Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Award-winning Pianist at the Museum, Auburn Jazz Including Me, More

Tzu-yi Chen
Ok, I have 30 minutes to write an event post before the boys get home and I have to pay attention to them. Normally, this would not at all be possible. I've already wasted like two minutes (see what I mean?) writing this two-sentence pre-apology.

Lucky for me, there's not a ton going on this week locally, but there are some noteworthy events.

My last post is about the American Chamber Players' concert tonight (2/29) at Goodwin Hall. Click here: "One of the Finest Chamber Ensembles in the Country" Program to Include "One of the Most Gorgeous Things in the Universe"

Award-winning Pianist Tzu-yi Chen Returns to Lunch Music

Tomorrow (3/1) at the museum series, as a fair number of people I've heard from are anticipating, and well they should, Tzu-yi Chen will return. She performed twice in the fall, both times as a sub for another Columbus State student. This time around, Tzu-yi is the original performer on the schedule. Her bio is impressive. It includes several international awards and several more orchestra credits. You can read a bit about her on my schedule page for the series (click the tab, Lunch Music Schedule, above). The bios are at the bottom of the page. On the program will be four short Scarlotti sonatas and the Brahms No. 3, Op. 5. I gushed over her a little in this post from October. The concert tomorrow will be 12-1 PM and it's free.

Fifteen minutes.

Jazz in Auburn

As usual, Thursday, Friday and Saturday will feature some of the region's best jazz musicians at Piccolo (alert: music auto-load) in Auburn. I know about Thursday (3/1), and that's the Jane Drake Trio's standing gig. Jane sings great and usually with Sidney Simmons on bass and Jonathan Lynn on piano, two engineering students at Auburn whom you should definitely check out while they're still local professional musicians.

I'll update this paragraph as I learn more. Friday's (3/2) headliner will be saxophonist Taylor Kennedy (MySpace page) from Atlanta. Saturday (3/3), go hear AU's Mike Pendowski (AU bio page). Also on Sunday the hotel's Ariccia does a jazz brunch from 11-2. Playing will be _____.

I will be at Hamilton's on Magnolia (alert: flash-based site) again with guitarist Patrick Bruce on Monday, March 5, from 6:30 to 9:00 PM. Embedded below is a handheld recording of us playing Victor Young's "Beautiful Love" at Ham's with bass player Jason DeBlanc on February 13. You can download it for free if you want.

Cabaret, African-American-Art-Inspired Program, Classical Guitar

And it looks like the AU School of Liberal Arts website is down at the moment, so I won't be able to refresh my memory about music-school events. I do know that the Department of Theatre is doing the musical Cabaret a lot. Here's a link to more on that run if the site is working.

But at the museum (website), there will be a bit of music Thursday night (3/1) as part of the program called Theatre and Music inspired by the Arthur Primas Collection. The exhibition on display right now in the museum's Harbert Gallery is called Promises of Freedom and is a collection of African-American works spanning 150 years. It is excellent. The Thursday night program will feature AU flute professor Karen Garrison, AU oboe professor Ann Knipschild and AU collaborative pianist Laurelie Gheesling. They'll do one piece, Miniatures by William Grant Still, as part of a larger program.

There is a classical guitar program at the museum on Friday night at 7:00 PM. JCSM's website is not letting on what the program is, but it's in the newsletter which I have around here somewhere. If I can dig it up, I'll update this post with more info when children are not looming. UPDATE: The guitar concert has been cancelled.

I am checking into the Carmike-Wynnsong's opera and ballet simulcast schedule. I should know more by next week. I think something starts on March 11, and they say they'll have brochures at the theater by mid March.

Ok, that's it. Took me an hour. Boys are being good.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"One of the Finest Chamber Ensembles in the Country" Program to Include "One of the Most Gorgeous Things in the Universe"

The Auburn Chamber Music Society will present the American Chamber Players Wednesday night, February 29, 2012 at 7:30 PM in Goodwin Hall on campus at Auburn University (event page). Tickets are available at the door and are $20 or $5 for students.

