On Stage: Loggins-Hull to join NJ Symphony as Resident Artistic Partner

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Allison Loggins-Hull

Allison Loggins-Hull will join the New Jersey Symphony on September 1 as its next Resident Artistic Partner. In this role, Loggins-Hull will partner with artistic leadership and add her unique perspective and experiences to the artistic planning process.

In addition, her work “Can You See?,” originally written for the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Players, will be presented in its full-orchestra version recently premiered by The Cleveland Orchestra during the Brahms and Chopin concerts in mid-February 2025. “Can You See?” is a work for a small ensemble of flute, French horn, strings, and percussion.

Prior to that, Loggins-Hull has several other projects on her 2024 schedule.

On April 5, 7 and 10 in Maryland, Boston and Philadelphia, Loggins-Hull will present performances of her project “Diametrically Composed.” On April 10, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society will present “Diametrically Composed” at the American Philosophical Society’s Benjamin Franklin Hall (427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, www.pcmsconcerts.org).

The performance will feature Alicia Hall Moran, voice; Gabriela Martinez, piano; and Loggins-Hull, flute/electronics.

Conceived and produced by Loggins-Hull, “Diametrically Composed” is a collaboration between these three performing artists and composers Paola Prestini, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Jessica Meyer. Their contributions reflect personal experiences, exploring diverse themes related to being a mother and an artist.

“Diametrically Composed” is a collection of newly commissioned works featuring flute, voice, and piano exploring the duality of being a mother and an artist. Immediately after childbirth, it becomes clear that motherhood is multifaceted and life-changing. This new reality brings the joy of experiencing a newly created being and a powerful impact on creativity.

Being an artist-mother is fulfilling, rewarding, and unpredictable – full of love, beauty, and constant learning. Caring for and cultivating the development of someone else’s life is a privilege and artistically inspiring. While our children inform our art, our art informs our children and the steady current of energy generated from the two creates a distinct and flourished experience.

While “Diametrically Composed” revels in the exuberance of being a mother and an artist, the work also confronts the notion that motherhood and professional life can be limiting factors in their interaction, in ways that fatherhood and professional life are not necessarily. The work aims to artistically probe and unpack this double standard.

Reaching beyond the typical recital format, “Diametrically Composed” provides an immersive performance experience incorporating narratives from the women involved in the project. The program includes works by Loggins-Hull, Moran, Prestini, Snider, and Meyer.

“I want to say the idea came about in 2017 when I saw a Facebook post by Sarah Kirkland Snider,” said Loggins-Hull, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from an Amtrak Express as she travelled from North Jersey to College Park, Maryland.

“It was about a reaction she had to a review someone wrote about a piece by her – a review that mentioned she had a family. She was being judged for having a family.

“She wondered why she had this reaction – how we as women don’t talk about our family life because we’re not being taken seriously. What was really telling to me, not just the comments she made but other female musicians who posted on Facebook.

“I thought that this was really sad that all these accomplished musicians were carrying around this fear. It’s an anxiousness that come from this archaic philosophy about women being not as qualified as men.”

Loggins-Hull has been associated with acts across the spectrum of popular and classical music including Hans Zimmer, Lizzo, Imani Winds, Alarm Will Sound, the International Contemporary Ensemble. Her music is resonant with social and political themes of the current moment, encompassing motherhood, Blackness, and cultural identity.

Loggins-Hull and Nathalie Joachim co-founded the duo Flutronix, which has been praised for “redefining the flute and modernizing its sound by hauling it squarely into the world of popular music.” According to the Washington Post, Loggins-Hull is a “powerhouse” flutist, composer, and producer whose work defies classification.

“I no longer have those concerns,” said Loggins-Hull, as her train passed through Philadelphia and Wilmington. “When I had my son, who is 14 now, I didn’t think I’d have to make a choice. When I started showing, people asked if I was going to continue with music and with grad school.”

The answer is obvious.

Her signature style of composing for orchestra is characterized by unique sonic effects sometimes compared to the sounds of a synthesizer, while her themes draw deeply on community, culture and life experience. She is increasingly associated with Afrofuturism, a cultural movement blending African heritage with science fiction and technology, envisioning alternative futures and narratives of empowerment for people of African descent.

Recent premieres include “Ban” for flute/piccolo/digital stomp box and string quartet for Apollo Chamber Players; “Sum of Our Parts,” a new band work for a consortium led by Arizona State University Wind Ensemble; a chamber work for The Cleveland Orchestra; and “Wonder,” an orchestral work for the National Orchestral Institute. She is currently composing a Rhapsody for flute and orchestra to be performed by The Knights, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony in 2025.

