The pandemic has not prevented the Cape Ann Symphony from presenting creative programming, as is evident in its next virtual concert featuring clarinet quintets over the centuries.

The next program in its virtual concert series is available for viewing, with the concert filmed inside the historic Annisquam Village Church in Gloucester, a venue known for its acoustics.

The group of musicians, under the direction of conductor and music director Maestro Yoichi Udagawa, will perform works by Mozart (1756-1791), Brahms (1833-1897), and Francaix (1912-1997) — plus a special encore featuring a surprise selection of a work by Gershwin (1898-1935).

The musicians performing are: Olga Kradenova, violin; Oksana Gorokhovskiy, violin; Bill Kirkley, clarinet; Brandon White, viola; and Johnny Mok, cello.

"This is an extraordinary performance not to be missed. We are so proud of our musicians and their tremendous talents. These virtual concerts allow us to stay connected to our audience and patrons," said Cape Ann Symphony Board President Fran White.

Udagawa chose a program to present the audience with pieces that highlight the varied talents of the composers.

"The Jean Francaix work, written in 1977, is a much more recent piece and our audiences may not have heard his music as often as the other pieces in the concert. His Clarinet Quintet is very playful and very French, almost jazzy and definitely neo romantic. It is a fantastic piece and I am thrilled to share it with our audiences. The Brahms is from the Romantic period and absolutely gorgeous. The Mozart is playful and light, and very beautiful and full of contrasting feelings," he said.

The clarinet player of this quintet is Bill Kirkley, who is Cape Ann Symphony's principal clarinetist. He is also principal clarinetist and one of the founders of the Lexington Symphony, as well as solo bass clarinetist with Orchestra of Indian Hill and the Albany Symphony. As a guest clarinetist, he has performed with the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Boston Ballet, and City Ballet of New York City. Kirkley has performed in some of the world’s noted concert halls, including Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Orchestra Hall Chicago, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall in London. His bio notes that players of the video game "SimCity BuildIt!" have heard him play behind the game.  

The two violinists are Olga Kradenova, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Oksana Gorokhovskiy, a native of Bulgaria.

The violist, Brandon White, is a new member of the Cape Ann Symphony orchestra, who makes his debut in this concert. He has been recognized as "an analytical, and forward-thinking musician" with a love of all viola music and new compositions. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Jordan Hall among others. 

Rounding out the group is Johnny Mok, Cape Ann Symphony's principal cellist, who began his music studies at the age of five at the Hong Kong Performing Arts Academy. As a child, he came to the United States, settling in New Mexico where he was active in the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program and also earned top awards in competitions. He had a full scholarship at the University of Alabama, again winning top prizes in music competitions. Mok is also the principal cellist of New Hampshire Philharmonic, and Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. 

White credited Udagawa and Dave Jamrog, the audio engineer/video producer, who made this musical experience possible for patrons to enjoy from the comfort of their homes.

The Clarinet Quintet Concert is available to view online for $25. The video purchase provides audience members with a video download link to view at one's convenience. It does not expire. Call Cape Ann Symphony at 978-281-0543 or go to to purchase and for more information.

Closing talk of the first Goetemann Artist Resident Summer 2021

The Goetemann Artist Residency, part of The Rocky Neck Art Colony, welcomed local artist Vanessa Michalak as its 2021 Gloucester Invitational Resident. After several weeks in her residency, she will present her closing talk on Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m. For information and a link, visit:

The artist does not have a typical background, having studied both art and nursing. Michalak has an MFA in painting from Tufts University and School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. But she also earned a nursing degree from the University of Maine, Orono. She was scheduled to participate in the Goetemann residency a year ago but due to COVID-19, the residency was postponed to 2021.

"During that time, Michalak continued to explore her surroundings in Gloucester, spending many days plein air painting within Dogtown, while also continuing to visually advocate for the nursing profession," according to a press release.

Michalak also has an ongoing effort, called "The Nurse Project," which is a portrait series that honors "the spirit, courage and the heart of nurses during this difficult time."

Michalak refers to her painting as "the vehicle through which I can best experience this world."

"Painting helps me understand who I am, where I am and what calls my attention and expression. It is not necessarily about subject matter, although as I make my way through life there are certain themes that I have repeatedly chosen to paint — my love of the outdoors and my relationship with the profession of nursing," she said in an artist statement,

The Goetemann Artist Residency at Rocky Neck Art Colony provides five visual artists and one teacher with a four-week stay in a two-level, live-work studio with access to the cultural community of Gloucester. Selected artists demonstrate a high caliber of work, originality and seriousness of purpose. This is the 17th year of the residency. For more information, visit

Around Cape Ann is a column devoted to events happening on Cape Ann and artists from Cape Ann performing elsewhere. If you would like to submit an item, contact reporter Gail McCarthy at 978-675-2706 or at least two weeks in advance.

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