Tag: classical music

Wen-Lei Gu performs as guest soloist with Fox Valley Symphony

Lawrence University violinist Wen-Lei Gu will be the guest soloist Saturday, Oct. 7 when the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra opens its 2017-18 season with an all-Russian program. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be held at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton.

Tickets are available through the PAC’s ticket office, 920-730-3760.

Gu, an award-winning and internationally popular soloist, will be featured in a performance of Shostakovich’s emotionally challenging and technically brilliant Violin Concerto No. 1.Wen-Lei Gu

Brian Groner, the FVS’s music director since 1995, calls Gu “phenomenal” and says he was “charmed” the first time he had a chance to hear her play.

“Her playing was (and remains) so elegant and so sophisticated,” says Groner. “It has been my distinct privilege to work with her on almost 10 different occasions.’

A native of China, Gu came to the United States as a 13-year old after winning first-place prizes in both violin and piano state competitions at age seven. When she was 12, she was named gold medalist in China’s Fourth National Violin Competition.

Gu, an associate professor of music, joined the Lawrence faculty in 2006. She has performed throughout the world, including the Bach Festival at Carnegie Hall in commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death, the Kennedy Center for the Millennium Concert Series as a guest soloist with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and China Beijing Philharmonic on concert tours of Europe.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Renowned pianist Jonathan Biss opens 2017-18 Artist Series

Internationally acclaimed pianist Jonathan Biss shares his talent, passion and intellectual curiosity with classical music Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. in the opening concert of Lawrence University’s 2017-18 Artist Series.

Tickets for the performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Jonathan BissBorn into a family of musicians in Bloomington, Ind., Biss has nearly two decades on the concert stage. He has forged relationships with the New York Philharmonic; the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Philharmonia orchestras; the Boston, Chicago and Swedish Radio symphony orchestras; and the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Budapest Festival and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras, among others.

Piano teacher Catherine Kautsky, George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music, hailed Biss as “one of the most interesting leading pianists of the younger generation.”

“His programming is unfailingly original,” said Kautsky. “He grapples with the most challenging repertoire and his musical thinking, in both words and performance, is sophisticated, articulate and personal.

“Getting him to Appleton is a coup,” she added. “We’re in the company of the world’s leading musical capitals.”

Earlier this year, Biss performed the world premiere of “City Stanzas,” a concerto by British composer Sally Beamish, as the second installment in the “Beethoven/5” project. For the project, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra co-commissioned five composers to write new piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s.

Biss’ virtuosity has been recognized with numerous honors, including the 2005 Leonard Bernstein Award at Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, which honors young artists of exceptional accomplishment and the biannual Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, which rewards musical excellence.

His 11-album discography includes a Schumann recital album which received a Diapason d’Or de l’année award and a recital album of Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Op. 13, 28, 90 and 109 which won the Edison Award, an annual Dutch music prize presented in honor of outstanding achievements in the music industry.

Biss served as artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program.

In addition to his concert, Biss will conduct a free master class on Thursday Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. in Harper Hall.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

2017-18 Lawrence Performing Arts Series features renowned classical, jazz musicians

More than a dozen world-class artists will grace the stage of the Lawrence Memorial Chapel during Lawrence University’s 2017-18 Performing Arts Series.

Subscriptions for both the Artist and Jazz series are on sale now. Subscribers may choose from either series for a “Favorite 4” package, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 18. For more information, contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or boxoffice@lawrence.edu.

The Artist Series     

• Jonathan Biss, piano, Friday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m.

A head shot of pianist Jonathan Biss
Pianist Jonathan Biss. Photo by Benjamin Ealovega.

Since making his New York City recital debut as a 20-year old in 2000, Biss has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and many other of the world’s leading orchestras.

He performs regularly as a guest soloist throughout Europe and in 2002 became first American to be named the BBC’s “New Generation Artist.”

