Tag: music

Lawrence students win pair of music competitions

Two Lawrence University students finished first in a pair of recent music competitions.

A head shot of Lawrence student Sam Buse
Junior Sam Buse

Sam Buse, a junior from La Mesa, Calif., earned first-place honors in the first round of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) Regional Young Organists Competition conducted at First United Methodist Church in Glendale, Calif. He received $1,000 for his winning performance and advances to the AGO’s regional convention June 10 in Salt Lake City. The competition is open to competitors up to 24 years of age.

Competitors are required to play four selections during a 45-minute performance. Buse played the hymn “In Babilone,” Frank Ferko’s “Mass for Dedication,” J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor “Dorian” and Max Reger’s “Introduction and Passacaglia in D Minor.” He studies with university organist Kathrine Handford.

Jessica Castleberry, a senior from Dillon, Colo., won the 2017 Wisconsin Music Teachers Association (WMTA) Badger Collegiate Performance Competition conducted at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. She received $200 for her winning performance.

The competition is open to pianists, instrumentalists and vocalists. Each is required to perform three different pieces from three contrasting musical eras.

A head shot of Lawrence student Jessica Castleberry
Senior Jessica Castleberry

Castleberry played Mozart’s “Piano Sonata’ in G major, Chopin’s “Polonaise” in F-sharp minor and Debussy’s “Images Book 1.” Maria Santos, a freshman from Princeton, N.J., and Christian Vallery, a sophomore from Hampton, Iowa, tied for second place in the WMTA Badger Competition. All three study in the piano studio of Professor Catherine Kautsky.

Castleberry is the second straight Lawrentian to win the WMTA Badger Competition after sophomore Neil Krzeski earned first-place honors in 2016.

Ming Hu, a sophomore from Changsha, China, earned honorable mention honors in the piano at the annual Schubert Club Student Scholarship Competition conducted at St. Catherine’s University in Minnesota. The competition features divisions for piano, strings, brass, woodwinds and guitar. Hu is a student of Kautsky’s.

Five other Lawrence pianists advanced to the Schubert competition finals: Gabrielle Claus, Milou De Meij, Xiaoya Gao, Krzeski and Tammy Li.

Liam Mayo, a piano student in the Lawrence Academy of Music from Green Bay who studies with Lawrence Professor Anthony Padilla, won first place honors in the Schubert competition’s high school division.

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.

Bridging Cultural Gaps: Senior Sam Genualdi will travel the globe in search of musical collaborations as Watson Fellow

Music has always been a part of Sam Genualdi’s DNA.

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Sam Genualdi
Sam Genualdi ’17

He grew up as a serial instrumentalist, working his way through a litany of recommendations from his parents — violin, piano, percussion, double bass — but it wasn’t until he taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 15 that he found his sweet spot.

“When I picked up the guitar, it felt like something on my terms,” said Genualdi, a senior at Lawrence University from Evanston, Ill. “I felt like I was rebelling against my parents through the electric guitar.”

As his musical interests evolved, he discovered collaborating with other musicians was vital to his creative process. Later this year, Genualdi will embark on a year-long musical “binge” to feed his creative hunger that will take him around the world to engage in collaborations with musicians he’s never met.

Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major at Lawrence, has been named one of 40 national recipients of a $30,000 Watson Fellowship for a wanderjahr of independent travel and exploration. Beginning in August, Genualdi will spend 12 months visiting Scotland, Peru, Indonesia, India and Japan.

“I plan to spend my Watson year in five countries steeped in unfamiliar musical traditions,” said Genualdi, Lawrence’s 72nd Watson Fellow since the program’s inception in 1969. “Music can be a powerful tool to bridge cultural gaps. I hope to co-create music that makes this evident. I want to engage in musical collaborations that push against the boundaries of existing genres.

“I have always thrived on collaboration,” added Genualdi, who has had plenty of opportunities as a member of numerous groups and ensembles at Lawrence, including the small jazz combos, the improvisation group IGLU, Gamelan Cahaya Asri and the Sambistas Brazilian drumming group, among others. “While I’ve done a fair amount of solitary work as a musician, the experiences that most excite me are those that involve interacting with other people.”

At each of his global destinations, Genualdi plans to meet musicians he hopes to work with by attending concerts and jam sessions. He will approach local musicians as a student to develop relationships and more effectively absorb the culture.

Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create
musical worlds yet unimagined.”

— Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music

“Taking lessons will give me the opportunity to interact with these musicians on a personal level, accumulate skills and expand my musical vocabulary,” said Genuldi. “I may learn a new instrument to gain perspective, but mainly I intend to communicate musically through my primary voice, the guitar.”

In Scotland, Genualdi will focus on the country’s rich history of stringed instruments, including guitar. In Peru, he will work with within Afro-Peruvian music traditions which combine African, European and native influences.

“Afro-Peruvian music along with the salsa and flamenco traditions prevalent in Lima involve unique forms of improvisation,” said Genualdi. “My background in jazz will help me find common repertoire to play with locals because of the relatively recent surge in the fusion of jazz and local traditions.”

January will find Genualdi in Bali where he looks to expand his experience with Indonesian music, which has been limited to his work with Gamelan Cahaya Asr. The following three months will take him to India, where traditions of improvisation in Hindustani music run deep. Much of his time there will focus on working with several highly regarded sitarists.

The final three months of his travels will be spent in Tokyo’s vibrant musical community with its improvised and experimental music scene. Genualdi calls the enthusiasm in Japan for fringe musical projects “inspiring.”

A photo of Lawrence University student Sam Genualdi playing his guitar.
When it comes to instruments, the guitar serves as Sam Genualdi’s “voice” of choice.

Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music and Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson Foundation, calls Genualdi “an explorer of sound.”

“Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create musical worlds yet unimagined,” said Pertl, himself a Watson Fellow in 1986 as a Lawrence senior. “He has been pushing the boundaries of improvisation during his time at Lawrence and now will have an opportunity to explore his passion across the globe. I can’t wait to see what new musical concoctions will emerge from his grand adventure.”

Genualdi says the Watson experience will deepen his relationship to music and profoundly affect every aspect of his life moving forward.

“The musical experiences I’ll have in each country is sure to be different, but each will help   bring into focus a larger picture of the human experience. Music is an important part of lives across the globe and I am intensely inspired by discovering these connections.”

Genualdi was selected for the Watson Fellowship from among 149 finalists nominated by 40 leading liberal arts colleges. This year’s 49th class of Watson Fellows hail from 21 states and six countries and will collectively visit 67 countries.

More than 2,700 students have been awarded Watson Fellowships, providing opportunities to test their aspirations, abilities and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur grant recipients, Pulitzer Prize winners, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators.

The fellowship was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

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 opera program recognized with national award — again

The hits just keep on coming for Lawrence University’s opera studies program.

For the second straight year, Lawrence has garnered national recognition. Its 2016 production of “The Beggar’s Opera,” which was performed last February at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, was awarded first-place honors in the 2015-16 National Opera Association’s (NOA) Division 6 Best Opera Production competition.

A photo of Lawrence University students in the university's opera production "The Beggar Opera."
Lawrence’s 2016 production of “The Beggar Opera” earned first-place honors in the National Opera Association’s Division 6 Best Opera Production competition.

Lawrence earned top honors against competitors with graduate student programs, some of which are previous winners in the category.

The college’s first micro-opera production, “Expressions of Acceptance,” which was performed at the PAC in November 2015, tied for third place in the 2015-16 NOA’s Division 1 Best Opera Production competition.

