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Entertainment Highlights: Dartmouth Wind Ensemble Honors Late Accompanist



Thursday, February 18, 2016
During the first four rehearsals for the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble’s winter concert, organist Cynthia Tan gratefully followed pianist Scott Smedinghoff through the often complex rhythms of contemporary composer David Maslanka.

Then came the first run-through after the 28-year-old Smedinghoff died unexpectedly at his apartment in Lebanon on Jan. 13.

“I remember looking over during the one passage where I always counted on Scott to help me keep time,” Tan, a Dartmouth junior, recalled this week. “And he just … wasn’t there.”

Ever since the vacancy opened on stage and in their hearts, members of the ensemble — from conductor Matthew Marsit and saxophone soloist Aadam Barclay to Tan and backup pianists Christina Hye Ri Bae and Jessica Tong — have been retuning their internal musical clocks.

O n Sunday afternoon at 2 in Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover at 2, the wind ensemble will honor Smedinghoff. The ensmble dropped its original plan to open with the overture to Maslanka’s Morning Star in favor of performing Maslanka’s composition In Memoriam.

“This seemed like the most appropriate move,” Marsit recalled this week. “The work was conceived and commissioned in memory of a music teacher who’d passed away. It’s based on a Bach chorale, and really takes the audience through the experience of the grieving process when we lose someone we love.”

In Smedinghoff, with whom Marsit also performed chamber-music recitals during Smedinghoff’s four years as a Dartmouth graduate student in mathematics, they lost someone who loved navigating the works of modern composers like Maslanka.

“He did have a particular soft spot for the most challenging, modern wind music,” junior flutist and piccolo player Mallory Rutigliano wrote in an email. “But he approached every piece with the utmost commitment and joy.”

In addition to his performances with the wind ensemble, Smedinghoff, a 2009 graduate of Williams College, also found time between his doctoral studies in math to play the organ during services at the Lyme Congregational Church, and later to play the organ and direct the choir at the First Congregational Church in Thetford.

Lebanon Police are still awaiting an autopsy report to determine the cause of Smedinghoff’s death, which has been described as “not suspicious.”

“We would talk often about his programming for the various churches,” Marsit said. “He loved exploring the more unique offerings, including long-forgotten historical works.”

And while many pianists develop as solo performers and “ don’t seek out a position as a member of an ensemble,” Marsit continued, “that was the aspect that he loved the most, to collaborate and share. Scott connected with people beautifully. He took the greatest joy in spending time with people.”

Among the younger people in the ensemble, Cynthia Tan was especially grateful for the way he connected before performances.

“He would constantly joke with Mr. Marsit, and his laughter was contagious,” Tan said. “You could tell that he loved each and every piece he played, and everything he played he played with passion, even if it was just rolling quintuplets or repeated quarter-note chords.”

Smedinghoff had played a central role in the planning of the concert since Marsit decided to build it around Barclay playing Maslanka’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble in the first half of the program, and around Maslanka’s Symphony No. 8 after intermission.

“Working with Aadam, Scott had begun the process of working on the score,” Marsit said. “With that brilliant mathematical mind, he was able to break down the music and solve challenges. Combine that with his technical skill and passion for performance and he thrived on the opportunity to work with other musicians and push them along.”

The ensemble has mostly been opening its rehearsals with In Memoriam instead of saving it for last.

“The piece is very demanding, technically and emotionally,” Marsit said. “We’ve found it best to work on it at the time when the players are strongest and most prepared.”

The ensemble is summoning all its strength in preparation for Sunday.

“We’re all working hard on all the pices of this concert, especially In Memoriam,” Tan said. “We hope that we can play a concert that can provide the audience with even a sliver of a sense of how much Scott meant to us.”

The Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble performs works of David Maslanka at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover on Sunday afternoon at 2. To reserve tickets ($9 to $10) and learn more, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Best Bets

Under the direction of Carol Dunne, Dartmouth College’s Department of Theater performs the Tony (and Academy) Award-winning musical Chicago seven times between this weekend and Feb. 28 at the Moore Theater. With a focus on unapologetic tabloid wallowing that shows how little the culture has changed since the Jazz Age, the tale follows housewife-turned-nightclub dancer Roxie Hart on a pilgrimage of murder and corruption. The production opens Friday night at 8, and runs Saturday night at 8 and Sunday afternoon at 2. From 5:30 to 6:30 before Saturday night’s show, the design team for the musical will discuss the behind-the-scenes preparations and staging for the production. The production runs through Feb. 28. For tickets ($10 to $15) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

∎ Mandolin master Jamie Masefield and guitarist Doug Perkins mix danceable rhythms of jazz and bluegrass at historic West Newbury Hall in West Newbury, Vt., on Saturday night at 7:30. For general-admission tickets ($15) and more information, visit rockfarmerrecords.com or call 802-866-3324.

