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SRQ DAILY Dec 21, 2018

Friday Weekend Edition

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Friday Weekend Edition

"In our production, they're all working their little butts off."

- Darren Server, Florida Studio Theatre

[Theater]  The Musical Miracle of Darren Server
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

With A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder currently on the Florida Studio Theatre stage, Sarasota audiences have been reveling in the madcap fun and homicidal humor of this Tony Award-winning musical, but none of it would have been possible without a little musical miracle from Music Director Darren Server. Whereas the original score calls for an entire chamber orchestra, Server’s herculean task was to condense the whole thing down to be performed by only three musicians—himself, Alexander W. Ravitz and Amber Svetik. Impossible? Not for Server. “If you look at an orchestra’s books, half of the orchestra sits there for page after page, just waiting to play three measures and then wait again,” he says. “In our production, they’re all working their little butts off.”

The process begins by listening to a CD of the score, following along with the conductor’s book, which contains every note from every performer, including the vocals. Here, Server identifies the most fundamental aspects that must be preserved. In this case, it’s the piano. “That was a blessing,” he says, because not only can he tackle that part no problem, but the octave range of the piano means the instrument can also cover for a whole host of string instruments, like the viola, cello and bass. “So I can eliminate all those immediately,” he says, and 12 parts becomes nine. Only six to go.

The percussion needs to stay, but doesn’t need its own dedicated performer, Server decides, and he’ll divide those duties amongst the eventual three. He’ll cover the majority. “I play the percussion with my right hand and play the left hand on the piano,” he says. “The effect is amazing.” And while he tackles the wood block, bells and bongos, the other two tackle wind chimes and finger cymbals. Down to eight parts.

Next, Server eliminates redundancy and isolates the vocals. In many musicals, he says, instrumentalists play the same melody that the singers are singing. While this may be beautiful, for Server it’s unnecessary. All of those parts can go. And not only does this progress Server’s goal, but also puts a spotlight on the vocalist, letting that part shine a little more.

With only five parts left, Server faces a particular challenge. Many instruments have “significant” solos in the original score, and the woodwind and string sections both represent themes in the play and need to be present. So Server extracts all of the solos and reallocates them to his piano, a clarinet played by Ravitz and a violin in the hands of Svetik. It turns the operation into something of a two-hour musical marathon for the trio, who sometimes performs multiple performances in a day. But them’s the breaks, says Server. “When you boil it down to three people,” he says, “they’ve all got to be working.”

And Server’s not done yet, still looking for a few spare bars here and there to insert a couple more notes for his performers. “We still have five more weeks,” he laughs. “I’m still writing stuff in their books.”

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is currently onstage at Florida Studio Theatre and runs through January 13.


Not Pictured: Darren Server, Alexander W. Ravitz and Amber Svetik behind the scenes and doing the work of an entire orchestra. Photo by Matthew Holler.

[Education]  Venice Symphony Names Ferguson Director of Education

The Venice Symphony has named Timothy Ferguson as its Director of Education. Ferguson, the music teacher at Garden Elementary School in Venice, replaces Gayle Heskett; The Symphony’s founding Director of Education, who has led music education initiatives since 1990. Heskett retired in November but will continue to serve on The Venice Symphony Education Committee and teach at Glenallen Elementary School in North Port.  She received The Venice Symphony Hero Award at the Sapphire Gala on November 10.

Ferguson recently moved to the area from New Hartford, NY, where, as an accomplished trumpet player, he taught individual and group lessons and directed six student bands. He also served as director of the New Hartford School District Summer Music Program and was staff coordinator for the New Hartford Marching Band.  He lives in Venice with his wife and two children. 

Venice Symphony

[Government]  House Passes Legislation to Combat HAB Impact

The office of Congressman Vern Buchanan yesterday announced House passage of bipartisan legislation to combat the impact of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), including red tide. The bill now heads to President Trump for his signature. Buchanan, co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, called red tide “a problem that requires more research and development of cutting-edge technologies to mitigate its damaging effects.” 

The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017 was included in the legislation passed yesterday by Congress, providing more than $100 million to combat HABs like red tide. It also establishes a process to declare an “Event of National Significance.” That declaration would trigger disaster-like funding for affected communities. The bill also reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Bloom Federal Interagency Task Force; formally adds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the task force; and permits private donations to be used to fund recovery for events of national significance.

Harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Buchanan co-sponsored “nearly identical” bipartisan legislation in the House (H.R. 4417) and earlier this summer led a letter with Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) urging House leadership to immediately bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. Buchanan and Hastings are co-chairs of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation. 

