Wow! What a blockbuster weekend in Winona Lake for history and music lovers!
Not only was this the Warsaw Sesquicentennial celebration weekend, but the MasterWorks orchestra, all 110 of them, played two concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings. The keystone work was the Brahms Second Symphony, which was played with great depth and precision. Conductor Andrew Sewell, a New Zealand native who now conducts at Wichita and Wisconsin, did an excellent job leading them in the Brahms, the concerti, and Verdi’s La Forza del Destino Overture.
Friday night’s program included oboe and flute concertinas, and Saturday night’s “special” was the Korngold Violin Concerto, played by Roger Frisch, who is the assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra. He was spectacular, and then sat in with the students to play the Brahms.
Sunday night’s faculty recital included numbers on trumpet, cello, French horn, violin and harp, piano, and a Schubert string quintet. The quality of the music is outstanding, and it’s all free, although an offering is generally taken to help with student scholarships.
This week continues with Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and then a Saturday evening patriotic concert with fireworks down on Tabernacle Field, the former site of the Billy Sunday Tabernacle on Park Avenue.
Friday’s Warsaw Times-Union newspaper carried a front-page article on MasterWorks and its founder/director, Patrick Kavanaugh, who recently moved here from Haymarket, Virginia, to establish permanent headquarters for MasterWorks and Christian Performing Arts Fellowship. The article mentions that Kavanaugh will also integrate with the Grace College music department as a faculty member, as well.
Afternoon masterclasses continue (Friday was legendary guitarist Christopher Parkening) and all around town there are little “chamber concerts” in gazebos, on the front porches of restaurants, and at venues such as the Westminster and Free Methodist Church. This Thursday night at Rodeheaver is a program of opera scenes, and then a full production of Don Giovanni will be held Thursday, July 8 and Saturday, July 10.
It’s fun to visit with these kids (the three/four-week program is open to those ages 16 to mid-20s, but competition is quite intense for entrance) and to learn where they are from, what their goals are, etc. Daily they stream back and forth between the Grace campus and the downtown section, carrying their cellos and violins on their backs, wheeling along their string basses, etc. At each evening program one student is interviewed as to his/her Christian testimony, goals in life, and what they’re learning from the MasterWorks festival.