Son of a Preacher Man” and "Lollipop," it's a joyous snapshot of a musical era.” Performances will be held at the Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland IL. For more information: www.hardroad.org.

Lina Koutrakos
Mariposa Artists presents a Master Teachers' Performance featuring Rick Jensen, Jeff Klitz, Charles Busch, and Lina Koutrakos on Thursday, January 17, at 8 pm. The show is part of the Gateway Performance Workshop for cabaret and musical theatre singers and takes place at the .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

The Chapel presents My Infinite Sadness: A New Play by Darrious Varner running through January 20th. "When left alone in one's own mind, who is it that you are really talking to? Step into the subconscious of a person suffering with Depression. See the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the aches and pains that are living with mental illness. Playwright Darrious Varner introduces you to a whole new view of Depression with My Infinite Sadness. By personifying Depression, giving it a face and a voice, he shows just how hard the struggle can be, even on good days. There will be a 30 minute talk back after each show." The Chapel is at 6238 Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: www.brownpapertickets.com

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Nursery Crimes through May 9. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Alton Little Theater presents the drama On Golden Pond Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, January 18-27. " The touching play takes place at a summer lake home and focuses on a daughter's turbulent relationship with her father and the trials of a loving couple in the twilight years of a long marriage. A testament to the power of love and family and redemption." Performances take place at 2450 North Henry in Alton, IL. For more information, call 618.462.6562 or visit altonlittletheater.org.

Mariposa Artists presents a Participant Showcase on Sunday, January 20, at 3 pm. The show features 20 talented individuals from across the country attending the Gateway Performance Workshop for cabaret and musical theatre singers. Musical directors are Rick Jensen and Jeff Klitz. Co-Directors are Lina Koutrakos and Charles Busch. The performance takes place at the .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents Recipes for Ice, their monthly improv show, on Friday, January 18, at 8 and 10:30 pm at The Steamboat Room, 314 S. Clay in Kirkwood, MO. "Join Adam and his crew for an interactive night of fun and laughter. Beer, wine and food available from Kirkwood Station Brewery." For more information: ktg-onstage.org.

Chuck Lavazzi
The Cabaret Project presents its weekly Singers Open Mic Night on Wednesday, January 16, from 7 to 10 pm. Drop by and enjoy a night of great music from St. Louis cabaret artists, backed up by pianist and music director Carol Schmidt and hosted by 88.1 KDHX's Chuck Lavazzi. If you're planning to sing, be prepared to do one or two songs and bring music, preferably in your key. It's also recommend that you have your song memorized. The event takes place at Sophie's Artist Lounge on the second floor of the .ZACK performing arts space at 3226 Locust in Grand Center. For more information: thecabaretproject.org.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the St. Louis premiere of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe January 16 - February 3. "Nine teenage girls prepare for battle on a soccer field. As they stretch and warm up together, the teammates' nonstop banter reveals how a collection of disparate personalities bonds to form a team. With its engrossing flow of dialogue and authentic characters, DeLappe's acclaimed new play distills the raw passion, confusion and wonder of adolescence into exhilarating theatre." Performances take place in the studio theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Friday, January 11, 2019

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of January 14, 2019

Classical guitar, electonica, guitar, and symphonic favorites are all on stage this week.

Sarah Davachi
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The New Music Circle presents Sarah Davachi and Lea Bertucci performing on synthesizer and electronics on Saturday, January 19, at 8 pm. The performance takes place at The Chapel at the Link Aucton Galleries, 5000 Washington Place in the Central West End. For more information: newmusiccircle.org.

The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society presents a Great Artist Guitar Series concert with Ricardo Cobo on Saturday, January 19, at 8 pm. "Born in Cali, Colombia, in 1962 Ricardo Cobo is considered one of the leading guitarists of his generation. He made his professional debut at 17 with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá. He was also the first Latin American to win the GFA Solo International Competition (1987). He has received Colombia's “Order of Cañasgordas” and the “Order of Belalcazar” for outstanding merit in cultural affairs." The performance takes at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road. For more information: guitarstlouis.net.

