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Strathmere Ensemble shows it has a lot to offer listeners - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

Strathmere Ensemble shows it has a lot to offer listeners

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Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:00 am

The Strathmere Ensemble had a very busy Labor Day weekend. The ensemble is largely made up of Julliard graduates and sounds like it. Music lovers have become aware of what the Strathmere Ensemble has to offer. The group performs excellent and eclectic programs in this area three times a year. Although the members spend the better part of the year in New York or Philadelphia, they have summer residence here and have achieved increasing notice locally. The members are John T. Kulowitch, director and double bass player; violinists Mitsuru Tsubota, Mineko Yajima and Mioi Takeda; Louise Schulman on viola; cellist Daire FitzGerald; percussionist Michael Hinton; Bill Zito on lute and guitar; and pianist Mike Leonard. The compliment of players changes from time to time.

The ensemble performed a pair of concerts over the weekend that were well attended. On Saturday they performed at Strathmere United Methodist Church and the following day at Sea Isle United Methodist Church.

Saturday’s program began with a precise but freewheeling arrangement of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro.” Tsubota’s arrangement of the overture, written for full orchestra, turned it into a delightful miniature without losing any of the original’s excitement.

Zito is a talented guitarist and his performance of the Vivaldi “Guitar Concerto in D Major” was flawless.

Much of the program was devoted to music of the Baroque period, from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century. More familiar was Bach’s “Air on a G String,” which Zito performed on a lute. He also used the medieval instrument to play Handel’s “Concerto grosso in A minor.” All three compositions were played with the ensemble.

The balance of the concert required a change of gears and mood. Zito played “Brazil,” which was introduced in “Saludos Amigos,” a 1942 Disney film. With the help of Hinton, Zito and the ensemble gave it a genuine salsa flavor.

A complete switch came with three Frank Sinatra hits, done with an encouraged audience sing-along. Song sheets were provided for “All The Way” and “Just in Time.” The crowd knew both songs and used just the right tempo and timing.

Sunday’s concert in Sea Isle City was a duplicate, with one notable exception. Trumpeter George Rabbai was a guest artist. He is a music professor at Rowan University who is in great demand everywhere with good reason.

The Labor Day concerts were titled “All the Way on Labor Day,” and the Strathmere Ensemble definitely took the audience there. I highly recommend you make plans to hear the ensemble at their Christmas concert.

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