Saturday, February 14, 2009

Esterhazy Quartet of U. of Missouri Plays Scott Joplin, William Grant Still & George Walker Feb. 16

[Photo Courtesy of George Walker]

Mizzou Wire
Anniversary of note
Story by Nancy Moen
Published: Feb. 13, 2009
“MU's Esterhazy String Quartet — Eva Szekely, Susan Jensen, Leslie Perna and Darry Dolezal — performs A Celebration of African-American Music Feb. 16. In a faraway palace long, long ago, a royal Esterhazy prince invited guests to experience the new music of composer Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809). That 18th-century Austrian tradition continues in Mizzou’s School of Music with the Esterhazy String Quartet. The distinguished faculty ensemble in residence — named to honor the European aristocrats who were patrons of the arts — will mark its 40th anniversary with two public performances of new and seldom-heard music and a composer’s lecture. All three events will be held in the MU Fine Arts Building’s Whitmore Recital Hall. Members of the Esterhazy Quartet are Eva Szekely and Susan Jensen, violinists, Leslie Perna, violist, and Darry Dolezal, cello.

Featuring African-American composers
In conjunction with Black History Month, the quartet's Feb. 16 concert A Celebration of African-American Music will highlight works of four black composers. ‘We hope to make this an ongoing project: researching, collecting and playing works from the incredibly rich yet woefully underplayed output of African-American composers.’ —Darry Dolezal The Esterhazy group’s interest in lesser-known composers led to the program of music by 20th-century composers William Grant Still — considered the dean of African-American composers — George Walker, David Baker and Scott Joplin. Still (1895-1978) is the first African-American to write a symphony performed by a leading orchestra. He was also a successful arranger of popular music and music for film. His blend of musical styles shows influences of European classical form and elements of his cultural heritage. Featured pieces will include Still’s 'Panamanian Dances,' Walker’s 'Lyric for Strings,' a selection of Joplin rags and 'Pastorale' from Baker's cantata 'Black America: To The Memory of Martin Luther King Jr.' A $5 donation is requested for the 8 p.m. Performance. [Scott Joplin, William Grant Still and George Walker are profiled at]

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