What could be more pleasing than chilling among neighbors on a vast, manicured lawn surrounded by resplendent trees beneath an early evening summer sky? The addition of a soundtrack, of course.
This scene will come alive at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 23 outside the Kentlands Mansion when Musica Viva Kentlands Orchestra, a live 15-piece professional string orchestra, presents its second concert. And in the tradition of some of the best things in life, there’s more: Admission is free!
The initiative for Musica Viva Kentlands began about three years ago when Pompiliu (Pili) Verzariu met his Kentlands neighbors Maestro Simeone Tartaglione and his wife, the celebrated violinist Alessandra Cuffaro, and hosted two salons in his home. Now chair of the group’s organizing committee, Verzariu said he “suggested the concert creation idea” to Tartaglione “and we have been plotting since.”
Verzariu credited “the sponsorship of the Kentlands Community Foundation (KCF) and the local community’s commitment and support” for the realization of the concert program series. As for his own involvement, he explained, “I love classical music, lived nine years in Italy as a refugee from Rumania before coming to the States and, being retired, have time on my hands.”
“Last summer’s debut concert attracted 300 to 400 residents and visitors from Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia,” Verzariu said. “Because of the enthusiastic audience response to the debut concert, and in the belief that two or more annual concerts can become an attendance tradition, the Foundation intends to hold two outdoor concerts in 2019―both free to the public.”
“The envisioned purpose of this KCF concert initiative is threefold: to entertain the local community and visitors with annual professional classical music concerts; to promote the City of Gaithersburg, and in particular Kentlands, as an emerging destination of outdoor classical music concerts; and to attract audiences within the greater metropolitan area to these concerts,” he said.
The community’s private and business sectors, including Asbury Methodist Village, the Montgomery County Neighborhood Events Matching Funds Program and a Paul Angell Foundation “Matching Challenge Grant,” have provided financial support, Verzariu said. But, he noted, “To receive the $20,000 matching grant, Musica Viva must raise another $5,000 by June 30. If we can meet this challenge, a second concert on Sept. 7 (this time at the Kentlands Clubhouse) will be a full orchestra (40 to 50 musicians).”
Maestro Tartaglione compared creating the concert program to cooking: “You add a little bit of this and a little bit of that, until the ingredients blend (into a) pleasant experience.” The music, he said, will “alternate between classical pieces that are lighter in feeling with audience favorites. I am not a champion of a 100 percent pop concert.”
A trumpet fanfare from the Kentlands Mansion balcony will begin the concert, followed by “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “We all owe thanks to this wonderful country for making our dream come true and keeping us free,” he said.
Next will be Grieg’s Holberg Suite, which Tartaglione described as “very energetic and filled with different emotions, challenging to play and fun to listen to,” and the Mascagni Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, “a lovely, unforgettable melody that will prepare perfectly the Sicilian atmosphere for the next piece written by a Sicilian composer.”
A solo by Cuffaro, the first Italian woman to perform Paganini’s “24 Capricci, Op. 1” in concert and a violin faculty member at The Catholic University of America, will follow. She will perform the Mannino Concerto for violin, Allegro, which her husband said is a “virtuoso concerto with stunning melodic elements.”
The orchestra also will perform Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Music, “the most beloved string orchestra piece that everybody can whistle,” said Tartaglione, and Bartok’s Rumanian Dances (Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 7). “This and the next pieces are chosen to honor some of the different heritages people bring to Kentlands. The Rumanian are dedicated to Pili.” Those “next pieces” are Gade Jalousie (South America) and Grainger Molly on the Shore (Irish). Audience participation will be solicited for the “quintessential American” Mancini/Kalb “Pink Panther” theme. Strauss’ Radetzky March will constitute the encore.
The Musica Viva Kentlands Orchestra will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 23, on the lawn of the Kentlands Mansion, 320 Kent Square Road. In case of rain, the concert will move indoors to the auditorium of Lakelands Park Middle School, 1200 Main St. Check out the YouTube video of last year’s concert.
To help Musica Viva meet the financial challenge, visit the Kentlands Community Foundation website and click “donate now”―or mail a check payable to the Kentlands Community Foundation, 267 Kentlands Blvd. Box 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. All checks must be received by June 30.