Nov. 13, 2003 – For its 17th annual Classics in the Garden season, Arts Alive is presenting four performances on the stage in Tillett Gardens:
– Violinist Bella Hristova on Nov. 19.
– Operatic bass baritone Arthur Woodley on Dec. 29.
– The Meadowmount Trio (violin, cello and piano) on Feb. 18.
– Pianist Kevin Sharpe on March 10.
Hristova was born in the year that the Classics series began, but at the tender age of 17 she has made her mark internationally as an artist. In 1999, she was awarded the top prize at the International Enesco Competition in Bucharest, Romania. In 2000, she won the International Kocian Competition in the Czech Republic; she returned the following year to take the grand prize, the European Union Prize and the Barenreiter Prize.
On Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio program, she performed before an audience of 11,000 at the Tanglewood Music Festival. This season, she is touring with the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and making her Asian debut with the Korea's Daejeon Philharmonic.
Woodley, whose parents are Crucians, spent part of his childhood on St. Croix, and his yearend holiday recital will be a homecoming to the Virgin Islands. He made his debut with the New York City Opera in 1979 and has appeared with companies throughout the United States and Europe. He has a distinguished history in the role of Porgy in Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."
His background includes three years of voice study in Bologna, Italy, and performing with the Dance Theater of Harlem. His Carnegie Hall debut in the 1988-89 season in the title role of Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah" received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd. His opera credits in addition to Porgy include Don Alfonso in "Cosi Fan Tutte," King Heinrich in "Lohengrin," and the title roles in "Le Nozze di Figaro" and "Don Giovanni," the latter at Strasbourg's Opera du Rhin.
The Meadowmount Trio comprises Stephen Shipps on violin, Owen Darmanon cello and Eric Larsen on piano. Collectively they hold the position of ensemble-in-residence at the Meadowmount School of Music of Westport, New York, whose alumni include Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman.
Founded in 1991, the trio has toured extensively throughout North and South America and Europe and recently made its debut at the Carnegie Weill Recital Hall in New York. It was the first American chamber ensemble to be recorded on Melodyia/Russian Disc and was hailed by Russia's Current magazine for "striking artistry" in a Moscow performance that "showed flawless interpretation with young energy, poetic manner and uncompromising refinement."
Sharpe's accomplishments as a pianist include winning the Rudolph Serkin Prize at the Oberlin Conservatory; the Johann Sebastian Bach International Competition in Washington, D.C.; the National Association of Negro Musicians Competition; and the National Young Artists Piano Competition. He performs and tours extensively as both a soloist and a chamber musician and is on the music faculty of the University of Florida.
His undergraduate study was at Oberlin, and he holds master's and doctor's degrees in music from Indiana University, where he studied under Menahem Pressler, distinguished pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio. He won critical acclaim for his debut at Carnegie's Weill Hall and for his performance of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" before the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. He has appeared with orchestras throughout the United States and in Mexico, Argentina, Finland, Iceland, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong.
Rhoda Tillett, who died in August after a long battle with cancer, founded the classical recital series as part of the not-for-profit outreach of Arts Alive, the presenting arm of the Tillett Foundation. Arts Alive has as its mission "to present the best in visual and performance art in the Virgin Islands [and] to involve and encourage young people in the appreciation, study and performance of exhibition of fine music and the visual arts."
The Arts Alive board and the agency's new executive director, Roger Lakins, are committed to remaining faithful to that mission and upholding the tradition of presenting internationally acclaimed classical music artists in recital under the stars in Tillett Gardens.
Concertgoers this season will note upgrades of the property, too: a newly paved parking lot, a new sound system, and new lighting throughout the garden. And by the December concert, there will be a new stage in place.
The tradition of optional pre-performance dining in the garden with concert seating at tables also continues, with a change: Dinners this season are being catered by Alexander's of Frenchtown, in cooperation with Jack's, the new restaurant in the complex.
Tickets are $30 to each concert, or $108 for the series of four. Dinners are an additional $30 excluding beverage service and gratuity. Reservations are required for dining and are strongly recommended for concert seating only.
This year, the series of performances is not being repeated on St. John.
For reservations or more information, call the Arts Alive office in the Tillett Gallery at 775-1929.
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