Thursday, September 15, 2011

Montgomery Symphony Clarinetist to Perform for Museum's Lunch Music Series

I don't see that anyone has picked this up, so I'll post another news-release style post for today's free concert at the museum.

AUBURN, Ala. – On Thursday, September 15, the weekly classical music series at The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art will feature Montgomery Symphony clarinetist Gary Smith. Accompanying Smith will be Opelika’s Nicole Agostino on piano. During the free, informal recital from 12-1 p.m., listeners can join a seated audience, have lunch at the Museum Café and visit the museum’s fine art exhibitions.

Sponsoring the Smith-Agostino performance on September 15 is the law firm of Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Mattson, and Thompson, LLC.

Smith and Agostino will present a program spanning the history of clarinet music. There will be an excerpt from a concerto by Carl Stamitz, an early composer of clarinet music. They will perform pieces by Robert Schumann and Carl Maria von Weber from western music’s Romantic period. The program will also feature music by Twentieth-century composers Wilson Osborne and Reinhold Glière among others.

Smith said that his program would be a good introduction to the instrument’s basic repertoire. “I would sort of call it the Whitman-Sampler approach to accessible clarinet literature,” said Smith.

Smith has played clarinet and bass clarinet for the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra (MSO) since 2004. Though he played in high school, his education and career path took him away from music until age 25, when he began playing more seriously. Since then, he has studied with Tim Phillips from Troy Univeristy and Bill Bigham, former member of both the MSO and the music faculty at Morehead State University.

Opelika-based Nicole Agostino is a doctoral candidate in piano performance at Florida State University. She is married to Mark Degoti, AU trumpet instructor who performed “Taps” at last Sunday’s Auburn football pregame show. Agostino studied at Indiana University and is an active teacher, soloist and chamber musician with national exposure.

Called “A Little Lunch Music,” the series started its fall season on September 1 with a solo recital by Dr. Josh Pifer, new piano lecturer with Auburn’s music department. Last week, Auburn-based group The Woodfield Trio performed.

Series coordinator Patrick McCurry says that the combination of fine art, gourmet food and classical music creates a unique atmosphere. “Last week, one of our regular visitors told me it was like stepping into another world of high art and culture,” said McCurry. The music and the fine art are free to experience and lunch is reasonably priced.

Since beginning in 2007, the series has grown in popularity. Performers vary. Soloists and small groups like The Woodfield Trio are featured. But even large ensembles like the AU chamber winds, roughly a 30-piece band, have played. Students perform, as do local, regional and even international musicians.

On September 22, the series will welcome James Houlik. “He is truly a world-class performer,” said McCurry, speaking of the concert tenor saxophonist, who has had over 80 works written for him and has been hailed throughout the world as a pioneer on his instrument. “His touring schedule happened to match up with ours, and a generous sponsor stepped up to make this the Key Performance for the fall series.”

Donors give any amount to support the series, but can also sponsor a single performance. McCurry says that people can give $100 for the Student Recital level and up to $1,000 to sponsor a season’s Key Performance. Other sponsorship levels are Local Color, $250; Woodfield Trio, $500; and Chamber Group, $750. Those interested should call Brett Evans, the museum’s Director of Development, at 334-844-7945.

The Café is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its menu changes weekly and consists of light, freshly prepared salads, Italian Panini sandwiches and seasonal soups and entrees. Menu prices at the Museum Café range from $5 to $9.

Currently, fine art exhibits at the museum include Chinese ceramics from the Silk Road, the ancient trading route that linked east Asia with southwest Asia and Europe. Also featured is Alabama pottery from the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Other exhibits include Haitian art from the late 20th century, prints from John James Audubon, and Beleek porcelain pieces from Northern Ireland.

For more information about “A Little Lunch Music,” contact Patrick McCurry at or go online to for a detailed schedule. For more about the Café or the museum’s fine art exhibitions, contact Colleen Bourdeau at, visit the museum online at, or call 844-1484.

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