The Andovers Play “Half a Century of Hits” at Chestertown’s Music in the Park, Saturday, June 24



The Andovers Trio – John Barrett, Aaron Maloney, & Ken Hudson

The “Music in the Park” concert series kicks off this coming Saturday evening in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown when the Andovers will present “Half a Century of Hits”.  The concert begins at 7 p.m. and will last approximately an hour and a half.

The Andovers are a classic cover band, playing the hits from the 1950s to the 1990s, with occasional forays into other decades.  The trio consists of Aaron Maloney on vocals and keyboard,  Ken Hudson on drums and vocals, and John Barrett on guitar.  The band knows a wide variety of styles and can play the top hits from multiple genres, including classic rock and popular country songs.   Maloney said that the Andovers also play in several different configurations, sometimes adding a bass player or other instrument.  It depends on the occasion, he said.  They play weddings, parties, and festivals

A typical song list for the Andovers may include songs such as “American Girl,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Billy Jean,” “500 Miles,” “Friends in Low Places,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Free Falling,” “Boot Scoot Boogie,” Frank Sinatra songs, and more.

Maloney grew up in Delaware but now lives in Galena where he runs Andover Recording Studio. Maloney and Hayden Chance co-founded Andover Media in Galena, a full-service recording studio, about four years ago. Maloney is now sole owner and operator.  Last year, the studio moved into a new building with expanded facilities. The studio also offers lessons in voice and several musical instruments taught by Maloney and other instructors.  They also offer songwriting and music theory classes.

Barrett has taught drums for over 15 years — in fact, he taught Maloney. Both Hudson and Barrett work for Music and Arts in Middletown, where Barrett was a manager for a while.

Their big teaching project is Camp Rock, which debuted last year. A five-day music workshop for teens ages 14 to 18, the camp brings in a variety of instructors in various instruments, singing, songwriting, sound reinforcement, and live performance. The instructors bring their own real-world musical experience to give the students a valuable overview of creating and performing music in a fun and creative environment. Campers write and record a song, then set up the stage and sound equipment for a final showcase performance.  For information, visit the Andover Media website.

All Music in the Park performances are free.  Bring lawn chairs or something to sit on.  There are a limited number of folding chairs and benches available provided by the town.  Rain location is Emmanuel Church at 101 N. Cross St., across from the park.

Butch Clark is the technical director of Music in the Park, with the assistance of Jack Brosious and Nehemiah Williams.  Jane Jewell is the program director. Music in the Park is sponsored by the town of Chestertown with support from the Kent County Arts Council and community contributors. To help make these free programs possible, send donations payable to the Town of Chestertown and designated for Music in the Park, to Chestertown Town Hall, 118 N. Cross St., Chestertown, MD 21620.

All are invited to join us for Music in the Park this Saturday, June 24,  from 7:00 -8:30 pm in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown, MD

Spy Profile: Telling the Story of Veterans with Word and Music


The powerful synergy between the spoken word and music has been the source of some truly extraordinary moments in the history of storytelling. From symphony orchestras playing as the backdrop to poetry to prose interjected into rap songs, the human need to combine these powerful forms of communication into one is a time-honored tradition.

This form of fusion seems to have unlimited applications, but nowhere does it triumph more than when pairing the flexible range of jazz to a human being’s very special, and sometimes horrific journey after being at war.

A recent example of this merger can be found in Modern Warrior, a musical drama of a soldier’s journey towards post-traumatic growth. In this case, Dominick Farinacci, the gifted jazz trumpeter, composer and favorite performer at Chesapeake Music’s annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, connects through mutual friends with Jaymes Poling, a returning vet, to explore how Farinacci’s music may work collaboratively with the narrative of Poling’s moving war and postwar experience.

The early results of this teamwork appear to be a stunning success. Through the support of benefactors, many of whom make the Mid-Shore their home, Dominick and Jaymes have already created a “pilot” for the musical with a premier expected in New York City, and later Easton, at the end of the year.

The Spy caught up with the co-creators of Modern Warrior at Bullitt House last week to talk about the project.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Modern Warrior project please go here.

Church Hill Theatre: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”


Charlie Brown (Matt Folker) seeks help from “Doctor” Lucy (Becca Van Aken)

Church Hill Theatre’s summer musical this year is “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” directed by Sylvia Maloney. “Charlie Brown” is, of course, based on the popular comic strip, “Peanuts,” by Charles M. Shultz, which in its heyday may have been the most widely read newspaper strip of all time. (One of its rivals for that distinction, “Li’l Abner,” was also the inspiration for a Broadway musical.)

