Tuesday’s rain didn’t prevent Ditmas Park from coming alive with the sounds of spring (and winter, summer, and fall) as Mark Peskanov, executive and artistic director of Bargemusic, Brooklyn’s floating concert hall, brought Bach and Vivaldi to P.S. 217. The 5:30 PM performance by Peskanov, with the Voxare String Quartet and bassist Paul Cinque, was the latest musical offering at the Flatbush elementary school, where former Ditmas Park resident Jodi Redhage had inaugurated her own Ditmas Park Concerts three years earlier.
Peskanov, a warm and expressive bear of a man in whose powerful hands violin and bow seem to shrink to the dimensions of toys, began the performance with the J.S. Bach Violin Concerto in A minor. We won’t reveal the depth of our musical ignorance by attempting to describe it — except to say it was precise and lyrical, and made us forget where we were when we closed our eyes.
As the Bach concluded, a pretty three-and-a-half-year-old girl who later admitted her name was Nona Lily — and then stuck her tongue out at us — quietly asked her father about the musical instruments before deserting her seat to listen to the rest of the concert from the middle of the auditorium’s center aisle.
Peskanov then invited P.S 217 Assistant Principal Jonathan Leal, who himself is an accomplished rock musician, to read the sonnets that accompany the score of Antonio Vivaldi’s famous concertos, The Four Seasons. As Leal intoned and the musicians played, the auditorium was filled with the sounds of nature. Peskanov, with Voxare violinists Emily Ondracek and Galina Zhdanova, teased impossibly delicate sounds from their instruments, while violist Erik Peterson, cellist Adrian Daurov, and Mr. Cinque, re-created the sounds of nature’s darker side.
At the end, P.S. 217 Principal Franca Conti warmly thanked Peskanov, whose ensemble will be returning soon for a concert taking place during the P.S. 217 school day. The school and Bargemusic expect to collaborate again during the 2010-11 school year.