Musical Club of Hartford

Music by Members - Apr 28, 2016

The Musical Club of Hartford continues its 125th anniversary season on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., with a concert of music by Edward A. MacDowell,

Held in the sanctuary of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, at 2080 Boulevard, West Hartford, CT, admission to the Musical Club concerts is $5 for the general public and free to members of the club. The church is wheelchair accessible from the side entrance nearest to Mountain Road.

On our April 28th program, we will honor Edward Alexander MacDowell, the very first guest recitalist to be presented by the Musical Club of Hartford.

Edward A. MacDowell appeared at Unity Hall on Pratt Street in Hartford on March 11th, 1898, about seven years after the girls in the studio of Mrs. Frances Johnson began to meet to perform for each other as a way to “study and perform the best music.” The Musical Club had chosen an Executive Committee and a Constitution and By-Laws had been instituted just a year before the invitation was extended to the very popular American composer MacDowell, who had recently moved back to the States from Germany to a beautiful property in the hills of New Hampshire.

Born in New York City in 1860, MacDowell studied piano with Juan Buitrago, a Colombian violinist who was living with the MacDowell family at the time. He also received music lessons from friends of Buitrago, including the Cuban pianist Pablo Desverine and Venezuelan pianist and composer Teresa Carreño. In 1877, he was admitted to the Paris conservatory after receiving a competitive scholarship for international students.

After a period in which he lived and studied in Germany, MacDowell returned to Boston, becoming well known as a pianist and composer of piano pieces in short forms. He was a professor of music at Columbia University from 1896-1903.

Best known for his second piano concerto and his piano suites Woodland Sketches, Sea Pieces and New England Idylls, his name endures today with the famous MacDowell Colony, founded when he and his wife Marian MacDowell deeded their family farm, Hillcrest Farm, in Peterborough, New Hampshire, to the newly established Edward MacDowell Association.

The March 11, 1898 solo recital by MacDowell featured works by Mozart, Rameau, Schubert and Grieg, as well as a number of his own compositions.

Two of Edward MacDowell's compositions will be included on the program for April 28, 2016. Annette Shapiro, piano, will play the Largo con maestà movement from his Sonata Tragica, Op. 45, the first of his four piano sonatas. Composed in 1893, it reflects upon the loss of his teacher, Joachim Raff.

Marc Levesque, mandolin, and Judy Handler, guitar, will perform an arrangement of MacDowell’s beloved piece, To a Wild Rose from his Woodland Sketches.

Handler and Levesque will perform a medley comprised of their arrangements of three Greek pieces with the mandolin imitating the bouzouki, Misirlou, Kritikos Syrtos and Xiotiz.

Francisco Tárrega’s well-known solo guitar piece, Recuerdos de la Alhambra uses the tremolo technique on the guitar to imitate the sound of water flowing in fountains at the Moorish Palace in Granada. Tárrega was born in 1852 in Spain and grew up hearing flamenco music. He studied music at the Madrid conservatory, and went on to teach many of the famous guitarists of the day, and to transcribed works by Beethoven and Chopin for solo guitar.

Yutuma is a piece for mandolin and guitar written by American mandolinist/composer Chris Acquavella. It is inspired partly by Bulgarian folk dances.

In addition, Annette Shapiro will play the first movement of Paul Ben-Haim’s Sonatina for Piano.  Paul Ben-Haim, born Frankenburger, in Munich in 1897, was a noted composer of the “Eastern –Mediterranean School” in Israel. The Sonatina was completed in 1946. The first movement, marked Allegretto Grazioso, is dance-like and pastoral with alternating moments of peaceful reflection and exuberance.

Also on the program, Carolyn Woodard, piano, and Fran Bard cello, will perform the Sonata in D minor, Op. 40 by Dimitri Shostakovitch.


Cellist Fran Bard has played with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra for many years. She also performs with the Hop River Chamber Players in Andover, CT. Ms. Bard taught Elementary Strings in the Windsor Public Schools for most of her teaching career and finished in the Glastonbury Public Schools. Originally from Chicago, she received her Bachelors of Music from the Chicago Musical College and her Masters of Music and Music Educators Certification from the University of Connecticut. Her cello training was under the tutelage of Channing Robbins, Aldo Parisot, Raya Garbousova, Karl Fruh and Mary Lou Rylands.

Judy Handler received a Master of Music in guitar performance from the Hartt School of Music, a Bachelor of Music from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, a Diploma of Merit from Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, a Certificate from Curs Internacional de Música at the Vila-Seca i Salou Conservatory in Spain and a Diploma from the Aspen Music School. She has performed and given workshops and classes throughout the United States. Judy also performs on period instruments in the Rosewood Chamber Ensemble with flutist Barbara Hopkins, teaches at a private studio in Vernon, CT and runs monthly performance classes. Judy is founder of the Connecticut Guitar Society.

Mark Levesque has performed on guitar (classical, jazz archtop, 12 string, electric & gypsy), mandolin, and cuatro in numerous ensembles throughout New England most recently with the CitySingers of Hartford. He has played and arranged world, jazz, Latin and blues music and has worked with synthesizer orchestration and studio recording. Mark’s passion for guitar and mandolin music has led him to research music from all over the world and his creative ideas have been the stimulus for many of the arrangements performed by the group. He currently teaches mandolin and guitar at a private studio in Vernon, CT. Mark has taken courses at Central Connecticut State University and the Hartt School of Music as well as private instruction with guitarists in a variety of genres.

Annette Shapiro, pianist, received her Master of Music from the University of Connecticut, where she studied with Joseph Villa and Neal Larrabee. Ms. Shapiro has been a member of Hop River Chamber Music since 1981, and continues to freelance as an accompanist and in chamber music performances at UConn and throughout the eastern Connecticut and Hartford areas. She has taught piano as a lecturer at UConn, for its Community School of the Arts and for the Hartford Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Carolyn Woodard, pianist, received a Bachelor of Music Degree from The Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music Degree from the Hartt School of Music. She studied with William Harms, Edward Steuermann, and Raymond Hanson .Carolyn was a founding member of the Camerata Ensemble and has also performed with the Connecticut String Orchestra, the Hartford Symphony and the New World Ensemble. She has given solo piano recitals in Pennsylvania and throughout New England. A well known piano teacher in the area, she was on the faculty of the Hartford Camerata Conservatory and the Hartt School, Community Division.