Sunday's Opelika-Auburn News included this article by Ed Enoch about the upcoming performance by the American Chamber Players (website). The group's founder and violist Miles Hoffman is Associate Professor of Viola at Converse College. He is probably better known as music commentator for National Public Radio. Here's a story he did on Franz Liszt's 200th birthday back in October 2011. Read Enoch's article for some descriptive quotes from Hoffman about the program. What's most appealing to me is the story behind the composer Guillaume Lekeu and his piano quartet.

Lekeu died in the winter of 1894 in Angers, France, a few days after his twenty-fourth birthday. According to a few non-scholarly articles on the internet that happen to agree with each other, he is most famous for a violin sonata and is heralded as a composer on par with César Franck, his teacher in Paris who was also from Belgium. Lekeu died before completing his piano quartet, which is what we call a piece written for a trio of strings paired with a piano. His teacher after Franck, Vincent d'Indy, finished the piece and the American Chamber Players will perform it Wednesday night.

In the article, Hoffman describes the second movement of the Lekeu as, "one of the most gorgeous things in the universe."

The rest of the program is mentioned in the OA-News article linked above as are ticket prices. This is the second concert in the 2011-12 series presented by the Auburn Chamber Music Society. Here's the Society's website (alert: music auto-load).

Performers will be members of a standard string quartet with a pianist and flutist. Instrumentation will change, piece by piece. Below are some accolades lifted directly from the Players' website.
“An extraordinarily talented group who play beautifully together… They have established standards of chamber music performance equal to any in the world.” - The Washington Post

“They appealed to the heart and the head, offering a warm, seductively luxurious sound and an impressive precision and unity of purpose.” - The New York Times 

“One of the finest chamber ensembles in the country… markedly superior, especially in beauty of tone, near flawless intonation, and sensitivity to each other’s playing.” - The Los Alamos Monitor

“What sets the American Chamber Players apart are its members’ total commitment to the music, an admirable sense of purpose with goals commonly shared, and programs as intriguing in conception as in execution.” - The Montgomery Advertiser

“In a display of first-class ensemble playing… the American Chamber Players took the audience on a voyage of discovery through some of the byways of the modern and Romantic repertory.” - The Calgary Herald

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lunch Music Moved to Friday (temp.), Indian Classical-Music Rock Stars, AU Singing, More

So we had to move A Little Lunch Music this week to Friday (2/24) because of something going on at the museum today. I know several people had told me they were looking forward to the cello quartet, and I really wish we could have made that happen. Maybe we can do something in the fall.

There will be a program tomorrow (2/24), 12-1 PM. Guitarist Dan Mackowski and I will play some jazz standards to diverge slightly from regular series programming. The café will be open as usual. I would describe Dan's approach to playing as open and ambient. You might occasionally see him pull out the capo, not something jazz players will normally do. He doesn't use it to make it easier to play in the flat keys we horn players are dependent on, rather he likes that it allows him to make use of the long sustain of an open string.

Tonight (Thursday, 2/23), Jane Drake (alert: site problems) will perform at Piccolo (alert: music auto-load) in Auburn with pianist Jonathan Lynn and bassist Sidney Simmons. Then Friday (UPDATE: saxophonist La'roy Bodiford from Troy) and Saturday (UPDATE: Atlanta's saxophonist Taylor Kennedy), Piccolo will feature some other of the region's best jazz musicians. I'll update here when I know more.

Friday night (2/24) at Goodwin Hall, the Auburn Indian Music Ensemble will perform with acclaimed Indian classical musicians Abhik Mukherjee (website - alert: music auto-load) and Kumar Das (website). Here's a flyer (if that link works) of the event. Above, I've embedded a video (from the channel of YouTube user, inflameclassic) of the two of them playing. Here's the AU event page. There will be a master class with one or both of these guys in Goodwin Hall Friday at 1:30 (UPDATE: The master class may not be open to the public). The Ensemble's leader, Dr. Raj Chaudhury (I know, the page linked is about physics, but that's him) appears to be making a real effort to deepen the influence in our community of the music he loves. The Ensemble will play later this spring at the museum, but without these two rock stars.

The AU theater department will do the musical Cabaret tonight through Sunday (2/23 - 2/26) at Telfair Peet. Times are on the AU music event calendar, but I think Saturday's published 7:30 AM time is off by about half a day. Here's a little more about it on the department's site. They'll actually do this for two weekends.

