It can be hot and humid this time of the year in southwestern Pennsylvania, and the pop-up rain showers do not calm it down. But on July 20, 2017, 1974 Unity Chapel, in Latrobe, PA hosted a beautiful respite from the heat- a cool chamber concert, sponsored by the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, in the stunning foothills of the Laurel Highlands. The artists were the Duo Cieli (John Marcinizyn, guitar; and Tara Yaney flute) and the Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo. The program was quite varied, ranging from the New Age-y "Evening Dance" by Andrew York to the jazz-inspired compositions of Pat Metheny, Django Reinhardt, and Robert Lamm. The three Piazzolla pieces (Bordello, Cafe and Nightclub) and were written over a 60-year period, and as played by Duo Cieli, were less overtly tango sounding than some of the composer's other works. There was a particularly strong performance of an arrangement for guitar of Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4," which the Guitar Duo managed to transform a 1960's pop song to a sophisticated and fresh work. The Irish folk-tune, "Si Beheag, Si Mhor" was spellbinding in this flute and guitar version. The most successful work of the evening was the gorgeous "Sonata in G" by Ferdinando Carulli, a 1770's Italian composer who authored an early guide for guitarists. It was stunning in the warm acoustics of this chapel. The balance between the flute and the two amplified guitars was nearly perfect.
The three musicians who played as a group, and in varied pairings were masterful. Ms. Yaney produced a warm, never indulgent tone. Marcinizyn and Ferla are first-rate guitar players. They were accurate and controlled; they avoided making that sliding sound or finger squeaks that foul many a guitar performance by lesser artists. Overall this was a wonderful concert in an equally wonderful space, attended by about 200 people. That nice turn-out is a tribute to the Westmoreland Symphony's outreach as well as for the support the community shows for Western Art Music.