In recent years, Loggins-Hull performed with Lizzo at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards Show and at the 2023 Met Gala, where she led an ensemble of flutists. As a performer on film scores, Loggins-Hull was co-principal flutist on the soundtracks for “Creed III” and Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King.” She was a co-producer of Nathalie Joachim’s celebrated album Fanm d’Ayiti, which was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY for Best World Music Album.

On the small screen, she has been featured in an internationally broadcast ESPN Super Bowl commercial, the 62nd annual GRAMMYs Award Show and the Black Girls Rock! Awards Show. Continuing her work in film, Loggins-Hull composed the score for “Bring Them Back,” a 2019 award-winning documentary about the legendary dancer Maurice Hines directed by Jon Carluccio and executive produced by Debbie Allen.

“I’ve been working on ‘Diametrically Composed’ for a couple of years,” said Loggins-Hull, who lives with her family in Montclair, New Jersey.

“Once I got a team, Gabriella (Martinez) got pregnant, so we had to wait. Then, COVID happened. It didn’t have its premiere until fall 2021 in an outdoor show at Bryant Park in New York.”

“These three shows will be the first time to perform it indoors in a controlled space. I’m really looking forward to these performances.”

Video link for “Diametrically Composed” — https://youtu.be/dSXvzBCLzNk.

The show at Benjamin Franklin Hall on April 10 will start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25.

There are certain music locations that have a special atmosphere – clubs such as the Troubadour in L.A., the Fillmore East in New York, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and Tipitina’s in New Orleans and recording studios such as Sunset Sound Recorders in L.A., Sun Studios in Memphis, Electric Ladyland in New York, Capitol Studios in L.A. and Sonic Ranch, which is located on a pecan farm near El Paso, Texas.

The list also includes FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Jamey’s House of Music in Delaware County.

Gretchen Emery Band

This spring, the Gretchen Emery Band will be making music at both FAME and Jamey’s.

On April 6, the Gretchen Emery Band will headline a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

“This is the second time we’ve headlined a show at Jamey’s, and we’ll have another show there later in the year,” said Emery, during a phone interview Monday evening from her home in Newark, Delaware.

“I was first told about Jamey’s by a friend back in pre-Covid. I got in touch with Jamey (Reilly), and he let us come in for an Open Blues Jam. After COVID was over, we played a Blues Jam again.

“I like everything about Jamey’s. As a performer, I like that Jamey makes it very easy and comfortable for the artists. The stage and the sound are already set up. You just have to walk in with your instrument and play. The sound system is great.

“Jamey is a wonderful guy — very easy to work with. He’s been very supportive. For audiences, it’s a great place to see a show. It has good sound, free parking and great food – and he has a livestream option.”

The Gretchen Emery Band’s show this Saturday will be available on pay-per-view.

Vocal powerhouse Emery was recently honored with the 2023 award for “Best Lead Singer” by Delaware Valley Hometown Heroes. Her husband Kenny Windle is the band’s guitarist and Emery’s co-writer. The band also features Randy Waters (bass), Mike Leger (drums), and Frank Donato (keys).

The Gretchen Emery Band has toured steadily in the Mid-Atlantic region over the last four years. The band released its debut EP, “If Love Were Enough,” in July 2022.

The EP, which was released on a/i/r records, has been described as a “rootsy, soul-fueled mix of rockin’ R&B…. blending both traditional and contemporary influences, creating something that feels instantly familiar yet excitingly fresh at the same time.”

Now, they are working on a new release on a/i/r records. Their most recent area show was at Stoney’s Pub in Wilmington back on Thanksgiving Weekend.

“We took a break and sort of hibernated the last two months,” said Emery, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from her home in Newark, Delaware. “We didn’t play any shows from mid-December until now because we’ve been working on our new album.”

The band is moving in style with a trip planned to one of the most respected recording studios in the world – FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

FAME, an acronym for Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, is a studio that has been the recording home for such acts as Otis Redding, Duane Allman, Aretha Franklin, Oak Ridge Boys and Jason Isbell.

“We’re going to Muscle Shoals in May to record at FAME,” said Emery. “This is a bucket list for Kenny. He always wanted to record at FAME.

“We’re taking the whole band to Alabama along with producer Derek Chafin, who produced our last album. It’s like everything lined up just right.

