Topic: Gateway Chamber Ensemble
Clarksville, TN – In 2008, a group of Austin Peay State University music faculty members set themselves a challenge. They intended to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, Opus Nine, for 15 Soloists – one of the most important, yet challenging, compositions from the 20th century.
“It’s daunting. The demands on individual players are great,” Dr. Gregory Wolynec, associate professor of music, said.
Clarksville, TN – In 1958, the conductor Constantin Silvestri experienced a slight dilemma. He was set to premiere composer George Enescu’s last work, Chamber Symphony for 12 Players, but he worried the Romanian audience wouldn’t appreciate the complexities or the brilliance of the work.
“He was convinced the audience would not be able to grasp it on first hearing it, so he had it played twice,” Dr. Gregory Wolynec, associate professor of music at Austin Peay State University, said. “This last work of his, people who specialize in the music of this composer refer to it as the hardest to understand.”
Clarksville, TN – To say that the Gateway Chamber Ensemble’s first CD, “Wind Serenades,” was a success is a bit of an understatement. Late last year, the group founded by several Austin Peay State University music faculty members learned their album was being considered for Grammy nominations in several categories – including producer of the year, engineered sound and best small ensemble performance.
“(They) have managed to assemble a top-notch performing ensemble that now enters the big leagues with the national and international release of its new super audio CD,” music critic Steven Ritter wrote last year in Fanfare Magazine, the leading classical music publication in the country.
Clarksville, TN – Last week, the Grammy Award nominations were announced, and some of the expected names – Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Eminem – were at the top of the list. But the Grammys recognize more than simply pop music, and if you were to scroll down that list, you would see the category for “Producer of the Year, Classical,” and the name Blanton Alspaugh.
Alspaugh’s name might not carry the weight in some circles as say a Lady Gaga, but in the classical music world, he’s a respected and revered producer. And, according to the Grammy website, one of the reasons he was nominated this year for a coveted Grammy Award stems from his work producing the first album for a chamber ensemble founded by several Austin Peay State University music faculty members. That group, the Gateway Chamber Ensemble, was also considered for nominations in three other categories, including “Best Small Ensemble Performance.”
The Gateway Chamber Ensemble has been making waves in the tight knit classical music community since they first formed in the fall of 2008. The group kicked off their 2010-2011 concert series with what they describe as a new beginning. “The recurring thread this season will be composers we’ve heard of but approached in ways they aren’t usually done,” Dr. Gregory Wolynec, APSU associate professor of music and director of the ensemble, said. “It included works that we might not have heard of before, that don’t have a natural home. They are too small to be done by a full symphony or orchestra, and yet they are too large to be done by a typical chamber group. All our works will be done with 10 to 25 players. For most of these pieces, these are the only performances in these conditions they’ll get all year.”
The evening’s performance featured the ensembles interpretation of masterworks such as Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 6 “Let Matin,” Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.”
On Sunday, The Gateway Chamber Ensemble held a benefit with Hands On Clarksville to raise money that will go to help area businesses still hurting from the May 2010 floods. The performance lead by Conductor Gregory Wolynec featured songs from their recently released album Wind Serenades of Mozart and Strauss. The classical album has received critical acclaim since its release in March 2010.
All proceeds were being donated to Hands on Clarksville for the purpose of supporting non-profit agencies with their continuing flood relief and restoration efforts in areas of Clarksville and Montgomery County affected by the May 2010 flooding.
The Gateway Chamber Ensemble will perform music from its new, critically acclaimed CD, “Wind Serenades,” on August 29th, in an effort to raise money for Clarksville’s Riverside Drive flood rehabilitation. The FloodAid Serenade Benefit Concert begins at 3:00pm that Sunday in the Music/Mass Communication Concert Hall on the Austin Peay State University campus. All proceeds will be used by Hands on Clarksville to support relief and restoration in areas of Clarksville and Montgomery County affected by the May 2010 flooding.
Hands On Clarksville is a volunteer-driven program that connects citizens with volunteer opportunities in their neighborhoods. Suggested donations may be made at the door of $12.00 for adults, $8.00 for students and $25.00 for a family of four.
Classical music aficionados were surprised last month when they picked up the latest issue of Fanfare Magazine and read that a chamber ensemble out of Clarksville had recorded the definitive version of Mozart’s “Wind Serenade in B flat” and Richard Strauss’s “Wind Serenade in E flat.” Music critic Jerry Dubins even said the recordings by this previously unknown group ranked above the performances by prominent ensembles from New York, London and around the world.
The Gateway Chamber Ensemble, which consists of Austin Peay State University faculty members and professional musicians from around the region, released its first CD, “Wind Serenades,” in March, and critics with Fanfare Magazine, one of the genre’s pre-eminent publications, immediately took note of the recording’s high quality.
The Clarksville Community Concert Association (CCCA) closed out their 2009-2010 season with a reception hosted by APSU president Tim Hall and his wife Lee at Archwood on Austin Peay State University, during which the CCCA announced their 2010-2011 season’s schedule, followed by jazz concert given by the Joel Frahm Quartet.
The last season kicked off with the Todd Hill Orchestra with their big band sound, which was a wonderful concert. Next was Gabriella Montero an emerging improvisational pianist, bringing back a type of classical music that was prevalent in the 19th century, and is undergoing a resurgence today. Mid-season was the Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival, which was a little bit different for the CCCA, as they combine music, dance, and song in their performances. They were followed by the Gateway Chamber Ensemble who were promoting the inaugural album Wind Serenades of Mozart and Strauss. Finishing off the Season was the Joel Frahm and his Quartet.
In June of 1986, a young female music student named Chen Yi presented a full concert of her orchestral works in Beijing. That evening was a historic event, for Chen had just become the first woman to earn a master’s degree in music composition in China. Since that performance, she has flourished into one of the world’s most renowned composers of classical contemporary music.
At 7:30 p.m. on March 22nd 2010, Chinese American composer Chen Yi will stop by the Austin Peay State University Music/Mass Communication Building to hear the school’s music faculty, Gateway Chamber Ensemble, perform her works during the next Dimension New Music Series Concert. Chen will be featured in two works performed by the Gateway Chamber Ensemble. Faculty pianists Patricia Halbeck and Jeffrey Wood will also be featured in a collection of dances by various 20th century masters as well as Béla Bartók’s Out of Doors respectively.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Mingzhe Wang, clarinetist and assistant professor of music at APSU and a member of the ensemble, said. “I think it’s just so exciting that she agreed to come here. She’s a really high profile composer. Her music has been performed by all the major orchestras and world-class soloists in the world.”
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