Lawrence Memorial Chapel

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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.

New York City’s Vanguard Jazz Orchestra Brings Big-Band Swing to Lawrence MemorialChapel

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, hailed as “one of New York’s institutions” by the New York Times, brings its big-band swing to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, May 6 at 8 p.m. in the final concert of the 2010-11 Lawrence University Jazz Series.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors, and $17-15 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton or by calling 920-832-6749.

Featuring 16 of the world’s finest jazz musicians, the two-time Grammy Award-winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra traces its roots to 1966 when cornetist/composer/arranger Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis founded a band in New York. Among its first bookings was a trio of Monday night gigs at the world-famous New York City jazz club the Village Vanguard.

“When Thad Jones and Mel Lewis launched their jazz orchestra, they elevated the jazz big band to a new artistic level,” said Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies and improvisational music at Lawrence. “Thad’s playing and writing was an extension of the Count Basie swing tradition. Mel supplied the progressive West Coast style of the Stan Kenton band. The sidemen they hired brought the influences of playing with Basie, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan. The result was a remarkable funneling of the world’s premier jazz talents into an iconic large jazz ensemble.

“A decade later when Jones left, Lewis enlisted trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer as musical director and the band’s music became more adventurous,” Sturm added. “When Mel died in 1990, ensemble members Jim McNeely, Dick Oatts, John Mosca and other cutting-edge players stepped up to carry the torch as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Today, almost a half century since its inception, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra stands as one of the world’s premier jazz ensembles.”

The VJO’S 2008 recording “Monday Night at The Village Vanguard” won a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and earned Brookmeyer a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement for his work on “St. Louis Blues.” The VJO earned its first Grammy Award in 2004 for “The Way—Music of Slide Hampton” in the Best Arrangements for Jazz Orchestra category. Their 2005 recording “Up from the Skies,” featuring the music of McNeely, the ensemble’s pianist, composer and arranger, earned two Grammy nominations, including one for Best Jazz Ensemble.

Today, the orchestra carries on the tradition established by Jones and Lewis by performing regularly at the Village Vanguard jazz club in Greenwich Village.

Award-winning Soprano Measha Brueggergosman Brings “Voluptuous Voice” to Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Critically acclaimed Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman brings her innate musicianship, voluptuous voice and a sovereign stage presence far beyond her years to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. as the second concert in the 2010-11 Lawrence University Artist Series.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton or by calling 920-832-6749.

Measha Brueggergosman

Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a singer of rare gifts and artistic intensity,” the 33-year-old native of New Brusnwick, Canada, has emerged as one of the most magnificent performers and vibrant personalities touring today. She burst onto the scene in 1998 at the age of 20, singing the lead role in the premiere of the opera “Beatrice Chancy” in Toronto.  Since then, she has drawn praise for performances throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.

Joanne Bozeman, who teaches in the voice department of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, said Brueggergosman’s passionate approach to performing captivates her audiences.

“Measha is enjoying an active, world-class career and for good reason,” said Bozeman. “She not only has a fabulous, beautifully colorful lyric soprano voice, she performs convincingly in a broad range of genres, languages and venues. Her public image seems to be that of a young, free spirit, but it belies her intense musical sophistication and ability to elicit subtle tonal shading in her singing. She has strong and compelling ideas about the texts of what she sings – perfect for the intimate genre of art song.”

Brueggergosman, who has been known to sing in her bare feet, has performed at many of the world’s great concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall and Paris’ famed Theatre des Champs-Elysees. She has sung with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra and gave a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II.  She showcased her talents to a world-wide audience of more than three billion viewers when she sang the Olympic Hymn — in English and French — at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games last February.

She was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2002 Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition and was a prizewinner at The Dutch International Vocal Competition’s-Hertogenbosch, the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo and the ARD Music Competition in Munich, among others.

Profiled in the CBC-broadcast documentary “Spirit in her Voice,” Brueggergosman also has served as host of the European television cultural variety show “Arte Lounge.”

Grammy-Winning Bassist Christian McBride Closes Lawrence Jazz Series May 14

Two-time Grammy Award-winner Christian McBride and his acoustic jazz quintet Inside Straight performs Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel in the final concert of Lawrence University’s 2009-2010 Jazz Series.

Tickets, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Christian McBride

Hailed as “perhaps the most exciting jazz bass player since Ray Brown” by All About Jazz, McBride has appeared on more than 250 albums, including five of his own releases. Playing both acoustic and electric bass, McBride has accompanied scores of jazz luminaries, among them Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Diana Krall.

Over the past two decades, McBride has been one of the most requested sidemen in the music business, touring with such renowned jazz musicians and their bands as Roy Hargrove and Pat Metheney.

Assistant Professor of Music Mark Urness, who teaches bass in the Lawrence conservatory of music, said McBride has been at the forefront of jazz bass playing for nearly two decades.