Biss is currently in his second year of the “Beethoven/5” project, in which he will premiere five new piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s. He opened the project in 2016 with “The Blind Banister” by Timo Andre, which was a finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Music. Later this year he will debut Sally Beamish’s concerto with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

• Sasha Cooke, mezzo soprano, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 8 p.m.

A head shot of singer Sasha Cooke
Mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke

A 2011 Grammy Award-winner for her electrifying performance as Kitty Oppenhemier in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of “Doctor Atomic,” Cooke has been racking up acclaim and honors since graduating from Rice University and the Juilliard School, where she made her professional debut.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a luminous standout,” Cooke specializes in contemporary opera and is renowned for her work with the music of Gustav Mahler, which she has performed to robust praise on four continents.

A much-in-demand singer, Cooke has performed with nearly 30 orchestras around the world from New York to New Zealand and from San Francisco to Shanghai.

She released her debut solo album “If you love for beauty” with the Colburn Orchestra in 2012, one of six albums in her discography. Her latest, “Liszt: The Complete Songs, Vol 4” was released in 20

• Colin Currie, percussion, Friday, March 30, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of percussionist Colin Currie.
Percussionist Colin Currie

A champion of new music at the highest level, Currie has been called “the world’s finest and most daring percussionist” by British magazine The Spectator. A graduate of England’s Royal Academy of Music, Currie performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.

Known as an adventurous soloist with an unmatched commitment to creating new music, Currie was recognized by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2000 with its Young Artist Award and in 2015 with its prestigious Instrumentalist Award.

Professor of Music Dane Richeson, who teaches percussion in the Lawrence conservatory, said Currie “ranks right there with the top contemporary percussionists in the world.”

“Colin has inspired many new compositions that have led the way in breaking new ground for the percussive arts, bringing whole new audiences and appreciation to the art form,” said Richeson. “We’re all grateful for his musical mastery.”

Currie’s 13-album discography includes 2016’s “Dawn to Dust” with the Utah Symphony.

• Joshua Roman, cello, with JACK Quartet, Saturday, April 21, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of cellist Joshua Roman.
Cellist Joshua Roman

The 33-year old Roman has earned an international reputation for his wide-ranging repertoire, artistic leadership and versatility. Beyond being a celebrated performer, he is recognized as an accomplished composer and curator.

As artistic director of Seattle’s TownMusic, Roman has showcased his own eclectic musical influences and chamber music favorites while also promoting newly commissioned works. His cultural leadership utilizes digital platforms to harness new audiences, including YouTube for his “Everyday Bach” project, in which he performs Bach’s cello suites in gorgeous settings around the world.

A photo of the musical quartet JACK Quartet
JACK Quartet

He’ll be joined by the JACK Quartet — violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violinist John Pickford Richards and cellist Kevin McFarland. Founded in 2007 and based in New York City, the quartet was called “superheroes of the new music world” by the Boston Globe.

Their performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center were met with critical acclaim and their commitment to new music has earned them the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and New Music USA’s Trailblazer Award.

The Jazz Series

• Lizz Wright, vocalist, Friday, November 3, 7:30 p.m.

A headshot of singer LIzz Wright
Singer Lizz Wright. Photo by Jesse Kitt.

The charismatic, honey-voiced Wright opens Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. A native of Georgia who makes her home now in North Carolina, Wright’s musical baptism began in church. Her early gospel roots have since been fused with jazz, blues, folk and R&B, earning comparisons to Norah Jones.

She has drawn critical raves since her debut album, “Salt,” zoomed to the top of the contemporary jazz charts in 2003.  Through her three following discs, Wright has demonstrated her innovative interpretation skills and established herself as popular song stylist.

• Storms/Nocturnes with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.

A photo of the trio Storms/Nocturnes
Storms/Nocturnes

Combine British saxophone legend Tim Garland, world-class vibraphone virtuoso Joe Locke and recent Grammy nominee pianist Geoffrey Keezer and you have a chamber jazz trio with few peers. The extraordinary combination serves as the bookend to Lizz Wright for Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend.