The show was created by song writer Clark Gesner in 1966, near the height of the strip’s popularity. Gesner originally wrote a series of songs based on the “Peanuts” strip, but after Shultz gave his permission, he released a concept album with Orson Bean singing the title role. Eventually, “Charlie Brown” was developed into a full-fledged musical that appeared off-Broadway in 1967 and ran for 1,597 performances. It opened on Broadway in 1971, and had a short run, but the off-Broadway performances had already established it as a hit, A 1998 revival added new dialogue and songs, but the CHT production uses the original script.

The cast of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” performs a musical number

“Charlie Brown” has been one of the most popular shows for school and community theater – I know of at least two previous productions in the local area, one at Kent County High School (also directed by Maloney) and one at Centreville High School (directed by Shelagh Grasso). The premise of the comic strip – children performing their normal activities while expressing deeper, more adult thoughts – nicely translates to the stage, with adults cast in the role of the Peanuts characters. This is part of the fun – that traditionally all the roles are played by actors “remembering” what it was like to act and think like an elementary school or pre-school child. The youngest actor here is in junior high, while the oldest ones are over 50.

Like the newspaper strip, the play is largely episodic – there is no long-range plot, and the characters remained essentially unchanged over the course of the original comic strip. It is, in effect, a series of brief gags strung together – some developed at a bit more length, and of course there are repeated themes, but if you go to the theater expecting a “story,” you won’t get one. Instead, it depicts typical activities of a child’s day.

Linus (Elliott Morotti) & Lucy (Becca Van Aken)

That said, almost all the famous bits “Peanuts” readers would expect are here. Snoopy takes on the Red Baron in a World War I dogfight; Schroeder plays Beethoven on his toy piano; Lucy steals Linus’s security blanket; Charlie Brown pines for the little red-haired girl but never gets up the courage to go talk to her; and the gang manages to extend what must be the longest losing streak in baseball history. About the only iconic gag from the strip that doesn’t get portrayed onstage is Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick – and that really depended on its repetition over several years, with Charlie Brown falling for the same trick again and again.  That repetition would be hard to stage as well as time-consuming, so the decision by the playwright to leave out the football scene is probably a good one.  Besides, it’s such a mean trick.  Audience members won’t miss it in what is overall a delightful story of childhood and a little boy with a big heart.

Despite having been originally conceived as a song cycle, “Charlie Brown” does not have a particularly memorable musical score, with the song “Happiness Is” as a possible exception which many people may recognize. Although the tunes may not be instantly recognized, the lyrics are undeniably witty – given the source, how could they be anything else? — and the CHT cast performs them with plenty of spirit. The ensemble numbers, including “Beethoven Day,” “The Book Report,” “The Baseball Game” and “The Glee Club Rehearsal” are probably the strongest. In the performance I saw, there were a few spots where the lyrics of solo songs got covered up by the orchestra – that’s too bad, because they really are the whole point of the songs, which are basically sung dialogue.  The choreography was well done with the dance scenes adding significantly to the overall fun while remaining believable as the actions of little kids.

Schroder (David Ryan) plays Beethoven for Lucy (Becca Van Aken)

Matt Folker takes the role of Charlie Brown, and he does a great job with the character, making very effective use of facial expressions and body language. It’s a tribute to his acting that, in spite of being the tallest person on stage, he clearly projects Charlie’s vulnerability and insecurity. Another strong performance by one of Church Hill’s most reliable leading men.

Becca Van Aken plays Charlie’s nemesis, Lucy. She is superb in conveying the character’s bossy and crabby nature – an almost perfect bit of casting. And then, after the other kids responses to a survey convince her they think she really is crabby, Van Aken nicely conveys her crushed ego and sense of remorse – a surprising switch that many actors would have trouble portraying.

The role of Linus, Lucy’s younger brother, is taken by Elliott Morotti, a freshman in Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn. Despite his youth, he is already a veteran of musical theater, with appearances in several CHT performances and the Chesapeake Children’s Theater. His does a good job capturing the character’s combination of immaturity and philosophical depth.

David Ryan, who is pastor of First and Christ Methodist Churches in Chestertown, is making his CHT debut as Schroder after several roles at the Garfield. He portrays the character enthusiastically, really getting into playing Beethoven on the toy piano.