“We also have musician friends down there – The Dirty Rain Revelers. We’ll be doing some shows together when we’re down there.”

The Dirty Rain Revelers features husband/wife duo, Matthew and Melissa DeOrazio, both on guitars and vocals.  The music they make has a kinetic energy that connects to roots and blues, and weaves in the human experience through the songs they share. Both lifelong musicians, they’ve been playing together for 16 years under various guises and lineups.

Both groups focus on husband/wife teams that write and play together.

“My husband and I write together,” said Emery. “He comes up with the chord structure and I develop the melody. Then, I take care of the lyrics.

“‘If Love Were Enough’ was the first one where we achieved the result that we were really happy with.

“We recorded it at BarnSound Studio in Newtown Square. It’s Derek Chafin’s studio which he has now moved to Chester Springs.

“We used Derek Chafin as our producer for the EP. He made all the difference for us.

“We brought him the song ‘If Love Were Enough’ to listen to. He liked it and agreed to produce us. We had never used a producer before. Now, we’re working on a full-length with him. The new album won’t be out until? – when we’re all done.”

Emery grew up in Dover, Delaware while her husband is a native of North Philadelphia.

“I stayed in Dover for college and went to Wesley College,” said Emery, who spent more than two decades as a pediatric nurse. “My mom was a professor there.

“I went to nursing school and got my degree. I worked as a nurse for a long time. Now, I work for the V.A. in Philly. I’m in administration so fortunately I can work from home.

“When I was growing up, music was obligatory in our home. Everyone is musical. My mom has been a singer since she was really young. My dad played the clarinet and his brother played organ and piano. I started singing in church. In school, I played flute in the band and sang.”

Emery, who has been involved in quite a few bands over the years, now has found the right sound and the right mixture of players.

“We had a band called Gretchen Emery Band and Dirty Boots,” said Emery. “We competed in the IBC (International Blues Competition) in 2013 and then broke up a year later.

“Kenny and I stopped playing for a while. Then, we realized we can’t not play.”

Video link for the Gretchen Emery Band – https://youtu.be/yUWijOc-OuM

The show at Jamey’s House of Music will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. It will also be available as a pay-per-view at $15 at THE GRETCHEN EMERY BAND Tickets, Sat, Apr 6, 2024 at 8:00 PM | PromoTix.

On April 5, live entertainment will be provided by The Vakili Band.

Lily Vakili, who works as a lawyer in her day job, turns into a rocker when weekends arrive.

The talented singer/songwriter/guitarist made two solo albums before starting The Vakili Band a few years ago.

The Vakili Band features guitarist Ben St. Jack, drummer Gordon Kuba, bassists Matt Jovanis and Jim Tyndall and harmonica ace Joel Dorow.

Video link for The Vakili Band — https://youtu.be/CXiViOipUDw.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. It will also be available as a pay-per-view at $15 at VAKILI BAND Tickets, Fri, Apr 5, 2024 at 8:00 PM | PromoTix.

Jamey’s features either “Jazz at Jamey’s” or “Anything Goes” on Thursdays featuring the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

“Jazz at Jamey’s” will be presented every second and fourth Thursday, and “Anything Goes” every first, third and fifth Thursday.

Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings. On the second Sunday each month, the featured act is the Girke-Davis Project which features club owner Jamey Reilly, Roger Girke, Glenn Bickel, Fred Berman and Colgan-Davis.

Ensemble Arts Philly (www.ensembleartsphilly.org) is presenting a three-week run of “Frozen” as part of its “Broadway Series,” which is co-presented by the Shubert Organization. The show will run now through April 7 at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia).

“Frozen” is a musical with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and book by Jennifer Lee, based on the 2013 film of the same name. The story centers on the relationship between two sisters who are princesses, Elsa and Anna.

Elsa has magical powers to freeze objects and people, which she does not know how to control. After inheriting the throne, Elsa flees, inadvertently causing the kingdom to become frozen in an eternal winter and nearly killing her sister. She must sacrifice and show true love to save the day.

The touring cast features Caroline Bowman as Elsa, Lauren Nicole Chapman as Anna Jeremy Davis as Olaf and Dominic Dorsett as Kristoff.

“‘Frozen’ is about these two sisters who are torn apart because of this secret,” said Davis, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Olaf is a four-foot-tall puppet,” said Davis, who has also performed on Broadway in “Cats,” “Annie,” “The Last Ship,” and “South Pacific.” “His torso is attached to me – his feet to my feet. It does feel like a dance partner. We sort of dance around the stage together.”