∎ The Dartmouth Outing Club’s Men of Color Alliance and the Dartmouth African Students Association host a screening of An American Ascent, the 2014 documentary about the first team of African-Americans to climb Denali, Alaska’s and North America’s highest peak, on Sunday night at 7 in Loew Auditorium in Hanover. Following the movie, expedition member Tyrhee Moore, movie co-producer James Mills and retired backcountry ranger Wayne Hare will answer questions about the adventure and the filmmaking. Admission is free.

∎ Calling all aspiring stand-up comedians and devotees of the craft: Salt hill Pub in Lebanon hosts an open-mic session Monday night at 8:30. Anyone planning to step to the stage should arrive by 8 to sign up.

∎ The taiko drumming troupe Yamato pounds an ancient Japanese beat with 21st-century energy and athleticism at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover on Tuesday night at 7. For tickets ($17 to $30) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Looking Ahead

As a benefit for Shaker Bridge Theatre, Broadway entertainers David Bonanno (The Light in the Piazza), Susan Haefner (Billy Elliot), Dottie Stanley (Sweeney Todd) and Laura Woyasz (Wicked) will sing during a “Midwinter Night’s Dream” cabaret at the Wilder Center in Wilder on Feb. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. The gathering includes the serving of appetizers. For tickets ($80 if reserved by this Saturday, $85 at the door), call 603-448-3750 or emailshakerbridge@gmail.com. For more information, visit shakerbridge.org.

∎ The Dartmouth Aires a capella ensemble will join forces with the SHEBA dance troupe and the D’Style rap group on Feb. 28 at Claremont Opera House. The 3 p.m. show benefits Claremont-area programs of theater and music for kids and young adults. To reserve tickets ($5 to $10) and learn more, visit claremontoperahouse.com/events/event/ or call 603-542-4433.

Theater/Performance Art

The Parish Players begin the second weekend of their 10th annual Ten-Minute Play Festival tonight with a 7:30 performance at the Eclipse Grange on Thetford Hill. Subsequent stagings are scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights before the finale on Sunday afternoon at 3. For tickets ($10 to $15) and more information, visit parishplayers.org or call 802-785-4344.

∎ Next up in the National Theatre Live series of HD simulcasts of major productions from London, Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center tonight screens the latest adaptation of novelist Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, starring Madeleine Worrall. The lights go down in Loew Auditorium at 7. And next Thursday night at 7, the Hop will screen the HD simulcast of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. For tickets ($23) to either show and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

∎ The Gatherwool Theatre Company continues its adaptation of Mark Campbell’s musical Songs from an Unmade Bed at the Briggs Opera House this weekend, with shows tonight and Friday night at 7:30, on Saturday afternoon at 2 and Saturday night at 7:30 and at 2 on Sunday afternoon. Subsequent stagings will run through March 6. For tickets ($20 to $50), visit thegatherwool.com/the-season or call 802-698-8325.

∎ Combining sand, shadow and projection, performance artist Kimi Maeda presents Bend, an account of two Japanese-American men interned at a relocation camp during World War II, at Dartmouth College’s Loew Auditorium on Wednesday afternoon at 4. Admission is free. For more information, visit kimimaeda.com.

Music

Harold Ford and The Cash Band walk the line in their revue “The Spirit of Johnny Cash” at the Claremont Opera House on Friday night at 8. For tickets ($20 plus online handling fee) and more information, visit claremontoperahouse.com or call 603-542-4433.

∎ Singer Sabrina Brown, pianist Fred Haas and bassist Peter Concilio join forces for a set of jazz on Friday night from 5:30 to 7:30 at SILO Distillery in Windsor.

∎ Singer-percussionist Judy Blake leads the band Dragonfly in a session of rock, blues, folk, country and bluegrass at the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse on Friday night at 7, in the basement of the Sunapee Methodist Church. Admission is by donation of $15.

∎ New York City-based fiddler Dana Lyn and guitarist Kyle Sanna perform Irish music at Claremont’s Union Episcopal Church on Friday night at 7. Admission is by donation. For more information, visit wcc-ma.org or email melissa@wcc-ma.org.

