Monmouth Conservatory director and pianist Vladislav Kovalsky, above, welcomes jazz pianist Sandy Sasso, below, for a holiday concert this Saturday.
We already know that the long-running, best-kept-secret Red Bank institution known as the Monmouth Conservatory of Music has been a blessing and a boon to the “classically curious” — those looking for an intimately scaled, no-pressure introduction to great music that’s packed with an impressive roster of guest artists, free of pretension, and often free of charge.
When the MCM’s Chamber Orchestra and executive director Vladislav Kovalsky perform a public-welcome holiday concert this Saturday, they’ll be offering up an “all Bach and Holiday” program of sacred and devotional music, one that should deliver the requisite warm ‘n fuzzies for aficionados of the form. It will also unpack a cool and sassy surprise.
Vladislav Kovalsky discusses the 50th anniversary commemorations of the Monmouth Conservatory of Music on a recent news program. (Click to enlarge)
After a long run, it remains one of Red Bank’s best-kept-secret arts treasures: the public-welcome series of free classical music concerts that occur on a regular basis at the Monmouth Conservatory of Music on White Street.
Mixing guest performances by internationally touring artists with the showcased talents of the school’s faculty and students, the events are merely the most visible and audible manifestations of an entity that has trained generations of young musicians for 50 years.
This Saturday afternoon, the staff and students of MCM travel from their home in the heart of the downtown business district to the Count Basie Theatre, where executive director Vladislav Kovalsky and company will cap a yearlong Golden Anniversary observance with a pair of world-premiere works by New Jersey composers. They’ll also salute the man who first got the notion of establishing a serious music school in the borough that birthed the bandleader-legend Bill Basie.
And they’ll be joined by some special young guests, too.
Monmouth 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.
Monmouth Conservatory of Music exec director Vladislav Kovalsky (right) is the special guest, as Dr. Ryan Brandau and the Monmouth Civic Chorus celebrate MCM’s golden anniversary with a Saturday afternoon concert on Tower Hill.
The name of Felix Molzer, while perhaps not a household word in millennial Red Bank, is a significant one in the cultural history of a little borough that’s cast a giant profile on the area’s music scene. It was the European-born educator, composer and arranger — a former conductor of the Vienna Boys Choir in his native Austria — who established what became the Monmouth Conservatory Of Music upon relocating to the Red Bank green in the early 1960s. Before retiring as the MCM’s director in 1992, Molzer, who passed away in 2005 at age 83, also served as director of another source of local pride among serious music buffs: the venerable Monmouth Civic Chorus.
This Saturday afternoon, November 8, the MCC and its assembled voices (now under the baton of Dr. Ryan Brandau) pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Conservatory’s founding, in a concert dedicated to Molzer’s memory — and featuring the guest talents of his successor, the internationally renowned pianist Vladislav Kovalsky.
Pianist Gerd Nowaczyk — pictured at left, with flautist and Monmouth Symphony associate conductor Lucian Rinando — performs a solo concert at Middletown Township Public Library on Tuesday afternoon.
“Whoever planned the library must have had a great knowledge and love for music,” the Monmouth Conservatory of Music exec director Vladislav Kovalsky said of Middletown Township Public Library, in a 2008 interview here on redbankgreen. “It seems to go against all laws of acoustics and building materials, but it’s been a wonderful place for music.”
Over the past several years, the Red Bank-based MCM and the MTPL have continued to make beautiful music together, via an ongoing series of free afternoon and evening chamber concerts in the library’s Community Room — a slate of offerings designed to bring many of the region’s first-quality classical performers to a broadly based, all-ages audience. The series continues at 3 pm this Tuesday, April 22, with an encore by acclaimed keyboard artist (and Conservatory faculty member) Gerd Nowaczyk.
Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande will present a special recognition award to the Conservatory’s Executive Director, world renowned pianist and a Steinway Artist Vladislav Kovalsky. Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna will also make a presentation at the event, and Lillian Burry, Director of the Monmouth County Freeholders, will also be in attendance.
It’s an open house icebreaker when the nation’s longest-established ice boat club welcomes the public in from the cold for a Saturday of tours and presentations. Below, Bobby Bandiera brings the Rock ‘N Soul Revue back to the Basie for a Brill-iant bow to the hitmaking “American Troubadors.”
Friday, March 21:
RED BANK: Taking the old recruitment slogan, “Join the Jovi and See the World” to heart, Bobby Bandiera has done his share of globetrotting as touring guitarist with Bon Jovi. But when the veteran of more than 40 years’ worth of local barband gigs puts in to Shore, he tends to “relax” by staying audibly visible everywhere from the barstool in the corner at your favorite hometown watering hole to the Count Basie Theatre, where he intermittently assembles the jukebox Justice League known as the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue for a special salute to the “American Troubadors.”
When the 11-piece “Basie House Band” reconvenes Friday night at 8 pm, Bandiera and bandmates (including star-quality songbird Lisa Sherman, and Joe Jackson’s longtime bassist Graham Maby) will be paying trib to the great songwriter-performers of what’s commonly called the “Brill Building” era of late 50s-early 60s pop – a teenaged Tin Pan Alley that spawned some of the earliest and most immediately exhilarating work of Carole King (“The Loco-Motion”), Neil Diamond (“I’m a Believer”) and Burt Bacharach (“Baby It’s You”). Tickets ($25 – $99) can be reserved right here.
Above: Celtic combo Danú brings “An Nollag in Éirinnis” to Santa Basie’s workshop on Friday…while below, young adult novelist Julie Milillo comes home to Middletown for a Saturday discussion of Immortal Sin.
Friday, December 13:
RED BANK: It’s opening weekend for the annual holiday-season family show at Two River Theater, a newly revamped production of the original musical A Wind in the Willows Christmas that mixes Kenneth Grahame’s classic animal characters with “a lot more holiday spirit,” and redesigned costumes that highlight “ears and tails and fur.” Tonight’s 7 p.m. opening is preceded by a special noontime Scout Day preview that allows scout troops a behind-the-scenes look at the production, with games, snacks, photo ops and more. Performances continue at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday; take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for more on Mr. Toad and friends.