All manner of music will be in the air around the Kentlands as the City of Gaithersburg’s Arts on the Green initiates a brand-new season of concerts at the Arts Barn and the Kentlands Mansion.
Music Program Coordinator Suzanne Takahashi is excited about the variety and quality of performances that will take place in the Arts Barn’s 99-seat theater and the Mansion’s yellow room.
“The acoustics are amazing in these intimate listening spaces,” she observed.
“We plan for the season year-round,” said the Silver Spring native who earned a Bachelor of Music degree in performance and trained as a classical flutist at the University of Toronto. After living and performing in Canada and Europe, Takahashi moved to Gaithersburg to start a family. Shortly thereafter, in March 2005, she began supporting the city’s shows on a part-time basis, gradually taking on additional responsibilities.
Now, as supervisor for the professional music series of 12 to 20 new concerts each year, Takahashi receives “a lot of requests from performers who want to be part of it.” Considerable research goes with her job; she listens to recordings, watches videos, reads CVs, checks out their press, and talks with the potential performers as well as other musicians familiar with their work.
The actual programming has its own set of challenges, she said. Each season must be balanced with different types of music—“something for everyone”—and the dates the performers are available and the slots to be filled must match as well.
The Arts Barn season will open with a classical music concert. “We sold out three of our four classical concerts last year. I am well aware of—and thrilled to be part of—the growth of classical music in this community,” said Takahashi, pointing out this year’s increase in classical music performances.
Kentlands’ resident virtuoso violinist Alessandra Cuffaro will play eight of Nicolo Paganini’s Capricci (op. 1) as well as the first movement of Johannes Brahms’ violin concerto at 8 p.m., Oct. 5. She was the first woman in her native Italy to play all 24 Capricci in a single concert. Accompanying her on piano will be her husband, Maestro Simeone Tartaglione, whose Musica Viva Orchestra has presented three free outdoor concerts—with solos by Cuffaro—in the community.
Another Kentlands resident, cellist Tanya Anisimova, will launch a Sunday Music Salon, featuring both lecture and concert components, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Mansion. The first two programs, titled “Folk Re-Imagined,” will focus on how folk music has influenced classical music. In the first one (Jan. 12), Anisimova and guitarist Matt Palmer will present “España & Beyond,” with favorites from Spain and Spanish-influenced compositions. In “Chopin and the Russians” (Feb. 9), Elena Kushnerova will discuss the Alexander Skriabin and Sergei Rachmaninoff and perform excerpts of her piano arrangement of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and Anisimova will play original pieces in Russian style.
Arts on the Green’s partnership with the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) will continue with two new concerts at the Arts Barn. The small chamber orchestra typically performs in larger D.C. venues, Takahashi said. Founded in 2012, NOW’s mission is “to make music relevant to new generations of audiences through virtuosic performances that combine a range of genres with fresh interpretations of classic works.” “Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead): Understanding a Beloved Mexican Tradition through Music” is set for Nov. 2, and “The Minimalists,” featuring the music of modern American composers Samuel Barber, Philip Glass and Steve Reich will be on April 18. “These people really know how to speak about music,” Takahashi noted.
The Singer Songwriter Series, presented by Kentlands’ O’Hair Salon + Spa, will return for an eighth season of performances by musicians who write, compose and sing their own original material, as well as workshops with these artists. Local musicians will open for the out-of-area headliners including Peter Case (Oct. 19), Gretchen Peters (March 28) and Seth Glier (May 2).
For something a bit different, Takahashi recommended the Seán Heely Trio’s “Robert Burns Night,” an evening of Celtic music, poetry, whiskey and haggis celebrating the life of the Scottish poet (Jan. 24). “And our very strong jazz program,” she noted, will feature “Cool Yule with Rochelle Rice” (Dec. 14) and Danielle Wertz (June 6) in the Arts Barn, and Steve Herberman and Lena Seikaly (Feb. 29) in the Mansion.
To purchase tickets for these concerts, visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov/AOTG or call the Arts Barn Box Office at 301.258.6394.