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Susquehanna Kicks Off a Year of University Theme Events

September 5, 2006

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.) – Susquehanna University will kick off its 2006-2007 University Theme Program with the musical performance “Squashua Improvisations,” a faculty and guest artists concert slated for 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 6, in Stretansky Concert Hall of the Cunningham Center for Music and Art. The performance is free and open to the public.

Joshua Davis, assistant professor of music and Susquehanna's new jazz ensemble director, brings his improvised music group, Squashua, to campus for this inaugural event. The group treads on the fringes of several ethnic grooves and improvisational styles, tempered by the compositional voices of Tchaikovsky, Bach and Beethoven and such ethnic interpretation sources as India, Armenia and Brazil.

In all, the Department of Music will devote 11 concerts to exploration of the university theme “On the Fringes: What Fades, What Flourishes.” This theme encourages the examination of theories, beliefs, practices, and cultural and artistic developments that have been, or are now, on the fringes of society. It attempts to explain why certain ideas and practices, as well as those who create or promote them, remain outside the mainstream while others have become more politically and socially acceptable.

Throughout the fall semester, the Department of Music will present seven more programs reflective of the university theme – five in September and one each in October and November. All of the events are free and open to the public.

The department's next theme-related program is “Exceptional Etudes” featuring Professor of Music Susan Hegberg on organ. The concert begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, September 17, in Weber Chapel Auditorium. When Jeanne Demessieux's etudes appeared in 1946, they were recognized as the most difficult organ music that had ever been published. A performance of these rarely heard pieces illuminates the Department of Music's yearlong examination of works that have redefined traditional boundaries. The program also includes music of Bach and Dupre.

On Saturday, September 23, tenor Jeffrey Fahnestock, lecturer in music, and pianist Holly Roadfeldt-O'Riordan, assistant professor of music, will perform “What Fades? What Flourishes?” The concert begins at 8 p.m. in Stretansky Concert Hall. British composer Gerald Finzi's song cycle "A Young Man's Exhortation," with poetry of Thomas Hardy, takes its inspiration from Psalm 89: “In the morning man shall grow up like grass; in the morning he shall flourish and pass away: in the evening he shall fall, grow dry, and wither...” The program also includes Schumann's enduring Liederkreis, op. 39, with poetry of Joseph von Eichendorff.

A faculty chamber music concert, titled “Shostakovich & Comrades,” will be presented at 8 p.m. Monday, September 25, in Stretansky Concert Hall. A commemoration of the 100th birthday of Dmitri Shostakovich, born this day in 1906, recognizes activist composers who have been marginalized by some and celebrated by others for their political views. The wide-ranging program includes music for piano trio, percussion, jazz band, voice and player piano.

Guest artist Jennifer Blyth, of Dickinson College, will present “Songs without Singing” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, in Stretansky Concert Hall. Blyth performs piano music centered on recorded speech and projected texts, with a work by Associate Professor of Music Patrick Long for piano and interactive computer music system. The program also includes works by Bach, Busoni, Rzewski and Wagner.

On Friday, September 29, a faculty chamber music concert titled “Brilliance of Buenos Aires” will be held at 8 p.m. in Stretansky Concert Hall. An exciting evening devoted to the music of one composer: Astor Piazzolla. His bold conception of Nuevo tango, which met with scorn and condemnation in the 1940s, has earned him a reputation as the savior of tango and provoked renewed fascination with this unique expression of the Argentine character, not only in the once-declining dance halls of Buenos Aires, but in the world's leading classical music venues. The program includes music for piano, strings and winds, plus highlights from Piazzolla's opera Maria de Buenos Aires.

A faculty and guest artist recital on Wednesday, October 11, titled “The Inner Circle” will feature soprano Nina Tober, associate professor of music and department chair, accompanied by Trevor Stephenson on fortepiano and harpsichord. The recital begins at 8 p.m. in Stretansky Concert Hall. From the time of the Florentine Camerata in the 16th century, music written for a composer's inner circle – friends, family and aficionados – has often found a more permanent home in the concert hall, where it has reached more listeners than the composer might have imagined. For this intimate recital, with repertoire ranging from the Baroque to Schubert, the audience will be seated on the stage along with the performers.

The Susquehanna University Orchestra concert “Mahler and Bernstein” will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, November 3, in Stretansky Concert Hall. Guest Leif Bjaland, artistic director and conductor of the Florida West Coast Symphony, joins Jennifer Sacher Wiley, associate professor of music and orchestra director, in leading the works of two musical giants, both brilliant conductors of the New York Philharmonic and misunderstood composers: Gustav Mahler, who said, “My time will come,” and Leonard Bernstein, who fulfilled that prophecy as leader of the Mahler revival in the 1960s. Maestro Bjaland will receive an honorary doctorate from Susquehanna at this performance.

Contact: Victoria Kidd


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