Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hahn plays solo Bach, Lisitsa plays Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata for this Sunday's Japan Relief and Recovery benefit concert

Word reached us today (Thursday) that for Sunday's special benefit concert to aid victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Hilary Hahn's work for unaccompanied violin will be J.S. Bach's Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002, a beautiful showcase for her artistry and virtuosity -- music that has earned her many fans and followers from her all-Bach debut CD recording.  Pianist Valentina Lisitsa has chosen one of Beethoven's most popular sonatas, the "Moonlight" Sonata.  Most of the world recognizes the famously dreamy, nocturnal first movement.  It shifts effortlessly to the second movement, less sombre, more playful in character; but it's the third movement that always gets my heart going, because of the dramatic, visceral excitement it can create.  And in Ms. Lisitsa's hands, I'm confident it will.

These two extraordinary musicians will together perform Beethoven's glorious "Spring" Sonata in F major, and there's more great music in store for us, too.  The artists have been busy traveling and concertizing this week, and they will announce program details from the stage on Sunday afternoon.

We are honored that the Japanese Consul and Director of the Japan Information Center in Atlanta, Ms. Yukimi Kurata, will attend the concert and will offer a message of welcome and appreciation to the artists and the audience.  I'm also delighted and deeply grateful that Georgia Public Broadcasting, Public Broadcastling Atlanta/WABE 90.1, FM, and 11Alive WXIA-TV have been so supportive of this benefit concert, helping us get word far and wide to attract audience members, as have more than dozen other media organizations and websites.

As I write, we have more than half of the house sold for Sunday, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has responded!  HOWEVER:  There are excellent seats still available -- Spivey Hall's superb acoustics ensure that you NEVER have a problem hearing, regardless of where you sit -- and to provide the most help to Japan's relief efforts, we really would love to sell the place out!  So please, continue to tell your friends, tell your neighbors, email folks, encourage them to come and enjoy what will be a fantastic and memorable concert for a very, very worthy cause. 

Hearing great music is always its own reward, but we can do some very important good here for people tremendously in need, too -- which makes the experience even more meaningful.

Friday, March 18, 2011

** NEWS FLASH** IMPORTANT CONCERT JUST ADDED: Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa to give special violin/piano recital Sunday, March 27 to support Japanese disaster relief

To purchase tickets to the Hilary Hahn/Valentina Lisitsa Japanese disaster relief concert Sunday, March 27 at  3PM, click the orange "Buy Tickets" tab on the homepage of Spivey Hall's website, (a per-ticket service charge applies), or call the Box Office at (678) 466-4200 for personal assistsance (no service charge).

Superstar violinist HILARY HAHN and brilliant pianist VALENTINA LISITSA to perform special concert for Japanese disaster relief at Clayton State University’s SPIVEY HALL – Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 3 PM

Ticket sales to benefit Direct Relief International’s Japan Relief and Recovery Fund

Morrow, Ga. (March 18, 2011): Grammy Award-winning American violinist Hilary Hahn and acclaimed Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa will perform a special benefit concert at Spivey Hall to raise funds for humanitarian aid to victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Forced to cancel a recital tour of Japan made impossible by the recent natural disasters, the artists have volunteered their time and talents to give a benefit concert, raising funds to meet the increasingly urgent needs of the Japanese people, who continue to endure extreme hardships.

The musicians’ Spivey Hall concert will take place on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM, on the campus of Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia. Tickets for reserved seats are $75, available from the Spivey Hall Box Office, by telephone at (678) 466-4200, and online at (a service charge applies for online sales only). Proceeds will benefit the Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts of Direct Relief International, which provides medical assistance to improve the quality of life for people victimized by disaster.

Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa, compelling musicians who played to a sold-out house for their most recent Spivey Hall appearance in February 2009, will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata in F major, plus additional works for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Prokofiev, and other composers. The program also features Hahn performing music by Johann Sebastian Bach for unaccompanied violin, and Lisitsa performing a solo piano work.