Sunday afternoon (2/26), the AU Gospel Choir led by Dr. William Powell will be performing at The City Church (website). AU's event page with lots of good program info is conflicted about start time. It's either 2 PM or 4 PM. If I find out for sure, I'll update. UPDATE: It's 4 PM. Every time I hear a vocal ensemble from the university perform, it's great. I suspect this will be no different.

And I try to go Thursday to Wednesday on these event posts, so I'll mention briefly the Auburn Chamber Music Society's presentation of the American Chamber Players on Leap Day (2/29) at 7:30 PM. Pretty sure that this is the right website. With Virginia Transue at the helm, ACMS consistently brings our community some of the best performers in the world, and I'm hoping to do a separate post on the event.

Ok, I've stolen too much time from family responsibilities.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

World-class Soprano, Brazilian Pianist, Jazz at Piccolo, More

There's a lot going on this week, and I will try to be coherent about it. My sick 2-year-old was up like five times last night. I'm a little tired.

Brazilian pianist Alessandra Feris (website) will perform Monday night (2/20) at Goodwin Hall at 7:30 PM (event page). That's her in the embedded video at right from her YouTube channel. I've tweeted her (@alessandraferis) about the program and will let you know if I hear back. I'm guessing some new music will be on the bill.

If I post this in time, you may be able to make it to the museum today (2/16) from 12-1 PM for a free recital by flutist Nancy Vinson and pianist Laurelie Gheesling. They will do a program of music by women composers, one of whom has an Auburn connection. Also, Laurelie will open with a solo piece, which is not something she gets to do often as AU's Coordinator of Collaborative Piano. Nancy has a beautiful tone. When I hear her with the Montgomery Symphony, she shines like a jewel and is for me one of the best things about hearing that group. Laurelie is a deeply sensitive accompanist, and I'm looking forward to her solo. I hope you can come out. Learn more about the recently fully-booked series and its musicians here.

Laurelie will be back on stage at Goodwin Hall with Dr. Julianne Baird (website). Here's a feature page about the event. Dr. Baird is a world-renowned soprano. A cursory glance at the internet about her reveals lots of recordings, a strong reputation and a beautiful voice. She'll do a lecture on Jane Austen's Music Collection at 4 PM on Monday (2/20) and a performance with Laurelie Tuesday night (2/21) at 7:30 PM. If you can make one performance this week in Auburn, I'd say this would be the one to go to.

Jazz will play at Piccolo (alert: music auto-load) tonight through Saturday (2/16, 2/17, 2/18). Shows are 8-11. I'll post more as I learn it. Thursdays are Jane Drake's with her trio, and I don't expect anything different for tonight. Piccolo is an intimate venue with good food and drinks. There's no cover or minimum if you go, but do buy something. As at any restaurant/bar venue, jazz is there as a draw. If you are a jazz fan and just want to listen, then I love you. But do try to support the venue.

UPDATE (2/17): Headlining at Piccolo Friday night (2/17) is AU jazz and saxophone instructor Mike Pendowski (AU bio). Saturday (2/18) it's saxophonist Taylor Kennedy (MySpace page) from Atlanta.

Wednesday night (2/22) there will be an AU Faculty Jazz Concert (event page). As I learn more, I'll update this post or add to another. Pendowski will be involved.

The Kronos Quartet is at Emory tomorrow (Friday, 2/17) with the Alim Qasimov Ensemble (event page). There's a couple of other non-local things in the next few days that I'd like to mention. Maybe later.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jazz with Me (and Vibes!) at Piccolo, Vasandani at Emory, Spirituals at AUM, More

Jazz vocalist Saschal Vasandani (website) will perform at the Emory Jazz Fest tonight (2/10) at 8 PM EASTERN TIME. Here's an Emory press release about the event. Vasandani is a rising star in national jazz polls and a beautiful singer. He'll perform with Emory jazz faculty. The video at right is him with his own band (from his own YouTube channel). They'll be at NYC's Jazz Standard Valentine's Day, so certainly worth the trip to Atlanta if you can make it.

If you can't make it there, then as a close runner-up to Vasandani--close meaning over on College St.--come hear me at Piccolo (alert: auto-load music), 8-11 tonight with vibrophonist (that's right, I said vibrophonist) Eric Ward and bassist Chris Hodges. I am really looking forward to this gig. These guys play together in the Living Jazz Duo (Facebook page) out of Dothan.

