David Shugarts passed away

It is with much sadness that we report the David Shugarts passed away last night, March 5, 2015.  David was the Sound Engineer and de facto Technical Director for The Flagpole Radio Café since the planning stages in 2008 through the end of Season 4 in 2012.  It is no exaggeration to say that the show would not have been possible without his formidable talents and tenacity.  On behalf of everyone involved in The Flagpole Radio Café, we send our deepest sympathies to David’s family and loved ones.

David was a rare person.  Not only was he a superb technician; he was also a fine writer, public speaker, and advocate for worthy causes.  He loved music and comedy and in many ways embodied the spirit of the show.  David’s work in many disciplines was characterized by excellence and meticulousness, but his most cherished traits were his patience, kindness and dependability.  You could always rely on him to accomplish what he set out to do and no one worked harder on this show than David Shugarts.

We will miss him very much.  Rest in peace David.

Barbara Gaines and Martin Blanco

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May show postponed, rescheduled in Ridgefield

May 13, 2014

Good Morning Everyone,

 I am writing to you today with some disappointing news, an apology, and then some good news.

 First things first: It is with regret that I am have to announce that we will be postponing The Flagpole Radio Café show scheduled for this Saturday May 17.  A number of unexpected challenges have presented themselves; any single one them could have been addressed, but the collective total have made it undesirable, if not impossible to do a show.  I’m sure we could manage to get something onstage, but it would only be a disappointment.  That said, I apologize for the late notice.  In retrospect, I should have announced this sooner, but I was hoping to resolve the challenges.  Thank you for your patience and tolerance.

 Now for the good news:  We will have a show this May.  We have rescheduled the show for Saturday May 31, at 7pm.  Unfortunately, the Edmond Town Hall was not available on May 31, so we will be performing at the beautiful Ridgefield Playhouse in relatively nearby Ridgefield.  You may recall, we performed there last year for A Family Concert of Caring, Healing and Togetherness with Peter Yarrow and Dar Williams.  If you were not able to attend that moving show, I hope you were able to see the edited version on PBS.

And now for the really, good news (almost):  While I can’t announce the guest artist just yet, I can tell you with confidence that we have an excellent artist joining us.  I hope to be able to announce later today.  

So, check back for another email or visit our website tonight.  All things being equal, we will have information about the outstanding guest artist, and tickets for the May 31 show at the Ridgefield Playhouse will be on sale.

 

If you have already purchased tickets, we will issue new tickets for the May 31 show, or provide a full refund if you are unable to attend.

 Thank you so much.

 With warm regards,

              Martin 

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Sloan Wainwright is Guest Artist for February 8th show!

Newtown, CT – The Flagpole Radio Café continues its sixth season with Sloan Wainwright. Tickets are on sale at www.flagpoleproductions.org. The show begins at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $20 for senior citizens and students.  If further information is needed, please contact info@flagpoleproductions.org.

Producer Martin Blanco noted, “Sloan Wainwright’s appearance is highly anticipated and long overdue.  She was supposed to perform last February, but sadly we were compelled to cancel the show in the wake of the December tragedy.  She could not have been more gracious and I am grateful that we are back and that she is able to join us this year.  She possesses a rich voice and a rare ability to interpret song.  She brings folk music to a very distinctive place and I expect our audience will take much delight in her artistry.

Sloan Wainwright has been a pioneer all her life.  A forerunner in the independent music scene long before it became hip to walk the road less traveled; Sloan is an artist whose passionate work and extraordinary life have fused to burn a new definition for women in music:  Grown-up girl style. An outstanding and highly original singer, Sloan is a compelling performer best known for her rich contralto voice, intensely personal lyrics, and an innovative approach to song. Hard to categorize, her musical style melds the best of pop, folk, jazz, and blues to create a soulful hybrid. Her personal appearances are forceful and uplifting; her stage persona self-described as “we take our audience on a journey; we come in full tilt and do our show.”

Born into a highly acclaimed musical family (youngest sister to Loudon Wainwright, Auntie to Rufus and Martha Wainwright), Sloan’s teenage years were largely influenced by a constant flow of diverse artists, writers and musicians. She learned to play the piano and watched her brother Loudon, 11 years older (and the father of Rufus and Martha), become successful. Writing and performing throughout the Greenwich Village hipster scene, Sloan developed her unique style.  She remarks, “There was an effortlessness about the flow of creativity at that stage of my life. I didn’t think; I was just fearlessly flowing.”

