“Cantus” Sings The Four Loves

Romanza was excited to present the 9 member male vocal ensemble “Cantus” as the headliner this year. The Cathedral Basilica in St Augustine, FL, hosted this outstanding chamber group on Thursday, May 12, at 7:30 pm. They performed their touring program, The Four Loves. Cantus shapes The Four Lovesto span multiple cultural traditions, including pairing the Beach Boys’ Their Hearts were Full of Spring with Indian composer A.R. Rahman’s Wedding Qawwali.

Acclaimed as the “premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States” (Fanfare), Cantus is known world-wide for its trademark warmth, blend and its engaging performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. The Washington Post has hailed the ensemble’s sound as having both “exalting finesse” and “expressive power” and refers to the “spontaneous grace” of its music making.

As one of the country’s only two full-time vocal ensembles, Cantus has grown to prominence with its distinctive approach to creating music. The ensemble is heard frequently on public radio as regular guests on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and on Performance Today’s annual Thanksgiving program: Thanksgiving with Cantus.

Cantus is the recipient of numerous awards including Chorus America’s highest honor, the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence. Integral to the Cantus mission is its commitment to preserve and deepen music education in the schools. They work with more than 5,000 students each year in workshop settings across the country.

The Grass Menagerie Plays Sweet Bluegrass

Bluegrass Trio, The Grass Menagerie played on Thursday at the Ancient City Baptist Church, as part of the Romanza Festivale.
Bluegrass is one of the musical genres that Americans claim as their own. Bluegrass developed and was influenced by Welsh, Scottish, Appalachian and English traditional musical styles. As it developed it also took on influences of African-Americans by including elements of Jazz. Grass Menagerie is a group established almost 5 years ago for events wanting the bluegrass feel but with an added factor – variety! The instrumentation lends itself to the strict bluegrass rooted music (banjo, guitar, bass) but the music selection – even though traditional bluegrass tunes are included in their sets – takes it to another level by including standard jazz, pop, rock, and country covers.

Terry Thrift, guitar
Tyler Stubbs, banjo
Ernie Ealum, bass

The Duffy Bishop Band

Wednesday, May 11, 2016, The Duffy Bishop Band performed at the Colonial Quarter

Duffy Bishop is a force of nature.  A powerful blues blaster, a sultry soul singer, a presence who connects with her audience in a deeply personal way no matter the occasion. Duffy’s long anticipated eighth album, Find Your Way Home, was released in 2014.  Based in Portland, Oregon and St. Augustine, Duffy is in the Cascade Blues Association and Washington Blues Society Hall of Fame and a recipient of both organizations’ Lifetime Achievement Award.  She has won the CBA’s Female Vocalist Award so many years in a row that they renamed it the Duffy Bishop Female Vocalist Award.  With her long-time collaborator, guitarist and husband Chris Carlson, they have played venues across the USA, Canada, Norway, Japan, Hong Kong and Austria.

Indian Music Concert & More

In over four decades of performing, Arvid Smith has sought to work in as many styles and walk on as many paths as his strings could lead him.  Mr. Smith’s performance (May 10th, noon, Ancient City Baptist Church)) featured music based on the Hindustani music system on the twenty-string Sitar, India’s most famous instrument.  He also played other exotic south Asian instruments such as the Tanpura and the Swaramandala.  In 2014, Arvid was the recipient of the Jacksonville Community Foundation’s Arts Ventures Award which has allowed him to pursue recording his specialized blend of musical styles with traditional western sounds.  In 2016, his first CD recording of the music funded by Arts Ventures will be released.

Klezmer Music Makes You Feel Sweetly Jewish

The Chamber Music Series of the Romanza Festivale continued on Monday, May 9, 2016, with a free concert featuring the only authentic klezmer band in the area, Guy and the Yehudas. The band performed from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Ancient City Baptist Church.

Klezmer is a musical style of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. It was traditionally played at weddings and celebrations and consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces. When Jewish immigrants came to America from Eastern Europe, they were influenced by the sound of American jazz and incorporated that musical style into klezmer music.

