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RED BANK: TWO NIGHTS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC

Ron LevyPiano virtuoso Ron Levy (above) guests with the Monmouth Symphony in a season-capping event, Saturday night at the Count Basie. Up on Tower Hill, baritone Gerald Metz (below) is among the vocal artists teaming up in HEAVENLY HARMONY for the Monmouth Civic Chorus.

Gerald Metz

There are surely worse dilemmas to be had in this world; more difficult choices to be made. But for local lovers of the classical repertory, this weekend poses quite the pickle, with two Red Bank venues hosting must-see events presented by a couple of the best-loved borough-based performing arts organizations.

It begins up on Tower Hill this Friday, when the Monmouth Civic Chorus continues its current season at First Presbyterian Church with a display of Heavenly Harmony that draws from the “visionary and triumphant” work of some choral music masters.

Then, on Saturday, down on Monmouth Street, the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra concludes another successful season at the Count Basie Theatre with an eclectic concert highlighted by an audience favorite that’s been called the ultimate musical marital aid and audio aphrodisiac. Read More »

RED BANK: SINBAD & GARFUNKEL & MORE

sinbadDavid “Sinbad” Adkins (above) brings his famously family friendly brand of comedy back to the Count Basie for an umpteenth encore this Friday night. Art Garfunkel (below) makes a belated Basie debut on Saturday.

GarfunkelWith an incredible 14 scheduled events within the next 15 days — including sold-out sessions with the attorneys from Making a Murderer (tonight) and Rumson-bred pop sensation Charlie Puth (April 8) — the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank surely ranks among the busiest palaces of amusement in these United States.

Its eclectic schedule keeps an enviably diverse audience making tracks to Monmouth Street, and the weekend ahead is no exception, as the venerable venue hosts a gamut of entertainments designed to attract fans of everything from all-ages clean comedy and Boomer-blessed pop, to the Old Masters of the conservatory and the new gods of the guitar-store shredders.

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RED BANK: NJSO PLAYS IT TO THE HILTY

Megan HiltyBroadway bombshell Megan Hilty (above) is the special guest Valentine of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for a Friday night Count Basie concert. Carolyn Wong (below) takes the Sunday solo spotlight with the Monmouth Symphony.  

CarolynWong_violinistThey’re Playing Our Song, goes the old cliche governing the next-dance maneuvers of young lovers and senior lovebirds alike. But while the right tune blared from a tinny little speaker still does the job nicely, one can’t help but think that those truly heart-fluttering moments can only really be expressed by a full 40-piece complement of strings, brass, woodwinds, keys and kettledrums.

With that in mind, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre Friday nigh for an event that’s designed to loosen up those starchy, itchy tuxes and gowns.

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RED BANK: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE CONVERGE

PMJ-PR-shotBandleader-composer (and YouTube-spawned sensation) Scott Bradlee brings his Postmodern Jukebox project to the Count Basie stage this Friday…while soprano Victoria Cannizzo joins Roy Gussman and the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra, in a Saturday night inaugural for the new MSO season.

victoria cannizzoIn between offering happy harbor to a veritable Who’s Who of legendary entertainers from all the classic avenues of show business, our Count Basie Theatre has taken its place as a showcase for the newly minted superstars of that most 21st century of spawning grounds — the viral vaudeville that is YouTube and the social media stage.

This Friday, the Red Bank audience gets its first in-person look at an act that expanded its appeal from a literal living-room setting, to an in-demand touring attraction whose homemade videos have been viewed more than 100 million times.

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RED BANK: A ‘SPUNKY, PASSIONATE’ CONCERTO

Elizabeth-Violin-Pic-2Violinist (and 2014 Young Artist Concerto Competition winner) Elizabeth Hendy helps Roy Gussman and the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra close out their season with “driving percussion rhythms and a dazzling display of violin technique.” 

It happens every spring, and all too soon it seems — but here at the close of their 67th season, principal conductor Roy D. Gussman and the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra return to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on Sunday, May 31 for the now-traditional Season Finale event. And, as tradition also dictates, they’ll be joined for the occasion by the musician who was selected as the winner of the annual Young Artist Concerto Competition, sponsored by the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra.

