top of page

A Tale of Two Composers Report of our Dec. 17th, 2017 with guest performer Dan Flonta

Please read, and share our report of our December 17th, 2017 Open Mic Classical in a newsletter format here:

The "life of a composer" was a theme that emerged for me as I took in the many melodies and textures. Many composers were in full effect that day. (Brahms was certainly one, whose notes Ana Glig employed to amaze us, and to give a scintillating sneak peak of her wonderful piano work which will be the feature of our next Open Mic Classical.)


Caption: Perhaps our accompanying article (comparing the life of Bach with that of a modern composer) has inspired you to ask: "What will the lives of future composers be like?" It's hard to say, but ask these youngsters (who played for us on Sunday) in about 20 years. They are, clockwise from upper left: Evie Andino, Mitch Andino, Zsoka Woods,

Jacob Woodland, Asa Kew (center). All are students of co-founder Monika Woods, who teaches music to all ages.

Besides Brahms, two composers in particular call for additional comment.

They were: J. S. Bach (b1685), as represented by the wonderful violin playing of our featured performer, the inimitable violinist Dan Flonta.


Caption: Feature performer Dan Flonta blew our socks off with solo-violin Bach. Amazingly, his solo violin convincingly recreated a lovely Bach duet-of-sorts in the second movement. As with other featured performers, Dan is a high calibre musician: Masters of Violin Performance from Bowling Green State, undergraduate degree from Europe (from the same European college as our co-founder Monika amazingly!) and a regular performer with the Cape Symphony, and Plymouth Philharmonic.


And an other composer was Debra Kaye, a contemporary American composer who composes many lush strains of a perhaps "time-traveling Debussy", as represented by the beautiful legato-arced flute playing of our very own Carl Gutowski. Debra wrote the commissioned piece for Carl's recently betrothed niece. (The piece artfully echoes the tensions, sympathies, give and take, and love at first sight of spot-on couplehood.)


Caption: Ana Glig, a virtuoso pianist, will be the future performer on our next Open Mic Classical. Don't miss her! On Sunday she played some spectacular Brahms. She also accompanied co-founding clarinetist Monika Woods on Adagio for clarinet by H. Baermann, and flutist Carl Gutowski on Kaye's composition (discussed in article).


Let us, for a moment, compare and contrast the lives of these two composers: Bach and Kaye (only one of whom, as far as we know, was a criminal).

• When Kaye wants to refresh herself on what other composers are (or were) up to, she probably googles something like "Debussy Afternoon of a Fawn notation", and up pops the squiggly nomenclature for a nominal fee or less.

I, in fact, was curious to look at Kaye's score so minutes after an email to Carl Gutowski, her piece (as a pdf file) resided eagerly in my download folder. And when my eyes grew weary of interpreting the delightful eighth note squiggles, I typed "Debra Kaye" into the youtube and soundcloud search engines and was instantly treated to quite a few of her live AND studio recordings. Smooth sailing.

J.S. Bach on the other hand, as an adolescent, had a trickier time. Young Bach wanted to study the score of local rock star Pachabel. His older brother and guardian, a pro musician like all the closely connected males in his family, had one copy. Note the operative word: one.

His brother had one and ONLY one copy and he treasured it, keeping it under lock and key while forbidding anyone to dare so much as look at it, let alone get grubby hands all over a sacred blend of ink and parchment that hinted at some of the most innovative harmonic and contrapuntal gymnastics of the day.

Late at night, J.S. Bach would sneak out the manuscript and copy a little more of it each time. He did this routinely for six months, after which older bro caught him and confiscated both the original AND the copy.

• Debra is female. Bach, like essentially all of his remembered contemporaries, is male.

• Kaye resides often in NY, but showcases via musical impressionism the vibe of New Mexico, which she has visited (though about 2000 miles away) presumably via a few free credit card skymiles here and there.

Bach, in one of his many salaried church composer gigs, once asked his employer for four weeks off to visit organist/composer Dieterich Buxtehude a mere 280 miles away. He took the journey by foot and returned (rather than four weeks later) four months later. He didn't last long on that gig.

• Number of kids: Bach: 20; Kaye: 0.


Caption: OMC Co-founder Monika Woods with music student (and daughter!) Zsoka Woods. The tapestry that Open Mic Classical knits in our community pulled together many threads last Sunday. Here are three:

1. Young upstart Zsoka is a music student BOTH of Monika, and featured performer Dan Flonta.

2. Monika and Dan, despite having met as adults on the Cape, attended during youth the same Academy of Music in Eastern Europe, Romania.

3. Monika and Dan both played some "criminal" music last Sunday:

Dan played Bach (read accompanying article to learn of J.S. Bach's nefarious ways).

Monika played a piece "sold" by the owner of the original manuscript as having been written by Wagner (b.1813), but (as was not revealed until the 1960s) was actually composed by the earlier, and less heralded Heinrich Baermann (b.1784). To the contrary of an other composer mentioned in this newsletter, no one ended up in jail in this scenario :-)


• Bach was in jail for about a month while his employer unsuccessfully tried to co-ordinate his hanging. The offense: having quit a music job without sufficient notice. Intelus.comreports that Kaye has no criminal record. (Just kidding, I didn't check, but she doesn't SEEM like she's ever been to the big house.)

Upshot? Composing has changed a bit over the years. What will the lives of future composers be like and how many will end up in prison? Who will get along with their HR department? How much family planning will there be? Will future composers be crudely humming a melody into a smart phone before asking Siri to score the first phrase like Beethoven and the second like Stravinsky?

It's hard to say, but ask the five youngsters who kicked off the show (see photos and caption) in about twenty years. All five are students of co-founder Monika Woods.


Caption: Kate Wallace Rogers spoke beautifully and resonated wonderfully with Bob Marcus' talk on violins. (Let us know what five minute talk YOU might want to give our audience!) Co-developing the violin motif was cape symphony regular Lary Chaplan (who improvised with pianist Eli Woods), creating yet another example of how Open Mic Classical weaves musical threads throughout our community.


Caption: Celebration of Christmas, Chanukah and the like were in full effect via Sunday's teamwork: Donna Pihl sang a Silent Night-type ode, Carol Davis had us swooning with triplety Chopin that brought to mind sugar plumbs waltzing by a fireplace of yore, and Jim Skinger played some relaxing South American and Spanish compositions (guitar vibrato like diving snowflakes) that brought to our metaphorical lips spiced eggnog.


All in all, our recent Sunday was quite the holiday season turnout, one of the biggest crowds to date. It was a varied tapestry of sonic wintery confections that wafted gently into our ears as we sat in the pews of the wonderful Brewster Meeting House the home of UU Church.

We hope you will join us next time in January 2018, for the wonderful piano playing of featured guest Ana Glig (a true virtuoso I say emphatically) and for other wonderful surprises yet to come.

Featured Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic


Open Mic



aka the mic-less open mic

bottom of page