Category Archives: Music

Seaglass Performing Arts Announces Palm Sunday Concert

Seaglass Performing Arts

Under the direction of Jean Strazdes, Presents
“An Afternoon of Sacred Music by Fauré, Lauridsen and Bernstein”

Kennebunk, Maine

Seaglass Chorale, under the direction of Jean Strazdes, Artistic Director, will present selections from Bernstein’s Missa Brevis; Fauré’s Requiem and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. In addition, there will be a performance of Bernstein’s Simple Song from the Mass by Ms. Strazdes.

One Performance Only: Palm Sunday Sunday, March 25, 2018
Christ Church
6 Dane Street

Kennebunk, Maine 3:00 pm

Tickets are available through Seaglass [at] gwi [dot] net, phone at 207.985.8747, and at Morse Hardware on Post Road in Wells. Tickets are also available at the door. Prices: $15/adult; $12/senior and student

Seaglass Performing Arts Brings Joyful Music And Dance To Christmas Prelude Week

Seaglass Chorale
“A Joyous Celtic Celebration”
December 2, South Congregational Church, Kennebunkport
December 3, Holy Family Church, Sanford, Maine

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

It was a lovely two days of Celtic music and dance in Kennebunkport and Sanford, Maine as the Seaglass Chorale welcomed the Christmas Season with a beautiful program of music and dance.

Led by Artistic Director Jean Strazdes, the group has shown they are able to continue raising the bar with the passing of each year. This past summer the chorale visited Ireland where they performed and it appears they brought some Celtic magic back with them.

The lovely voices were accompanied by Kim Karchenes on piano, Mary Carol Kennedy on flute, Dianne Smallidge and Stephanie Sanders on percussion, and Robert Daigle on bass.

The program which opened with “Riversong: A Celtic Celebration” was lively and touching and continued with a number of beautiful Celtic songs. These included “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby”, sung  a cappella, a tune that touches on fairies in Irish mythology, “Oikan Ayns Bethlehem” from the Isle of Man, and the lively and fun “The Little Beggarman” about Johnny Dhu who worked hard at not working at all.

The first part of the program also had the beautiful “In The Bleak Midwinter” with words by Christina Rossetti. This has always been one of my favorites and I was not disappointed by this performance.

Alex Pratt recited the Kenneth Patchen poem “The Snow Is Deep On The Ground”. Written during WW II it is a moving piece that reminds us to have hope at all times. Mr. Pratt’s rich voice made this recitation simply wonderful to hear.

Stillson School Step Dancers

After intermission, there was a special surprise. The Seaglass Chorale was joined by step dancers from the Stillson School of Irish Dance. The Stillson School is the only accredited Irish Dance school in the state of Maine. This was truly a treat and the young ladies who performed were simply outstanding. Under the direction of Carlene Moran Stillson these world class dancers who have won numerous competitions  thrilled the audience. Having them join with the chorale was a lovely touch.

The program closed out with the ancient Celtic carol “Stars of Glory”, followed by “Shule Aroon”,  Ola Gjeilo’s “The Ground”, and a “Celtic Silent Night”. All beautiful music but made that much lovelier by the voices of Seaglass. A friend described the evening as “Fine threads on a woven tapestry.” That is a perfect description.

Of course, what would a Seaglass Christmas concert be without a sing-a-long? Ms Strazdes finished the evening by turning to and directing the audience in a medley of Christmas Carols. It was the perfect finish to a wonderful evening.

If you have not yet attended a Seaglass Performing Arts concert I would strongly urge you to do so.

“A Joyous Celtic Celebration” certainly left all who experienced it with enough Christmas Spirit to last them until next year. Just wonderful!

 Seaglass Performing Arts Presents 2017 Holiday Concert: A Joyous Celtic Celebration

Seaglass Performing Arts, under the direction of Jean Strazdes, is pleased to announce its 2017 Holiday Concert: A Joyous Celtic Celebration.

The Chorale had the honor of participating in an exciting Choral Festival in Dublin, Ireland this summer. Choruses from around the United States joined together in song and raised money for the Hospice of Ireland. In “A Joyous Celtic Celebration,” the Chorale will continue the musical flavor of Ireland. The chorus will be joined by dancers from the Stilton School of Irish Dance in Gorham and the concert will include a sing-a-long of familiar holiday songs.

