Mid-Shore Arts: The 2018 Winners of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition


One of the great little gems of the classical music scene on the Mid-Shore is the biannual Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition. Since 2004, this program brings some of the best young talents in the world to the Eastern Shore for a weekend of performance to the delight of appreciative audiences but also to receive critical feedback from experts on performance and technique.

That competition took place over the last few days, and the Spy found a way to interview the two winners who tied for the Gold Medalist award this year after they finished brunch at Hanna and Peter Woicke’s lovely home in St. Michaels on Sunday morning.

We talk to members of the Merz Trio and Trio St. Bernard about their performance as well as some of the feedback they received from the judges.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: Chesapeake Music’s Pleasure of Competition with Anne Moran & Bob Burger


While it is true that the vast majority of program offerings produced by Chesapeake Music every year has been devoted to the pleasure of its Mid-Shore audiences, for many years now it has also offered one of the most prestigious music competitions in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Continuing a tradition that began in in 2004, five world-class ensembles will once again compete this weekend for one of the country’s largest chamber music prizes at the 2018 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition.

And two of the volunteer leaders that make make this event happen every year couldn’t be more pleased with this remarkable track record.

Volunteer chair Bob Burger, along with assistant chair Anne Moran, talked to the Spy last week about what it means to the talented musicians that travel from around the country to Talbot County. They also discuss the enormous volunteer effort it takes to coordinate the use of five performance venues, supervise the judging, and finally the presentation of awards, all in the span of about 24 hours.

This year promises to be quite remarkable and includes District 5 of Washington, DC; Merz Trio of New York City, NY; Sapphirus Quartet of Ann Arbor, MI; Ajax Quartet of Denver, CO; and Trio St. Bernard of Taos, NM. The average age of an ensemble must be under 31, and some have included members as young as 21. The finalists will compete for the Lerman Gold Prize of $10,000 and the Silver Prize of $5,000. This biennial Competition is sponsored by Chesapeake Music. The audience attending the Competition on April 7 will also have an opportunity to judge each ensemble at the end of each concert. The winner of that judging will receive the Audience Choice Award, announced along with the Gold and Silver Prizes at the end of the evening.

Free public concerts will be held on Sunday, April 8 and will include Ajax Quartet at 1:00 p.m. at Temple B’nai Israel in Easton; Sapphirus Quartet at 2:00 p.m. at Church of the Holy Trinity in Oxford; District 5 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Easton; and Merz Trio at 4 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. 

Tickets to the Chamber Music Competition are $12 per person and free to students. Tickets will be sold at the door at the Avalon Theatre on April 7, 2018, beginning no later than 12:30 p.m. The program starts at 1:00 p.m. For further information, visit here  or call the Chesapeake Music office at 410-819-0380. The Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition is underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council, and private benefactors.

Mid-Shore Art: All the President’s Chess Pieces


It is typically the experience for those who visit The Trippe Gallery (Trippe-Hilderbrandt) in Easton to find a remarkable showcase of some of the best artists and photographers in the Mid-Atlantic region. But occasionally, Nanny Trippe, the owner, takes a slight diversion from that pattern and shows off a little bit of the more eclectic and fun side of the art world.

That is indeed the case with Trippe’s decision to display Jessica Destefano’s remarkable bronze chess set of the primary Watergate figures from the Nixon era. Includes are thirty bronze sculpted pieces standing four inches high and weighing over a pound each.

This timing of this artwork might be seen by many as somewhat clairvoyant given that Washington and the rest of America are now watching as a new legal chess game takes form between President Donald Trump and Special counsel Robert S. Mueller thirty-five years after a break in at the Watergate complex took place.

The Spy captured a few images to share, but we encourage all to drop by the Trippe to get a firsthand look.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Trippe Gallery please go here

Chestertown Profiles: A New Doctor has Arrived in Town


Dr. Julia Belanger winces a bit when being referred to as an endangered species, but she does accept the fact that very few general practitioners these days decide to come to small rural communities to start their careers.

But that is precisely what Julia agreed to do when she and her husband, Rolando Irizarry, a public relations professional now working at Washington College, agreed to locate in Chestertown with the deliberate motive to making their quality of life their primary objective.

The Spy tracked Dr. Belanger down at the recently opened at University of Maryland Shore Medical Pavilion on Philosophers Terrace to take about this decision, her background, and her new practice.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Dr. Belanger and Shore Health please go here

Mid-Shore Profiles: YMCA of the Chesapeake’s Shania Gregory


Over the course of the next twelve months, the Spy will be presenting several profiles of individuals who make up the YMCA family on the Mid-Shore. Almost since the Spy started in 2009, we have been exceptionally impressed by the unique success story of the YMCA of the Chesapeake and its leadership, programming, and sense of civic responsibility. From chess classes near Chincoteague to rumba instruction in Cambridge, diabetes prevention in Denton, yoga in Centreville, swimming in Elkton, senior fitness in St. Michaels or even pickleball in Easton, the Y stands alone in the scope and scale of their work.

We decided to start our series with one of the more moving examples of how this regional resource has changed lives with the story of Shania Gregory. Growing up in Easton with her three brothers and a single mom with multiple jobs, Shania’s family had limited recreational options until her mother, determined to give her children a safe place to play, reached out the YMCA and found an organization eager to help make that happen regardless of costs.