Also tonight, but in Montgomery, as part of AUM's Liberal Arts Conference 2012, ASU's voice professor Dr. Pamela-Teresa Burns will do "a selection of spirituals and music by southern composers." Pianist Joel Jones will join her. Click here for the conference's page and click on the 2012 Program link for more about the program.

This Sunday (2/12) The Columbus Jazz Society will present its monthly concert at the Liberty Theatre and Cultural Center. The concert starts at 6 PM EASTERN TIME, and there's an open jam after that starts at 8:00. Featured this month is The Pershounin Project. Bassist Alex Pershounin is the head of the jazz program at CSU. He'll play with Nikolai Panov on saxophone, Atlanta's Tyrone Jackson on piano and drummer Paul Vaillancourt, CSU's percussion professor. Should be a good show. At the moment, bios for all those guys are on the CJS website, linked above.

I'm sure there's more going on, but my 2-year-old is squeezing all the hand lotion out of thE TUBE and pressing my all-caps button, so I need to go.

Oh, and I need to direct you to my last post for more events coming up in the next few days.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Piano at the Museum, Weekend Band Music and a Pre-Valentine's Day Date Suggestion

AU piano student Thomas Harbin will perform at tomorrow's free concert at the museum as part of the ongoing lunchtime series there. The performance is 12-1 PM and is free. The food is so good and so affordable if you want to eat before, after or during. We'll probably set up in the rotunda under the chandelier. Thomas has played before as a soloist with groups of pianists, but this will be a full recital just him. He'll play again at Goodwin Hall on February 28 at 6:00 PM. Ravel, Haydn and Rachmaninoff are on the program.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 8-11 PM, Piccolo (alert: music auto-load) will showcase local and regional jazz musicians as it does almost every week of the year. I'll update with players as I learn them. I suspect Thursday will be the Jane Drake Trio with her, pianist Jonathan Lynn and bassist Sidney Simmons. All of these jazz presentations are worth doing. Piccolo is a classy place with good drinks and good food. All ages are welcome. UPDATE (Saturday, 2/11): Tonight at Piccolo will be alto saxophonist and flutist Sam Williams.

We've got one more band weekend blowout with the 21st Annual Auburn Honor Band festival. Same kind of thing as last week's middle school honor band event, but these are high school kids. If you like band music, this should be pretty good. The kids are from 125 high schools across 12 states, so the talent pool is big. Guest composer/conductor is David Gillingham (I'm technically guessing on that link, but pretty sure I'm right). He'll conduct some of his music with the three honor bands on Saturday (2/11) at 11:00 AM at the Auburn High School Performing Arts Center. That's a free concert.

The AU Symphonic and Jazz bands will perform the night before (Friday, 2/10) at the AHS venue starting at 7:30 PM. This is also a free concert open to the public. Here's the event page for the AU Bands concert.

AU horn professor Dr. Bill Shaffer will do a recital next Monday (2/13) at 7:30 that should be very good. Here's the event page. I'll try to get more about this event and update the post. UPDATE: Actually, Bill will be sharing the recital with Kristen Hansen, horn professor at Columbus State University. They'll do some duets. And the great Jeremy Samolesky will collaborate on piano with Bill. On the program: Rosolino (b. 1951), Chabrier, Türrschmidt, Mozart, Basler (b. 1960), Shaw (b. 1930), Thompson (b. 1937), and Beethoven.

A great pre-Valentine's-Day date would be dinner at Hamilton's on Magnolia (alert: flash-based site) where I'll be playing jazz in a trio with guitarist Patrick Bruce and bassist Jason DeBlanc from 6-9 PM on Monday (2/13). They do half-priced martinis on Mondays at Ham's. Come early and you'll have time to make Bill's horn recital! You're welcome.

That's it for the main local venues. There are some worthy events at Emory and in Columbus this weekend. Probably elsewhere, too. If I can get to it, I'll do another post.

Friday, February 3, 2012

This Weekend: Dancing at the Museum and AU Bands Perform

Some things I missed from my last post.

