|Posted by [email protected] on February 20, 2016 at 8:55 PM|
By Donna Darovich
Two years ago, I didn’t like classical music and had begrudgingly been dragged to only two operas. I was only one in audience who didn’t give standing ovation to the first one – “Madam Butterfly” (boring) and I left “La Boehme” at “halftime” (as I called intermission) to watch the NCAA basketball Final Four.
But I was wrong. So give me technical and shoot two.
What changed my mind was Arlington-based Timeless Concerts, a series of performances by a trio comprised of a violin, cello and piano (all veterans of area symphony orchestras) and just enough opera.
“Everyone loves classical music when they hear it,” says LeeAnne Chenoweth, the Timeless Concerts co-founder, violinist and producer. “They may not know its name, but they like it.”
She’s right because at my first Timeless Concert performance, soprano Sabrina Romero’s first four notes of the aria “Quando Men Vo” prompted me, the opera dunce, to scribble a note to my husband, “I know that song! It’s from the movie “Moonstruck!”
He scribbled back, “I thought it was “Don’t You Know?” the pop song by Della Reese.”
We were both right. The aria is on the “Moonstruck” soundtrack and was the inspiration for Reese’s 1959 hit. Originally, however, it was in “La Boehme,” the opera I dumped for basketball.
It occurred to me that we were all introduced to classical music via cartoons.
All that morning/sunrise background music for the waking flowers and ants was E.Grieg Peer Gynt Suite no.1, Op 46 no.1, Morning Mood and Mickey Mouse played piano to Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in C Sharp Minor." Of course calvary rescues scenes were often Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” (the theme from “The Lone Ranger” to my husband).
Check it out.
I also like that these concerts are not performed in auditoriums in uncomfortable seats, too close to strangers, but in venues where you sit at a table (and can take off your shoes and prop your feet up under the tablecloth – not that I would ever do that).
Most concerts, like the Feb. 13 Valentine event, are in the Arlington Museum of Art, 201 W. Main, which means there’s always a backdrop of great art (the current exhibit of modern masters includes work by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock that will still be up during the concert)
I also like that the concerts are only an hour long. The antsy and those who suffer from ADHD appreciate this.
I enjoy Chenoweth’s inside information about featured composers (i.e. Sergei Rachmaninoff was so shy if he arrived late at a social event he would go home and come back later to not call attention to himself)
And everyone really likes that you can bring your own wine to the concerts when they are held at the Arlington Museum of Art. You can bring your own Dr Pepper too but soft drinks are free – as is a great dessert and fruit buffet after the concert as well. There’s also a vocalist/pianist that plays music for dancing. And they do.
Chenoweth (yes, relative of the Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth) started the series 9 years ago with her friend, fellow musician Jim Higgins. She was a violinist with the Ft. Worth Symphony and now performs with symphonies across the state.
The trio is comprised of Chenoweth on violin, cellist Karen Maddox Smith and pianist Dr. Heejung Kang. Like Chenoweth, Smith and Kang perform with professional symphonies.
For its Feb. 13 Valentine concert, the trio will play romantic music of musicals and operas and tenor Don O’Neal LeBlanc (who was featured soloist in December in Dallas Opera’s “Tosca” and lyric soprano Judith Rodriguez who has sung opera on stages in Europe and Mexico will sing. Arlington guitarist Tony McCoy will also play during the February concert.
Tables will be decorated with roses and candlelight so it’s a unique but not too pricey event.
“LeeAnne’s comments and anecdotes make the music accessible for anyone,” said regular patron Amy Warmath, “The concerts are perfect for a date night or getting an entire group together.”
And regular Don Fallavollita says he appreciates more than just the music. “The atmosphere is very relaxed and you can come as dressed or as casual as you like and never feel out of place,” he says.
Chenoweth also uses her imagination on the concerts, giving each specific theme. During a past season, a concert featuring work of female composers of the romantic eras was titled “Girls Gone…Composing.”
In April, the music of the Downton Abbey era will be featured and many guests will be dressing in clothes of the era, they say (and I better not be the only one with a bustle there).
Tickets to the Feb.13 concert are $55 each ($45 for those 60 and older) and $25 for college students (ticket prices are lower for other concerts this year).
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 8. p.m.
For more information, go to timelessconcerts.com