By Rodger Skidmore
June is bustin’ out all over
On Broadway, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s great American musical Carousel was a big hit when it opened back in 1945 (never mind that it was originally set in Budapest by the French playwright Molnár, in 1909). Here in Sarasota, June is bustin’ out with music. Yes, the Sarasota Music Festival is back on the scene.
Given a choice, would you like to hear a quartet with “irrepressible dramatic instinct” or beautiful music? How about both when the Calidore String Quartet opens the festival on June 9 at Holley Hall with Schubert’s String Quartet No. 12 in C Minor. Clarinetist Franklin Cohen has also arranged some of Schubert’s art songs for this event — with Jeffrey Kahane at the piano. Grammy nominee Carol Wincenc will be playing Valerie Coleman’s Amazonia (think rainforest). The afternoon wraps up with Beethoven’s first published work, his Piano Trio in E-flat Major.
Not to top the previous day’s concert, but on June 10 at the Sarasota Opera House, they will kick off the festivities with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. The Bach is followed by a Carl Nielsen’s piece for wind quintet. Last month, PBS’s show Now Hear This featured lost works by the first internationally recognized Black American composer, Florence Price. Her lyrical composition Adoration, originally written for organ, has been arranged for many instrument groupings, including this one for quintet. And the Calidore String Quartet is back with Jeffrey Kahane on piano, playing Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major.
This year’s Easter egg hunts are over but, at Holley Hall, there are still hidden gems to be found. The festival’s program on the 16th starts off with Peregi verbunk (this is not something to eat, it is a Hungarian dance) by Leó Weiner, for clarinet and piano. The great French music teacher, Nadia Boulanger (think Aaron Copeland, Astor Piazzolla, Philip Glass, and Quincy Jones) is represented by her Three Pieces for Cello and Piano. Ah, you might ask, but who taught Ms. Boulanger? Her composition, with Jeffrey Kahane at the piano, is followed by her teacher’s (Gabriel Fauré) Piano Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, with Robert Levin at the keyboard. And, filling out the program, five short pieces for violin, oboe, and piano by Shostakovich will be performed.
During this three-week festival there is a series within a series (go ahead and binge). Three Rising Stars concerts will feature some of the nation’s top students (60) showcasing their talents by playing six or seven movements, during each concert, from a hit parade of top composers. And how many concerts and lectures haven’t been mentioned here? Eight, including two evenings with full orchestra. More info at SarasotaOrchestra.org.
Smith & Wesson .38 Special
The .38 S&W Special was the service revolver of many U.S. police departments from the 1920s through the 1990s. But the Special 38 are the songs of Johnny Cash performed in Richard Malbty’s Broadway musical Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. Mr. Maltby’s adaption of his show is brought to Sarasota by Florida Studio Theatre. The show, opening at the Gompertz on June 1, features five actors, each playing two characters, who also play all the show’s musical instruments and sing those famous songs. Yes, live music is alive and well at FST.
The arc of this musical tribute show highlights Cash’s career and that of others like him. It takes him/them from dirt-poor cotton-picking beginnings through success and beyond. In the process, there are glimpses of some of the hard times that seem to follow along. Those hard times were always there but, thankfully, the good times overshadow them in the end. Mr. Cash’s songs are used to track his long career and move from “Country Boy” through “A Boy Named Sue” and “Folsom Prison Blues” to so many others of his memory-jogging tunes.
In the same building, through June 12, there is another musical about some of life’s problems and successes — the problems of life in Sarasota. Laughing Matters takes a sidewise glance at how construction sites seem to grow in an inverse ration to the number of parking spaces that are lost around town. While this is the sixth iteration of the show, head writer Rebecca Hopkins continues with updates to keep it current, the only thing that seems to stay the same is the great piano playing of Jim Prosser. The singing, dancing quartet of actors that entertains in this show includes some long-time FST regulars. They entertain, that’s why they keep coming back. More info at Floridastudiotheatre.org.
Going around in circles
They say, “What goes around, comes around” and what’s coming around here (at the historic Asolo Theatre), is Summer Circus Spectacular 2022. Yes, this circus extravaganza, the best of all possible circles, will be performed for your pleasure, from June 10 through August 13. That’s five days per week for 47 days — for a total of 94 performances – yes, two chances each day to see this great show. This is a partnership between the Circus Arts Conservatory and the Ringling Museum — a great combination producing fun, laughs, and awe. And to get you totally immersed in all-things-circus, the Ringling is providing discounts to the Circus Museum to all ticket holders.
Some children can stand on their hands, and some can teeter or totter around their living room for a bit, but Ricardo Sosa has built an act around balancing on his hands atop moving objects. This will leave children’s hands free to applaud his skills. The Rolla Bolla act is another feat of balance, with Abrehem Mola balancing on top of things that are balanced on top of other things that are balanced on top of still other things. Hard to top that.
Raise your eyes a bit and you will see an aerial duo that will spin, fly, drop, and swoop around the sky (well, not the sky, but high above the stage).
And in between these and other acts, Chris Allison will juggle, jiggle and jingle, in his special way, to keep you laughing while everyone gets ready for the next act. More info at Circusarts.org.