∎ Sunday from noon to 4, the Haverhill Recreation Department will hold the third in its series of six acoustic-music jams for performers and devotees of bluegrass and country music at the Clifford Memorial Building on South Court Street in Woodsville. While admission is free, light snacks are available to performers and listeners who pay the requested donation of $3. Subsequent jams are scheduled for March 6 and March 20. To check whether a scheduled jam will go on in bad weather, call 603-747-2839 after 9:30 a.m. the day of the event or check radio station WYKR.

∎ Soprano Chiho Kaneko and oboist James Adams will lead their baroque ensemble in a recital of works by Bach, Telemann and Corelli on Sunday afternoon at 3 at the first Congregational Church of Lebanon. Joining them will be harpsichordist Peter Beardsley, violinists Judy Wild and Abby Snook, violist Erin McNeely and cellist Margaret Gilmore. Admission is $5 to $10.

∎ Starting Tuesday night at 7, the Freelance Family Singers ensemble is inviting vocalists of all ages and abilities to its weekly rehearsals for its next two concerts, scheduled for April 30 and May 1. Rehearsals run 7 to 9. The fee to participate is $15; scholarships are available. For more information, call director Ellen Satterthwaite at 802-457-3980.

Dance

Master dancer Gina Sonne begins a four-week session of teaching waltzes, the Lindy Hop, blues and other forms of fancy footwork on Friday night at 7 at the Vermont Independent School for the Arts in Sharon. Each session this week and on Feb. 26, March 4 and March 11 costs $7 per dancer.

Sonne also offers informal instruction in waltzing tonight and next Thursday night at 7 at the Rices Mills Community Center on Route 132 in Thetford; admission is by donation of $5 per session, and dancers should park across the road, not in the driveway. For more information on either series, email waltzlover@gmail.com or call 802-299-9716.

Film

The Woodstock Vermont Film Series at Billings Farm and Museum screens the Cannes Film Festival-nominated Russian Ark on Saturday afternoon at 3 and 5. The fantasy follows a 19th-century French aristocrat through a series of encounters with figures from more than 200 years of Russian history in the Hermitage Museum. To reserve tickets ($6 for Billings Farm members, $11 for others), call 802-457-2355. To learn more about upcoming movies, visit billingsfarm.org/filmfest.

∎ Starting Monday afternoon at 4:30, the Norman Williams Public Library screens the seven-part documentary series Belief, which explores religious and spiritual journeys through the eyes of practitioners of several faiths. A discussion, co-sponsored by Woodstock’s North Universalist Chapel, will follow each episode, running Mondays through April 4. While admission is free, donations are welcome. For more information, visit normanwilliams.org or call 802-457-2295.

Bar and Club Circuit

Pulling into Windsor Station to deliver doses of Americana music this weekend are The Occasional Jug Band tonight at 7, the Kenny Brothers Band on Friday night at 9:30 and The Gully Boys on Saturday night at 9:30. And on Tuesday night at 6, Darrin Hacquard arrives for a set of roots rock.

∎ Singer-songwriter Clay Canfield performs at Bentley’s restaurant in Woodstock tonight at 8. Following him to the microphone over the weekend will be pianist Jamie Ward on Saturday night at 6.

∎ Singer Cyn Barrette joins bassist Peter Concilio and pianist Fred Haas for a set of jazz at the Canoe Club in Hanover tonight at 6:30. Following the trio to the microphone with 6:30 to 9:30 shows over the coming week will be pianist Emma Howeiler on Friday, the Party Crashers on Saturday, pianist Randall Mullen on Sunday and guitarist Tom Pirozzoli on Tuesday. And on Monday night starting at 5:30, Marko the Magician performs his tableside sleight-of-hand.

∎ Singer Linda Boudreault and guitarist Ted Mortimer rock Jesse’s restaurant in Hanover on Friday night starting at 5.

∎ Singer-guitarist David Greenfield performs an acoustic set of songs across the folk, pop and rock spectrum on Friday night from 7 to 10 at Colatina Exit in Bradford.

∎ The Shugarmakers will fill South Royalton’s Crossroads Bar & Grill with its mix of Americana dance music on Friday night starting at 9.

∎ Sensible Shoes sets a vigorous rhythm for dancing at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 9.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

∎ Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights starting at 6.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic on Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Tuesday nights, beginning at 8.

∎ Jim Yeager hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.

CORRECTION

As a benefit for Shaker Bridge Theatre, Broadway entertainers David Bonanno (The Light in the Piazza), Susan Haefner (Billy Elliot), Dottie Stanley (Sweeney Todd) and Laura Woyasz (Wicked) will sing during a "Midwinter's Night Dream" fundraising cabaret at the Wilder Center in Wilder on Feb. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. An earlier version of this article omitted mention of the serving of appetizers, and incorrectly described what the entertainment would include.