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Sanibel Music Festival to offer world-class concerts in March

By Staff | Feb 26, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse

An opportunity to experience the highest standard of classical music is just around the corner.

The 33rd annual Sanibel Music Festival will kick off on March 2 with the first of seven concerts planned throughout March. Held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, each of the performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, at 2050 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.

Jana Stone, president of the board, explained that the festival began with a female musician and impresario. Violist Marilyn Lauriente would visit Sanibel during the month of March, but found it lacked something. So, she began inviting her friends and they would play concerts on the beach.

“From there it started to grow,” she said, noting that the festival incorporated in 1986.

For the past two decades or so, the performances have been held at the church.

PHOTO PROVIDED Horszowski Piano Trio

“It’s the perfect venue for it,” Stone said. “The acoustics are wonderful.”

Piano-clarinet duo Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse will start off the series, followed by the Horszowski Piano Trio, Wu Han and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston. The Opera Theater of Connecticut’s “Singing Sondheim on Sanibel” and “Star-Crossed Lovers in Opera” are next, with the New York Brass Arts Trio wrapping it up.

The committee assigned with picking the acts aims for balance and variety.

“It is classical chamber music, but we try to vary the program with string quartets, brass trios, opera,” she said of the top-notch entertainment. “We are also in the business of nurturing young artists.”

“We like to mix those up-and-comers with the tried-and-true,” Stone added.

PHOTO PROVIDED Wu Han and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

She pointed out Nakamatsu and Manasse.

“They are just outstanding, they are phenomenal together,” Stone said, adding that Nakamatsu has a strong following in Southwest Florida and has played in Naples, Sarasota and other communities.

She noted that Han is another popular figure in the field.

“The audiences love her, she’s very flamboyant,” Stone said. “That should be an outstanding program.”

As for the Opera Theater of Connecticut’s performances, the festival schedules one standard opera repertoire – “Star-Crossed Lovers in Opera” for this year – and one classical musical theater.

PHOTO PROVIDED The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston

“Singing Sondheim on Sanibel” will focus on the body of work of Stephen Sondheim.

“To sing musical comedy or musical theater, you have to have the right kind of voice,” she said.

Stone added that OTC provides young up-and-coming professionals with stage opportunities.

“These are people whose careers are just beginning, but they have the talent,” she said.

The New York Brass Arts Trio, which is concluding this year’s series, is a group Stone learned about while attending a chamber music festival in New York. She attends every year and picks up ideas.

PHOTO PROVIDED New York Brass Arts Trio

“I was blown away by the group two years ago,” Stone said.

“They got a standing screaming ovation,” she added.

Comprised of trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, French hornist David Jolley and trombonist Haim Avitsur, the New York Brass Arts Trio are three, world-class virtuoso soloists – with a very wide musical range.

“They can do Bach like they can do Duke Ellington,” Stone said.

“I know they are going to be a smash hit,” she added.

Tickets are only $50 per concert.

“Our goal is to bring classical music to the public at affordable prices,” Stone said.

The church seats about 350 people, and seating is first come, first served.

The community is encouraged to pick up their tickets and be awed.

“You’re getting the best in the field,” she said. “You will never be able to see these artists at these kind of ticket prices anywhere – and you will come away with such a wonderful feeling.”

“We’re really proud of the artists that we present,” Stone added. “They really are world-class.”

Tickets can be purchased at www.sanibelmusicfestival.org; they are also available at Bank of the Islands, at 1699 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, but cash and check only accepted. Ticket order forms with envelopes are also available from Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, 2475 Library Way, Sanibel.

This year’s concerts are sponsored by Gene and Lee Seidler and Janet and Joseph Davie, Patricia and Davis Thurber, Sue and Tom Pick, Jackie and Roy Sweeney Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Gaye and Jim Pigott, the LAT Foundation and Lee Ann Tauck, and Estate of Christine Johnson.

The festival receives support from the Lee County Tourist Development Council.

For information, call 239-344-7025 or visit www.sanibelmusicfestival.org.

The 2019 Sanibel Music Festival lineup is as follows:

– March 2: Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse

Comprised of two of America’s most distinguished artists, the piano-clarinet duo established itself with a highly-regarded 2004 performance in Boston. Pianist Jon Nakamatsu first performed for the festival in 1998, after he won the gold medal in the tenth Cliburn International. Jon Manasse has served as principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under James Levine. The two have played some of the country’s most prestigious series, including New York City’s Mostly Mozart Festival and D.C.’s Dumbarton Oaks and National Gallery of Art. The artists serve as co-directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. They have lengthy discographies and are dedicated to expanding the concert repertoire for the beautiful sound of their combined instruments.

Program to include Brahms’ “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in f minor, Op. 120 No. 1,” Chopin’s “Nocturne in F-sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2” and “Scherzo No. 3 in c-sharp minor, Op. 39,” L. Bernstein’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1942),” G. Goodwin’s “Four Views for Clarinet and Piano” and J. Novacek’s “Full Stride Ahead from Four Rags for Two Jons.”

