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Westfield Symphony Orchestra Grips Audience With Hansel & Gretel Opera
PERFECTLY PROFESSIONAL... Pictured, left to right, are Jennifer Ayres, Janine Halwey, and Martn C. Hurt.
Please send all Arts and Entertainment
press releases to: michelle@ goleader. com By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Small, eager children and adults with childlike souls leaned over the balcony rails and pews of the Presbyterian Church in Westfield on April 24, as Maestro David Wroe of the Westfield Symphony Orchestra (WSO) narrated the fascinating fairy tale of “Hansel & Gretel,” and opera singers delivered a most profoundly dramatic portrayal of the lore.
Music Director and Conductor Wroe brought each attendee back to his or her childhood as he read the tale with delight and innocence in his voice, almost like a child himself. As his narration draws to a close, he tells the fate of Hansel and Gretel, “And then what happens?” He snaps the book shut. “They’re eaten!” he grins, playfully.
The Orchestra lures the audience into the opera of Hansel & Gretel, by Engelbert Humperdinck, with a tender and weeping introduction – a medley of crying violins, trembling horns, and later, a playful, frolicking of youth by all instruments. The drums added a mood of suspense while French horns pulsated with a magnificent, ceremonial boom.
MezzoSoprano, Janine Hawley, who portrayed Hansel, has captivated audiences from coast to coast before her WSO performance, which was certainly not an exception. Ms. Hawley commands a definite presence on stage, her voice strong and superior and her acting ability appropriately accompanying her vocal performance.
Soprano, Jennifer Ayres, who has also received high acclaim for her performances in Operas across the country, perfectly portrayed the role of wideeyed, naïve Gretel. Her voice was also very impressive, but appropriately tender and delicate for the child she was portraying.
The mother of the hungry and forlorn Hansel and Gretel was depicted with a robust voice and superior acting by Canadian Katherine Johnson. She illustrated a wide range of emotions from
anger to exhilaration, just moments apart, with an unfaltering voice.
It is important to note that at no time during Hansel & Gretel did the voices of the singers compete with or overwhelm another’s performance. Each voice was that of the consummate professional – truly unique and appropriately matched to the role of the performer.
The father of the children who have mistakenly wandered into the woods of the terrible Witch who turns children into gingerbread treats, was equally captivating. Richard Hobson caused the audience to stir as he entered from the rear of the church and demanded the attention he was due by his gripping voice.
Although the role of Sandman was brief, it was a performance to be savored as Philadelphiaborn Coloratura Soprano, Jennifer Carnahan, took the stage as a comforting guardian who offered a soothing lullaby to the lost children in the wood.
Tenor Martin C. Hurt, who delivered one of the strongest portrayals as The Witch, captivated the audience as a villain relishing his fury and wickedness over the innocent and frightened Hansel
and Gretel. The harmonizing, overlapping of the singers in the final act at the Witch’s House was sheer perfection, the accompaniment of the Orchestra was, as always, appropriate and professional.
The New Jersey Children’s Choir was simply angelic and astounding in its proficiency and experience. To miss this performance was to miss a memorable
work of art. Maestro Wroe and The Westfield Symphony Orchestra demonstrated, in their final concert of “The Power of Music” series that the ensemble encompasses more than a professional understanding or appreciation for music – they embody the music they perform.
Although most fairy tales were designed to put weary tots to sleep, the portrayal of this fairy tale gave life to all of the senses and gripped the attention of the audience at every suspenseful bend. Children of all ages, from 6 to 60 applauded the refined operatic and orchestral portrayal of this beloved lore.
Maestro Wroe is also to be lauded for his dual performance as everextraordinary Conductor and gentle storyteller.
The WSO will return for the 19992000 season with its theme, “Season of Enchantment.” This series will include a performance at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway with violinist Zina Schiff and Composer in Residence, Richard Nanes on October 9. This performance will feature works such as Tchaikowsky’s Symphony No. 4.
Cellist HaiYe Ni will perform on November 20 at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield. The program will include works such as Cello Concerto by Dvorak.
The next two performances will be featured at The Union County Arts Center. Bob Berky, Musical Clown, will appear on February 12, including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Composer Mark McGurty and DuoPianists Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas will be spotlighted on April 1 with works such as Mozart’s Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos, K. 365 and Brahms’
Symphony No. 3.
The final performance of the season on May 13 will be held at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in Concert. For the full flavor of next season’s performances, please visit www. westfieldnj. com/ wso or call (908) 2329400.
Arts, Crafts Fair On Tap
CRANFORD — The Cranford Chamber of Commerce will sponsor its 10th Arts and Crafts Festival on Sunday, May 2, from 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. along the Eastman Plaza Area, North Union and Alden Avenues.
More than 200 craft and food exhibitors are expected to participate in the festival. Music and children’s activities will be featured, as well. Among the merchandise for sale will be jewelry, Southwest Indian Art, original designer clothing, toys and dolls, doll clothing, wooden furniture and home accessories.
The Fabulous Zucchini Brothers will present their own musical children’s classics at 2 and 4 p. m. at the stage near the Cranford Hotel.
CLASS: The Girls Next Door, a costumed ensemble performing music from the 1950s and 1960s, will perform on stage from noon to 1 p. m.
