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CONCERT SEASON SEATING IS IN DEMAND

The coming St. John School of the Arts concert season, which opens Oct. 28, is already so close to being sold out that director Ruth "Sis" Frank is wondering what to do about "all the others" who love classical, blues, jazz and Gershwin music.
"We can accommodate a maximum of 125 seats," she says. "I hate to turn people away, but I don't know what we're going to do."
Take that as a clue: If the season lineup here, or any individual performance, appeals to you, don't delay in getting tickets. Call either of the numbers at the end of this article to make reservations a.s.a.p.
The 1999-2000 season "is the most ambitious we've undertaken," Frank says. The St. John school has been partnering with Arts Alive at Tillett Gardens for the last several years to bring acclaimed musical artists to the islands. This time, for the first time, it's taking everything the St. Thomas organization has to offer — four classical and four non-classical concerts, each on the Thursday night following the Wednesday Tillett Gardens performance.
Here's the St. John schedule:
Oct. 28 — Russian-born cellist Nina Kotova, accompanied on piano by Patrice Koenig
Nov. 18 — the Junior Mance Jazz Trio
Dec. 30 — classical and flamenco guitarist Dennis Koster
Jan. 13 — the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, at the Westin Resort
Jan. 27 — classical pianist Awadagin Pratt, whose performance will take place in Nazareth Lutheran Church, on the grand piano recently donated to the congregation by Doris Jadan
Feb. 17 — the Charlie Musselwhite Blues Band, at the Westin Resort
March 16 — a cabaret show of Gershwin, Berlin, Kern and Rodgers and Hart classics performed by vocalist Mary Cleere Haran and pianist/vocalist Richard Rodney Bennett, at the Westin Resort
April 13The Gryphon Trio (piano, violin and cello), at the Westin Resort
And now, a bit about the artists:
Nina Kotova began taking cello classes at the Moscow Conservatory when she was 7 and continued her studies at the Cologne Conservatory in Germany and at Yale University. She dropped out of Yale for financial reasons and took up fashion modeling, with considerable success, from 1990 to 1996.
Then she resumed performing as a classical musician, adding to her repertoire her own composition inspired by her modeling experiences, "Scenes from the Catwalk." Recent successes include a U.S. tour with the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra; this month, she is making her debut at Carnegie Hall. She also has a new recording with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra due out this fall, on the Philips Classics label.
Julian Clifford "Junior" Mance's musical history includes playing in the bands of Nat and Cannonball Adderley and Dizzy Gillespie and accompanying Dinah Washington. He won a reputation for "simplifying the bop legacy" and has been the leader of his own bands since 1961. Two years ago, he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.
In the jacket notes for Mance's CD "The Floating Jazz Trio," Peter Straub writes: "Mance glides into propulsive, forward-leaning time, setting phrases against each other and bouncing them across the rhythm. . . attacking the leading edge of the beat. Everything glitters, and his touch is diamond-clear."
Dennis Koster as a teenager in the '60s studied with the musician considered to be the greatest flamenco virtuoso of all time, "Sabicas" (Augustin Castellon). It was not until he was in his twenties that Koster took up classical guitar — an entirely different musical genre. He performs regularly at New York's Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, and is a collaborator of composer Samuel Zyman at the Juilliard School.
Koster has been hailed by The New York Times for his ability "to toss off difficult runs and sculpt long melodies with complete confidence" and by numerous reviewers for his mastery of both classical and flamenco guitar.
Corky Siegel made a St. John series appearance two years ago with his Chamber Blues ensemble; this time, he's coming with the Chicago band that put him on the musical map in the 1960s — with special guest Sam Lay on drums. Siegel will also be doing a daytime children's presentation at the art school.
Siegel on piano and harmonica, Jim Schwall on guitar and Rollo Radford on bass are three-fourths of the original band that back then attracted the attention of everybody from legendary blues harpist Little Walter to symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa. The group disbanded in 1974, but these three and Lay, one of the founding fathers of the Chicago blues sound, came together for a benefit in 1987 and have been "reuniting" every few years ever since.
Awadagin Pratt's previous performances at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on St. Thomas and Island Center on St. Croix, won enthusiastic applause. Two seasons ago, his Reichhold booking included workshops with students, including one at the St. John School of the Arts. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Pratt captured attention with his sheer physicality — towering height, massive hands and flowing dreadlocks — and his short-legged piano bench, from which he hovers over the keyboard. But his musicianship transcends appearances.
