» Concert by Candlelight a whopping success at Caroga Lake Music Festival

todayAugust 10, 2023 10

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CAROGA LAKE – The Caroga Lake Music Festival is in its 12th season but on Wednesday night at Sherman’s Park, the festival offered something new: a Concert by Candlelight in an Evening of Encores.

“I left it up to the players,” said Kyle Barrett Price, the festival’s founder and artistic director. “Anything up to six minutes or less.”
Seventeen musicians, many of them from professional orchestras, and two pianists who shared the accompaniment load, played short pieces or a movement from a longer work. The result was a whopping success, with the crowd of more than 100 whistling, cheering and clapping loudly after every offering.

The evening began with clarinetist Jung Kyu Song, who is a doctorate student at the University of Hartford, and pianist April Sun, a freelance musician based in Boston, in the third movement from Darius Milhaud’s “Scaramouche.” A lively, bright and famous piece, Song bopped and bounced through the quick rhythms to the delight of the crowd.

Bassoonist Dillon Meacham and pianist Jason Kutz, a performer/composer based in Wisconsin, were terrific in Eugene Bozza’s “Burlesque.” It also gave many people in the crowd a chance to see a bassoonist up close at work. And Meacham is one of the best with performance credits that include a world premiere of one of Michael Torke’s works with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. He did everything right: great tone, facility, a musical line, and he caught the fun mood of the piece. Kutz was in sync throughout.

Trumpeter Mark Grisez, principal trumpet with the Columbus Symphony, and Kutz played a melancholy arrangement of Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” The lines were very jazz-inflected although where Gershwin’s melody was couldn’t be heard.

Tommy Mesa, a much-awarded cellist who has soloed with orchestras from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, gave the premiere of a work he’d commissioned from Andrea Casarrubios called “Seven.” Written during the pandemic by a composer who is herself a cellist, it featured such things as left-hand pizzicato, harmonics and re-tuning the instrument’s lowest string. Mesa played the work with great commitment as it slowly built in intensity through a melancholy line with fevered strumming but still maintaining a lyrical sense. The crowd was especially appreciative and gave him an extra bow.

Flutist Eva Ding, a freelancer from New York City, gave an unforgettable performance of a steam engine with double stops, flutter and double tonguing in Ian Clarke’s “The Great Train Race.”

Violinist Andy Liang, who plays with the Seattle Symphony, and Kutz swept through Paganini’s “Cantabile e valser” with style, a big rich tone, a sure technique and plenty of schmaltz all with a smile on both their faces.

Bassist Jonathan Borden from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Sun gave strong statements to the Andante from Giovanni Bottesini’s Concerto No. 2. Another chance to hear an instrument rarely heard in a solo capacity.

Soprano Jeannie Im, violist Sarah Darling, and Sun were successful in rendering one of Brahms’ lieder from his Opus 91 with words by Friedrich Rueckert. Im went through each of the three stanzas with the crowd to explain what she was singing about in German: nature’s whisperings, a poet’s longings and death. The mood and harmonies were dark but the musicians played and sang with much feeling.

The final showstopper came from violinists James and Jeanelle Thompson and Kutz in Sarasate’s “Navarra.” James works with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Jeanelle is with the Rochester Philharmonic. The violinists were in close harmony throughout the fast-moving piece and showed off their technical skills, which almost pitted one against the other. But smiles all around.
The crowd loved it and gave a standing ovation. Concerts continue until Sept. 15. For more information visit

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Music

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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