“This is a win for all of Lawrence because opera is a huge, intricate event,” said Copeland Woodruff, who joined the college in the fall of 2014 as director of opera studies. “Opera incorporates all of the disciplines — singing, instrumental solo and ensemble, collaborative piano, theatre design and technical craft, acting, choreography, stage combat, research in history, literature, art, sociology, psychology and of course administrative assistance to make it all happen. We are so lucky to have such a supportive, collaborative environment at Lawrence that fosters this type of exploration.”

“Expressions of Acceptance” was a collaborative effort between Woodruff, Margaret Paek, director of Lawrence’s dance program and Matt Turner, director of the ensemble Improvisation Group of Lawrence University (IGLU) in conjunction with Lawrence’s student organization GLOW and Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, Riverview Gardens and COTS. Through , 5-8 minute micro-operas, it examined issues and experiences that both bind people together as well as differentiate us. The pieces were perrformed in non-traditional places in the PAC, including stairwells, bathrooms and even an elevator.

“I am thrilled that our students’ talent is recognized and revered by our peers across the nation.”
      — Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies

This was the second year in a row Lawrence was recognized nationally for its opera program. In 2015, Lawrence earned first-place honors in the undergraduate division of the Collegiate Opera Scenes competition at the joint national conventions of NOA and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Lawrence’s 2015 production of “The Tender Land” earned second-place honors the NOA’s Best Opera Production competition.

A photo of Lawrence University students in the university's micro-opera.
Lawrence’s micro-opera production “Expressions of Acceptance” earned third-place recognition the National Opera Association’s Division 1 Best Opera Production competition.

“These awards allow our students to garner a idea of where they stand among their peers,” said Woodruff, who will accept the awards in person in January at the 2017 NOA national convention in Santa Barbara, Calif.  “I’m so proud of the dedication, hard work and long hours everyone devoted to crafting these memorable, landmark experiences. I am thrilled that our students’ talent is recognized and revered by our peers across the nation.

“Being remote from other opera companies and schools with opera programs, it is important for our students to participate in these competitions so that they can compare themselves with the pool of artists who will be their competitors for and colleagues in graduate schools, summer opera training programs and their eventual career,” Woodruff added.

The production competitions are based on an anonymously submitted video of the production. Judges, who are industry and academic professionals, base their decisions on criteria that includes musicianship of both singers and instrumentalists; dramatic credibility and characterization; production concept, staging and execution; and overall quality of the production. The scenes competition is based upon live performance at the national conference.

The divisions are based upon the size and scope of an institution’s music and opera program, level of vocal training of the singers and production budget.

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.

ImprovisationaLU: Two-day festival features some of music world’s best improvisers

New York City’s Jen Shyu and England-born, California-based  guitarist/composer Fred Frith headline a two-day music festival at Lawrence University devoted to all things improvisation.

A photo of Jen Shyu plays "gayageum," a traditional Korean zither-like instrument.
Jen Shyu performs her “Solo Rites: Seven Breaths” on the opening night of the ImprovisationaLU festival. Photo: National Gugak Center.

Shyu and Frith will be among five artists performing Sept. 23-24 for the first “ImprovisationaLU” in the Warch Campus Center. All festival performances are free and open to the public.

Festival organizer Sam Genualdi, a senior from Evanston, Ill., said he wanted to showcase artists “who haven’t previously had a strong voice on campus.”

“These are people I’ve been listening to for a long time,” said Genauldi, who has played guitar with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Quartet pm several occasions. “The festival is designed to provide a forum for artists who are pushing the boundaries of their musical communities. There will be something there for people who are already knowledgeable about improvised music as well as those who are simply curious about it.”

Shyu, an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, dancer and multi-instrumentalist, takes the stage Friday evening for a performance of her critically acclaimed composition “Solo Rites: Seven Breaths.” The personal story of loss and redemption examined through the lens of modern world hardships combines vocals and dance with a variety of instruments, including piano, the Taiwanese moon lute and gayageum (a traditional Korean zither-like instrument).

