War Memorial’s concert series strikes just the right note this winter
The War Memorial, a gathering place and cultural center with an easy drive from anywhere in the tri-county area, is giving Metro Detroiters ample reasons to beat the winter blues with live jazz, gourmet brunch and unlimited mimosas.
“The War Memorial’s performing arts series brings together top-shelf artists from the United States and abroad, presenting wide-ranging performances that entertain, elevate and inspire,” said Brooks Hoste, vice president of community engagement and programming. “The War Memorial stands out as a unique venue, because we’re able to combine multiple forms of art to create truly memorable experiences.”
The Dave Bennett Winter Jazz Series, named for the Detroit legend who headlines the final installment, takes place on three upcoming Sundays at the Alger Estate, a stunning Italian Renaissance-style home built in 1910 in Grosse Pointe Farms.
The series kicks off on Jan. 20 with jazz drummer Sean Dobbins, whose unique sound has been described as hard-driving, solid rhythm with refreshing melodic sensibility. Dobbins, a product of Ann Arbor Public Schools, has been performing near and far from an early age, when he regularly appeared with his mentor, Blue Note artist Louis Smith.
Next up, on Feb. 3, is Cliff Monear, the well-known jazz pianist. Monear also teaches at Wayne State University and is the exclusive Steinway & Sons representative for the Michigan jazz community. His Cliff Monear Trio is one of the Midwest’s busiest performing rhythm sections.
Renowned clarinet virtuoso Dave Bennett (a quintuple threat who sings and plays electric guitar, piano and drums, too) rounds out the series on Feb. 17. Among his career highlights are being a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops and appearing as an annual fixture at prestigious American music festivals from Florida to Indiana to Oregon.
Pontiac native Bennett taught himself the clarinet at age 10 by listening to Benny Goodman records, was invited by legendary jazz trumpeter Doc Cheatham to New York City’s Sweet Basil jazz club at age 12 and was regularly touring by 14. A Mack Avenue artist, he is sure to perform some selections from his latest album, “Blood Moon,” which hit No. 24 on the Billboard jazz chart in 2018.
Outside of jazz, audiences will be thrilled by one very special evening concert as The War Memorial and Michigan Opera Theatre partner to present Sing to Love, featuring the MOT Studio Artists, on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. This perennial favorite showcases resident artists of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio: Soprano Cheyanne Coss, mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung, tenor Michael Day, baritone Harry Greenleaf and bass Allen Michael Jones.
The MOT Studio Artists represent some of the most exciting emerging talent in opera today, under the guidance of MOT’s Director of Resident Artist Programs, American tenor Richard Leech, and Studio Principal coach and accompanist Tessa Hartle. These young opera professionals will perform gems from the opera and Broadway stages, as well as Silver Screen favorites.
Sing to Love will feature a gourmet multi-course dinner, specialty cocktails, impeccable service and a breathtakingly elegant atmosphere. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., with a concert to follow.
If world-class entertainment and a tasty brunch aren’t enough to lure you out, you might consider attending just to experience the magnificent War Memorial, affectionately referred to as Grosse Pointe’s town square. It’s an easy drive to the estate, whose spacious grounds on the shores of Lake St. Clair offer a certain frozen beauty this time of year. The facility has hosted countless cultural activities, art exhibits, classes and special events while also paying homage to those who served — and those who gave their lives — in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, in Operation Desert Storm. It is a Michigan State Historic Site and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tickets for the jazz series are $40 per event ($110 for all three) or $30 for the concert only (no brunch). Brunch is served at 11 a.m., and the concerts begin at 12:15 p.m. Tickets for Sing to Love are $65 for individual tickets, or $420 for a table of eight. Learn more at http://www.warmemorial.org.