The concert will be part of Kennebunkport’s Prelude Week on December 2nd with a second performance at Holy Family Parish Church in Sanford the afternoon of December 3rd. Saturday, December 2, 2017 South Congregational Church Kennebunkport 7:00 pm Sunday, December 3, 2017 Holy Family Parish 66 North Avenue Sanford 3:00 pm.

Tickets are available through seaglass [at] gwi [dot] net or via phone at 207.985.8747; and at Morse Hardware on Post Road in Wells. Tickets are also available at the door. Prices: $15/adult; $12/senior and student In support of the local area food banks, Seaglass is requesting your kind donation of non-perishable food items. Thank you for your generosity during this holiday season.


The Four C Notes

The Four C Notes
Give A Barn Burner Performance
In Arundel

The Four C Notes
At Vinegar Hill Music Theatre
Arundel, Maine
Saturday June 17 and Sunday June 18

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

The Four C Notes

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre has kicked off their second season with the return of the Four Seasons tribute group The Four C Notes led by John Michael Coppola. I attended the Saturday night performance at Vinegar Hill Music Theatre, and if this show was any indication of the upcoming season it is going to be a hot and lively summer in the converted barn that is one of the most beautiful venues for musical performances in Maine.

Dressed in vintage clothing and backed by a terrific seven piece orchestra, Mr. Coppola was joined by Aaron Davidson, Adrian Aguilar, and Tyler Ravelson. The Four C Notes do not impersonate the Four Seasons. What they do is put on a wonderful evening comprised of recreating the still very popular music of the group led by Franke Valli. They do this with energy, enthusiasm, and humor. Mr. Coppola sings the lead with his wonderful falsetto voice and he has what it takes. He also allows the other members of the group to showcase their talents, they all have theatrical backgrounds that add to their performances.

The show opened with Oh What A Night, and then the gang moved right into a medley of Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and Walk Like A Man. The crowd was already feeling excitement as they were clapping and singing along. This was a high energy performance. As the Cs sang Sunday Kind Of Love a cappella I thought that much of the Four Seasons’ music is actually a cappella with instruments added to it. This led into the very popular Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.

Mr. Coppola sings the lead with his wonderful falsetto voice and he has what it takes.

In case you are thinking this was strictly a concert with one song after another being performed, that was not the case. There was quite a bit of showmanship involved. The Four C Notes were beautifully choreographed as they moved about the stage with precision but also with an ease that was very natural. The banter was funny and informative. Each member had a distinct personality and they all had fun playing off one another. Tyler Ravelson was the self proclaimed “Bad Boy” of the group, and on top of his marvelous bass voice he also showed his acting ability. He shined when taking the lead on Beggin’.  Aaron Davis stepped forward for the Doo-wop number Cry For Me and put it over smoothly. It brought the audience back to the days of street corner singing.

Adrian Aguilar, who had been in Rocky, The Musical on Broadway, led on My Eyes Adored You. It looks like Adrian developed a knock out of a voice while in Rocky and he was in championship form on this night. I will pass on the Yo! Adrian jokes as I am sure he has been hearing them long enough.

In an interesting medley called The Ones That Got Away, the group showcased a number of Four Season Songs that never made it to number ten on the charts. These included Save It For Me, Opus 17, Tell It To The Rain, and Girl Come Runnin’. While I was not familiar with these songs they had the unmistakable Seasons’ sound that drove so many other songs to the number one spot.

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre

The band was showcased at the beginning of the second set as they performed an instrumental version of Grease. With one exception, they were made up of local talent drawn from the Maine and Boston areas and all were excellent. Two favorites of mine were there and were absolutely solid as usual. Rob Doquette on drums and the remarkable Tom Snow on keyboards. They are Maine’s gift to the music world.

In the second set things didn’t slow down a bit. The Four Seasons had a lot of hits and they were included here. Dawn, Big Man In Town, Workin’ My Way Back To You as well as Rag Doll triggered the nostalgia nerve in everyone there.

John Michael Coppola, who was in the Chicago production of Jersey Boys, is just superb in so many ways. He has made this show special in that it was really a night of great entertainment that left the audience shouting for more. His dedication shows alongside his gift as a performer and a singer, a gift that he has made great use of.

With the crowd on its feet there was certainly going to be an encore, and much like the finale of a Fourth of July fireworks display, the boys let it all rip out with Grease that featured each performer, and a reprise of Oh What A Night. What a finish to a great night, and Oh! What a night it was!