Classically trained in opera, violin and ballet, Shyu has recorded six albums, including her most recent, “Sounds and Cries of the World,” which the New York Times included on its list of “Top 10 Best Albums of 2015.” Music critic Ben Ratliff has called Shyu’s concerts “the most arresting performances I’ve seen over the past five years..she seems open, instinctual, almost fearless.”

A photo of Fred Frith with his guitar.
Fred Frith will perform a solo gig before teaming with White Out on Sept. 24.

Frith performs Saturday as a solo act as well as for the first time with the two-person experimental band White Out.

In a career spanning more than four decades, Frith has performed with numerous bands, including the British avant-rock group Henry Cow, Skeleton Crew and Keep the Dog. Best known for his genre-bending and innovative work with the electric guitar, Frith currently leads the Gravity Band and Cosa Brava, an experimental rock and improvisation quintet he helped found in 2008. He also leads Eye to Ear, which performs and records film and theatre music composed by Frith.

The schedule for ImprovisationaLU:

FRIDAY, SEPT. 23
8 p.m.-9 p.m. Matt Turner and Hal Rammel.  Turner, a 1989 graduate of Lawrence and current lecturer in the Lawrence conservatory, has established himself as one of the world’s leading improvising cellists. He has performed on more than 100 recordings with artists ranging from jazz violinist Randy Sabien and goth vocalist/pianist Jo Gabriel to punk artist Kyle Fische and alt-country band Heller Mason.

Rammel is a composer and improviser who performs on musical instruments of his own creation. In the 1980s, he was an active member of Chicago’s experimental and improvised music scene. In 2007 he organized the quartet The LOST DATA Project and founded the Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra in 2011 to explore large ensemble open form and structured improvisation.

• 9:15 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Jen Shyu, “Solo Rites: Seven Breaths.” Shyu will conduct an audience Q & A following her performance.

A photo of Minneapolis-based rapper/beatboxer Carnage the Executioner (Terrell Woods).
Rapper/beatboxer Carnage the Executioner kicks off the second night of the ImprovisationaLU festival.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 24
•  7:15 p.m.-8:15 p.m. Carnage the Executioner (Terrell Woods). Minneapolis-based Carnage is a rapper and beatboxer known for his lyrical dexterity and uncanny ability to compose musical symphonies with his mouth through beat boxing.

•  8:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Fred Frith

•  9:15 p.m.-10:15 p.m. White Out with Fred Frith. A product of the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, White Out is the husband-wife team of percussion maverick Tom Surgal and synthesizer artiste Lin Culbertson, who also plays autoharp, flute and mystery electronics while providing vocals. Musical experimentalists to the core, White Out released its seventh album, “Accidental Sky,” in 2015. With its “spiritual jams from the outer regions…spastic, feedback-laden licks and massaging and stabbing beats that resemble a voodoo ceremony,” it landed on the New York Observer’s 2015 list of “best experimental albums.

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.

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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.

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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.

35 and counting: Annual jazz festival welcomes guest artists Cyrille Aimée and Rufus Reid

The name has changed — slightly— but the mission remains the same.

Lawrence University’s annual salute to all things jazz celebrates its 35th year with a new name— Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend —  in honor of its founder and mentor who passed away in 2014.

This year’s weekend celebration welcomes vocalist Cyrille Aimée Friday, Nov. 6 and bass legend Rufus Reid, Saturday, Nov. 7. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets, ranging from $18 to $30, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Cyrille-Aimee_newsblogIn addition to the two evening concerts, Lawrence will host more than 350 students from 23 high schools on Saturday, Nov. 7 who will participate a series of educational clinics and performances. The schedule includes free performances by the Lawrence jazz faculty and the Lawrence Jazz Band.

French-born Aimée has established herself as one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation. Raised in the village of Samois sur Seine, Aimée’s culturally rich background — her mother is Dominican, her father French — has provided her with a distinctive vocal combination: the driving force of Dominican rhythm and the incredible swing of the French Gypsies.

