Pianist Henry Kramer will be kicking off the 2018-2019 season of “Five Fridays” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with a solo recital performance on October 12 at 7:30 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Johnson)

by Michael Caruso

Although the musical focus of activity at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, may be on the final stages of the search for a new music director, the parish continues to “put its money where it’s mouth is” by announcing the 2018-19 season of “Five Fridays.” Opening Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. with a solo recital performed by pianist Henry Kramer. The series continues Nov. 9, Feb. 1, March 1 and April 5.

“Five Fridays” concerts are held by candlelight over the labyrinth at the west end of the sanctuary of the church. Contributions from the series’ sponsors cover the cost of paying for the musicians. That enables the entire amount of money brought in by tickets sales to be given to two local charities: Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network and Face to Face Germantown. Both organizations strive to help those individuals currently down on their luck to find affordable housing and employment in the midst of an economic boom that sometimes seems to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Kramer’s program includes Franz Liszt’s “Zwei Orchestrasatze aus dem Oratorio ‘Christus,’” Claude Debussy’s Suite “Bergamasque” and “L’isle Joyeuse,” and Franz Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy in C major.

The young virtuoso is a winner of the 2015 William Petschek Recital Debut Award from The Juilliard School and the second prize winner of the 2016 Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition. Kramer has been a soloist with the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Bilkent (Turkey) Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Metropolitain du Montreal and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, among others. He gave his European debut in Amsterdam’s legendary Concertgebouw. He holds degrees from The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.

Henry Kramer is represented by the locally based Astral Artists, a nonprofit intensive mentoring program that specializes in developing the early careers of extraordinary classical musicians. It concentrates its resources on a small number of rising-star soloists and chamber ensembles and has been involved with “Five Fridays” since 2011.

Kramer’s October performance will be followed by cellist Thomas Mesa & pianist Natalia Kazaryan Nov. 9, organist Chelsea Chen Feb. 1, the vocal ensemble Variant 6 March 1 and a trio of Astral artists April 5. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit www.FiveFridays.org


Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, will open its 2018-19 season Saturday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m., with “Water, Wind and Waves: the Wind Band at Sea” in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Guest artists joining the ensemble’s regulars will be tenor Garrett Eucker and baritone Jean Bernard Cerin.

The concert asks the question: “What was it like to sail the high seas during the Age of Discovery?” The answer comes from the musicians who sailed with Sir Francis Drake and other explorers.

“The singing of sea ballads and sea shanties while working onboard ship had been a common practice for centuries, but it was also well documented that ship captains in the Age of Discovery invited professional instrumentalists to accompany them on their voyages,” explained Piffaro founder & artistic director Joan Kimball.

In a notable example that served as an inspiration for Piffaro’s program, Drake’s ship, “The Dragon,” requested the Norwich, England, waits (town band) for his Portuguese voyage of 1589. This was a renowned band that was considered by many to be the finest in the Kingdom. The mayor of the town obliged, the waits agreed to go, and the city records attest that they were furnished with six cloaks, three new hautboys (shawms), and a treble recorder, 10 pounds sterling each for their expenses and a wagon to carry them to the ship.

The voyage, whose mission was partially to sow rebellion against King Philip II of Spain, was a disaster. Only two of the six musicians returned home alive.

Piffaro’s musical program imagines musical life aboard ship: salty sea shanties and dances to entertain the crew, stirring songs recounting memorable battles and soul-soothing hymns sung to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for generations styled “Stella Maris” – Star of the Sea.

The roster of pieces to be performed Saturday evening includes scores by Robert Parsons, Adrian Willaert, Philip van Wilder, Thomas Ravenscroft, Edward Gibbons, Clement Woodcock, John Coperario, John Dowland, William Byrd, Peter Philips and Thomas Tallis.

Tickets are priced from $29 to $49, with full-time students admitted free. For ticket information call 215-235-8469 or visit www.piffaro.org. You can contact NOTEWORTHY at Michael-caruso@comcast.net. To read more of NOTEWORTHY visit www.chestnuthilllocal.com/Arts/Noteworthy