He won first the prestigious Naumburg Piano Competition in 1992 and was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1994. Recitals have taken him to New York's Lincoln Center, Washington's Kennedy Center, Chicago's Orchestra Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. This season, he is premiering a concerto with the Seattle Symphony.
Charlie Musselwhite, born in Mississippi and raised in Memphis, is a blues harpist, or harmonica player, who came to prominence in the '60s. He moved to Chicago at the age of 16 and was soon sitting in with the likes of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, and learning about the jazz on the side with Big Joe Williams.
According to Musselwhite, he only knows how to play one tune, and what he's really doing is "following the will of the music. . . looking for things that correspond to the song that I hear inside." In recent times, he has made forays into Brazilian and Cuban music, borrowing the Latin rhythms to bend them into the blues.
Mary Cleere Haran, a singer with on- and Off-Broadway credits, has played the top supperclubs of New York. Richard Rodney Bennett is equally known as an accompanist and a composer with the music of more than 50 films to his credit, including "Enchanted April" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral." He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last year for his service to music.
Their show has won raves in London and at New York's famed Algonquin Hotel. A New York Times reviewer praised the duo for their ability to find the "essence" of the overly revered Gershwin, "lightening up and rediscovering the ease, naturalness and pulsing fluency of songs."
The Gryphon Trio made its debut on St. Thomas and St. John two seasons ago to great acclaim. It consists of Annalee Patipatanakoon on violin, Roman Borys on cello and Jamie Parker on piano. Patipatanakoon and Borys were also on St. John last summer for a series of chamber recitals presented by Caneel Bay Resort and its ownership, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, including one at the art school.
Hailed by a Toronto Star critic as "a new national treasure," the trio takes its name from the mythical half-lion, half-eagle said to symbolize the union of psychic energy and cosmic force. The ensemble is known equally for its integrity in interpreting the classics and its commitment to commissioning and performing new works by Canadian composers.
Ticket information
Concerts begin at 8 p.m. Season tickets are $190 for a
dults and $125 for students. Those for individual concerts are $25 for adults and $15 for students except for the Siegall-Schwall and Musselwhite blues nights; for each of these, admission is $30 for adults and $25 for students.
To reserve seating, go by the school, just up from the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay, or call 779-4322 or 776-6777.

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The coming St. John School of the Arts concert season, which opens Oct. 28, is already so close to being sold out that director Ruth "Sis" Frank is wondering what to do about "all the others" who love classical, blues, jazz and Gershwin music.
"We can accommodate a maximum of 125 seats," she says. "I hate to turn people away, but I don't know what we're going to do."
Take that as a clue: If the season lineup here, or any individual performance, appeals to you, don't delay in getting tickets. Call either of the numbers at the end of this article to make reservations a.s.a.p.
The 1999-2000 season "is the most ambitious we've undertaken," Frank says. The St. John school has been partnering with Arts Alive at Tillett Gardens for the last several years to bring acclaimed musical artists to the islands. This time, for the first time, it's taking everything the St. Thomas organization has to offer -- four classical and four non-classical concerts, each on the Thursday night following the Wednesday Tillett Gardens performance.
Here's the St. John schedule:
Oct. 28 -- Russian-born cellist Nina Kotova, accompanied on piano by Patrice Koenig
Nov. 18 -- the Junior Mance Jazz Trio
Dec. 30 -- classical and flamenco guitarist Dennis Koster
Jan. 13 -- the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, at the Westin Resort
Jan. 27 -- classical pianist Awadagin Pratt, whose performance will take place in Nazareth Lutheran Church, on the grand piano recently donated to the congregation by Doris Jadan
Feb. 17 -- the Charlie Musselwhite Blues Band, at the Westin Resort
March 16 -- a cabaret show of Gershwin, Berlin, Kern and Rodgers and Hart classics performed by vocalist Mary Cleere Haran and pianist/vocalist Richard Rodney Bennett, at the Westin Resort
April 13 -- The Gryphon Trio (piano, violin and cello), at the Westin Resort
And now, a bit about the artists:
Nina Kotova began taking cello classes at the Moscow Conservatory when she was 7 and continued her studies at the Cologne Conservatory in Germany and at Yale University. She dropped out of Yale for financial reasons and took up fashion modeling, with considerable success, from 1990 to 1996.
Then she resumed performing as a classical musician, adding to her repertoire her own composition inspired by her modeling experiences, "Scenes from the Catwalk." Recent successes include a U.S. tour with the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra; this month, she is making her debut at Carnegie Hall. She also has a new recording with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra due out this fall, on the Philips Classics label.
