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March 26, 2010
Vol. 51 No. 18

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Fund to back concert

Two nationally known performers will join forces in a performance in Degenstein Theater on Thursday, April 8, thanks to sponsorship from the Stella Freeman Weis Cultural Endowment.

Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott will come together to perform three sonatas in the concert -- one by German composer J.S. Bach, one by French composer Claude Debussy and one by Belgian-French composer Cesar Franck.

The Stella Freeman Weis Cultural Endowment is a restricted endowment used to support annual concert presentations and performances at Susquehanna, covering such costs as artists' fees, publicity and event programs. According to the 2007-09 Susquehanna Catalog, the endowment was established in 1976 by Robert and Patricia Weis in memory of his mother.

Dr. Valerie Martin, dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Communications, said her office coordinates efforts with Patricia Weis, the daughter-in-law of the endowment's namesake, to determine who will perform each year.

"We go through a slate of potential performers," Martin said, "and my office then contacts the artist's management to work out availability and contract fees."

Martin said the concerts always feature "high-profile artists." Past performers include pianist Garrick Ohlsson in 2008, the Guarneri String Quartet in 2007 and flutist Sir James Galway in 2006.

Martin noted that Salerno-Sonnenberg and McDermott have played together numerous times over the past decade, usually to perform chamber music, which is music in which each instrument has a different part to play.

"In these sonatas, both instruments have an equal presence," Martin said. "In other pieces, one instrument takes the main part and others are in the background, but in these pieces, there is more of a balance."

According to her Web site,, Salerno-Sonnenberg was born in Russia, emigrated to the U.S. at age eight, studied at The Julliard School and has since performed on the television shows "Sesame Street" and "Dharma & Greg" and has been interviewed and profiled by "60 Minutes," "60 Minutes II," "Newsstand," "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "Arts & Minds" and "The Charlie Rose Show."

According to "McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She performs over 100 concerts a year in a combination of solo recitals, concerti and chamber music."

Martin said: "I think it will be a wonderful evening. This and the other concerts are a great gift to the university community and the Susquehanna Valley community from the Weises."

The performance will be free and open to the public, but to be "patron-friendly," as Martin put it, and to avoid overflow the night of the performance, tickets must be acquired in advance. Tickets can be acquired at the university box office or by calling 372-ARTS.


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