Arts on the Horizon: February

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By Rodger Skidmore

Where to see it

One of the world’s best collections of Tiffany art glass is housed in the Morse Museum in Winter Park, just on the other side of Florida. It really is worth a trip. However, it being February, the flowers in the lovely parks in that town are not in bloom. Where there is a fabulous combination of Tiffany art and flowering plants is at Selby Botanical Gardens, off Mound Street, starting on February 12 and continuing through June 25.

 This year’s Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition is titled Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature, and the title says it all. The Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries showcased nature that really seemed to move and be alive — sinuous and seductive. And the art of Louis Comfort Tiffany embodied the essence of that period: flowers, dragonflies, vines, in stained glass depicting glorious sunsets, sunrises, and trumpet flowers.

As always, the play of light on Tiffany’s work, set amongst the flowers and plants at The Selby, will be breathtaking. And the light scent of early spring and summer flowers will only enhance the effect that those colors have on our senses.

Tiffany started his career in the arts as a painter but soon found that medium to be too limiting. A better use of his imagination would direct him to stained glass and sculpted decorations, where the layered depth of glass and metal would produce a more visually intense rendering of his ideas.

His art, being done in a time when there were still enough craftsmen working within a lower wage structure, could be produced in small batches and still be affordable to a large enough segment of the art buying public.

Because his work was so well accepted, documented, written about, and loved, there are many artists who have produced works in a similar vein, but, simply not comparable. What one needs to do is view high resolution representations and actual originals of his work in compatible settings. to appreciate, today, what Tiffany did 100 years ago.

Another way to appreciate his art is to understand it. And speaking of which, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s great-great granddaughter, Nadia Watts, will be speaking about his work — and about him — at the Selby, on Feb. 14. And, by the way, what is her field of endeavor? Interior design, of course.

Dappled daylight, filtering through flowers and trees, is a wonderful setting in which to view Tiffany’s Gilded Age works of art. Another, more exotic way might be to see those works and more, in the evening’s afterglow at The Orchid Ball: The Gilded Age, on Feb. 11.

More info at

Three cheers for music

There will be three times this month to hear cheery — and celebratory, romantic, fun, and classic — music. The Suncoast Concert Band has two concerts lined up at Northminster Church, at the intersection of University and Lockwood Ridge, on the afternoons of the 12th and 26th.

The first concert, ˆLet’s Celebrateˆ, has a fanfare, an overture, three marches, a salutation and an acclamation, among other compositions. These will include Suncoast Celebration, where the band toots its own horns for in a tune commemorating its 90th anniversary. They will also be playing the new version of “God Save the Queen,” where the word queen has morphed into the word king — but don’t worry, the music stays the same.

How many people in Sarasota know the location of Sawdust City? The audience of this concert will when the band’s conductor announces that they are playing Michael Sweeney’s Sawdust City Celebration.

The Suncoast Concert Band has three rehearsals to be fully ready for a concert, so it is not often that they take requests. However, for their concert on Feb. 26, the band members have asked their director to build the concert around their own requests. This way they will have had plenty of time to get their chops fine-tuned.

Karl L. King was a prolific composer of band music, having written over 290 published pieces. One of his most famous is, “Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite.” It is not known if this tune was actually those circus luminaries’ favorite but the band’s favorite is King’s “Prestissimo March.” This piece is also known as the “Prestissimo Galop”). As the musical term prestissimo means “extremely fast, the fastest possible tempo”, and a galop is “a lively ballroom dance in double time,” one can expect to see the band’s fingers flying.

The band will go from one extreme (“That Old Hound Dog Rag,” “Pirates of the Caribbean Symphonic Suite” and “Theme from Jurassic Park”) to the other (the “Poet and Peasant Overture,” that some remember from grade or high school).

The Jazz Ambassadors, a swinging subset of the full band, has its own concert — Valentine Favorites — on Feb. 19. We don’t want COVID-19 hanging around, but we do hope that “Love Is Here To Stay,” and so does this jazzy group as they play that tune. Others will be “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” “Witchcraft,” and “Route 66.”

