The Art of Erin Murphy Set for Adkins

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Erin Murphy finds worlds within a patch of sunlight or shadow. On view through May 29 at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center, Quoting Nature, her show of paintings, drawings and monoprints, draws the viewer into deep, atmospheric space.There will be a reception on Sat., April 4 from 3 to 5 p.m. to meet the artist.

“The Field” by Erin Murphy

“The Field” by Erin Murphy

Murphy’s works are full of sensuous, subtle colors and rich textures. Inspired by landscapes from Baltimore to South Africa, her poetic abstractions often hint at vast swaths of sky and earth but might just as easily be intimate close-ups. Mysteriously shining through velvety shades of darkest blue, the luminous radiance of “The Field,” a large monoprint, suggests a twilight sky above a meadow and distant tree line, but it could be many other things.

A young artist who graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2011 with a BFA in painting, Murphy is an avid hiker and traveler with a fascination for varied landscapes. She studied at MICA’s Summer Study in Sorrento, Italy, and atCentral Saint Martin’s College, University of the Arts London and has had artist residencies at Salem Art Works in Salem, N.Y., and the Bijou Studio in Cape Town, South Africa.

While studying at MICA, Murphy made copies of Old Masters paintings, a practice she sometimes still uses when she’s looking for inspiration. In working on these close studies of major works of art by artists such as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, J. M. W. Turner and John Singer Sargent, she would often find herself fascinated by a small area of a painting and use it as a jumping off point for creating her own painting. This is the same process she uses when working from nature.

“I take in bits of sky or patches of light streaming through the trees or filtering onto a crumbling rock face into darkness,” she explained. “I try to isolate that moment, which is abstract but very alive. I’m an extreme editor of nature.”

Murphy’s works imply thresholds into subtle worlds of changing shadow and light. These are images of possibility and revelation. A brushy streak of bright yellow flashes across the lush brown surface of “Glimmer,” a small oil painting created while Murphy lived in Baltimore. It is as if in a moment, a sunbeam, an open door or a huge mountain will come into focus.

Occasionally, Murphy’s titles refer to specific places. In “Mist on Table Mountain,” a raw pigment drawing made during her residency in Cape Town, a curl of blue-white edges over the top of a dark triangle in a reference to the mist that can often be seen flowing over the dramatic horizontal peak of the mountain that soars up behind the city.

“There wouldn’t be any cloud cover,” Murphy said, “and it would literally be the mist pouring over the mountain. They say that’s how you can tell a storm is coming.”

Currently living in Nashville, Tenn., Murphy uses her artistic skills in her day job creating window displays for Anthropologie while pursuing her studio work at Fort Houston, a communal creative work space for artists and craftsmen that features a print shop, wood shop, photography studio and other facilities. Adding to her skills in painting and printmaking, she is learning woodworking techniques there and constructed her own frames for the works in the show.

“I feel like it hones my observation skills to take on a new project in a new space,” she said, “And I’m excited to think about what my work will look like in a year!”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on viewthrough May 29 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours

Paint the Town: Chestertown RiverArts to Host Plein Art Festival

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Fifty artists from all over the East Coast will soon arrive in Chestertown for the Sixth Annual Paint the Town plein air event, sponsored by Chestertown RiverArts from, April 23 to April 26.

Their first three days of painting the historic streetscapes, colorful Farmers Market, beautiful Chester River, and surrounding rural landscapes of Kent County will culminate in a Wet Paint Show and Sale on Saturday, April 25 at the RiverArts galleries, 315 High Street, Suite 106. A reception, free and open to the public, will take place from 6:00-8:00pm.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 2.29.58 PMThe reception, show and sale will provide the public with a chance to acquire art and to meet with the artists themselves. It is not often that one can purchase a painting, take a “selfie”with the artist, and learn the story behind the art. Prizes for “Best in Show” and “Best Body of Work will be voted on by the artists and awarded at the reception.

Patrons for Paint the Town will be invited to enter the show at 5:00 PM, one hour before the general public, giving them first choice. Patrons will also have their names listed in the event program and on the RiverArts website. You can register to become a patron by donating $25 online at http://chestertownriverarts.org/events/paint-the-town or stop by the gallery.

On Sunday, April 26, a two-hour Quick Draw competition will be judged by Hai-Ou Hou, owner and director of the Chesapeake Fine Art Studio who will award first, second, and third place awards. Hai-Ou was born in Beijing where she received her B.F.A from Central Institute of Fine Art and Design. She earned her M.F.A. from Towson State University. and taught at the Hubei Fine Art Institute, China.

Artists will set up their paintings in Fountain Park for review from 11:00-Noon, when visitors can make purchases and vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Visitors may also enjoy the annual Taste of Chestertown, held under a tent in Fountain Park from 12:00 to 3:00 PM, where they can sample the flavors of local chefs, local food, local wine and beer.

