Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Originality fuels physicians' showcase

Brown County ‘Doctors in Recital'

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Physicians had rhythm, indeed, and a whole lot more in the 11th edition of “Doctors in Recital” that was presented Saturday night in sold-out Cofrin Family Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

The Brown County version of “Doctors in Recital” has become a big, cool thing.

This year’s version proves, again, that a significant number of individuals who people trust their bodies and minds to are multiply talented – and those individuals do things in intricate ways and as part of a team. Result: The doctors know how to put on an impressive show in an impressive place with the assist of some well-placed local musical pros.

Now, that is not to say all was perfection on stage. But, goodness, it was entertaining across a broad front.

Emcee Tom Milbourn kept the time between selections (a lot of quick take down and set up) light and breezy. He had a pile of jokes along the line of this: A flat miner is what you get when you throw a piano down a mine shaft (playing on music’s “minor,” etc). Groan.

Here’s what took place Saturday, with notes:

Pre-show

Performance on stage by Green Bay East High School Jazz Band, Karen Iken, director. Among the selections are “Satin Doll,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Carry On.”

Announcements, presentations by recipient organizations: Literacy Green Bay and Youth Orchestra Program at St. Norbert College for scholarships.

Program (Tom Milbourn, emcee)

Part I

Presentation of Colors by U.S. Marines honor guard, with performance of “God Bless America,” George Gershwin, transcribed and arranged by Dr. George Whetmore – Four The Cross harmony quartet: Dr. Steve Gerndt, Paul Lent, Greg Gauthier, Larry Jarosinski. The familiar patriotic song with difficult harmonics, with slideshow backdrop of scenes of Green Bay and beyond.

“Squib Cakes,” Chester Thompson – Dr. Lee Clemens, bass; Dr. Michael Volk, drums; Paul Peot, guitar; Lucinda Roberts, keyboard; Steve Seitz, hand percussion; Steve Wilda, tuba; Dan Marbes, trumpet; John Quigley, trumpet; Marc Jimos, tenor saxophone; Karen Iken, tenor saxophone. Jazz gets hotter and freer flowing as it progresses.

“Gershwin for Six” (“I Got Plenty of Nothing,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I’ve Got Rhythm”), George Gershwin, arranged by Dr. George Whetmore – Dr. Josh Rankin, trombone; Dr. Bob Wampler, trombone; Paul Backus, trombone; Ted Gusmer, trombone; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass guitar; Dr. George Whetmore, piano. Colorful musical collage.

“A Medley of Grace,” Dottie Rambo, Julia Johnson, Phillips, Craig & Dean, John Newton – Dr. Mark Ringwelski, vocals; Marvelis, Rissel and Yaina Peguero, vocals; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Russ Nau, guitar; Audrey Nowak, violin; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Steve Seitz, drums. Imagine the famous “Amazing Grace” (included in this medley) as done from different musical directions and always inspirational. A showcase of heart.

“In the Still of the Night,” Fred Parris – Dr. Brad Locke, Dr. Mark Ringwelski, Dr. Sergio Heredia, Dr. Mark Laukka, Dr. Peter Sherrill, Jon Koehler. Fifties, doo-wop, baby, with Dr. Locke locked into the falsetto.

“I carry your heart with me,” e.e. cummings, Z. Randall Stroope – Doctors in Recital Choir, Teresa Schmidt, conductor; Dr. George Whetmore, piano; Audrey Nowak, violin. Heady, mature material of a searching nature. The doctors, it seems, want a degree of difficulty.

Dream theme sequence starting with a poem presented by Dr. Sergio Heredia and followed by “Traumerei/Dream a Little Dream of Me,” Robert Schumann, Fabian Andre, Wilbur Schwandt and Gus Kahn – Dr. Peter Sherrill, guitar; Drew O’Brien, acoustic guitar and vocals; Bob O’Brien, piano and vocals; Dr. Chris Williams, violin; Kim Shefchik, vocals; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Steve Seitz, drums. A classic of classical music blends with one of the sweetest songs of the ’30s – and forever, really.

“Allegro de Concierto, Opus 46,” Enrique Granados – Dr. George Whetmore, piano. Picture a concert pianist, spiffy in tuxedo, having at a rapid and hard-charging piece at a grand piano. As the woman behind me exclaimed, “Wow.”

“Here Comes the Sun,” George Harrison – Dr. Chris Williams, electric violin and vocals; John Williams, electric guitar and vocals; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass guitar; Dr. Michael Volk, drums. Another popular song with a specialized treatment capturing its glow.

Intermission

Performance in center’s Grand Foyer by Howard-Suamico School District Community Harp Choir, Audrey Nowak, conductor. Proceeds from last year’s “Doctors in Recital” helped in the creation of this distinctive ensemble.

