Local violinist sweetens ‘Caroline’

— When a Jewish child and a black maid bond during the waning days of Jim Crow in St. Charles, Louisiana, musical magic ensues. Even the washing machines and dryers sing like archangels!

So you can imagine the width and breadth of the musical genres in “Caroline, or Change” the unconventional musical by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori now playing at Syracuse Stage, 820 East Genesee St., down city.

“We play everything from soul to gospel, from Cajun to klezmer,” said Syracuse Area Music Award-winning fiddler Diamond Joe Davoli, a member of the play’s 10-piece pit band.

While Joe fills the second violin chair in the orchestra, Liverpool musician Sara Mastrangelo plays first violin, a position she had filled with the now-defunct Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

Musical marriage

Sara is the wife of the SSO’s associate concertmaster, Jeremy Mastrangelo, a Liverpool High School alumnus who’s also an accomplished violinist. Occasionally, the Mastrangelos perform chamber music together, as they did last year performing music for two violins and piano by Ibert, Viotti and Maurice, accompanied by keyboardist Ida Trebicka.

Every summer, the Mastrangelos travel to Colorado where they’ve worked at Steamboat Springs' Strings in the Mountains festival and in the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra.

Musical talent runs in the Mastrangelo family. Jeremy’s older brother, David, is principal second violin in the Naples Philharmonic in Florida.

Singing washing machine

Anyhow, Sara’s now hard at work in the Syracuse Stage pit band, an all-star orchestra is led by the show’s musical director, keyboardist Christopher Drobny. The group features cellist Walden Bass, guitarist/mandolinist Tom Bronzetti (who’s also from Liverpool!), reedman Joe Carello, fiddler Joe Davoli, percussionist Josh Dekaney, reedman Frank Grosso and bassist Darryl Pugh.

Directed and choreographed here by Marcela Lorca, “Caroline, or Change” earned six Tony nominations in 2004 and won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2007.

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