Gourmet Forager Tips on Wild Game and Greens in the Kitchen

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Hank Shaw

Hank Shaw

Wild-foods expert Hank Shaw comes to Washington College April 7 to give a chef’s perspective on hunted and foraged ingredients. His talk, “Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast,” is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall.

The event is free and open to the public, thanks to sponsorship by the College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES), Anthropology Club, Ducks Unlimited Club, and William James Forum.

Shaw, who earlier worked as a commercial fisherman and a line cook, has published two cookbooks — Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast and Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domestic — and has written for periodicals that include Field & Stream and Gastronomica. (Copies of the two cookbooks will be available for purchase after the talk.) His blog, Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook, was named Best Food Blog by the James Beard Foundation in 2013 and won the Bert Greene Award for Best Food Blog from the International Association of Culinary Professionals in both 2010 and 2011.

Shaw says he has been a fisher and forager since childhood and took up hunting as an adult.  All of the meat in his household is caught or hunted, and most of the produce is foraged. His talk will focus on the preparation of wild foods, taking the raw ingredients to a sophisticated level in both taste and appearance. In particular, he will talk about cooking local game, including parts such as gizzards and hearts that are typically under-utilized, and about interpreting traditional Chesapeake Bay-area dishes.

The Center for Environment & Society at Washington College is an advocate for the Chesapeake Bay and a source of interdisciplinary academic programs that promote the integration of environmental issues and social values.

Baltimore Symphony and National Opera to Team Up in Wye Mills

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From tragic to comedic to romantic to whimsical the Washington National Opera (WNO) joins the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) to present some of opera’s greatest hits at 8:00PM on Saturday, April 25 at Chesapeake College Todd Performing Art Center. Margaret Sippey, artistic planning manager and assistant to the BSO’s music director Marin Alsop, will moderate a discussion with Grant Gershon the evening’s conductor and stage director Edward Berkeley at 7:00PM.

Young Artist Program will perform in a wonderful evening featuring the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini, Rossini, Donizetti, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Offenbach and Strauss.

The WNO’s Young Artists Program is a major resident training program for professional artists on the verge of international careers. The program offers exceptionally promising young singers, coach/accompanists, conductors, and stage directors a course of intensive training, study, and performance opportunities. The young artists are professional artists of the highest caliber who train in residence with the WNO for two years. They are chosen from an international pool of hundreds of applicants through a competitive audition process.

Grant Gershon is currently in his 14th year as artistic director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and also serves as resident conductor of the Los Angeles Opera. The Los Angeles Times has declared that the Chorale “has become the most exciting chorus in the country under Grant Gershon.” Opera News calls him “a first-rate conductor.” He has recorded five commercial CD’s with the Chorale.

Interview with Grant Gershon

Edward Berkeley teaches vocal arts at the Juilliard School. He is also artistic director of the Willow Cobin Theater Company, director of the Aspen Opera Theater Center, and guest faculty with the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindermann Young Artist Development Program. His long list of director credits at Juilliard include Don Giovanni and the Death of Klinghoffer. Berkeley has directed N.Y. premieres of plays by Terence McNally, Tennessee Williams and other noted authors.

Now completing its 44th year, The Mid-Shore Symphony Society presents concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with partial support from Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, Talbot County Arts Council, and the Kent County Arts Council.

Tickets are $40 and $10 for students and are available at the door or call 410 827 5867

Lecture: From Prosperity to Persecution, 500 Years of Jewish History in Holland

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A memorial at the site of the Westerbrook concentration camp, the largest in Holland, honors the 102,000 Dutch Jews who were imprisoned there before being shipped out of the country to other camps such as Auschwitz.

A memorial at the site of the Westerbrook concentration camp, the largest in Holland, honors the 102,000 Dutch Jews who were imprisoned there before being shipped out of the country to other camps such as Auschwitz.

The 500-year history of the Jews in Holland, from their early flourishing in that country’s Golden Age of Mercantilism in the 1600s to their exceptionally ruthless destruction during the Nazi occupation of the 1940s, will be the subject of an April 15 slide-lecture by Washington College adjunct professor of history Gary Schiff.  Entitled, “In Search of Dutch Jewry:  Mokum and Mediene,” the talk will take place that Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the Washington College campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Schiff will begin with the early settlement of Sephardic (Spanish/Portuguese) Jews in Holland beginning in the late 1500s, when the newly independent and Protestant Netherlands instituted freedom of religion and attracted Jewish refugees from the Inquisition.  As experienced international merchants, they thrived in what was then the capital of world trade, Amsterdam. They were soon followed by an even larger number of Ashkenazic Jews from Central and Eastern Europe.