Miles And Miles Of Texas

Asleep At Wheel Swings In Burlington

Asleep At The Wheel

Presented by The Burlington Community Concert Series

Burlington High School, Fogelberg Performing Arts Center

Friday, June 9th

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

There was no danger of anyone falling asleep at the wheel after this concert.

Western Swing was alive and well at the Burlington High School on Friday night as Asleep at the Wheel took the stage. From the opening notes of Cherokee Maiden, the near capacity crowd knew they were in for a special night of music.

Led by Ray Benson, who is going into his 48th year of performing, the group focused mainly on their specialty, the music of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys. Mr. Benson was in fine form, but he wasn’t alone. The eight piece band was an array of solid talent, all of whom made it look easy.

Moving from Miles and Miles of Texas right into the classic Route 66 where Katie Shore got to show us that her amazing talent on the fiddle is matched by her wonderful voice. She was also terrific on I’m An Old Cowhand, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, and I Hear You Talkin’. She and Ray also teamed up for the Johnny Cash classic Big River.

Katie Shore wasn’t the only fiddle player on the stage. She was joined by Dennis Ludiker who was Texas State Fiddle Champion. Dennis also played mandolin (“The biggest little instrument in the world.”). I believe I saw smoke coming from the instruments when Katie and Dennis tore into Tiger Rag. Mr. Ludiker could reign as champ for as long as he wants to. At one point I thought Dave Sanger’s arms were going to fly off as he hit the drums and State of Texas shaped cymbal.

Steel guitarist Eddie Rivers never disappoints. His solo of the classic Teardrop was just beautiful. Eddie also broke out on sax for the onomatopoeic Choo Choo Ch’Boogie. Which also featured Connor Forsyth on keyboard showing us a fine way to play a Steinway.

Ray took time out to remember Guy Clark who passed away in 2016 by singing his beautiful Dublin Blues. It was a touching moment made more so by such a lovely song.

Of course, it would not have been a Texas Playboy night without San Antonio Rose and Faded Love. Eddie Rivers told me whenever he is feeling low he listens to San Antonio Rose. It certainly is great medicine.

Ray Benson was born to perform.

Over the years band members have changed, and somehow Ray is always able to recruit new and amazing talent. Old hands Ray, Eddie Rivers, and drummer Dave Sanger have to enjoy having the new energy that Katie Shore, Connor Forsyth, Dennis Ludiker, Josh Hoag (bass), and Jay Reynolds (saxaphone and clarinet) bring to the group. While Dave and Jay sat towards the back of the stage their presence was right in the forefront. These guys are good.

Ray Benson Friday In Burlington

No AATW concert is compete without Ray’s very special version of Hotrod Lincoln complete with sound effects and Benson’s juggling. It is such fun. Years ago a friend and former member of the band told me Ray Benson was born to perform. I think of how true that comment was every time I see him.

The concert closed out with the audience on its feet having a blast. House of Blue Lights, one of my favorites, was followed by an encore that included Big Balls In Cow Town and, fittingly, the old Roy Rogers song Happy Trails To You with the crowd singing along. One final tune was the Texas Playboy’s Theme.

There was no danger of anyone falling asleep at the wheel after this concert. I’m sure toes are still tapping. I know mine are.

Seaglass Performing Arts, Under The Direction Of Jean Strazdes, Announces Its 2017 Spring Concerts: An Evening of Spirituals and Heavenly Broadway

 Saturday, May 6, 2017 Christ Church
Dane Street, Kennebunk 7:00 pm

Sunday, May 7, 2017
Wells High School Auditorium
200 Sanford Road (Rtes. 9 and 109), Wells 3:00 pm

The concert will include much loved spirituals as well as music from familiar Broadway productions (Godspell, Ragtime, Rent, Sister Act, West Side Story and more) and movies (Shrek and Working Girl). There will be two performances, the first on Saturday evening, May 6th, at Christ Church in Kennebunk; the second on Sunday, May 7th, at the Wells High School Auditorium at 3:00 pm.


Tickets are available through Seaglass [at] gwi [dot] net ; via phone at 207.985.8747; and at Morse Hardware on Post Road in Wells. Tickets are also available at the door.

Prices: $15/adult; $12/senior and student

Seaglass Presents: It’s Showtime – Opening Night

The Seaglass Chorale In Concert

SeaglassFresh off of their very successful performance, Reflections and Meditations, Seaglass Chorale turns to the Broadway stage for their next concert. Under the direction of Jean Strazdes the group will present a selection of music from a number of the great musicals including Wicked, The King and I, and Fiddler On The Roof. 

