Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 12, 2022

REVIEW: Sevenars Music Festival, Family and Friends

The Academy, Worthington, MA 
July 10, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

The 54th season of this beloved summer festival opened with its traditional showcase of musical talent in the founding Schrade-James family, along with premieres of compositions by two multi-talented friends of the festival, in the intimate acoustic of the Academy in Worthington. 

The festive spirit of the occasion was dimmed by the passing a week earlier of Randolph Schrade, a brother of Sevenars Executive Director and pianist Rorianne Schrade, who dedicated her loving performance of the tender “Prelude in E Flat” by Alexander Scriabin (a favorite composer of both) to his memory. She dedicated an equally affecting lullaby by Ukrainian composer Viktor Kosenko to her new grandnephew and a flamboyant Horowitz-enhanced “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn to her husband. 

Rorianne’s brother-in-law, pianist David James, back from a three-year Covid-forced absence in his native New Zealand, followed with a vivid “Dedication” by Robert Schumann, arranged by Franz Liszt, and a flowing Liszt “Valse-Impromptu.” David’s son Christopher James next played two Liszt piano etudes: a lush “A Sigh;” and a Herculean “Wild Hunt.”

Playing cello, Christopher then partnered his sister, pianist Lynette James, in transcriptions by Friedrich Kummer of three Franz Schubert songs – a lilting “Serenade;” a fleet “The Trout;” and a lively “To Be Sung on the Water” – and a youthfully exuberant “Polonaise Brillante” by Frederic Chopin. 

Music educator/performer Anita Anderson Cooper was next accompanied by cellist James (her former student) and pianist Clifton “Jerry” Noble in her “Four Songs on Poems by Gloria House/Aneb Kgositile.” Cooper’s warm soprano voice and evocative musical settings, along with sensitive instrumental support, movingly conveyed the African-American writer’s eloquent words. 

The protean Noble, joined by Rorianne, ended the program with his two-piano suite, “Canival of R-nimals,” composed for Sevenars and honoring its namesakes - parents and five children, whose first names all begin with R. While channeling both Saint-Saens’ charming “Carnival of the Animals” and Ogden Nash’s droll companion verses, Noble put a virtuosically Schrade-y spin on his wide-ranging score (which includes scurrying “Rats,” rippling “Rays,” and plodding “Rhinoceri”), and his wife Kara read his self-penned “doggerel” with tongue firmly in cheek. 

Remaining Sevenars concerts, featuring such visiting artists as pianists Jiayan Sun and Liana Paniyeva are scheduled for Sundays July 17-August 14 at 4pm.