WestConn music department receives NEA grant
Manhattan String Quartet concert series, workshops planned

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University music department has received a $7,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a yearlong residency at WestConn by the renowned Manhattan String Quartet (MSQ). The purpose of the residency is to promote “American Masterpieces in Music” and enable the university’s music department to offer concerts and workshops by the MSQ for the 2008-09 season.

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An immediate benefit for local music lovers will be the MSQ concert series that will start at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the WestConn Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The concert will pay homage to iconic American composer Charles Ives, celebrating Danbury’s recognition of its native son as the most famous American composer. The program will include works by Ives, Beethoven and Ravel. Tickets will be $25 for adults, and $15 for seniors and students.

The MSQ will perform a second concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, 2009, in Ives Concert Hall. The program will celebrate American composers whose works derive from classical and musical theater. The highlight will be a tribute to Gershwin and Kern in quartets rarely heard from these prominent American composers. The program also will include quartets by Aaron Copland and the well-known “Adagio” for string quartet by Samuel Barber. After the intermission, Beethoven’s monumental Op. 130 with the Grand Fugue will be performed. Tickets will be $25 for adults, and $15 for seniors and students.

The final concert in the series will be at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, 2009, in Ives Concert Hall, and it will highlight American women composers. “The Flute Quintet” by Amy Beach, a Boston composer of the early 20th century, will be performed by WCSU Professor of Music Dr. Kerry Walker, flutist, with the MSQ. Composer Laura Kaminsky’s String Quartet dedicated to the Manhattan String Quartet will premiere and the MSQ will celebrate the 70th birthday of one of America’s most famous composers, Joan Tower, with a performance of her third string quartet, “Incandescent.” Before the concert, there will be a “Meet the Composer” session at 6 p.m. in Ives Concert Hall where Kaminsky and Tower will discuss their compositional philosophies and the audience will get a chance to ask questions. Tickets will be $25 for adults, and $15 for seniors and students.

Lewis said, “In the past, to be recognized as an important composer was difficult enough, but to add the gender issue of being a woman was usually fatal for such recognition. Now, in the 21st century, we can say that women have found their place in the pantheon of the great composers of our time. The MSQ has always championed our wonderful women composers and instrumentalists.”

In addition to the public performances, the MSQ will provide a valuable educational resource to the region’s young musicians. A day of workshops on Friday, April 24, will culminate with an 8 p.m. performance by a youth symphony in Ives Concert Hall. Professor of Music Eric Lewis, the principal violinist for the MSQ and a member of WestConn’s music faculty, will perform the Tchaikovsky violin concerto on the program. Tickets will be $10 for adults, and $5 for seniors and students.

A music series ticket package will include the three MSQ concerts and the youth symphony concert at a cost of $60. Tickets can be purchased by calling (203) 837-8499 or online at www.wcsu.edu/tickets.

Lewis said the collaboration between the music department and the MSQ aims to bring qualified string instrumentalists to WestConn for expansion of its orchestra and chamber music programs. “This effort is in anticipation of the School of Visual and Performing Arts’ move to the new Visual and Performing Arts Instructional Center on the university’s Westside campus in 2012,” he said.

The MSQ has been associated with WestConn for 30 years, giving concerts and providing educational activities including lecture demonstrations, workshops for string teachers and summer string chamber music camps for children from elementary to high school. Members of the MSQ also have collaborated with other members of the WCSU faculty in concert and in teaching interdisciplinary courses.

For more information, call the music department at (203) 837-8350 or the box office at (203) 837-8499.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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