Piano Plus Three makes one sweet concert

Reviewed by Lee Shepherd

Henry David Thoreau once said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears. …”

Everyone at the Goodwill Theatre’s Schorr Family Firehouse Stage on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) stepped to the beat of a different drummer. In fact, they didn’t march to a drum at all, but two related percussion instruments.

The gifted performers were John Covelli, who should be dubbed the piano laureate of Binghamton, and three very flashy and accomplished marimba players: Cayenna Ponchione, Gordon Stout and Joel Smales. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reflections from an open microphone

It starts with moving the furniture. … The table goes against the wall. … The bookcases migrate farther from the door, and an open space becomes the center of attention. Chairs, a lectern, coffee and cakes in back — this has become the place of spoken word, the sharing of ideas and images. … the poetry open mike at RiverRead Books in downtown Binghamton.

Some words fit better in describing the monthly fare … “unpredictable,” for example — the first-time, stage-frightened souls who look their fear directly in the eye and step up to speak their words; “moving,” when a girl who can’t be more than 20 or so speaks an impromptu poetic monologue about the birth of her child.

There is both the good humor of familiarity among the regulars and some apprehension as we await this month’s surprises — the words that bring us up short, delight the ear and the heart, make us cease our mundane lives for a moment and consider what words can do.

Each participant — the poets and the folk who come to hear the words — adds a subtle, yet individual spice to the gumbo, a meal that we savor with reverence and amusement, as each in turn brings a different vision of his or her days before us. Poems of life, of art, of experience — all painted with the brush of carefully considered language.

So, stands the invitation to all to come and hear, to come and share, to bear witness as artisans and acolytes  of the spoken word hone their craft.

“Road poet” J. Barrett Wolf was facilitator of the Feb. 12 open mike reading at RiverRead Books, 5 Court St., Binghamton. The next open mike will be March 19.

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Boston Brass joins Binghamton Philharmonic for Valentine variety

Reviewed by David L. Schriber

Love was in the air Saturday night (Feb. 13) as the Boston Brass quintet joined the Binghamton Philharmonic for a Valentine’s Day concert at The Forum in Binghamton. The program was a mixture of classical and popular music, some distinctively American and some high-energy Latin tunes.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Kachmarik offers Valentine nostalgia on Forum organ

Reviewed by David L. Schriber

I’m glad I read the e-mail from the Binghamton Philharmonic, so I knew which organist would present the Valentine’s Day pre-concert prelude Saturday on The Forum’s Robert Morton Theater organ. I would have been disappointed to miss hearing my fellow chorister and friend Claudia Kachmarik, a member of the Binghamton Theater Organ Society, the organization that maintains the instrument at the downtown Binghamton performing arts center.

Kachmarik always finds it a treat to play this nostalgic symbol of a bygone era. On Saturday, she offered a variety of popular songs with a love theme, mostly by lyricist Johnny Mercer, including “Blues in the Night” (1941) and “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962). Read the rest of this entry »

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