By Roy Ziegler
Photos by Brian Keyes
Guest of honor, Marion Nakashima (right), with Artistic Director Michelle Djokic
If Antonio Vivaldi were living in Bucks County today he might very well be compelled to write “The Five Seasons” instead of just four concerti marking the changes of the traditional climatic patterns. Since the Concordia Chamber Players began their pre-season benefit concerts last year it seems as though there is a temporary suspension of autumn after summer ends in which the Concordia players create a magical afternoon, a kind of season of its own, on the campus of the Nakashima Foundation for Peace in New Hope.
To the delight of eighty music fans gathered in George Nakashima’s studio on Sunday the Concordia Chamber Players presented Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” in a setting that defies an acoustical equal in this area. And where else can a world-class violinist perform barefooted on a Nakashima wooden floor, seated in chairs fashioned by Nakashima expressly for Concordia and surrounded by an audience of barefooted toe thumpers?
An effervescent Caterina Szepes, first prize winner of the Cleveland Institute of Music concerto competition opened the Seasons as soloist for the Concerto in E Major—Spring followed by violinist David Brickman, concertmaster for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, performing as soloist for the Concerto in G Minor—Summer. The soloists provided a sparkling opening accompanied by acclaimed harpsichordist, Kenneth Cooper.
Violinist, Carmit Zori, an inveterate favorite of Concordia audiences was soloist for the Concerto in F Major—Autumn wherein the thrill of the hunt and the glory of the harvest were captured by Robert Rinehart, violist for the New York Philharmonic and Harold Robinson, principal contrabassist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Just as the concert wove feelings of spring and autumn the players reflected these same characteristics. Thirteen-year old Danbi Um, the youngest student ever admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at ten years of age and who has already appeared in Carnegie Hall in contrast with Kenneth Cooper, renowned pianist and musicologist, with many years of experience on the concert stage and numerous recordings combined their rich talents as Ms. Um performed the solo for the winter season—the Concerto in F Minor.
And in the center of everything was Concordia’s soul, the indefatigable and prodigiously talented artistic director, cellist Michelle Djokic, sustaining the core of the rhythmic grandeur created by the ensemble.
Prior to each concerto Kenneth Cooper narrated his unique and amusing translations of Vivaldi’s poems that had inspired the composer to create the concerti for the Four Seasons. Cooper set the tone for the rarefied afternoon performing Five Sonatas for Harpsichord by Domenico Scarlatti, a Vivaldi contemporary.
The Ensemble: Kenneth Cooper, David Brickman, Catarina Szepes, Michelle Djokic
Harold Robinson, Danbi Um, Robert Rinehart
The magic created by the music continued at the champagne reception that followed where the artists and the audience continued their rapport in exhilarating conversations.
The Concordia Chamber Players open its seventh season in the Stephen Buck Theater at the New Hope-Solebury High School on November 2 at 3 PM. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or by calling 215-297-5972 or at www.concordiaplayers.org.