Final ‘Five Fridays’ set for April 19 with Puget Sound

by Michael Caruso
Posted 3/28/24

The final recital in the “Five Fridays” series of fundraising concerts held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, is set for April 19.

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Final ‘Five Fridays’ set for April 19 with Puget Sound


The final recital in the “Five Fridays” series of fundraising concerts held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, is set for April 19 at 7:30 p.m. The players will be the Puget Sound Piano Trio. Their performance will mark not just the end of the current 13th season of the series, but the end of the series entirely.

 Spanning the course of 58 recitals, audiences attending “Five Fridays” have had the opportunity to hear an impressive diversity of instrumental artists, according to Arabella Pope, a member of St. Paul’s parish and one of the organizers behind the series, which has raised more than $75,000 for local charities serving people who are unemployed and struggling with homelessness. Traditional chamber music ensembles – such as string quartets and piano trios – have been supplemented by less common groupings of players and vocalists.

 “The concert programming provided an opportunity for listeners to be exposed to music ranging widely in mood, style, period and national origin,” Pope explained. “Standards from beloved composers – Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Grieg – were regularly heard alongside many less-familiar names. Living composers have also been well-represented, and in some cases were present to perform their own compositions.”

 Pope recalled the Dover Quartet’s “heart-rending rendition of repertoire emerging out of the agony of World War II, to songs of hope and longing, spirited arrangements of ethnic folk music, and rich romantic expressions from around the world.”

 Adding to the appeal of the performers and their music, the labyrinth at the entrance of St. Paul’s Church provided the audience with a breathtaking glimpse of one of the most stunning examples of Neo-Gothic church architecture in the region, if not the entire country. The setting is both expansive – like the repertoire – and intimate – like the playing of all chamber music.

 A perfect example of the eclectic nature of “Five Fridays” was the fourth in its series this season. The March 15 concert featured the Aeolian Trio of flutist Lily Wintringham, saxophonist Jonathan Wintringham and pianist Michael Djupstrom. They were heard in a program of works by Takashi Yoshimatsu, Doina Rotaru, Astor Piazzolla, Bela Bartok, Sergei Prokofiev, Madeleine Dring and Michael Djupstrom, himself.

 Jonathan Wintringham employed three different saxophones – soprano, alto and tenor – during the recital and proffered a silken, supple sound throughout that both blended beautifully with his colleagues while often taking the lead with molten expressivity. Lily Wintringham played with fleet alacrity and eloquent phrasing while Djupstrom met the challenge of eliciting clarity of tone and texture from the church’s limited vintage piano.

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 Piffaro on the Hill

 Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, paid a delightful visit to Chestnut Hill Saturday, March 16, with “The French (Italian) Connection.” The concert was given in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

 The historical context of the concert was France’s bellicose involvement in the Italian peninsula during the 15th and 16th centuries and the music this warlike connection produced. It would seem that for every battle that took place among the many Italian city-states of the time a musical masterpiece resulted.

 The evening’s stellar attraction was guest tenor James Reese. The owner of one of the clearest, most effortless, eloquent and high-ranging voices I’ve ever heard – he can sing the legendary “High C” without resorting to falsetto or screaming – Reese delivered interpretations of torturously difficult yet beguilingly beautiful music, projecting his singing above the instrumental accompaniment yet never divorcing his voice from it. Piffaro artistic director Priscilla Herreid led her band with dexterous aplomb.

 Piffaro will return to Chestnut Hill Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. with “The Glory of the Wind Band: Music from Portugal & Spain.” Call 215-235-8469 or visit

 Dancing the masterpieces

 Philadelphia Ballet presented “Dance Masterpieces” in the Academy of Music March 14-16. I caught the Saturday matinee and saw the full company give thrilling performances of three modern works for ballet.

 The program consisted of “The River,” choreographed by Alvin Ailey to an original score by Duke Ellington; “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated,” choreographed by William Forsythe to music by Thom Willems in collaboration with Leslie Stuck; and “In the Upper Room,” choreographed by Twyla Tharp to music by Philip Glass. While all three were danced memorably, it was “The River” that made the strongest impression on me – and by the sound of the applause it received, the rest of the audience, as well.

 When it comes to ballet, romantic or modern, it helps to start off with great music. Most assuredly, Duke Ellington’s full symphonic score, “The River,” is a modern masterpiece. Divided into eight movements, it commands the full panoply of orchestral colors and rhythms – and it inspired Alvin Ailey to respond with a series of dances that explore and project the full spectrum of human emotions.

 Standouts Saturday afternoon were Yuka Iseda, Arian Molina Soca, Austin Eyler and Mayara Pineiro. They danced with lithe suppleness and stalwart technical precision.

 I found “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” both pretentious and noisy. It was danced well, but I still couldn’t wait for it to end.

 On the other hand, Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” is a series of pulsating mad dashes across the Academy of Music’s expansive stage, each embracing the mesmerizing repetitions of each of the nine movements of Philip Glass’ score and then presenting them in visual clarity.   

 The Philadelphia Ballet returns to the Academy of Music May 9-12 with Frederick Ashton’s “The Dream,” set to music by Felix Mendelssohn. Call 215-551-7000 or visit

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