Music School of Delaware postponed "Music Masters: Faculty & Friends, Part I" from Jan. 21 to April 8, due to inclement weather.

You won't need to brush up on your knowledge of Mozart to enjoy the Music School of Delaware Milford branch's orchestral concert on April 8.

Instead, folks just need to show up to the annual event, titled "Music Masters: Faculty & Friends, Part I," then they'll be overtaken by the concert's appealing repertoire.

New venue, better sound

One of the highlights of the show is the venue. For the first time, the Music Masters series will be held in the sanctuary of Avenue United Methodist Church, a venue that offers stellar acoustics that are more optimal than those in the Music School's recital hall, which is where a number of the school's former concerts were held.

"The sanctuary is much bigger than the recital room here in the school," said Milford branch Director Layne Thompson-Payne. "It's a beautiful sanctuary with stained glass and comfortable seating. To be able to have a platform for these instruments is marvelous."

In addition to the lovely venue, the concert will also feature a selection that will be performed on an organ. This is unique since Thompson-Payne says she doesn't recall the Music School ever utilizing an organ in any of its programming since she joined the faculty in 2012. She also mentioned it's rare to hear organs in orchestral music these days because it's challenging to find organs that are in good condition, since they're a "dying breed of instrument."

For Tuesday's concert, Music School Faculty Kevin Chamberlain will use Avenue United Methodist's organ to perform the program's only organ piece: César Franck's "Troisième choral en la mineur."

"I'm really excited about this," said Thompson-Payne, who added that Chamberlain is also the organist for AUM, and he's the main reason the Music School's Milford branch has received permission to host all but one of its concerts at AUM for the rest of the year.

Pulling the strings

Music Masters will showcase five superb Music School faculty members performing six works by the following composers: G. B. Sammartini ("Sonata in G major" with three movements: Allegro, Grave, Vivace); Ysaye ("Allemanda": Sonata No. 4 in E minor); Gioachino Rossini ("Duetto for Cello and Double Bass in D major" with three movements: Allegro, Andante Molto and Allegro); Ástor Piazzolla ("Invierno Porteno"); and César Franck ("Troisième choral en la mineur"). The concert will also include the traditional Icelandic folksong "Sofdu, Sofdu, Godi,"arranged by Dr. Donovan Stokes.

A really attractive piece in the repertoire is Rossini's upbeat and glitzy "Duetto," which will be performed by faculty members Jennifer Crowell Stomberg (cello) and George Freeman (double bass).

"It's very charming and it's very energetic," said Crowell Stomberg, the Music School's head of the string department and a member of its cello faculty.

A portion of the appeal behind "Duetto" is that it allows the double bass the opportunity to shine and show what it's capable of doing. In most instances, the double bass is featured as a complementary instrument. But in "Duetto," there are moments when the instrument has solos, and it's tasked with playing lots of notes in a short timeframe. Usually orchestral pieces don't require parts where a double bassist tackles lots of notes in a hurry, because it's very demanding on the fingers.

"I think people don't really appreciate the difficulty of playing the bass well," Crowell Stomberg said. "It's an instrument that requires a lot more strength. You have to have really strong fingers and you have to be particular about the positioning of your arms and body because you could really hurt yourself."

The fact that Freeman ─ who's part of the Music School's string bass faculty ─ can handle the rigors of playing a piece like "Duetto" is a testament to his high level of musicianship.

"George Freeman is absolutely amazing," Thompson-Payne said. "I love the guy. He studied with the first bass of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, which is very prolific."

With five other dazzling pieces in the Music Master's repertoire, Thompson-Payne feels Tuesday's program brings the community a high-caliber orchestral concert that many people aren't accustomed to hearing in downtown.

"My main thing is giving the community a chance to hear music they just don't hear in the area," she said. "When you've got a small town like Milford, and the surrounding areas, a lot of these people aren't able to get to Philly, D.C. or even Wilmington."

Part II of the Music Masters series will be held at AUM on May 13.

NOTE: Music Masters Part I was originally postponed from Jan. 21 due to inclement weather.


WHAT "Music Masters: Faculty & Friends, Part I" presented by Music School of Delaware

WHEN 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 8

WHERE Avenue United Methodist Church, 20 North Church St., Milford

COST $10 for adults; $5 for seniors and children

INFO Visit or call 422-2043