‘Five Fridays’ kicks off an impressive music lineup

by Michael Caruso
Posted 3/14/24

Chestnut Hill maestro Donald Meineke will conduct Choral Arts Philadelphia in a concert entitled “In a Strange Land – Songs of Exile and Hope” Saturday, March 16.

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‘Five Fridays’ kicks off an impressive music lineup


Chestnut Hill maestro Donald Meineke will conduct Choral Arts Philadelphia in a concert entitled “In a Strange Land – Songs of Exile and Hope” Saturday, March 16, at 4 p.m., at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Center City.

“‘In a Strange Land’ moves us from the yearning for an escape from the struggles of this life to a peace known only in a heavenly realm,” explained Michael Meloy, president of Choral Arts.

The program, which includes music composed by Hubert Parry, Salamone Rossi and Johann Hermann Schein, touches on the timeless emotions of the human experiences of joy and happiness, sadness and grief, anger, remorse, praise and love. The program’s music focuses on the timely topic of longing for one’s homeland, for peace and safety, for family, and for life itself through the narratives found in the Psalms, ancient stories, prayers and texts.

Choral Arts Philadelphia will round out its 2023-24 season with a performance of Henry Purcell’s ground-breaking English-language opera “Dido and Aeneas” in concert Saturday, May 11. For more information visit

Piffaro’s ‘Connections’

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, continues its concert season Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. with “The French (Italian) Connection.” Grammy Award-winning tenor James Reese will join the period instruments ensemble in music drawn from the court of French King Henry VIII. 

The concert will take place in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. For more information call 215-235-8469 or visit

Chamber Music at Woodmere

Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum showcased the chamber music of Ludwig van Beethoven and Antonin Dvorak in a recital on Saturday, March 2, in a performance that had been postponed due to inclement weather earlier in the year. Pianist Marja Kaisla, violinist Paul Arnold and cellist Ovidiu Marinescu gave riveting interpretations to Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E-flat major, Opus 1, no. 1, and Dvorak’s “Dumky” Piano Trio in E minor, Opus 90, for an audience that jammed-packed the museum’s rotunda.

 Although the E-flat Piano Trio is hardly the first piece Beethoven ever composed, it is the first that he deemed worthy of publication – and worthy, indeed, it is. Even at this early stage in his career, Beethoven was already the master of channeling his own revolutionary personality into the structures of 18th-century classicalism. The score not so much abounds in good cheer and exuberance as it explodes as a result of them.

Kaisla, Arnold and Marinescu caught the music’s high spirits barely held within classical forms with the playing of rhythmic intensity, expert balances, immaculate blend, consistency of texture, eloquent phrasing and unanimity of style.

Dvorak’s “Dumky” Trio is a hymn of praise to the composer’s Czech traditions celebrated in a score that somehow manages to keep its sprawling inspiration from racing out of bounds. It’s an example of the national romanticism that swept the 19th century and that continues to retain its popularity even into the 21st century.

Kaisla, Arnold and Marinescu gave it a thrilling reading Saturday evening. Their playing was expansive and expressive, displaying a scintillating feeling of bravura, yet they always played together as a musical ensemble with harmonious agreement. 

‘Five Fridays’ at St. Paul’s Church

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, will present the fourth in its series of “Five Fridays” fundraising recitals on March 15 at 7:30 p.m. The featured musicians are flutist Lily Wintringham, saxophonist Jonathan Wintringham and pianist Michael Djupstrom. For more information visit

The Ballet’s ‘Giselle’

Philadelphia Ballet presented Adolphe Adam’s “Giselle” at the Academy of Music Feb. 29 through March 10. With artistic director Angel Corella’s own choreography to tighten and deepen what can be a diffused and even confused balletic experience, the company’s interpretation of this well-loved chestnut of the standard repertoire of romantic ballets both entertained and thrilled a packed Academy of Music audience Friday evening, March 1.

Dancing the leading parts of Giselle and Count Albrecht were two of the troupe’s shining stars: Nayara Lopes and Arian Molina Soca. Pau Pujol as Hilarion, Russell Ducker as Wilfred, and Jessica Kilpatrick as Berthe rounded out the cast.

Lopes caught the innocence and gullibility of a simple country lass with elasticity of technique and eloquence of line. She was both fragile and defiant. Molina Soca not so much portrayed the dashing yet duplicitous Albrecht as became the person, himself – truly heartbroken over Giselle’s death at the merciless hand of madness and pleading for mercy from the avenging Willis that strives mightily to make him dance himself to death. 

Lopes danced with lighten-than-air pointe work while Molina Soca flew across the stage with daring bravura. Even more important, he provided Lopes with secure yet sensitive partnering based on his towering strength that enabled her to glide across the stage in his arms.

Peter Gazelet’s scenic design made exemplary use of the Academy’s expansive stage, and Michael Korsch’s lighting design proffered an evocative recreation of the Willis’ midnight madness. Beatrice Jona Afron conducted the Ballet Orchestra with flexibility.

The Philadelphia Ballet returns to the stage of the Academy of Music with “Dance Masterpieces” March 14-16. Works by modern masters William Forsythe, Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp will be performed. For more information call 215-551-7000 or visit

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