Musical Opportunities Abound at Palustris
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
More than a dozen performances with eclectic styles - from operatic, symphonic and choral to jazz, swing, country rock, bluegrass, acoustic and sacred - will keep music at the forefront of the four-day Palustris Festival in March.
The second annual arts celebration for Moore County focuses on the performing, literary and visual arts with more than 100 events planned from March 24-27.
Leading off the roster of musical riches for the weekend is a Thursday night concert by New York's Joshua Wolff Jazz Trio, presented by the Carolina Philharmonic, which was founded in 2009 by Joshua's brother, David Michael Wolff. Pianist Joshua Wolff and his trio will be joined by sassy song stylist Laura Didier. She is a frequent performer at such jazz hot spots as Birdland, Blue Note and Jazz Standard.
Another Thursday night event showcases The Sandhills Harmony Chorus in concert. Singing in close harmony, the all-female chorus features lighthearted pop and variety tunes and upbeat quartets.
Opening the weekend's schedule at The Rooster's Wife at Aberdeen's Poplar Knight Spot is New Orleans' premier washboard-sousaphone-guitar trio - The Tin Men. On Friday night, tenor saxophonist and Cameron native John Ellis and his quartet, Double Wide, bring modern jazz from New York, North Carolina and New Orleans to the Palustris Festival.
Saturday night the spotlight will be on Mollie O'Brien as her warm and inviting voice, accompanied by Rich Moore, runs the gamut from blues to folk to modern standards. Topping off the weekend, Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities joins with The Rooster's Wife in presenting "A Gospel Brunch," featuring Martha Bassett in a noontime performance at the Poplar Knight Spot.
Sandhills Community College presents "Music Through the Ages" from its music program featuring performances by students and faculty on Friday noon, and a Baxter Clements Student Spectacular is scheduled for Friday afternoon at Penick Village. That evening, festival-goers have a choice between the big band sound of Swing Street Band at the Affair of the Arts dinner/cabaret show, and the Carolina Philharmonic performing with many of Moore County's most promising young instrumentalists and singers in a program culminating in Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
The final program in its series for the Palustris Festival by the Carolina Philharmonic is especially designed "For the Opera Lover" and takes place at Owens Auditorium on Saturday afternoon. David Michael Wolff leads guest soloists and the Carolina Philharmonic from the keyboard in a selection of arias, duets, trios, quartets and refrains from best-loved operas.
As part of the Save Our Sandhills daylong celebration on Saturday at the Southern Pines Civic Club, festival-goers have two chances to hear some traditional bluegrass music. Joe and Abby McDonald will perform between 12 and 1 p.m. and again between 5:30 and 6:30. Also at 5 p.m. at the Southern Pines Community Congregational Church, the Moore County Choral Society Ensemble is giving a varied program of choral works from the Renaissance to the 21st century.
The Palustris Festival's musical feast continues Saturday night when the ever-popular and well-acclaimed Capitol Steps take over the stage at the Robert E. Lee Auditorium of Pinecrest High School. The Capitol Steps have recorded more than 30 albums, and been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS.
Sunday, March 27, the festival closes with two exceptional musical programs. The 36-voice Emmanuel Parish Choir presents a concert of "Sacred Illuminations," under the direction of Dr. Homer Ashton Ferguson, highlighted by Schubert's "Mass in G Major."
A special program, sponsored by the Moore County Historical Society and researched by Dr. Larry Arnold, professor of music at UNC Pembroke, takes place at the Old Bethesda Church in Aberdeen.
Called "Old Bethesda Harmony," it explores the history of early spiritual songs and hymns. Featuring the Bethesda Chancel Choir and the Bethesda Ensemble and area musicians, included will be traditional and new renditions of rarely heard music, as well as old favorites, with a chance for the audience to sing along.
Most of the musical performances scheduled for the Palustris Festival are ticketed events. Complete information on ticket prices, locations, dates and times, and directions to all of the festival's happenings may be found on the website at www.palustrisfestival.com or by calling (910) 692-2787.
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