As Storms/Nocturnes, the three artists combine their distinctive talents and diverse backgrounds to create captivating music that can be spacious or immensely complex one moment and delicate the next. No less an authority than jazz legend Chick Corea has said “This trio truly sizzles with virtuosity and creativity.”

After collaborating on a pair of successful releases, “Storms/Nocturnes” in 2002 and “Rising Tide” in 2003, the trio members spent seven years working on individual projects and with other bands before reuniting in 2010 to release the 10-track disc “VIA” the following year. The reunion revived one of the most timeless intercontinental jazz collaborations in the world today.

• Joe Lovano Classic Quartet, Friday, February 2, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of saxophonist Joe Lovano
Saxophonist Joe Lavano

For more than 20 years, Lovano has enjoyed an international reputation as one of the world’s premiere tenor saxophonists. Allmusic critic Chris Kelsey has described him as “”the tenor titan for our times.”

A 2000 Grammy Award winner, Lovano more recently was recognized by DownBeat magazine and the Jazz Journalists Association as 2014’s tenor saxophonist of the year.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence who met Lovano at the Heineken Jazz Festival in the late 1990s, calls him “one of my favorite saxophone players ever.

“Joe’s unique voice on the saxophone, or any other instrument he plays, is so full of expression and freedom,” said Encarnación. “He possesses that innate ability in his playing to convey the sense of fresh spontaneity that has always characterized the music’s greatest improvisers.”

• Vijay Iyer Sextet, Friday, May 11, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of pianist Vijay Iyer
Pianist Vijay Iyer

A three-time recipient (2012, ’15, ’16) of DownBeat magazine’s “Artist of the Year” honor, Iyer unprecedentedly added Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year and Rising Star Composer honors in the 2012 Downbeat International Critics Poll.

It’s little wonder the The New York Times wrote “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.”

The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2013, Iyer has expanded his acclaimed piano trio to a sextet by adding renowned horn players Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim.

In 2014, Iyer began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in Harvard University’s music department.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

 

Mnozil Brass brings its whimsical virtuosity to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel

The seven-member ensemble Mnozil Brass brings its unique blend of music virtuosity and theatrical wit to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Wednesday, March 29 in a Lawrence University Artist Series performance.

A group photo of members of Mnozil Brass sitting on stools
The seven-member Mnozil Brass combines musical brilliance with touches of humor. Photo by Carsten Bunnemann.

Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.

Since their first performances in 1992 at open mic events in a Vienna, Austria, tavern, the seven graduates of the renowned Vienna College of Music have established themselves as one of the world’s premiere brass ensembles…with a twist.

Presented with a generous dollop of Austrian-style humor, their repertoire spans the musical spectrum from Bach to Zappa, from the classics to new movie music. A concert program may include everything from Austrian drinking and folk songs to jazz and pop, new arrangements of classical works and some 20th-century German schlager pieces thrown in for good measure. Coupled with choreographed theater, dance moves and some slapstick antics have led to descriptions as “the Monty Python of the musical world.”

In his review of a 2016 performance, Jonathan Blumhofer wrote “Whether they’re lampooning scenes from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ leading the house in the Macarena or providing a lengthy commentary on the night’s proceedi

Thomas Gansch is one of the founding members of Mnozil Brass.

ngs in Spanish, the Mnozil’s are about as zany as they come. But they’re also among the most stellar brass players you might hope to encounter.”

Marty Erickson, who teaches tuba at Lawrence, calls their visit to Appleton “a must-see event.”

“Not only is this group considered the finest brass ensemble of its kind in the world, they do it all seemingly effortlessly with great fun,” said Erickson. “Imagine hearing something by Debussy followed by Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or an opera excerpt followed by Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition.’ They are truly a hoot.”

Featuring three trumpet players —Thomas Gansch, Robert Rother and Roman Rindberger — three trombonists —Gerhard Füssl, Zoltan Kiss and Leonhard Paul — and one tuba player —Wilfried Branstoetter — Mnozil Brass has recorded eight albums and six DVDs. They’ve collaborated on three operetta and opera productions and composed and recorded the music for the 2006 film “Freundschaft.”