So it was particularly exciting to note Shania returned to her beloved YMCA as part of the staff and more recently she was named as the Y’s membership director whose primary responsibility is to encourage families, like her own years ago, to become involved and stay active.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake please go here

Spy Minute: For the Love of Pippin with WC’s Ernie Green


For anyone who fondly remembers the Broadway musical Pippin as they were growing up in the 1970s, it is tough to imagine a bad version of that classic. Filled with memorable songs, a relatively simple plot, and lyrics that seemed universal, Pippin was, and is, the kind of theater production that any would succeed anywhere if given the opportunity.

And one such opportunity comes to Chestertown fast and furious this week. As a project of the music department at Washington College, a very limited production of the such will be performed next Thursday and Friday in the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus.

This bit of news made the Spy curious about a few things about this “pop up” production and we tracked down the director and Washington College faculty member Ernie Green about this short-lived student effort.

While Ernie, a Peabody-trained conductor, lecturer in music, and director of Live Arts Maryland, is comfortable in the academic canon of classical music and other diverse, and sometimes very challenging, forms of music, he admits in the Spy interview of his lifelong love for Pippin. The project also connects him back to a former career when he often was a frequent collaborator with the late Marvin Hamlisch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, and Broadway talent.

As his cast of students prepares for their free performance on Thursday and Friday night at the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts we talked to Ernie about the role of student productions, the magic of musical theater, and the endearing and enduring impression it can make on all ages.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Pippin please go here


Mid-Shore Arts: The MSO Combine Silent Film and Music to End Winter Blues


The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra had an interesting programming challenge a few months ago as they were flushing out their expanded schedule this season with a February concert. In short, what was the best way to beat the winter blues?

With the Eastern Shore just recently having to endure an unusually cold January, and with February’s forecast not looking that much better, this was not the time to roll out Mahler’s Symphony #9. But it was an excellent opportunity to reuse a popular strategy used since the arrival of cinema more than a hundred years ago when silent films were paired with symphonic sounds to chase away melancholy seasonal lows.

The answer, according to MSO president Jeffrey Parker, was to blend the pure brilliance of classic silent films with the sounds of Broadway and more upbeat classics. Add in the remarkable voice of soloist Alexis Tantau, and the Shore’s favorite orchestra will take the stage at the Avalon on Feb 8 for a particular tonic for the audience to withstand winter’s adversity, at least for another month.

We checked in with Jeffrey about the evening’s plans at Mason’s for a short overview.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Please go here for ticket information here

Mid-Shore Food Notes: Yelp Says Marlena’s in Middletown is one of the Top New Restaurants in US


The Spy was taken by surprise this morning when it was noted that Buzzfeed used Yelp’s Top USA list to highlight that Marlena’s Mediterranean Deli in Middletown, DE. was to become a destination restaurant.  Yelp determined Marlena’s standing by using an algorithm that takes into account the number of reviews and star ratings for every new restaurant.

We are eager to hear from Spy readers if they agree with this assessment. In the meantime, you can find Marlena’s on 10 West Main Street in downtown Middletown.

An Evening and Poem for Leslie at the Garfield


While there are many special evenings at the Garfield, it will take a long time to match what took place last night as the Kent County community gathered there to celebrate and to honor Leslie Prince Raimond’s long tenure as the executive director of the Kent County Art Council.

Assembling some of the best local talent in jazz, gospel, and poetry, the community toasted Leslie by offering a taste on stage of how her contributions have changed Kent County. The Spy also got in the act by offering up a video tribute to Leslie which is shown here.

One of the more moving parts of the evening was a poem authored by Robert Earl Price.

A Sestina for Leslie Prince Raimond

A master gardener sowing heirloom seed
tending the shore’s aesthetic need
Plowing the furrow of creative deed
A breathing almanac for truth seekers to read
Insuring that the beauty makers are freed
To follow where cultured tendrils lead

Plotting visions shaped by imagination’s lead
Plucking fruit from each exotic seed
Patiently waiting for art’s wildness to be freed
And desire become an urgent need
A need to plot starry nights for all to read
Inciting rebellion with a graceful deed

Forgiveness folded into tenderness by a creative deed
A trail of celebration following this mystic’s lead
Along rows of petals etched with mantras for all to read
This horticulturist gifted with pods of the mystery seed
Sculpted wonder feeding the dreamer’s need
Revealing a hidden tableau waiting to be freed

Unleashing budding talents longing to be freed
Lacing costumes for the performance of the dramatic deed
Grafting lifelines and bloodlines to feed our social need
Drawing inspiration from this master gardener’s lead
Sprouting waves of harmony from a simple seed
Editing bronze inscriptions for all to read

Inscribing tinseled air with stars to read
A path to a golden gazebo to perform the ceremony of the freed
A ritual for scattering germinating seed …
We have witnessed the ripened fruit of Leslie’s deed
Audience and artist encouraged by her lead
Finding courage to touch that place of tender need

And play in harmonic spaces that unveil deeply felt need
To choreograph monologues for generations to read
And fill hearts with dreams reaped from the mystic’s lead
She waters oddities struggling to be freed
From the manacles of censored deed
Magic sprouted and spread by a solitary seed

Into our hearts she has scattered a seed and awakened a need
To bare witness to an indelible deed – a scroll for the future to read
The accounts of creative spirits freed by the boon of Leslie’s visionary lead

robert earl price 12-12-17