The WCSU music department 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 was 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.
The grant funded a series of three concerts, the first of which paid homage to iconic American composer Charles Ives, celebrating Danbury’s recognition of its native son as the most famous American composer. The second concert in the series celebrated American composers whose works derive from classical and musical theater, including Gershwin and Kern, Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber. The final concert in the series highlighted American women composers. Composer Laura Kaminsky’s String Quartet dedicated to the Manhattan String Quartet premiered and the MSQ celebrated 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 was a “Meet the Composer” session where Kaminsky and Tower discussed their compositional philosophies.
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.