That talented musical prodigy is 16 year old violinist Elizabeth Hendy, a Juilliard School student who, it’s said, “will steal the audience’s heart with her spunky and passionate performance of Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2.” It’s but one highlight of a program that switches gears for an exploration of the “driving percussion rhythms” of two 20th century South American masters.

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RED BANK: I HEAR A SYMPHONY

GussmanKovalskyMonmouth Conservatory of Music exec director Vladislav Kovalsky (right) is the special guest, as conductor Roy Gussman and the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra celebrate MCM’s golden anniversary with a Sunday afternoon concert at the Count Basie.

A weekend of symphonic sounds heralds the coming of Spring at the Count Basie Theatre, drawing inspiration from the great masters of word and music — and their roots from the Garden State soil — with a pair of original works by NJ composers.

It all happens here in the area’s undisputed capital for classical music, and it all begins at 8 pm on Saturday, March 21, when conductor Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra welcome internationally lauded pianist Serhiy Salov for a program highlighted by Tchaikovsky’s Sixth (or Pathétique) Symphony, “a heart-wrenching meditation on the transforming power of love and the inexorable workings of fate.” Vocalist Mary Fahl also joins the NJSO for an evening that further features Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody — as well as a first local listen to an original work by Orchestra violinist Darryl Kubian.  Commissioned as part of the New Jersey Roots Project, and inspired by William Shakespeare, O for a Muse of Fire closes out the Roots initiative on a program for which tickets ($23 – $88) are available here.

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RED BANK: YOUNG MAN’S WINTER

Rinando AvaglianoLucian Rinando conducts — and Michael Avagliano is guest soloist — when the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra invokes dreams of Winter on the Basie stage, this Sunday afternoon.

Once each year, the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra‘s principal conductor Roy D. Gussman turns over the baton to associate conductor Lucian Rinando, for a concert program curated by the MSO flautist (and expert in all things having to do with the technique, history and crafting of his instrument) especially for the Red Bank audience. Here in the borough-based Orchestra’s 67th season — and in a month keynoted by Punxsatawney Phil’s dire prediction of continued winter weather — Rinando and company put forth a rather daring ode to the peculiar beauty of “Winter Dreams,” with a performance of that first symphony from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

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RED BANK: WITH MALLETS AFORETHOUGHT

Greg_512Marimba master Greg Giannascoli returns to the Basie stage this Saturday, as the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra mark its 66th anniversary with Fanfare and the Fourth.

Long before Red Bank was looked upon as a center for culture and the arts; decades prior to the rebranding of the venerable Carlton vaudeville house as the Count Basie Theatre, there was the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra — and the organization now under the baton of conductor Roy D. Gussman is still going strong in the new century, celebrating 66 years as a community treasure and getting ready to embark upon an all new season with a Saturday night concert on November 1.

For this momentous occasion, Gussman and the MSO put out the call to an engaging instrumentalist whose 2010 solo spot with the orchestra has become the stuff of legend — classical marimbist Greg Giannascoli. A member of the Juilliard School faculty and a virtuoso of the melodically malleted, harmonically hammered percussion instrument (still something of a novelty on symphony stages), Giannascoli returns to Red Bank for a program that promises to bring the Tchaikovsky, the Copland…and the Ewazen?

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RED BANK: MUSICAL HEROES AND HANDBELLS

jamesehnes_306_c_ben_ealovega

Violinist James Ehnes keynotes a weekend of classical music in Red Bank, when he appears as Saturday night’s guest soloist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the Count Basie.  

It’s been called the kind of music that “musicians dream to play and audiences thrill to hear” — and this Saturday night at 8 pm, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra brings its season of concerts at the Count Basie Theatre to a close in spectacular fashion, with a performance of A Hero’s Life by Johann Strauss. With Jacques Lacombe at the podium, it’s paired on a program with another special treat — Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, featuring acclaimed guest soloist James Ehnes. As with all NJSO events, tickets for the 8 pm program ($20 – $85) are available NOT from the Count Basie Theatre box office, but by calling 1.800.ALLEGRO — and classical fans should take note that the borough of Red Bank is ringing this weekend with sublime sounds, both down at the Basie and up on Tower Hill.