In this “Jerusalem of the West,” Jews found religious freedom, economic opportunity, and cultural creativity, and they freely mingled with all levels of Dutch society. Amsterdam became known as “Mokum,” Yiddish for “The Place,” a moniker still widely used today. At the same time, Jews were living in many other Dutch cities and towns all across the countryside, known as the “Mediene,” where they developed a quieter lifestyle.  In depicting these strata of Dutch Jewish life, Schiff includes not only Jews who thrived economically, founding such internationally known companies as Unilever, but also the working class and poor who benefitted from a network of renowned social service agencies and labor unions.

Holland’s invasion by neighboring Nazi Germany in May 1940 spelled doom for Dutch Jewry.  Contrary to the popular belief that the Dutch were especially protective of the Jews, Schiff will explain how Holland had by far the worst record of any country in Western Europe in this regard.  With some notable exceptions, many Dutch citizens were indifferent or outright complicit in isolating, rounding up, expropriating and deporting the Jewish population. As a result, some 110,000 out of the country’s 140,000 Jews were deported to Nazi death camps and only a few thousand returned.  Schiff will conclude with insights about the 35,000 Jews living in Holland today.

Sponsored by the Washington College Department of Philosophy and Religion, “In Search of Dutch Jewry” is Schiff’s seventh annual lecture on a major Jewish community in Europe.  He previously explored Spain, Germany, Poland (which led to the publication of his book, In Search of Polin: Chasing Jewish Ghosts in Today’s Poland), France, England, and Italy. He is planning a trip to Portugal this summer.

Schiff, who holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, is a former president of Gratz College in Philadelphia. He serves as cantor and religious leader of the Chestertown Havurah, or Jewish community.

Cellist and Percussionist to Perform Free Noon Concert at WC

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As part of its free 12@Hotchkiss Series, the Washington College Department of Music presents New Morse Code, featuring cellist Hannah Collins and percussionist Michael Compitello, in performance Friday, April 3, at noon in Gibson Center for the Arts.

Compitello is the director of percussion at Cornell University where he directs the Cornell Steel Band and a West African dance-drumming ensemble. Collins performs and teaches in New York City as a member of Ensemble ACJW and is a fellow of The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, the Weill Music Institute, and the NYC Department of Education.

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As New Morse Code, the two musicians are establishing a reputation for bold and engaging performances and innovative collaborations with colleagues such as pianist-composer Paul Kerekes, steel pan virtuoso and composer Andy Akiho, Hawaiian composer and visual artist Tonia Ko, and Pulitzer Prize-winning violinist, vocalist and composer Caroline Shaw. The resulting repertoire reflects both their own and their friends’ creative voices.

New Morse Code also creates music for larger interdisciplinary projects. In 2012, for example, Compitello and Collins worked with an artistic team from the Yale Schools of Music and Drama to create Basement Hades: Songs of the Underworld, a contemporary retelling of the Orpheus myth. The duo inspires young listeners through its outreach initiative New Morse Kids.

For more information on the Music Department’s schedule of concerts and events, visit washcoll.edu/concert.

Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” for One Night in Easton April 8

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Hugh Gregory Gallagher Theatre presents a Reader’s Theater production of Arthur Miller’s award winning play “All My Sons” for one evening only, April 8 at 7pm. Playwright and essayist Arthur Miller also wrote “Death of A Salesman”, “The Crucible”, and “A View From the Bridge”.

“All My Sons” won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Tony Award for best author and for best direction of a play by Elia Kazan. The 1947 play was twice adapted for film; in 1948, and again in 1987. The play opened on Broadway at the Coronet Theatre in New York City and ran for 328 performances. It starred Ed Begley, Beth Miller, Arthur Kennedy, and Karl Malden. The play is also known for being the inspiration for the name of the band Twenty One Pilots.

It is the sorrowful Post-World War II story about the Keller’s, a seemingly “All American” family, but the father, Joe Keller, has concealed a great secret during the war.

The cast including Craig Brittingham, Bob Chauncey, Katie Cox, Annie Dietz, Ed Langrell, Lisa Roth, Zack Schlag, Heather Scott, Ralph Verteramo, and Richard Vitanovec will perform as a reader’s theater and offers a talk back session following the performance. This is an opportunity for the cast and audience to discuss the play, characters, and HGGT. An interesting question: How far should a man go to secure his family’s well-being? The play delves into deeply moral issues regarding our obligations to our fellow man.

HGGT performs “All My Sons” on April 8 at 7pm at the Bayleigh Chase (formerly William Hill Manor) Auditorium on Dutchman’s Lane, Easton. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students at the door, cash or check. For information, call 443-786-2872.

The Mainstay Celebrates Charlie Byrd With a Yearlong Series of Concerts

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The Mainstay, the storefront performing arts center in Rock Hall, MD, celebrates the 90th anniversary of the birth of the legendary jazz guitarist and early Mainstay mentor Charlie Byrd with a series of concerts in 2015.