Meaning in Motion is an AU Theater Department/Music Department joint that is playing at JCSM tonight (2/3) and tomorrow (2/4) night (and last night, actually) at 6:00 PM. The program presents a response "to Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art's space, collections and exhibitions." Here's the event page. It looks pretty cool and has great musicians playing including new cello instructor Lisa Caravan, oboe professor Ann Knipschild (my second ever sax teacher), trumpet professor Mark DeGoti, low brass professor Matt Wood, and DeGoti's wife Nicole Agostino who has performed for the lunch music series several times.

There will be a free performance tonight (2/3) at 7:30 PM at the Auburn High School Performing Arts Center by both the AU Concert and Jazz Bands. It will kick off a weekend of honor band activities, so if you're driving through campus this weekend, please watch out for roving hoards of middle schoolers. They won't likely be watching for you. Here's all about the weekend. The article says that the three honor bands will play Saturday 2/12 at 11:00, but I suspect that's a mistake since the Festival is Feb. 2-4. Matt Conaway (I am guessing that this is him) is the guest composer for the festival and will conduct different pieces of his own with each honor band.

In case I don't get time to mention it, the AU Symphonic and Jazz bands will perform next Friday (2/10). Here's the event page.

Don't forget jazz tonight, tomorrow and Sunday brunch at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center and jazz at The Loft in Columbus tonight. I mentioned those in my last post and don't have any new information about who's playing.

Also look at that same post for info about Laura Usiskin's recital in Montgomery with Jeremy Samolesky on Sunday. They played beautifully at the museum Thursday. I have audio, and will try to get some of it up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Good String Music, Good Jazz in Coming Days

Strings, Jazz in Auburn

Tomorrow (2/2), MSO's cello fellow Laura Usiskin will play at the JCSM for it's A Little Lunch Music series, which I coordinate. The tab above, Lunch Music Schedule, will tell you more. She'll perform with Auburn's classical rock star (he has a following) Dr. Jeremy Samolesky. They'll do Brahms and Shostakovich. This will be a preview of a recital they're doing in Montgomery this Sunday (2/5) at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. That one will be part of MSO's Fellowship Series.

Then tomorrow night at Goodwin Hall, Dominic Salerni of the Vega String Quartet (alert: flash-based website) will perform at 7:30 PM with Emory University's piano head, William Ransom. Here's the event page. Embedded above, thanks to the Sion Festival's YouTube channel, is video of Salerni playing Beethoven. In the video, he starts a little after 3'30".

After the recital at Goodwin, go to Piccolo (alert: music auto-load) to hear the Jane Drake Trio perform, 8-11 PM. On Friday (2/3) and Saturday (2/4) night, Piccolo will have more good jazz, and then Ariccia at the hotel there does a Sunday jazz brunch, 11-2. I may update this post if I find more about personnel. I may not.

UPDATE: At Piccolo, saxophonist Stan Murray from Columbus tonight and saxophonist Taylor Kennedy from Atlanta tomorrow. Both shows are 8-11.

If you've been paying very, very close attention, you'd know that guitarist Patrick Bruce and I have been playing jazz at Hamilton's on Magnolia the first Monday of every month. February will be an exception. We won't be in there on 2/6. They've got us playing on Monday, Feb. 13, in case you want to beat the Valentine's Day rush. There is some kind of live music, by the way, every Monday night at Hamilton's. They serve half-price martini's on Monday. Dinner service stops at 9:00.

Jazz in Columbus

Atlanta Pianist Tyrone Jackson (alert: music auto-load) will play in Columbus, GA, at The Loft on Friday (2/3) from 7-9 Eastern Time. He'll be with CSU jazz head Alex Pershounin on bass and CSU's percussion professor Paul Vaillancourt on drums. Here's a previous post where I include a review by Jane Drake of Jackson's performance with Columbus Jazz Society last year. This one will be worth the drive. By the way, we're still not seeing The Loft's Friday-night jazz events on its online calendar. If you want to get notices about these and other Columbus jazz events, email the Columbus Jazz Society (website) at

The New York Standards Quartet (alerts: music auto-load, out-of-date website) will perform at CSU next Tuesday (2/7) at 7:30 PM Eastern Time. Here's the event page.

Good grief, that took me an hour to write.