March 17, 2003 – The final Classics in the Garden concert of the series' 16th season brings a musical first to Tillett Gardens on Wednesday night — a flute, viola and harp trio.
It also ended up bringing complications — not for the St. Thomas concert but for the night-later performance that traditionally follows at the St. John School of the Arts in Cruz Bay.
Two-thirds of the Auréole Trio — flutist Laura Gilbert and violist Mary Hammann — travel with their easily portable musical instruments when they tour. No so harpist Stacey Shames, who like pianists and organists relies on the host venue to provide an acceptable instrument for her to play.
It turned out there were two such harps on St. Thomas but none on St. John, and while one of the St. Thomas instruments was available for transport across Pillsbury Sound, the expense of getting there and back proved prohibitive.
The upshot is that the Thursday St. John performance has been canceled, but complimentary transportation will be provided to anyone on St. John wishing to travel to St. Thomas for the Classics in the Garden concert on Wednesday. (For details, see the "Tickets and transportation" section at the end of this article.)
On St. John, "we had all looked forward to hearing the fascinating combination of harp, viola and flute," Ruth "Sis" Frank, School of the Arts director, said. She said it was especially disappointing that "we were not able to present this program in the ideal acoustics of our school."
Diana White, a member of the Arts Alive board of directors, said: "We are trying very hard not to lose anyone through the cracks."
That being the case, a full to overflowing house in Tillett Gardens is more than a possibility.
The Auréole Trio has captivated audiences around the world. The ensemble specializes in music of the Impressionists and the 20th century with a repertoire that includes many works written expressly for them by such composers including Sir Richard Rodney Bennett — who himself has on two occasions graced the stages of Tillett Gardens and the St. John School of the Arts.
In fact, the trio's third CD is of music by Bennett and Nicholas Maw, and it was released to great acclaim. Their most recent album is devoted to the compositions for flute of Toru Takemitsu — whose work is included on the program for Wednesday's performance.
The concert will open with Deux Interludes by Jacques lbert (1890-1962), followed by "And Then I Knew 'Twas Wind" by Takemitsu (b. 1930) and the three-movement Sonate by Debussy (1862-1918). The second half of the program will begin with a Suite by Carl Nielsen (1865-1931), consisting of three works titled "The Fog Is Lifting," "The Children Are Playing" and "Faith and Hope Are Playing." This will be followed by "Tenderness of Cranes," a work for solo flute by Shirish Korde (b. 1945), and a four-movement Trio by Harald Genzmer (b. 1909).
A Washington Post reviewer of the group's first album which hailed Auréole as an ensemble that "play with effortless technique and a fine sensitivity to the music and to one another. Their performance is as chamber music should be, like a conversation among friends."
The word auréole means a halo, or the corona around Earth's sun. But the three musicians weren't thinking of solar glow when they chose the name Auréole for their collective self. They were inspired, publicity states, by a composition of that name by Jacob Druckman "which explores the ever-changing palette of color, sound and timbral possibilities of a traditional instrumental ensemble."
Auréole has performed extensively throughout the United States and abroad and has participated in numerous artist-in-residence programs. Recent performance venues include Merkin and Weill Halls in New York, the Philips Collection gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Wang Center for the Arts in Boston.
Individually, the Auréole artists have active solo and chamber music careers, appearing with and as members of such ensembles as Musicians from Marlboro, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Alexander Schneider's Brandenburg Ensemble, Orpheus, Speculum Musicae, the Bach Aria Group and the Metropolitan Opera.
Harpist Shames was 14 when she made her professional debut at Carnegie Recital Hall. She won first prize at the 1987 American Harp Society National Competition and was a top winner of the 11th International Harp Contest in Israel. She tours nationwide on the American Harp Society's New Concert Artists Program roster. She has been principal harpist of the Saint Louis Symphony and the Aspen Chamber Symphony. A graduate of the Juilliard School, she also studied at the Manhattan School of Music.
Flutist Gilbert has had solo appearances at Carnegie and Weill Halls and The Kennedy Center and has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. She also performs and records with guitarist Antigoni Goni. She collaborated in numerous chamber music performances with the late pianist Rudolf Serkin and was a member of the ensemble with Dawn Upshaw that won the 1991 Grammy Award for "The Girl With the Orange Lips."
Violist Hammann has performed as principal violist of the New York String Orchestra and has appeared in numerous chamber music festivals. Her solo performances this season include a concert with the Jupiter Symphony at Lincoln Centers Alice Tully Hall. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute and the Mannes College of Music.
Ticket and transportation information
Wednesday's program in Tillett Gardens begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30. A three-course pre-performance dinner in the garden with concert seating is an additional $30 excluding bar service and gratuity. Dinner is served from 6 p.m. and will conclude before the concert begins.
Reservations are required for dinner; with seating reserved and limited, they also are strongly recommended for the concert alone. To make reservations or to purchase tickets using a charge card, call the Arts Alive office at 775-1929.
Tickets for what was to have been Thursday's performance at the St. John School of the Arts will be honored for the Wednesday program. Those persons on St. John wishing to attend the St. Thomas concert should call the school at 779-4322 to confirm their intent.
Those traveling from St. John should take the 7 p.m. ferry from Cruz Bay. In Red Hook, they will board shuttle safari buses to Tillett Gardens. The shuttle buses will depart Tillett Gardens at 9:45 p.m. to catch the 10 p.m. ferry back to Cruz Bay.
Anyone on St. John wishing to have dinner at Tillett Gardens before the concert will need to make their own travel arrangements.
Those holding School of the Arts concert tickets also have the option of turning them in for a full refund. Again, call the school at 779-4322.
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