The Performing Arts at Lawrence Artist Series

Cory Robertson

This year’s Artist and Jazz Series will feature an exciting array of musicians who stand at the forefront of their respective genres as creative artists and acclaimed performers. From Baroque chamber music to modern jazz and world music, the Performing Arts at Lawrence promises to expose our community to some of the most dynamic forces in today’s musical climate.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble will commence the Artist Series on October 28th, making Appleton their final stop in a fall tour of just eleven North American cities. An offshoot of London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Orchestra, the chamber ensemble was formed in 1967 with the unique purpose of performing chamber works for large ensembles. Unlike most chamber ensembles, which consist of a string quartet that employs guest artists in order to play such works, the Academy of St. Martin ensemble is comprised of eight players and is thus consistently devoted to the larger works. Led by violinist Kenneth Sillito, the group specializes in Baroque and Classical music. In describing one performance, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported that “the embracing warmth, the precision and seeming weightlessness crested in a fairylike scherzo that sailed just above common earth.”
Next in line in the Artist Series is North America’s premiere brass quintet, the Empire Brass who will perform with organist Douglas Major February 4th. The ensemble possesses a remarkably diverse repertoire, having mastered works by Mozart, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Prokofiev, to name a few. They have appeared with major symphonies across the globe, and in December 1987 were the first ensemble to play at the just-remodeled Carnegie Hall. Their guest artist Douglas Major is an acclaimed and multifaceted organist, having performed widely as a soloist and in collaboration with the French National Orchestra, Aretha Franklin, and the Marine Corps Band, among others.
Pianist Olga Kern, world-renowned competition winner and concert artist, performs March 9th. Kern’s career has taken flight After winning the 2001 Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal at the Eleventh Van Cliburn International Piano Competition with her interpretation of Rachmaninov’s third concerto. She has appeared with major orchestras and artists around the world, including the Boston Pops and Rene Fleming. Daniel Cariaga of the Los Angeles Times said, “playing this pure and unaffected comes only from the most evolved and selfless musicians.”
Finally, the Ethos Percussion Group will bring their innovative mix of classical and world music to Memorial Chapel on April 1st. The ensemble consists of four highly-skilled percussionists who have performed individually with the likes of Philip Glass, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet. The group achieves a sound all their own, drawn from their far-reaching knowledge of musical styles. Ethos Percussion performs new works as well as the traditional music of Central America, West Africa, and Asia. They recently collaborated with Indian tabla master Pandit Samir Chatterjee.
The Jazz Series is equally impressive, and will feature four more accomplished musicians. Look for the companion article on the Jazz Series in next week’s Lawrentian.