Sally, Charlie Brown’s younger sister, is played by Maya McGrory, a CHT veteran despite her young age. She gives a charming performance as the young girl who’s still struggling with challenges from jumping rope to school assignments.

Schroeder (David Ryan) & Sally (Maya McGrory)

Julie Lawrence takes the role of Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s super-talented beagle, and she turns in one of the best performances in the show. It’s a great comic role, with lots of physical schtick and mugging, and Lawrence takes it all easily in stride. As a bonus, she  has one of the best singing voices in the cast. I especially enjoyed her dance routine, Snoopy’s version of the old soft shoe, complete with top hat and a bone for a cane.

Snoopy (Julie Lawrence) does the old soft shoe

Another half dozen characters make up an ensemble, though they each get a few scenes where they can establish themselves. In the CHT production, Morgan Armstrong plays Frieda, Jarrett Plante plays Pig Pen, Samantha Smith is Peppermint Patty, Amy Gillilland is Violet, Faith McCarthy is Marcie and Katie Sardo is Woodstock, Snoopy’s birdie friend. They did a good job of portraying the moods and activities of young school children — skipping, agonizing over homework, licking lollipops, and playing games.

Violet (Amy Gilliland) & Marcie (Faith McCarthy)

The orchestra for this performance includes Ellen Barry Grunden as pianist and conductor; Tom Anthony on bass; Ron Demby on clarinet and flute; Frank Gerber on percussion; and Jane Godfrey on violin. There were a few tuning problems early at the performance I saw, but the group came together and delivered a good performance overall.

Michael Whitehill and Brian Draper designed and built the set for the show, and it captures the spirit of childhood. Oversize items – a bench, Snoopy’s doghouse, building blocks – emphasize the fact that the characters are all supposed to be small children. So when Folker has to pull himself up on the bench, it makes it easier to forget that he’s six-foot-something instead of a typical first-grader.

The audience had a good time at the production I saw – Saturday night of opening week. A lot of them were clearly long-time “Peanuts” fans, and they empathized with poor Charlie and laughed at the antics of Snoopy and Woodstock. This is really a show that delivers a lot of laughs and sends the audience home with a warm feeling – just what the doctor ordered as an antidote to the evening news. It’s a good show for children, too.

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” continues through June 25, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for CHT members and $10 for students. For reservations or more information, call the theater office at 410-556-9003 or visit the theater website

Photos by Steve Atkinson

Mid-Shore Art: Howard and Mary McCoy in the Woods Again


The forest is an unending source of inspiration for environmental artists Howard and Mary McCoy. On view in the woods at Adkins Arboretum through Sept. 30, their show of site-specific sculptures is called Suggestions because each of its ten works was directly suggested by what they found there. They will lead a sculpture walk during the show’s reception on Sat., June 24 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Since these two Centreville artists first began creating outdoor sculpture at the Arboretum in 1999, their work has become more and more directly inspired by the trees and vines along its shady paths.

“This is our tenth biennial show,” said Mary McCoy. “Over the years, certain places in the forest have become so familiar, they’re like old friends. We want to draw attention to them and help other people to get to know them, too.”

When the artists were walking through the forest this spring planning their show, they stopped at a favorite pine tree unusual for its three trunks. Howard McCoy began to think of “Accumulation,” a sculpture from their 2015 show, in which the artists had suspended a massive pile of branches in the lower branches of a tall pine tree.

“So we created a kind of inversion of that,” he said. “Instead of the branches being tucked around the tree, we inserted branches between the trunks of this triple-trunk pine.”

Although the McCoys rarely use any materials other than the natural ones they find in the forest, two of the show’s works include words either printed on cloth or written directly on a fallen tree.

Mary is both an artist and a writer who has published reviews and articles on art since the 1980s. During a quiet walk alone in the forest, she listened to what the trees might have to tell her. Two short poems came from this visit. One of them, “History of a Tree,” is just four words long: “Earth, Sun, Rain, Wind.”

“I was thinking about what caused this tree to be lying here in the forest,” she explained, “how it grew up from a seed in the ground, matured and finally was blown down.”

The two artists had also wanted to make sculpture with some grapevines swooping high into the trees along a path to the Arboretum’s Nancy’s Meadow. Directly across the path was another site that interested them, a sweetgum tree that vines had pulled down low to the ground in a graceful arch.

