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Patrick McCurry

A Little Lunch Music 9/21/2017: Auburn Native Returns to Sing Art Song, Opera, and More

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On Thursday, September 21 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert by soprano Kathleen Buccleugh with pianist Laurie Middaugh. The program will feature music by Joaquín Rodrigo, Gabriel Fauré, Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonard Bernstein, and selections from musical theater and popular music. Thanks to gifts from anonymous friends of the series for helping to make this performance possible.

Click here for our calendar event page with more information about the artists.

Buccleugh (pronounced like Buckley) said a recent search into her music collection resulted in a program covering a wide range of styles. Thursday’s music will feature art songs by Gabriel Fauré, Joaquín Rodrigo, and Richard Strauss. She will sing a Mozart aria, selections from music theater, and a song by Joni Mitchell. “I wanted to show as much diversity of repertoire that I could,” she said.

French composer Gabriel Fauré’s song cycle 5 Mélodies is nicknamed “de Venise,” because his ideas for the songs were developed during a vacation to Venice. Buccleugh said the music is full of lush harmonies, and the melodies are about as romantic as you can get. “It’s just pouring romance musically and with the words.” she said.

The duo will present Cuatro madrigales amatorios by Joaquín Rodrigo, four songs that set a darker mood. Written in 1947, the composer used sixteenth-century poems. The songs highlight an intense and sometimes painful side of love.

Buccleugh will sing three Richard Strauss songs including “Morgen!” translated “Morning!” a song she said she has wanted to do since she was a student at Auburn High.

The aria “In uomini, in soldati” is sung by the character Despina in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte. It is a role Buccleugh has played before and will revisit next month in her debut with the Mobile Opera. She has also sung roles with Utah Festival Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, Opera Birmingham, New Rochelle Opera and others.

Buccleugh said singing Mozart is a privilege because his melodies are so beautiful. She said while his musical phrases are exquisite and speak for themselves, that doesn’t mean the text should suffer. “That’s my job as an opera singer, to balance telling the story with serving the music,” she said.

Buccleugh said working in a recital format like this allows her to have fun switching between different styles. She will sing “Will He Like Me?” by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick from the musical, She Loves Me. She said the style allows her some looseness when she interprets the music, even with the option of sometimes speaking rather than singing lyrics. “You can’t sing it like Mozart opera,” she said.

Though Buccleugh said she didn’t have in mind a particular theme for Thursday’s recital, she said love is the theme. But she added that love, in some form or other, is almost always the theme, when it comes to a concert of songs.

These selections show many kinds of love, said Buccleugh. Fauré and Rodrigo’s songs present romantic love in its happy, painful, and sexual expressions. She said Mozart’s Despina sings of a kind of disposable love, fickle and playful.

A song by Leonard Bernstein, “Glitter and Be Gay,” from his operetta Candide, sings of a love of possessions. Buccleugh paraphrased the song, “Times are hard, but I’m being covered in jewels and lavish clothing, so things could be worse.”

soprano Kathleen Buccleugh

soprano Kathleen Farrar Buccleugh

baritone Matthew Hoch

A Little Lunch Music 9/14: AU Faculty Will Tackle Schubert’s Final Song Cycle

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On Thursday from noon to 1 p.m., the series will present a free concert featuring baritone singer Matthew Hoch with pianist Jeremy Samolesky in the Grand Gallery. The duo will perform music by Franz Schubert. Gifts from anonymous friends of the series are helping to make this performance possible.

Click here for the full schedule for A Little Lunch Music and more about the performers.

In addition to a solo piano piece by Schubert, the duo will perform the composer’s final song cycle. Titled “Shwanengesang” and translated “Swan Song,” the publisher released it a few months after Schubert’s death in 1828.

In 2016, Hoch and Samolesky performed Schubert’s first song cycle “Die schöne Müllerin.” Next year, Hoch said they will learn the composer’s second, “Winterreise,” finishing out the composer’s canon of song cycles. “Jeremy and I view this as a rite of passage,” said Hoch.

Hoch said that Samolesky is a fantastic performer of Romantic music, which he added can be difficult to interpret. He said it has an expressive quality that requires a certain looseness that Samolesky can really pull off. “He just has a great way of communicating a piece to an audience so that it makes sense,” said Hoch.

Hoch said he entered music school in college as a saxophonist, but soon became jealous of the singers’ repertoire. He said as a freshman, he heard a concert by famous Dutch soprano Elly Ameling during her farewell tour. “She sang an all-Schubert recital and I was hooked,” he said. Soon after, he switched to study vocal performance.

“Schubert for me is kind of like Shakespeare might be for the English teacher,” said Hoch. “I just find a richness there that I’m never going to get to the bottom of,” he added.

“Schwanengesang” is a collection of fourteen songs that were unpublished when Schubert died at age 31. Hoch said this has caused some debate on the subject of whether it can, in fact, be called a song cycle. Often, a song cycle is a composer’s musical setting of a collection of the work of one poet. This is true of Schubert’s other two cycles, but “Schwanengesang” includes the poems of three poets.