Karina Canellakis
Photo by Chris Christodoulou
Karina Canellakis conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and violinist Ray Chen Friday at 10:30 am and Saturday at 8 pm, January 18 and 19. The concerts will consist of Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3, Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 ("Turkish"), Richard Strauss's Symphonic Fantasy from Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis. The concerts take place at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

Second Presbyterian Church presents Thomas and Tricia Jöstlein in a program for horn and alphorn with tenor Derek Dahlke and keyboardist Andrew Peters on Sunday, January 20, at 4 pm. "The program includes Haydn's Concerto for Two Horns and Schubert's Auf dem Strom (On the Stream). This concert also includes music commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tricia Jöstlein is Adjunct Professor of Horn at Webster University and plays as an extra with the St. Louis Symphony. Thomas Jöstlein has been Associate Principal Horn with the St. Louis Symphony since 2010 and is known for his performances on the Alphorn." The church is at 4501 Westminster Place in the Central West End. For more information: secondchurch.net.

The Chamber Music Society of St. Louis
The Washington University Department of Music DUC Chamber Music Series presents the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis on Thursday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m. The free event includes music by Bartok, Gershwin, Debussy, and Beethoven, and takes place in the Goldberg Formal Lounge in the Danforth Center on the Washington University campus. For more information, music.wustl.edu.

The Washington University Department of Music presents a faculty recital with Todd Decker, Maryse Carlin, fortepianos; Kelly Daniel-Decker, soprano; and Ken Kulosa, cello on Tuesday, January 18, at 7:30 p.m. The concert consists of music by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Schubert and takes place in the Pillsbury Theatre at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information, music.wustl.edu.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of January 7, 2019

We have new shows this week from The Black Rep, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, and The Chapel

Alabama Story
Photo by John Gitchoff
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama Alabama Story running through January 27th. "A determined librarian and a segregationist senator face off over an innocent children’s book in 1959 Montgomery. Depicting the marriage of two rabbits – who happen to have different-colored fur – the story has Sen. E.W. Higgins calling for a book ban. But even as the pressure mounts, librarian Emily Wheelock Reed refuses to yield to censorship. Inspired by true events, Alabama Story is a stirring testament to free expression." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org,

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Bullets in the Bathtub January 11 - April 13. The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

The Black Rep presents the world premiere of Canfield Drive opening on Wednesday, January 9, and running through January 27. "In this World Premiere production, two high-powered news reporters from across the aisle are thrown together during a ratings frenzy in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. As they untangle the real cause of Brown's death, they struggle to keep their own secrets out of the spotlight. Created from diverse interviews of people from around the corner and around the world, Canfield Drive shines a light of hope as it wrestles with the greatest questions of our age. Canfield Drive, written by Kristen Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker, is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation and Development Fund Project co-commissioned by 651 Arts in partnership with The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, and NPN." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

CSZ St. Louis presents The ComedySportz Show on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. The show is "action-packed, interactive and hilarious comedy played as a sport. Two teams battle it out for points and your laughs! You choose the winners the teams provide the funny!" Performances take place on the second floor of the Sugar Cubed, 917 S Main St. in St Charles, Mo. For more information: www.cszstlouis.com.

Dial M for Murder
The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves presents the thriller Dial M for Murder running through January 13. "Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason. He arranges the perfect murder. Unfortunately...the murderer gets murdered and the victim survives. But this doesn't baffle the husband: He sees his hireling's death as an opportunity to have his wife convicted for the murder. Luckily, the police inspector from Scotland Yard and a young man who is in love with the wife discover the truth." Performances take place in the Guild theatre at Newport and Summit in Webster Groves, MO. For more information: theatreguildwg.org or call 314-962-0876.

Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents the thriller I'll Be Back Before Midnight January 11 - 20. "The play centers on the experiences of Jan, a young wife who recovering from a nervous disorder. She and her husband rent a remote cabin from an odd farmer who delights in telling gruesome ghost stories. Then the husband's strange sister arrives, and all manner of frightening events occur. What happens to fragile Jan as bodies appear and disappear give this classic thriller its tremendously frightening impact." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre of the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road. For more information, call 314-821-9956 or visit ktg-onstage.org.

The Chapel presents My Infinite Sadness: A New Play by Darrious Varner, opening on Saturday, January 12, at 8 pm and running through January 20th. "When left alone in one's own mind, who is it that you are really talking to? Step into the subconscious of a person suffering with Depression. See the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the aches and pains that are living with mental illness. Playwright Darrious Varner introduces you to a whole new view of Depression with My Infinite Sadness. By personifying Depression, giving it a face and a voice, he shows just how hard the struggle can be, even on good days. There will be a 30 minute talk back after each show." The Chapel is at 6238 Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: www.brownpapertickets.com

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Nursery Crimes January 11 - May 9. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Review: Auld aquaintance not forgot

This article originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.
Ward Stare
Photo from wardstare.com
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During his tenure as Music Director, David Robertson made the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's New Year's Eve concert an evening of light, celebratory music, dashes of comedy, and surprise guest appearances. This year, with Mr. Robertson gone and his replacement, Stéphane Denève, not yet in place, former Resident Conductor Ward Stare was brought in to assume the festive mantle, and he did it brilliantly.

