Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: December 14, 2011
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor



+ La Musica lures in ladies; Rivolta rejoices
Ah, Piero Rivolta, you unabashed ladies man, you: Your honesty is so refreshing.

At an otherwise standard La Musica press conference last week, Rivolta, president of the organization’s board of directors, announced that the 26-year-old chamber music festival had finally succeeded in capturing the attention of younger audiences — in particular, younger, female audiences.

“I always look the audience up and down,” said the Italian sports car magnate-turned real-estate developer-turned novelist. “You know me, I always look for beautiful ladies, and (last year) I saw a lot of beautiful ladies. That will give us a potential future.”

It was a harmless non sequitur, even though it made Associate Artistic Director Derek Han cringe.

Wanton observations aside, here’s what chamber music fans can expect from next year’s festival:
The theme — “Something in the Air” — includes the regional premiere of Academy Award-winning composer Roberto Sierra’s “Songs from the Diaspora” sung by Dina Kuznetsova (fresh from her Metropolitan Opera debut), Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht,” and Brahms’ “String Sextet in B flat major.”

Musicians include violinists Federico Agostini, Anne Schoenholtz, and Laura Zarina; violists Daniel Avshalomov, Bruno Giuranna and Nokuthula Ngwenyama; cellists Julie Albers, Emilio Colon and Eric Kim; double bassist Dee Moses; and pianists Derek Han and James Winn.

The festival runs April 5 through April 18, at the Sarasota Opera House. As usual, rehearsals will be open to the public at the Mildred Sainer Pavilion on the New College campus. For tickets, call 346-2601 or visit

+ Musical director gets up close and personal
There’s only one more week left to catch the run of “My Fair Lady” at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

For all the fuss that was made over presenting a two-piano version of the musical, the show has generated as much hoopla as some of the theater’s bigger-budget musicals.

You can thank Music Director Doug Peck for that.

Peck and fellow pianist Ian Weinberger are so good at what they do it’s easy to forget there isn’t a full pit orchestra accompanying the singers.

“Its one of the best two-piano versions out there,” Peck says of the beloved Lerner and Loewe musical. “It languished in obscurity for a while, but since it’s been revived, it’s been tremendously successful.”

Not only is Peck getting awesome feedback off stage, he’s getting it on stage, too.

At a show earlier this month, when a technical difficulty required some scenes to come to a halt during Act Two, Peck actually engaged in conversation with a woman sitting in the front row.

“She said she had the best seats in the house,” Peck says. “You usually get people talking to you after the show. I’ve never had anyone actually talk to me during the show.”

If you’ve not had a chance to see this feel-good musical, get your tickets now before the curtain falls Dec. 23.

Who knows, if you get really good seats, you might be able to initiate small talk with Peck.

+ Nokomis man peddles his cigar box guitars
Two trends should help drive up Steve Cinnamon’s cigar box guitar sales this Christmas: shopping local and going green.

Cinnamon, a Nokomis resident, has been making cigar box guitars for more than a year now.

The former advertising executive from New Jersey has become a regular at local tobacco shops, not because he’s itching for a smoke, but because he’s browsing the merchandise for creative materials.
Believe it or not, you can turn an ordinary cigar box into an instrument by rigging it with three strings and machine heads and fastening it to a wooden slat.

Sometimes Cinnamon uses old sink drains as resonators.

His creations have become popular among ragtag jug-band musicians and cigar aficionados alike.

'Amahl and the Night Visitors' and a Holiday Celebration:
With a program summarized as “a story of wonder, miracles and love for children from six to 96,” how could you not see this show? Directed by Sharon Ferguson, it stars Stevie Lee Romero, Dianne Dawson, Ben Turoff and Michael Bajjaly. The show is a double bill with a second act featuring a musical revue of classic holiday standards performed by Sharon Lesley and Philip Alexander. It runs Dec. 13 to Dec. 22, at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. For tickets, call 366-5454 or visit

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