July 25, 2002 – The talent lineup for the coming 24th annual season at the Reichhold Center for the Arts looks like the proverbial pebble dropped into a pool: cultural expressions from St. Thomas, nearby Puerto Rico, the wider Caribbean, the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, the mainland U.S.A. and the world.
The season opener, on Oct. 19, is multi-Grammy Award-winning jazz/pop saxophonist David Sanborn. Tickets are $70, $45 and $25. Season subscribers and donors will be invited to meet the artist following the concert.
Sanborn, who grew up in St. Louis, contracted polio as a child and took up the saxophone as therapy. He studied music at Northwestern University, one of the schools to have a saxophone department at that time, and developed a fascination for Chicago's jazz/blues tradition. While in the Second City, he played with Little Milton and Albert King; later he was a member of the legendary Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
He has led a variety of his own groups and has appeared with an eclectic assortment of others, including John Scofield's Electric Outlet, Steely Dan and Rickie Lee Jones. He hosted the syndicated television series "Night Music," which brought rarely seen players to the public eye, and a radio program called simply "The Jazz Show." He won his first Grammy in 1982 for his "Voyeur" album and another in 1986 for his "Double Vision."
For the Reichhold concert, he will be performing with the David Sanborn Symphony Orchestra.
On Nov. 2, the tradition continues with the fourth annual classical music concert by the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, once again a co-production of the Birch Forum and the Reichhold Center. Tickets are $65, $30 and $5.
According to a Birch Forum spokesman, a decision has not yet been made on whether to include a local music and/or youth component in the program. For the first Reichhold concert, in 1999, a teen-age saxophonist from Puerto Rico was the special guest. Two years ago, the Territorial Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra shared the stage, and the groups combined forces in a performance of the Overture from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville."
On Dec. 14 and 15, the Caribbean Christmas musical "Folk Nativity," which had its Reichhold stage debut for the 2000 holiday season, is being staged again. Tickets are $15, $10 and $5.
"Folk Nativity" was written in 1977 by Dominican playwright Alwin Bully. For a preview of the 2000 production and an interview with Bully, a longtime collaborator with Reichhold director and playwright David Edgecombe, see "Reichhold keeping a Caribbean Christmas".
The program is being billed as a "Caribbean Christmas." In 2000, as was the case with the locally produced "Caribbean Christmas" shows of the two preceding years, performances were right around Dec. 25. This year's performances were initially scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, but in early November, the Dec. 14/15 dates became available, and the Reichhold took advantage of the opportunity to schedule the show closer to Christmas, marketing manager Dionne Carty Jackson said.
On Jan. 25, legendary Afro-Caribbean piano artist Eddie Palmieri, a seven-time Grammy winner, will perform in a show likely to please those who, to put it mildly, went wild at last year's Celia Cruz spectacular. Tickets are $55, $45 and $25.
Since coming to attention at New York's Palladium Ballroom in the 1960s with his band Conjunto La Perfecta, which audaciously inserted trombones into the pulsating Afro-Caribbean-New York rhythm section, Palmieri has continued to tap into his salsa, charanga and instrumental mambo roots and pound out what's there on the grand piano. His "points of climax are provided by mathematically precise resolutions of poly-rhythms derived from Yoruba religious rites transplanted to Cuba and other Caribbean islands by African slaves," publicity states.
Born in New York, Palmieri studied classical piano as a child and performed at the Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of 11. Two years later, he began his professional career — playing timbales in his uncle's Latin band.
In 1994, Palmieri convinced the National Association for the Recording Arts and Sciences to establish the Latin Jazz Grammy." Afro-Cuban is the fundamental," he said in a 1995 interview, "but the music is derivative since we were weaned from Cuba before the umbilical cord was cut in the '60s, and jazz influenced Cuba before then, and jazz was influenced by the Cuban structures as well. I preferred Afro-Caribbean musical structures to jazz for years, but found they have to be equally-met to lead me into the albums I'm recording now!"
Palmieri will perform on the Reichhold stage with an eight- or nine-piece ensemble including timbales, congo and bongo percussion and, of course, a brass section.
