by Michael Caruso
Once again, the fates that determine our weather were kind to Chestnut Hillers. Last week’s concert in Pastorius Park featuring Cheers Elephant on Wednesday, July 13, went off without a hitch. The temperature was warm, but a gentle breeze and excellent music-making made for an enjoyable evening.
The four members of the Philadelphia-based band are Derek Krzywicki on guitar and lead vocals, Jordan del Rosario on lead guitar and vocals, Travelin’ Mat on bass and vocals, and Robert Kingsley on drums. Together they served up a heaping helping of psychedelic rock with a touch of folk for added flavor.
The principal characteristics of the band’s performance last week were highly energized tempi, swanky pulsating rhythms, seamless vocals, engaging harmonies and a superb blend and balance of ensemble. Non-musicians often take a tightly synchronized ensemble between the individual members of a band for granted, as though it just happens naturally. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in uncontrolled outdoor situations such as Pastorius Park, where there are serious questions concerning the ability of the band members to hear each other playing and singing. It takes endless practice sessions and a natural ability to blend your own performance into those of the other band members.
Cheers Elephant’s music, original and cover, is appealing and enjoyable to hear, and their stage manner was welcoming and unaffected last Wednesday. But it was the fine tuning of their playing and singing that most impressed me and the sizable audience on hand to see and hear them last week, as well.
Cunningham Piano Company, 5427 Germantown Ave. in Germantown, will host a solo piano recital 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 27, in its second floor recital hall. David Bryant, a member of the faculty at Eastern University in Radnor, will perform music by Bach, Mozart and Haydn.
Of equal interest to that of the pianist and the program he’ll be playing is the instrument on which Bryant will perform. It is a fully restored Steinway & Sons “Centennial Grand Piano” that the New York-based piano maker built as part of its exhibit at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Centennial Hall (now the home of the Please Touch Museum) in Fairmount Park. The fair helped the nation celebrate the 100th anniversary of the writing of the Declaration of Independence in what was then the Pennsylvania State House and is now known as Independence Hall. Eleven years after the writing of the Declaration, the same site hosted the convention that scrapped the Articles of Confederation and wrote the Federal Constitution of the USA.
The 1876 model of the concert grand piano that was displayed at the Centennial Exhibition was the first to offer 88 keys and include the “sostenuto” pedal in the middle of the damper pedal on the right and the “una corda” (soft) pedal on the left.
Bryant earned his bachelor of music degree from the University of the Arts and his master’s degree from Temple University. He also studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and is the director of music at the First United Methodist Church in Phoenixville.
His program will open with Bach’s “French Suite No. 5 in G major,” composed in 1722. Known formally as a “sonata de camera,” or chamber sonata, the suite’s movements are a collection of dances popular in the previous century taken from various European countries. They are Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte, Bouree, Loure and Gigue. Bach also composed “English” suites (larger by at least one movement than their “French” counterparts) and partitas (the most contrapuntally complex of all Bach’s suites).
The Bach suite will be followed by two sonatas, which is the classical form derived from the baroque “sonata da chiesa,” or church sonata, minus the slow first movement. The first is Mozart’s “Sonata in A minor,” composed in 1778. Haydn’s “English Sonata in E-flat major” will bring the program to a close. Sonatas have been described as “dramas of tonality” since the key relationships within and between the various movements are strictly controlled by tradition.
For more information, call 215-438-3200.