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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


Dec. 25, 2002 – The subscription season of concerts at the St. John School of the Arts is returning to the original concept of classical music, with one performance each in December, January, February and March — starting with a program by pianist Julian Lawrence Gargiulo on Friday night.
Gargiulo made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 1997 and was invited back to perform for the following two seasons. Meanwhile, he received a Peabody Grant for his participation in the 1998 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. For his St. John School of the Arts debut, he will perform works by Beethoven, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Schubert and Chopin in a program he has titled "The Romantic Piano."
The other concerts this season will be:
Jan. 30 – The Claremont Trio (violin, cello and piano).
Feb. 13 – Pianist Awadagin Pratt and cellist Zuill Bailey.
March 20 – The Auréole Trio (harp, viola and flute).
Born in Italy, Gargiulo studied music at the Verona State Conservatory. He had a year's internship year at the Moscow State Conservatory then moved to the United States, where he received his undergraduate degree from Rowan University, his master's degree from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in musical arts, last year, from the University of Maryland.
His doctoral dissertation consisted of the first-ever recording of the complete solo piano works of a 20th century French composer, Germaine Tailleferre, whose career spanned seven decades.
The only woman in the renowned Groupe des Six composers in Paris in the 1920s, Tailleferre kept company with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Charlie Chaplin and was greatly influenced by Maurice Ravel. Her prodigious output encompassed solo works for piano, chamber music, concertos, ballets, operas, film and television scores and feminist tributes. Much of her music was unpublished and has been lost; most of it had, until Gargiulo's dissertation work, gone unrecorded.
His recording, for which he received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, is scheduled for release on the Centaur label.
For his Virgin Islands appearances, however, Gargiulo has chosen to perform works of 19th century Romantic composers. To the clarity and restraint of the Classical period which preceded it, the era of Romanticism saw the addition of emotion, imagery, narrative, nationalism and traditional folk melodies. Much of the music of the Romantics is technically demanding simply because so many of the composers of this period were such virtuosos.
Gargiulo, lauded by a German reviewer for his synthesis of "talent, musicality, technique and charisma," will perform:
– Sonata No. 17 in D Minor by Beethoven
– Arabesque by Schumann
– Three preludes by Rachmaninoff
– Two impromptus by Schubert
– Four Chopin pieces — the Mazurka in A Minor, Scherzo in B Minor, Nocturne in C-sharp Minor and Scherzo in B-flat Minor.
Gargiulo currently is on the piano faculty at the Westerhoff School of Music and performs regularly with a variety of other instrumentalists and singers in addition to maintaining an active solo schedule.
For the last five years, the St. John School of the Arts concert season has included four non-classical concerts showcasing blues, jazz and other popular genres in addition to four classical programs.
With the return to a classics-only format, Ruth "Sis" Frank, executive director of the St. John school, said she is "happy to have what we have." She adds that she doesn't mind letting someone else present non-classical concerts on the island – "especially with Steve Simon, jazz entrepreneur, to fill the gap." (Simon presented the first of three planned jazz and blues concerts this season on Nov. 30; the second, featuring Latin jazz, is set for Saturday night at the Westin Resort.)
As has been the case in recent years, all four St. John School concerts come one night after identical Classics in the Garden programs at Tillett Gardens on St. Thomas.
"The original format for concerts in Tillett Gardens was Classics in the Garden," Rhoda Tillett, president of the Arts Alive board, notes. "We thought that we would try that again this year with a super-dynamic roster." She added: "Arts Alive has been happy to see blues concerts flourish in various venues on the island and is eager to see music festivities continue in more locations."
Ticket information
St. John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay, 8 p.m. — Tickets are $30 for general admission and $25 for students. A season subscription to all four performances is $110 for general admission.
Individual tickets are available at Connections in Cruz Bay; those wishing to purchase season tickets should call the school at 779-4322 to make arrangements. There will be a cash bar at all performances. Because of limited seating in the school, "it's wise to buy tickets early," Frank said. Reservations are not taken by telephone.
For ticket information on the St. Thomas performances, see "Pianist Gargiulo to open Tillett classics series".

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