St. Martin’s Church welcomes 'How She Danced' May 13

by Michael Caruso
Posted 5/4/23

The Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Chestnut Hill, will welcome the Fairmount String Quartet Saturday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m.

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St. Martin’s Church welcomes 'How She Danced' May 13


The Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Chestnut Hill, will welcome the Fairmount String Quartet Saturday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. The local ensemble, which is in residence at St. Martin’s Church, will perform a program entitled “How She Danced.” The roster of scores celebrates the arrival of Spring.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “String Quartet in E-flat,” K. 171, will open the recital. Fairmount violist Beth Dzwil explained, “It’s an early work that flits back and forth between dark moments and lightness and birdsong, much as we emerge from darkness into light at this time of lengthening days.”

Franz Schubert’s “String Quartet in A minor,” Opus 29, “is based on his incidental music ‘Rosamunda,’ about a woman trying to reclaim her throne,” Dzwil continued. “Her antagonist tries to stop her in several ways, including an attempt to poison her. In the end, she ascends the throne and he dies of his own poison.”

The recital’s final work is Elena Ruehr’s “String Quartet No. 3. It’s a collection of four movements based on ancient traditional music from different parts of the world. “Clay Flutes” uses a Middle Eastern technique of layering the melody with different ornamentation played at the same time.

“The Abbey'' is inspired by the first published woman composer, Hildegard van Bingen. “How She Danced” is based on a Sub-Saharan melody, and “Bell Call” uses a West African rhythmic pattern.

The other members of the Quartet are Leah Kyoungwoon Kim, Mimi Morris Kim, and Rachel Segal. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and $5 at all times for students. Visit for more information.

‘A Light Has Dawned’

The Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia will present “A Light Has Dawned” Saturday, May 6, at 4 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, 21st and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia.

The program includes the “Requiem Mass” of French composer Maurice Durufle and the local premiere of Rex Isenberg’s “Messiahs: False and True.”

Like Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem Mass,” Durufle’s setting of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional “Missa pro defunctis” (“Mass for the Dead”) relies heavily on the single-line melodies of Gregorian Chant accompanied by early 20th century harmonies.

Isenberg’s work, accompanied by bass drum and text, examines humanity’s historical relationship with messianic figures through a contemporary lens. The oratorio strives to match in heft and significance the time-honored and powerful works in its form.

Tickets are $40 for preferred seating and $30 for general admission. Visit for more information.

Variant 6 at Woodmere

Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum continued its series of Saturday afternoon classical music recitals on April 22 with the appearance of the vocal ensemble, Variant 6. The mini-choir sang a program of modern music that spanned the repertoire from Benjamin Britten to Pablo Ortiz, with works by Bruno Bettinelli, Maurice Ravel and Gian Carlo Menotti in between.

For the record, only five singers took part at Woodmere: sopranos Rebecca Myers and Kathryn Radakovich, mezzo Elisa Sutherland, tenor Michael Jones and bass Daniel Schwartz. Together, they formed a seamless blend of immaculately tuned voices that projected the tonal beauty on the surface as well as the emotional turmoil beneath it in all the music they performed.

I was particularly impressed by the dazzling clarity of Myers’ voice and the stratospheric timbre of Jones’ singing. Bettinelli’s “Tre Mottetti a quattro voci miste” was especially beguiling while “The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore” by Menotti (an alumnus of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music) revealed what a splendid opera composer he might have been.

Choral Arts and Carissimi

Matthew Glandorf led Choral Arts Philadelphia and the Bach Collegium of Philadelphia in two performances of two oratorios by Giacomo Carissimi and a single motet by Phillipp Jakob Rittler. I caught the second, Sunday afternoon, April 23, in the peerless Gothic Revival beauty (both visual and acoustical) of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont.

I wasn’t much impressed with Carissimi’s “Interfecto Sisara,” but his “Queen Esther” struck me as an under-appreciated masterpiece of lyrical recitatives and arias and powerful choruses. Rittler’s “Stella Caeli” (“Star of Heaven”) is even more memorable for its simple yet full choral writing.

Glandorf elicited beautiful singing from his nine vocalists and sensitive yet secure playing from his instrumentalists. They included organist John Walthausen, music director at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, and theorbo player Richard Stone, a co-founder and co-director of Tempesta di Mare, and the person responsible for uncovering these “lost” manuscripts.

Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will present “The Women Behind the Screen” Saturday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Visit for more information.

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