The song cycle’s poets are Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine, and Johann Gabriel Seidl. Hoch said though there are different poets, the songs are connected by thematic material. He said many of them are in the voice of a man separated from his beloved. Secondly, the idea of a type of character Hoch calls “the wanderer,” common in Romantic German poetry, appears frequently. He also noted the recurrence of melodic ideas.

Rellstab’s work makes up the first seven songs. This group includes the song titled “Ständchen,” translated “Serenade,” which Hoch said is one of Schubert’s most famous melodies. After Rellstab’s poems, Heine’s work makes up the next six songs. Then the final song is the only setting of Seidl’s poetry. “It’s kind of obvious that the publisher put that in to give it some cyclical unity,” Hoch said.

Hoch defends the publisher’s decision to add the third poet. In his program notes, Hoch uses “sinister” to describe the cycle’s second-to-last song, “Der Doppëlganger,” translated “The Wraith.” He described this setting of Heine’s poetry as delivering “a recitative of thrilling terror.”

In contrast, Hoch wrote that the final song with Seidl’s poem “elegantly reflects a more joyful side of the composer’s spirit.” Hoch said it gives listeners a reprieve from the adventurous harmonic language and dark imagery of “Der Doppëlganger.” He said it nicely ties together the full song cycle, even bringing back thematic ideas from the Rellstab poems.

baritone Matthew Hoch

photo credit: Lesley Foote

pianist Mary Slaton

A Little Lunch Music 9/7/2017: Mary Slaton Will Open Fall Season

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On Thursday, September 7, from noon to 1 p.m., we will present a free concert as part of our weekly A Little Lunch Music series. The event will feature pianist Mary Slaton in the Grand Gallery, performing her arrangements of popular music going back as far as the 1940s.

Gifts from anonymous friends of the series are helping to make this performance possible.

Click here for the event page with more about the performers and the series’s full schedule.

As the museum reopens after renovations, Slaton will kick off the series’ fall schedule. The pianist has had her own re-construction over the summer, having endured a serious injury last March. She said she broke both bones in her forearm and damaged her wrist. For ten weeks, her hand was immobile.

For decades, Slaton has performed and taught piano. She said she specializes in popular music from the 1940s to the 1970s, but her repertoire includes music from the 1930s to present day.

Musician Patrick McCurry coordinates the weekly series. “I was worried when she said she got hurt,” he said. He has heard Slaton many times, sometimes playing saxophone in her trio. He said when he called to book her for the date, she was still unable to play.

But McCurry said Slaton agreed to perform, saying she would use it as a recovery goal. “She plays these rich, lush chords in her arrangements,” said McCurry, adding that piano music like that requires nimble fingers and hands that can stretch far.

But Slaton said practicing turned out to be a good companion to physical therapy. She said the stretching and exercise it requires helped a lot, and she is now able to perform again. “There are certain chords that I still can’t play,” said Slaton. But she added that she is close to a full recovery, and is ready to play Thursday.

Slaton said she built her arsenal of songs from the gigs she played. “When I started playing, a lot of it happened because people would request songs,” she said. If she didn’t know the song, she would say, “Hum a few bars,” and fake it. Then later she would find the music or the recording and learn the tune.

Slaton said when she was playing the most, in the 1970s and 80s in Memphis and then Atlanta, she would try to keep up with the music that was playing on the radio. After that, the requests at her gigs were mostly from those earlier decades.

“I like the oldies,” she said, adding that she is still learning new songs people want to hear.

Slaton worked briefly for a pest control company in Atlanta and for the IRS in Memphis, the worst job she said has ever had. But her lifetime career has been music. After graduating from the University of Montevallo, she taught piano, chorus, and band at Beauregard School and in Tuskegee before moving to Memphis.

As a single mom with a young son, Slaton was earning her Master’s degree at Memphis State University and playing at the Hilton and Hyatt hotels. She would need babysitters when she played at night, and said she once hired Kerrie McCarver, who would become Jerry Lee Lewis’s sixth wife.

Slaton moved to Atlanta to be closer to family, and played for years there at venues like the Omni Hotel, the Hilton, the Atlanta Country Club, and others.

Now living in Opelika since 1995, she is near the Lazenby family farm where she grew up in Beauregard. She has appeared at venues like the now-closed Terra Cotta, the Saugahatchee Country Club, and the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National among others. She teaches a private studio and plays at churches and events when called on.

Slaton said being in the music business for so long, she has met a lot of famous and colorful characters. She said people ask her, “Why don’t you write a book,” and she answers, “I’m afraid my son would read it.”

pianist Mary Slaton

On September 7, pianist Mary Slaton will return to present classic songs from 1940s and later.

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.


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 or 844-1675 to make a gift to support the efforts of these musicians. The café menu is available online.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 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 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.

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Upcoming Events

Thu 28

A Little Lunch Music: Fall 2017

September 28 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Thu 28

Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers

September 28 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Oct 05

A Little Lunch Music: Fall 2017

October 5 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm