(Photo courtesy of tempestadimare.org)

“A Secret Flame” will be performed at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 4 p.m. (Photo courtesy of tempestadimare.org)

by Michael Caruso

The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave., will host a concert featuring the chamber players of Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, and tenor Aaron Sheehan Sunday, Jan. 26, 4 p.m. Entitled “A Secret Flame,” the concert will feature performances of music by Lully, Charpentier and Lambert.

The focus of Tempesta’s program is the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, a composer who was born in Italy but who reached the zenith of his artistry at the court of France’s “Sun King,” Louis XIV. Just as Louis had made France the most militarily powerful nation in 17th century Europe, he wished French culture to be the most influential throughout the continent.

Speaking about the program, Tempesta co-founder/co-director Gwyn Roberts said, “This is really special music that you won’t hear anywhere else. The songs and scenes that Aaron will sing are lush, beautiful, dramatic, comedic, graceful, tragic and, of course, amorous. They’re French, after all! And the instrumental music frames them beautifully.”

Grammy-nominated tenor Aaron Sheehan has quickly established himself as one of the leading American tenors of our time, especially in the early music repertoire. For more information, call 215-755-8776 or visit tempestadimare.org.


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, will be the site of several concerts this weekend. LocalArtsLive Showcase, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m., will present percussionist Adam Vidkadis, harpist Elizabeth Morgan-Ellis and the vocal quartet The Laughing Bird in an evening of music and visual presentations. The event takes place in the Parish Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are priced at $25 ($15 for students). The concert will be followed by a wine reception during which the audience can meet the performers.

Parish music director Zachary Hemenway will present the Ann Stookey Memorial solo organ recital Sunday, Jan. 26, 5 p.m., on the church’s historic Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. The program, which will showcase the instrument’s unique qualities and capabilities, will include Cesar Franck’s “Piece Heroique” plus works by Vierne, Alain, Hampton and Dupre.

Hemenway explained that the fund was established in 2012: “The intention of the Ann Stookey Fund for Music at St. Paul’s Church is to endow in perpetuity the expense of ongoing maintenance and renovation of the church’s pipe organ. Income from the fund will provide for regular tuning and repairs, address deferred maintenance projects and support initiatives that further develop the use of the organ…” Upon Stookey’s death in 2012, her family and friends set up the fund in her memory. For more information, call 215-242-2055.


Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades” will run through Jan. 25 at the Academy of Vocal Arts Opera Theater. (Photo courtesy of avaopera.org)

Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades” will run through Jan. 25 at the Academy of Vocal Arts Opera Theater. (Photo courtesy of avaopera.org)

The Academy of Vocal Arts Opera Theater opened its production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades” Saturday evening in its center city Helen Corning Warden Theater. Running through Saturday, Jan. 25, it’s a “must see” for anyone interested in getting to know Russian opera beyond Tchaikovsky’s more famous “Eugene Onegin.”

Space limitations prohibit AVA from presenting an orchestra the size Tchaikovsky requires, so the fully staged mounting was accompanied by music director and pianist Ghenady Meirson. But the Russian-born Meirson, a vocal coach at both AVA and the Curtis Institute of Music, elicited a full palette of orchestral colors from the Steinway grand piano, and his firm yet sensitive command over his singers more than compensated for any loss of sonic splendor.

The libretto of “The Queen of Spades” was written by the composer’s brother, Modeste. Tchaikovsky responded to this tragic tale of one man’s obsession with discovering, at all costs, the secret of the “Three Cards” from the aging Countess with a score replete with soaring melodies, expressive harmonies and a through-line of development that surges from start to finish. Considering the proliferation of gambling casinos here, there and everywhere these days, it’s a story with a potent, contemporary relevance.

For ticket information, call 215-735-1685 or visit www.avaopera.org.