Appalachian-style musicians coming to ECU

By Jamitress Bowden and Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Two multi-talented musicians will perform traditional Appalachian-style music for the East Carolina University community and the public Feb. 10-12.

James Leva and Riley Baugus will host an open class on Appalachian culture from 2-3:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 in Fletcher Recital Hall, room B136. They’ll then present “African American Banjo & Fiddle Artists: Musicians & Music” from 7-9 p.m. that evening in the Fletcher Recital Hall.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, they’ll host two sessions at the Tipsy Teapot, 409 S. Evans St. The topics are “Round Peak Reflections: Tommy Jarrell and Old-Time Music” from 3-4 p.m. and “Rural Sacred Music: Styles & Songs” from 7-9 p.m.

Their residency will conclude with another open class from 2-3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 in Fletcher B136.

“James and Riley are just incredibly gifted and engaging performers and speakers, with a great deal of experience in all kinds of formal and informal settings,” said Marc Faris, assistant professor of music theory in the ECU School of Music.

“If you’re curious about the roots of American folk and popular music; if you’re interested in learning about the musical traditions of rural religious communities; or if you’re simply looking to expand your musical horizons in unexpected ways, these events are certain to be of interest.”

Their residency is part of an Honors College seminar on “Appalachian Culture,” co-taught by Faris and Leanne Smith, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of English. The seminar focuses on many aspects of the Appalachian culture, including the origin of common stereotypes associated with Appalachia.

“The content in the class will be similar to the evening performances, but we’ll have more time for questions and answer interaction with the artists,” Smith said.

James Leva developed his fiddle and banjo skills at the feet of traditional Appalachian musicians such as Tommy Jarrell and Doug Wallin. Through exploration of the African history rooted in Appalachian music, Leva also worked with Joe Thompson, a traditional African-American fiddler.

Riley Baugus began playing the banjo at a young age and later switched to the fiddle. He grew up in the Baptist community will perform music styles traditional to that community.

The artist residency is sponsored by the ECU Fine Arts Funding Board, Folk Arts Society of Greenville and the ECU Student Forum for Musical Organizations.

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ECU music student wins two orchestra competitions

Mary Catherine Cox

Mary Catherine Cox

Mary Catherine Cox, ECU junior violin performance major studying with Ara Gregorian, won both the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra and the Durham Symphony Orchestra concerto competitions Jan. 11.

She recently won the 2013-14 ECU Concerto Competition Ron and Patty Allison Prize, and the opportunity to perform as soloist with the ECU Symphony Orchestra.
Cox has been awarded All-State Honors Orchestra and has attended the Music Teacher’s National Association state auditions and international music festivals in France, England, and Italy.

Last summer Cox was awarded a fellowship to study at the Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival in Wisconsin. She will perform with the Raleigh Symphony Feb. 23 and the Durham Symphony April 6.

She studies piano with ECU’s Keiko Sekino. Her older sister, Caroline Cox, who graduated in 2012, also is an accomplished violinist. Younger sister Sarah Cox is majoring in music. They are the daughters of optometrists Carson and Valerie Cox of Southern Pines.

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ECU Chamber Singers win in international competition

The ECU Chamber Singers perform in international competition in Spain.

The ECU Chamber Singers perform in international competition in Spain.

The ECU Chamber Singers have been named one of the winners of the international Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain, and as winners, they will perform at the winners concert today in Tolosa.

The ECU group was competing against other invited choirs from Germany, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Indonesia, Russia, Spain and Sweden. ECU was the only representative from the United States competing at the event.

In the chamber choir category, the final results are as follows:

POLYPHONY COMPETITION:  1st place St. Jacobs Ungdomskor (Sweden), 2nd place Saarbrucken Kammerchor (Germany), 3rd place East Carolina University Chamber Singers

FOLKLORE COMPETITION:  1st place St. Jacobs Ungdomskor (Sweden), 2nd place East Carolina University Chamber Singers, 3rd place Saarbrucken Kammerchor (Germany)

With these awards, ECU will receive a silver medal, bronze medal, and a total of 1,250 euro cash prize (750 for silver, 500 for bronze).