In the mid 90’s Sloan began to collaborate with guitarist Stephen Murphy. From their instant creative synergy, a band was put together and within no time, Sloan released a self-titled debut CD in 1996 — Sloan Wainwright.  The CD was a critical success and introduced the music to a national audience.

The Sloan Wainwright Band followed with a second release in 1998. A tribute in memory of her mother Martha titled From Where You Are.  The third band release from early 2001 titled The Song Inside is a pivotal work in its merging of traditionally based folk music and more eccentric, creatively evolved variations. The current CD release, titled Cool Morning  sees Sloan take on a myriad of musical challenges. Songs like “Word of The Day” showcase her unique singing voice and vocal styling. One of the most memorable cuts on the CD is her rendition of U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name.” Her performance of this classic not only radiates the greatness of the song, but also gives the listener the clear vision of Sloan as a modern day interpreter of lyrics and music.

December 2005 saw the release of the first-ever live in concert CD for Sloan and band mates entitled Sloan Wainwright and Friends On A Night Before Christmas This holiday celebration CD features The Sloan Wainwright band live in concert along with guest performances by The Kennedys, Cadence Carroll, Penny Nichols and Gandalf Murphy, and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

 

Now in its sixth season, The Flagpole Radio Café was created by Jim Allyn, Martin Blanco and Barbara Gaines in conjunction with the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission. It features music by Jim Allyn and The Flagpole Radio Café Orchestra, radio style comedy sketches by the Flagpole Shakespeare Repertory Theatre nd appearances by guests artists of accomplishment if not renown.

After four years of performances, the show took a hiatus in the shadow of the Sandy Hook Shootings of December 14, 2012. n that most terrible day, ensemble members Francine and David Wheeler lost their son Benjamin. The tragedy reunited the ensemble with Peter Yarrow, who produced A Family Concert of Caring, Healing and Togetherness at the Ridgefield Playhouse with the intent on bringing a measure of peace to the greater community as well as contributing to the broader movement for non-violence in our country. The ensemble, especially singer Francine Wheeler, was prominently featured in this presentation. A one hour version of this concert was subsequently broadcast on PBS in New York this summer, and shortly will be available to PBS stations throughout the country.

The ensemble is comprised of musicians Jim Allyn, Rob Bonaccorso, Rick Brodsky, Howie Bujese, Dick Neil and Francine Wheeler, and actors Martin Blanco, Barbara Gaines, Kate Katcher, and David Wheeler. Each show also features a musical guest artist and has included luminaries such as Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Peter Yarrow, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Jonathon Edwards, Elisabeth Von Trapp, Christine Lavin, Deborah Henson-Conant, Patty Larkin, Vaneese Thomas, Roger Ball of The Average White Band, and Yale’s internationally acclaimed male choir The Whiffenpoofs.


The Flagpole Radio Café will be performed on February 8th at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown, CT. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for students and senior citizens. Other performance dates are: March 22, and May 17. For ticket sales and information visit www.flagpoleproductions.org or call (203) 364.0898.

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December 7th Holiday Special with Tom Chapin

Newtown, CT – The Flagpole Radio Café continues its sixth season with Grammy Award-winning Tom Chapin. Tickets are now on sale at www.flagpoleproductions.org. The show begins at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT.  To celebrate the holidays and as a way of saying thank you to all of loyal patrons all tickets for this performance are on sale for $20!   If further information is needed, please contact info@flagpoleproductions.org.

Tom Chapin first appeared in The Flagpole Radio Café in November of 2010. Executive Producer Martin Blanco remarked, “We are so glad to have Tom Chapin return to our show, especially this December. His artistic sensibilities are an excellent compliment to our brand of music and comedy, and we feel that his appearance is a lot like family returning home for the holidays.  There’s no avoiding that next month will conjure profound feelings in our community, and I believe Mr. Chapin and his formidable talents will bring much needed comfort and joy. ”

            Tom Chapin’s music spans multiple styles and generations.  For more than thirty years and through twenty-one recordings, he has entertained, amused and enlightened audiences of all ages with life-affirming original songs told in a sophisticated array of musical styles.  His remarkable musicianship, great songwriting and personal warmth shine through whether he’s performing in a concert hall, an outdoor festival, a school, in front of a symphony orchestra or in an intimate coffeehouse. 

