On Stage: Kennett Symphony under the stars

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

A great way to spend a warm summer evening is to sit in the audience at the Open Air Theater at Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) with a mild breeze blowing and the Kennett Symphony playing onstage,

That scenario will exist on August 17.

The featured attraction at Longwood Gardens on Saturday evening will be a concert by Kennett Symphony at 7:30 p.m. in Longwood’s Open Air Theater. Visitors to the site will also be able to check out Longwood’s amazing horticultural attractions and enjoy the new, improved fountain display.

The Kennett Symphony (https://kennettsymphony.org) will present “Symphony Under the Stars: America The Beautiful” concert.

Under the baton of Conductor and Music Director Michael Hall, the Kennett Symphony will perform a variety of classics with an American theme.

The program for Saturday night’s performance features John Williams’ “The Cowboys: Overture”; Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto, Movement I”; Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo”; Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”; Peter Boyer’s “Rolling River (Sketches on “Shenandoah”); George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue”; and Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful.”

“When I first came, we did two outdoor shows at Longwood Gardens,” said Hall, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “Now, we do one indoor concert and one outdoor show. The indoor concert is performed in the Conservatory in April.

“The indoor concert is a much smaller venue and we play chamber music. The outdoor concert is a much more relaxed atmosphere. It can be hot, but it’s never been unbearably hot. We always perform a program of light classics.”

The program will also feature performances by Kenneth Naito on violin and Thomas Nickell on piano.

“We have two soloists who are our competition winners,” said Hall, who is also the Music Director of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra in British Columbia, Canada.

“The program starts with the Williams piece. It’s the least-often heard piece on the program. It was written for the movie ‘The Cowboys.’ It has all of what Williams is known for – high energy, melodies and a lot of percussion.”

Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto, Movement I” is a popular piece by the celebrated American composer who was born in West Chester in 1910 and died there in 1981. “Rodeo” is a frequently performed piece by Copland, who lived from 1900-1990.

“I’ve always loved ‘Rodeo,’” said Hall. “All four dances are beautiful.”

The second half of the concert begins with Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” followed by Peter Boyer’s “Rolling River (Sketches on “Shenandoah”).”

“I met Peter Boyer when I was working in California with the Pacific Symphony,” said Hall. “Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ is a beautiful piece – right from the iconic clarinet opening. This is played quite often for a reason.”

The concert concludes with Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful.” Dragon’ s iconic arrangement of the patriotic classic has been described as “a musical feast of color and nuance.”

Tickets are $50 and include the concert, access to visit Longwood Gardens during the day on the day of the concert and free parking.

In case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved indoors at Unionville High School Auditorium (750 Unionville Road, Kennett Square). The decision on whether to move the concert will be made no later than 4 p.m. on August 18.

A Pale Horse Named Death

Also on August 17, a very different type of music will be performed at a very different kind of venue when A Pale Horse Named Death headlines a show at Bar XIII (1706 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-746-2213, http://barxiii.com).

The band will be the top act at Tinkstock 2019, a festival-style show that gets underway at 3 p.m.

A Pale Horse Named Death is currently touring in support of its latest album, “When The World Becomes Undone,” which was released on January 18, 2019

Beauty often blossoms at the root of darkness. A Pale Horse Named Death siphons strangely blissful melodies from apocalyptic heavy metal awash in swells of cavernous gothic keys and grunge songcraft. The New York quintet — Sal Abruscato [vocals, guitar], Eddie Heedles [guitar], Joe Taylor [guitar], Eric Morgan [bass], and Johnny Kelly [drums] — continues to excavate vulnerability from venom on its third full-length album.

A Pale Horse Named Death is an American gothic metal band from Brooklyn, New York that was formed by Abruscato in 2011.

The band released its debut album, “And Hell Will Follow Me” in 2011 and followed with “Lay My Soul to Waste” in 2013. Six years later, the quintet, which is nicknamed “Brooklyn Lords of Doom,” dropped “When The World Becomes Undone.”

“We started work on the album in February 2018,” said Abruscato, during a phone interview Tuesday morning from his home in Brooklyn.

“Joe joined the band a year-and-a-half ago and we got him on board in the month before we started working on the album. This record has been in the works since 2014 but things happen in life.

“A lot of the songs on the album date back to 2014. I was sitting on it while touring with other bands. It was great to finally work on it. Fans kept asking us when our next album was coming out.”

Different external events kept the band from having a timely follow-up to “Lay My Soul To Waste.”

“The last few years, it became very difficult with scheduling. Life takes over. I got three kids and that affected how much time I had.”

