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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 24, 2024


On Oct. 25, Arts Alive in Tillett Gardens will embark on its 14th year of classical and non-classical concerts under the stars.
"In an era of ongoing economic uncertainty, this is both quite an achievement and quite a leap of faith," producer Rhoda Tillett says. "But the Arts Alive Board and I feel that we have an obligation to our community to continue doing what we do – presenting a full season of outstanding classical and non-classical music by internationally acclaimed artists."
It's being billed as the "14th fabulous season, and for good reason," Tillett says. "The longer our track record gets, the higher the quality of artists we can attract. This year, we've got some wonderful musicians making their Virgin Islands debut, as well as some top attractions of previous years coming back."
Here's the schedule of Classics in the Garden recitals, on Wednesday nights:
Oct. 25 – Double Exposure – Thomas Bowes on violin, Eleanor Alberga on piano
Dec. 27 – Dennis Koster on classical-flamenco guitar; last year's holiday hit, back by popular demand.
Jan. 24 – the Innuendo quintet featuring Keith Lockhart on piano
March 14 – Terrence Wilson on piano
For classical music lovers, this season will bring a special added attraction that isn't part of the concert subscription series: an "Austrian Classic" evening on Sunday, March 4. In cooperation with the Embassy of Austria Cultural Department, Arts Alive will present a dinner and concert combining classic Austrian cuisine catered by Alexander's and a performance by Austrian classical pianist Gottlieb Wallisch.
Here's the lineup of Tillett Garden Series non-classical concerts, all on Friday nights:
Dec. 1 – the Bill Sims Blues Band
Feb. 9 – Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers blues band
Feb. 23 – cabaret guitarist Jorge Morel with the voice and guitar duo Heidi & Ramos
April 6 – cabaret vocalist Rebecca Parris with Paul McWilliams on piano
In the ongoing Arts Alive partnership with other Virgin Islands venues, all nine of these performances will be presented as well by the St. John School of the Arts in Cruz Bay. Double Exposure and Innuendo will also appear on Tortola at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, and Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers will also perform on St. Croix at a venue to be announced.
Like most other not-for-profit concert presenters, the Arts Alive organization does not make ends meet through ticket sales. "Corporate and foundation support is what keeps any arts program alive," Tillett says, "and we are fortunate to live in a place where the business community is very, very generous."
This year's concert series supporters are Heineken/Bellows International, American Airlines, the Prosser/ICC Foundation, the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, the Peter Gruber Foundation, Renaissance Grand Beach Hotel, Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, Bolongo Bay Beach Club, Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Resort and Polli's Restaurant in Tillett Gardens.
In addition, for the coming season, the Arts Alive Board is inviting businesses and individuals to join four "circles" of supporters by making tax-deductible contributions:
The Capriccio Circle, for those donating $500 to $1,000; donors will receive a limited-edition canvas tote bag screen-printed with an original concert series design.
The Sostenuto Circle, for those giving $1,000 to $2,000; donors will receive CD's or audio tapes from all of the artists performing this season, autographed by the performers.
The Crescendo Circle, for those contributing $2,000 to $5,000; donors will be invited to a private dinner on the eve of the concert with the performing artist(s) of their choice.
The Sforzando Circle, for those donating $5,000 or more; donors will receive all three of the gifts for the other three categories.
Background on the artists
Following is a brief description of the artists performing in the 2000-01 season:
Double Exposure, the London-based duo of British violinist Thomas Bowes and Jamaican pianist Eleanor Alberga, has won audience and critical acclaim around the world with concerts spanning the baroque, classical and romantic masterpieces, as well as works by Alberga herself and other contemporary composers. Bowes has performed as soloist with the London Philharmonic and has been guest concertmaster with such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas and Sir Georg Solti. Alberga's musical background includes not only classical training but also performing with the Jamaican Folk Singers and an African dance company.
– Blues guitarist/vocalist Bill Sims has been around show business his whole life. His uncle played guitar with Billie Holliday, and he has embraced the history of the blues – from front-porch banjo strains to '70s soul grooving to New Orleans rhythms. He has won praise for his "honey-mustard voice and his snarling, Albert King-influenced guitar style." His face is familiar in millions of homes because his family was featured last September in a five-part PBS realism documentary, "An American Love Story." Sims composed several pieces for the series soundtrack, and this led to a record deal with Warner Bros.
