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Music: The best of 2009

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 30, 2009
  • Arts + Culture
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I’m not sure how we’ve come to the end of another year so quickly, but I’m sure that one of the things that has made the time fly so fast is the rich cultural climate we’ve had here in Sarasota for 2009.  As for the highlights?

Well, I’ll never, ever forget the incredible performance of the Mendelssohn D Minor Piano Trio given by pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Jennifer Frautschi and cellist Edward Aaron at the Ringling International Arts Festival. What I said then still holds: “From the moment Eddie Aaron began those gorgeous, rich cello notes that open this romantically charged piece, I was a helpless wreck, entering a world of music-making I knew would stay with me for the rest of my life. This was not good playing, it was great. It was breathless, loving, heart-rending, tear-jerking and exhausting, fresh, alive and ebullient.” Their performance has become the benchmark for all performances in the future.

I’m still excited about the program John Goberman, producer of “Live from Lincoln Center,” brought to the Sarasota Orchestra and am thrilled that he’ll be returning Jan. 23 to bring more Pixelated music to the Van Wezel, followed by a lecture at SILL at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 25, in Holley Hall.

Judy Kaye knocked my socks off as she portrayed the infamous Florence Foster Jenkins in “Souvenir” at the Asolo. And I was tremendously impressed by the sound of the orchestra when the Sarasota Ballet presented “Giselle” recently at the Opera House. (I loved the ballet, too, but was particularly taken by the way the orchestra, led beautifully by Emil De Cou, played for the dancers. He’s one of the best ballet conductors I’ve seen in ages!)

Of course, I was happy to hear my hometown orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, when they came to visit the Van Wezel. And, personally, I haven’t had as exhilarating a time performing as I did a couple weeks ago when Gloria Musicae sang its Christmas concert with guest soprano Michelle Giglio and our new music director, Dr. Joseph Holt.

I’m pleased to announce that there’s a new vocal ensemble in town: conductor Elizabeth Goldstein’s “Belle Canto.” We heard this group of about a dozen of Sarasota’s finest female singers in a holiday program at First United Methodist Church and can say, without reservation, that their ability to get words across and purity of sound makes them one of the finest choral groups I’ve heard in years. They’ve only just formed but, if they continue to go in this direction, you might hear them being spoken of in the same breath as Chanticleer. And, there is no higher compliment.

It’s been a wonderfully musical year, and 2010 looks extremely bright, too. See page 7B for highlights of the upcoming year.

— June LeBell