Julian Clifford "Junior" Mance's musical history includes playing in the bands of Nat and Cannonball Adderley and Dizzy Gillespie and accompanying Dinah Washington. He won a reputation for "simplifying the bop legacy" and has been the leader of his own bands since 1961. Two years ago, he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.
In the jacket notes for Mance's CD "The Floating Jazz Trio," Peter Straub writes: "Mance glides into propulsive, forward-leaning time, setting phrases against each other and bouncing them across the rhythm. . . attacking the leading edge of the beat. Everything glitters, and his touch is diamond-clear."
Dennis Koster as a teenager in the '60s studied with the musician considered to be the greatest flamenco virtuoso of all time, "Sabicas" (Augustin Castellon). It was not until he was in his twenties that Koster took up classical guitar -- an entirely different musical genre. He performs regularly at New York's Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, and is a collaborator of composer Samuel Zyman at the Juilliard School.
Koster has been hailed by The New York Times for his ability "to toss off difficult runs and sculpt long melodies with complete confidence" and by numerous reviewers for his mastery of both classical and flamenco guitar.
Corky Siegel made a St. John series appearance two years ago with his Chamber Blues ensemble; this time, he's coming with the Chicago band that put him on the musical map in the 1960s -- with special guest Sam Lay on drums. Siegel will also be doing a daytime children's presentation at the art school.
Siegel on piano and harmonica, Jim Schwall on guitar and Rollo Radford on bass are three-fourths of the original band that back then attracted the attention of everybody from legendary blues harpist Little Walter to symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa. The group disbanded in 1974, but these three and Lay, one of the founding fathers of the Chicago blues sound, came together for a benefit in 1987 and have been "reuniting" every few years ever since.
Awadagin Pratt's previous performances at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on St. Thomas and Island Center on St. Croix, won enthusiastic applause. Two seasons ago, his Reichhold booking included workshops with students, including one at the St. John School of the Arts. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Pratt captured attention with his sheer physicality -- towering height, massive hands and flowing dreadlocks -- and his short-legged piano bench, from which he hovers over the keyboard. But his musicianship transcends appearances.
He won first the prestigious Naumburg Piano Competition in 1992 and was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1994. Recitals have taken him to New York's Lincoln Center, Washington's Kennedy Center, Chicago's Orchestra Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. This season, he is premiering a concerto with the Seattle Symphony.
Charlie Musselwhite, born in Mississippi and raised in Memphis, is a blues harpist, or harmonica player, who came to prominence in the '60s. He moved to Chicago at the age of 16 and was soon sitting in with the likes of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, and learning about the jazz on the side with Big Joe Williams.
According to Musselwhite, he only knows how to play one tune, and what he's really doing is "following the will of the music. . . looking for things that correspond to the song that I hear inside." In recent times, he has made forays into Brazilian and Cuban music, borrowing the Latin rhythms to bend them into the blues.
Mary Cleere Haran, a singer with on- and Off-Broadway credits, has played the top supperclubs of New York. Richard Rodney Bennett is equally known as an accompanist and a composer with the music of more than 50 films to his credit, including "Enchanted April" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral." He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last year for his service to music.
Their show has won raves in London and at New York's famed Algonquin Hotel. A New York Times reviewer praised the duo for their ability to find the "essence" of the overly revered Gershwin, "lightening up and rediscovering the ease, naturalness and pulsing fluency of songs."
The Gryphon Trio made its debut on St. Thomas and St. John two seasons ago to great acclaim. It consists of Annalee Patipatanakoon on violin, Roman Borys on cello and Jamie Parker on piano. Patipatanakoon and Borys were also on St. John last summer for a series of chamber recitals presented by Caneel Bay Resort and its ownership, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, including one at the art school.
Hailed by a Toronto Star critic as "a new national treasure," the trio takes its name from the mythical half-lion, half-eagle said to symbolize the union of psychic energy and cosmic force. The ensemble is known equally for its integrity in interpreting the classics and its commitment to commissioning and performing new works by Canadian composers.
Ticket information
Concerts begin at 8 p.m. Season tickets are $190 for a dults and $125 for students. Those for individual concerts are $25 for adults and $15 for students except for the Siegall-Schwall and Musselwhite blues nights; for each of these, admission is $30 for adults and $25 for students.
To reserve seating, go by the school, just up from the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay, or call 779-4322 or 776-6777.