Fortunately for fans of A Pale Horse Named Death, the new album finally saw the light of day earlier this year.

“The album has been very well received,” said Abruscato. “We’ve done two tours already this year including Europe. We did a big tour there because our band is bigger in Europe.”

A Pale Horse Named Death is one of the more melodic metal bands around.

“I love adding sweet melodies on top of heavier stuff,” said Abruscato. “Melodies are what touches people – melodies with lyrics that are heartfelt,”

Video link for A Pale Horse Named Death – https://youtu.be/5rUQF6D3j4Q.

Tinkstock 2019, which also features Power Theory, High Council, Old Man Savage, We Are One, Ashes to Vanity and Agents of Aggression, will start at 3 p.m. Tickets are $16.50.

Mipso

In the spring of 2018, Mipso released its fourth full-length, “Edges Run,” and immediately went on an album support tour – a tour that visited Philadelphia for a show at Boot & Saddle. In February 2019, the North Carolina-based band returned to Philly for a show at the Locks at Sona.

Mipso is still working the album and will return to the area again – this time for a show on August 18 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).

Mipso features Jacob Sharp (mandolin, vocals), Wood Robinson (bass, vocals), Joseph Terrell (guitar, vocals), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle, vocals).

“This is a two-week tour,” said Rodenbough, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon a sthe band travelled from New York City to a gig in Portland, Maine.

“Prior to the tour, we sere in the studio for eight days – 13-14 hours a day – and then we left the next day for the tour.

“We toured a lot earlier this year and now we’re ramping up into the fall. We also are working on our next album. We already have eight days in the studio, and we’ll do another week-and-a-half in October.

“We did the first eight-day session recording at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville. We’ll probably do the second session closer to Chapel Hill.

“Our new music is leaning more into a pop sound – more keyboards and other instruments. We used loops and deconstructed rhythm parts to make a more interesting backdrop.”

Mipso has been based in the “Golden Triangle” for all of its existence.

“The band formed at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill,” said Sharp, during a phone interview. “We were all native Carolinians. None of us were studying music.

“In our sophomore year, we played a show by accident. Friends liked it so we started playing together more and put out an album when we were in school. We were playing all kinds of string band music. We graduated in 2013 and went on the road full-time.”

“Edge’s Run” was released last year ago via a freshly inked deal with AntiFragile Music.

“‘Edge’s Run’ came out in April last year,” said Sharp. “We did more than 70 shows around the U.S. and Canada. Then, it was festival season, and, after that, we toured Europe.”

Mipso, influenced by the contradiction of its progressive home and the surrounding rural southern landscapes, is hailed as “hewing surprisingly close to gospel and folk while still sounding modern and secular” and was recently recognized by Rolling Stone as an “Artist You Need to Know Now.”

Mipso released its debut album “Dark Holler Pop” in 2013.

“We released ‘Dark Holler Pop’ and it debuted at Number 8 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart,” said Sharp. “Everything took off from there. Our band learned a lot in the studio. We entirely looked to bluegrass as a foundation. Now, there also is a lot of pop and country in our sound.”

Mipso is a band with a variety of influences.

“We all came from different musical backgrounds,” said Sharp. “Libby was a classical violinist. Joseph had bluegrass in his family, but he loved Jimi Hendrix and Phish. Woody was a jazz nut and I was more in the pop realm.

“When we released ‘Old Time Reverie’ in 2015, it did well on the bluegrass chart. It did well on the folk chart. And, it did well on the Heetseeker chart. A lot of people think our music is more folk or Americana. We just like to think that we write good songs.”

Mipso’s third studio album was “Coming Down the Mountain” in 2016.

“We recorded ‘Edge’s Run’ in Eugene, Oregon with Todd Sickafoose,” said Sharp. “We went there because he was a producer we wanted to work with. He brought a lot of inspired musicality to the songs.”

Sickafoose is a highly regarded producer and a much sought-after bassist who has performed and recorded with such artists as Ani DiFranco, Trey Anastasio, Erin McKeown and Noe Venable.

“We spent two weeks in Oregon in January two-and-a-half years ago,” said Sharp. “It was dark and cold and rainy. We knew going into the session that we had heavier material. Then Oregon took the songs to a moodier place. It was also during the time Trump had his inauguration.

“The songs still have the same energy from which they were born but the heaviness has lifted a little. The evolution of the sounds you hear has felt very natural.”

Video link for Mipso — https://youtu.be/RcfrzJdEM7M.

The show at the Sellersville Theater, which has Under The Oak as the opening act, will start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $21.50 and $29.50.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on August 17, John Mayall and Rory Block on August 20 and Ten Years After on August 21.

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