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Patrick McCurry

A Little Lunch Music 2/11: New Orleans Trombonist Finds Voice in Improvised Music

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On February 11 at noon, A Little Lunch Music will feature trombonist Jeff Albert and drummer Dave Capello for a free concert of improvised music in the Auditorium. Click here for the event page where you can read more about the performers and hear audio samples. They will also join Cullars Improvisational Rotation for our Jazz! Food! Art! event that night from 5-8 pm. More about the evening performance at this link.

“Episodes is a good word, ” said New Orleans trombonist Jeff Albert. He said he likes to use it instead of “pieces” or “songs” to describe the stand-alone sections of music he and drummer Dave Capello play when they perform improvised music. But they aren’t psychotic episodes. “Well, some of them are,” said Albert.

Series coordinator Patrick McCurry interviews Jeff Albert. For the full interview, click this link.

Albert is active in the worldwide community of improvised music, also called creative, adventurous, or free music. He tours with Hamid Drake and others well-known in the genre, and was named a Rising Star Trombonist in the Downbeat Critics Poll each year from 2011-2015.

Albert is an advocate for the music. He runs the Open Ears Music Series Tuesday nights at the Blue Nile in New Orleans. He also co-founded the New Orleans International Sound Exchange (N.O.I.S.E.) which yearly puts on the Hosting Improvising Performers Festival, or HIP Fest.

After studying jazz in college, Albert said he wanted to be a craftsman trombone player, making a living playing in horn sections and bands. By his late 20s, he said he had accomplished that goal, but it wasn’t enough.

“I realized I wanted to play music that had some artistic outlet for me,” said Albert. He said it was largely improvised music that fit that description.

Before moving to New Orleans in the early 1990s, Capello lived in New York. He worked in that city’s creative music scene with players like guitarist Bern Nix, bassist William Parker, and trumpeter Stephen Bernstein.

Capello and Albert have made two recordings together under the Breakfast for Dinner label. They released “Duets 2014” in 2015. “New Normal,” which includes Parker, will officially release in March. Both are currently available on the label’s website.

Thursday’s noon performance will feature the duo by themselves.

COMBINED PERFORMANCES

The duo will join Cullars Improvisational Rotation, a jazz trio from Auburn, for two additional shows. On Thursday night from 5-8 pm Central Time, the combined group will appear for the “Jazz! Food! Art!” after-hours event at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.

Cullars is a jazz trio based in Auburn. It includes guitarist Dan Mackowski, saxophonist Patrick McCurry, and bassist Jason DeBlanc. It is the house band Thursday nights at the museum.

On Friday night, February 12, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern Time, Albert and Capello will join Cullars at The Loft in Columbus, GA. Food and drink are served at the museum and at The Loft, and neither will require admission.

“We’re a jazz group, but we like to move out of the normal jazz parameters sometimes,” said McCurry, who also coordinates A Little Lunch Music. McCurry said he played with Albert years ago before he was immersed in this new kind of music.

“He’s at a completely different level, now,” said McCurry about Albert’s music, adding, “I’m excited to play with him again.” But although his group members together have under their belts decades of improvising in jazz and other styles, McCurry is a little trepidatious about the Thursday and Friday night shows. “It’s sort of risky music,” he said.

Albert said what he and Capello play is completely improvised, with no preset agreements about the direction the music will take. He said he will bring in some of his own compositions for the combined performances. Those pieces include text instructions for each player and allow more control over the flow of the music.

Albert said it would be easy for newer players to defer to experienced ones, and has been in the same situation as Cullars will be. But he said the pieces, called “Instigation Quartets,” democratize the process a little bit. They ease the interactions without removing the feeling of free improvisation.

A Little Lunch Music, 1/7: Pianist Edward Forstman

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On Thursday, January 7, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert by pianist Edward Forstman, a senior at Eastman School of Music and a native of Vestavia Hills. Mr. Forstman will perform music by Frédéric Chopin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Maurice Ravel, György Ligeti, and Johannes Brahms. The performance is being sponsored by Nick & Pat Giordano. The café menu is available online.