Accomplished jazz singer Janet Planet, who teaches vocal technique and jazz history at Lawrence, says Aimée clearly “enjoys making music” and describes her style as “infectious.”

“She is the ‘hot ticket’ in the world of jazz today and brings her youth and obvious hunger for the music to her performances,” said Planet. “She also shows a respect for singers that have come before her, such as Ella Fitzgerald.

“Cyrille brings her joy to stage as she unveils each moment of each song.  She emotes a certain fearlessness, a requisite characteristic for improvisation,” Planet added. “Along with the ability to improvise in the scat format, she utilizes technology by incorporating looping devices in her concerts, stacking her vocals as she builds live tracks.”

“She is the ‘hot ticket’ in the world of jazz today and brings her youth and obvious hunger for the music to her performances.”
— Janet Planet

Inspired by the musical legacy of renowned guitarist Django Reinhardt, Aimée is a past winner of both the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Vocal Competition and the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition. Her 2014 major label debut, “It’s a Good Day,” showcases Aimée’s incredible range of musical styles, eras, continents and moods.

Reid, a Grammy Award-nominated bass player whose career spans five decades, and his quartet, will be joined on stage by the Lawrence Jazz Ensemble during the direction of Patty Darling.  Nearly the entire program will feature works composed or arranged by Reid.Rufus Reid_newsblog

As a leader or co-leader, Reid has recorded more than 20 albums, including 2014’s “Quiet Pride – The Elizabeth Catlett Project,” which was inspired by the legendary sculptor and civil rights activist.

“We are so fortunate to have Rufus Reid and his Quartet joining us for the Saturday evening concert,” said Darling. “Not only is Rufus one of today’s premiere bassists, he is also one of the world’s leaders in jazz education and jazz history, as well as an inspiring clinician and accomplished composer.  His passion for performance and jazz education make him the perfect choice as one of this year’s guest artists for our 35th festival.”

Reid is the author of “The Evolving Bassist,” the definitive bible for every jazz bassist and the industry standard since 1974. He has lent his signature sound to the music of a litany of jazz icons, including Thad Jones, Stan Getz, Benny Golson and Nancy Wilson, among others.

Sturm created jazz celebration weekend in 1981 as a way to bring renowned professional jazz artists to the Lawrence campus and the roster of guests reads like a Who’s Who of jazz greats: Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Slide Hampton, Bobby McFerrin, Diana Krall, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and others.

Beyond the concerts, Sturm established a completely non-competitive jazz educational festival featuring renowned clinicians for students as a way to provide an inspirational jump-start for school jazz groups and promote improvisation as a primary focus in school jazz ensembles.

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.

Pianist Michael Mizrahi Selected for National Arts Award

Lawrence University pianist Michael Mizrahi has been named one of five international recipients of the S&R Foundations 2014 Washington Award.

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Assistant Professor of Music Michael Mizrahi was among five national recipients of the Washington Award presented by the S&R Foundation.

Presented annually by the Washington, D.C.-based foundation, the Washington Award recognizes individuals who display outstanding ability and artistic excellence. It supports those who contribute to an international cultural dialogue.

Mizrahi, assistant professor of music at Lawrence, will be formally honored May 30 at the S&R Washington Awards Gala at the Halcyon House in the Georgetown district of the nation’s capital. He will receive a $5,000 cash prize in support of his career.

“We are thrilled that Michael has won the Washington Award,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. “Since the award is specifically for talented individuals with high aspirations in the arts, I can’t imagine a better recipient. Michael is always pushing musical boundaries, working closely with composers to create new works, redefining the relationship between audience and performer and bringing live performance to underserved audiences. This award will help him take his musical aspirations to the next level.”

According to Sachiko Kuno, CEO and president of the S&R Foundation, the 2014 Washington Award winners “are dynamic artists who are engaged with their communities and with audiences worldwide.