The ensemble has been nominated for the Amadeus Austrian Music Award and was the recipient of the prestigious Salzburger Stier Cabaret Prize in 2006.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Artist Series welcomes Elias String Quartet

The internationally acclaimed London-based Elias String Quartet brings its reputation for performing with “exuberance and fire” to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, Feb. 3 in the second concert of Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Artist Series.

Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.A photo of London-based Elias String Quartet sitting on the couch.

Hailed as one of the leading ensembles of their generation, Elias will feature Beethoven’s “String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95,” Kurtág’s “Moments musicaux for string quartet, Op. 44” and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13” in its Lawrence performance.

A product of Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music in England, the quartet has evolved from student group to professional ensemble, earning raves for its artistic excellence after bursting on the scene in 1998. Since then, they have performed around the world, collaborating with many of the best musicians in the world’s most revered venues.

In 2015, the quartet — violinists Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant, violist Martin Saving and cellist Marie Bitlloch, Sara’s sister — finished its ground-breaking Beethoven Project, which saw it record and perform the composer’s complete set of works for string quartet.

In its review of a recent performance, The Sunday Times of London raved “The players are individually brilliant, but their interplay is profound” while the Philadelphia Inquiring called their playing “intoxicating.”

Passionate about playing new music, Elias has premiered works by contemporary composers Sally Beamish and Colin Matthews of the UK, Matthew Hindson from Australia and American Timo Andres. In addition to the Beethoven project, their discography includes Mendelssohn and Britten as well as an album of French harp music and Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Jonathan Biss.

Remaining performers on this year’s Artist Series line-up include Mnozil Brass, March 29,  and Roomful of Teeth, April 7.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Mnozil Brass, Children of the Light Trio highlight Lawrence’s 2016-17 Performing Arts Series

World-renowned Mnozil Brass and the impeccable Children of the Light Trio headline a diversely talented array of artists Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Performing Arts Series.

Mnozil-Brass_newsblog_2
Mnozil Brass performs March 29, 2017.

Subscriptions for both the Artist and Jazz series are on sale now. Subscribers may choose from either series or a “Favorite 4” package, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 16. For more information, contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or boxoffice@lawrence.edu.

All concerts are held in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Mnozil Brass visits Lawrence March 29, 2017. Since it’s founding in 1992, the Austrian brass septet has established itself as one of the world’s premiere brass ensembles, captivating audiences with its blend of virtuosity and theatrical wit. With more than 130 performances a year, they have sold out concert halls around the world.

“I know this is an incredibly overused phrase, but the Mnozil Brass concert is an absolute ‘must-see’ event,” said Marty Erickson, an instructor of tuba and euphonium in the Lawrence conservatory. “They play everything from Bach to Zappa, from the classics to new movie music and it is all surrounded with choreographed theater and dance moves and a massive dose of humor.

Children-of-Light_newsblog
Children of the Light — Brian Blade, Danilo Perez and John Patitucci — will be the second concert of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend Nov. 5.

“Not only are they considered the finest brass ensemble of its kind in the world, they do it all seemingly effortlessly with great fun,” Erickson added. “Imagine hearing Debussy and then Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or an opera excerpt followed by Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” While most of the members have classical-based backgrounds, they also are versatile in jazz, pop and more. They are a hoot!”

The members first met at the Vienna Conservatory as young brass musicians. In the ensuring years, they have embraced repertoire from classical and folk to jazz and pop, all executed with the same fearlessness and immense technical skill.

Not only are they considered the finest brass ensemble of its kind in the world, they do it all seemingly effortlessly with great fun.”
— Marty Erickson on Mnozil Brass

Children of the Light, featuring three members of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, performs Nov. 5 as part of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend.

The three multiple Grammy Award winners — keyboardist Danilo Perez, cellist John Patitucci and percussionist Brian Blade — celebrate Shorter’s old and new compositions. Their three-way conversations produce a collective improvisation, unfolding and constructing music like a rhythmic and smoldering chamber recital. As they apply their considerable individual talents to the trio, each member maintains his own distinct personality.

