On Stage: King does it by the letter

DSO opens 2014-15 season, The von Trapps and more on local stages

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


Savannah King is at Chaplin’s, Sept. 18.

Most people just learn the alphabet. Savannah King sings it.

King, who will perform at Chaplin’s on September 18, isn’t doing a cover of the Jackson Five’s “ABC.” What she has done is put together an ambitious series of music videos called “Alphabet Project.”

King’s “Alphabet Project” is a collection of covers which she released every Sunday at 1 p.m. on her website.  It featured a song each week for every letter of the alphabet — done in alphabetical order.

“I mixed in my own songs with covers,” said King, during a phone interview earlier this week from a tour stop in Frederick, Maryland. “Each song title represented a letter of the alphabet. It was so much work putting out a new video each week. But, I really like putting up videos.”

King, a talented singer-songwriter from Wilson, N.Y. (a town on Lake Ontario not far from Buffalo area), has released three EPs so far — “Throwing Stones” in 2010, “She Sends Her Love” in 2012 and “The Acoustic Collection” in 2014.

“I come by music naturally,” said King. “Both my parents were musicians. My mom was involved in musical theater and my dad played bass in a band. I started studying piano when I was four and the later studied violin.

“I began playing guitar when I was 13. I learned some covers — people like Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan — and then started writing songs on my own. I continued to write about all the various influences around me.

“I wrote about situations. When I started out, it was more observational because I didn’t have that much life experience. Now, I’m getting older so I’ve started writing about myself more.”

When King performs at venues closer to her home, she has her own band join her onstage. When she is on the road, it is a solo show featuring just King and her acoustic guitar.

“I love acoustic music — especially the way artists use acoustic guitar in a band situation,” said King. “I always play acoustic guitar with my band which also has electric guitar, bass and drums. I have an electric guitar but I never play it out.

“I write my songs on acoustic guitar and, every once in awhile, on piano. I’ve adapted my writing to also make songs for a band situation. I can do more if there are other instruments to consider.”

King, who will graduate in December from the State University of New York at Fredonia with a degree in music industry, knew she wanted to make music her career focus from an early age.

“Within a year of starting to play, I began taking voice lessons,” said King. “My parents were a huge support. When I was 14, they started taking me to open mics in Buffalo. As soon as I got on stage, I knew that it was what I wanted to do.”

King’s career should get a major boost soon.

“I’m going to be touring with 10,000 Maniacs,” said King. “I was introduced to them by mutual friends. I’ll be performing with them as a harmony singer and rhythm guitarist. And, I’ll also be their opening act.”

The show at Chaplin’s will start at 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $15. King will be sharing the bill with Harpeth Rising, an all-female string trio.

The upcoming schedule for Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) also includes Aberdeen Green, Alexa and Kaitlyn Myers on September 19 and Take Back, Loss of Effect and Government of Sheep on September 20.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will have Christine Havrilla on September 19, Cheers Elephant with Local Smokes as the opener on September 20 and Thrifty Discount DJs on September 21.


The von Trapps, ancestors of the family made famous in The Sound of Music are at the Sellersville Theater, Sept. 20.

The von Trapps, who recently headlined a show at the Queen, are returning to the area for a concert at the Sellersville Theatre (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).

When it comes to vocal harmonies, it seems that siblings can reach heights that can only be reached by siblings.

The von Trapps — sisters Amanda, Melanie and Sophie and brother August — take sibling vocal harmonies to even higher heights. Their angelically beautiful voices blend perfectly together — so perfectly that they could probably sing a series of twitter messages and make it sound good.

They are the great grandchildren of the Captain and Maria von Trapp, whose story was told in “The Sound of Music.” The talented siblings originally began by singing Austrian and American folk songs that their grandfather, Werner von Trapp (portrayed as Kurt in “The Sound of Music”) taught them at the family home in Kalispell, Montana.

“It was 13 years ago when our grandfather suffered a stroke and was in the hospital,” said Amanda von Trapp, during a phone interview earlier this week from a tour stop in Vienna, Virginia. “We went into the studio and recorded these songs for him. August was just seven at the time and Sophie was 13.

“Then, we got booked for Musikfest in Bethlehem in 2001. Ironically, Bethlehem was the same town that the older generation of our family performed in when they came to America in 1938. We’ve been back to Bethlehem a number of times for shows at Steel Stacks there.

“After we played Musikfest, we toured and travelled a lot. We didn’t look at it as a career but rather as an educational experience. About three years ago, we decided to stop touring and go to college. But, we already had shows booked so we toured and went to school at the same time. But, it got too hectic. So, we knew we had to make a choice.”

Obviously, making music full-time was their choice. Just as obviously, it was the right choice.

