Tuesday, January 17, 2012

UNCC picks up the tempo

As the very existence of UNC Charlotte's new uptown building shows, the school is on a mission to become a more of a player in its hometown. For the next week, the college's musicians are taking the lead.

Thursday, Jan. 19, UNCC's College of Arts + Architecture will launch a new-music series, Fresh Ink, with a concert and art installation at the stack-of-books building uptown. The next day, Jan. 20, the school's second annual chamber-music festival will open at Robinson Hall on the main campus. Three more chamber concerts will follow, through Jan. 26.

Thursday's Fresh Ink concert will feature music by John Allemeier of UNCC's faculty and two outside-Charlotte composers: Kevin Puts, whose works have been premiered by such high-profile players as Yo-Yo Ma and percussionist Evelyn Glennie; and Andy Akiho, a Princeton University doctoral student whose credits include a commission from the Grammy-winning vocal group eighth blackbird. UNCC faculty and other Charlotte professionals will perform.

The concert will start at 8:15 p.m. at the uptown building, 320 E. 9th St. At 6 p.m., UNCC will open a specially commissioned art installation by Anna von Gwinner, a German artist and architect. Gwinner's new work, "Betwixt and Between," will be in the new building's gallery.

The chamber-music concerts on the main campus make up the second edition of the festival launched last season by UNCC professor and violinist David Russell. He again is drawing together UNCC faculty, colleagues from other schools -- from UNC School of the Arts to the University of Wisconsin -- and Charlotte professionals. One concert will feature a guest group, the Catalyst Quartet.

If the Catalyst Quartet (pictured) plays as dynamically as it did when it visited CPCC last fall, it should certainly energize the festival. The quartet came to town as part of the Sphinx Ensemble. Both groups are sponsored by the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit that helps black and Hispanic musicians find opportunities in the classical-music world. The quartet took over for part of the concert. and dug into Alberto Ginastera's Quartet No. 2 -- which is also on the bill at UNCC.

The chamber concerts will in part look forward to another UNCC project: the Violins of Hope festival, coming in April. Violins of Hope will be built around 18 violins that belonged to victims of the Holocaust. With that in mind, the chamber music festival will include works written during and colored by World War II. Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," for instance, was written in a prisoner-of-war camp in France.

The four concerts:

  • Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.: J.S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations," arranged for string trio by Dmitri Sitkovetsky; Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2.
  • Jan. 22 at 2 p.m.: Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat major; Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time."
  • Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.: Catalyst Quartet in Beethoven's "Quartetto Serioso"; Maurice Ravel's Quartet; Anton Webern's "Langsamer Satz"; and Alberto Ginastera's Quartet No. 2.
  • Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.: Erno Dohnanyi's Serenade; Osvaldo Golijov's "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind."
The chamber concerts will be in Robinson Hall on UNCC's main campus, 9201 University Blvd. Tickets are $9 general admission, $7 seniors.