Culture

Stone Church Cultural Center to kick off 5-concert series

GILBERTVILLE — Bursting out of the pandemic-imposed silence, the Stone Church Cultural Center in Gilbertville opens a five-concert season on Sunday, April 10, with a 2 pm performance by flutist Emi Ferguson and guitarist Michael Poll.

Provocatively entitled The Court, the Palace, the Ocean, the Trees, Ferguson and Poll’s centuries-spanning, eclectic program includes music by JS Bach (arrangements extracted from his Goldberg Variations), Domenico Scarlatti, Astor Piazzola, Elisabeth Ogonek, Gabriella Ortiz, and Toru Takemitsu.

Born in Japan and raised in London and Boston, Ferguson was the first person to graduate from The Juilliard School with undergraduate and graduate degrees with Scholastic Distinction in flute performance. She received a second graduate degree in historical performance. She is currently a professor at her alma mater, and Principal Flute for the Handel & Haydn Society.

A light-hearted short biography on her website reveals that Ferguson has “shared the stage as flute player, singer, and composer with performers including Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, James Taylor, and four US presidents (though her inner teenager will tell you her career highlight was being called on stage to sing Oops I Did It Again at a Britney Spears concert).

Poll is a classical guitarist, composer, conductor, producer, and music educator. He received his DM from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and holds an undergraduate degree in music summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. His debut guitar album , Seven String Bach, was called “masterful” by Gramophone magazine. He has conducted works ranging from Beethoven piano concertos to Mozart opera and Bach oratorio, as well as many recent compositions. His compositions have been performed in Europe and the US

Ferguson and Poll’s concert is sponsored by Anne Rylestone, in memory of her husband James Knight.

The Stone Church series continues on May 7 at 7 pm with Silents Are Golden! featuring organist Peter Krasinski accompanying a screening of the 1927 classic film It, a romantic comedy starring Clara Bow, on the Stone Church’s historic Johnson & Son pipe organ. Anyone who has ever been present at one of Krasinski’s silent film events will attest that there is no more inventive, skillful, and engaging improviser of his caliber in the business.

He has perfected his art to a remarkable degree, and his accompaniments virtually narrate the script of the silent movies he accompanies. In an interview in 2009, he said that he aims to play the entire film by memory, looking at the screen the entire time . At that time, he said he watched each film an average of three times, and created a sort of schematic document including words that appear on the screen, musical ideas (either pre-existent or of his own making), and special effects. He frequently crafts leitmotifs for central characters.

Krasinski has accompanied silent films throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He is the recipient of a number of prizes, including the First Prize in Improvisation from the American Guild of Organists National Competition. He was the first organist to play a silent movie at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. He used to play silent films at Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA.

On June 11 at 7 pm, bass-baritone Daniel Brevik and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Fijal-Brevik present an evening of Arias, Art Song, Musical Theater and Jazz with pianist Malcolm Halliday. Composers represented include Leoncavallo, Mozart, Florence B. Price, Cole Porter and others.

On September 24 at 4 pm, violinist Yulia Zhuravleva and pianist Sima Kustanovich present Mosaic, a concert of music by Vivaldi, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mozart and Gershwin (a Concert-Fantasy on the themes from the Opera “Porgy and Bess”) .

On October 22 at 4 pm soprano Maria Ferrante and keyboard artist David Alan Pihl (playing both the Johnson & Son organ and the church’s vintage Chickering piano) have selected music by JS Bach and others to celebrate the treasured legacy of baritone Donald Boothman, who concertized in the Stone Church frequently, championing and maintaining its organ under the auspices of FOGO (Friends of the Gilbertville Organ) in The Donald Boothman Memorial Concert.

Two other events are listed in the Stone Church brochure, taking place at 1 pm on June 19 & 26 respectively. These Concerts on the Lawn include Sizzle Into Summer (June 19) with the Weir River Jazz Band and vocalist Donna-Lee DePrille, and A Walk Down Broadway (June 26) with the Weir River Concert Band. Both ensembles are conducted by John P. Sacco. The Concerts on the Lawn are free of charge to all, and are sponsored by Country Bank.

Admission for the April 10, June 11 and 19, Sept. 24 and Oct. 22 concerts is $25. Admission to the May 7 movie accompaniment is $15. Until April 10, FOSC is offer a five-concert season ticket at a discount – 5 concerts for $100.

All concerts will be held at 283 Main Street (Route 32) in Gilbertville.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.friendsofthestonechurch.org

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