WMU News

School of Music presents 'Priceless' evening concerts

July 8, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's School of Music presents "Priceless," a series of three summer evening performances, July 12-19, featuring guest artists and WMU faculty musicians. All three Dalton Center Recital Hall performances are free and open to the public.

Performers include the Pacifica Quartet with pianist Jean-Francois Latour, NeXus, and singers Monica Griffin, Susan Musselman, Joe Miller and Carl Ratner. "Priceless" is presented as part of Seminar 2004, WMU's 53rd annual summer music camp for high school students, with support from Fontana Chamber Arts.

The Pacifica Quartet
Monday, July 12, 7:30 p.m.
Dalton Center Recital Hall

The Pacifica Quartet opens the series Monday, July 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. The program includes movements from string quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn, Paul Hindemith, and Felix Mendelssohn, as well as two movements from Cesar Franck's "Quintet in F Minor for Piano and Strings" featuring French-Canadian pianist Jean-Francois Latour.

One of today's most dynamic and exciting ensembles, the Pacifica Quartet charms and delights audiences and critics around the world with its impassioned interpretations and unique musical voice. The Los Angeles Times said, "There's no point in predicting future greatness for the young Pacifica Quartet. That future is already here." Since its formation in Los Angeles in 1994, the Pacifica has won an impressive array of awards including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the 2002 Cleveland Quartet Award. The members of the group are violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad, and cellist Brandon Vamos.

Thursday, July 15, 7:30 p.m.
Dalton Center Recital Hall

The second concert, Thursday, July 15, will strike a chord with the attendees at Seminar 2004 by featuring an ensemble composed entirely of their peers. NeXus showcases four talented jazz musicians from Portage (Mich.) Northern High School. Two of the ensemble members are former Seminar students. Bassist Noah Krzan attended Seminar in 2003, and percussionist Ryan Andrews attended in 2001 and 2002. NeXus is coached by Tom Knific, a WMU professor of music, whose son, John, is the group's pianist and manager. The ensemble is completed by percussionist Steve Perkins.

This past year, NeXus won a Down Beat magazine award, becoming the first high school group from Southwest Michigan to be so honored. NeXus has performed twice at WMU's Invitational Jazz Festival, winning honorable mention awards both times. The group plays engagements throughout the Kalamazoo area and will appear in Bronson Park and Portage Celery Flats this summer. Other upcoming area shows include three nights at The Union Cabaret and Grill in downtown Kalamazoo during August.

Priceless Vocals
Monday, July 19, 7:30 p.m.
Dalton Center Recital Hall

The "Priceless" series concludes Monday, July 19, with vocal performances by baritone Carl Ratner, tenor Joe Miller, and sopranos Monica Griffin and Susan Musselman, accompanied by pianist Gunta Laukmane. The repertoire includes arias by Mozart, Gounod and Puccini, and songs by Debussy, Strauss and Tchaikovsky, as well as Broadway favorites.

Carl Ratner is director of opera in the School of Music, where he teaches voice and opera. His career includes more than two decades of experience as an opera stage director, including 15 years as artistic director of Chicago Opera Theater and Chamber Opera Chicago.

Joe Miller is director of choral studies and voice area chair in the School of Music. He conducts the University Chorale, Collegiate Singers, and Grand Chorus, and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in choral conducting, philosophy, and literature.

As a soprano soloist, Monica Griffin has been featured in J.S. Bach's "Magnificat," Rutter's "Requiem," Vaughan Williams' "Serenade to Music," and Mozart's "Missa Brevis in C." In November 2002, she sang the soprano solos in the Kalamazoo Oratorio Society's performance of Handel's "Messiah."

Susan Musselman received her bachelor's degree from WMU and master's degree from Ohio State University, where she will continue her studies for a doctorate degree. A native of Kalamazoo, Musselman is back in her hometown this summer to serve on the Seminar 2004 voice faculty.

Media contact: Kevin West, 269 387-4678, kevin.west@wmich.edu

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