The Thurnauer Chamber Music Series featuring artistic director, violinist Sharon Roffman opens its 26th season with a program "A Musical Celebration of Black History Month" featuring music by Florence Price, Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de St. Georges, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Regina Harris Baiocchi, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Harry Burleigh, J. Rosamund Johnson, William Grant Still, George Walker, and Margaret Bonds and lyrics by Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and James Weldon Johnson. With guest artists Jasmine Wilson, mezzo-soprano; Doori Na, violin; Melissa Reardson, viola;Raman Ramakrishnan, cello; Thomas Sauer, piano.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Violinist Sharon Roffman, prizewinner in the 2003 Naumburg Foundation International Competition, made her solo debut with the New Jersey Symphony in 1996. Since then, Ms. Roffman has forged a unique career distinguished by her versatility; she is equally sought after as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral leader and music educator.
Cellist Raman Ramakrishnan is a member of the Horszowski Trio with violinist Jesse Mills and pianist Rieko Aizawa. The trio has performed across the United States, India, Japan, and in Hong Kong, and records for Bridge Records. For eleven seasons, as a founding member of the Daedalus Quartet, he performed around the world. Mr. Ramakrishnan is an artist member of the Boston Chamber Music Society, and is on the faculty of the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
Grammy-nominated violist Melissa Reardon
is an internationally renowned performer whose solo and chamber playing spans all musical genres. As a member of the Ensō String Quartet since 2006, Melissa has toured both nationally and internationally. (This is the final season for the quartet, with its last performances scheduled for the summer of 2018.) Melissa is also a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), and is a sought-after collaborative musician.
Jasmine Wilson is an American vocalist, poet, and educator based in New York. She trained in classical vocal performance at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she also hosted and produced several Canadian radio programs. She has also taught music and English as a Second Language in France and Canada. Jasmine enjoys combining her international experience in music and media production into thoughtful educational exchanges in the arts. In New York, Jasmine regularly performs classical works by underrepresented female composers and composers of color as a vocalist with The Dream Unfinished (TDU), an activist orchestra. Through TDU, she has collaborated with Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the DiMenna Center. Internationally, Jasmine has appeared with Canadian funk/R&B bands What It Is, the Morphtet, Freak Motif, and Kalmunity. While in Montreal, Jasmine hosted SOUL PERSPECTIVES on CKUT 90.3 FM, as well as produced multiple radio programs for CJAD 800 Radio and the Kelly Alexander Show. She currently is a Community Engagement Specialist at New York's PBS Station, WNET.
A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, violinist Doori Na has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, Riverside Symphony, New Music Project of Argento Chamber Ensemble, New Chamber Ballet, and Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach.
Pianist Thomas Sauer is highly sought after as soloist and chamber musician in a wide range of repertoire. With his long-time duo partner Colin Carr, Mr. Sauer has appeared at the Wigmore Hall (London), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Bargemusic (New York City), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), and Princeton University, among many other venues. He has performed with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress and given numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet. Mr. Sauer has performed at many of the leading festivals in the United States and abroad, including Marlboro, Caramoor, Music@Menlo, Chamber MusicNorthwest, and Taos, as well as Lake District Summer Music (England), Agassiz (Canada), Festival des Consonances (France), and Esbjerg Chamber Music Festival (Denmark). Mr. Sauer serves on the faculties of Mannes and Vassar Colleges, and was the founder and director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute, a highly regarded summer program that ran for fifteen seasons.
3 Questions with Sharon Roffman
What inspired you to create a concert featuring Afro-American and Afro-European composers?
There are a lot of great composers out there who, historically, have not always gotten the recognition that they deserve. With this concert and our spring concert of all female composers, I wanted to shine a light and share some fantastic music written by people who reflect the diversity of the communities we live in.
How did choose the repertoire for the program?
Like always, I listened and listened and listened to lots of music and picked the pieces that I loved the most and would personally want to listen to. I had to make some really tough choices because there is so much interesting music out there!
What can you tell us about the pieces or composers featured?
Our singer Jasmine Wilson is singing two songs by two different composers based on texts by Langston Hughes, so it’s always interesting to see what choices composers make with their music to bring out the meaning of the texts. One of the pieces that I absolutely HAD to program was the Lyric for Strings by George Walker, who died only a few months ago, and was the first African American to win a Pulitzer prize for music. It is one of the most beautiful pieces you will ever hear. There is a piece by Harry Burleigh who worked closely with the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak when he lived in New York, and inspired Dvorak to use more African-American themes in his music. The piece we are playing for string quartet is based on songs he heard being sung in the plantations, in the era of slavery. And finally we will end the concert with a classic arrangement of Lift Every Voice and Sing by William Grant Still. When I ordered the music, I called the phone number of the publishing company and was excited to realize that I was speaking with William Grant Still’s daughter!
Series made possible by a generous contribution from Eva Holzer and the Konikow Chamber Music Fund. Currently enrolled music school students are entitled to a complimentary ticket. Please call or stop by the music office to receive a ticket.