Since 2013, pianist Edward Forstman has performed recitals, both as a soloist and collaborator, at the Alabama Piano Gallery and at Rochester University’s Eastman School of Music, where he is a senior. His work as a collaborator has introduced him to virtuoso performers including flutist Paula Robison and contralto Mira Zakai.

At Eastman, he has developed his love for contemporary music by working directly with the school’s student composers and premiering their works; he has also pursued this passion in a professional realm, contacting and corresponding with living composers while he learns their music.

Having grown up in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, he studied for two years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham prior to his transfer to Eastman. During his period of study in Alabama, Mr. Forstman was the winner of local and statewide competitions, representing the state of Alabama at the Music Teachers’ National Association’s Southeastern Regional Conference in 2013. While at UAB, he was a member of the University Honors Program and represented that program in a masterclass at its annual national conference in 2012. In the years of 2010 and 2011, he earned the award for best high school Junior and Senior, respectively, from the Alabama Music Teacher’s Association.

At summer festivals in 2008 and 2010, Edward performed with the National Academic Symphony of the Ukraine in Kiev. Also in 2010, he went on full scholarship to Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, where he had masterclasses with Boaz Sharon. He has also been in masterclasses with pianists Christopher O’Riley and Yuri Kot.

At Eastman, Mr. Forstman studies under Professor Barry Snyder. By his commencement, he will have completed four years of Eastman’s rigorous academic music courses in three years. At UAB, he studied with Professor Yakov Kasman, having already studied privately with him for 6 years. In 2016, Mr. Forstman hopes to pursue a graduate degree in piano performance at an institution to be determined.

A Little Lunch Music 12/17: pianist Lawrence Quinnett

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On Thursday, December 17, A Little Lunch Music will present pianist Lawrence Quinnett for a free concert. Dr. Quinnett will perform a program of music by composer Alexander Scriabin. The performance is being co-sponsored by Nick & Carolyn Davis and Bob Ekelund & Mark Thornton. The café menu is available online.

Lawrence Quinnett is an active concert pianist who has played solo and chamber music in the US and abroad. He has appeared as concerto soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Carl Topilow, the Florida State University Symphony Orchestra with Maestro Alex Jimenez, the Samuel Barber Festival Orchestra, and the Methodist University Orchestra. He has given concerts and masterclasses in St. Kitts; London and elsewhere in the UK; and colleges and universities in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Having grown up in North Carolina, Quinnett has returned to judge competitions and to give masterclasses as part of the 2011 and 2012 Fayetteville Piano Festival and 2012 Chopin Festival. He has been a featured performer at the Music at Mains Series at the Jacksonville Public Library, the 2015 Montserrat Music Festival, and the Central Florida Music Teachers’ Association.

Quinnett’s competition successes include first prize in the 2013 Doctoral Concerto Competition at Florida State University, the 2011 FSU Chapman Competition, the 2008 South Carolina Music Teachers’ Association Young Artist Piano Competition, and the 2006 Southeastern College Piano Competition. While a student at Methodist University, he received the Willis C. Gates Music Award for Excellence two years in a row.

Considering himself an inquisitive musician, Quinnett’s interests include chamber music, harpsichord, new music, and music theory. In October 2013 he was one of the three featured pianists in Charleston’s Colour of Music Festival which celebrates composers of African descent. Quinnett was a performer in the 2012 New Music Festival and John Cage Festival at FSU and both performer and lecturer at the 2013 Ligeti Symposium and Festival. The topic of his doctoral treatise is harmony in the first book of Ligeti Etudes. Quinnett maintains a private studio, attends to the duties of a church music ministry, and teaches as professor at Wallace Community College in Dothan, Alabama, and Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Quinnett’s formative teachers have included Carolyn Cloud-Absher, Jane Gardiner, Dr. Jon Maisonpierre, and Dr. Douglas Weeks. He has been privileged to be selected for masterclasses and coaching sessions with Jeremy Denk, Karen Shaw, Anton Kuerti, Simone Dinnerstein, Elizabeth Pridinoff, Miles Hoffman, the Cavani String Quartet, Frederick Moyer, and Shai Wosner, among others. He holds the Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University, where he studied with Dr. Read Gainsford.