– March 5: Horszowski Piano Trio

The New York Times hailed the young trio as “impressive, lithe, persuasive” when they played together for the first time. Two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills first performed with Raman Ramakrishnan, founding cellist of the prize-winning Daedalus Quartet, at the Kinhaven Music School over 20 years ago when they were children. In New York City, they met pianist Reiko

Alzawa, who had made her United States debuts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. She was the last pupil of legendary pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski at the Curtis Institute. In the four-year period following their debut performance, they were booked for almost 200 concerts in the states and tours in India and Japan. They will make their European debut this year. The trio is ensemble-in-residence at the Longy School of Music of Bard College.

Program to include Shostakovich’s “Trio No. 2,” Mendelssohn’s “Trio No. 2” and Germaine Tailleferre’s “Trio.”

– March 9: Wu Han and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Pianist Wu Han ranks among the most influential classical musicians in the world today. Leading an unusually multifaceted artistic career, she has risen to international prominence as a concert performer, artistic director, recording artist, educator and cultural entrepreneur. She tours extensively with her husband, Emerson Quartet founding member David Finkel, with whom she serves as co-artistic director of the Chamber Music of Lincoln Center and founding co-artistic director of Music@Menlo. She is the recipient of Musical America’s Musician of the Year award. Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts recently appointed her artistic director for Chamber Music of the Barns. This year, she joins Chamber Music of Lincoln Center violinists Arnaud Sussman and Alexander Sitkovetsky, violist Matthew Lipman and cellist Nicholas Canellakis in a program titled “Russian Mastery.”

Program to include Rachmaninov’s “Trio elegiaque in G minor for Piano, Violin and Cello,” Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir d’un lieu cher for Violin and Piano, Op. 42,” Prokofiev’s “Sonata in C Major for Two violins, Op. 56,” and Taneyev’s “Quintet in G minor for Piano, Two Violins, Viola and Cello, Op. 30.”

– March 12: The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston

Founded in Boston in 1815, Handel and Haydn is among the oldest continuously performing classical music ensembles in the United States. It is a period-instrument orchestra, originally formed as a choral society, which has a fresh and vital take on Baroque and early Classical period music. Its orchestra and chorus delight over 50,000 listeners each year with a nine-concert subscription series at Symphony Hall and other leading venues, in addition to a robust program of events in museums, schools and community centers. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, the ensemble embraces historically informed performance, bringing classical music to life with the same immediacy it had the day it was written. The concert will feature a rarely heard Baroque trumpet concerto.

Program to include Arcangelo Corelli’s “Concerto Grosso in B-flat major, Op. 6, no 11,” Guiseppe Torelli’s “Sonata for Trumpet in D Major, G.1,” Francesco Geminiani’s “Concerto gross in e minor, Op. 3, No. 3,” Antonio Vivaldi’s “Concerto for violoncello, strings, and basso continuo in G, RV 413,” Georg Phillip Telemann’s “Overture – Suite ‘Burlesque de Don Quixotte,’ TWV 55:G10” and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Concerto for violin, strings, and basso continuo in a minor, BWV 1041.”

– March 19: “Singing Sondheim on Sanibel”

Stephen Sondheim is described by Frank Rich of the New York Times as “the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in American Music Theater.” Celebrate Sondheim’s amazing career with Opera Theater of Connecticut and a group of first-rate professional singers through an exciting selection of pieces from his acclaimed shows, including “Sweeney Todd,” “Follies,” “Into the Woods,” “A Little Night Music,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Artistic Director Alan Mann will add his unique and informative comments from the stage.

– March 23: “Star-Crossed Lovers in Opera”

The truly thrilling characters in the world of opera are the ill-fated star-crossed lovers whose lives and loves are challenged by insurmountable obstacles. It makes for great drama and music for Puccini’s Mimi and Rodolfo, Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Edgardo, Verdi’s Violetta and Alfredo, and, happily, for the would-be lovers in “The Elixir of Love” and “The Merry Widow.” Presented by the Opera Theater of Connecticut, these and more will be performed by six professional opera singers in an evening of best-known and best-loved arias and ensembles, all with projected supertitles. Alan Mann, noted opera historian, will add informative narration.

– March 26: New York Brass Arts Trio

Three world-class virtuoso soloists have come together to revolutionize the brass trio and are being hailed as the first brass group ever to play with the sensitivity and musicality of a string quartet. Trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, French hornist David Jolley and trombonist Haim Avitsur all bring great experience to the table. Burgstaller is a former featured trumpeter and arranger with the legendary Canadian Brass, has performed with many notable orchestras and has recording credentials that include solo CDs, three Top-10 Billboard hits and a Top-50 Jazz Radio hit. Jolley is the pre-eminent horn soloist of his generation, performing as a soloist with major orchestras, collaborating with Guarneri, Orion and American string quartets, and is a founding member of the Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Avitsur is the only trombonist named a 2005 and 2007 emerging artist by Symphony Magazine and has premiered over 80 compositions.

Program to include Johann Sebastian Bach (arr. Jolley)’s “Three Sinfonias,” Ludwig van Beethoven (arr. Avitsur)’s “Trio in C Major, Op. 87,” Richard Strauss (arr. Jolley)’s “Till Eulenspiegel,” Igor Stravinsky (arr. Jolley)’s “Selection from Pulcinella Suite,” Bela Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances,” Chick Corea (b.1941) (Arr. Burgstaller)’s “Three Children’s Songs,” George Gershwin’s “Selections from Porgy and Bess” and Astor Piazzola (arr. Burgstaller)’s “Libertango.”