Saturday, April 10

Among the wild blooms of Sonoran flora and enchanting traditional Southwestern architecture at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, sun-drenched onlookers awaited beautiful music in the form of violin and Spanish guitar.

Nestled in the Catalina foothills, the gallery was a natural choice for the Domingo DeGrazia and Beth Daunis CD-release party. The day was a blend of both audio and visual arts stemming from talented family roots.

DeGrazia, the youngest son of celebrated artist Ted DeGrazia, has been playing guitar since the age of 13. Beth Daunis has studied the violin most of her life, and their serendipitous meeting at a restaurant on New Year's Eve a couple of years ago led to their current project as a duo. DeGrazia was subdued and calm, his face almost emotionless as he strummed, keeping the delicate rhythm. Daunis felt the music as she closed her eyes and blissfully swayed with the flow of the melody. DeGrazia Gallery collections manager Jim Jenkins mentioned to me that he brought Daunis a rug to stand on, as she prefers to play barefoot. (The stage was pretty hot in the Tucson spring sun.)

Their new album, The Bluest Sky, is a blend of traditional folk sounds with lively Latin and Celtic influences. The playfulness of "April's Fool," the borderline melancholy on the title track, and the haunting beauty of "Follow" will make you think twice before writing off DeGrazia and Daunis as a classical act doomed for the elevator-music bin.

I don't know if it's possible for me to have dry eyes upon hearing "Amazing Grace," and their interpretation of the classic hymn is no exception. It starts off with Daunis' brilliant double-stopping fingerboard work, and the violin carries the song to a place I hadn't heard a purely instrumental version reach before. DeGrazia then joins in on guitar, changing the rhythm from somber to joyful. It's a play on emotions that defies description.

Between sets, the crowd was able to take in the artwork and gardens on the grounds. A couple of people had major heat issues, requiring paramedics. However, those who were hydrated and sun-protected enjoyed a lovely day that was a feast for both the ears and eyes.


More by Mel Mason


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