AU Faculty Will Perform for A Little Lunch Music

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Museum Series Will Feature Brahms Chamber Music

On January 19, from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the auditorium featuring pianist Jeremy Samolesky, baritone Matthew Hoch, soprano Anne Duraski, violinist Guy Harrison, and clarinetist David Odom. The program will feature chamber music by Johannes Brahms. Thanks to anonymous friends of the series for helping to make this performance possible.
Thursday’s program will include three pieces by Johannes Brahms, one of the defining composers of western music’s Romantic Period. Brahms lived from 1833 to 1897. Samolesky said he began playing Brahms’ music in undergraduate school. He said he was struck by the melodies, how expressive and singable they are.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to play, physically as well as emotionally,” said Samolesky. He said he has experienced everything from extreme fragile intimacy to full-blown passionate drama in Brahms’ music.
Samolesky has played all of Brahms’ solo piano music and much of his chamber music. Thursday’s program will highlight the composer’s chamber music. Featured will be a set of vocal duets, a violin sonata and a clarinet sonata.
“All of these pieces are extremely difficult,” said Samolesky, adding that everyone’s part is equally hard to perform. He said this is true not only in a technical sense, but also in communicating the musical essence. But he said with Brahms, the virtuosity always serves a musical purpose, and doesn’t exist only to show off a performer’s talent.

Pictured: Jeremy Samolesky

“All of his chamber music is musical conversations between all the instruments,” said Samolesky. He contrasted this with earlier works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose trios are melodically dominated by the piano and whose string quartets showcase the first violin. In Brahms’ music, Samolesky said each voice carries the same importance.
The conversational aspect of the music is most evident in Brahms’ “Vier Duette (Four Duets), Op. 28,” for soprano, baritone and piano. In this set of four pieces, each scene is a conversation between two characters. And Samolesky said even in this relatively short piece, the emotions range from bright and joyful to tragic despair.
Samolesky said Brahms wrote three very different violin sonatas and two very different clarinet sonatas. But he said the violin and clarinet sonatas they will perform Thursday happen to be very similar. He said that in a way, they represent Brahms’ later style of writing, which was more subdued and reflective. He said they are not without passion, however, including long, rich melodies that are singing and beautiful.
Samolesky said Brahms’ chamber music has left an indelible impression on him, and colleagues have expressed the same. “I do remember every single time I played Brahms chamber music,” he said. “I remember where I was and who I played it with.”

“A Little Lunch Music” Returns for Spring 2017

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Museum Series Opens with American Opera and Art Song, Jazz Returns After Hours

On January 12, from noon to 1:00 pm, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert in the auditorium featuring soprano Stephanie Tingler with pianist Martha Thomas. The duo will present vocal music by 20th-century American composers including Florence Price, Richard Hageman, and Lori Laitman.
The concert is made possible by a grant from the SEC Academic Initiative.
In 2013, Tingler and Thomas put together a program of American vocal music to take to Kenya and then later Brazil. Tingler said the project was extremely well received, and not only by their audiences. She also discovered in herself a strong connection to American poetry, which is often the text American composers choose to set to music.
For centuries, the bulk of classical repertoire for singers, American or otherwise, has been from other countries. It is expected for performers to learn standard pieces in non-native languages. Only in recent decades has the United States established itself as a serious source for vocal repertoire. Tingler said it has now become a focus of her career.
“American music has become a big part of my life,” said Tingler. She said as an American, she is able to understand the subtle cultural references and idioms found in American opera and art song. “There are so many things at work in American music that make it more interesting,” she said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that the poetry that composers are setting has gotten more rich and full.”
Composer Libby Larsen’s piece, “Margaret Songs,” sets to music poems of Willa Cather, an American writer who lived at the turn of the 20th century. Though the text is from an earlier time, Tingler said she loves how Larsen uses her music to bring Cather’s ideas into the present.
“I’m a preacher’s kid,” said Tingler, adding that she always learned that the word was most important. “In the beginning was the Word,” she said, quoting the first verse from the Book of John in the New Testament. She said the verse was also one of the first things spoken to her by a vocal teacher in graduate school.
Tingler noted that the importance of text has been a theme of her life. She said what connects her most strongly to a piece of music is how the lyrics apply to life now.
“Beyond all price” by composer Lori Laitman is another example of that. The song is from Latiman’s opera, “The Scarlet Letter,” based on the 19th-century novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. David Mason wrote the text. “He understands the woman’s point of view,” said Tingler, explaining he was able to bring ideas of women’s struggle for equality effectively into the 21st century.
Tingler has appeared in leading roles with opera companies throughout the US and in Brazil. She has been honored by her selection into top art song festivals and series, and has collaborated in chamber music with notable instrumental and vocal performers. She has won honors and awards at national and international performance competitions and has received grants and recognition as a teacher, scholar and author. She holds undergraduate degrees from East Carolina University and from Northern Kentucky University and graduate degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Ohio State University. She was appointed to the School of Music faculty at the University of Georgia in 1992, where she is currently Associate Professor of Voice.
Thomas maintains an active career as recitalist and collaborative artist, giving concerts and appearing at festivals and conferences across the United States and in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Africa. She is now featured on eight compact disc recordings on the ACA Digital, Centaur, and Albany labels. Her CD of the solo piano music of George Rochberg garnered excellent reviews and a citation in the New York Times. A native Texan, she holds degrees through the doctoral level from the Universities of Texas and Wisconsin. She is currently the Despy Karlas Professor of Piano and Associate Director for Academic Programs at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia.
The duo has recorded a CD and has created a second program of American music, which is what they will perform in Auburn this week. In addition to Thursday’s noon concert at the museum, on Friday they will present a masterclass at Goodwin Recital Hall at 11:00 a.m. and a lecture recital at 3:00 p.m. All events are open to the public.
JCSM After Hours
On Thursday night from 5-8 p.m., the museum will be open for its weekly JCSM After Hours. The exhibitions are free to the public and the cafe and gift shop are open. Music is featured in the relaxed, club-like atmosphere. This week the house band Cullars Improvisational Rotation will return. It is a jazz trio made up of Dan Mackowski on guitar, Patrick McCurry on saxophone, and Jason DeBlanc on bass.