A Little Lunch Music 12/10: Auburn Music Club Singers

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On Thursday, December 10, A Little Lunch Music will present the Auburn Music Club Singers for a free concert in the auditorium. The group will perform a program of Christmas and other music spanning centuries. Aside from accompanying the Singers, pianist Elizabeth Rutland will play a piano four-hand piece with Mary Slaton, collaborate with flutist Janet Sanders, and perform solo. The performance is unsponsored. Contact Kate Cole at katecole@auburn.edu or 844-1675 to make a gift to support the efforts of these musicians. The café menu is available online.

AUBURN MUSIC CLUB SINGERS

The idea of a club for music in Auburn occurred to a group of women who gathered to play recorders. The first organizational meeting was in the home of Helga Wilmoth in 1979. Those who attended that first meeting included Dorothy Bennett, Patsy Johnson, Julia Norton, Marilyn Schaeffer, Carol Bramlett, Carol Schafer and others. At first, meetings were held in members’ homes or else in a church or a recital hall. Programs featured members of the club or the Auburn University music faculty. The stated objectives of the Auburn Music Club were “to encourage interest and participation in all areas of music and to promote music in the community, homes, and local schools.” At one of the first meetings, Carol Bramlett organized a group of singers to meet and perform for the club or for schools and nursing homes.

PHYLLIS GAUKER

At age 50, while working as an administrative secretary for the City of Auburn, Phyllis Gauker earned a Master’s degree in choral conducting from Auburn University. Retiring in 2002, she began directing the Auburn Music Club Singers, and promised them that every year she would expose them to serious choral repertoire. This often means she has to transcribe music originally for mixed choir to accomodate the all-women group.

Growing up in Arlington, Virginia, Phyllis was surrounded by cultural activities in the nation’s capital. She graduated from William & Mary in 1962 as a voice major and taught high school choral music for 5 years at Highland Springs High School in Richmond, Virginia, and at Charlotte Amalie High School and Wayne Aspinal Junior High School in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, where she lived for seven years. She and her husband lived in Spain for three years where she gave birth to her son. Her daughter was born in Guatemala, where they were missionaries for a Maryknoll priest after the 1976 earthquake. There, her husband and the priest were killed in a plane crash.

Phyllis sang with the Auburn Music Club Singers when it formed soon after the Club was founded in 1979. She very briefly directed it in 1983 before taking the job with the city. Phyllis has managed the Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Auburn, and directed its choir.

ELIZABETH RUTLAND

Pianist Elizabeth Rutland received her Bachelor of Music degree from Auburn University. She is active in the Alabama Music Teachers’ Association and maintains a private studio in her home. She recently retired as organist at Grace Methodist Church. She has been accompanist for the Music Club Singers for several years and has composed a number of musical works.

JANET SANDERS

Flutist Janet H. Sanders, a native of Delaware, Ohio, received her Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (music education) degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University. She holds the Certificate with Honors from the Kodaly Musical Training Institute and earned the Masters of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music. Ms. Sanders has taught music in Ohio, Massachusetts, Guam, Georgia, and Alabama. The widow of Librarian Emeritus Thomas R. Sanders, Janet is the mother of three grown children and an active member of the Baha’i Faith. Besides music, she loves reading, swimming, walking, playing with her dogs, and Auburn football and basketball.

MARY SLATON

Over the years, Mary Slaton has entertained with her extensive knowledge of popular music, and is known throughout the southeast as one of the region’s premier piano soloists. She is leader of the Mary Slaton Trio and coordinates the East Alabama Community Band in which she plays French horn. Among Memphis venues, Mary has performed at the Hilton and the Hyatt Regency. In Atlanta, she has played the Omni Hotel, the Hilton, the Atlanta Country Club and others. At home in the Auburn-Opelika area, she has been featured at the Terra Cotta, the Saugahatchee Country Club and the Marriott. Mary holds piano degrees from Memphis State University and from the University of Montevallo. She teaches privately and at Southern Union Community College.