Also scheduled to appear are storyteller Kathryn Weidener, at 1 and 3 p. m.; singer and entertainment host Bob Mele, from 3 to 4 p. m., and the jazz group Perception, from 5 to 6 p. m.. Street performances will be given by Mystic Warriors, who specialize in contemporary, Incastyle music; the clown Louie the Bum, and musician Tim Janis.
More than 15 food vendors will offer such fare as Greek and Italian specialties; Teriyaki barbecue, falafel, grilled shish kebob, zeppoles, Strawberry Dan’s Fresh Fruit Smoothies and Pennsylvania Dutch funnel cakes.
Various artists are also expected at the festival, including watercolor artists Steve Zazenski and Phyllis Newman; Jim Robinson, who specializes in country tole painting; weaver Jillian Kaplan; Patricia Devries, demonstrating wheat weaving, and furniture designer and craftsman Norman Whitehouse.
For youngsters, there will be a petting zoo, pony rides, Moon Bounce and other activities in the parking area on North Union and Springfield Avenues.
North Avenue will remain open for traffic, but traffic will be detoured in parts of downtown Cranford will be detoured of traffic for the day. Admission and parking is free. The rain date is Sunday, May 23.
Some exhibit space is still available. For more information, please call the event’s promoter, The Advertising Alliance, Inc., at (908) 9963036.
Diversity Is Key
At Eugenie Gallery
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Diversity is abundantly painted on the palette at the Eugenie Gallery, 501 Park Avenue, in Scotch Plains. From the painstaking techniques of raku pottery by Scotch Plains resident Peter Syak to the eloquent and emotional watercolors of Raymond G. Horner, the current “East Meets West” exhibit offers treasures for the eye.
“I’m very lucky that I have met openminded artists,” revealed Proprietor Eugenie O’Neill. She added that she values the exchange of ideas and techniques that arises from the collaboration of the artists included in her exhibits.
Ms. O’Neill encourages her artists: “I want you to bring your personality here.”
The art of pastel drawing is mastered in the works of Mario Robinson whose “SelfPortrait” is remarkably lifelike and sketched with perfection. Other pastel and lithograph creations by Mr. Robinson include “Oscar” and “Reverence” –another feast for the eye.
Zaza Khabuliani offers oil paintings such as “Piranha” and “Reclining Nude” which grace the walls of
the Eugenie Gallery with rich, flowing texture and form. The artist, who has lived in the United States for nearly 10 months, has evolved as an artist, and his current works at the Eugenie Gallery are examples of that growth according to Ms. O’Neill.
Graffiti art is explored with detail and passion by artist, Chris Plecs in works such as “Diesel Powered Potamus” in acrylic and oil. These pieces encourage intense study and surpass general interest.
Edgy and neonvibrant is the “Hollywood Series” offered by Andre De Krayewski who masterfully designed a billboard for the New York Film Association. Colors dance on the canvas and curves pop out in this stimulating series.
Scotch Plains residents Richard Murray and Jessica N. Sapaden include their lifelike exhibition of flora and fauna and landscape photography. The images seem within the immediate reach of the beholder.
Computerscanned images encased in wooden and metal frames are featured as “assemblage” by Vicki Parker, Scotch Plains resident. These collages, though quite subdued, hold definition and are complimented by their framework.
One of the most striking collections in the Eugenie Gallery is that of artist Raymond Horner. Depicting the flavor of everyday life for
AfricanAmericans, watercolors and lithographs such as “Is It Fresh” and “Somebody Prayed For Me” are hauntingly realistic and delve into emotions you never knew you had before.
Gisele Bryers explores life through the eyes of a fish underwater
in her clever oil on canvas entitled, “Under the Water I,” which is part of a collection. Pinewood Paste on Iron Sculpture, these pieces help to define the unique nature of the Eugenie Gallery.
Inge Rist Lincoln demonstrates the art of glass jewelry making, while Andreiy Yuri Bogoslowskiy captures the eye with passionate brush strokes in his portraits and studies of anatomy.
Mr. Syak discovered the art of raku in the late 1980s. The technique features throwing hot clay covered with molten glaze into flammable substances. The collection is certainly worthy of appreciation.
Strikingly primitive and profound is the untitled sculpture of artist, Greg Edmondson. The piece depicts a woman without a detailed face standing tall and across from a male bent at the knees, covering his face with his large hands.
Ms. O’Neill explained that the artist is very respectful and in awe of women, and carries this theme in other sculptures, encouraging discussion about the meaning behind some of his masterpieces.
The platform of the piece, with it’s great gap between the man and the woman, is also to be the setting of a collection of a different sort by Ms. O’Neill. She is currently seeking the gathering of canned goods to donate to the American Red Cross for the Crisis in Kosovo.
The Eugenie Gallery exhibition of “East Meets West” will continue through Friday, June 18. The Gallery is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m.; Thursdays from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.; and Saturdays from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. Closed Tuesday and Sunday. For more information, please call (908) 3226333.
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DANCING COLORS... The Eugenie Gallery features this vibrant piece from the “Hollywood Series” by Andre De Krayewski.
“RECLINING NUDE”... is an edgy masterpiece offered by Zaza Khabuliani.
SPIRITUAL... “Somebody Prayed For Me,” a striking watercolor, is offered by Raymond G. Horner.