Western Connecticut State University and the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra are launching a new chamber concert series with performances by the RSO and WCSU faculty at Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The series is the result of a collaboration between James W. Schmotter, WCSU President; Dr. Dan Goble, Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts; Jamie Begian, Department of Music Chair and Jazz Studies Area Coordinator; Jerry Steichen, RSO Music Director; Donna Case, RSO President; and Gina Wilson, RSO Executive Director.
Goble said, “The upcoming chamber music series, featuring members of the RSO and WCSU music faculty, represents the first step in a partnership that will bring quality classical music to a broad audience, all in an educational setting. The idea is to enhance the musical education of WCSU students, while providing the region with great classical music performed by outstanding professional performing artists. The new partnership will take advantage of Western’s new concert hall, part of the 130,000-square-foot Visual and Performing Arts Center scheduled to open in fall 2014 on the Westside campus, only eight miles from the RSO’s current performance venue at Ridgefield High School.”
Wilson added, “The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to partner with Western Connecticut State University to present a series of chamber concerts this season. A collaboration between professional musicians from the academic and performing worlds, including RSO music director Jerry Steichen, the series will feature rich programming and the highest quality of musical performance.”
The first concert in the series will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27. The program will have four selections, including one of the most famous string pieces ever written, and will feature three different ensembles.
A string quartet will open the concert with Copland’s “Two Pieces for String Quartet.” The Rondino movement is a round, with fast passages for upper strings alternating with slower, expressive melodies in lower strings. This ensemble also will play the finale, Barber’s “String Quartet in B minor.” The latter’s middle movement is the stupendous Molto Adagio, which Barber later arranged for full string orchestra. “Adagio for Strings” is Barber’s most famous piece and was played at the radio announcement of President Franklin Roosevelt’s death and also at Albert Einstein’s funeral. It is just as poignant in the string quartet setting.
The second ensemble plays the second piece, William Bolcom’s four-movement Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano. Bolcom is a well-known pianist and professor emeritus of composition at the University of Michigan. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1988. The second movement, titled “Brutal, fast,” is aptly named. It is a furious romp for piano and violin, which the composer describes as containing “one of the toughest passages for piano I have ever written.”
In deference to the composer after whom the concert venue is named—Danbury’s Charles Ives, a composer of international renown—the third ensemble will perform his “Largo for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano.” An expressive song for violin over modern piano harmonies begins and ends the piece, with an energetic middle section for all three instruments.
The performers will be Jerry Steichen, pianist; Jorge Ávila, RSO concertmaster; violinists Sylvia Padegs Grendze, RSO, and Victoria Paterson, WCSU; Suzanne Corey Sahlin, RSO principal violist, and violist Hannah Levinson, WCSU; Melissa Westgate, RSO principal cellist; and Edward Wojtowicz, RSO principal clarinetist.
General admission tickets are $25. Tickets for students, seniors, and WCSU faculty/staff are $15. WCSU students with valid I.D. will be admitted free. To purchase tickets, go to tickets.com selecting Ives Concert Hall as the venue, or call the WCSU Box office at (203) 837-TIXX. For more information, call the WCSU Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8774 or the RSO at (203) 438-3889.