The invitation to compete came after the ECU Chamber Singers posted several concert performance videos on YouTube in spring of 2012. Soon after the posting, ECU chamber singers director Andrew Crane noticed that Javier Busto, a prominent Spanish choral composer, commented on one of the videos.

“This was particularly exciting for us, that someone so renown, and halfway around the world, would take the time to tell us he liked our video,” Crane said. “ I didn’t think much of it after that.”

As a jury member of the Tolosa Contest, Busto invited the ECU Chamber Singers to participate in 2013. No more than one American choir is invited to participate annually.

“Apparently, he listened to our performances on YouTube and shared them with his fellow jury members,” Crane said.   “They all agreed that they were of a high enough quality to grant us this invitation.”

The Tolosa competition is unique among choral competitions in that the organizers pay for all the choir’s lodging, food and transportation once at the location.  The chamber singers will be in Spain through Nov. 5.

ECU Chamber Singers-4

ECU Chamber Singers-1

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Composer Augusta Read Thomas works with student composers on campus

Augusta Read Thomas

Augusta Read Thomas worked with ECU composition students March 21 while on campus with the NewMusic@ECU Festival. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

Celebrated composer Augusta Read Thomas conducted a master class with East Carolina University composition students while visiting campus March 21.

Thomas served as guest composer for the School of Music’s NewMusic@ECU Festival, held March 18 – 27. Her pieces were performed during the festival by the ECU Wind Ensemble on March 20, and by ECU faculty violinist Hye-Jin Kim and pianist Melvin Chen on March 21.

Thomas is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honor society of 250 architects, composers, artists and writers. Election to the academy is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States. She joined the group in May 2009.

In 2007, her ASTRAL CANTICLE was one of the two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Thomas is a composition faculty member at the University of Chicago, and served as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2006.

For additional information about Thomas, visit http://www.augustareadthomas.com/index.html.

Thomas listens to an ECU student composer's music before providing feedback during a master class March 21.

Thomas listens to an ECU student composer’s music before providing feedback during a master class March 21.

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ECU grad wins international voice competition in Paris

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Above, ECU music graduate Mary-Jean O’Doherty competes to win an international voice competition in Paris.

ECU associate professor of voice John Kramar in the School of Music reported that 2005 graduate Mary-Jean O’Doherty (bachelor of music in voice and flute performance major) won first prize in the Paris Opera Awards Competition, an international voice competition.

ECU graduate Mary Jean O’Doherty

She performed arias from Delibes’ Lakmé and Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.

O’Doherty has recently sung the title role in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in Prague, and participated in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ Young Artist Program. She is now understudying the title role in Berg’s Lulu for the Welsh National Opera.

Read more about O’Doherty and see more video at http://www.paris-opera-awards.fr/parisoperraawards-9480.html.

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Chamber Singers win national award

The ECU Chamber Singers

The East Carolina University Chamber Singers, conducted by Andrew Crane in the School of Music, has been awarded the American Prize in Choral Performance, College/University Division.

The American Prize provides recognition for best recorded performances of music in the United States. Awarded annually, the prize was founded in 2009 and is administered by Hat City Music Theatre in Danbury, Conn.

The Chamber Singers at ECU includes 34 – 40 auditioned singers, many of them voice majors. The group tours annually and has performed by invitation at regional and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education.

The second and third place winners in the division were, respectively, Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir of Notre Dame and the University of Washington Chorale.

For additional information, visit http://theamericanprize.org/.

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ECU Guitar Festival, Workshop begins July 14

The 17th East Carolina University Summer Guitar Festival and Workshop will be held July 14 – 17 in the A.J. Fletcher Music Building on campus, headlined by internationally known classical guitarist Jason Vieaux (http://www.jasonvieaux.com/biography.htm).

Preview performances by ECU guitar professor and festival director Elliot Frank are available on ECU-TV Suddenlink channel 99 at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/mts/EcuTv.cfm. (Select ECU TV On Demand for a menu of interviews.)

ECU guitar professor Dr. Elliot Frank directs the annual guitar festival and workshop on campus. (Image captured from ECU TV video interviews with Frank)

“I am especially excited about the quality of this year’s artist roster, which is superior to most events of this type,” said Frank. “The festival has become a landmark among summer guitar festivals and is a can’t-miss event for guitar lovers and concertgoers alike.”