“‘Linear Elements (Free Form)’ was suggested by swooping vines that were already there,” Mary said. “We added more long, curving vines. And that sweetgum arch was just begging to be sculpture, so for ‘Linear Elements (Structured),’ we decided to point it out with a row of straight sections of vine that suggest not only architectural elements but also the straight, vertical tree trunks in the forest.”

“It’s interesting how when we’re working in the woods, we’re always using basic art principles,” Howard commented. “All the formal things from drawing class, like balance, composition, texture, movement, all the things we learned in class that now we’re applying out there in the woods.”

“How fortunate we are to get to explore ideas out there,” he added. “We’ve had full support from the Arboretum’s directors over the years, and some of the other programs, certainly the children’s program and the journaling class, have used what we’ve done out there as inspiration. The forest communicates with us through suggestion. All we have to do is pay attention.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 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 for gallery hours.

This video is approximately three minutes in length

An Enchanted Midsummer Evening with Shore Shakespeare


With its production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Shore Shakespeare brings one of the bard’s most fanciful comedies to the stage.

Nominally set in and around Athens during the golden age of Greek culture, the play quickly expands its classical setting to bring in a group of English tradespeople – and then shifts gears yet again to the magical world of elves and fairies. And just to make sure nobody leaves the theater without something to remember, the play includes a love story, a series of magical enchantments, songs, dances, and a play within the play. Shakespeare was clearly having fun when he concocted this one – and the Shore Shakespeare production makes sure that comes across to the audience.

This is Christian Rogers’ debut as a director, and he has done a fine job of bringing the play to life. One of the founders of Shore Shakespeare, Rogers has played major roles in a number of the company’s productions, including MacDuff in last year’s “MacBeth,” Rogers said after the Sunday performance at Adkins Arboretum that he wished he could be on stage instead of watching from the sound booth. But he shows real talent as a director, and while it would be a pity to lose him completely as an actor, the impact of this production makes one hope that he will take the opportunity to direct again not too far down the road.

There are essentially three plot lines in the play. The first involves a love story in the Athenian aristocracy. Lysander and Hermia love one another and wish to marry; but Demetrius also loves Hermia, and wishes to marry her – and her father favors Demetrius’ case. Meanwhile, Helena, who loves Demetrius, is out in the cold. And by Athenian law, Hermia must obey her father or forever renounce marriage – or be put to death. Lysander and Hermia take matters in their own hands and flee for a remote village, where they plan to marry – and hope the law will not reach them.

Meanwhile, in that same village, a group of tradesmen is planning to put on a play in hopes of winning a prize. The theme is the love story “Pyramus and Thisbe,” and the incongruity of the casting and the amateur actors’ attempts to adjust the plot so as not to frighten ladies in the audience make up much of the fun of this subplot.

The third plot brings in Oberon, king of the faeries, who is arguing with his queen Titania. To get his wishes, Oberon sends his servant Puck to find a magical flower that will make his queen fall in love with the first thing she sees upon awakening, hoping to use the spell to get her to accede to his wishes.

Of course all three groups end up in the same section of the forest, where the mingling of mortals with magic generates much confusion and many laughs. But we don’t need to summarize the whole plot – everybody read the play in high school, right?

Rogers has assembled his cast from among the regulars at Shore Shakespeare, and there’s not a weak performance among them. At the center of the play are the four lovers.

Lovers face off in the enchanted forest in Shore Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Troy Strootman plays Lysander, and Robbie Spray is Demetrius; Heather Oland takes the role of Helena and Christine Kinlock that of Hermia. All four have numerous credits in local theater, though Oland and Strootman are making their first appearances with Shore Shakespeare. All carry their parts well, running the gamut of emotions from besotted love to jealous fury. Bravo to each! The lovers’ fight scene near the end is especially well-played and well=choreographed, with Helena jumping on Lysander’s back and the two men circling each other angrily.

The Athenian nobles and the faery royalty are played by two actors: Brian McGonigle takes the roles of Oberon and of Theseus, Duke of Athens, while Colleen Minahan plays Titania and Hippolyta, Theseus’s bride. Since the characters are never onstage at the same time, this works – and it gives an interesting parallelism to the two courts. And, since Oberon and Titania have far more active parts in the play, it gives them something interesting to do while making sure there are good actors in the secondary roles. Greg Minahan also takes two parts, as Hermia’s father Egeus and as Peter Quince, leader of the troupe of  tradesmen/actors. He distinguishes the two characters nicely – in fact, he’s so good that some audience members might not realize the same actor is playing both.

