Ukuleles Get Respect At Stevenson

Ukefest Set For Saturday

Miniature Books At Walters

Arts Scene

July 21, 2009|By TIM SMITH

What's with the ukulele? The miniature instrument, once thought of as, well, unserious, seems to have achieved a kind of stature over the past decade or so. The fast-rising, genre-crossing career of ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro speaks volumes about this new popularity. Here's another: the Greenspring Valley Ukefest.

This celebration of all things ukulele-ian will include workshops and a concert on Saturday at Stevenson University, where the festival has been organized by faculty member Jared Denhard. (He's also known as a trombonist, harpist and bagpiper in the Celtic band O'Malley's March.)

Open to virginal and virtuosic ukulele fanciers alike, Ukefest will offer sessions on musical technique, instrument maintenance, repertoire expansion and more. Uke vendors will be on hand, too. The workshops begin at 2 p.m., the outdoor concert at 7.

Admission is free to all of the activities, which will take place in and around the Inscape Theatre and Welcome Center on Stevenson University's Greenspring Valley campus, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road. For more information, call 443-334-2163 or e-mail

As a kickoff to the festival, the Creative Alliance is presenting a uke-centric concert featuring Denhard, the Fleastompers, Victoria Vox and more at 8 p.m. Friday at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Tickets are $10 and $12. Call 410-276-1651 or go to

'Shrunken Treasures'

Here's something to look forward to - with very keen vision. The Walters Art Museum opens an exhibit of miniature books and manuscripts next month, featuring more than 30 items from its collection. There will be examples of tiny prayer books, including one of delicate detail that belonged to Marie de Medici, regent of France during the turbulent early years of the 17th century. Lilliputian Qurans will also be on display.

Shrunken Treasures: Miniaturization in Books and Art opens Aug. 15 and runs through Nov. 8 at the Walters, 600 N. Charles St. Call 410-547-9000 or go to

Jazz Alliance party

To celebrate its second compilation CD, Jazzscapes II, the Baltimore Jazz Alliance will present a free Release Party, featuring performances by most of the artists on the recording, among them Sandy Asirvatham, Brian Kooken, Marianne Matheny-Katz, Gail Marten and Phil Ravita.

The event is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Eubie Blake Cultural Center, 847 N. Howard St. Admission is free. For more information, call 410-415-5199 or go to

Music in Roland Park

Also on Tuesday, the second annual Summer Chamber Music in Roland Park, featuring fine players from around the region, wraps up with an unusual program that pairs the original 13-instrument version of Copland's Appalachian Spring with an early work of Vaughan Williams, the rhapsodic C minor Piano Quintet from 1903.

The concert is at 7 p.m. at Roland Park Presbyterian Church, 4801 Roland Ave. Admission is free. For more information, call 410-889-2000 or go to

Cabaret at Center Stage

Judy Kaye livened up Baltimore's 2008-2009 theater season with her indelible portrayal of the intonation- and reality-challenged Florence Foster Jenkins in Souvenir at Center Stage. The Tony Award-winning actress and singer will be back there next season to open the cabaret series Oct. 15-18.

Also performing on the 2009-2010 cabaret lineup will be Scottish singer Euan Morton (Nov. 12--15); E. Faye Butler, a Center Stage associate artist who starred in last season's Caroline, or Change (Feb. 11--14); and Tracie Thoms, a Baltimore-born actress who will close the series with musical friends (April 29-May 2).

Call 410-332-0033 or go to

Wolf Trap Opera

Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses, one of the earliest extant masterworks of the operatic art, tells the tale from Homer's Odyssey of a hero's journey home from the Trojan Wars after 20 years. The work gets a new production this week from the dynamic Wolf Trap Opera. The cast, featuring tenor Dominic Armstrong in the title role, will be directed by James Marvel. The conductor is Gary Thor Wedow.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and July 28, 3 p.m. Sunday, in the Barns at Wolf Trap, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna, Va. Tickets are $34-$68. Call 877-965-3872 or go to

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