[Education]  Manatee County Reports Increase in Graduation Rates

Mirroring a trend seen across the state, graduation rates for the School District of Manatee County’s Class of 2018 rose 4.3 percent over the previous year and have increased approximately 10 percentage points in the last five years, according to information released today by the Florida Department of Education. The graduation rate for Manatee District seniors in 2017 was 81.1 percent, but jumped up to 85.4 percent for the class of 2018. Five years ago, in 2014, the Manatee District’s graduation rate was 75.7 percent, exactly 9.7 percentage points below the district’s 2018 graduation rate. Statewide, Florida’s graduation rate rose 3.8 percentage points since last year to a high of 86.1 percent. 

School District of Manatee County

[Healthcare]  SMH Introduces Monarch Platform for Early Cancer Detection

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, partly because potentially malignant nodules can be difficult and dangerous to detect and diagnose in the farthest reaches of the lungs. A new robot that arrived at Sarasota Memorial this week aims to change that. The robot is part of Auris Health’s Monarch Platform—recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The system includes a flexible robotic endoscope that doctors use to navigate and search the delicate, distant branches of the lung and obtain tissue samples from hard-to-reach nodules for biopsy. Sarasota Memorial is among just 10 hospitals in the United States slated to deploy the system in 2019 in an effort to diagnose lung cancer at earlier, more treatable stages.  

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

[TODAY]  MUSEUM: Watercolors from the Permanent Collection , September 15 – February 3

A selection of watercolors drawn from The Ringling’s permanent collections, illustrating various ways artists have used the medium. The exhibition will feature works by Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield and Childe Hassam, among others.

The Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota.

[TODAY]  MUSIC: 15th Anniversary Perlman Music Program Sarasota Winter Residency , December 20 – January 5

The 15th Anniversary Perlman Music Program Sarasota Winter Residency takes over USF Sarasota- Manatee beginning December 20, culminating with the Celebration Concert at the Sarasota Opera House on January 5. 20+ free events will be held in the Performance Tent, including orchestra and chorus rehearsals, master classes, and works-in-progress recitals. Super Strings, December 29, features Florida students performing side-by-side with PMP students under the baton of Itzhak Perlman. Complete schedule and tickets available online at PMPSuncoast.org.

USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[TODAY]  GALLERY: Art and Jewels , December 14 – January 7

This intersectional exhibition pairs specific paintings and wall sculptures with vignettes of art jewelry that create a collaboration and conversation between the two. Representing nearly 30 different artists and jewelry designers, 530 Burns blurs the lines between art and jewelry and sparks the warm, fuzzy feelings conjured up during the holiday season.

530 Burns Gallery, 530 Burns Ct., Sarasota

[TODAY]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Lights in Bloom , December 20 – January 6

For the 15th year, and with an expanded 15-night schedule, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will light up the holiday season with Lights in Bloom!  More than one million lights will illuminate the Gardens and walkways. The tropical holiday paradise will also include nightly live entertainment, games, crafts, and grilled foods from Michael’s on East. Celebrate the holiday season at Lights in Bloom! Event dates are December 20–23, 26–30, and January 1–6.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 South Palm Ave., Sarasota

[TODAY]  THEATER: Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul , November 28 – January 13

After several years of requests from theater patrons, Sheldon Rhoden will reprise the role of Marvin Gaye. This original show begins in the 1950s at the start of Gaye's career with Motown and follows its twists and turns until his untimely death in the mid-1980s.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1012 North Orange Ave., Sarasota.

[TODAY]  THEATER: The Music Man , November 17 – December 29

The winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, this American institution with its one-of-a-kind score features fast-talking salesman Harold Hill, who brings trouble to River City, Iowa when he cons the townspeople into buying instruments for an imaginary band—but his plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when his heart is stolen by the town librarian. Tony Awarded-nominated Jeff Calhoun directs.

Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota.

[TODAY]  THEATER: All Shook Up , December 6 – December 23

One part Shakespeare (Twelfth Night) and a whole bunch of the great Elvis Presley and you have the makings of Rock ‘n’ Roll Musical Theatre heaven. So, “Don’t Be Cruel,” grab that “Hound Dog” and “Love Me Tender,” this holiday season. Because, everyone needs a hunka hunka “Burning Love” for Christmas.

The Players Centre for Performing Arts, 838 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota.

[TODAY]  GALLERY: Cycle 2: Art Center Instructors, McMennamy and Gatzambide , November 29 – January 4

Art Center Instructors exhibition will feature the talented local and visiting Art Center Sarasota instructors. A second gallery will offer Stephen McMennamy, an Atlanta-based artist, his first solo exhibition featuring his time-based video collages. Artist Peter Gatzambide will exhibit a recent series of assemblage paintings and works on paper in his first solo exhibition at Art Center Sarasota.

Art Center Sarasota, 707 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota.

[TODAY]  BUSINESS: SRQ Magazine's 6th Annual Women in Business Competition , December 10 – January 25

Nominations are now open for SRQ Magazine’s 6th Annual Women in Business Competition, recognizing extraordinary women who have made meaningful contributions to the Sarasota and Bradenton communities through their business, non-profit and philanthropic endeavors. Know someone who deserves to be recognized? Nominate them today! Once nominated, individuals will be invited to submit a formal application which will be juried by a panel of outside judges.

