Press Release: Music in Midtown Winter/Spring Series Opens February 19

Music in Midtown – the popular free lunchtime chamber concert series at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York – will present six performances in its Winter/Spring 2009 season, beginning February 19.  The season opens with an ensemble of accomplished Graduate Center D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) students, followed by the Imani Winds in collaboration with Carnegie Hall's Neighborhood Concert Series (March 5), a program of American spirituals conducted by Roy Jennings of the Abyssinian Baptist Church (March 19), cutting-edge violinist Mari Kimura (April 2), the Orion String Quartet (April 30), and the Manhattan String Quartet (May 14).

All the concerts take place on Thursdays, from 1 to 2 p.m., in the Graduate Center’s intimate, acoustically rich Elebash Recital Hall at 365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th and 35th Streets). Some concerts are followed by a master class, which the public is invited to observe.
Although admission is free, reservations are required. To reserve, visit and click the “e-VENT online reservation” icon next to the program listing, or call 212-817-8215.  (There will be a standby line at the event offering unclaimed reservations, on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Schedule and Programs

February 19: Chamber Music on Fifth

Traverso for flute and piano (1987) …… Chester Biscardi (b. 1948)
Roberta Michel, flute                       
Mirna Lekic, piano
Chansons Mad├ęcasses (1926) …… Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
("Songs of Madagascar") text by Evariste Parny
Roz Woll, mezzo soprano                  
Bonnie McAlvin, flute           
Julia Biber, cello                       
Aleksandra Sarest, piano            
String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor op. 59 no. 2……Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
The Elebash String Quartet:
Olivier Fluchaire, violin
Heesun Shin, violin 
Ji Hyun Son, viola 
Marta Bedkowska, cello
These ten gifted performers come from all over the world. They have performed as soloists and as symphonic players in such orchestras as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orchestra dell’Accademia del Treatro della Scala, the Polish Sinfonietta, and the Seoul Philharmonic. All are pursuing their D.M.A. degrees in music performance at the Graduate Center, having earned their master’s degrees from prestigious music institutions including the Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, McGill University, Mannes College, the New School for Music, and SUNY-Purchase. They are also currently serving on music faculties at CUNY colleges and elsewhere.
March 5: Imani Winds
Sneak Preview of Five Chairs and a Table……Daniel Bernard Roumain (b. 1971)
Valerie Coleman, flute
Toryn Spellam-Diaz, oboe
Mariam Adam, clarinet
Jeff Scott, French horn
Monica Ellis, bassoon
Music in Midtown presents Imani Winds in collaboration with the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series, as part of Carnegie Hall's citywide festival Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy curated by internationally renowned soprano Jessye Norman. The Neighborhood Concert Series is a program of The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall.
Renowned for genre-blurring collaborations and dynamic playing, Imani Winds has carved out a distinct presence in the classical music world with works written for it by established and emerging composers who originate from different points of the globe and use not only classical music but jazz, Middle Eastern, Latin, and harder-to-define sounds. The Imani Winds is in the midst of its Legacy Commissioning Project, an ambitious five-year endeavor in the Grammy-nominated quintet’s second decade of music making.  Daniel Bernard Roumain’s new piece, Five Chairs and a Table, portrays a brief history of African and African-American song and struggle and includes brief musical portraits dedicated to Jessye Norman, South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), the folk singer Odetta (1930-2008), and  the daughters of Barack and Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha.  With this work, Roumain aimed to nudge the boundaries of the traditional woodwind quintet and “illuminate those obvious, yet elusive, opportunities for all of us to sit next to one another in communion.”  The Sneak Preview includes a discussion of the new work and the commissioning process.
This concert is co-sponsored by Carnegie Hall, which commissioned the Roumain composition as part of its festival Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy which runs from March 4 to 23.  The official premiere will be presented during Expression: A Panel Discussion on March 8 in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.  For more information, visit

March 19:
American Spirituals with Roy Jennings

The program features a new perspective on some traditional favorites, arranged by composer and pianist Roy Jennings. His arrangements will include Deep River, Round About the Mountain, Oh Freedom, Take Me to the Water, Balm in Gilead, Hush Hush, I Want Jesus To Walk With Me, He Had a Dream, Let Us Break Bread Together, and Ride Up in the Chariot.