The von Trapps relocated to Portland, Oregon and it was there that they linked up with the band Pink Martini.

“We were performing with the Portland Symphony three years ago and we wanted to do some promotion for it,” said Amanda von Trapp. “There is a tree-lighting ceremony in Portland every Thanksgiving that is hosted by Pink Martini. We jumped on board and met (Pink Martini leader) Thomas Lauderdale.

“Later, we asked him if he had any musical suggestions for us. He sent us two songs and we learned them. We joined Pink Martini for a show in Austin and it went really well. We asked Thomas to produce our album and eventually it became a joint album.

“We learned a lot from them. We started making the album two years ago and I was just released in March. It was an amazing process. It was collaboration but it was more like a mentorship. It was a great learning experience for the four of us.”

The album, which is titled “Dream A Little Dream,” provided much of the material the von Trapps currently perform in their live shows. It is a well-crafted album that has a variety of influences and serves as a showcase for the siblings’ vocal excellence.

“Kuruneko No Tango” is an Italian song that was recorded in Japanese and is sung by the group in Japanese. They do a cover of Abba’s “Fernando” sung in Swedish, Abba’s native language. “Hayaldah Hachi Yafah Bagan” is a Jewish song about the prettiest girl in the kindergarten while another album song “Rwanda Nziza” is the national anthem of Rwanda.

The Von Trapps sing a few songs in their family’s native language — German renditions of “The Village Music” (“Die Dorfmusik”) and Brahms’ “In the Still of the Night” (“In Stiller Nacht”). They do a version of French chanteuse Francoise Hardy’s “Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour” as made popular by the Brazilian art-rock band Os Mutantes and a Chinese song sung in Mandarin called “Gong Xi.”

The quartet also has a few original songs on the new album. There is also a pair of songs from the “Sound of Music” soundtrack — “The Lonely Goatherd” and, of course, “Edelweiss.”

“Originally, we sang a lot of songs from ‘Sound of Music’ and we wore dirndls and lederhosen,” said Amanda von Trapp. “We were looking to change our image. We needed to be bolder and more creative.

“The marriage of our music and Pink Martini worked really well. It was a miracle that we connected at the moment we needed to. Now, we’re doing a lot more of our own music. Our next record will be an EP with all original songs.”

The show in Sellersville on September 20 is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Tickets are priced at $25 for adults and $15 for children.

Ironically, Pink Martini is also in this area for a show this weekend. The Portland-based band will perform on September 19 at the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, http://www.keswicktheatre.com). On September 20, the Keswick is presenting Kashmir, a Led Zeppelin tribute band.

dso martinez 4

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra, with featured keyboardist Gabriela Martinez (pictured) opens the the 2014-15 season with “Heroes and Heroines” Sept. 19.

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra, which has been one of America’s top regional orchestras for years, is kicking off its 2014-2015 season on September 19 with a show titled “Heroes and Heroines.”

The concert will be held at the Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $66.

The concert features the orchestra under the baton of the DSO’s highly-acclaimed Music Director David Amado along with the stellar work on piano by young keyboard virtuoso Gabriela Martinez. The bill will include Ludwig van Beethoven’sPiano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”

Amado explained the evening concert’s title during a phone interview earlier this week.

“The process of putting a show together is always the same,” said Amado, who is now in his 12th season with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. “I make the shows first and then think of what to call them.

“I consider what’s going to make a compelling piece of music and how these pieces fit together. This production has two big pieces. ‘Emperor’ has its hero and ‘Scheherazade’ has a princess who was a heroine.”

“Piano Concerto No. 5,” which was Beethoven’s last piano concerto, was first performed in 1811. The concerto is divided into three movements — “Allegro in E-flat major,” “Adagio un poco mosso in B major” and “Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo in E-flat major.”

“I think this is Beethoven’s most popular concerto,” said Amado. “Beethoven was kind of a rock star — and an incredible improviser. Most concertos begin with the orchestra playing the music but not this piece. It begins with all these improvised solos right off the bat.”

Handling the job of piano soloist will be Gabriela Martinez, a young virtuoso from Caracas, Venezuela. Since making her orchestral debut when just seven years old, she has appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Chicago, Houston and San Francisco Symphonies.

Martinez has performed in Germanyat Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Nurnberger Philharmoniker and Symphonisches Staatsorchester Halle. She also regularly performs with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela and has collaborated with numerous musicians and ensembles including Itzhak Perlman, Carter Brey, and the Takács and Calder quartets.

“I was really young when I started to learn piano,” said Martinez, during a phone interview this week from her home in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “When I was 11, our family moved to New Jersey and I’ve been in the Northeast ever since.”

Martinez began her piano studies in Caracas with her mother Alicia Gaggioni, earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School as a full scholarship student of Yoheved Kaplinsky, and worked on her doctoral studies with Marco Antonio de Almeida in Halle, Germany.

