by Michael Caruso

Donald Nally and The Crossing will present a concert Friday, May 9, at 8 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave., to remember the legacy of tenor Jeffrey Dinsmore.

“Please join us as we remember our co-founder, singer and board president, Jeff Dinsmore, who passed away in Los Angeles on April 14,” Nally said. “The service of anthems, hymns and remembrances will be followed by a grand reception at the church, where we will have the opportunity to share stories, food and drink.”

Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church has been the “home” of The Crossing since the choir was founded by Nally and Dinsmore. Music by MacMillan, Howells, Durufle, Parry and Willan, plus a new piece composed for the occasion by Benjamin Boyle, will be performed. Scott Dettra will accompany the choir on the church’s neo-classical Mander pipe organ.


The Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Chestnut Hill, hosted a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ” on Good Friday evening, April 18. The chamber music version of the work was played by the Lark String Quartet, which is comprised of violinists Piotr and Ania Filochowski, violist Shuangshuang Liu and cellist Tim Petrin.

As performed at St. Martin’s Church, Haydn’s “Seven Last Words of Christ” featured an introduction followed by seven adagio movements and rounded off by a final movement depicting the earthquake that followed Christ’s death, according to the Gospel of St. Matthew.

The Lark Quartet caught the drama of the Introduction through playing of broad dynamic variety and exemplary balance and blend. Throughout all movements, the players channeled an interpretation that was intensely emotional and spiritually rewarding. The music conjured up images of the scriptural quotes yet also worked on its own as a superb example of classical string writing.


At a recent concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, Gianandrea Noseda guest-conducted a program whose major work was the (Organ) “Symphony No. 3 in C minor” by Camille Saint-Saens, which was heard after intermission. But the most gratifying portion of the concert took place before intermission when the Canadian violinist James Ehnes was heard in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor.” And the most interesting part of the same program occurred at its very start, when Noseda conducted the first Philadelphia Orchestra performances of Alfredo Casella’s Symphonic Fragments from his opera, “La donna serpente.”

Casella, like Ottorino Respighi, was part of that generation of Italian composers who followed Giacomo Puccini on the international stage, writing music that sustained the great traditions of Italian lyricism while enhancing it with the newer symphonic techniques of post-World War I classical music.

James Ehnes was an ideal soloist for Prokofiev’s “Second Violin Concerto.” His playing was characterized by a dazzling technique that projected the score’s intensity with consummate mastery. Noseda and the Philadelphians accompanied him memorably.

Coming after such exemplary renditions of two such compelling scores, the performance given Saint-Saens’ magisterial “Organ” Symphony was a letdown. Although Verizon Hall’s pipe organ is miraculous regarding its variety of colors, soloist Michael Stairs failed to offer even a single surprise of registration while Noseda and the orchestra seemed to be allowing the music to take care of itself — to little effect.