Featured artists include Vieaux and Duo Spiritoso (Jeffrey McFadden and Andrew Zohn, who first performed in Greenville as part of the 2005 ECU Summer Guitar Festival), festival director Frank, the Akerman Teixeira Duo, Stephen Aron and 2011 festival competition winner Mark Edwards.

The finals of this year’s solo competition are open to the public. The workshop and camp portions of the festival are open to students ages 12 and up who wish to acquire or improve skills on the classical guitar.

For more information regarding the workshop or concert series, contact Frank at 252-328-6245, or by email at franke@ecu.edu, or visit www.ecu.edu/music/guitar/workshop.

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ECU senior wins national music competition

 

ECU music major Caroline Cox was the winner of a national performance competition. (Contributed photo)

ECU senior Caroline Cox of Southern Pines won top honors at the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist String Competition.

Cox, 21, is a double performance major in violin and piano, studying violin with Ara Gregorian and piano with Keiko Sekino. Cox served as concertmaster of the ECU Symphony for three years and has performed alongside such artists as Robert McDonald in the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival at ECU. In 2011, she was chosen to perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Raleigh and Durham Symphonies.

The MTNA Young Artist Performance Competition took place March 26, during the 2012 MTNA National Conference in New York City. As a national competition winner, Cox received $3,000, provided by the MTNA Foundation Fund.

The three-tiered MTNA competitions begin at the state level. First-place winners of each state’s competition advance to a division competition. Division winners compete in the national finals.

Music Teachers National Association is a nonprofit organization of independent and collegiate music teachers committed to furthering the art of music through teaching, performance, composition and scholarly research. Founded in 1876, Music Teachers National Association is the oldest music teachers association in the United States.

For more information about MTNA, contact the MTNA national headquarters at (513) 421-1420, mtnanet@mtna.org or visit the website at www.mtna.org.

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New Music Festival at ECU set for March 14-18

The 12th Annual New Music Festival begins Wednesday on the campus of East Carolina University and runs through March 18. Sponsored by the ECU School of Music and the Hilton Greenville, the festival features music by contemporary composers.

The New Music Festival brings new musical ideas into the classroom, performance spaces and the community. This year’s event brings together composers from ECU and throughout the world to have compositions performed by acclaimed guest artists and hundreds of School of Music students.

This year’s festival includes performances on piano, tuba, violin, viola, trumpet, percussion, an ECU symphony orchestra and ECU combined choirs concert including a world premiere composition, a wind instrument concert, student composition performances, and a concert by the classical new music group the Jack Quartet.

The festival provides unique opportunities for ECU music students to work closely with world-class performers and composers. Students perform for guest artists in master classes and coaching sessions; guest artists perform student compositions in concerts and in readings, recordings and open rehearsals; and guest composers interact with and instruct students and performers in open rehearsals and private lessons.

Another aspect of the festival is the ECU New Music Festival composition competition, which is open to composers internationally. Each year competition winners have a work rehearsed and recorded by an ensemble of ECU School of Music performers. The 2012 winner is “Seasonal Affective Disorder” by Jessica Rudman of New York City, and her winning composition will be performed by the ECU symphony orchestra.

Since its inception in 2001, the festival has presented more than 300 regional premiere compositions, including 61 world premiere performances.

Here is a schedule of the New Music Festival concerts; all will be in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall unless otherwise noted:

  • Bugallo-Williams Duo, piano, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, free.
  • Tom McCaslin, tuba, and Catherine Garner, piano, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, free.
  • JACK Quartet, 7:30 p.m., Friday, ticketed event. Call 1-800-ECU-ARTS
  • ECU NewMusic Camerata: Britt Theurer, trumpet; Chris Nappi, percussion; Melissa Reardon, viola; ECU Wind Ensemble Chamber Players, Scott Carter, Director; Ara Gregorian, violin, 3 p.m., Saturday, free.
  • ECU Symphony Orchestra and combined choirs: Jorge Richter, conductor; Elliot Frank, guitar; John Kramar, baritone, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Wright Auditorium, free.
  • Premiere Performances, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 18, free.

For more information, visit www.ecu.edu/music/newmusicfest.

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