Duo to per­form at Venice Is­land

The Review - - Front Page - By Joe Bar­ron jbar­ron@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

MANAYUNK » Philadel­phia did some­thing right. Back in the early aughts, the city’s Wa­ter De­part­ment was faced with the task of con­struct­ing a 4-mil­lion gal­lon, fed­er­ally man­dated stormwater re­ten­tion tank on the Schuylkill River in Manayunk. The com­mu­nity turned out en masse to rec­om­mend ways of in­te­grat­ing the project into the neigh­bor­hood, and af­ter 10 years of plan­ning con­struc­tion, the Venice Is­land Per­form­ing Arts and Recre­ation Cen­ter opened in 2014. The tank is op­er­a­tional, but well-cam­ou­flaged by an out­door bas­ket­ball court. The build­ings, which in­clude a pump­ing sta­tion, have won awards for their

en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly de­sign, and a 250-seat theater pro­vides mu­si­cians with a friendly en­vi­ron­ment as well.

Key­board artists Katarzyna Sal­win­ski and Rollin Wil­ber, who will present a con­cert of­mu­sic for two pi­anos at Venice Is­land Nov. 18, re­cently gave the hall a snap in­spec­tion — quite lit­er­ally, since snap­ping their fin­gers was part of the test— and pro­nounced them­selves sat­is­fied. They also be­lieve the am­phithe­ater- style seat­ing, which places the au­di­ence above the stage, will add an ex­cit­ing vis­ual el­e­ment to the pro­gram by giv­ing lis­ten­ers a di­rect view into the work­ings of their in­stru­ments.

“I think it’s one of the best halls for our re­quire­ments,” Sal­win­ski said Oct. 23 at Opus Pi­ano, the­mu­sic show­room she and her hus­band own in Roxbor­ough. “It’s a small venue, and it’s just per­fect for our con­certs be­cause we tend to try to recre­ate a more in­ti­mate at­mos­phere. But it has all the as­pects of a great mod­ern con­cert hall.”

Sal­win­ski and Wil­ber are co-founders of the Fine Art Mu­sic Com­pany and long­time res­i­dents of Manayunk, and al­though the Nov. 18 con­cert will be their first at Venice Is­land, it will not be the first time they have per­formed for their neigh­bors. In 2010, in honor of Chopin’s 200th birth­day, they hosted a sa­lon at Wil­ber’s home that at­tracted up­wards of 150 peo­ple.

“It was too many re­ally to keep track of more than we al­most can swing at our venues, which is frus­trat­ing,” Wil­ber said with a laugh. “They re­ally poured in the door. It was quite fun.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence led to more sa­lons and ul­ti­mately to the cre­ation of Fine Art Mu­sic, which is now in its fourth sea­son. The en­sem­ble, con­sist­ing of Sal­winksi, Wil­ber and a ro­tat­ing ros­ter of guest mu­si­cians, usu­ally per­forms at the Eth­i­cal So­ci­ety and Ivy Hall in Philadel­phia, and the Manayunk ap­pear­ance, Wil­ber said, will be like com­ing “full around home.”

“We tried to get into Venice Is­land last year, sowe’ve been go­ing af­ter this for a year, a year and a half, ac­tu­ally,” he added. “It seems to be a busy venue, ac­cord­ing to what they say… So if we like this, and it works, and we’re all happy about it, we want to con­tinue and maybe rent it one or two or three times the fol­low­ing sea­son, and make it part of some­thing reg­u­lar we do. So this is kind of the test case.”

The Nov. 18 pro­gramwill in­clude Rach­mani­noff ’s Suite No. 2, in the per­form­ers’ opinion the sin­gle great­est work in the two-pi­ano reper­toire, and it will end with a hol­i­day treat: Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” Suite. While much of the orig­i­nal bal­let’s enor­mous charm de­rives from its col­or­ful or­ches­tra­tion, Sal­winki and Wil­ber said noth­ing has been lost in the re­duc­tion they’ll be play­ing. The pi­ano ver­sion brings out the clar­ity of the lines, re­veal­ing just how­mas­ter­fully the mu­sic is con­structed.

“We’re dis­cov­er­ing on the pi­ano the beauty and the el­e­ments of the de­tails,” Wil­ber said. “You can hear the orches­tra as you’re do­ing it. It’s there. You hear the flutes. You hear the vi­o­lins. You hear all the or­ches­tra­tion.”

“It’s truly a won­der­ful ar­range­ment,” Sal­winksi added.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Katarzyna Sal­win­ski and Rollin Wil­bur will per­form mu­sic for two pi­anos Nov. 18at the Venice Is­land Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, Manayunk.

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