ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 9, 2006


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella or at the Overtime Saloon in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      A book or a CD or a dance lesson or a painting or a photograph wrapped in a slinky red bow makes an excellent impression on Valentine's Day, one that lasts all year.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls begins the 2006 season with Michael Arnowitt playing Gershwin at the Keyboard on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. The all-Gershwin program will feature piano solo versions of Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris plus Susan Reid, vocals.
      "I play classical and jazz piano," Mr. Arnowitt said. He has played since age four. "Classical has been the focus most of my life, but [in the last] 8 years or so, I have added jazz performances to my life."
      From age 4 to 14 he studied with Angel Ramon Rivera at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Mr. Rivera "had an interesting mix of personality traits. On the one hand he was from Puerto Rico so he had a Latin American warmth to his persona which was very nice in a teacher, on the other hand he was a student of a pianist [who was in turn] a student of Arthur Schnabel, the great German pianist. And so I got the great Germanic tradition and some of the more positive aspects of the Latin temperament."
      The Montpelier resident had to "go to the dream of New York City to realize that was not my cup of tea. I had to go in the wrong direction before I realized I was going in the wrong direction and when I went far enough in the wrong direction I realized that I really wanted to live in a small town. And much smaller perhaps, than the place I grew up."
      He traveled to Europe for five weeks in the fall for a concert tour of six different countries. "It included going to Russia which I had never performed in ever. It was a big moment for me."
      Mr. Arnowitt loves orchestral music but the piano is not usually part of a symphony. "I get to play with orchestras on the rare occasions they have a concerto or I am a soloist," he said. So when I find a great piece that I love, I feel the only way I am going to get to play this piece is to write it out for piano. I transcribe it.
      Audiences have most enjoyed his transcriptions of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Springs and Darius Milhaud's ballet, the Creation of the World. That jazz-influenced classical piece is a contemporary of the Rhapsody In Blue.
      Mr. Arnowitt builds different programs from his repertoire and offers sponsors a choice. He developed the Opera House program when he was asked to create an all-Gershwin program for the centennial of his birth in 1998.
      "This particular program has a mix of songs and also orchestral pieces like American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue that was arranged for the piano by the composer," he said.
      The Opera House program includes a selection of Gershwin’s own piano arrangements, including The Man I Love, Summertime, That Certain Feeling, I Got Rhythm, and Someone To Watch Over Me. Mr. Arnowitt will perform some of Gershwin’s own improvisations on his tunes, all transcribed from piano rolls and disc recordings of the 1920s. Ms. Reid will sing But Not For Me (a medley of versions by George Gershwin, Chet Baker, and John Coltrane), I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise, My Man's Gone Now, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Summertime, and They Can't Take That Away From Me. Also on the program will be Swanee, Promenade, Bess, You Is My Woman Now, and Mine. The program ends humorously with Clap Yo' Hands, allowing the audience a chance to joyfully demonstrate the meaning of the title to conclude the evening.
      Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for children under 12. Tickets are available at Enosburg Pharmacy and Merchants Bank Enosburg, and at Better Planet in St. Albans. Gershwin at the Keyboard is sponsored by Roby's Piano Shop, The Jon Scott Memorial Fund, Champlain Chevrolet, Anna Taylor Caleb, and the Tyler Place.


RUTLAND--Crossroad Arts Council Sunday at Two Concert Series and the Festival of Women in the Arts present Michele Choiniere with Will Patton, mandolin and bass, Dono Schabner, guitar, and David Gusakov, violin at the Paramount Theater on Sunday at 2 p.m.
      This concert is the Grand finale of the Women Arts series.
      "It's an interesting mix," Ms. Choiniere said. "We're presenting music from Vermont, Quebec, and France, a lot my original music that I haven't been able to do because I was working with accordion and piano [instead of stringed instruments]." This series lets Ms. Choiniere do more of her original compositions beside some traditional pieces from Quebec and France.
      "It's sort of a café sound with a lot of instrumentals," she said.
      "A French Canadian gig with a gypsy jazz twist," Mr. Patton said.
      The six-week Festival of Women in the Arts series has showcased work across the spectrum, from film makers and dancers to musicians and visual artists. The Festival opened with the traveling exhibit Women’s Works: No Boundaries at the Chaffee. It included a lecture by Sandy Mayo, the film Nothing like Dreaming with film maker Nora Jacobson, Lost & Found, Hide & Seek, a women’s ensemble of dancers and musicians, the play The Sisters Rosensweig, and this Sunday's Music from Vermont, Quebec, and France.
      Call 775-5413 or click here for more info .

MIDDLEBURY--The Great Falls Club presents Yankee Chank tomorrow evening at 8:30 p.m. E-mail for more info.

BURLINGTON--Burlington Winter Festival presents Fiddleheads in Contois Auditorium in City Hall on Saturday at 11 a.m. Call Burlington Parks and Recreation (864-0123) for info.

FLETCHER--The Fletcher Meeting House will host a Family Contra Dance with caller Mark Sustic and Frank Heyburn, Michelle Lajoie, members of Fiddleheads and other youth musicians on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Meeting House. E-mail for more info.

MORRISVILLE--Abby Jenne can bee your Valentine at the Bee’s Knees next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Abby Jenne and her still-unnamed band play delightful, socially conscious, acoustic folk-rock. Call 888-7889 for info.


     The Official Website of George and Ira Gershwin celebrates and archives the lives of the brothers with a Flash movie, history, timeline, references, anthology of selected films and shows, sound clips, and more.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2006 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
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