Kavafian-S-S-Trio_newsblog
Clarinetest David Shifrin, violinist Ani Kavafian and pianist Andre-Michel Schub open the Artist Series Oct. 7.

“When these three virtuosos come together, they bring layers of intricate melodies, rhythm and textures, which is explosive,” said José Encarnación, director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program. “Just as light naturally stimulates sights and makes things visible, so does this trio. They bring enlightenment and illumination to all their audiences.”

While Children of the Light is partially defined by the absence of Shorter, they add new influences, particularly of Latin and jazz, that are uniquely their own.

The Kavafian–Schub–Shifrin Trio opens the Artist Series Oct. 7. Friends for 25 years, violinist Ani Kavafian, pianist Andre-Michel Schub and clarinetist David Shifrin form a trio with palpable chemistry. Each is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Kavafian is one of the most sought after chamber musicians in the country as well as a frequent soloist. Shifrin has appeared in critically acclaimed recitals across the country and is a frequent major orchestra soloist. As a piano recitalist, orchestra soloist and chamber musician, Schub has earned critic and audience acclaim since launching his career more than 30 years ago.

The trio’s programs include themes of dance, folk and French connections, highlighting a diverse range of 19th- and 20th-century works.

“Just as light naturally stimulates sights and makes things visible, so does this trio. They bring enlightenment and illumination to all their audiences.”
— José Encarnación on Children of Light Trio

Elias-String-Quartet_newsblog
The internationally acclaimed Elias String Quartet graces the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Feb. 3.

The Elias String Quartet, internationally acclaimed as one of the leading ensembles of its generation, performs Feb. 3, 2017. Known for its intense and vibrant performances, the quartet has traveled the globe collaborating with some of the finest musicians and playing in the world’s great venues.

In 2015, the quartet completed their ground-breaking Beethoven Project, performing and recording the complete string quartets of Beethoven. The project was broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and performed in 11 major venues in the UK.

The quartet has been recognized with the 2010 BBC Music Magazine’s Newcomer of the Year Award and a 2013 Mentoring Scholarship from the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.

Closing out the Artist Series, Roomful of Teeth makes a return visit April 7, 2017. The ensemble performed at Lawrence in 2014 as part of the college’s New Music Series.

Classically trained vocalists, RoT performs an eclectic repertoire commissioned specifically for the group, branching into everything from Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Korean P’ansori and Hindustani music.

Roomful-of-Teeth_newsblog
The eclectic Roomful of Teeth makes its second appearance at Lawrence on April 7.

The New York Times has described their distinct style as “voices and percussion meshed to a colorful effect, the story propelled by a high-energy blend of stylistic influences including reggae, hip hop and rock.”

In March 2015, RoT performed the world premiere of “Drone Mass” by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, whose score for the film “The Theory of Everything” was nominated for an Academy Award.

Luciana-Souza_newblog
Singer Luciana Souza, with her bandmates Romero Lubambo and Cyro Baptista, open 2016’s Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend Nov. 4.

The Luciana Souza Trio opens the Jazz Series Nov. 4, kicking of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration weekend.

Grammy Award-winner Luciana Souza is one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters. A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Souza’s work transcends traditional boundaries with a musical style rooted in jazz, winding through world music and incorporating an enlightened approach to new music.

Souza has been releasing acclaimed recordings since 2002, including six discs that earned Grammy nomination. She has performed and recorded with such high-profile artists as Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bobby McFerrin as well as the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Joining Souza will be Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo and Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista.

Gerald Clayton, one of the foremost pianists of his generation, performs Feb. 24, 2017. Schooled in hard-swinging, melodic jazz by his father, John Clayton, uncle Jeff Clayton and mentors Billy Childs and Kenny Barron, he also has collaborated with contemporary jazz innovators Ambrose Akinmusire and Kendrick Scott. In his long-standing trio with drummer Justin Brown and bassist Joe Sanders, Clayton blends those styles into a musical language all his own.