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WEEKEND: WEDDING WALK GETS SAME-SEXY

WeddingWalkMichael Warmington of Red Bank RiverCenter joins a team of Barbizon tour guides in welcoming guests to a past edition of the Red Bank Wedding Walk, which returns to town this Sunday. Wanda Sykes (below) brings her standup skills back to the Basie Friday night. 

Sykes-WandaRED BANK: When the Red Bank Wedding Walk returns to the blushing banks of the Navesink for its latest edition this Sunday, it’ll be a bigger/better-than-ever affair with an historic edge: it’s “encouraging same-sex couples to join us this year and explore all that Red Bank has to offer for the perfect wedding,” according to organizers at Red Bank RiverCenter.

Taking place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the 2014 event sounds a call to “prospective brides, grooms, partners, their families and friends” to key into the borough’s “fun and funky vibe” as they visit over 40 wedding-related businesses — florists, gown and accessories retailers, bridesmaid and guest attire boutiques, photographers, wedding planners and designers, jewelers, salons and banquet facilities — many of which will be offering promotions, light refreshments and special amenities.

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WEEKEND: 60 MORE HOURS OF WINTER FUN

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Above: A cast of local high school students brings A LITTLE SHAKESPEARE: AS YOU LIKE IT to young theatergoers at Two River…while below, Ms. Lauryn Hill appears to have cancelled her (already previously rescheduled) Homecoming appearance at the Count Basie. (cast photo by Ozzie Rodriguez)

laurynFriday, February 7:

RED BANK: If we’ve learned anything from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, it’s that springtime comes in turn to even the bleakest of wintry landscapes. So, with that warming thought in mind — well, that and the caveat that all events described herein are subject to change due to “no enemy but winter and rough weather” — we sally forth once more, where no groundhog dare tread.

While Two River Theater Company carries on with its vibrant and tuneful mainstage production of the Bard’s cross-dressing comedy, a talented troupe of high school performers have put together an intriguing bonus feature inside TRTC’s “black box” Marion Huber space. Adapted and directed by Jason McDowell-Green, A Little Shakespeare: As You Like It is a 75-minute version of the play, aimed at audiences age 9 and up, and designed “to fulfill the not-so-secret grand ambition of Artistic Director John Dias: to have some Shakespeare resonating in every corner of our theater, and to get everyone in our community turned on to the thrill of his exquisite language.” Red Bank Regional students Alicia Moeller and Patrick Monaghan are the lovestruck leads Rosalind and Orlando — and they’re joined in the cast by fellow RBR actors Halle Butler, Raquel Diaz and Alyssa Rogers, plus Michaela Farrell of Red Bank Catholic, and student players from several other Monmouth County high schools. Public performances, for which the actors will also be performing a score of original music by Shanna Jones, are Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday at 12 and 4 pm. Take it here for tickets ($15) and bios of the cast members — or here for tickets to the grownup version of the show that continues this weekend through February 16. 

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WEEKEND: OLD MASTERS, HISTORIC HAUNTS

mikesuperIllusionist extraordinaire Mike Super materializes for an evening of large-scale prestidigitation at the Basie tonight.

Friday, October 25:

RED BANK: At the Count Basie Theatre — where a “ghost light” is kept burning for passing Lantern Tours and house phantoms — the newly minted tradition of “Harley-ween” is kickstarted with the theater-scale area debut of America’s Favorite Mystifier, illusionist Mike Super. Last seen in an appearance at Brookdale College, the winner of the NBC TV competition Phenomenon materializes on the Basie boards with a spectacular 8 pm show that promises a live murder-mystery round of CLUE, a demonstration of voodoo mind control, and an outright repeal of the law of gravity. Most potentially amazing is the fact that all ticketholders are eligible to ride away with “the vehicle that Mike will make appear on stage” — a little item from Harley-Davidson of Long Branch. Tickets ($39 – $69) right here.

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