Scene & Heard by Heidi Kurpiela

Scene & Heard 02.17.11

Posted February 16, 2011 at 9:00 am

by Heidi Kurpiela

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+ Wirries sells out her first solo show
The Maria Wirries Fan Club is still raving about the teen’s Feb. 6 solo concert, at Faith Lutheran Church.

True to her showstopper reputation, Wirries belted out a sundry mix of songs, including “God Bless America,” “Scotland the Brave,” “Don Quixote” and the Dolly Parton classic, “Coat of Many Colors.”

And, if that weren’t enough, the Haitian-born Wirries sang in English, Italian, Gaelic and French.

The concert, which marked Wirries’ first solo concert in Sarasota, raised more than $5,000 for Faith Lutheran Haiti Missions.

Following the performance, the 13-year-old East County resident was asked to perform in two more upcoming Haiti benefits.

“It was incredible,” Wirries says. “I didn’t expect to see so many people. I walked out on stage and I almost screamed, which would have been embarrassing since it was my concert.”

Wirries, whom The Observer featured on the Jan. 20 cover of Diversions, credits her cover-girl exposure for the spike in ticket sales.

“A lot of people showed up because they saw me in the paper,” says the singer. “It was so cool.”

+ Radioheads rejoice over new WUSF studio
WUSF Public Media proved that radio hasn’t killed the classical music star.

Following much fanfare, the public broadcasting station cut the ribbon Feb. 10 on its new studio space at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

The studio, which will serve as a new broadcast and production studio for WSMR 89.1, will expand the Tampa-based station’s broadcasting capabilities in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

WUSF, which serves as the NPR station for West Central Florida, switched its daytime classical programs to WSMR earlier this fall after purchasing the Sarasota-based Christian station from Northwestern College.

“The new studio offers so many opportunities to bring this community closer,” says Russell Gant, WUSF’s classical music director. “So many local musicians were making the three-hour trip back and forth to Tampa. Now we’ll be able to host more live performances.”

An ensemble from the Sarasota Orchestra has already booked the studio’s first on-air slot. Tune in this April for the studio’s first live recital.

+ Harvard dance director joins Carreño staff
The Carreño Dance Festival continues to pad its summer faculty with A-list dance insiders.

The latest addition to the Carreño dance staff: former Harvard dance Director Elizabeth Bergmann.

Bergmann recently retired to Sarasota after serving 11 years in Harvard’s Office for the Arts.
A graduate of the Juilliard School, Bergmann, a former dancer, taught in New York, Florida, and Michigan, where she developed a dance department at the University of Michigan.

Registration is still open for the festival’s summer intensive workshops. With Bergmann’s name added to the roster, classes are sure to fill up fast.

+ Arts Discovery Tour postponed until 2012
After nearly four months of rounding up ambassadors for its Sarasota Arts Discovery Tour, The Community Foundation of Sarasota has decided to put its four-day VIP cultural tour on hold.

The tour, which was originally scheduled for the end of February, included stops at the John and Mable Ringling Museum, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Sarasota Orchestra, the Sarasota Opera and Florida Studio Theatre.

Although 10 people signed up for the experience, including a board member from a high-profile opera company, the tour didn’t net as many takers as organizers had hoped.

It turns out that many potential tourists had already scheduled travel plans for February.

So, what now for the 300 ambassadors who signed on to “sell” the trip to out-of-town family and friends?
The Community Foundation says it’s “postponing the trip in favor of a larger group in 2012.”


Matthew Facciolla at The Loft: Talented musicians abound in Sarasota, and somehow they’re always linked to an Allman brother. Matthew Facciolla is no exception. The rocker will perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 with “Dangerous” Dan Toler, former guitar player for The Allman Brothers Band, at The Loft Ristobar on Fruitville Road. Still not sold? Facciolla, who’s set to release his latest album this June, recorded three songs for the independent zombie flick, “The Final Night and Day,” which was shot last year near his hometown in Buffalo, N.Y. For more information, call 312-6994.


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