Museum Series Will Feature Flutist Alina Windell

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On October 27 from noon to 1:00 pm, “A Little Lunch Music Series” will present a free concert by flutist Alina Windell with oboist Sue Tomkiewicz and pianist Jeremy Samolesky. The program will feature music by Sergei Prokofieff, and still-living composers Martin Kennedy, and Dana Wilson. Anonymous friends of the series have helped make this possible.

Anonymous friends of the series are helping to support the concert.

Composer Martin Kennedy is now Director of Theory and Composition at Central Washington University. He was a grad student at Indiana University when Windell was there earning her Bachelors Degree. At that time, she heard his piece, “Four Songs,” and said since then she’s been waiting for a chance to play it.

Now, two degrees later and teaching at Auburn and Southern Union, Windell has been able to program the piece for A Little Lunch Music.

A piece of music often ebbs and flows, offering its climax at or near its end. Windell said the four-movement Kennedy piece is different. “Everything just really calms down as the piece goes on,” she said.

Windell said the first movement, “Ferocious,” is the most intense. It is the most dissonant, is louder, and has really complex textures, she said. “The last piece is the most relaxed, kind of like a loose, free feeling,” she added.

In between, Windell said Kennedy’s second movement is fun and playful and reminds her of Aaron Copland’s music at times. She said the third is a sweet love song with hints of Disney music. She said the composer is a pianist, and the piano part to “Four Songs” is really virtuosic.

They will perform “Sonata” by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). Though Windell said it is a staple of the flute’s repertoire, this will be the first time she’s had the chance to play all of its four movements together. Windell said that though Prokofieff’s music can be fairly adventurous, this is one of his more consonant sounding pieces.

“I just like it,” said Windell.

Thursday’s program will also feature a trio by still-living composer Dana Wilson, “Gold Mosaic.” Oboist Tomkiewicz was involved in its commission, and frequently plays with Windell for the Springer Theatre orchestra in Columbus.

Windell said they will repeat the program at Columbus State University on Nov. 10.

Windell has performed throughout the USA and abroad and is a member of the LaGrange Symphony. In the summer of 2016, she performed at the National Flute Association Convention in San Diego, CA; at the Orfeo Music Festival, in Vipiteno, Italy; and at the International Double Reed Society conference at Columbus State University. In 2015, she was a soloist in a concert tour of Malaysia.

Tomkiewicz is the Associate Professor of Oboe at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music and the Director of Honors on the school’s RiverPark campus. She has commissioned, premiered and recorded new works for oboe and English horn by such composers as Brian Cherney, Brooke Joyce, Bruce Pennycook and Nancy Galbraith. She is currently the English hornist with the Columbus Symphony.