Among the concerts are two by students who are recipients of the Charlie Byrd Memorial Endowed Scholarship at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, several concerts by guitar virtuosos playing in styles heavily influenced by Byrd, a tribute and film from the group Veronneau about the Bossa Nova craze started by “Jazz Samba,” the Charlie Byrd/Stan Getz 1962 hit recording, an all-star tribute to the Great Guitars from Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Steve Abshire and a tribute Charlie Byrd and his brother, bassist Joe Byrd, with Chuck Redd, who played for many years as a member of the Charlie Byrd Trio and the world renowned jazz guitarist Frank Vignola.

The website AllAboutJazz.com has perhaps the most succinct summary of Byrd’s career: “Charlie Byrd jammed with Django Reinhardt, recorded with Woody Herman, studied with the great Segovia, and with Stan Getz introduced the Brazilian bossa nova to international audiences. He then proceeded to form a super guitar trio with Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis. His musical interests took in virtually every form in which the guitar found a prominent voice.” He played mostly the nylon string classical guitar and influenced every style of music that uses the instrument.

Mainstay founder and director, Tom McHugh attributes much of the Mainstay’s national reputation as a jazz venue to its early association with Byrd. He says, “Byrd played at The Mainstay several times. He charged us very little, and seemed to realize that small places like ours needed nurturing. Charlie passed our name on to others…and they came and played… and soon our jazz reputation just took off.”

“In choosing these concerts, I considered Charlie’s role as teacher, his interest in mentoring young people, his interest in fusing American Jazz with the music of Latin and South America, his love of The Great American Songbook, his ability to perform not only jazz, but classical music, and his momentous influence on the performance of jazz guitar. I think our lineup of eight events in “The Byrd Series: Celebrating Charlie’s 90th” reflect those threads.”

The concerts in The Byrd Series: Celebrating Charlie’s 90th are:

  • Sunday April 12 The Saia – Garcia – Fournier Trio with Nick Saia, jazz guitar recipient of the Charlie Byrd Memorial Endowed Scholarship at Peabody
  • Sunday April 26 Peabody Classical Guitar Quartet with Young Won, guitar recipient of the Charlie Byrd Memorial Endowed Scholarship at Peabody
  • Sunday May 10 A private function with Gene Bertoncini
  • Saturday May 23 Veronneau & film “Bossa Nova: The Brazilian music that seduced the world!”
  • Friday June 12 Great Guitars: Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola & Steve Abshire
    Sunday July 12 Matt Palmer, classical guitar
  • Saturday November 7 Tom Lagana, jazz guitar
  • Saturday December 12 Frank Vignola with Chuck Redd, Gary Maseroppi & Jan Knutson “Thank You Charlie & Joe”

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street.

For information and reservations call the Mainstay at 410-639-9133. More information is also available at the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org.

David Rothenberg Enchant WC Sandbox Audience

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When you hear a Veery Thrush’s complicated mixture of sound, Charlie “Bird” Parker might not be the first comparison you consider—unless you’re David Rothenberg and have dedicated much of your life to the magic of interspecies communication and can hear in a bird’s trill a sophisticated jazz riff.

Professor of philosophy and music at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rothenberg delighted his audience Thursday night at the Gibson Fine Arts Center at Washington College with stories about his interest in communicating with other species, from birds to bugs, and whales.

The lecture/performance was hosted by WC’s Sandbox Initiative and Music Department.

Using audio tapes and videos of his musical explorations with birds and whales—yes, even cicadas—for his “Improvisation With Nature” lecture, Rothenberg displayed his experiments with sound connectivity between species by playing clarinet and saxophone riffs.

Fascinating sonic graphs of bird songs and whale sounds were also presented to point out the highly structured composition of animal sounds.

Communication between species has long been studied. From Francine Patterson’s work with Koko the gorilla, who knows 2,000 human words and 1,000 American Sign language gestures, to Denise Herzing’s exciting work with two-way acoustical interfaces with dolphins, the interest and research into interspecies connectivity has gained wider interest with both scientists and artists.

Rothenberg has been in the forefront of environmental philosophy and the exploration of  the relationship between human and natural history. He’s the author of two dozen books—some as co-author—and recorded more than nine CDs, along with performing with many musicians, including Peter Gabriel.

For an interesting read about how art and science can sometimes collide, a conversation between Rothenberg and a New Zealand engineer at Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution may be found here.

Rothenberg writes, “There is music in nature and nature in music. What may be most wonderful is that we can love and be immersed by both without needing to understand how the two are forever intertwined. It is enough to know that they are,” says Rothenberg in “A Sense of Soundscape.”

Here, the musician plays a duet with thrush and a whale.