One of the key roles in the play is Puck, the mischievous faery who does Oberon’s bidding. Avra Sullivan, one of the founders of Shore Shakespeare, is a delight in the role – darting around the stage, mugging, pantomiming magical spells, and on the whole giving a memorable performance. Hard to believe this is the same actor who played Lady MacBeth so effectively last summer! Sullivan trained as a Shakespearean actor, and it has shown clearly with every role she has played with the company.

Bottom (Patrick Fee) and Puck (Avra Sullivan)

The other prime comic role in the play is Bottom the weaver, played broadly by Patrick Fee, another fixture in the Shore theatrical community. Bottom is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic comic characters, the country bumpkin who finds himself in exalted company and proceeds to muddle through. Fee does the character proud – one of his best performances.

The other rustic characters are played equally broadly, with good comic effect. They include Sarah Gorman, Josh Hansen, and Jane and John Tereby. Hansen, a ninth-grader at Wye River Upper School, has already accumulated several theater credits, including two roles in last year’s Shore Shakespeare “MacBeth.” He is appropriately amusing as Flute the bellows-mender, cast as Thisbe, the female lead in the artisans’ play, reciting his lines in a high, squeaky “female” voice. John Tereby gets great fun out of being cast as a wall that separates the lovers; and Gorman, wearing an orange mop, does a nice comic turn as the roaring lion in the tradesmen’s play – a wonderful send-up of amateur theater that rings as true today as it must have in Shakespeare’s time.

The villagers rehearse their play , checking to see if the moon will be full on the night of the performance.  It will.  From left, Greg Minahan, Jane Tereby, Josh Hansen and John Tereby

Lindsey Hammer, making her Shore Shakespeare debut, plays a faery who assists Puck in some of his magical exploits. Her dancing and graceful leaps add greatly to the choreography.

With the performances all taking place outdoors, the sets are minimal. There is effective use of colorful movable trees in some of the forest scenes, especially when the lovers are running through the wood at night, unable to find one another because of Puck’s enchantments. A backdrop with columns gives the general impression of Athens, and a few strategically placed stumps give the actors a chance to rise above the scene for a moment. That’s about it – but it’s effective, and likely true to the way the play would have been staged in many productions in Shakespeare’s era.

The costumes are visually attractive and evoke both the era and the distinct groups of characters. It’s amusing to see the rustics dressed in what could be working-class uniforms – with items such as straw hats, suspenders, vests –  from almost any historical era from the 1600s to today.  It nicely distinguishes them from both the noble Athenians and the flamboyant Faery court, while making a sly nod to the fact that the characters might as well be English country folk of Shakespeare’s time. Kudos to Barbi Bedell and Marcia Gilliam for their costume work.

One of my few quibbles with the production was the decision to represent Puck’s transformation of Bottom’s head into that of a donkey by simply adding donkey’s ears to his straw hat. Granted, a more traditional papier-mache donkey’s head could cause problems for the actor in seeing and moving, as well as being uncomfortable if the temperature climbs too high – as it can in June. But with nothing more than the ears on his hat, the other actors’ horrified reaction to Bottom’s transformation seems less believable. Something along the lines of a “Groucho” nose or a donkey’s tail would add humor and help the audience see the magic come alive.

A nice touch is the background music, which mingles Felix Mendelssohn’s score for the play with more modern pieces, including selections by Gounod, Stravinsky, Ravel and Prokofiev – plus some original music by Greg Minahan. The music for the rustics’ final exuberant dance, choreographed by Minahan, is especially appropriate – it’s a nice bit of fun I won’t give away here.

For that matter, the whole production is fun. The actors are clearly enjoying themselves, and it’s contagious. Be sure to see it when it comes to your part of the Shore — and bring the whole family. You couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a summer evening.

Shore Shakespeare will be presenting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this coming Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, at Oxford Community Center, and Sunday, June 11 at Idlewild Park in Easton. The next weekend, the production moves to Long Wharf Park in Cambridge for one performance, Friday, June 16. Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, Shore Shakespeare will be on Cray House Lawn in Stevensville. The summer run closes with two performances in Chestertown’s Wilmer Park, Friday and Sunday, June 23 and 25.
Admission to all performances is free; audience members should bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Performances are at 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit

Photos by Jane Jewell

Music Festival Orchestra to Play World Premiere of Schoenberg Composition


The National Music Festival concert Tuesday features the world premiere performance of a work by Arnold Schoenberg, one of the most important composers of the 20th century.

Composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

While“Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”), which Schoenberg wrote in 1899, has long been one of the composer’s most popular pieces, the versions performed had a number of deviations from the original manuscript — a fact unearthed by Richard Rosenberg, the NMF’s artistic director when he found the manuscript misfiled in the Library of Congress music collection.

“Verklärte Nacht” was originally written as a string sextet, which Schoenberg later arranged for string orchestra. It is an early work, written when the composer was still very much under the influence of the German Romantic composers such as Wagner and Brahms. “iI has had a tremendous life of its own,” Rosenberg said Monday night at a potluck dinner for the musicians and their hosts.

Rosenberg said he came across the work when he was a graduate student, researching another project at the Library of Congress. He came across a large bound red folio, which upon examination turned out to be Schoenberg’s manuscript for “Verklärte Nacht,” which he said had been lost for 45 years. And on closer examination, Rosenberg said, he realized that there were significant deviations from the published version — including five bars of music near the beginning that had somehow been left out.

The manuscript included the composer’s revisions to the score, with some sections hand-sewn into the copy, “And he was a terrible seamstress,” Rosenberg joked. He spoke to various people who had worked with Schoenberg, who came to the U.S. in the late 1930s to escape Nazi persecution, and determined that what he had was “the real McCoy.” He eventually published a corrected edition, and premiered it with members of the San Francisco Symphony in its string sextet version.

It took many years for Rosenberg to get around to transcribing the work for string orchestra, incorporating the revisions and corrections into Schoenberg’s own arrangement. In fact, it was only when he became fluent with modern computer software for composers and arrangers that he was able to complete the project to his satisfaction. Now it will receive its world premiere at the NMF concert tonight, at 7:30 in Washington College’s Decker Theater.

Schoenberg went on to become one of the most influential composers of the century, especially after his development of the 12-tone technique of composition in the 1920s. Almost every subsequent composer has had to come to terms with the technique, which rejects the concept of a piece being in a particular key. Even composers who were active before the development of 12-tone technique in many cases adopted it for their later work.

In addition to performing the Schoenberg at Tuesday’s concert, the NMF orchestra will be recording it for Naxos Records, one of the major classical recording labels. The recording sessions, which will not be open to the public, will take place over several days.

Also appearing on the program Tuesday will be J.S.Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #6,” Nielsen’s “Little Suite,” Reger’s “Lyric Andante” and Grieg’s “Suite: From Holberg’s Time.”

There will be a pre-concert talk by Rosenberg at 6:30 in Tawes Theater. Admission to the concert is $15, which includes the pre-concert talk.

Delmarva Review: The Bone Bag by Michael Keenan Gutierrez


They don’t tell you there will be bone. That it will be white. That it will have texture. You thought it would just be ash, like that of fire pits, the dead ends of cigarettes.

Why did you think this? Films, perhaps? You don’t know, but as with so much of the territory you’ve traveled, you’ve brought the wrong map.

According to the website for the National Funeral Directors Association, cremation is a “two-step” process, where first the body is “heated” for two hours at between 1400-1800 degrees, and afterwards the remains are put through a “processor” and what’s left is supposed to come out uniform, industrial, a sort of pre-fab mourning.

That’s not what you see though.

You see your father’s bones. You see them in your hand. You see them slip through your fingers and drop into the water to be taken out by the breakers.

Even though he died four months earlier, you can’t get home right away because of work, because your adult life won’t let you, because you’ve already drained your savings on a last minute flight during the summer, just a few weeks before he died, when he’d been too high on morphine to remember you’d ever visited. He didn’t remember you dressing him, turning on his oxygen. He didn’t remember you pulling away his cigarettes when he was on that oxygen. You’re glad about this.

When you finally do come home for Christmas, your mother shows you the box she’s kept in a guest closet. You’d been expecting an urn—like the movies, again—but no, it’s just a simple brown box, a carton really, something for shoes. Inside his ash and bone are sealed in a plastic bag, the kind you’d get at a carnival, but instead of water and goldfish, there’s this sort of dust.