Guy and the Yehudas filled the air with incredible music and literally rocked the house, in this case, this house of worship.

North Florida Women’s Chorale in Romanza Festivale

The North Florida Women’s Chorale, directed by Kerry Fradley, is one of the premier vocal ensembles on the First Coast.  The 40 voice chorus draws singers from the Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine communities.  Saturday’s (May 9th, noon) program included songs of inspiration and hope, both sacred and secular .  American hymns, spirituals and joyful songs from many cultures were presented including Wondrous Love, Psalm 23 (Stroope), Amazing Grace, Gwyneth Walker’s Love is a Rain of Diamonds and How Can I Keep from Singing.  Brittany Maroney, cellist, was the guest artist.  She accompanied the chorale and also presented a solo work.

Piano: Kathleen Vande Berg

Flute: Christina Mincek

Oboe: Ashley Floyd

A Beautiful Voice at Grace

Regina Torres sang an array of songs accompanied by Bonita Wyke , from Frank Sinatra, to Sarah Vaughn, to Carole King, and so on. Her voice filled Grace United Methodist Church,  in St Augustine, FL to the enjoyment of the crowd who came to listen to this very talented singer. This concert took place on Saturday, April 23rd at 5:00 pm.

Cabaret Edith Piaf Rocks a Sold Out House

Le Cabaret d’Edith Piaf, was a festive evening of music, exploring the nightlife of Paris through the cabaret songs of Edith Piaf and other Parisian works.

The crowd came to know Edith Piaf through the eyes of First Coast Opera!

It was a fun and festive evening for all, the crowd just absolutely loved it.

It happened on Saturday, April 16th at 7:30 PM at The Mark Lance Armory, on 190 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine.

UNF Jazz Ensemble One, Rocks the House

EMMA Concert Association brought  to town one of the finest collegiate jazz ensembles found anywhere in the world–the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble. They brought their technique and passion for jazz  to St. Augustine on Sunday,  April 3, 2016,  at the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College.

The University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble  is the flagship ensemble of the prestigious University of North Florida Jazz Studies Program, headed by legendary alto saxophonist Bunky Green. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Rich Matteson in 1986, UNF’s Jazz Ensemble  has enjoyed a worldwide repuation. That all members of the UNF Jazz Studies Program are undergraduates makes this achievement that much more impressive.

The Jazz Ensemble has won numerous group and individual awards and has been consistently recognized by such publications as Cadence, Jazz Times, Jazz Educators Journal, and DownBeat for its improvisational prowess and precision ensemble playing. The band has received performance awards from DownBeat each year since 2002, and has been invited to perform at prestigious jazz festivals in both the U.S. and in Europe. The Ensemble also has been invited to perform at International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences in Atlanta, Boston, Miami, and New Orleans, the prestigious Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, the Suncoast Jazz Festival in Tampa, the Savannah Jazz Festival, the Mobile Jazz Festival, and annually at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.

A special component of the UNF Jazz Studies Program is the Great American Jazz Series, which regularly brings in stellar jazz artists as residents. This series, along with other opportunities, has enabled the Jazz Ensemble to perform in concert with more than 100 esteemed artists, including Herbie Hancock, The Count Basie Orchestra, Joe Henderson, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Dave Brubeck, Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Louie Bellson, Dr. Billy Taylor, Arturo Sandoval, Jimmy Heath, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Kurt Elling, and Doc Severinse.

Thomas Pandolfi Plays in St Augustine

The EMMA Concert Association and Flagler College presented the talented and popular pianist Thomas Pandolfi in concert on March 20, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at the Lewis Auditorium.

The passion, artistry and flawless technique of this young American pianist have made him one of the most popular virtuoso pianists  performing today.  His orchestral appearances feature works by such masters as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Liszt, as well as more modern composers like Rubinstein and George Gershwin. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, Thomas Pandolfi now resides in Washington, D.C.