Sarasota Music Festival Review – “Songs of Amour” left me feeling loved, musically nourished

by on Monday, June 17th, 2013

I recently got to experience some wonderful live music from the Sarasota Orchestras Music Festival. I went to the “Songs of Amour” artist showcase at Holley Hall.

Susan Lorette Dunn. Image from

This review will start off with a few of the negatives, but you should know that my overall experience was very positive.

For an hour before the start, there were complimentary hors’doueve. I was there only a half an hour early, and only got a few tiny sticks of fruit. I also believe they had cubes of cheesecake, but I did not get any. I also should have rushed more quickly to get good seats, since they weren’t assigned. There is no slope in the hall, so it’s hard to see if you are farther back. I was most dismayed to see how small the seats were, and how they were linked to others so you really couldn’t get much space to sit. As I was with older women, I tried to be nice and was leaning off my seat the entire hour. The hall and entire building here isn’t anything fancy, it’s very plain. But if you close your eyes, the music is just as wonderful as anywhere else.


We heard three sections. The first was called “Rising” by Tower, and neither me or my guest liked it much. I’m also not sure how it fit with the theme of “Songs of Love.” It was very discordant and jarring. Well played, though. It had:

Carol Wincenc, flute
Charles Wetherbee, violin
Daniel Jordan, violin
Desmond Hoebig, cello
Student: Stephanie Block, viola

Next was my favorite section of the night. It was Bruch, with *selections from Acht Stücke, Op. 83, No. 1, No. 6 & No. 7. I especially took a shine towards Kim Kashkashian on the viola, who seemed to radiant to the crowd this sense of…natural, graceful warmth. As she played, you seemed invited into her inner sanctum, seeing her unrestrained and at complete ease, as though she was playing with no one else in the room to judge her. I could picture her standing in front of her bedroom window, watching the sun hang in the sky as a tea kettle whistled and a cat jumped onto the bed. She was lost in the moment, and we were lucky enough to see it.

This section featured:

Eli Eban, clarinet
Kim Kashkashian, viola
Robert Levin, piano

Kim Kashkashian. Image from

Last, we had a cabaret section. My harshest note here is that Opera singers sometimes cannot translate their talents to singing in other styles… However, our singer was beautiful, had amazing stage presence (how gracious, what energy!) and you couldn’t take your eyes off of her.

*You Kali: Habanera Tango


*Les Chemins de l’amour

Flanders and Swann
*A Word on My Ear

Susan Lorette Dunn, soprano
Jean Schneider, piano

For those in the area, the Sarasota Music Festival is still going on, and is an annual event. Check out for info on tickets and pricing.

Disclaimer: Tickets given in exchange for honest review.

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