A Little Lunch Music 12/3: Dean’s Brass Quintet, pianist Christian McGee

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On Thursday, December 3, A Little Lunch Music will present Auburn University’s Dean’s Brass Quintet and pianist Christian McGee for a free concert in the auditorium. The quintet will perform music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Eric Ewazen, and Wilke Renwick. Christian will offer a repeat performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in E major, Op. 109. The performance is sponsored by Richard and Mary Millman. The café menu is available online.

Auburn University’s Dean’s Brass Quintet is a student group that was first formed in the Music Department in 2007. Supported by scholarship funds from the office of Joseph Aistrup, Dean of Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts, these five brass players are currently instructed by Mark DeGoti, Assistant Professor of Trumpet. The group plays a wide variety of music and can be seen performing on campus and throughout the Auburn/Opelika community.

Most recently, the group won First Prize at the state level of the Music Teachers’ National Association’s chamber music competition, and will continue on to Tampa in January for regionals. Members of the quintet are the top brass musicians on campus who include Daniel Haddock and Ben Elgan (trumpets), Ransom Creech (horn), Jake Finn (trombone), and J. Seymour (tuba).

Daniel Haddock (trumpet) is a graduating senior in music performance from Decatur, Alabama. In addition to playing with the quintet, Daniel performs as principal chair with the Auburn University Symphonic Band. This is Daniel’s eighth and final semester with the Dean’s Brass Quintet.

Ben Elgan (trumpet) is a senior in music performance from Madison, Alabama. Ben is the ensemble’s expert on jazz, serving as the Auburn University Jazz Band’s lead trumpet player and trumpet section leader. This is Ben’s first semester with the Dean’s Brass Quintet.

From Birmingham, Alabama, Ransom Creech (horn) is a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering with a Spanish minor. Ransom’s horn playing can also be heard with the Auburn University Symphonic Band where he serves as the principal horn chair. This is Ransom’s second semester with the Dean’s Brass Quintet.

Jake Finn (trombone) is from Montevallo, Alabama, and a graduating senior in mechanical engineering with a concentration in tribology. When not playing with the quintet, Jake leads the Auburn University Marching Band as head drum major. This is Jake’s seventh and final semester with the Dean’s Brass Quintet.

Hailing from Winfield, Alabama, J. Seymour (tuba) is a junior with a double major in music performance and business. He additionally serves the Auburn University Symphonic and Marching Bands as the tuba section leader. This is the third semester J. has been with the Dean’s Brass Quintet.

Christian McGee from Florence, Alabama, is a senior at Auburn University pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance under Dr. Jeremy Samolesky. In 2011, she was chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall and has since then given recitals at the University of North Alabama, Oakwood College, and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. She is currently performing as a soloist with the Auburn Community Orchestra and the Auburn University Symphonic Winds.

Past orchestral performances include solos with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Community Orchestra, and she was accepted into the Brevard International Summer Music Festival of 2014. The same year, she received second prize in the Zelpha Wells Piano Competition, Music Teacher’s National Association State Competition, and National Federation of Music Clubs Competition.

Aside from performing as a solo artist, she collaborates with the Shoals Symphony, including the world premiere performance of Roger Brigg’s Symphony No. 2, and has been employed as an accompanist, private teacher, and musician for special events.

Marc Karam

A Little Lunch Music 11/19: Vocalist & Pianist Marc Karam and Friends

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To Beirut and Paris with Love
A Concert Of Arabic and French Songs of Longing and Love

On Thursday, November 19, A Little Lunch Music will present vocalist and pianist Marc Karam and friends for a free concert in the auditorium. Marc’s program is entitled, “To Beirut and Paris with Love: A Concert Of Arabic and French Songs of Longing and Love.” In addition to performing solo, Marc will be joined for part of the concert by a trio of jazz musicians including guitarist Taylor Pierce, bassist Jason DeBlanc, and saxophonist Patrick McCurry. The performance is sponsored by Mervat Samson and Anonymous Friends of the Series. The café menu is available online.