Samolesky serves as Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Area Coordinator at Auburn University. Recent concert tours and performances include China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, and Ecuador, with regular appearances as performer and teacher throughout the US. His Kennedy Center recital was broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.” Praised by critics as “brilliant,” “distinguished,” and “full of intensity and drama,” Samolesky’s debut solo CD was released by Centaur Records in 2015.

Columbus Jazz Pianist Brings Music Inspired by Baroque, Mussorgsky

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On October 20 from noon to 1:00 pm in the auditorium, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert by a group led by composer and pianist Donald Tipton from Columbus, Georgia.
“Musa” is a recent composition by Tipton that he premiered with a sextet earlier this year at the Columbus Museum. Thursday’s concert will feature the piece re-tooled as a quartet. Personnel will be Tipton on piano, Jeanne Martz on flute, Yair Ophir on bass, and Steve Thompson on drums.
“One of the things I’m really interested in is kind of a blending of jazz and Baroque,” said  Tipton, adding, “The two are surprisingly compatible.” He said the original reason for writing “Musa” was to explore that relationship.
“It’s chamber jazz,” said Tipton of “Musa.” He said it has elements of chamber music in the way he layered the melodic material. At the same time, there are parts where the music is improvised, and it is presented in a conventional jazz-quartet format.
Improvisation was was a big part of Baroque music, said Tipton. As in jazz, he said musicians would often freely embellish written melodies or ignore them completely and come up with their own.
In 1874, decades after the Baroque Period ended, the art of Viktor Hartmann inspired Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky to write his famous piece, “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Tipton said some of the inspiration for “Musa” came from six paintings in the permanent collection at The Columbus Museum in Columbus, GA.
Tipton’s “Musa” parallels the structure of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures.” It features a musical impression of each of these six paintings and includes a recurring “Promenade” movement placed in between each impression.
Artist Bo Bartlett was born in Columbus. His painting, “Homecoming,” is one of Tipton’s subjects. It is a high-school scene with images of football and a huge bonfire. Tipton described Bartlett as a very narrative painter with interesting, complex stories.
But Tipton didn’t write his music with one-to-one connections between musical ideas and visual elements. He said it was more free, and he wasn’t so much concerned with the artists’ intentions. “I let the idea of the painting wash over me and then wrote what I felt,” he said.
Another of the paintings is Andrée Ruellan’s “Children’s Mardi Gras.” Tipton described it as very poignant with costumed children playing music and dancing in the street. Other children watch forlornly from behind a fence. He said he used energetic Black Gospel music paired with sounds he described as “sanguine melancholy.”
Tipton is currently working on a Maters Degree in music from Columbus State University. He received his Bachelor of Music from the same school in 1980 when it was Columbus College. Since then, he has worked as a video producer and commercial photographer with special expertise in underwater image making.
In addition to “Musa,” Tipton and his group will perform some of his original jazz pieces. Two will be from his first foray into composition, when he wrote the film score to his own 2009 photographic documentary, “Dreaming into Blue.”
Donald is a founding member of the Amadeus Jazz Quintet and a board member of the Columbus Jazz Society. He can be heard performing jazz at The Loft in Columbus and at other venues throughout the region.

Auburn Faculty Violinist Presents Sonatas by Franck and Beethoven

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On October 13 from noon to 1:00 pm in the auditorium, the series will present a free concert by violinist Guy Harrison with pianist Jeremy Samolesky. The duo will preform the Sonata for Violin & Piano in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven and the Sonata in A Major for Violin & Piano by Cesar Franck.

French composer César Franck composed his violin sonata in 1886 for Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe to play at his own wedding, said Harrison. The story is, they rehearsed it together once on the morning of the wedding, said Harrison.

“We hear so much about French music being its own sort of ball game,” said Harrison. He said its reputation in opera and everything else carries over to the violin. He added that there is a subtlety to French music that’s not in some of the other repertoire.

Harrison said the first movement of the Franck is a gentle and sweet intro to the piece, contrasting with the second. “This is the big one,” he said of the second, describing it as turbulent, loud, and passionate. But with French music, he said its loudness is not an angry type. He said it has a soaring, romantic strength that conveys an underlying passion, a trait of French music.

Harrison said Franck’s third movement is a fantasia-recitative. It allows the performer a great deal of freedom. “It leaves you to interpret it as you see fit,” he added. He said the fourth is a simple melody in canon with the piano, meaning the two instruments overlap the same melodies, starting and ending at different times. “It is a simple, elegant closing,” he said.

The second sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven was written quite early in the composer’s life, being Op. 12, said Harrison. Though he was one of the major forces to bring about changes in Western music that defined the Romantic Period, at this point in his life, Beethoven was still firmly connected with the Classical Period, said Harrison.