The big question will be, on which tunes will guest soloist Nick Bruno play the vibraphone? Probably on one that Joe Bruno is playing the trumpet. More info at

Football in February?

Alliteration is great but it is not just football that is kicking off this month. Like so many events, after a long COVID-19 winter (like a two year long winter), La Musica Chamber Music is back. And continuing the sports analogy; there will be a lot of one-two punches on Feb. 20, at the Riverview Performing Arts Center, during La Musica’s Rachmaninov Celebration. One-two piano punches to be specific. 2022 Van Cliburn Competition medalists Dmytro Choni and Anna Geniushene will be performing two- and four-hand renditions of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (four hands), Lullaby (two hands), and Scherzo à la russe (two hands), Rachmaninov’s Suite no. 1 (four hands), and Suite no. 2 (four hands). And just for fun, they will be throwing in Scriabin’s Piano Sonata no. 4 (two hands).

Wikipedia states that this sonata was the beginning of Scriabin’s middle period due to its new mystical sonorities (an interesting factoid of no particular value). What is of value is the pleasure that this and the other pieces to be played that evening will bring to the ears (two) of the attendees.

And just to give fair warning, the Voices of the Americas will be performing at the same venue on March 13. They will be performing the same program two days later on the Music Society of Lincoln Center’s stage in New York, so it should be a great evening. The playlist is a melding of great North and South American composers and some of their most famous compositions: Copeland’s El Salón México, Bernstein’s Three Meditations, Ginastera’s Chacarera, and Golljov’s Mariel — the list goes on. More info at

Up close and personal

     Sarasota is fortunate in having many venues available where various forms of dance, and other artistic endeavors may be seen: the Sarasota Opera House, the Historic Asolo, and the stages of various theater companies. The uniting factor linking all those venues is that everyone performs on a stage. And, as someone once said on TV, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But, while seeing a line of 50 Rockettes on the stage of Radio City Music Hall is entertaining, it can seem a bit, well, staged.

     On the other end of the spectrum is the work space where dancers and actors put the building blocks of their talent and technique together to unify the various aspects of the work they are in the process of developing. One such venue/series is the In-Studio Performances presented by Sarasota Contemporary Dance. 

     The February string of In-Studio presentations is varied, as differing aspects of dance, acting, composition and choreography will be presented. Exactly what will be shown, performed, and heard? Well, these are works in progress. Ideas being exchanged, concepts being stretched, and sections being burnished. An egg does not look like a chick, and a chick looks nothing like a hen — or like a rooster. And that is the point: conceiving something and watching and watering it until it becomes strong enough to stand on its own. We do it with our children, with businesses, and with art.

     DeAnna Wright, Actor, (often seen in FSU/Asolo Conservatory productions) will be In-Studio on Feb. 3 and 4; Francis Schwartz, Composer, (compositions performed at the Dali Museum, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and around the world) will be there Feb. 10 and 11; Charlotte Johnson, Dancer, (now in her second year with Sarasota Contemporary Dance) will be performing Feb. 24 and 25; and to round things out, Tania Vergara Perez, Choreographer for the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, (one of her works was presented last month in Dance Makers, an SCD production) will be constructing a new work on March 24 and 25. Info at

Not the Alphabet Song

     Awadagin Pratt has been famous as a pianist ever since winning the Naumburg Piano Competition in 1992. Since then, he has played with major symphonies around the world as well as on concert stages on his own tours. While in Washington, D.C. Pratt has played from one end of the city to the other — in the Kennedy Center, and in the White House. 

     One piece he probably will not be playing on Feb. 15 during his recital at the Van Wezel, is the Alphabet Song, although he was a big hit when he played it on Sesame Street.