“His stunning virtuosity is combined with an intense rhythmic feel and a rare melodic gift,” said Urness. “He epitomizes the modern jazz artist by combining tradition with innovation.”

Named “Hot Jazz Artist” of 1992 by Rolling Stone magazine, McBride won Grammy Awards in 2009 and 2006 in the best jazz instrumental album, individual or group category. He was named co-director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem in 2005 and recently finished a four-year appointment as creative chair for jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  As a composer, McBride created “Bluesin’ in Alphabet City,” a commissioned work performed by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Inside Straight, McBride’s new quintet, recently released its debut album “Kind of Brown,” a collection of hard swing-to-bluesy groove tunes. The international cultural criticism magazine Pop Matters praised Inside Straight for creating “delicious music” and described the album as “hot. It puts a little jump in your step.”

“Inside Straight is a traditional acoustic jazz ensemble with innovative compositions and improvisations,” said Urness. “The band draws influence not only from classic jazz, but also from modern funk and hip-hop artists.”

Inside Straight features Eric Scott Reed on piano, Steve Wilson on saxophone, Warren Wolf, Jr. on vibraphone and Carl Allen on drums.

Percussion Group Cincinnati Performs March 6 at Lawrence University

APPLETON, WIS. — Percussion Group Cincinnati brings its dynamic and imaginative musical virtuosity to the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Ave., Friday, March 6 for an 8 p.m. performance.

Tickets, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749. The concert is part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Lawrence Artist Series.

Formed in 1979, the trio of Allen Otte, James Culley, and Russell Burge, each a professor at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, perform classic and experimental concert music with a theatrical flair. In addition to drums, cymbals, marimbas, gongs and bells, the Group often incorporates such unconventional “instruments” as amplified cactus needles, newspapers and garbage cans into their performances.

While much of their repertoire is devoted to young composers from around the world, the Group is perhaps best known for their expertise in the music of composer John Cage, who has written several pieces specifically for them.

“Percussion Group Cincinnati ranks among the top five contemporary percussion groups in the world,” said Dane Richeson, director of percussion studies at Lawrence. “For years they have dedicated themselves to the art of new music by commissioning new works along with producing innovative concerts and recordings that are truly inspiring and thought provoking. It’s a rare treat to have a percussion group of this caliber perform in Wisconsin, let alone the Fox Cities.”

During its 30-year performance career, the Group has attracted an international audience. Recent concert engagements include a world premiere with the Singapore Chinese Instrument Orchestra, a performance with the Shanghai International Spring Music Festival and a tour of Japan. In addition to appearances as concerto soloists with symphony orchestras around the country, the Group regularly conducts community concerts, workshops and masterclasses.

The Group’s discography includes their recording of John Luther Adams’ evening-length “Strange and Sacred Noise” and a 25-year retrospective multi-disc set that includes performances spanning the group’s entire history.

British Masterpieces Featured in Lawrence University EXPERIENCE Weekend Choral Concert

APPLETON — One of choral music’s premier music directors will serve as guest conductor for Lawrence University’s annual “EXPERIENCE Weekend” concert Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

Simon Carrington, professor of choral conducting at Yale University and founding director of the Yale Schola Cantorum, will conduct the concert’s “Weekend Chorus,” a guest choir of 66 exceptional high school singers nominated by their respective choral directors.

The EXPERIENCE Weekend concert also includes performances by Lawrence’s Viking Chorale, Cantala Women’s Choir and Concert Choir, under the direction of conductors Richard Bjella and Phillp Swan. Accompanying the singers will be university organist Kathrine Handford and percussionist Dane Richeson.

Lawrence’s Concert Choir will perform a program it will reprise Saturday, March 7 at the 50th anniversary of the American Choral Directors Association’s national convention in Oklahoma City at the Civic Center Music-Hall. Lawrence was one of only four mixed university-college choirs nationally selected to perform at this year’s ACDA’s convention.

A native of England, Carrington has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as both a singer and a conductor. He was a founding member and original musical director of the internationally acclaimed British vocal ensemble The King’s Singers in 1968 and spent 25 years as the group’s creative force. He performed in more than 3,000 concerts and recitals with the group in many of the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls.

Since moving to the United States in 1994, Carrington has directed choral studies at the University of Kansas and the New England Conservatory before joining the faculty at Yale in 2003. He conducts regularly at some of the world’s leading venues, including the Monteverdi Choir Festival in Budapest, the Chamber Choir Festival in Sarteano, Italy and the Tokyo Cantat in Japan.

“Having watched Simon work as a singer when his superb group The King Singers performed at Lawrence many years ago and seeing him as both a clinician and conductor on several occasions, we are very lucky to have him back to work with all of our students as well as the outstanding high school students for the EXPERIENCE Weekend,” said Bjella, director of choral studies at Lawrence. “He brings a wealth of musical knowledge, vocal prowess, a superb sense of tuning and balance, and wit and wisdom to every festival setting.”

