MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC!
Recently, we’ve gorged on music—-several instrumental treats plus the Sarasota Opera’s lovely production of Madama Butterfly. Last Music Monday, Sarasota Orchestra principal oboe, Christine Soojin Kim, was the guest along with the world renowned Bertram Lucarelli. Although Mr. Lucarelli no longer performs (he’s 80 and reported that after the age of 70, the breathing just doesn’t work the same), it’s clear he is still passionate about this instrument. We, the audience, were party to a coaching session with Ms. Kim. She played a beautiful Mozart piece for piano and oboe, and he offered suggestions and comments as she played and then re-played certain sections. It was a learning experience for us (and it seemed so for her). She was a good sport to have a master class before 800 people!
This past week, we were introduced to a young French cellist, Edgar Moreau, and the pianist, Jessica Xylina Osborne who often plays with him. They were a delightful pair and we learned about how she views playing with a wide variety of soloists and whether he approaches orchestral work differently than solo events. Note that she calls herself a pianist, not an accompanist, as they are partners in the musical enterprise. They shared works by Bach and others.
Finally, we got to hear again Sarasota’s own Betsy Traba, principal flutist in the Sarasota Orchestra, along with pianist Joe Holt and soprano Jenny Kim-Godfrey. They performed works by Poulenc, Saint-Saens, Mouquet and Mozart. This was a Lunch Look, Listen recital at Michael’s on East and part of the Festival of French Music being offered this month and next. All of these young (and established) musicians are worth watching!
Although we might not be the hip demographic Coolinary is looking to entice upstairs on Main Street, the Chief Penguin and I very much enjoyed our first meal here. We were early birds at 5:15 for dinner before the opera and were soon joined by some other couples with the same intent. It’s a surprisingly large space with a long bar and a mix of normal tables and those trendy high ones (my feet always dangle miles above the floor).
Between us we sampled the Caesar salad (the addition of some apple was unusual, but good); cauliflower fritters (three large battered slices) with a blue cheesy dipping sauce; house smoked salmon; sizzling shrimp on a skillet (love the concept, but they were under seasoned which the chef could easily remedy); and the baby back ribs from the bar food section of the menu. All the portions were decent to large size and the ribs were especially good.
Entree choices include grouper, salmon, red snapper, beef, lamb and chicken, and at least one vegetarian dish. Posters on the wall highlight a number of late night events with live music. Service was attentive and efficient and we plan to return.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
I’ve had Colson Whitehead’s new novel, The Underground Railroad, on my stack for several months and just finished it. I found it a powerful evocation of slavery and one woman’s journey toward freedom. The cruelty, violence, brutality and denigration of slavery are all here along with the courage and risk-taking of those people who are conductors on the railroad. When Cora makes her escape from the Randall plantation in Georgia she has limited knowledge of the fortitude and resilience that will be required of her.
Whitehead’s choice to make the stations on the railroad real tunnels and stations is inspired, while his creation of varying sets of rules and expectations for the different states, particularly horrifying in North Carolina and on the surface more civilized in South Carolina, grounds the novel in an unexpected way. Cora’s travels through these and other states, plus her encounters with slave catcher Ridgeway, graphically highlight how many ways there are to stifle, humiliate and even kill a person. This book was named to 11 best books-of-the-year lists and won the National Book Award for Fiction—lots of attention and definitely deserved! I recommend it without reservation.
Note: Photo of Ms. Kim from the orchestra’s web site; restaurant photo from Trip Advisor; Mr. Whitehead’s photo from literary-arts.org