Gerald-Clayton_newsblog
Pianist Gerald Clayton, along with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown, performs Feb. 24.

A 2006 runner-up in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition, Clayton garnered Grammy nominations in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Delfeayo Marsalis, one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today, comes to campus May 13, 2017. In January 2011, Delfeayo and the Marsalis family — father Ellis and brothers Branford, Wynton and Jason — received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, the nation’s highest jazz honor.

Delfeayo-Marsailis_newsblog
Trombonist extraordinaire closes the Jazz Series May 13, 2017.

Marsalis has toured internationally with Art Blakey, Slide Hampton and Max Roach as well as leading his own groups. In 2005 Marsalis released “Minions Dominion,” a tribute to legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones followed by a reorchestrated verson of the classic Ellington suite “Sweet Thunder.”

Marsalis’ most recent album, “The Last Southern Gentlemen,” displays his technical expertise and frequent touches of humor, such as his playful rendition of “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Artist Series welcomes pianist Jeremy Denk

With a thought-provoking repertoire and an enthusiastic interest in all things music, pianist Jeremy Denk brings his gifts for enlivening the musical experience for diverse audiences to Lawrence University’s Artist Series.

Jeremy-Denk_newsblog
Jeremy Denk

Denk performs Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets, at $25/$30 for adults, $20/$25 for seniors and $18/$20 for students are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Through performances with many of the country’s leading orchestras, among them the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, Denk has built a reputation as one of America’s most compelling artists. The New York Times praised Denk as someone “you want to hear no matter what he performs.”

He has toured extensively with violinist Joshua Bell and collaborates regularly with cellist Steven Isserlis. His 2012 album with Bell, “French Impressions,” won the 2012 Echo Klassik Award.

“Jeremy Denk is one of the most fascinating young pianists out there,” said Catherine Kautsky, professor of music and chair of the keyboard department at Lawrence. “He not only plays a massive range of repertoire with total command— going from Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ to Ligeti’s immensely difficult and recent ‘Etudes’— but he also speaks and writes about music with a rare eloquence.”

Named a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s coveted $625,000 “Genius” Fellowship in 2013, he was honored the following year with Musical America’s 2014 “Instrumentalist of the Year” award. That same year, he was named winner of the Avery Fisher Prize, which is awarded by New York City’s Lincoln Center and recognizes solo instrumentalists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and excellence in music. It includes a $75,000 monetary prize.

Beyond his captivating performances, Denk contributes eloquent insights about music on his blog, “Think Denk,” which recently was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress’ web archives. An article he wrote for The New Yorker in 2013 entitled “Every Good Boy Does Fine” forms the basis for a memoir about his experiences as a music student.

In an interview he conducted with the UK’s Daily Mail, Denk said he likes to “tear the music apart and see how it works.”

“My way of communicating is to hopefully help people see the elements that I see, and [explore] why this music is so strange and beautiful.”

Currently living in New York City, Denk holds degrees from Oberlin College, Indiana University and the Julliard School.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence pianist Michael Mizrahi’s second album coming out March 25

The second album by Lawrence University piano professor Michael Mizrahi — “Currents” — will be released Friday, March 25 on New Amsterdam records.

Michael Mizrahi
Michael Mizrahi

He’ll celebrate with a release party performance March 26 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Acclaimed violinist Michi Wiancko will join Mizrahi as a special guest.

The follow-up to 2012’s “The Bright Motion,” his critically acclaimed debut album, “Currents” features six new American piano works, almost all of which were commissioned by Mizrahi and written specifically with his singular sound and approach in mind. Among the composers who contributed to the album is his Lawrence conservatory faculty colleague Asha Srinivasan, whose track, “Mercurial Reveries,” is a probing five-movement work that draws on her Indian American heritage. It is in one moment domineering and terrifying and in the next, delicate, docile and nostalgic.

Sarah Kirkland Snider wrote the title track, “The Currents,” which flows from start to finish, with currents of sound pulling the listener through eddies and whirlpools along the way.

