Arts on the Horizon: April

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By Rodger Skidmore

Most often a chamber group is composed of two violins, a viola, and a cello. On April 3, this format is expanded by adding a piano and another cello.

Having a piano and two cellos adds heart, depth of feeling, and, emotionally, both pathos and joy. All of this will be on display at the concert that starts this year’s La Musica concert series at the Sarasota Opera House.

Derek Han, who co-founded La Musica, and who died this past year, is being celebrated by having his favorite music performed by Wu Han (related only by music) and a lovely chamber string quintet. Ms. Han, co-artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, will be heard playing on Beethoven’s Piano Trio in G Major and Brahm’s Piano Quartet in G Minor.

Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Violoncello will also be featured.

Robert Sherman, longtime music critic for the New York Times, will be doing pre-concert talks at all the La Musica concerts. And students from either the Suzuki Institute’s School of Music or Booker High School will be providing mini-concerts outside, in the Opera House courtyard, before each concert.


Wu Han will also be heard on April 6 with violist Daniel Avshalomov and additional chamber artists as they perform Mozart’s String Quintet in Bb Major and César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor at the Sarasota Opera House. In between these pieces will be Bernhard Romberg’s lovely Sonata in E Minor for Violoncello, Viola, and Bass.

If one wishes to be a bit closer to the artists there is a musical soirée, with hors d’oeuvres and wine, at Dolphin Aviation on the 8th and/or a full dinner with them at Michael’s On East on the 11th.

To vary La Musica’s instrumental spectrum, the concert on the 10th starts with Luigi Baccherini’s Guitar Quintet in D Major, followed by the U.S. premiere of Susani’s Quintet for Guitar and String Quartet. The concert finishes with Dvořák’s, Piano Quintet in A Major.

The final concert in the series, on the 13th, features a piano quartet, a serenade and a string sextet by Mozart, Kodály, and Tchaikovsky.

The Beyond Van Gogh immersion experience is continuing at University Town Center through April 24, but there is an immersion of a different kind at La Musica. All the music being played at the concerts has to be rehearsed/perfected prior to being performed. This means, by attending rehearsals, you can hear it all, over and over again.

Full info. at

Quite a brouhaha

The French word, brouhaha, dates back to the 15th century and meant, roughly, the cry of the devil disguised as clergy. Now it is more like a tempest is a teapot. So, in whose teapot is this tempest brewing? Priscilla has purchased a house far from where normal folk live and wishes to turn it into an AirBnB — what could go wrong? A Skeptic and a Bruja, besides being the name of this play, is also the title of a TV ghost-hunting show where the two protagonists put this fun house in their spotlight.

Rosa Fernandez’ play opens at the Urbanite Theatre on April Fools’ Day and runs for the entire month. And, if the suspense / humor that goes on in this tale of horror is your cup of tea, then you should be running too – straight into its crooked arms. Skeptic/Bruja (bruja is Spanish for witch) went through the reading and workshop phases of development last year in Sarasota and is having its world premiere here.

When one says, “That play is derivative,” it usually means that a new play is based on another, better play — and why should one watch this lesser work, when they could watch the better, original version? In the case of Knoxville, a new play (yes, another world premiere) previewing April 15-22, and opening April 23 at the Asolo Rep (next to the Ringling Museum) is based on the novel/play/movie A Death in the Family by James Agee, and on All the Way Home, a play by Tad Mosel, also based on that novel by Agee. Were those plays any good? Perhaps, as they both won a Pulitzer Prize.

So, why a new version? One reason is that this is a musical (from the folks that wrote the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime).

A second, more important reason is, the times they are a-changin’. Agee’s novel was published 65 years ago, based upon his experiences from 1915. Those times have changed many times over, and how we look at things that took place then, with today’s eyes, always brings about a new prospective. To add to the scope of the original play, the story is expanded to include the problems that Agee had in writing his novel.

To bring those who wrote the music and lyrics to Ragtime (Stephan Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens), and the man who directed it (Frank Galati), together in Sarasota is, in itself, an achievement. This new musical will be as well.

Info at

The Three Musketeers

There were actually four musketeers — the fourth was D’Artagnan. So, it was not “three for one, and one for all,” but four for one. And that is what you get when you go to Art Center Sarasota through the end of April — four art shows — and all are completely different.

As you go into the art center and take an immediate left, you will enter a world titled The Sea is Alive in Me by Osa Atoe, a local thrower.

Yes, baseball season is here but Ms. Atoe actually throws pots — and in a good way. She uses a potter’s wheel to build the form for her ceramics and then colors, etches, glazes, and finally fires them.

Turning to the right when entering the building brings you into a labor-intensive world of Signs and Wonders, created by Philomena Marano. Every piece of art that you see either looks like a hand painted sign that you would find on the side of a barn, or an oil painting hung on a gallery wall. But no, all are hand colored cut paper constructed with more patience and skill than can be imagined.

Continuing down the building’s center core takes you to Susan Sidebottom’s A Place in the Sun. These photographs are not of flowers or feathery birds but of real life, captured in the moment, full head on.

At this time of year, the ACS puts on its Annual Members Juried Show. Whether it is an oil or acrylic painting, watercolor, batik or bits of painted fabric used in a collage, glass, metal or wood sculpture, or photography, there is something great for everyone to see.

By the way, everything at these exhibits is for sale so, if you see something you like, it can be yours. Or, take a class there and make it yourself.

Info at

Can you hear me now?

      We speak to the Earth in many ways, not always in the most friendly manner. And, often the Earth responds with terrifying strength. But, like the mother of us all, she can also be loving and gentle. This is the side we love to hear and later this month we will have an opportunity to do just that.

     The world premiere of James Grant’s Listen to the Earth will be performed on Sunday, April 24 at the Sarasota Opera House. This is, of course, the main attraction – a symphonic choral cantata featuring baritone soloist Marcus DeLoach, the Women’s Ensemble of Parrish Community High School, a full orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra violinist Daniel Jordan, and the Choral Artists singers. But, Heavens to Betsy, that’s not all. The same program features Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, a work by Ola Ojeilo, Song of the Universal and, just to top things off, another piece by James Grant, Earth – Poem of Thanks to Our Common Home. Yes, Earth from beginning to end. All of this under the ever-waving baton of Joseph Holt. More information at

Don’t go to Washington, D.C.

Washington is just full of politicians and lobbyists, so don’t bother going. Oh, so you’ve heard of the Washington Ballet and you’d like to see them perform Swan Lake and other classical and contemporary works? Wouldn’t we all! Well, that’s just another reason to stay here in Sarasota, because on April 12 guest artists from the Washington Ballet will be appearing at the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School’s 10th Anniversary Gala Performance. 

     And, if you take a student-sized person with you when you go, and they become completely enthralled by the beauty and grace of these performers, you can always enroll them in the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School’s Summer Intensive taking place June 20 through 30. Besides the great teaching and learning going on, it will be at their new home on Cattlemen Road, a great looking contemporary building designed by Sarasota architect Guy Peterson. Lots more info at

Art that surrounds you

     Up in the first section of this month’s column it was mentioned that the Beyond Van Gogh immersion experience is continuing at University Town Center through April 24. This was a subtle hint that of the three different Van Gogh immersion productions touring the USA, this one seems to be the best. The ages of the individuals and of the members of families that attended was quite varied and all seemed to be truly enjoying their visit. More info at





Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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