"We booked Eddie Palmieri in a continual effort to present diverse Caribbean expressions," Jackson said. "He is an accomplished musician from Puerto Rico who has performed all over the world … except right next door."
On Feb. 22, St. Thomas's own P'Your Passion will perform, showcasing a new album full of rhythmic energy, pulsating sounds and incomparable vocals. Tickets are $20 and $15.
A fixture for more than a decade on the St. Thomas dance-band scene, P'Your Passion is known for its high-energy performances of soca, salsa, zouk, reggae, ballads and more — especially the harmonies of its female trio, Jacqueline Bergland, Sandraann Massac and Wendy Joseph. The group's two CD albums have been popular hits, with last year's "Feel de Rhythm" named second best in the Caribbean.
Equally popular among residents and visitors, and known for its stage presence as well as its musicality, P'Your Passion has performed at most of the major carnivals around the Caribbean, as well as in New York, Atlanta, Miami and Baltimore.
In addition to the women, the band consists of Alwyn Thomas (vocals, group choreography), Calvin "Cinque" Donovan (leader, manager, engineer), Hubert "Pabo" Fredericks (keyboard) Clarence "Mumba" Leonard (keyboard), Cyril "Kelloggs" Alexander (guitar, vocals), Alfred "Freddie" Canton (drums, vocals), and Kevin "Akai" Hodge (bass, drum machine programmer). Berland, who is classically trained and has taught on the music faculty at the University of the Virgin islands, currently is pursuing her Ph.D. in music.
On March 29, the internationally renowned Koresh Dance Company will present a program of ballet, modern and jazz stylings. Tickets are $35, $25 and $15.
The Philadelphia-based company, founded in 1991 by choreographer and artistic director Ronen Koresh to provide performance opportunity and income for young professionals, is renowned for its powerful stage presence and eloquent style.
According to publicity, the troupe "prides itself on presenting its audiences with a technically superior blend of ballet, modern and jazz molded into a style of choreography that is both uniquely complex and beautiful." Koresh's choreography has been critically acclaimed for its storytelling strength and ardent interpretations of significant social motifs. To learn more about the company, visit the Koresh Dance web site.
"Koresh is a dynamic dance company we had the privilege of seeing live," Jackson says. "We knew this would be a real crowd pleaser. The community has expressed an overwhelming appreciation for dance, and this company eloquently combines a variety of styles — ballet, jazz and modern for starters. Their movement is high-style and powerfully executed."
Closing out the season, as has been the tradition in recent years, i
s STARfest, the annual local talent revue that Edgecombe created soon after becoming director of the Reichhold Center. This one is No. 9. Early each year, the call goes out for musicians, dancers and other entertainers to audition to be in the shows on and around Mother's Day weekend. Performances are set for May 10, 11, 24 and 25. Tickets are $25, $18 and $10.
The Reichhold Center offers potential season subscribers plenty of flexibility in discounted packaging. The information provided here also can be viewed on the redesigned Reichhold web site, which is expected to be launched within a few days and will include the capability for ordering tickets online.
There are two subscription packages:
The Reichhold Center Foundation Series — offering up to 10 percent off the cost of tickets for all seven performances. The package prices are $256 for Zone A (covered), $169 for Zone B and $95 for Zone C.
The Create-Your-Own Series — offering up to 5 percent off the cost of tickets to five or six of the seven performances. Package prices will vary according to the programs selected.
For season subscriptions, there's a $2 processing fee.
"The Reichhold season subscription is one of the best entertainment buys on the island," Edgecombe says. "Subscribers receive discounted tickets and preferred seating. Additionally, they will be invited to a number of special events, some of which are expected to include several headlining performers."
In addition, tax-deductible support options are Sponsoring Patron ($1,000 and more), Patron ($500-$999), Angel ($100-$499) and Fellow ($25-$99).
Tickets may be purchased in person and by phone via charge card at the Reichhold box office, too. Single performance tickets go on sale to the public on Aug. 25 at the box office. Hours during season are Monday through Wednesday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For summer hours, and for more information, call 693-1559.
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