Currents-album_newsblogTroy Herion’s “Harpsichords” evokes a transparent Baroque texture, replete with trills and shakes while Mark Dancigers’ “The Bright Motion Ascending” — the third installment in his Bright Motion trilogy written for Mizrahi — explores the vibrant upper reaches of the instrument before plummeting back to Earth with a cataclysmic final chord.

“Heartbreaker,” written by Missy Mazzoli, begins with focused precision then  evolves into a trance-like state that eventually breaks down in a schizophrenic collapse. Patrick Burke‘s “Missing Piece” features piquant dissonances and slow-moving triadic harmonies that plumb the lowest ranges of the piano.

As the title suggests, the album embodies forward movement, building on great piano works of the past while propelling the solo piano repertoire ahead in a new and energized direction. In a review of the album, National Public Radio called Mizahi “a gifted pianist” who “plays with both tenderness and fierce beauty.”

“Currents” is available at bandcamp.com.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

eighth blackbird opens Lawrence’s 2015-16 Artist Series

The Grammy Award-winning eighth blackbird unleashes its provocative and mind-changing style Friday, Oct. 2 in the opening concert of Lawrence University’s four-part 2015-16 Artist Series.

The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors and $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.Eighth-Blackbird_newsblog

The Chicago-based sextet — Matthew Duvall, percussion; Nathalie Joachim, flutes; Lisa Kaplan, piano; Yvonne Lam, violin & viola; Michael Maccaferri, clarinets; and Nicholas Photinos, cello — has won over audiences with its kinetic style that combines rock band energy with string quartet finesse and storefront theater audacity.

“Eighth blackbird brings a level of engagement to their performances that is singular and remarkable,” said David Bell, associate professor of music at Lawrence who teaches clarinet. “I can’t think of another ensemble that brings more to the stage, or offers more to their audience. Regardless of the kind of music you gravitate toward, hearing eighth blackbird will make you want more of whatever they might be doing that night, which is probably going to be completely different the next time you hear them.”

The ensemble’s discography includes 13 recordings, including three that have been recognized with Grammy Awards: “strange imaginary animals,” 2008, Best Chamber Music Performance and Classical Producer of the Year (Judith Sherman); “Lonely Motel: Music from Slide,” 2011, Best Small Ensemble Performance; “Meanwhile,” 2012, Best Small Ensemble Performance and Contemporary Classical Composition (Stephen Hartke).

“Eighth blackbird brings a level of engagement to their performances that is singular and remarkable. I can’t think of another ensemble that brings more to the stage, or offers more to their audience.”
– David Bell

In his review for New York City’s WQXR of the ensemble’s latest project, “Filament,” released this September, Daniel Stephen Johnson said “As meticulous as their programming may be, on concert or on recordings, it is seldom as intensely focused as it is on their latest album.”

Founded in 1996 at, the group derived its name from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’ 1917 poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” All former students at the Oberlin Conservatory, they hold Ensemble-in-Residence positions at the University of Chicago and the University of Richmond.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Michael Mizrahi and NOW Ensemble release third album, “Dreamfall”

NOW Ensemble, an eclectic chamber ensemble co-founded by Lawrence University Professor of Music and pianist Michael Mizrahi, released its latest album, “Dreamfall,” May 27 on New Amsterdam Records.

NOW-Ensemble-newsblog
NOW Ensemble features electric guitarist Mark Dancigers, flutist Alexandra Sopp, bassist Logan Coale, clarinetist Sara Budde and pianist Michael Mizrahi.

The ensemble’s third full-length album in the past 10 years, “Dreamfall” explores vibrant new sonic possibilities while featuring several new commissioned works by some of today’s leading young composers, including Andrea Mazzariello, Scott Smallwood and John Supko.

Mizrahi launched NOW Ensemble in 2004 with a vision of creating new chamber music for the 21st century. With its unique instrumentation — flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass and piano — the ensemble provides a fresh sound and a new perspective to the classical tradition, reflecting the musical influences and diverse backgrounds of its members.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.