Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Harry Bertoia sound sculptures set tone for ASO world premiere

A special happening involving the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, will take place Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall. It's a world premiere by composer and percussionist Doug Ovens with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra (ASO), entitled "Visible Music for Bertoia Sound Sculptures and Orchestra."

According to Diane Wittry, the orchestra's music director and conductor, planning for the event was a year in the making after a "crazy idea" she had for a concert that would include various sound sculptures created by artist Harry Bertoia (American, born Italy 1915-1978). She had viewed his works of metal rods and discs years back at his barn and studio in Bally, Berks County, and was inspired for such a concert when she saw some of his work at the Allentown Art Museum.

Harry Bertoia designed chairs for Knoll Inc. in East Greenville, Montgomery County, and contributed to the famous Eames chairs in California. His iconic wire furniture, including wire lattice chairs, are recognized worldwide and have made a major impact on 20th-century furniture design.

With the help of David Mickenberg, Allentown Art Museum's president and CEO, and his staff, and Harry Bertoia's son, Val Bertoia, sound sculptures are being borrowed from the museum, Ursinus College, Bethlehem, Muhlenberg College, and Val Bertoia.

Wittry also commissioned a piece by Muhlenberg music professor and composer/percussionist Doug Ovens that would involve the Harry Bertoia sound sculptures and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra.

In a phone interview last week with both Wittry and Ovens, Wittry described the concert program.

"On both sides," she said, "is Beethoven, a composer who pushed the elements of sound at his time," citing his "9th Symphony." She said Beethoven's "Symphony No. 8 in F Major, op. 93." will open the concert, describing the piece as "a very happy, joking side of Beethoven, sort of making fun of the metronome."

Also performing will be the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio playing Beethoven's "Triple Concerto." The trio, formed at The Juilliard School, is comprised of Erika Nickrenz on piano, Sara Parkins on violin, and Sara Sant'Ambrogio on cello. It is recognized worldwide as having performed the piece more frequently than any other trio in the world, appearing with renowned symphonies in the United States and abroad.

For the first time on stage, Wittry said the Young Musicians' String Festival will perform Sunday at 1:45 p.m., prior to the concert. The group is made up of Lehigh Valley students in fourth through eighth grades. She said she designed the group "so young people could realize what the future (in music) is for them, and their parents get to hear what the future can be for the students... It is a life-changing experience to be in an orchestra."

A "meet the artist" with Doug Ovens and the Eroica Trio will be held Friday at noon at the Allentown Art Museum.

Ovens, who describes himself as a composer and performer, said he'll be touching the sculptures "in all kinds of ways" during the 10-minute composition to produce sounds, at times with the use of mallets. Some sculptures will be gently mic'd so their delicate sounds won't be lost in space. He said smaller 'table-top' sculptures will be on a platform located in front of the orchestra for better visibility.

The idea for the title, "Visible Music," evolved from sounds produced by the sculptures, he said.

"The pieces are beautiful and make beautiful sounds as we interact with them," Ovens said. "...The audience will think it's a beautiful piece. It gets us to listen differently. We're hearing a piece with tunes and melodic gestures. The sounds also tune our ears to be receptive to sounds we're surrounded by every day."

As for the orchestra, he said, "We'll hear them in a slightly different way."

"I've never done a piece I didn't have access to instruments," Ovens said, in working with the Harry Bertoia sound sculptures.

Being a percussionist, he said he's used to composing works "using non-traditional sound sources." For his doctorate, he said, he employed the use of mixing bowls from the kitchen to achieve certain sounds.

Footnote: Many of the Bertoia works are currently being showcased at the Allentown Art Museum and will be part of a major exhibition, "Reverberations: Sound Sculptures by Harry Bertoia," with opening day November 19 from noon to 4 p.m.

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A free concert to benefit families and friends in Puerto Rico who were affected by the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Maria will be held Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m., at the Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

Musical performances will include popular Latin groups such as Grupo EnSecuencia, L Urban Orquesta, Orquesta Xariz, along with recorded music spun by popular DJs Baby J & Star.

There also will be a live stream video feed of the event to connect Puerto Rican families in the Lehigh Valley to families and friends in Puerto Rico via Skype or Facebook Live.

According to a news release, event organizers have said all proceeds from the concert will go directly toward Puerto Rico Disaster Relief through a verified charity.

For further info: 484-223-4743


The male a cappella group, Straight No Chaser, will perform at the State Theatre in Easton on Saturday with two shows – 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The nine members of the group have emerged as a phenomenon with a massive fan base, numerous national TV appearances, and proven success with CD releases.


Television personality, author and Food Network star Alton Brown will bring "Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science" to the State Theatre on Wednesday at 7 p.m., with his new form of entertainment – the live culinary variety show – with his "Edible Inevitable Tour."

According to Brown, fans can expect "all-new everything including songs, new comedy, new puppets, and bigger and better potentially dangerous food demonstrations," plus audience participation segments.

In addition to being the creator, writer and host of the Food Network's "Good Eats," Brown also hosted "Cutthroat Kitchen" and served as the culinary commentator on "Iron Chef America."


Radio station CAT Country 96 will mark its 20th anniversary in the Lehigh Valley with a fundraising concert on November 9 at 7:30 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting the Freddy Awards at the State Theatre in Easton.

The concert, described as "an acoustic evening in a 'guitar pull' format," will include Nashville artists Granger Smith, Lindsay Ell, HighValley, Jacob Davis, and Brooke Eden.

For further info:


The Schumann String Quartet will perform on Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Members are brothers from the Rhineland – Erik and Ken Schumann on violins and Mark Schumann on cello. They will be joined by violist Liisa Radalu of Estonia.

The group began a three-year residency at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center during the 2016-2017 season.

For further info:


The world-famous Thomanerchor (Saint Thomas Boys Choir), Bach's own choir from Leipzig, Germany, will perform at the Bach Choir of Bethlehem's gala on November 11 at 4 p.m., at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem. Dinner and auction will follow at 6 p.m. at Saucon Valley Country Club.

Established in 1212, Thomanerchor was led by J.S. Bach for 27 years and together they premiered many of his works. The gala program will include three Bach motets: "Der Geist Hilft," "Komm, Jesu, Komm," and "Furchte dich nicht," along with works by Heinrich Schutz, Johann Hermann Schein, and Felix Mendelssohn.

For further info:


The second annual Linny Awards will be held November 9 at 6 p.m., in the Musikfest Café at the ArtsQuest Center in Bethlehem, featuring stage and screen star, Daniel Dae Kim. All proceeds will support the nonprofit ArtsQuest Foundation and its mission of providing sustainability for ArtsQuest and its programming for the region.

Kim, a former Bethlehem resident and Freedom High School graduate, will receive the foundation's Pinnacle of the Arts Award. He is known best for his role as Chin Ho Kelly on the 2010 reboot of the classic TV series, "Hawaii Five-0," and playing Jin-Soo Kwon on the long-running ABC series, "Lost." He played the King of Siam in Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The King and I" in London and on Broadway.

The Linnys are named after the late Marlene "Linny" Fowler of Bethlehem, in honor of her dedication to and support of the arts. She established the foundation in 2003 and served on its board until her death in 2013. The awards also celebrate outstanding artists, art educators, businesses and philanthropists who have lived, now live, or work in the Lehigh Valley.

Those being honored are: Walt Groller of Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, performing artist of the year; Emil Lukas of Stockertown, Northampton County, visual artist of the year; Alexandra Pobiedzinski of Allentown, emerging artist of the year, and Bria Pickel of Easton, student artist scholarship award.

Also, Richard Shemonsky of Orefield, Lehigh County, arts educator of the year; Dolores Laputka of Bethlehem, lifetime achievement volunteer in the arts award, and Steve Coleman of Allentown, lifetime achievement artist award.

Businesses include: Harry C. Trexler Trust, philanthropy in the arts award; Martin Guitar, Nazareth, Northampton County, excellence in product design; Connexions Gallery in Easton, small business supporter of the arts, and Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Bethlehem, large business supporter of the arts.

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The New Hope Art League's fall art show will be held Friday through November 18 at The Conservatory, 4059 Skyron Drive, Doylestown, Bucks County. A reception with the Delaware Valley artists will be held Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Participating artists include Joyce Danko, Sheri Deitch, Kathleen McSherry, Elizabeth Zack, Pia St. Onge, Dore Vorum, Cindy Roesinger, Roy Reinard, Pearl Mintzer, Ewa Zeller, Carol Gilbert, and Nancy Markowich.

Donna Lovely is president of the New Hope Art League.

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The Baum School of Art in Allentown is featuring "5x5 3rd Edition, 5 Artists, 5 Media." Five different artists working in five different media each has demonstrated his or her skill, style, and versatility while celebrating the distinctive nature of each respective media. The artists have gathered random objects and selected one or more of these objects to serve as inspiration.

Artists are Richard Begbie, photography; James A. DePietro, painting; Barbara Kozero, mosaics/sculpture; Jacqueline Meyerson, PSA-MP, pastels, and Maryann J. Riker, collage/assemblage.

A reception will be held Third Thursday, November 16, from 6 to 8 p.m., with music by the Allan Meyerson Jazz Trio.

For further info:


Four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Bethlehem native Carol Guzy will focus on her work as a photojournalist coupled with reflections on the vital role of empathy in visual storytelling, at the eighth annual InVision Festival beginning Friday through Sunday at the Banana Factory Arts Center and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Guzy's presentation will be held Saturday at 11 a.m., at the Banana Factory.

Guzy is a graduate of Liberty High School in Bethlehem and Northampton Community College. She began her career as a staff photographer at The Miami Herald, where she earned her first Pulitzer for her coverage of the 1986 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia. She also worked for The Washington Post, where she captured images in Kosovo and Haiti and earned three Pulitzers.

Other photographers making presentations during the festival include Frank T. Smith of Center Valley, Woodward Rusnock Creative Director Bekah Rusnock, Danielle Hepner, Leah Macdonald, Shauna Frischkorn, plus Banana Factory resident photographers.

For further info:


Dance season at DeSales University in Center Valley opens with "Elevate: Emerging Choreographers Concert," featuring world-premiere dances by student choreographers, beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday in Schubert Theatre at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts.

Students will explore creative ways of capturing the essence of elevation as inspiration for their physical action and choreographic research. Artistic director is dance faculty member Angela Sigley Grossman.

The program will include Mariette Aungst's "We," Gina Emering's "I am (because we were"), Caeleigh Adams Griffith's "Blend," Cheidu Mbonu's "Yellow Journalism," Neysha Merced's "Your Flowers are Withering," and Emmy Spaar's "Dandelion Wine."

For further info:


The touring company of the Tony Award-winning musical, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder," comes to the Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem on Sunday at 7 p.m.

A free, pre-show performance at 6 p.m. will feature students of Lehigh Valley Charter Arts High School presenting Broadway tunes.

"Gentleman’s Guide" tells the story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession, by any means necessary. All the while, he’s got to juggle his mistress (who's after more than just love), his fiancee (his cousin), and the constant threat of landing behind bars.

For further info:


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