Marc Karam

A vocalist and pianist, Dr. Marc Karam considers his music a passion, though for his vocation he is associate professor of Electrical Engineering at Tuskegee University. Marc was born in Lebanon and immigrated to the United States in 1992. Although belonging to the Arabic-speaking world, Lebanon has historically been open to French and American cultures. Therefore Marc grew up listening to Arabic, French, and American songs, among others. His fondness for French “oldies” includes songs made popular by Edith Piaf, Dalida, and Yves Montand. Marc is also intimately familiar with Middle Eastern music such as that produced by stars like Fairouz and Sabah.

Marc has recorded eight religious music CD’s and 2 secular music CD’s. The former focus on the prayers of the Rosary and hymns in honor of Christ and the Virgin Mary, to Marc, Our Lord and Our Lady. His recordings are interspersed with religious hymns, some composed by him and others drawn from the great treasury of sacred art. He has presented his CD’s live in the context of prayer concerts at churches in Montgomery and Mobile.

Marc has released “Mimi,” his CD of Middle Eastern songs, in honor of his mother, and “Rizo,” his CD of French songs, in honor of his maternal uncle. The songs have been presented by Marc at A Little Lunch Music concerts at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art and elsewhere.

Patrick McCurry

In 2008, with two music degrees and a twelve-year career in nonprofit administration behind him, saxophonist Patrick McCurry returned home to Auburn to be a stay-at-home dad. As a performer, he likes to think he seeks out music that crosses boundaries. He blogs about his community’s art events and often promotes or produces them.

Jason DeBlanc

As a student in the 1990s, Jason DeBlanc was part of the Auburn Knights Orchestra and drum major with the AU Marching Band. Now working with the university’s computer systems by day, his bass work supports Montgomery-based group Tapestry, Auburn’s own Kidd Blue, and musicians of diverse styles across the region.

Taylor Pierce

Taylor Pierce is an Auburn native who has been playing and studying guitar since 2002. He spent summers studying music at Berklee College, and jazz at the University of North Texas. Taylor has been deeply involved in the auburn music scene since 2009, supporting bands, developing jazz projects, and as a member of the Auburn Knights Orchestra.

A Little Lunch Music 11/12: Auburn Indian Music Ensemble featuring Riddhi Bandyopadhyay

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At noon on Thursday, November 12, A Little Lunch Music will present the Auburn Indian Music Ensemble featuring vocalist Riddhi Bandyopadhyay (her music will automatically play when opening her website at riddhibandyopadhyay.com). Led by Raj Chaudhury, the group’s repertoire includes mostly music from the north Indian classical tradition, though it often presents sounds and ideas from south Indian carnatic music.

Ms. Bandyopadhyay’s latest project highlights the music of five Bengali poets. On Thursday, she will perform pieces accompanied by members of the ensemble. In addition, Riddhi and the ensemble will present a song by Nazrul Islam and a Rabindranath Tagore song together. The performance is being sponsored by Phyllis Stanaland and Anonymous Friends of the Series. The café menu is available online.

Auburn Indian Music Ensemble

The Auburn Indian Music Ensemble led by Dr. S. Raj Chaudhury comprises students in a semester long class where they learn fundamentals of Indian classical and semi-classical music. The students in the group come from varied musical, educational and cultural backgrounds and thus bring a rich diversity of experiences with them.

This music is based on the system of ragas (melodies) and talas (rhythms). The vocal performances of the group feature a variety of traditional instruments such as harmonium (organ), tabla (drums) and tanpura (drone). Bansuri (bamboo flute), sitar (six-stringed lute) and veena (South Indian lute) are instruments that are featured in the group’s compositions. The website auburnsangeet.wordpress.com has more about the class.

With her latest project, Panchakabir Gaan, Riddhi Bandyopadhyay has conceptualized the musical harmony created by pioneering Bengali poets and composers. She feels that she has helped to revitalize the public’s awareness of the “Songs of five Bengali poets,” namely Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Dwijendralal Roy (D.L. Roy), Rajanikanta Sen, and Atul Prasad Sen.

A regular performer on television and radio in both India and Bangladesh, Riddhi also tours extensively in North America, including performing at the premiere Bengali cultural event, the North American Bengali Convention. Riddhi has also appeared at festivals including the International Drama Festival in Toronto and the London Sharad Utsav where she was an anchor artist in 2011. In addition to the music of the five poets, she has also created Songstress, a musical concept that highlights the songs of the “divas of yesteryear”, many of whom were courtesans.

