Two good friends will come together Wednesday evening after a nearly three-year hiatus to share a unique program of standards and original pieces they recorded together. The music department of Lafayette College in Easton will present pianist Skip Wilkins and guitarist Tom Kozic in a faculty recital on Feb. 5, at 8 p.m., at the Williams Center for the Arts on campus.
Wilkins, an associate professor of music at Lafayette, and Kozic, a jazz/contemporary guitar instructor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, have been performing together for more than 15 years in a variety of sessions. Kozic recorded with Wilkins on three Dreambox Media CDs from the Skip Wilkins Quartet – “Volume I,” “Volume II” and “The Paint-Peeler.” Their duo playing also has deep roots, including concert performances, and a long-running set of regular appearances in an intimate setting at the Blue Orchid Inn in Mertztown, Berks Co.
For Wednesday’s program, which is free, the two friends will explore some of their favorites from the Great American Songbook, a few of their own compositions and, in general, “will chase each other around and finish each other’s sentences,” as Wilkins puts it. He refers to Kozic as “an amazing player. Any opportunity to play with him is one in which I am going to learn and grow. His depth slays me!”
Wilkins currently completed a European tour this month during semester break, performing in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. He first traveled to the Czech Republic in 2007, when he taught at the Karel Velebny Summer Jazz Workshop in Frydlant and performed in Prague. He since has performed for some of the world’s most enthusiastic lovers of jazz, including former Czech President Vaclav Klaus. He also plays with the Czech-American trio, Trio WUH.
He has recorded with National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and Grammy winner, saxophonist Phil Woods. He has a new CD release, “Czech Dreams,” on New Port Line Records, with another release from Prague due later this year. Wilkins and son, Dan, who plays saxophone, will perform in a quintet setting at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap on Feb. 21. The two have a 2012 international CD release, “Father & Son,” on Steeplechase Lookout Records.
Kozic has been a jazz guitarist for nearly 30 years. He’s performed with Woods, Tim Hagens, John Swanna and Bill Goodwin. At age 19, he won first place in the Kenny Burrell National Jazz Guitar Contest. In addition to Burrell, Kozic has studied with Harry Leahey, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow and Jack Wilkens. He was honored as Jazz Artist of the Year by the Pennsylvania Jazz Collective in March 2013.
For further info: 610-330-5356
Art in the fast lane? Motorists passing through Berks County will be doing a double-take on this one. The Berks Arts Council unveils the winners of its 2014 Fast Lane Art billboards at an unveiling exhibition and auction on Friday beginning at 6 p.m., at the Crowne Plaza Reading, 1741 Papermill Rd., Wyomissing. Winners will be announced at 7:15 p.m.
Fast Lane Art celebrates and displays the work of student and professional artists on highways throughout Greater Reading. Scholarship prizes are awarded to four high school artists and cash prizes to two professional artists. The available billboards are courtesy of Land Displays.
The high school category was open to all students in grades 9-12 who reside in Berks County or attend Berks County schools. Home-schooled and private school students were eligible to enter. The professional art contest was open to all Berks County artists.
According to Karen Lynn Haver, executive director of the Berks Arts Council, 89 artists submitted more than 100 works of art for consideration. Nationally-known artist and educator Matthew Daub served as juror. Artists were asked to create artwork in a 7-inch-by-20-inch format for reproduction on a billboard. Work in all media was reviewed. There was no theme or other restriction for work.
Haver said the event began in 2008, when council board member Jim Landrigan, owner of Land Displays, brought the idea to the council based on an “Art in the Air” campaign he had seen in North Carolina. Landrigan is current council board president. Haver said Fast Lane was put on hiatus after the 2010 competition until board members revived it with a new emphasis on student artists.
“We have had an exciting year with it and are thrilled to bring it back,” she said.
DC/Marvel artist Bob McLeod will hold a book reading and signing of “Superhero ABC” on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., for the grand opening celebration of Let’s Play Books!, a new children’s bookstore located at 379 Main St., Emmaus, Lehigh Co. A ribbon cutting will be held at 3 p.m.
The day-long celebration, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature a naturalist from the Wildlands Conservancy at 1 p.m., with a special “Owl Moon” story time.
According to owner Kirsten Hess, the book store will be launching a variety of community activities, events and programs, including story times, author signings, an authors-to-schools program, local author consignment and events, used book buy-back program, book clubs, teacher nights, children’s programs, adult book club discounts, and family memberships. Special community events are Candlewick’s Where’s Waldo 2014 and World Book Night 2014, she added.
For further info: letsplaybooks.com
Penn State Lehigh Valley’s current exhibition celebrates the School of Visual Arts at Penn State University with the work of four MFA alumni: Jan Crooker ’76; Tim Rowan ’99; William H. Snyder III ’06, and Margaret Kinkeade ’13. They represent different generations of graduates, diverse media in the visual arts and professional experience in their field. The installation, which runs through April 26, is located in the campus gallery at 2809 Saucon Valley Rd., Center Valley.
A Reception and Alumni Night will be held Feb. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m.
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