While featuring works from around the world, including Australia, Bulgaria, France and Venezuela, the concert will pay special tribute to British masterpieces, including works by Gustav Holst, baroque composer Henry Purcell and Thomas Weelkes. Highlighting the concert will be a closing performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Lord Thou hast been our refuge” by all three Lawrence choirs and the Weekend Chorus under the baton of Carrington.

Lawrence’s EXPERIENCE Weekend brings talented high school musicians to campus to participate in a high-caliber festival and support their interest in music. Singers from high schools in Appleton, Freedom, Green Bay, Kaukauna, Oshkosh, Port Washington, and Marysville, Wash., are represented at this year’s festival.

Jackie Allen Quintet Performs Feb. 21 with Lawrence University Chamber Orchestra

APPLETON, WIS. – Jazz vocalist Jackie Allen and her five-member band join musical forces with the Lawrence University Chamber Orchestra in a unique concert pairing Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for the 2008-09 Lawrence Jazz Series concert, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, or by phone, 920-832-6749.

Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “a model of lustrous tone and clear headed energy,” Allen was among the first artists to find common ground between her jazz foundation and the world of popular music with her 1994 album “Never Let Me Go.”

She has since recorded seven more albums, including the jazz-infused, pop-charged “Tangled,” with which she made her Blue Note Records debut in 2006.

A Wisconsin native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin who now calls Chicago home, Allen enjoyed a musically diverse upbringing. Growing up she played the French horn and listened to music that included Dixieland jazz tunes by her tuba-playing father, as well as the rock sounds of the Beatles and pop ballads of Elton John and Billy Joel.

Fred Sturm, professor of music and director of jazz studies at Lawrence says Allen’s vocal talents allow her to “blur the demarcation lines between genres with ease.”

“Jackie’s personal music history is diversely rooted in pop, folk, rock and jazz music,” said Sturm. “She’s as comfortable with the music of Annie Lennox and Randy Newman as she is singing jazz standards made famous by Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. While so many singers ‘cover’ tunes by emulating the original artists and recordings, Jackie puts a unique personal stamp on each of her renditions.”

Highlighting the concert will be featured selections from Allen’s 2008 “Starry Night” project, a collection of romantic jazz classics, backed by the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Sturm. This will be the first time members of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra are performing on a Jazz Series program.

“This really is a rare opportunity for our classical orchestral students to perform a professional ‘gig’ with a jazz and popular music artist,” said Sturm. “It’s incredibly rare to have a university orchestra engaged in the workings of a college jazz program, in particular the school’s jazz artist series. All the credit goes to LSO conductor David Becker, who wants his classical students to have this kind of educational experience.”

Allen has performed on tours throughout the world, including Brazil, China and Morocco, as well as Europe’s North Sea Jazz Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Closer to home, she has been featured on the main stage of Chicago’s Jazz Festival and Ravinia Festival.

Her recordings have included collaborations with noted jazz artists Von Freeman, Roy McCurdy and Ira Sullivan.

Dane Richeson, director of percussion studies at Lawrence, is the drummer in Allen’s band.

Grammy-Winning Baritone Dale Duesing Performs Feb. 7 at Lawrence University

APPLETON, WIS. — Dale Duesing, hailed as “a singer who changed opera in the 20th century” by the French magazine Monde de la Musique, returns Saturday, Feb. 7 to familiar surroundings — the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The 1967 Lawrence University graduate performs in concert at 8 p.m. as part of the 100th anniversary of the Lawrence Artist Series.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, or by phone at 920-832-6749.

Duesing’s international vocal career has spanned four decades and continues to grow in scope and expertise. The highly acclaimed baritone has sung in the world’s foremost opera houses and has appeared as a soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, the Chicago Symphony and the Saint Cecilia of Rome.

Patrice Michaels, professor of music at Lawrence and an acclaimed opera singer in her own right, calls Duesing “the quintessential professional singer.”

“Dale is the kind of opera singer of whom stage and music directors say, ‘if Dale’s available, then we can do virtually anything.’ His versatility, reliability, and audience appeal have made him a household name in the best opera houses and with the best orchestras in the world.”

Duesing’s award-winning career, which has included new challenges as well as familiar roles, has earned him “Singer of the Year” honors from Germany’s Opernwelt magazine and a 1993 Grammy for his recording of Samuel Barber’s “The Lovers” with the Chicago Symphony. He made his operatic directorial debut in 2004, earning best production and best director nominations from Opernwelt.

Duesing, a native of Milwaukee, makes his home in Appleton and serves as an artist-in-residence at Lawrence’s conservatory of music.

“He is ‘Uncle Dale’ to generations of voice students whom he mentors frequently,” said Michaels. “Fox Valley audiences know that Dale’s singing is informed by his technical skill and theatrical expertise, but moreover by his deep sense of compassion and love of humanity.”