31-year-old violinist Hilary Hahn is a two-time Grammy Award winner celebrated for her probing interpretations, technical brilliance, and spellbinding stage presence. Extensive touring and acclaimed recordings over the past decade and a half have made Hahn (familiar to fame at a very young age) one of the most sought-after artists on the international concert circuit. She appears regularly with the world’s elite orchestras and on the most prestigious recital series in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America.

Described by critics as an "electrifying pianist", Ukrainian-born Valentina Lisitsa has been receiving rave reviews ever since her debut at New York City’s Avery Fisher Hall. With her multi-faceted playing described as "dazzling", Lisitsa is at ease in a vast repertoire. Taking a highly individual and fearless approach to every work she performs, she has been greeted by enthusiastic audiences throughout the world.

Both artists are well-known to Spivey Hall.  Hilary Hahn is a frequent and welcome guest with Atlanta's major music-presenting organizations, and Valentina Lisitsa has earned many fans from her regular appearances at Spivey Hall and elsewhere as a member of the Georgian Chamber Players.

More news about this concert soon!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

The Jupiters are back in town - and there are free tickets for educators on Saturday night

Capping off their second week-long residency at Spivey Hall, the excellent JUPITER STRING QUARTET gives its second Spivey Series concert Saturday, March 12, at 8:15 PM, with a free 7:15 PM pre-concert talk featuring cellist Daniel McDonough and Clayton State music faculty member Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller.

It's been a busy week for the Jupiters.  After arriving Monday, they delved right back into their work with PROJECT JUPITER's southside high-school chamber-orchestra partners, which have also formed their own student string quartets. The Jupiters returned to Union Grove High School and Lovejoy High School on Tuesday, and  then Whitewater High School on Wednesday afternoon, working with the schools' large string ensembles as well as coaching the student string quartets.

Wednesday morning, the Jupiters made their first visit to perform and talk with students at Kennedy Middle School in Atlanta, which is a partner school of PROJECT JUPITER's corporate sponsor, The Coca-Cola Company.  This encounter was a great success, something that the students and musicians all enjoyed very much, thanks to Coca-Cola's kind cooperation in fostering this connection, and extending the artistic and communty outreach power of PROJECT JUPITER to even more young people.

Thursday the Jupiters had some time to rest (!), rehearse, and see a bit of Atlanta before leading the four student quartets in a master class onstage at Spivey Hall:  two from Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, where Darilyn Esterline is orchestra director; one from Lovejoy High School in Hampton, where Stephen Lawrence is orchestra director; and one from Union Grove High School in McDonough, where Kathy Saucer is orchestra director.  The students did a super job, playing well and responding to the remarks made by the Jupiter Quartet to enhance their musical understanding, refine their teamwork as quartets, and bring out the most expressive qualities of the quartets movements by Beethoven and Haydn they performed.  Other students, parents, teachers and music-lovers listened in, to learn more about what it takes for four musicians to come together as one as bring the music to life in performance.  The students thus got a chance to play on stage at Spivey Hall -- which I think many of them will remember for quite some time.

Today (Friday as I write), the Jupiters gave a pair of warmly-received Young People's Concerts.  I heard the second one, which featured music by the Quartet's favorite composer, Ludwig van Beethoven.  The Jupiters played movements of early, middle and late Beethoven quartets, all of which had different characters, representing an interesting musical portrait of the various aspects of Beethoven's artistic personality throughout his life.  Even in the depths of despair (going deaf, feeling terribly isolated, suffering illnesses, lacking the love he sought), Beethoven channeled his emotions and creative genius into composing music of incredible inventiveness and lasting beauty.  Three of the musicians -- cellist Daniel McDonough, second violinist Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel -- gave introductions to the pieces, planting clear ideas in the audiences of ways to listening and understanding what Beethoven wrote.  The students were EXCELLENT listeners and seemed to enjoy what they heard very much.  Towards the end of the concert, first violinist Nelson Lee fielded a wide range of questions from the audience and gave answers as best he could.  One student asked about why the musicians move and nod and twitch as they do when playing...!  Nelson responded that there is no conductor on stage to guide them, so they all use movement in their own ways to give signals to each other, especially in moments that require coordination among them, and also just to express what they're feeling about the music, which also contributes to the shared experience the quartet creates when performing.

