Vineyard Sinfonietta: Play time
Matthew Pelikan is reminiscing about attending his first Vineyard Sinfonietta concert years ago at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Vineyard Haven.
"The music was imperfect," the program director of The Nature Conservancy Islands Program recalls, "but it was one of the most enjoyable concerts I'd ever been to. Their music was so unpretentious and friendly."
Mr. Pelikan is now president of Vineyard Sinfonietta Inc., a non-profit organization and chamber music that has existed on the Vineyard since the 1940s. Comprised of musicians of all background and ages, the only qualifications for membership are a love of music and a desire to participate. Some members have returned to an instrument that lay dormant for years, along with adults who are honing musical skills for the first time, and others who've played throughout their lives and find the Sinfonietta a perfect opportunity to practice and perform. In all instances, it is as much an expression of joy as of musical skill.
"There are really two ways I appreciate it," Mr. Pelikan says. "I really enjoy playing music. It's getting together with friends and playing. The other way is that I feel really strongly about community music. It's a very powerful thing to have people in the community playing music for others."
This Tuesday, May 26, Vineyard Sinfonietta will perform at the Oak Bluffs Library, a repeat of the program they presented last week at the Tisbury Senior Center. Selections cover a broad range designed for all musical preferences. Included are light classical works by well-known composers like Bach, Mozart, and Handel, works by lesser known composers like 16th-century French composer Pierre Moulu, Austrian composer Willem DeFesch, and cellist Pablo Casals, and popular tunes by The Beatles, among other groups.
The current Sinfonietta is comprised of cellists Heidi Schultz and Jan Hyer, violinists JoAnn Ewing and Pat Szucs, Mr. Pelikan on viola, and flutist Nan White. Howie Marlin, who Ms. Schultz describes as "a Frank Sinatra double," will join the group to perform a few tunes by his crooner sound-a-like, including "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "High Hopes."
Ms. Schultz, who's participated in Sinfonietta since the 1960s, has served as musical director for over a decade. Staunchly modest, she is nevertheless credited with being the guiding force of the group, selecting all the music, creating arrangements for specific instruments, and organizing the performances.
"It's my whole life; I absolutely love it," Ms. Schultz says. She adds, "I get to hear all this pretty music and arrange it so that it's no longer a piano playing it, but a whole ensemble."