“We applaud their drive and aspirations and are proud to support them towards the next steps in their creative development,” said Kuno in announcing the award winners.

Mizrahi joined the conservatory of music faculty in 2009. His debut album, “The Bright Motion” on New Amsterdam Records, was included on both Time Out New York’s and Time Out Chicago’s list of best classical albums for 2012. The video of the album’s title track was featured on National Public Radio’s “Deceptive Cadence,” which hailed it as “a meditation on quietude amidst unceasing movement, a thick-walled cell of solitary contentment in the churn of daily life.”

His recording portfolio also includes the world premiere of three works for violin and piano by Aaron Copland.

He is a founding member of both NOW Ensemble, a chamber group devoted to commissioning and performing new music by emerging composers, and the Moët Trio. He also is a member of the New York City-based chamber ensemble Decoda, which creates innovative performances and engaging projects with partners around the world.

Mizrahi is currently co-directing the project “Music for All: Connecting Musicians and Community.” The project is supported by a $16,700 Arts and Culture grant from unrestricted funds within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and is designed to bring classical chamber music to settings where such music is not normally performed.

Joining Mizrahi as 2014 Washington Award winners were:

The S&R Washington Award recipients for 2014 are:

Nabil Shehata, double bassist and conductor

Tamás Krizsa, dancer, choreographer

Erzhan Kulibaev, violinist

Huanhuan Ma, soprano

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.

Pianist Orion Weiss Performs April 11 in Artist Series Concert

 Pianist Orion Weiss, one of the most sought-after soloists of his generation, performs Friday, April 11 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel in a Lawrence University 2013-14 Artist Series concert.

Orion-Weiss_newsblog
Pianist Orion Weiss performs Friday, April 11 in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $22-24 for adults, $20-22 for seniors and $17-19 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Known for his deeply felt style, Weiss has performed with leading orchestras across the United States, the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic among them. Internationally, he has appeared in France, Mexico and China and toured Israel under world-renowned conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Lawrence Professor of Music Catherine Kautsky praised Weiss as “one of the real rising stars of the young generation of pianists.”

“Orion is doing a fascinating, imaginative program and is well-known for his poetic playing,” said Kautsky, who teaches piano at Lawrence. “It will be wonderful to have him in town. I’m expecting a splendid concert.”

Noted by the Washington Post for his “star power,” Weiss’ virtuosity has earned him numerous honors, including the Classical Recording Foundation’s 2010 Young Artist of the Year title. His discography features a recital album of works by Bartok, Prokofiev and Bartok, which MusicWeb International praised for showcasing Weiss’s “prodigious technique.”

Weiss also released a critically acclaimed album of Gershwin pieces centered on his iconic “Rhapsody in Blue,” which Classics Today deemed “positively luscious.” The album is the first of a two-part recording project of the complete Gershwin repertoire.

Weiss attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, where he studied with Grammy Award-winning classical pianist Emanuel Ax.

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 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

“Trip Around the World” Goal of Lawrence International’s 34th Annual Cabaret

With a theme of “Around the World in 90 Minutes,” more than 80 Lawrence University students promise a whirlwind global tour in two performances of Lawrence International’s 34th annual Cabaret Saturday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday April 11 at 3 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave. A buffet dinner featuring international dishes will be served in the Warch Campus Center following the Sunday performance.

Tickets, at $8 for the show and $15 for the show and dinner, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749. Children four and under are free.

“Cabaret is a unique and entertaining way to experience the music, dance, food and fashion of cultures from around the world,” said Tim Schmidt, Lawrence International advisor. “The students put so much of themselves into this every year and are so proud to share part of their culture. I encourage the Lawrence and Fox Valley community to join us and see first-hand all that Cabaret has to offer.”

Students will showcase traditional fashion from their native countries as well as perform a wide range of entertainment, including native dances from China, Japan, Latin America, the Subcontinent, Africa and Vietnam, music from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Korea and Brazil and a group didjeridu performance .