There will be two performances. The first will take place on Saturday, May 7th at Christ Church, Dane Street, Kennebunk, ME beginning at 7:00 P.M.

The second concert will be held the following day which is Mothers’ Day and will take place at the Wells Historical Society, 938 Post Road, Wells, ME. The performance begins at 3:00 P.M. and as a special treat, all the mothers in attendance will receive a special Mothers’ Day carnation

Kim Karchenes will be featured on piano accompanying the lovely voices of the Seaglass Chorale.

This promises to be a wonderful concert

This promises to be a wonderful concert and a very special treat for the Mothers’ Day weekend.

Tickets are priced at $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for children and seniors. They may be reserved by calling 207-985-8747 or by going to seaglass [at] gwi [dot] net

Music Review: Reflections and Meditation


Performed by Seaglass Chorale

Under The Direction of Jean Strazdes

Ola Gjeilo, Music

Peter Ralston, Photography

March 20, 2016

Merrill Auditorium

Portland, Maine

A Concert To Soothe The Soul

by Bobby Franklin

In 2015 I attended a performance of this work by the Seaglass Performing Arts in a church in Saco, Maine. It was done beautifully and I left that night feeling filled with peace. I really couldn’t imagine how they could do a better job with it.

Well, I returned to see the group again perform this work at the lovely Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, and they have taken their performance to an even higher level. They were simply outstanding.

Under the direction of Jean Strazdes the chorale was near perfect.

Under the direction of Jean Strazdes the chorale was near perfect. The string musicians, many of whom were from the Portland Symphony Orchestra were a delight with Kim Karchenes on piano.

Terri Ralston, Jean Strazdes, Stephanie Sanders, and Peter Ralston
Terri Ralston, Jean Strazdes, Stephanie Sanders, and Peter Ralston

The music, Sunrise Mass, composed by Ola Gjeilo, will be new to most people but is soothing and joyful. Its world premiere took place in 2008 in Oslo. According to the program, Gjeilo’s intent and story of his Mass are expressed through the way in which the music comes across sonically. The text comes from the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie – The Sphere; Gloria – Sunrise; Credo – The City; Sanctus & Angus Dei – Identity and the Ground.

Sea Glass by Peter Ralston
Sea Glass by Peter Ralston

 During the concert, photographs of the MaineCoast by Peter Ralston were projected on a large screen above the singers and were in perfect sync with the music. Media artist Stephanie Sanders did a remarkable job placing the screen so audience members were able to see the performers and the photos at the same time. The voices, music, and visuals all blended together to convey a warmth and peacefulness that did indeed lead the listeners into a state of reflection and meditation.

Pentecost by Peter Ralston
Pentecost by Peter Ralston

Peter Ralston’s photos alone would be enough to inspire and calm,

Peter Ralston’s photos alone would be enough to inspire and calm,but when paired with the music of Gjeilo they are brought to life. Ms Sanders added motion to the still images which gave the feeling of having the audience step into the photographs. At times I found myself in a state of mind where I had let go of any negative feelings about life and was taken to a place of calm. It was truly magical.

Seaglass Chorale and Orchestra
Seaglass Chorale and Orchestra

Seaglass Performing Arts was founded in 1993 by Artistic Director Jean Strazdes, the Seaglass Chorale is a non-auditioned adult choral group of 50-60 voices and represents some 20 southern Maine communities. They regularly perform throughout the area with their accompanist, Kimberly Karchenes. They have also performed in Europe with trips to Rome, Venice, Innsbruck, and Budapest. Fortunately, they always return home.

For more information go to:

Peter Ralston’s photography has appeared in over 50 magazines. His work is regularly exhibited in galleries here and abroad. Recently, his work was added to the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. You can learn more about Mr. Ralston by going to

Next up for the Seaglass Chorale will be Pops Concert: It’s Showtime! This concert will feature music from Broadway musicals past and present. This performance will take place in May and is sure to be a fun evening. Check the Seaglass website for further information. You will not be disappointed.

Seaglass Chorale in Concert

Presents “Reflection and Meditation”

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Merrill Auditorium, Portland

3 p.m.

I saw the Seaglass Chorale perform this work by Ola Gjeilo last year and it is positively beautiful. The music and photographs are a perfect match. The voices and orchestra soothe the soul.


“The voices and orchestra soothe the soul.”


