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Open Mic Classical comes to Sandwich May 20 / Open Mic Classical Article in Wicked Local

By Ellen C. Chahey

Posted May 16, 2018 at 2:39 PMUpdated May 16, 2018 at 2:49 PM

There’s only one other like it in the USA – and that’s in Dallas. It’s an “open mic” for classical music. It’s been here on the Cape, monthly in Brewster, since 2015. But for the month of May only, it’s going to have a tryout in Sandwich on Sunday, May 20, at 3 p.m. in Town Hall.

Classical musicians of all kinds are invited to participate with a piece about five minutes long.

A collaborative pianist, Ben Healy, is available for accompaniment.

The open mic, by custom, also includes a 20- to 30-minute mini-concert by a featured artist or group, in this case Trio Vivo & Klarinetista, consisting of Bruce Abbott (saxophone); Mariellen Sears (flute), Lucy Banner (piano); and their guest, clarinetist Monika Woods – who is the co-founder of the Cape’s Open Mic Classical, along with amateur violinist and sculptor Robert Marcus.

“Lots of musicians take part,” said Woods of the open mics, so many that the time limit became necessary.

Woods moved to the Cape from Transylvania (the Hungarian-speaking part of Romania) in 2006. She received her musical education in her native land and graduated from the Gh.Dima Music Academy with high honors and a master’s degree in stylistics of clarinet performance. In 2013, she won the Cape Symphony’s soloist competition.

“We have the open mic on the third Sunday of the month at three o’clock to encourage kids to come,” Woods explained, and the result, she said, is that the event is “intergenerational, with students of many teachers.”

Woods’s own daughter, as a 5-year-old, was the first performer (on the piano) when the open mics got their start in 2015, and still plays. Their regular venue is First Parish on Route 6A in Brewster.

Sometimes the performers like to spring fun surprises. At a mandolin and guitar concert, they offered some quotes from Shakespeare. At a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (Woods played that clarinet wail as the piece begins), they wore Twenties costumes.

Trio Vivo was founded by Abbott and Banner, who met at an open mic, and then invited Sears to join them. They call themselves “an uncommon ensemble, exploring new repertoire while honoring older material.”

Abbott is well-known locally as a jazz artist who has played at President Jimmy Carter’s 75th birthday, at the Newport Jazz Festival, and with the Artie Shaw orchestra. Banner, educated at Oberlin Conservatory and Ithaca College, is the pianist for First Parish Brewster. Sears performs with the Cape Symphony. All have extensive teaching experience.

Collaboratve pianist Ben Healey – one of a rotating group who attend open mic to accompany others – teaches music at Sandwich’s Oak Ridge School and is music director at Swift Memorial United Methodist Church in Sagamore Beach.

The Sandwich open mic has been about a year in the making, Woods said, as a means of reaching off-Cape and Upper Cape performers who might not want to travel to Brewster.

The Sandwich Arts Alliance and Amy Lynn Barber have done a lot to help bring the concert to fruition.

It is also supported in part by a grant from the Sandwich Cultural Council, Brewster Cultural Council, Harwich Cultural Council, and Orleans Cultural Council, all of which in turn receive funds from the Mass. Cultural Council.

Performers need to sign up for a five-minute slot by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the concert. There’s also a sight-read rehearsal at 2, but those who want piano accompaniment should give one to two weeks’ notice.

Musicians of all ages and experience, both singers and instrumentalists, are welcome.

Admission to the concert is by donation. Audience and musicians are invited to stay for light refreshments and conversation.

Woods said that, with the open mics, she and others who love classical music “are taking action to make our own community” – and they welcome more people into it.

Learn more

For more information about Open Mic Classical, call 774-353-0244 or email

The website for Monika Woods is

The website for Open Mic is

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