She has collaborated with artists such as Soumitro Chattapadhyay, Bijoylakshmi Burman (with red light area children), Krishna Bose and Sugata Bose. She performed the music of Rajanikanta Sen with other Bauls (mystic Bengali minstrels) and Goan musicians at an event sponsored by the Portuguese Consulate in Kolkata.

Riddhi has developed a comprehensive sociological and historical study on Bengali music. She has been a lecturer and demonstrator at Barddhaman University, Paschimbanga Bangla Academy, Paschimbanga Natya Academy, and Raja Sangeet Academy.

Riddhi’s musical guides have been Debiranjan Bandyopadhyay, Dr. Sailen Das, Krishna Chattopadhyay, Sushil Chattopadhyay, Pandit Ajay Chakrabarty, Dr. Devajit Bandyopadhyay, and Agniva Bandyopadhyay.

Her music can be heard on her website riddhibandyopadhyay.com as well as on her YouTube channel.

Trained in classical and semi-classical traditions of North Indian music, Dr. S. Raj Chaudhury is the founding director of the Auburn Indian Music Ensemble, which was started in Fall 2010. His training is in the classical musics of North India with a focus on the music of Rabindranath Tagore. He has led similar music ensembles while a doctoral student at University of California, Los Angeles; at Christopher Newport University in Virginia; and within Indian cultural groups wherever he has lived in the United States. A vocalist by training, Dr. Chaudhury plays harmonium, tabla, and tanpura. In 2015, Chaudhury joined the Office of the Provost at Auburn University as Special Assistant for International Programs and Auburn Online. He previously served as Associate Director of the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. His academic training is in Physics and Physics Education.

A Little Lunch Music on 11/5: The Donald Tipton Quartet (jazz)

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At noon on Thursday, Nov 5, the Donald Tipton Quartet will present a free jazz concert from noon to 1:00 pm for A Little Lunch Music. Comprised of pianist Donald Tipton, bassist Jacqueline Pickett, drummer David Morgan, and saxophonist Stan Murray, the group will perform classic jazz standards, arrangements of popular songs, and originals. The performance is being co-sponsored by Gene & Phyllis Stanaland, Helga Geyling, John & Mary Hood, Elizabeth Golden, and Anonymous Friends of the Series. The café menu is available online.

Pianist Donald Tipton received his Bachelor of Music from Columbus College in 1980. He is a video producer and commercial photographer with special expertise in underwater image making. His most recent film, Dreaming into Blue, makes use of his own music for its film score. “Music has always been a part of whatever I do,” said Donald. “It seems natural for me in interpret the visual in a musical context.”

In 1994, the piano took on a new and profound place in Donald’s life, when he shifted to include playing professionally. His study of jazz piano has been influenced by Dr. Shirantha Beddage and Dr. Alexander Pershounin, jazz-studies professors at Columbus State University.

Donald is a founding member of both the Amadeus Jazz Quintet and Solar Quintet and is a board member of the Columbus Jazz Society. Recent performances include those at The River Ctr., The Loft, Belloo’s, Cascade Hills Church, The Georgia Aquarium, Columbus Uptown Jam, Ben’s Chop House, The Chattahoochee River Club, W.C. Bradley Museum, The Columbus Museum, and Maxi’s in Barnesville GA. He lives in Columbus with his wife, Angelyn.

A Little Lunch Music 10/29: Cullars Improvisational Rotation

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On Thursday, October 29, Cullars Improvisational Rotation (scroll down for an audio sample) will perform a free concert from noon to 1:00 as part of the weekly series, A Little Lunch Music. Members Dan Mackowski, Patrick McCurry, and Jason DeBlanc will perform from the group’s repertoire of its own distinctive versions of jazz standards as well as originals, hymns and other music. The performance is being sponsored by Anonymous Friends of the Series. The café menu is available online.

Audiences can hear Cullars Improvisational Rotation where it started, Thursday nights at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art in Auburn, Alabama.