Merrill Poster Updated Jan 2016Seaglass Chorale of southern Maine will present its debut concert, “Reflection and Meditation,” at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium under the direction of Jean Strazdes. The concert, scheduled for March 20, introduces the music of contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo to the Merrill audience and will be performed against a backdrop of images by Maine photographer Peter Ralston. Selections include Sunrise Mass, Across the Vast Eternal Sky, Dark Night of the Soul, and Luminous Night of the Soul.


The performance by the 49 member chorale will feature Kim Karchenes, piano; visual artist Stephanie Sanders and a nine member string ensemble.

Tickets are available through PortTIX for $38 with special rates for groups of 15 or more. For more information, see, Email: www [dot] boxoffice [at] porttix [dot] com or call 207-842-0800.

Music Review: Jonathan Edwards

At The Center

For The Arts In Natick

September 26th

An Evening To Soothe The Soul


Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards

The program I was handed at the door as I entered the Center For The Arts In Natick read “In Concert, Jonathan Edwards”. I have seen Mr. Edwards perform on a number of occasions and I have never felt as if I was at a concert. Spending an evening with Jonathan is much more than that. Even though I am sitting in a performing arts venue I feel more like I have been invited into his home to share a night of music, stories, laughs, and warmth. Edwards has yet to disappoint me and the other night in Natick was no exception.



…there was never a dull moment.

From his opening song “Down In The Woods” until his closing encore two hours later with the Stephen Foster classic “Hard Times” there was never a dull moment. There were plenty of old favorites going back to his first album along with a nice taste from his latest and most personal work “Tomorrow’s Child” and many from in between.


Tomorrow's Child
Jonathan’s Latest Album “Tomorrow’s Child”

In two of his new songs we learn much about Jonathan. In the very touching “Jonny’s Come Home” Edwards talks about being given up for adoption shortly after his birth and of how he found his birth mother forty years later. It was a happy reunion. He and his 96 year old mother are still close. The song also tells of his own experience in giving up his daughter Brenda for adoption, “I never thought I’d had to do what was done to me.” They, too, reunited after years had passed.


If all of this is beginning to sound a bit sad, it isn’t at all. By listening to the songs and hearing Jonathan tell stories, and he is a wonderful storyteller, you understand why this was much more than a concert.

Edwards has yet to disappoint me and the other night in Natick was no exception.

Going back to his eponymous first album Mr. Edwards sang Emma, Sunshine, Don’t Cry Blue, and what is probably his best-known song Shanty. It is ironic that Shanty has become so well known seeing that it got no radio play when it first was released. The censors at the time had figured out what it meant “to get a good buzz on” and were not happy with it; however, the public loved it as did the audience in Natick putting their hands together upon hearing the first few notes on the mouth harp.

Jonathan is also terrific to listen to between songs. His stories are always so interesting, and he can be very funny. While struggling to get one of his guitars to rest in its stand he told it to stay put, he then quipped “The older we get the more inanimate objects need personalities.” And when introducing the song  Mole In The Ground he said “Now that is a title that really excites people.” The crowd loved it.

“The older we get the more inanimate objects need personalities.”

Gracie, from his new album, is a lovely song celebrating his second daughter. Grace is an accomplished musician in her own right and performs on occasion with her father. Talent definitely runs in the family. Sandy Girl is a foot tapping love song to the joy of Jon’s life and soon to be wife. I noticed that Sandy is a bit shy about having the song played in public, but it is also apparent how much in love she and Jonathan are.  Ain’t Got Time, Girl From the Canyon, Sailboat, The Beatles She Loves You, Evangeline, My Love Will Keep were also included in this wonderful evening.

Jon was accompanied by his “band” the extraordinary Tom Snow on keyboard.


Tom Snow
Tom’s Latest Album “Thomas Snow Friends”

Jon was accompanied by his “band” the extraordinary Tom Snow on grand piano, keyboard, and backup vocals. During Shanty they did a great dueling piano and guitar. They make it look easy and obviously love performing together. What a joy it is to see and hear such talent. These two elevate each other musically and get a great natural buzz playing together.


We are lucky to have Jonathan Edwards here in New England. He plays many nights, and if you haven’t yet seen him be sure to stop in the next time he is in your area. I can guarantee if you see him perform once you will go again and again. I got a good buzz on and didn’t even have to inhale.

For album information, concert dates, and lots of great information go to

For info on Tom Snow and his album Tom Snow Friends go to

Jonathan Edwards and Tom Snow Perform “Hard Times”

“Shanty” performed by Jonathan and Tom