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Harmonic Festival Opens in March

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March 8, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Northwestern University School of Music will present “Harmonic Convergence: From Bach to Hip-Hop,” a 12-day festival (March 28 to April 8) that will feature an array of musicians. Performers include jazz great Howard Levy; cutting-edge composer and performer DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain); “La Guitara” guitarists Sharon Isbin, Patty Larkin and Kaki King; drummer Paul Wertico; and a “monster” marimba orchestra. The events are open to the public and will include master classes and lectures.

The spring 2006 festival begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall with a special performance of Olivier Messiaen’s apocalypse-inspired “Quartet for the End of Time.” This eight-movement masterpiece will be performed by faculty members from four American music schools: Northwestern University clarinetist Steven Cohen, University of Louisville violinist J. Patrick Rafferty, University of Alabama cellist Carlton McCreery and Oberlin Conservatory of Music pianist James Howsmon. Tickets are $8.50 for the general public; $7 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff members; and $4 for students.

Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin will share her expertise during a two-hour guitar master class at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at Regenstein Recital Hall. The master class is free.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30, Isbin will join innovative singer-songwriter legend Patty Larkin and 25-year-old guitar revolutionary Kaki King for a concert of solos, duets and trios. All three are members of “La Guitara,” a unique artistic collaboration that explores and celebrates the contributions of women to the evolution of modern guitar playing. Their tour coincides with Vanguard Records’ release of the eponymous compilation compact disc “La Guitara: Gender Bending Strings,” featuring a roster of 14 multi-genre, international women guitarists. Concert tickets are $25 for the general public; $21 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for students.

Renowned performers and instrument makers Howard Levy, Joe Filisko and Austria’s Franz Chmel will present a free and public harmonica master class at 4 p.m. Friday, March 31, at Regenstein Recital Hall.

This exploration of harmonica styles and historical overview precedes their 7:30 p.m. “Harmonica Convergence” performance at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The program will celebrate Chicago’s historical connections to jazz, blues, classical and popular harmonica styles. Levy, Filisko and Chmel will be joined by the Harmonicats-inspired Windy City Harmonica Trio and legendary Chicago blues master Billy Branch and his band, The Sons of Blues. Tickets are $14 for the general public; $10 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $5.50 for students.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, a 40-piece saxophone orchestra including School of Music faculty, students and alumni will perform a program celebrating the saxophone’s 165th birthday. The “Monster Saxophone Concert” will include performances of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” featuring Naumberg Award-winning pianist Anthony Molinaro, as well as Bartók’s “Concerto for Orchestra” and Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture. The program features the Chicago Saxophone Quartet, composer-saxophonist Jim Gailloreto and his jazz string quartet, and a collection of rare saxophones including the 6’ 8” contrabass saxophone (the world’s largest). Tickets are $14 for the general public; $10 for seniors citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $5.50 for students.

The festival continues at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at Pick-Staiger with a concert titled “24 Bits: Hip-Hop Studies and Études, Book 1,” featuring pioneering composer and performer DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain). To perform his hip-hop études, one in each key, DBR will be joined by The Mission, eight cutting-edge musicians from diverse musical backgrounds. The group includes a vocalist, keyboardist, laptopist, disc jockey, drummer, bassist and an amplified string quartet. Tickets are $14 for the general public; $10 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $5.50 for students.

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning drummer Paul Wertico will lead the Chicago Percussion All-Stars, an ensemble of master percussionists from Brazil, India and Chicago, in an adventurous and diverse celebration of rhythm and sound. Wertico will be joined by Chicago guitarist John Moulder and bassist Brian Peters; Brazilian percussionist Dedé Sampaio; world-renowned Indian tabla master Kalyan Pathak; and Chicago Symphony Orchestra vibraphonist and percussionist Ed Harrison at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Tickets are $14 for the general public; $10 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $5.50 for students.

A one-hour lecture by Dana Kimble, a Clair Musser historian, at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 8, in the Pick-Staiger Rehearsal Room, will be followed by a 10:30 a.m. Percussion Master Class conducted by marimba and percussion virtuosi Leigh Howard Stevens, Gordon Stout, She-e Wu and Bob Becker. Clair Musser was the premiere marimba virtuoso of his day and a former Northwestern University School of Music faculty member. A former vaudeville artist, Musser also designed marimbas for the former J. C. Deagan Company of Chicago, a firm that manufactured marimbas, vibraphones, cathedral chimes and a variety of bells. Both the lecture and master class are free.

The festival concludes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8, with a program titled “Clair Musser’s Legendary 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Marimba Orchestra Extravaganza,” to be held in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. A monumental marimba orchestra will celebrate and recreate marimba virtuoso Clair Musser’s legendary 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Marimba Extravaganza, a performance of classical orchestral masterpieces by a 100-member marimba orchestra that was a highlight of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, known as “A Century of Progress” exposition. The Harmonic Convergence Festival program will feature a screening of vintage Clair Musser film footage and performances of Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” music from Bizet’s “Carmen,” Tchaikovsky’s Andante from the Fifth Symphony and Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Tickets are $14 for the general public; $10 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $5.50 for students.

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall is located at 50 Arts Circle Drive. Regenstein Recital Hall is at 60 Arts Circle Drive. Both venues are on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

To order tickets, call (847) 467-4000. For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 491-5441. Program information and tickets also are available at www.pickstaiger.com.

Topics: Campus Life