A La Carte

ELEW is in the house

December 14, 2011

Halcyon House, that is, but for the last time Tuesday evening. A year ago this month I heard ELEW play here for the first time. Like a gladiator he approaches. No bench, legs extended, concentrating hard, he decides when to pounce on the giant piano. Each set the legs bend wider contorting into yoga stances. With ferocity and grace and relentlessness, he takes the keys places they've never been and back again. You think you hear words, but it's ELEW hitting the keys so hard they start to squeal. Familiar melodies make his lips move, and with a twinkle in his eye, he adds a few seasonal chords of Santa and reindeer.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

“It’s a little bit of rock, with some jazz and…” but he stops, smiles, and says “You’ll see what I’m talking about.” And he begins.

David Searles and ELEW (Photo by: Judith Beermann) David Searles and ELEW

Original compositions include Thanksgiving,"a piece I wrote in 1999 when I was feeling depressed. It's good to remember what you're thankful for," ELEW muses. You can see he's already hearing the piece in his head as he flexes his arms and extended his fingers.

Vanessa Reed (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Vanessa Reed

Clocks by Coldplay, Sweet Home AlabamaBelieve from a band he discovered last year, The Bravery (mother of band member was in the audience), Katy Perry's Teen Dream,  Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, Rolling Stones, Paint it Black, Kurt Kobain, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Foo Fighters, M.I.A.

Mike Werder, Annie Kaempfer and Georgina Warner (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Mike Werder, Annie Kaempfer and Georgina Warner

But first, the reason he's playing. It's for Sasha Bruce Youthwork, the place ELEW got his start. The place where neglected, homeless, abused youth in the Washington area find a haven and the life skills to make it.

Jasmine Williams (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Jasmine Williams

A once angry, violent teenager who had dropped out of school stood before the crowd. Jasmine Williams, now 20 with bright pink hair explained, "I was abused by my stepfather for six years. When he eventually threw me out of the house, I became homeless for a week before I was accepted into the Sasha Bruce program." The audience applauds when she smiles and says, "I'm now going to college and I'm a Sasha Bruce employee. Because of Sasha Bruce, I'm living a life that is so different than the life I thought I was meant for."

William Paley and Chris Addison (Photo by: Judith Beermann) William Paley and Chris Addison

Mayor Vincent Gray is there, "because of my shared values and long-standing interest in supporting Sasha Bruce and Debbie Shore (executive director). Economic times take their toll on non-profits. I'm humbled to see such a crowd. Sasha Bruce has an amazing track record."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Just off the plane from performing in Moscow, ELEW says, "The pursuit of my music has brought glitz and glamor. Those performances don't make me nervous, but tonight’s does." He feels he can still take shelter at Sasha Bruce. "The best thing I can provide kids is a memory, a non-verbal quiet moment to allow them to be unique, and to try something different. Do I do this again, or do I try doing this differently ..."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Visit Sasha Bruce Youthworks, Inc. to learn more. ELEW will be releasing his second CD soon.


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Do you know where Ella-Rue is?

December 8, 2011

As if on cue, three chic black-clad young women peek into Ella-Rue as the first anniversary party is well underway. 

Carmen Brouwer, MacKenzie Keeley and Karie Erskine (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Carmen Brouwer, MacKenzie Keeley and Karie Erskine

A bit apprehensively, the first one inquires, "Do you know where Ella-Rue is?" Krista Johnson rushes over to hug Karie Erskine as her friends, MacKenzie Keeley and Carmen Brouwer enter the store with delight, and the steady downpour is quickly forgotten. 

Krista Johnson and Liana Vassila (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Krista Johnson and Liana Vassila

Twice the size and  brightly lit, with refinished oak floors and exposed brick, the new Ella-Rue is only a few feet of trolley tracks away from the old spot on P Street. "We might as well have moved to California," says Krista. "It's just as much work crossing the street."

Meredith Fineman with a Badgley Mischka (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Meredith Fineman with a Badgley Mischka

If you've been in Ella-Rue, you'll recognize the Prada and Marni, and Badgley Mischka, the vintage Chanel and the Christian Louboutin heelsThere's also plenty of new "tags still on" Nanette Lepore, Milly and Tory Burch.

Scott Johnson with his daughter (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Scott Johnson with his daughter

Ashley Taylor and Matt Brozczek (Photo by: Judith Beermnn) Ashley Taylor and Matt Brozczek

Lolly Amons (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Lolly Amons

With a downstairs "dungeon" chock full of designer jeans and jewelry, the browsing feels like getting lost in a huge Parisian closet. 

Cameron Guckert (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Cameron Guckert

Pinch yourself, the fashion dream is all real. But first, a toast to Krista and Liana and Lolly and Cameron!

3231 P Street (Photo by: Judith Beermann) 3231 P Street

Ella-Rue is at 3231 P Street. Tel: 202.333.1598


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Meet Marcos Galvany

November 29, 2011

An overwhelming desire to capture a magical moment between an adorable four-year old girl and her handsome date compelled me to interrupt an early morning breakfast at Leopold’s Kafe.  I soon learned that the pair often ventured out together, meandering around Georgetown, frequenting Rose Park, the Apple Store, and that Leopold’s was a favorite spot.

Lina surprises Marcos on his birthday (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Lina surprises Marcos on his birthday

She is Lina Scott, daughter of Caroline and Scott Simon, and younger sister of Elise. He is Marcos Galvany, godfather to Lina and her Watergate neighbor.

Thanks to The Georgetown Dish for an excuse to ask a lot of questions, I now have the pleasure to introduce you to classical composer, conductor and dear friend, Marcos Galvany.

His parents came from Spain to see him perform his first original operatic tableaux at Carnegie Hall in New York on April 10, 2010. His mother’s only hope was that her son had sold enough tickets so she “wouldn’t have to visit him in jail.” The world premiere was sold out, and in 2013, Marcos plans to perform “Oh My Son” for the Pope at the Vatican. 

When he was little more than Lina’s age, a playmate accidentally punctured Marcos’s right cornea while they were playing with cardboard boxes. After a failed operation, his parents brought him to a hospital near Barcelona. There the surgery was a success but it meant months of recuperation during the summer, and for a few months each year thereafter. A convent run by “21 very nice nuns and my aunt” soon became Marcos’s new home.

“Whatever you do, don’t touch the piano,” cautioned his aunt. Within two weeks, an eye-patch clad Marcos was composing, “drawing melodies in my head from the Gregorian chants.” He taught himself to play, the nuns taught him to paint.

Marcos's Steinway grand piano in his Watergate living room (Photo by: Marcos Galvany) Marcos's Steinway grand piano in his Watergate living room

At 13, a neighbor had gotten a new piano. When his mother heard him play, she thought he was “possessed.” At 17, he was writing original compositions, and at 18, enrolled in a national competition by his older brother.  “With two day’s notice, I was to play in a disco my own music.” He won.

Offered several scholarships, Marcos chose Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University) in Takoma Park, Maryland. Inspired by his teacher, Dr. Virginia Rittenhouse to orchestrate a symphony, Marcos was soon performing around the country with the famed New England Orchestra.

“I want people to know my music,” says Marcos, as he prepares to record the CD version of "Oh My Son" this summer.

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