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Pre-Christmas / Dec 20th, 2015

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” - composer John Cage (1912-1992)

Our recent Open Mic Classical (December 20th, 2015), the latest productive chapter in our mission to facilitate the forging of musical cape inter-connections (see below "GETTING PEOPLE TOGETHER), featured the wonderfully new music of local composer/pianist Kaeza Fearn (, a player and teacher of much renown right here at our own Cape Cod Conservatory. After delighting us with some expertly played Brahms and Liszt, we were treated to Kaeza's wonderful original compositions, which she played with her pianist father Ken Fearn (whom we hope to feature in an upcoming open mic classical).

But how did we fit two pianos (one for daughter, one for father) in the UU church? We didn't. It was a 1-4-88 affair. (1 piano, 4 hands, 88 keys. Kaeza is clearly not just a talented artist, but a practical one to boot.) They bi-generationally radiated the eighty-eight with alternating delicacy and bombast. The vocal-less song cycle Kaeza composed featured ubiquitous nursery rhymes woven elegantly into engaging sonic tapestries of modern compositional wizardry, bringing to mind Brubeck meets Bartok meets Mingus meets Xenakis eating Russian strudel at a cafe in the middle of a Black Forest being surveyed by the Brothers Grimm. Or put another way: engaging riddles wrapped in enigmas and salted with some virtuosically-played bi- and tri-tonalities and other smatterings of delightful 20th century classical techniques.

But our wonderful afternoon wasn't just all about the new, hip as "the new" was. Ellen Lisa Adamson brought her wonderful Swedish Nyckelharpa instrument to the stage. This exotic looking and sounding instrument probably existed in the 1300s. Even before she touched the bow to string, we were delighted by the visual feast of it's wonderfully meandering wooden mechanics, as if a viola mated with a fifteenth century cash register. (Wikipedia has images of the beast). Whilst still bathing in the visual feast, we soon fell under the Nyckelharpa's ethereal aural spell via wonderful renaissance and folkloric melodic lines, which Ellen played with great prowess. Given the instrument's visual and sonic beauty, is it not surprising that the Nyckelharpa is featured on the Swedish 50-kronor banknote? (From which we can extrapolate that as of market close today the Nyckelharpa is about 19.82% more cherished by Swedes than Honest Abe is by us.)

Helping to round out the program was some delightful flute music by Kara Goldrick (who, being hearing-impaired, shared the stage with her cute service dog), guitar by Jim Skinger, and violin by the ever eloquent (both musically and verbally) Cape Cod symphony violinist Larry Chaplain (swinging on some jazzy French Claude Bolling compositions accompanied by our house accompanist Lucy Banner) who, popping in as he dashed between gigs, shared some great insights on the improvising vs. composing spectrum.


People attended from far and wide: from all over the Cape and as far flung as Western MA.

And in the fellowship spirit of our open-mic classical, Jim Skinger and Kara Goldrick played for the first time together ever, right there on our stage that Sunday before a live audience! Jim had brought along music for a guitar/flute duet and Kara hopped right into it fearlessly and wonderfully!

Our penultimate closer was a wonderful trio of vocalist Jo Brisbane, her guitarist husband Art Brisbane, and Ellen Lisa Adamson (with that fantastically exotic Nyckelharpa) with some exquisitely arranged surreal musical textures on some material of (not surprisingly) Scandinavian origin; after which our talented and musical ushers (studied musicians themselves) led us in a wonderful sing-along of Silent Night.

Silent Night . . . Tacet Nox . . . Csendes Éj . . . . Nuit Silencieuse. . . . ... Stilla Natt.

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aka the mic-less open mic

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