            Tom Chapin’s adult concerts and recordings are sparked by strong, intelligent songwriting with clear, engaging vocals and the intricate, melodic guitar work that has become his trademark.  His most recent recording Broadsides, a collaboration with John Forster, was released this month.

            The New York Times calls Tom Chapin “one of the great personalities in contemporary folk music.”He says: “Mine is not a traditional music, but it comes from a tradition.  My musical heroes are people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie who wrote and sang real songs for real people; for everyone, old, young, and in between.” 

            Tom Chapin is also a beloved narrator of children’s books on tape.  Three of his narrations won Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album for Children: Mama Don’t Allow in 2001, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly in 2002, and The Train They Call the City of New Orleans in 2004. 

            His varied career has taken him to Broadway as lead in the musical Pump Boys and Dinettes, off-Broadway as musical director of both Cotton Patch Gospel and Harry Chapin: Lies & Legends and on television as host of Make A Wish on ABC, and as host of the documentary series National Geographic Explorer.  He has contributed satiric topical songs to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, poking fun at social and scientific trends in the news.  He also has a cameo role in Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

            In addition, Tom Chapin works tirelessly on behalf of many charitable organizations.  He is on the Board of Directors of Why Hunger, a hunger organization founded in 1975 by Tom’s late brother, singer/songwriter/humanitarian Harry Chapin.He is active in environmental causes as well as in working to get music and the arts back in schools.

 

            Now in its sixth season, The Flagpole Radio Café was created by Jim Allyn, Martin Blanco and Barbara Gaines in conjunction with the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission. It features music by Jim Allyn and The Flagpole Radio Café Orchestra, radio style comedy sketches by the Flagpole Shakespeare Repertory Theatre nd appearances by guests artists of accomplishment if not renown.

            After four years of performances, the show took a hiatus in the shadow of the Sandy Hook Shootings of December 14, 2012. n that most terrible day, ensemble members Francine and David Wheeler lost their son Benjamin. The tragedy reunited the ensemble with Peter Yarrow, who produced A Family Concert of Caring, Healing and Togetherness at the Ridgefield Playhouse with the intent on bringing a measure of peace to the greater community as well as contributing to the broader movement for non-violence in our country. The ensemble, especially singer Francine Wheeler, was prominently featured in this presentation. A one hour version of this concert was subsequently broadcast on PBS in New York this summer, and shortly will be available to PBS stations throughout the country.

            The ensemble is comprised of musicians Jim Allyn, Rob Bonaccorso, Rick Brodsky, Howie Bujese, Dick Neil and Francine Wheeler, and actors Martin Blanco, Barbara Gaines, Kate Katcher, and David Wheeler. Each show also features a musical guest artist and has included luminaries such as Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Peter Yarrow, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Jonathon Edwards, Elisabeth Von Trapp, Christine Lavin, Deborah Henson-Conant, Patty Larkin, Vaneese Thomas, Roger Ball of The Average White Band, and Yale’s internationally acclaimed male choir The Whiffenpoofs.


            The Flagpole Radio Café will be performed on December 7th at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown, CT. For this show, all tickets are on a special holiday sale and will cost $20. Other performance dates are: February 8, March 22, and May 17. For ticket sales and information visit www.flagpoleproductions.org or call (203) 364.0898.

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Michael Coppola and James DeCava hold guitar workshop before Nov 9th show!

Newtown, CT – The Flagpole Radio Café continues its sixth season with brilliant and innovative jazz guitarist Michael Coppola.   At 6pm Mr. Coppola and luthier James DeCava will hold a guitar workshop in the Alexandria Room.   Mr. DeCava will have some of his exquisitely crafted instruments on display. Mr. Coppola will demonstrate his technique for playing his nine string guitar (affectionately called “The Hydra.”).  Guitarists of all ages and abilities are invited to join the fun

            Tickets are now on sale at www.flagpoleproductions.org .  The show begins at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT.  Ticket prices are $30 for adults, $25 for students and senior citizens.  If further information is needed, please contact info@flagpoleproductions.org .

Luthier Jamers R. DeCava was born and raised in Stratford, Connecticut.  As a young teenager, he began playing guitar and banjo and soon realized that if something needed repair on his instruments, he had to do it himself as there were few repair people around at that time.  He began meeting others with similar interests ad came into contact with the well known Liberty Banjo Company.  He worked for them for many years making banjos, doing repairs, and cutting-inlaying mother of pearl with intricate designs.  Over the years, he has built hundreds of guitars, banjos, mandolins, and one of a kind instruments.  He has also become well known for building multi-string instruments.  He is the builder for Michael Coppola’s custom guitars.