Nominations are open through Friday, January 25, 2019; midnight.

[TODAY]  GALLERY: Inspired Juried Show & Women's Contemporary Artists , December 4 – January 11

Two exhibits open up in the four galleries, including an all-media juried show featuring artists from all around the region. Women's Contemporary Artists is a group of women artists from Florida's Gulf Coast. Opening reception on December 5.

ArtCenter Manatee, 209 9th St. W, Bradenton.

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Illumination , December 31, 9:00PM - 1:00AM

The most anticipated party of the year is right around the corner....NEW YEARS EVE!

Full Moon Promotions is bringing back THE Sarasota New Years Eve Party to the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium to ring in 2019. This will be THE Biggest & Best Ticketed New Years Party in the area! Tickets are all inclusive; open full bar, bottomless champagne, catered apps, live & DJ entertainment, and a huge dance floor and light show. Ring in the new year right at Sarasota Illumination!

Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  GALA: New Year's Eve at Selby Gardens , December 31

This black tie event features a private journey through tropical holiday light displays, passed hors d’oeuvres, a seated four-course dinner, live entertainment and dancing, culminating with a champagne toast overlooking the fireworks on Sarasota Bay.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Cirque Ma’Ceo , January 4 – February 3

The Magic of Ma’Ceo... described by the ocala star banner as an- “Equine Cirque du Soleil”! This theatrical European style, equestrian themed, cirque show tells a beautiful seamless story with a contemporary blend of Acrobatics, Aerial, Dance, and Equestrian Arts woven to the acoustic beats of rich Spanish guitar. This renowned show has toured the nation this past decade, recently performing in Honolulu, Hawaii, Alaska, and Las Vegas. For the first time ever, Cirque Ma’Ceo will be performing in front of their hometown crowd,Sarasota Florida! To make this occasion even more special, we will be offering a VIP ticket to purchase a Benefit Dinner with the rare opportunity to eat, drink, and personally get to know the cast of Cirque Ma’Ceo right under the Big Top! A large portion of the ticket proceeds will be directly donated to Big Cat Habitat and the animals who have filled our lives with joy.

Big Cat Habitat, 7101 Palmer Blvd, Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSIC: 15th Anniversary Celebration Concert , January 5, 5:00PM

The culmination and highlight of the 17-day Perlman Music Program Sarasota Winter Residency, the 15th Annual Celebration Concert at the Sarasota Opera House features the most gifted, young musical talents of our time. The PMP Chorus is led by Patrick Romano, Chorus Master and the PMP String Orchestra performs under the baton of Itzhak Perlman.

Sarasota Opera House, 61 N Pineapple Ave, Sarasota

[SOON]  THEATER: Pirates of Penzance , January 10 – January 27

This rollicking, music-filled farce, which premiered in 1879, includes home-town references to our own Pittsburg Pirates. At eight years of age, Frederic was apprenticed to a group of fun-loving, soft-hearted pirates. Now 21, he decides to leave the pirates to lead “a blameless life.” He makes it his goal to eradicate these pirates. Fun and mayhem follow.

Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W, Bradenton

[SOON]  THEATER: The Crucible , January 11 – March 10

In the black of night, a Salem village reverend discovers a group of teenage girls dancing devilishly around a fire in the woods. When his daughter exhibits strange catatonic symptoms the following morning, the townsfolk are frenzied with rumors of witchcraft. Deep-seated jealousy, deadly accusations, and seething resentments pit neighbor against neighbor as a deeply religious community is thrown into turmoil, in this Arthur Miller classic.

Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Images- Who Stole the Mona Lisa , January 12 – January 13

“Who Stole the Mona Lisa?” is a whimsical and imaginative animated film that offers a delightful, multimedia, classical music performance presented in synchrony with a live performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from “The Firebird.” Live and visual pairings of “Babar the Elephant” and “Pictures at an Exhibition” complete the program. Alexandre Moutouzkine mans the piano while Edward Alley narrates.

Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota

[SOON]  GALLERY: American Watercolor Society , January 15 – February 22

Artists are local, national and international, and Art Center Manatee is one of only five venues in the country to host the exhibit. Admission is $5. In a neighboring gallery, and on display for the same period of time, the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society will also be showing work from its member-artists.

ArtCenter Manatee, 209 9th St. W, Bradenton.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Hairspray , January 17 – February 3

“Welcome to the 60s” where Tracey Turnblad, a pleasantly plump teenager dreams of fame and fights to racially integrate the Corny Collins Show. This winner of eight Tony Awards (including “Best Musical”) is based on the John Waters film and proves that “You Can’t Stop The Beat.”

The Players Theatre, 838 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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