23 November 2011

The Eighth Annual Saint Cecilia Arts Festival: The War Between the States

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. 
~ Twyla Tharp

Well, we did it again.  Another November, another successful Saint Cecilia Arts Festival!  And by all accounts, it was the best one yet.

Once again we wooed and wowed the audience by turns with poetry, Broadway, original music, moving monologues, and side-splitting comedy.  But this year we added a twist: a theme.

2011 marked the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, so that was our main theme.  To broaden it a little for our artists, we added four sub-themes: War, Tragedy, Honor, and Survival.  Both Sullivan and I wondered how the artists would interpret the theme.  They did not disappoint.

The Civil Strings

Civil Strings was our Featured Artist this year.  They performed four beautiful pieces, two of which are personal favorites: Theme from Schindler’s List and Ashokan Farewell, from Ken Burns’ Civil War series.  Over Farewell, Donald Maclean, one of the members of the quartet, read the Gettysburg Address.  It was a moving performance that ended the evening on a wonderful note (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Michelle Jacobeen, mezzo-soprano
Michelle Jacobeen returned and performed two numbers from Broadway musicals.  One was as a Civil War nurse – I Never Knew His Name and one from the musical Jekyll and Hyde – A New Life.  As she did last year, Michelle won the hearts of our audience with her lyricism and dramatic interpretation.

Janet Purdy, mezzo and Maria Bissex, sorprano
Maria Bissex, soprano, sang two songs not normally associated with a Civil War theme: an incredible version of Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, and a moving duet arragement of Into the West, where she was joined by mezzo Janet Purdy.  The latter was one of my personal favorites; believe me when I say that the Annie Lennox version does not do this piece justice.  You need to hear this duo’s harmonies!

Eric J. Kingsepp, Hannah DeRegibus,
Paul Dunlap, and Mikaela D'Eigh

I think it is safe to say that the highlight of the evening was the Went with the Wind skit by Carol Burnett.  I remember watching this skit back in the day, and laughing until my sides ached.  The drapes weren’t green velvet, but the red silk still got the desired response: Starlett [yours truly] had to wait a full minute and a half for the laughter to die down so she could say her next line! 

The menu this year matched the theme, with some stalwart favorites sticking around: Fried Chicken Bites [my mother’s receipe], Sausage Balls [Paula Deen’s recipe], Petite Ham Biscuits, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Petite Pumpkin Pies, and Pecan Tassies. 

We also had a cheese board donated by Fields of Athenry, a sustainable and organic farm located in Purcellville, Virginia.  And this year’s  spotlighted winery, Breaux Vineyards, is located in Loudon County, not that far from Athenry.  The owners down at The Virginia Wine Experience in Fredericksburg were kind enough to give us a discount on a case of some of Breaux’s nicest vintages.

To see more pictures, read the event program, or simply to learn more about the great work these group is doing to renew culture in the local community, visit The Saint Cecilia Group at www.saintceciliagroup.org and click on Past Events.   I promise you’ll be marking your calendars for Saturday, 17 November 2012!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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