For Sarasota artist Kathy Wright, the chance to paint images of the Florida Everglades while in residence there from December 2008 to November 2009 was important both because she finds the subject “personally compelling” and because of the ’Glades’ continuing place in political and environmental debates. Wright started out as a plein air painter and continues to work on smaller pieces outdoors, but her larger paintings of this unique ecosystem require a studio setting to complete. Most exciting development: She recently won a prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant of $25,000 in support of her Everglades Project. You can see her work in a group show at Art Center Sarasota through April 23 and in a solo show in May at the Ernest Coe Gallery at Everglades National Park.
By Charlie Huisking
Chamber music got its name because it was originally played in private homes. That intimate, familial feeling characterizes the La Musica International Chamber Music Festival, which returns to Sarasota this month for its 24th year. Fourteen renowned musicians from the United States and Europe will perform five concerts in the Sarasota Opera House from April 9-21.
Returning favorites include Italian violist Bruno Giuranna, the festival’s artistic director since the beginning. Pianist Derek Han, the associate artistic director, Italian violinist Massimo Quarta, American violinist Jennifer Frautschi and Serbian-Russian cellist Xenia Jankovic are also back. Among the newcomers are cellist Eric Kim, pianist James Winn, violist Rebecca Albers and violinist Ruth Lenz.
“Our artists tell us they love the atmosphere here—that the feeling is of old friends and new friends getting together for the joy of playing music,” says Sally Faron, the festival’s executive director. “I think our audience members sense that, and they feel a real connection with what’s happening on stage.” Some audience members are so passionate that they show up at the festival’s open rehearsals (at the Mildred Sainer Pavilion at New College of Florida) with scores in hand so they can follow along as a piece comes together.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Resolution.” Faron says it refers to the collaborative nature of chamber music. “There is no conductor, so each musician comes in with his or her ideas, and it all comes to a resolution in the rehearsal process,” she says.
Audiences will hear beloved pieces from the chamber music repertoire, including Beethoven’s Piano trio in E flat major and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, as well as works by Mozart, Brahms and Saint-Saëns. But the concert programs also include Joan Tower’s Flute Quintet, which had its first performance only a month ago in New York. It was written for La Musica veteran Carol Wincenc, who will perform it here with four festival colleagues.
Another piece, Three Nocturnes, written by La Musica artist Winn, will have its regional premiere. “It’s a wonderful, interesting piece,” Faron says. “Each of the three movements is based on folk tales, mostly of Celtic origin.”
Lovers of contemporary music will also enjoy John Harbison’s Nov. 19, 1828. The title refers to the date of the death of composer Franz Schubert. “It’s an extraordinary piece by a modern composer that looks back on a great composer of the past,” Faron says. “It fits so well with our theme, because it’s about how the old influences the new and is resolved into a different form.”
La Musica concert tickets are $40. Rehearsal passes are $50 for the entire festival, or $10 per day. Call 366-8450 ext. 3, or go to lamusicafestival.org.
New Arts Center Taking Shape
The Manatee Players’ new home won’t be ready for audiences for quite a while. But construction has reached the point where it’s easy to see what a dramatic effect its opening will have on the Players, the Manatee arts community and civic life in downtown Bradenton.
The shell of the Manatee Players Performing Arts Center, a two-story, Mediterranean Revival-style structure, is nearly complete. It’s rising on a large parcel of land on Third Avenue West, just a few blocks from the theater’s current home.
The new center will house a mainstage theater with 330 seats, about 100 more than in the current theater. A second stage for more intimate productions will seat about 100. An educational wing on the second floor will serve the Players’ theater camp and its many other youth-oriented programs. The grand lobby (in which the present Players’ building could comfortably fit) will hold 400, and will be available for a variety of social functions. The layout also includes banquet facilities and a catering kitchen, as well as meeting rooms for community groups. Rick Kerby, the Manatee Players’ managing artistic director, chuckled when he mentioned another important feature: “We’re going to have showers for the actors! The working conditions are going to be so much more comfortable. “
The 58-year-old community theater has won numerous national and regional awards in its current location. “But we’ve so obviously outgrown our space,” Kerby says. “Our educational program has totally maxed out. Last year, we had 72 kids on a tiny little stage.”
The second stage will allow the Players to diversify its programming. “We’ve been doing big musicals lately. That’s what our audiences are asking for right now,” Kerby says. “But having the second stage will allow us to do straight plays and other works that might bring in new audiences.”
The Players has raised $9 million for the project, including a $2.5 million bequest from supporter Cora May Stone. The site was provided by a developer, Bradenton Riverfront Partners LLC II, which is offering the theater a long-term lease. Construction is being completed in stages, as the Players works to raise the $3.5 million needed to finish the job.
That may sound like quite a challenge in this economy. But development director Janene Witham says the building’s multipurpose nature is appealing to a variety of donors. “Some see it as a place to see plays, others as a place to have meetings and community functions,” she says. “It’s also a place where other arts groups can showcase what they do, from chamber music to poetry. It’s a center for the entire community.”
All About Eva
Eva Slane can’t believe the company she’ll be in on April 20 when she’s honored at the Community Video Archives’ Hall of Fame Luncheon. Also being recognized that day will be Ringling College president Larry Thompson and Sarasota Orchestra conductor Leif Bjaland. “To be mentioned alongside them,” she says, “is an amazing honor.”
But a well-deserved one. For years, the white-haired, vivacious Slane has been a tireless donor, volunteer and/or board member for virtually every theater in Sarasota and Bradenton. She’s currently working hard to help the Manatee Players raise the remaining money to open its new home. But her experience as a scholarship donor for the students in the FSU/Asolo Conservatory probably means the most to her. “Those students are so talented, and getting to know them gives me such joy and pleasure,” Slane says.
Years ago, Slane worked as a theatrical agent for a prestigious New York firm. Later, she and her husband ran a theater in Beverly, Mass. Now, she’s making sure that every local troupe is the best it can be.
Our top tickets of the month, Twitter-style.
Sarasota Film Festival, April 9-18
Premieres, outdoor Tropicale Cinema Celebration, tributes, awards and OMG, stars! (1,000 or so at Michael’s On East, April 16). Njoy!
364-9514 or sarasotafilmfestival.com
La Musica International Chamber Music Festival, April 9-21
Calling all chamber music peeps!
Ck out new work—Joan Tower’s
Flute Quintet, James Winn’s Three Nocturnes. At the Opera House; kewl musicians from around the globe. 366-8450 ext. 3, or lamusicafestival.org
Sarasota Ballet, Triple Bill, April 2 and 3
We’re so there 2 C super-hot choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved; beautiful dancers, fab Sarasota Opera singers.
Sarasota Opera House. 351-8000
Florida Winefest & Auction, April 23-25
Hedonism 4 charity—
Winemaker dinners, food and wine seminars, great new affordable bash at Phillippi as the grand finale.
952-1109 or floridawinefest.org
The Who’s Tommy, April 22-May 2
C us, feel us rocking out as Pete Townshend’s legendary opera takes the stage at the Players.
365-2494 or theplayers.org