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Five music events start off March at URI

The spring concert season at the University of Rhode Island comes in with a roar at the start of March with five music events slated for the first three days of the month. Concerts by URI's Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Wind Ensemble, a Song Festival with competitions in two categories, and a University Artist Series concert featuring cellist Wesley Baldwin will all be held in the URI Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. With the exception of the Song Festival, which is free, admission for each event is $10 general public, $5 students, with tickets available at the box office on a first-come basis starting 45 minutes before the concerts.

The weekend music starts off with the Concert Band on Friday, March 1, at 8 p.m. Brian Cardany, URI's Director of Athletic Bands and Assistant Director of Bands, will conduct a program including "Nitro," by Frank Ticheli, a fanfare inspired by aspects of the gas nitrogen; "The Divine Comedy" by Robert Smith, based upon the epic poem by Dante Alighieri; and another Ticheli work, "Vesuvius," inspired by the tragedy of Pompeii caused by the massive eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy.

URI will host the RI Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) annual Song Festival on Saturday, March 2. The public is invited to listen in for free. The full day of juried competitions and awards splits the day between Musical Theater in the morning session 9-11 a.m. and Classical Vocal Performance (arias and art songs) in the afternoon from 1-3 p.m. Participants are grouped into multiple divisions ranging from pre-high school to adults.

The morning session will be followed by a special presentation on "How to Nail Your Next Audition!" presented by Eden Casteel, soprano, who teaches at Salve Regina University and is the vocal coach for the 190-member Chorus of Westerly. The announcement of winners and presentation of awards at 11:30 a.m. will be followed by a mini-recital of short performances by the winners.

The afternoon session follows the same pattern, with auditions followed by a special presentation "Do you know what you are singing?" given by Hillary Nicholson, mezzo-soprano, who teaches at Providence College. Nicholson has sung with the Metropolitan Opera as well as opera companies and as a soloist with many symphony orchestras across the U.S. The announcement of winners and presentation of awards at 4 p.m. will be followed by a mini-recital by the winners. The Classical program has an additional special division for "Aspiring Professionals" who are defined as "age 26 and older with more than four years of vocal training beyond high school."

The URI Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday evening. Their program includes a Slavonic Dance by Dvorak and the "Finale" of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony - both of which will be conducted by graduate student conductor Charles Kalajian. Saxophonist Charles Larsen, winner of the URI Student Concerto Competition, will be the soloist for the evening, performing the first movement of the "Fantasia" by Villa Lobos. That piece as well as "Iridium" by Jack Stamp will be conducted by Ann Danis, Director of the orchestra and of Orchestral Activities at URI.

The URI Symphonic Wind Ensemble Concert on Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. will feature a guest appearance by Gabriel Langfur, bass trombonist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Vermont Symphony Orchestras and also Guest Artist/Teacher in Trombone at URI. Langfur, who also performs frequently with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops as well as the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Opera Boston, and orchestras and theaters throughout New England, will be the soloist for "Capricio" by Frank Giulino, commissioned in 2010.

The rest of the program will include "Shortcut Home" by Dana Wilson, a rousing fanfare that showcases each section of the ensemble; "Elfin Thunderbolt" by Nancy Galbraith; two folksong settings by Percy A. Grainger: "Early One Morning" and "Ye Banks And Braes"; Andrew Boysen's "Blue And White Dance," commissioned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the North East District of Kappa Kappa Psi in 2012; and "Twelfth Night" by Alfred Reed, a suite in five movements, each of a different mood, giving insight into the characters in Shakespeare's famous comedy.

Finally, the weekend wraps up with a University Artist Series concert on Sunday, March 3, at 7 p.m. with Wesley Baldwin and Manabu Takasawa playing music for cello and piano. Their program will include: Ludwig van Beethoven: "Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69"; Manuel de Falla: selections from "7 Canciones populares españolas"; and Johannes Brahms: "Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99."

Winner of numerous awards and hailed as "phenomenal" by critics, Baldwin performs throughout the United States and Europe, and has appeared as soloist with a long list of noted conductors, orchestras and festivals. A founder of the Plymouth String Quartet, with whom he was a top prize-winner, his recording of Shulman cello music (Albany Records, 2010) enjoys widespread critical acclaim. He has also recorded for the Naxos, Zyode, Centaur and Innova labels.

Takasawa is Director of the piano program at URI and a noted concert pianist and soloist who performs in the U.S. as well as in Asia, including his native Japan. He is also known for coordinating URI's annual Piano Extravaganza! Festival which will be held at the start of April this year.

The URI Concert Hall is handicap-accessible, and parking is available behind the Fine Arts Center, off Bills Road. For more information, contact the URI Department of Music, 874-2431, or check the website, www.uri.edu/music.


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