Part II

“Fur Elise?????,” Ludwig van Beethoven/Lavignac/Uslan/Whetmore – pianos by Dr. Yoon Chun, Dr. George Whetmore, Dr. Franz Igler, Dr. Josh Rankin, Dr. Steve Asma, Matt Wheeler. This was high-test, elaborate, sophisticated yet cornball comedy telling a story with comic strip-like slides teasing Dr. Chun and formality. Result: A rush of flashy piano notes (six players, 12 hands) and antics – something not seen anyplace else on the planet in the same way.

“Northern Lights,” Dr. Ralph Vardis – Dr. Ralph Vardis, guitar and vocals; Jenny Thiel, vocals; Jared Christianson, guitar; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Steve Seitz, drums; Marc Jimos, saxophone; (unlisted player I couldn’t catch the name of), trombone. Taking the work of one of the proceeds recipients, Literacy Green Bay, Dr. Vardis imagines a story in song that uplifts. Wholly original work made for the evening. And then singer Jenny Thiel leads the singing of “Happy Birthday” for the composer, Dr. Vardis.

“Don’t Stop Believin’,” Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain and Neil Schon (Journey) – Dr. Steve Asma, piano; Matt Wheeler, piano. Refreshing, four-hand piano burst of energy.

“Seven Bridges Road,” Steve Young (Eagles) – Dr. Kristin Lyerly, vocals; Kim Shefchik, vocals; Paul Peot, guitar and vocals; Audry Nowak, violin; Brad Beck, guitar; Abraham Lyerly, bass. The taste of the doctors again embraces quality in the close harmony, gospel-tinged song.

“The Wedding Song,” Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary) – Dr. Sergio Heredia, guitar and vocals. The only vocal solo act of the night. There’s something about the song in the first place – a sincerity of a friend – and Dr. Heredia taps into that. One person has somewhere around 4,000 ears listening intently.

“Brotherhood of Man,” Frank Loesser, from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Doctors in Recital Choir, Teresa Schmidt, conductor; Dr. George Whetmore, piano. Robust, catchy.

“Teach Your Children,” Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills and Nash) – Dr. Franz Igler, guitar and vocals; Dr. Serdio Herdia, guitar and vocals; Dr. Peter Sherrill, guitar; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Steve Seitz, drums; Chris Igler, percussion; Jon Koehler, vocals; Pat Sands, vocals; Dave Mariucci, vocals; Vickie Richter, vocals; Stephanie Westbrook, vocals; Angel Engles, vocals. Some of the notes got away in this segment, but the intent was there as the entourage dressed in psychedelic and hippie garb to catch the tone of the song’s early ’70s era.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Paul Simon – Kim Shefchik, piano and vocals; Christine Peot, vocals; Paul Peot, guitar and vocals; Brad Beck, guitar; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Steve Seitz, drums; Audrey Nowak, violin. This is another offering on an elevated level, with Shefchik nailing the song’s appeal with clarity and luster in her lead singing. And her support ain’t bad, either.

“Happy,” Pharrell Williams – Dr. Josh Rankin, trombone; Dr. Bob Wampler, trombone; Dr. Peter Sherrill, guitar; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Michael Volk, drums; Doctors in Recital Jazz Band/Green Bay East High School Jazz Band, Karen Iken, conductor. Upbeat finale, with the school band again fitting right in with the flow and quality of the evening.

AHEAD: Next “Doctors in Recital,” Jan. 20, 2018.

THE VENUE: Cofrin Family Hall is one of three performance spaces within the Edward W. Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. At its maximum capacity setup, the hall seats 2,021 over its three levels of maple-and-burgundy seats. Opened Jan. 15, 1993, the hall was built to adapt to the needs of orchestra concerts, operas, musicals, plays and organ, band and choral concerts. For acoustical properties, wood is emphasized on the seats, mezzanine and balcony surfaces and walls near the stage. Many surfaces are curved to help shape the sound. Wood is featured for an aesthetic reason, too – a “from here” aura of woodsy Northeastern Wisconsin.

THE PEOPLE: The name Cofrin relates in great degree to A.E. Cofrin, founder of Fort Howard Paper Co., and his son, Dr. David A. Cofrin, who was instrumental in building the Weidner Center through multi-million-dollar donations. A friendship developed between David A. Cofrin (1921-2009) and Edward W. Weidner (1921-2007), the beloved founding chancellor of UWGB. Weidner spoke slowly and carried a big idea. Weidner arrived when there were no buildings on the present-day campus on rolling hills near the shore of Green Bay. His interests ranged from academia to birding to sports. He loved building projects. It was in his blood. He guided the building of the Weidner Center, so named from early on in construction. Weidner admitted his eyes welled once when driving to a performance and seeing a green sign along the highway: WEIDNER CENTER.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays.


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