– Classical and flamenco guitarist Dennis Koster won a legion of new fans at last year's yearend holiday concert in Tillett Gardens. Trained initially in flamenco guitar, Koster took up classical studies in his 20s, becoming equally at home with both genres, and found an affinity for creating his own transcriptions and arrangements of the classical masters. After two decades of studying, performing as a soloist and accompanying major Spanish dance troupes, he has the rare opportunity to study under the legendary flamenco virtuoso "Sabicas." His commentaries provide audiences insight into the cultural and musical complexities of flamenco.
Innuendo is a classical string quintet featuring pianist Keith Lockhart, who is best known as the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, which regularly presents concerts on public television. His appearance with what was then called the Seranac Quartet two seasons ago drew the biggest audience ever for a Classics in the Garden concert. The ensemble's return performance is sure to put that record to the test. The instrumentalists are violinist Lucia Lin and cellist Owen Young from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, violinist Christopher Wu from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and violist Amadi Hummings from Norfolk, Va.
– Blues guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Thackery and his three-piece band, the Drivers, have drawn enthusiastic audiences at local clubs over the years. This will be their first performance in the islands in a concert setting and their only one on St. Thomas this season. Thackery made his mark in the '70s and '80s as the "heat, soul and adrenalin" of the Nighthawks, recording more than 20 albums and touring worldwide; in 1991, he formed the Drivers. Known for his guitar pyrotechnics performing what Guitar Player magazine has called "industrial-strength roots rock.," he's joined by Jimmy Carpenter on sax, Kenny Faltinson on bass and Mark Stutso on drums and vocals.
– Argentinian guitarist Jorge Morel has won plaudits at the great recital halls of the world with a style that reflects the influences of classical, South American and '30s-style jazz music in the Gershwin tradition. Hailed by The New York Times as a sophisticated artist who shines performing his own arrangements of folksongs, show tunes, the classics and the various Latin genres, he is also an accomplished composer. Italian guitarist/violinist Michele Ramo and American singer/lyricist Heidi Hepler, performing as Heidi & Ramo, blend classical, jazz and Latin music, as well. "They celebrate music,"
one critic said.
"Austrian Classics" will be an elegant black-tie evening of classical music performed by pianist Gottlieb Wallisch after a dinner with wines catered by Austrian restaurateur Alex Treml of Alexander's. Wallisch, just 22 years old, performed last year with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and made his debut last spring with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He has appeared in recital and with chamber ensembles and orchestras throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. In 1995, he became the first pianist in the history of the Stravinsky Awards International Piano Competition in Illinois to win all four of the top prizes.
Terrence Wilson, at 24, has established a reputation as one of today's most gifted classical pianists. Since his professional debut two years ago with the Philadelphia Orchestra, his credits also include solo appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. His recital debut at the Kennedy Center in 1996 was highly acclaimed.
Rebecca Parris started out at age 6 singing in musicals with her father in summer stock.. Dizzy Gillespie said she reminded him "musically of Carmen McRae with the diction of Margaret Whiting." A Jazz Times critic calls her "that rare bird: the true jazz singer with the soul of an entertainer." Equally at home with ballads, blues, standards, Latin and contemporary tunes, she brings a passionate, engaging voice, consummate musical skills, witty humor and a dynamic presence to the stage. Many St. Thomas jazz fans will recall her gigs at the old Blackbeard's Castle Hotel piano lounge.
The season provides three examples of the variation on a saying that "the couple that plays together stays together." Double Exposure is a husband-and-wife duo. So is Heidi & Ramo. And two of the five members of Innuendo are married to each other – pianist Keith Lockhart and violinist Lucia Lin.
Ticket information
Reservations for the 2000-01 series are now being accepted. Prices remain unchanged from recent years: Individual concert tickets are $25. The package of all eight subscription season concerts (not including the "Austrian Classics") is $160 (or $20 each). A package of any six subscription season concerts is $135 (or $22.50 each). Last year's season ticket holders can reclaim their same seats until Oct. 1.
A three-course dinner with choice of entree reflecting the ethnicity or musical genre of the evening's artist(s) is available in the garden with concert seating at tables for all four Wednesday night Classics in the Garden programs and the two cabaret shows of the Friday night Tillett Garden Series concerts. Dinner is $30 plus bar service and gratuity.
The "Austrian Classics" black-tie dinner and concert is $90 including cocktail and dinner wines. Seating is limited and early reservations are recommended.
For reservations, charge-card purchases and further information, call 775-1929, fax to 775-9482 or e-mail to tillett @islands.vi.
Visit the Arts Alive web site on-line at www.tillettgardens.com.

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