Roy Jennings, piano                           
Nadine Earl Carey, soprano
Terry Cook, bass baritone
Yvonne Hatchett, contralto
Diana Solomon-Glover, soprano
H. Roz Woll, mezzo
Jennings has served as organist at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where he is the Assistant Minister of Music. He is also artistic director of Arch Angel, a production company that promotes African-American concert music.
April 2: Mari Kimura, violin
Works for violin and recorded sounds or interactive electronics.
One Becomes Two ……Steve Antosca (b. 1955)
Rendezvous IV for violin and live electronics …… Steve Everett (b. 1953)
Perdirome II …… Tolga Yayalar (b. 1973)
Kyrielle …… Alice Shields (b. 1942)
Phantom …… Mari Kimura (b. 1962)
The concert is part of the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival.
Hailed by The New York Times as “a virtuoso playing at the edge” and by the All Music Guide as a “plugged-in Paganini for the digital age,” Mari Kimura is widely admired for her revolutionary bowing technique called “Subharmonics” and for solo performances that include her own works with interactive computer music. She recently released an acclaimed CD, Polytopia, for solo violin and electronics.
In performance with the Tokyo Symphony at Suntory Hall last summer, she gave the world premiere of Violin Concerto “Schemes,” written for her by Jean-Claude Risset, with her own cadenza. Other recent appearances have included the Banff Centre for the Arts, the festival of Electro-Acoustic Music in Sweden, the Asian Contemporary Music Festival in Seoul, the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISAE) in Helsinki, and the International Bartok Festival in Hungary. Kimura holds a doctorate in performance from Juilliard and gives lectures in universities and conservatories throughout the world.
April 30: Orion String Quartet

Italian Serenade …… Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Astral Quartet (2008) …… David Dzubay (1964)
Quartet in D Major op. 44 no. 1 …… Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Daniel Phillips, violin
Todd Phillips, violin
Steven Tenenbom, viola
Timothy Eddy, cello
The cutting-edge Orion String Quartet is one of the most sought-after ensembles in the United States. Since its inception, the group has been consistently praised for its fresh perspective and individuality, and for diverse programs that juxtapose classic works of the standard quartet literature with masterworks by living composers. The quartet commissions works by a wide range of composers, including Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Marc Neikrug, Peter Lieberson, and Wynton Marsalis. It also enjoys a creative partnership with the Bill T. Jones /Arnie Zane Dance Company.  
The Orion serves as Quartet-in-Residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Mannes College of Music in New York, and is the Resident Quartet at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. According to The New York Times, "a noisy standing ovation is nothing rare” for these players.
May 14:
Manhattan String Quartet
String Quartet in B-flat Major, op. 130……Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)  
Eric Lewis, violin
Calvin Wiersma, violin
John Dexter, viola
Chris Finckel, cello
Described by the Boston Globe as "a national treasure," the Manhattan String Quartet has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and South America. After a series of concerts in Moscow and Leningrad in the fall of 1985, the MSQ became the first American classical ensemble to give a full tour of the Soviet Union under that era's new cultural agreement. The first sold-out series of performances in 1986 was followed by an equally successful tour in 1989.
For the past 16 years, the ensemble has been Quartet-in-Residence at Colgate University. It has also held similar posts at the Manhattan School of Music, Cornell University, Grinnell College, Western Connecticut State University, the Chamber Music Institute in Racine, Wisconsin, and for 21 summers at Michigan’s Interlochen National Music Camp.  Teaching activities include its own annual Kent Music String Quartet Conference and yearly European conferences focusing on major works in the string quartet repertoire hosted in the cities where the pieces were composed.
Music in Midtown is directed by Norman Carey, professor of music and director of the D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) Performance Program at the Graduate Center. The Graduate Center also offers a Ph.D degree in music. The program, ranked among the top handful in the country, is designed to train students in many fields of performance and scholarship, including musicology, theory, composition, and ethnomusicology.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs, as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to twenty-nine interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.  Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events. Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

Submitted on: JAN 1, 2009

Category: Events | Music Ph.D. - D.M.A | Press Room