Later today, the Jupiters are to be found in Atlanta's Piedmont Park Community Center, where they'll play two 40-minute sets starting at 5:00 PM as "RANDOM ACTS OF CULTURE"!  So if you're out jogging or walking your dog, taking advantage of our bright but still quite brisk early-spring weather, you might hear some outstanding music wafting over the air.  If so, stop in and check out the Jupiters...they're really likeable people and you'll get a true sense of what they're about.

And that means -- in additional to being fantastic educators and advocates for the music they love -- they're about giving GREAT concerts.  Thus comes the grand finale Saturday night, with a lively, engaging early Beethoven Quartet in C minor (Op. 18 No. 4), followed by two pieces by Anton von Webern, one of which is in the language of late, rich, German Romanticism (his "Lamgamersatz" or "Slow Movement'" -- an early student piece), followed by his Five Pieces for String Quartet, which while in an entirely different style of writing called the Second Viennese School (which basically up-ended the rules on how classical music is conceived and organized) -- at times very condensed and pithy, and other times given to incredible, quicksilver changes of mood -- is still very much in Webern's own personal musical language.  This is another illustration of the Jupiters programmingi them of "the evolution of compositional voice" which they're tracing in their concerts this season. 

After intermission, the Jupiters dig into the "red meat" of late Beethoven with the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132, which includes a gorgeous, gorgeous slow section (the third of a total of five movements) which the Jupiters played at the Young People's Concert this morning -- a hymn of thanks from Beethoven who had regained strength and hope and energy after a long illness. This is remarkably beautiful music, the stuff that keeps fans of string quartets coming back for more.  This and everything the Jupiters plays will sound magnfiicent in Spivey Hall's superb acoustics, a space ideally designed for chamber music such as this.

Each spring, Spivey Hall  gratefully acknowledges the tremendous contributions that educators (teachers, principals, administrators, and others) make in the lives of young people with a concert -- and educators can attend for FREE, which is Spivey Hall's way of saying thanks.  Educators can claim their free ticket at the box office from 7:15 PM on Saturday; additional tickets are just $10 each.  And immediately following the concert, with the compliments of the Friends of Spivey Hall, there's a punch and cake reception honoring educators and the Jupiter String Quartet in the Spivey Hall lobby.

So come and hear some extraordinary music that the Jupiter String Quartet will bring vividly into our ears and hearts and souls...and enjoy a sugar rush with them afterwards!  MUCH more interesting than preparing your taxes, channel surfing, or sorting laundry. This is a concert that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution named as one of 11 events not to miss in 2011, and experencing great live music is, of course, one of life's better pleasures.

Thus as always, I join the musicians in hopes of welcoming you to Spivey Hall.  All this activity is made possible with special grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, South Arts, and the sponsorship of The Coca-Cola Company (PROJECT JUPITER's exclusive beverage sponsor) and Country Inn & Suites Atlanta I-75 South -- plus ongoing funding assistance from The Walter & Emilie Spivey Foundation, the Georgia Council for the Arts, and the wonderful Friends of Spivey Hall, who generously sustain the artistic excellence of Spivey Hall's concert and educational programming.  To one and all, and especially to our PROJECT JUPITER high school partners, many, many thanks.

The Jupiters will be back for their second PROJECT JUPITER season in 2011/2012, details of which will be announced to the Friends of Spivey Hall on March 29, and then posted on Spivey Hall's new website (to be launched at the end of the month),, very shortly thereafter.  Our 2011/2012 season book is currently in production (with a very different look than in years past, something I really like).  In it you'll see there are many outstanding artists and programs in store for us.  If you're not already on our mailing list, call the Spivey Hall Box Office at (678) 466-4200 or send a message from our website (via "contact us") and we'll get one sent out to you.