Michael Coppola was listed as a main entry in acclaimed jazz critic Scott Yanow’s 2013 book The Great Jazz Guitarists (The Ultimate Guide) alongside guitar legends such as Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery and for good reason.  Mr. Coppola has become one of a handful of guitarists who have pushed the boundaries of the instrument.  Playing in a trio with master pianist John Mehegan inspired Mr. Coppola to overstep the technical boundaries of the guitar.  In an attempt to achieve the same tightly-voiced chords and pedaled legato phrases used by contemporary jazz keyboardists, he created the concept of the 8 String Guitar.  This original design, which Coppola commissioned from Luthier James DeCava, requires inner, rather than extra bass or treble side strings.

In 2000, Michael Coppola expanded his own idea to incorporate a 9th sting. This guitar, also built by Luthier James DeCava, is known in jazz guitar circles as “The Hydra.”  This became his instrument for life.  Michael has recorded several albums with this instrument and in the canon of reviews; one will find superlatives such as “unique, different, mind-boggling, magical,” and “inventive.”

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Season 6 Begins With Harp Sensation Deborah Henson-Conant

Newtown, CT –  The Flagpole Radio Café will return to the Edmond Town Hall on Saturday, September 28th and is pleased to announce that harp sensation Deborah Henson-Conant will be the guest artist for this show.  Tickets are now on sale at www.flagpoleproductions.org .  The show begins at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT.  Ticket prices are $30 for adults, $25 for students and senior citizens.

            Deborah Henson-Conant remarked, “Since my last show with The Flagpole Radio Café I joined a rock band and toured the world with legendary guitarist Steve Vai — thus fulfilling one of my life’s big bucket list goals.  Coming back to the Flagpole feels like coming back home.  It’s such a privilege to open the 2013-2014 season of The Flagpole Radio Café.  I had so much fun at the last show and I can’t wait to see everyone again – both on the stage and in the seats.”

            Deborah Henson-Conant is a prolific composer, a revolutionary harpist and a performer of irrepressible spirit.  Her playing ranges from raucous to delicate and her performances blur the line between musical performance and theatrical event. She’s a cross-genre, Blues-Flamenco-Celtic-Funk-Folk-Jazz dynamo.  She tells tall tales with the ease of a stand-up comic.  She solos and wails like a rock guitarist.  She turns music into theater and theater into something lyrical.  See her once and you’ll never look at the harp the same way again.

Deborah Henson-Conant has toured with the Boston Pops, opened for Ray Charles at Tanglewood, jammed onstage with Bobbie McFerrin and offstage with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and starred in the PBS special Celtic Harpestry.  She’s been featured on many popular television and radio shows including Sunday Morning, The Today Show and Weekend Edition.

Her DVD and CD project with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Invention and Alchemy, received a Grammy Nomination and has appeared on PBS stations nationwide.  The project features her one-woman show with an 80-piece orchestra.

            In addition to her work as a musician, Deborah Henson-Conant is the founder and curator of The Burnt Food Museum.  The museum was founded in the late 1980’s one night when Deborah put on a small pot of apple cider to heat, then received an unexpected, fascinating and very long phone call.  By the time she returned to the kitchen, the cider had become a “cinder” and thus the first, and perhaps still the most impressive, exhibit:  “Free Standing Hot Apple Cider” was born.  The Burnt Food Museum has been toured by the hosts of NPR’s Weekend Edition and Morning Edition, and also featured on NPR’s The Splendid Table.  A televised tour of the museum was featured on the Food Network’s Unwrapped.

Now in its sixth season, The Flagpole Radio Café was created by Jim Allyn, Martin Blanco and Barbara Gaines in conjunction with the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission.  It features music by Jim Allyn and The Flagpole Radio Café Orchestra, and radio style comedy sketches by the Flagpole Shakespeare Repertory Theatre.  This summer, the ensemble was prominently featured on PBS in Peter Yarrow’s A Concert for Healing.  The ensemble comprises musicians Jim Allyn, Rob Bonaccorso, Rick Brodsky, Howie Bujese, Dick Neil and Francine Wheeler, and actors Martin Blanco, Barbara Gaines, Kate Katcher, and David Wheeler.  Each show also features a musical guest artist and has included luminaries such as Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Peter Yarrow, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Jonathon Edwards, Elizabeth Von Trapp, Christine Lavin, Deborah Henson-Conant, Patty Larkin, Vanese Thomas, Roger Ball of The Average White Band, and Yale’s internationally acclaimed male choir The Whiffenpoofs.


            The Flagpole Radio Café will be performed on September 28 at 7 pm at the Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown, CT.  Tickets cost $30 for adults; $25 for students and senior citizens.  Other performance dates are:  November 9, December 7, February 8, March 22, and May 17. 

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A Healing Concert for Newtown at Ridgefield Playhouse

NEWTOWN CONCERT OF CARING, HEALING AND TOGETHERNESS FEATURING PETER YARROW, DAR WILLIAMS, GUY DAVIS, BETHANY & RUFUS AND THE ENSEMBLE FROM

THE FLAGPOLE RADIO CAFÉ

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 10 AT 3PM AT THE RIDGEFIELD PLAYHOUSE

ADMISSION IS FREE

Newtown, CT – Created with the intention of bringing the Newtown, CT community together in song, spirit and common purpose, a concert will be held at the Ridgefield Playhouse at 3pm, Sunday Feb 10, 2013. Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary), Dar Williams, Guy Davis and Bethany & Rufus will join Newtown’s own Flagpole Radio Café performers to sing songs of caring, healing and togetherness. The concert will also focus on Newtown’s “Sandy Hook Promise” that calls on America to “truly honor the lives lost by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation,” assuring that, in the future, children and youth will grow up in safe, caring, and violence-free school and community environments.

Personal invitees will include members of the Newtown families and first responder networks, educators and other community stakeholders as well as a statewide group of Connecticut’s leaders who will be attending the concert in a demonstration of solidarity with the families and community members whose lives have been so deeply affected by the recent tragedy.

This concert and post concert reception is being produced with support from Operation Respect, an educational non-profit, joined with Newtown’s The Flagpole Radio Café show. The reception will include community, government and business leaders from across Connecticut, in an effort to create an ongoing network that can help fulfill the Sandy Hook Promise. Also, during the concert, it will be announced that free trainings in Operation Respect’s “Don’t Laugh At Me” Program that focuses on creating safe, compassionate, bully-free school environments will be offered to teachers and other educators in six schools in the Newtown area.

The concert will underscore the words “Our hearts are broken; Our spirit is not,” that express the Newtown community’s determination to “be remembered, not as the town filled with grief and victims, but as the place where real change began”.

Tickets will be offered to the public on a free, first come, first served, basis beginning on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013

(The press is invited to attend the concert but, out of respect for the families and residents of Newtown, there will be no photography or video at the concert. Press opportunities will be made for interviews and photos after the concert with the performers and the attendees of the post-concert reception.)

For further information, please contact Martin Blanco at 203.364.0898 or blancobm@hotmail.com

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In Memory of Benjamin Andrew Wheeler

The Flagpole Radio Cafe is produced and performed in Newtown Connecticut.  As you must know, a terrible tragedy took place in Newtown on Friday, December 14 when a lone gunmen stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and slayed 20 children and six adult staff members before killing himself.

Francine and David Wheeler have been performing in this show since the first season.  It is with great sadness that we tell you that their son Benjamin was one of the children who was murdered.  We extend our deepest sympathies to our friends Francine and David, as well as to all the families who were affected by this most terrible event.

This tragedy occured as we were about to begin our already delayed fifth season.  At this juncture we do not know when we will resume, but please check our website for updates as they will be forthcoming.  We will also send out announcements through the press when the time is right.

If you wish, you may make donations to:

The Benjamin Wheeler Fund
c/o Trinity Episcopal Church
36 Main St
Newtown, CT 06470

We wish a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and peace for all in the new year.

Sincerely,

Your Friends from The Flagpole Radio Cafe

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An interview with Elisabeth von Trapp who appears tomorrow night at The Flagpole Radio Cafe!

Elisabeth von Trapp will be the guest artist for the May 19th presentation of The Flagpole Radio Café.  She is the granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp whose story inspired the beloved play and film The Sound of Music.  Elisabeth has been singing professionally since childhood and has enthralled audiences from European cathedrals to Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.  Inspired by her father Werner von Trapp’s guitar playing and singing, Elisabeth has carried on the legacy of the internationally renowned Trapp Family Singers.  Building on her famed family’s passion for music, Elisabeth has created her own artistic style, at once ethereal and earthy, delicate and powerful. Critics have called her voice “hauntingly clear,”  “joyfully expressive” and “simply beautiful.”

Elisabeth has released five self produced albums, and has performed across the United States, Austria and Russia. Her music has been featured on National Public Radio, BBC-Radio, Japanese National Radio and CNN Spanish Radio. She has appeared on CBS’s Eye on People, ABC’s Good Morning America and BBC-TV.

No one leaves an Elisabeth von Trapp performance unchanged.  As someone once said, “Audiences of all ages are drawn by the promise of her famous name.  Awed by the beauty of her voice and musical arrangements, their hearts are touched forever by the astonishing sound of her unique new music.”

In anticipation of her appearance at The Flagpole Radio Café show on Saturday May 19th at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, Elisabeth was kind enough to speak with me about her family and her craft.   I found her to be candid and fascinating.  She has experienced music from an authentic multicultural perspective and it has shaped her life.  Her story may begin with The Sound of Music, and her experiences as a Von Trapp no doubt shaped her destiny, but after speaking with her or hearing her perform for a few minutes, you realize that is only the beginning of her artistry.  She is a musician of great depth, experience and even wisdom.  She characterizes her musical life as a “journey.”  She said she “needs to find the link between what my family has given me and what I bring.  I have done that all along, but this is a journey that is ongoing.”

-Martin Blanco

Martin Blanco: You were born into a family that has an extraordinary story to tell.  How has the experience of your parents and grandparents shaped your life?

Elisabeth von Trapp: As you know, the original story that many people link me to was a story about my grandfather and grandmother, my father and his siblings as seen through the eyes of my step grandmother,

Maria von Trapp.  I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for my family.  They became the Trapp Family Singers.  The Trapp Family Singers were musicians; they were true artists. They were dedicated, devoted, incredibly talented professional musicians who sang as a group for nearly 20 years. When I see pictures of them it almost makes me cry. They were so beautiful, my aunts so young and lovely, my father and uncles, so handsome and strong. Their life was an incredible story; it would make a great movie.

The public Maria and the private Maria were often conflicting anomalies, especially to her family and those closely connected with her. Like so many highly- driven and creative persons, she could be unpredictable. She was not above being formidable when she believed in an opinion or a cause and would move mountains to achieve her objectives.  This hard driving, sometimes austere woman created a legend. She was a mother, a step mother, a grandmother, a musician and performer.  She was a speaker, author, educator and public personality.

She was also my grandmother… my Mutta.  She spoke at my college graduation and I was at her bedside when she died.  I hold her memory dear.  Maria’s story is a saga of a remarkable and courageous woman whose life continues to inspire and fascinate those who encounter it.

MB: Where did you grow up?

EVT: For the first several years of my life I lived on the grounds of the Trapp Family Lodge, surrounded by family history, hearsay and lore, always in close proximity with Maria, with whom I shared many experiences.  Life as a young von Trapp was for the most part very quiet and uneventful, then at other times it was almost surreal. We grew up on a small Vermont farm, insulated from the world.  I have one sister and four brothers, we all grew up with a sort of quasi-celebrity status. We were well known, almost famous, because our family; my father, all of my

aunts, uncles, my grandmother and grandfather had been involved in something which made them famous.

MB:  Was coming from such a famous family ever difficult?

EVT: At times it seems that being a member of a famous family can be tricky. I’m known

before my music is heard, which isnʼt bad but it isnʼt easy. Often with that knowing

comes a host of preconceived notions of what I must be about. Growing up as a child

of a famous family can be difficult. Being a musical child from a famous musical family

can be extra challenging.

Even though I come from a musical family and the interest and musical

ability was in me, I found the more important experience in my life, that of

understanding my own musical journey really only crystallized when I moved beyond

my musical roots, traveled, met and performed with other musicians and explored

different musical genres.

MB:   HAVING PERFORMED ALL OVER THE WORLD, ARE THERE ANY COUNTRIES OR VENUES WHERE YOU HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME, YOU CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK?

EVT: There were so many.  Coming to mind right now, I am remembering performing in Russia before the collapse.  I had a powerful experience in Israel; I spent half a year in Natanya.  I did not  understand until I got there, that I was on a pilgrimage to meet this extraordinary musician:  King David.  I stayed there and wrote wrote 15 songs.  It was his inner expression of music that shaped my experience.

MB: I never thought of King David as a musician, but now that you say it, clearly he was.

EVT: A prolific one and his legacy inspired me while I was there.

MB: Would you speak about your process of song writing?

EVT: For me, the most important aspect of songwriting is being aware of my musical thoughts. As I dabble in my playing of any instrument, I make up melodies that match how I feel at a particular moment. What I keep and hone to become a song are musical ideas that I love the most. Those choices are made, based upon my honest likes and dislikes while designing a melody or musical pattern.

I rely on my inner emotional landscape to sculpt in tone. I design a topography of melody and song which helps crystallize a memory or situation that I wish to remember. When I perform live, I travel and retrace these landscapes and breathe life into those memories and experiences.

I also rely on my emotional reactions, carefully listening, replaying these feelings that I have translated into tone. Sonic moments that I arrive at, in declaring my authentic feelings, are very different to me than just playing patterns or making up melodies.

That careful listening continues for days, for weeks or even years. Musical ideas that become the songs I finalize and perform must pass a test. These tonal designs usually resonate a deep feeling of joy, beauty or a sense of inner fulfillment. These songs must bring great satisfaction that continues while performing them over and over again.

Discovered melodies often play in my mind, clear and true as if I were listening to a recording. They appear during the day as I run errands, or when I wake up unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Tone is a very important expression that I relate to daily.

Most importantly, I must find time to engage in tone expression alone. It is in this contemplative journey where I find my best melodies.

In exchange, these melodies have become my comfort and have guided me to what I love to do. Sing and perform.

MB: How did you select your instrument?  Is there a story behind where or how it was made?

EVT: My instruments are piano, guitar and my voice. I was given a harp that I play to give me a variety of textural playing. Because different dexterity is required plucking the harp strings to playing guitar, I often arrive at new melodic patterns which opens me up to new musical thoughts and songs.

The most important thing for me as a musician is  knowing that my voice is my instrument. For me, emitting tone that best emotes the message of the song is the greatest and most thrilling work of singing.  My whole body is the instrument; the guitar is my accompaniment.   Now my voice has changed over the years. I’ve been working on my lower range now so that songs that I sung 15 years ago can be performed.  I am settling in a deeper place and it’s harder for me to attach to my emotions in a restaurant or in a festival.

MB: When you listen to music for pleasure, what music do you typically turn to?

EVT: Robert Shaw’s O Magnum Mysterium is an album I return to when I want to come to a peaceful zone.  It has become one of my favorites.  It’s just voice and the harmony and it takes me on a journey of all different composers who shape the tone.  My father loved Mozart.  He would cry sometimes at certain points.  He would talk at great length about how much joy Mozart brought to him.  I believed him.  I am finding that same source of joy as I listen to great works of music.  I grew up in the 60s and 70s and then The Beatles were my favorite.  People sometimes send me hymns and I might rework the lyrics because sometimes they’re too stodgy and they don’t speak to what’s happening now.

I remember as a young girl in Vermont, on cold winter nights I would sit on my bed in the dark, picking out a Scottish ballad on my guitar as the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on the phonograph would float up the stairs from the living room below where my mother sat knitting. Some of my earliest memories are of music.  Music has been a tremendous influence on my life.  It has had an impact on me and continues to guide me.  Music has given me a place to be.

MB: What might our audience expect from your appearance in The Flagpole Radio Café?

EVT: Well I’m bringing two remarkable colleagues, Paul Asbell and Peter Riley. Playing music with them is a joy.  I always come home satisfied. I’ll learn from them and the audience. This is the greatest gift from them.

I want to foster the enjoyment of people coming as an audience.  There is a dialogue we have with the audience.  If I bring my new music I have to make sure the audience is comfortable; the audience needs to know they might recognize something.  I work very hard in designing and choosing the material.  I’m looking to find songs that create a moment.  I’ll perform things they are familiar with, but then I might do something unexpected.

MB: What else would you like to share with us?

EVT: The influence of diverse music has helped me experiment with music and develop my

own sound. I am thankful for my many blessings and look forward to a life of music; creating,

performing and interpreting. I am happy, healthy and content. . . life is sweet.

MB: Thank you Elisabeth.  I look forward to seeing you Saturday.

Elisabeth von Trapp with  Paul Asbell and Peter Reilly will be the guest artists at The Flagpole Radio Café on Saturday May 19t  at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown CT.  For tickets and information visit www.flagpoleproductions.org or call Martin Blanco 203.364.0898.

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Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of Maria and Baron von Trapp, to be Guest Artist May 19th

The Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is pleased to announce that Elisabeth von Trapp, the granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp will be the guest artist for the May 19th presentation of The Flagpole Radio Café.  Tickets are now on sale at www.flagpoleproductions.org . The show begins at 7pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT.  Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $20 for students and senior citizens.  If further information is needed, please contact us at info@flagpoleproductions.org .

Elisabeth von Trapp is the granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp whose story inspired the beloved play and film The Sound of Music.  Elisabeth  has been singing professionally since childhood and has enthralled audiences from European cathedrals to Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.  Producer Barbara Gaines remarked, “In Elisabeth von Trapp we have an artist who is a living member of an extraordinary family.  Like so many of you, I grew up with The Sound of Music and was touched by her family’s compelling story.  Elisabeth continues the musical traditions begun by her iconic grandparents and I am thrilled to have her perform in the show.”
Inspired by her father Werner von Trapp’s guitar playing and singing,  Elisabeth has carried on the legacy of the internationally renowned Trapp Family Singers. She began taking piano lessons when she was eight and by the age of sixteen she was playing guitar and traveling the back roads of New England performing with her siblings at weddings, gospel meetings and town halls.  Building on her famed family’s passion for music, Elisabeth has created her own artistic style, at once ethereal and earthy, delicate and powerful. Listeners have likened her to Judy Collins and Loreena McKennitt.  Critics have called her voice “hauntingly clear,”  “joyfully expressive” and  “simply beautiful.”

Elisabeth’s concert repertoire is as diverse as it is comprehensive.  With equal ease and eloquence she sings timeless wonders like Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Favorite Things and Edelweiss,  Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro, soaring gospel tunes, pop classics such as A Whiter Shade of Pale and her own stunning compositions.  In the spring of 2001 Elisabeth was granted permission from Robert Frost’s publisher, Henry Holt & Co., to sing parts of the poet’s oeuvre. Poetic License, released in June 2004, features the musical settings of poems by Frost and Shakespeare, a Japanese haiku and interpretations of Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World, Sting’s Fragile and Schubert’s An Die Musik.

On her summer 2005 release, Love Never Ends / Sacred Sounds, Elisabeth has collected, arranged and recorded some of her favorite hymns, psalms and chants with influences from jazz and gospel, contemporary and classical musical styles.

Elisabeth has released five self produced albums, and has performed across the United States, Austria and Russia. Her music has been featured on National Public Radio, BBC-Radio, Japanese National Radio and CNN Spanish Radio. She has appeared on CBS’s Eye on People, ABC’s Good Morning America and BBC-TV.

No one leaves an Elisabeth von Trapp performance unchanged.  Audiences of all ages are drawn by the promise of her famous name.  Awed by the beauty of her voice and musical arrangements, their hearts are touched forever by the astonishing sound of her unique new music.

Now completing its fourth season, The Flagpole Radio Café, is an engaging show created by Jim Allyn, Martin Blanco and Barbara Gaines in conjunction with the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission.  It features music by Jim Allyn and The Flagpole Radio Café Orchestra, a dynamic ensemble created for the show, and radio style comedy sketches by the Flagpole Shakespeare Repertory Theatre.  Each show features a musical guest artist such as Livingston Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Tom Chapin, Peter Yarrow, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Christine Lavin, Roger Ball of The Average White Band, Deborah Henson-Conant and Yale’s internationally acclaimed male choir The Whiffenpoofs.

The Newtown Cultural Arts Commission was created by a town ordinance to stimulate, facilitate, coordinate and cooperate with existing artists and arts organizations in order to further the development of the cultural arts in Newtown.  The Commission began its work in June of 2007 and meets monthly. The current Newtown Cultural Arts Commission comprises the following Newtown residents: Commission Chairperson Jennifer Johnston, Recording Secretary Donna Mangiafico, Sharon L. Cohen, Robert Kaiser, Robert Rabinowitz, Donna Randle and Jennifer Rogers.  Anyone interested in filling vacancies on the Commission or joining the Auxiliary Board should contact the First Selectman’s Office in Town Hall at (203) 270-4201.

 

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The Flagpole Radio Café will be performed on May 19th at 7pm at the the Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown, CT.  Tickets cost $25 for adults; $20 for students and senior citizens.  For ticket sales and information visit www.flagpoleproductions.org or call (203) 364.0898.

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