The concert opened with an energetic performance of Berlioz's "Roman Carnival Overture," a work cobbled together in 1844 from bits of the composer's 1838 opera "Benvenuto Cellini." Mr. Stare's interpretation, which had him practically leaping off the podium at times, was both lively and nuanced, with brisk pacing, crisp attacks, and admirable work by Cally Bahnam in the prominent English horn solo.

Up next was a local premiere--four selections from Leonard Bernstein's 1980 "Divertimento." Written for the Boston Symphony's centenary, the work is, as Mr. Stare noted in his remarks form the podium, filled with little inside jokes for the BSO audiences. The comically tipsy "Turkey Trot," movement, for example, refers to a little road not far from the orchestra's summer home at Tanglewood, while the off-kilter "Waltz", in 7/8 time, is a nod to the 5/4 waltz in Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique" Symphony--a work which was a favorite of long-time BSO head Serge Koussevitzky. It's exceptionally entertaining music that also sounds challenging to play, but the orchestra did an excellent job with it.

Leonard Slatkin
Richard Rodgers' "Carousel Waltz" was next, followed by "Napoli," a set of elaborate variations on "Funiculì, Funiculà" originally written for cornet and band by Herman Bellstadt and performed here in an arrangement for euphonium and orchestra by Richard E. Thurston.

These turn-of-the-previous-century showpieces, once so prevalent, are rarely heard these days, so it was a real pleasure to see it done at all, much less with the kind of virtuosity it got from Principal Trombone Timothy Myers, who sailed through the increasingly extravagant solo part with impressive assurance. I played the euphonium as a youngster (although never this well!), so it was a pleasure to hear its rich, mellow tones again.

Timothy Myers
A sing-along version of "Meet Me in St. Louis" served as a bridge to the evening's big comic moment, a live version of Peter Schickele's "New Horizons in Music Appreciation." Originally a part of hilarious 1967 album "P.D.Q. Bach on the Air," "New Horizons" presents most of the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 as a sportscast, complete with a penalty box, an umpire, and fights between the conductor and the players. Former SLSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin and Cardinals legend Ozzie Smith were the commentators for this somewhat under-rehearsed but still outrageously funny routine, which also included an unexpectedly touching tribute to SLSO bassist Don Martin, who is retiring after 56 years with the band. Bass trombonist Gerard Pagano was the harried umpire and Principal Oboe Jelena Dirks was the musician who gets into a dustup with the conductor over an "impromptu" solo.

Mr. Slatkin took over after intermission for a richly romantic arrangement of the folk song "Shenandoah" (complete with quotes from Dvorak's "New World" Symphony) for violin, flute, and orchestra by composer Cindy McTee, who is also his wife. Concertmaster David Halen and Associate Principal Flute Andrea Kaplan were the excellent soloists. Mr. Slatkin followed that up with "Carmen's Hoe-Down," a witty arrangement (or maybe derangement) of themes from Bizet's opera in country fiddle style by Mr. Slatkin's father Felix, long-time conductor of (among others) the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra.

Eva Kozma
Mr. Stare came back to the podium for music by Johann Strauss, Jr. and the Hungarian violinist and composer Jeno Hubay. Strauss was represented by the "Éljen a Magyr" Polka and, inevitably, "The Beautiful Blue Danube"--fine performances in both cases--and Hubay by his "Scene from the Czarda No. 4 ("Hejre Kati)." The fiery solo in the latter got a fleet, graceful reading from Assistant Principal Second Violin Eva Kozma.

Rossini's venerable "William Tell" was next. The piece is so well known (and has been so often parodied) that it has become a cliché, but even so Mr. Stare found some interesting new things in it, including a particularly dramatic approach to the quiet opening for cellos and double basses, depicting the Alpine dawn.

A quick run through "The Missouri Waltz" and a final sing-along of "Auld Lang Syne" brought the evening to a celebratory conclusion. It was good to see Mr. Stare back on the Powell Hall stage again, if only briefly; let's hope we see more of him in the future.

The New Year's Eve concert concluded the St. Louis Symphony's holiday programming. The regular season resumes Friday at 10:30 am and Saturday at 8 pm, January 18 and 19, as Karina Canellakis leads the orchestra and violinist Renaud Capuçon in music of Beethoven, Schuman, Richard Strauss, and Hindemith.