As a snowman Anna and Elsa built together as kids, Olaf represents innocent love and the joy the sisters once had when they were young before being split. Olaf is not just funny. He also has a “big role to play representing the innocent love in the scale of fear versus love.” Additionally, his character provides much of the comic relief while conveying lovable innocence and purity.

“Olaf is the emotional bridge,” said Davis, whose Broadway credits also include “Billy Elliot,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “9 to 5,” “The People in the Picture” and “Ghost.”

“I know he is an inanimate object, but he sure does feel alive to me. He talks all the time. I’m sort of in charge of a lot of jokes. Olaf is the archetypal fool. He sees everything as an opportunity for fun.”

“Frozen” was nominated for a number of awards and received several. The song “Let It Go” was singled out for praise. The film was nominated for two awards at the 71st Golden Globe Awards and received the Best Animated Feature award. It received Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”) and Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”).

At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, the “Frozen” soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media and was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media. “Let It Go” received the Best Song Written For Visual Media award, with credits to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez as songwriters and Idina Menzel as performer.

Video link for “Frozen” — https://youtu.be/evYafRPWhFk.

The show is running run now through April 7 at the Academy of Music.

Ticket prices start at $25.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” which is running now through April 21 at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org), is definitely a mystery.

The cast for the show includes many Candlelight veterans including Anthony Connell (Phillip Baz, Bazzard), Dan Healy (James Throttle), Julia Kershetsky (Alice Nutting, Edwin Drood), Sarah Mackus (Beatrice), Constance Clay Pelesh (Princess Puffer, Angela Prysock), Samantha Ricchiuti (Florence Gill), Shaun Yates (Nick Cricker) and Victoria Healy (Ensemble).

The Candlelight Theatre provided some information with this message on its website and handout flyers –

“THE MYSTERY of EDWIN DROOD, based on Charles Dickens’ final unfinished novel, is presented by a delightfully zany, vaudeville-type company at The Music Hall Royale.

“The story features John Jasper, a Jekyll-and-Hyde choirmaster who is quite madly in love with the fair Miss Rosa Bud who is engaged to Jasper’s nephew, young Edwin Drood. Drood disappears after dinner on a stormy night and is thought to have been murdered. If so, then whodunnit?

“YOU, the audience, must decide and vote.

“Just how many possible endings can there be? The secret is in the number of combinations made possible by three separate sets of roles chosen by you, the audience. The total? 480!

“Which show will you see? You vote on the ending, so it’s entirely up to you!”

As “Drood” is metatheatrical, the characters of the play “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” are played by actors of the “Music Hall Royale,” within the production.

Metatheatre, and the closely related term metadrama, describes the aspects of a play that draw attention to its nature as drama or theatre, or to the circumstances of its performance. “Breaking the Fourth Wall” is an example of a metatheatrical device.

“It’s a murder mystery,” said Connell. “It’s a fun show with great audience participation. The audience votes on who they think murdered Edwin Drood.”

There are all sorts of clues throughout the play concerning who the murderer might be. Audience members take notes and play a role in the play’s final stages.

“Audiences like it,” said Connell. “It’s something different – something interactive. Audiences always live murder mysteries. Personally, I like when actors can go into the audience.”

The Candlelight Theatre is presenting “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” now through April 21. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting a sold out show by John Oates on April 6.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is hosting presenting a  “Singer Songwriter Showcase” featuring Nera, Jillian Dolan, Jac Conner and Elise on April 5, “A Night of Metal” featuring Boarzoy, Around the Fur (Deftones tribute) and Mesh on April 6, and Antje Duivekot on April 7.

The Colonial Theater (227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, thecolonialtheatre.com/events) will host the tribute act The British Legends on April 6.

This week, the Elkton Music Hall (107 North Street, Elkton, Maryland, www.elktonmusichall.com) will host Gabe Lee with Rebecca Porter on April 4, Hepner’s Rebellion with The Susquehanna Floods on April 5 and Shovels & Rope on April 9.

The Living Room and Cricket Café (104 Cricket Avenue, Ardmore, livingroomardmore.com) will present Stephen DiJoseph on April 4, Steve Shanahan & The Hit Men: 100 Years Of Blues on April 5, Doug Howard: A Nod To Todd, Jay Byham on April 6, The Wild Hymns, John Torres Band on April 7 and Mark Delgado on April 10.

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