Made up of Dan Mackowski (guitars), Patrick McCurry (woodwinds), and Jason DeBlanc (basses), Cullars Improvisational Rotation is a jazz trio with a southern sensibility: thoughtful, ambient, and adventurous.

The name comes from Auburn University’s Cullars Rotation experiment, the oldest soil fertility study in the South. The group’s members embrace the roots of jazz, taking risks to make something new through delicately rehearsed arrangements of standards, originals, hymns and improvisations.

Classical Guitarist Katie Holmes

A Little Lunch Music, 10/15: Katie Holmes, Classical Guitar

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Classical guitarist Katie Holmes will perform a free concert for A Little Lunch Music on October 15 from noon to 1:00 pm. On the program will be music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Manuel Ponce, and Vojislav Ivanovi?, among others. The concert is being sponsored by Seth and Linda Anderson. The café menu is available online.

Classical Guitarist Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes is a young classical guitarist from Alabama. She is currently pursuing a degree in guitar performance at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music. There, she is a Woodruff Artist and an Honors student, and studies under Dr. Andrew Zohn.

To Katie, music is elemental, a constant in her first few years. She was four when her grandmother began taking guitar lessons. Charmed by this new voice, Katie soon had the lessons for herself, and an intense bond with the guitar began. She gave her first solo recital in Spokane, Washington – on guitar and piano – at age five. Within a year she received her first grant for talent; within the next the sound of her guitar first appeared on radio. Soon after moving to Alabama she was invited to play with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, marking her first performance with orchestra at the age of seven.

Since then Katie has participated in guitar festivals around the Southeast, winning competitions at East Carolina State University, Columbus State University, and MusicFest NorthWest (in Spokane, Washington). She placed highly in middle- and high-school level competitions at Georgia College & State University, Appalachian State University, and in the YoungArts National Competition. She has been a featured performer at the Tennessee State University Guitar Festival multiple times.

Ms. Holmes has given solo performances in concert halls, theaters and auditoriums, art galleries and museums, care facilities, houses of worship, public parks, and private residences. Her guitar sings in classrooms, hallways, and stairwells, upon sidewalk and street, and for radio and television. Beside her recitals stand Katie’s performance with and membership in local school bands, community theaters, and chorales for which she has sung, played piano, percussion, clarinet, and guitar. Katie was for three years Pianist at First Presbyterian Church of Montgomery, before leaving to pursue her studies at CSU. She continues to be a working musician, though her availability is mightily constrained by her college schedule.

She released her first CD of solo guitar pieces, Prelude, in 2013, which was subsequently played on the “Guitar Hour” radio show on KPBX, and her first full-length album, Quinceañera, in 2014. She hopes to release many more recordings.

In 2005 Katie began her private study with Andrew Zohn. Since then she has also received high praise in masterclass performances with guitarists David Russell, Martha Masters, William Kanengiser, Dale Kavanaugh, SoloDuo, Xuefei Yang, Paul Galbraith, and others from around the world. Besides the universal regard for her ability to learn, she is known for her lyrical and expressive playing, and her delightful personality. Even with the immense enjoyment from these classes with guitar masters, Zohn still holds a special place in her heart. In addition to his extensive knowledge of the repertoire and uncanny ability to select beautiful pieces for study, “He agreed to teach someone 10 years younger than his regular students!” says Katie. Eight years later, at age fifteen, she became one of those regular students when she began her own degree program still under his tutelage.

Though she has been a professional musician for years, Ms. Holmes has devoted herself to greater things yet. In this her foundation is quite secure. Since the beginning she has been known as “that wonderful young guitarist,” and there can be no doubt that, as David Russell commented, “she has a very good future in this field.” But, “It’s not enough to be a good ‘young’ guitarist,” says Katie. Her acceptance of Woodruff Artist is part of a commitment to continuing work, study, and growth, beyond youth, in hopes of becoming a world-class performer. Whether she is able to reach such lofty goals, as her fascination persists, we shall see. In the meantime, she continues to delight listeners wherever her guitar sings.

See more at katiehguitar.com.

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