“In 2001, my family went back to Venezuela,” said Martinez, who will release her first album in December. “My mom has two music schools there with over 400 students. I go back to Caracas five or six times a year.”

Martinez has won numerous national and international prizes and awards, the most recent being first prize and audience award at the Anton G. Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Dresden.  She was a semifinalist at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where she also received a Jury Discretionary Award.

“I love playing with orchestras,” said Martinez. ‘It’s a really fun way to spend my life. Beethoven is my favourite composer and ‘Emperor’ is a very fun piece to play. I first performed it in 2009. I had to learn it in one month.”

“I love the way Beethoven develops the different motifs. There are as lot of different textures and characters throughout. The piece takes you on a spiritual journey. The first movement starts with beautiful cadenzas. He writes exactly what he wants. It’s very majestic — very regal.

“The second movement is a beautiful slow adagio. It’s very emotional. The final movement is very physical — playful ands also very beautiful. I’ve been playing ‘Emperor’ for a few months and listening to others’ recordings of it. Now, I’ve been practicing it for a few weeks to get ready for this concert.”

Amado is looking forward to what Martinez will bring to the piece when she performs with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.

“I have my ear to the ground with a lot of these soloists,” said Amato. “I heard Gabriela Martinez on the internet. And, I got some great recommendations. It’s nice that we can get her here now because she’s going to be a major star. She is a beautiful player with a great sound — a wonderful lyrical quality which she balances with real strength.”

Martinez will play the Beethoven piece but will not be involved with performing “Scheherezade,” a piece that Rimsky-Korsakov composed in 1887 based on pictures from “One Thousand and One Nights.”

In a brief introduction that he intended for use with the score and the program for the premiere, Rimsky-Korsakov wrote, “The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Sheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told in order for a thousand and one nights.”

“A piece like ‘Scheherazade’ is an interesting piece in so many ways,” said Amado. “In the late 19th century, two things were happening with symphonies by composers such as Brahms and Beethoven. The composers were writing abstract symphonies not about anything and symphonies with four movements.

“By the end of the 19th century, Mahler was writing big symphonies that had narrative elements with a sense of abstraction. Also, Strauss was writing tone poems. Rimsky-Korsakov beautifully marries these two ideas. He uses four movements with relatively traditional structures and then does other things with it such as a big orchestra with a lot of percussion.

“There are a number of reasons ‘Scheherezade’ is so popular — memorably great tunes, a lot of colorful writing for the orchestra and lots and lots of very virtuosic solos for violin, wind and brass. Sonically, it has a lot to offer — and it’s incredibly well-structured. You end with a sense of completeness.”

A few blocks down Market Street from the Grand, the World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com) has a full schedule for both its Downstairs Stage and Upstairs Stage.

The Downstairs Stage will host Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on September 18, the September Singer Songwriter Showcase on September 19, Edwin McCain with Chris Nathan on September 21 and Sam Bush with Cahalen Morrison & Eli West on September 23.

Shows slated for the Upstairs Stage are Kalai King on September 18, Disaster Committee, Feral Ponies, The Drogettes and Shutter on September 19, Christine Havrilla and Gypsy Fuzz with the Gretchen Schultz Trio on September 20, Joy Ike with JD Eicher and Charlie Oxford on September 21 and Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys with The Bullets on September 24.

The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is hosting Beaucoup Blue, the Philadelphia-based father-and-son duo of David and Adrian Mowry, on September 19 with Angelo M. as the opening act.


Legendary rocker Steve Forbert hits The Flash in Kennett Square, Sept. 20.

On September 20, The Flash welcomes singer-songwriter-rocker Steve Forbert. In a career that has spanned almost four decades, Forbert has built up a legion of fans despite a limited amount of recorded output. In 2012, he released “Over With You” — 34 years after he released his debut album “Alive On Arrival.” In the three decades-plus, he has only released 14 studio albums.

On September 12, the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) is presenting the “BVT Live! — Dance Party” on September 18, Everyone Orchestra featuring members of Umphrey’s, Lettuce, Trey Anastasio Band and Thievery Corporation on September 19 and Splintered Sunlight on September 20.

The Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will host a pair of shows this weekend — Brother Sun with Nathan Bell as the opening act on September 19 and JK Rockets on September 20.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” which is one of the all-time favorite American musicals, is running now through November 2 at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.nctstage.org). Tickets, which include a tasty buffet dinner, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

On September 18, the Candlelight is hosting its monthly “Candlelight Comedy Club” with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Featured performers are Buddy Fitzpatrick and Sherry Davey with host Dave Evans. Tickets are $27 for the show with light fare buffet included.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.