     It is nice to hear old piano favorites like Chopin’s Nocturne in B, as well as newer pieces like Opening from Philip Glass’s Glassworks — and they will be played beautifully at the Riverview Performing Arts Center. But it is also great to listen to something beautiful that few others have had the pleasure of hearing. Some have heard Peteris Vasks’ haunting duo for violin and cello, Castillo Interior, full of spiritual conflict inspired by a book written in 1577 by Saint Teresa of Avila. But not many have heard a piano arrangement of this expression of a person’s desire to seek answers to existential questions.

     Something new can, sometimes, be heard again – but time is running out if you wish to hear Riccardo Muti as music director of the Chicago Symphony. This is his last year in this role so March 1 may be your last chance to hear him conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 along with Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition. Not enough Beethoven? – the symphony will also be playing his Coriolan Overture at the start of this program being held at the Van Wezel. And in between the Beethoven and the Mussorgsky will be Anatoly Liadov’s The Enchanted Lake. A French musicologist said, “The bewitching effect is due to the texture of the instrumentation … which translates to the quivering of the water and the sparkling of the stars.” Not a bad description for a concert being held under the moonlight on Sarasota Bay. More info on both at

Start with Brahms, end with Brahms

     Some say, that of all Brahms’ symphonies, they like his Symphony No. 1 the best, And, fortunately, it is a good one, for Brahms said that, from beginning sketches to the final work, it took him over 20 years to complete. 

     Sandwiched between Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 4 and his symphony is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The featured artist for these Sarasota Orchestra performances, at Neel Auditorium and the Van Wezel, is Nobuyuki Tsujii, said to be “the definition of virtuosity.” This concert runs February 2 through 5, with the theme of A Romantic Affair, and Peter Oundjian conducting.

     Continuing that romantic theme almost to Valentine’s Day, a Date Night at Holley Hall, February 8-12, seems quite appropriate. The symphony, conducted by Steven Jarvi, passionately performs Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, glides through some good jazz pieces, and waltzes on to Pretty Woman. 

     Not the Three Amigos, nor the Three Señoritas, but the Three Sonatas, will, on the 19th, be performed at Holley Hall. A trio of Sarasota Orchestra members: Natalie Helm, cello; Bharat Chandra, clarinet; and Jennifer Best Takeda, violin, will be joined by the Music Director of the Sarasota Music Festival, Jeffrey Kahane, on piano. The sonatas are by Beethoven, Brahms, and Stravinsky.

     Rounding out the month for the Sarasota Orchestra is another Masterworks presentation on the 25th and 26th. This one features Copland and Stravinsky, but starts off with Jessica Hunt’s Climb, a piece commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra which Ms. Hunt says portrays her physical being through the aural lens of music. Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto’s soloist is Stefan Jackiw. It is said that he “combines poetry and purity with an impeccable technique.” Copland wraps it up with the orchestra playing his Symphony No. 3. More info at

It’s over when it’s over

     It’s no big deal that February is going to come to an end – the next day is the first of March and, anyway, there will be another February next year – just like clockwork. Tick Tok, here comes February again. And then March. And, anyway, lots of other things are happening, so everything is OK, right?

     Well, what if it wasn’t OK? What if everything was going to end. And soon. What would you do about it? If you were a musician – in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during World War II, and named Olivier Messiaen, you would compose Quartet for the End of Time.  The title of the piece was inspired by a line in the bible where an angel says, “There will be time no longer.’” A rather foreboding thought but quite likely on every prisoner’s mind.

     The instrumentation is not that of a normal quartet but, given that the only musicians in that camp when Messiaen composed it, played violin, cello, piano (Messiaen), and clarinet, it was what it was. The Lincoln Trio — Desirée Ruhstrat, violin; David Cunliffe, cello; and Marta Aznavoorian, piano, will be joined by Bharat Chandra, principle clarinetist for the Sarasota Orchestra, for a performance at the Historic Asolo on Feb. 28. And then February is over. But, fortunately, nothing else. More info on Artist Series Concerts at

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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