Piano 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.
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.FRIDAY: Making themselves at home once again inside Tower Hill Church on Harding Road — a setting that much closer to heaven — the Monmouth Civic Chorus and artistic director Ryan Brandau aspire to even greater heights with Heavenly Harmony, an evening that spotlights the talents of special guests and veteran vocalists alike.
Featured on the 7:30 p.m. program are Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day by Georg Handel, Lay a Garland by Robert Pearsall, and Choral Dances from Gloriana by Benjamin Britten. Joining the MCC for the occasion are soprano Jennifer Giere — an internationally acclaimed artist who performed the Karl Jenkins “Mass for Peace” The Armed Man (with an arrangement by Brandau) for the Pope’s recent visit to New York — and Eric Plutz, official organist at Princeton University.
Featured members of the Chorus include a pair of tenors: Warren Moe of Navesink, and Red Bank’s own James Scavone (perhaps even better known as the executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter) — and two accomplished baritones: Shore area stage star Kenneth Wasser of West Long Branch, and longtime MCC member/ administrator Gerald Metz of Freehold, a retired teacher in the Middletown school system who’s performed with orchestras under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and others (binge watchers may be interested in knowing that Gerald and wife Susan are the parents of Rebecca Metz, a recurring player in Showtime’s Shameless and Hulu’s Cam Girls).
Tickets for MCC’s Heavenly Harmony ($30 adult, $27 senior, $25 group, $5 student) and additional information are available at (732) 933-9333 or monmouthcivicchorus.org.
SATURDAY: When director Roy Gussman and the MSO take the Basie stage for their 8 p.m. season-capper, they’ll welcome guest soloist Ron Levy for a program that showcases the keyboard virtuoso on W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14, K.499 and P.I. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3, as well as the Overture from The Judges of the Secret Court by Hector Berlioz.
The sweet spot of the evening’s performance is filled by Bolero, Maurice Ravel’s magnificent music machine that became a surprise best-seller (in an almost plain-brown-wrapper manner) in the wake of the Bo Derek box office boffo “10.”
The concert is preceded at 6 p.m. with an End of Season Gala Reception in the Basie’s Carlton Lounge, and at 7:15 p.m. by the always-illuminating introduction and artist interview conducted by MSO’s bass trombonist and program annotator Tom Avakian. Reserve tickets ($35; seniors $30; kids $5) right here.