You think of Star Wars, when at the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke burns Darth Vader’s remains on a pyre. Some part of you wishes you’d done the same. That primal part of you wants that ritual, to have the rite of passage consecrated formally, but you know it takes you two hours to build a shitty campfire and then there’d be the stench and the sight of his body burning and you know you haven’t the stomach for it.

So you settle for a bag inside a box.

The day after Christmas, you and your family all put on something nice and you walk out to the nearby beach and look out at the dark Pacific. It’s a beautiful beach. It should be, for him. It should be because you got married here the previous Christmas. He was there, sallow and struggling to stay standing. But he’d endured, long enough to see you marry.

You don’t talk.

You lead your sister to the line where high tide meets dry sand and she is holding your arm as if you’re walking her down the aisle, except she can hardly stand. Your mother opens the box and pulls out the bag and your future brother-in-law slips you a pocketknife because you hadn’t thought of that.

Now you’ve also got your mother’s arm and while your wife and future brother-in-law and aunts and uncles hang back on dry land, you and your mother and sister make for the water. You shed your shoes and wade in. In December, the Pacific here averages 59 degrees and you feel the shock run over your feet and up your calves.

You go knee deep then think about the knife, but your mother has already dug her thumb into the bag and each of you takes a handful. That’s when you see the bone. It’s not uniform. It’s not pre-fab. It’s definitely a man. It was him.

You scatter him into the water, careful not to get him on your pants, but he does anyways. A small wave surprises you, and all three of you jump and you’re soaked but laughing. Why are you laughing? Because it is ridiculous to be out here? Because it is ridiculous that you all put on something nice to wade into cold water to dump him in here? Because what else are you going to do except return to dry land, him beneath your fingernails, and you return to the empty house where died….

The Spy is pleased to republish Mr. Gutierrez’s Pushcart Prize-nominated essay from The Delmarva Review. The ninth edition of the nonprofit literary journal was published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association with support from private contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For more information, visit the website:

Michael Keenan Gutierrez is the author of The Trench Angel (Leapfrog Press), a finalist for the James Jones First Novel prize. In addition to The Delmarva Review, his work has been published in The Collagist, Scarab, Public Books, We’re History, The Pisgah Review, Untoward, The Boiler, and Crossborder. He lives with his wife in Chapel Hill where he teaches writing at the University of North Carolina.

Mid-Shore Arts: Working the Water with Jay Fleming


It is hard not to be a bit unnerved by how young Jay Fleming is after seeing his extraordinary work of photography. While only thirty years old, Fleming has produced a portfolio that shows a maturity and mastery that should match up with someone twice his age.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this surprising contradiction is the fact that he is the son of Kevin Fleming, whose photographs graced the pages of National Geographic for much of the 1980s and 1990s. But the other compelling factor was Jay’s fascination and love of the Chesapeake Bay region from the moment he was first taken out on the water as a child.

Regardless of some of these co-factors, the fact remains that Jay Fleming has very quickly earned the reputation as being part of a new generation of award-winning photographers devoted to recording realistic portraits of men and women working on the water.

The latest example of this booming career is the recent release of Working the Water, a stunning 280-page photography book that chronicles the life and work of watermen from the most northern part of the Chesapeake Bay to the furthest South.

A few weeks ago, the Spy visited Jay in his new studio space in Annapolis to talk about his disciplined approach to the art of photography.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on Jay Fleming please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: Don Buxton Reflects on the Chesapeake Music Festival


For many newcomers to Talbot County it takes a certain adjustment before its flat landscapes and hidden coastlines starts to hint at the remarkable nature of the Eastern Shore life. And that was the case with Don Buxton, the co-founder and executive director of Chesapeake Music and its world class chamber music festival.

A then-recent graduate of Juilliard, who had just started to work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Don found himself driving to Easton to teach music at the fledgling Academy Art Museum when he began to get the message that this region was not only stunning but could genuinely support a diverse music scene.

Add to that a chance encounter with classical music aficionados Eve and Ralph Bloom after a performance at a local church, both of whom had long advocated for a nationally recognized chamber music festival in Talbot County, it wasn’t too long before Don found himself moving to the area and working with the Blooms, their son Lawrie Bloom and Marcy Rosen to launch what would become the Chesapeake Music Festival.

As the festival begins its 33rd season, the Spy caught up with Don to ask about those early days and how pleased he is that the founder’s aspirations have become so much more than they ever dreamed of.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information Chesapeake Music and its work please so here.