TOMS RIVER/OCEAN COUNTY/JERSEY SHORE – The Garden State Philharmonic is more than half way through its 60th anniversary season. Thus far, audiences have experienced a mix of traditional classics, humorous opera selections and contemporary favorites. The eclectic celebration will continue with a one night only treat for music fans with a play about music instead of the conventional concert on March 12, 2016. In partnership with award-winning playwright David Katz, the Garden State Philharmonic will present a special performance of Katz’s play The Muse of Fire on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College in Toms River. The Muse of Fire contributes to the Philharmonic’s examination of the changing views about classical music and orchestras, which has made headlines in popular media over the past several years. “For our Diamond season, we wanted to not only entertain audiences, but create exciting opportunities for the public to revisit different aspects of music – both new and old. We also wanted to allow fans to look deeper into how music roles have changed and how some roles remain a mystery, like the role of a conductor,” commented Anthony LaGruth, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Garden State Philharmonic for the last fifteen season. David Katz’s fascinating, funny, poignant one-man play is a theatrical work accessible to masses about the art of conducting and the art of life. Audiences are invited to sit back and experience what the Bangor Daily News described as “a searing and unforgettable portrait of the man [Charles Bruck] who shaped a generation of conductors” – including the Garden State Philharmonic’s Maestro, Anthony LaGruth. An unforgettable theatrical experience, The Muse of Fire shines light on how far a passionate teacher will go to mold an apprentice. Great conductors are not born – they must be forged…in fire! Full-price tickets to The Muse of Fire play range from $10 to $25, with discounts offered for senior citizens, students, and groups of 10 or more. Audiences can save 10% by purchasing tickets to The Muse of Fire in March and the Beethoven’s Ninth concert in May at the same time. Tickets to Beethoven’s Ninth range from $12 to $48. Senior citizens living in adult communities throughout Ocean County can also benefit from the GSP’s ConcertRide Transportation program. Call (732) 255-0460 or visit GardenStatePhilharmonic.org for tickets and information. A percentage of full price single tickets sold for the March 12th play performance will be donated to The People’s Pantry. The People’s Pantry is a proud charity partner of the Philharmonic. In the words of the Philharmonic’s Managing Director, Thomas Stephens, “it takes a charity to understand a charity!” Treat yourself to quality music and help feed those in need.
The Muse of Fire is the story of a modern-day sorcerer and apprentice. Based on true events, it dramatizes the playwright’s experiences studying the art of conducting with Charles Bruck [1911-1995], the notorious Master Teacher of the Pierre Monteux Conducting School in Hancock, Maine, who ruled godlike over that world-renowned institution for more than twenty-five years. Bruck was a maestro from the “old- school”, tyrannical, demonic in the fury. He intimidated students, insulted them, screamed at them, even hit them—going to any lengths to forge them in the flames of his passion for the art. Even as his rages became legendary so too his acerbic wit and cutting humor, and his uncompromising belief in the power and importance of music. Undeniably one of the 20th century’s greatest teachers of conducting. Charles Bruck was also one of the most feared, imitated and admired. Charles Bruck is not as well known in the U.S. and Canada as some other conducting mentors, but his students certainly are. Among those who may be familiar to audiences are Hugh Wolff, former music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony, Ludovis Morlot, the music director of the Seattle Symphony, John Morris Russell, conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, Marc David, Enrique Diemecka, Neal Gittleman, Apo Hsu, Dennis Keene, Enrique Barrios, Marc Minkowski, Carlos Prieto, Emmanuel Piasson, and of course, David Katz. Although there is only one actor onstage, The Muse of Fire is actually a two-character drama in which Katz shifts from teacher to student and back again. From the moment the young apprentice first experiences the wrath of the man who would become his sorcerer, until he last visits him on his deathbed, years later, The Muse of Fire forms several arcs: from hatred to love, failure to triumph, life to death. Along the way, Katz plays a host of other characters, including teachers, conducting students and observers, helping to complete a complex portrait of a brilliant, funny and difficult maestro at his height of his powers. The premiere of The Muse of Fire in Maine in July 2005 coincided with the tenth anniversary of the death of Maestro Bruck. As a theatrical experience, The Muse of Fire is variously funny, horrifying, poignant, and sometimes so suspenseful it’s like watching a close football game with the coach screaming from the sidelines. Katz gives credit to Charles Nelson Reilly for creating this sense of action and tension. The Muse of Fire was the last play directed by the iconic Charles Nelson Reilly before his death in 2007. The March 12, 2016 performance being presented by the Garden State Philharmonic represents the New Jersey premiere of the play. Visit museoffiretheplay.org to learn more about The Muse of Fire, the playwright, David Katz, and past performances.
The programs of the Garden State Philharmonic are made possible, in part, by grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, Investors Bank Foundation, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, The Florian J. Lombardi Foundation, MACY’S, OceanFirst Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and generous donations from small businesses and individual contributors! Less than 40% of program and operational expenses are derived from ticket sales.
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Submitted by Thomas Stephens