“Beethoven is one of those things where you’re always striving to have a better interpretation every time you play it,” said Harrison. He said early Beethoven is similar to late works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom to many defines the Classical Period. He said they both have a simplicity that is challenging to get across to an audience. “You can’t just rely on outgoing passionate playing to get you through,” he added.

Harrison, on faculty with Auburn University, said he was pretty sure he is the only employee to work for two different colleges. Under the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, he is involved with education courses, the Tiger Strings Youth Orchestra, and supervising music teaching interns.

For the Department of Music, Harrison teaches chamber music and applied study.

It’s a challenge to recruit string majors, said Harrison. In Alabama’s grade schools, children’s orchestras are scarce. Most of the ones that exist have strong connections with other colleges’ string programs. In the Auburn/Opelika area, he said there are no in-school string programs.

In response, Harrison started the Auburn University Music Project, which teaches young children string music from the very beginning. He said it gives great teaching opportunities for his college students. The young children’s parents pay tuition, which goes to build a financial base for scholarships and awards. These help recruit new string students to Auburn.

Originally from Australia, Harrison completed his Doctoral degree in Violin Performance at Michigan State University in 2012 under the direction of Dr. Walter Verdehr. He also holds degrees from the University of Adelaide (B.M. – Honors), and Michigan State University (M.M.). Dr. Harrison performs on a J.B. Vuillaume violin, circa 1858.

Samolesky serves as Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Area Coordinator at Auburn. He has performed throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Recent concert tours and performances include China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, and Ecuador. His Kennedy Center recital was broadcast on NPR’s “Performance Today” and elsewhere, and he was recently a featured lecturer and performer at the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. Samolesky’s debut solo CD was released by Centaur Records in 2015.

Trombonist and Pianist Present Songs and Lyrical Pieces

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Trombonist Matthew Wood and Pianist Joshua Pifer Hold Free Concert

On Thursday, October 6, from noon to 1:00 pm in the Grand Gallery, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert by trombonist Matthew Wood and pianist Joshua Pifer. Composers featured will be Michael Davis, Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Joseph Canteloube, Alexander Tcherepnin, Astor Piazzolla, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Edward Elgar, Robert Schuman, and Richard Strauss.

The program will feature lyrical music either inspired by songs or arranged from vocal works. Though Wood has performed music like this before, he said until now he had never put together a whole program with this theme.

“That’s really the way brass instruments are taught,” said Wood, adding, “Everything is lyrically based, even the weirdest bleep-blop [music].” He said whether it’s brass, percussion, or electric guitar, everything starts with tone or sound quality. “Even the most technical thing is not just a series of notes,” he added.
Wood said though songs are generally easier to play, their simplicity reveals every imperfection in a performance. “It’s kind of like missing a six-inch putt,” said Wood.
Romanian composer Joseph Canteloube wrote two pieces that Wood and Pifer will play as a duo. Wood said like much of Thursday’s program, both are vocal pieces arranged for trombone. These are connected to Romanian folk customs and French parlor songs.
The duo will perform their own arrangements of three tangos by 20th-century Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla. The very popular “Oblivion” will be featured as well as “La Muerte del Angel,” and “Libertango.”
Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams from England and Richard Strauss from Germany composed music around the turn of the 20th century. Thursday’s concert will feature what was originally a violin piece by Elgar that Wood described as, “definitely a song without words.” They will do two trombone-piano arrangements of art songs by Strauss and one by Vaughan Williams.
Pifer will perform short piano pieces by Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Tcherepnin, and Robert Schumann. The music was chosen specifically for its lyrical content.
Wood said the idea for a lyrically themed program was inspired by oboist Andrew Parker’s 2015 CD “The Singing Oboe.” On it, Parker recorded oboe transcriptions of art songs by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Robert Schumann. Wood also referenced the Chicago Symphony’s principal trombonist Jay Friedman, who in 2000 recorded “The Singing Trombone,” a CD of lyrical orchestral excerpts.
Though most of the pieces on Thursday’s program are very much lyrically based, Wood said two short pieces by composer Michael Davis may be the exception. Wood said Davis, the touring trombonist with the Rolling Stones, reveals musical influences from jazz and commercial music. Wood said Davis’ piece, “Clover” is more of a ballad with hints of Bach, and “Morning Rush” is straight-ahead jazz.
Dr. Wood is Associate Professor of Low Brass at Auburn University. A native of Columbia, Missouri, he received degrees from the University of Missouri and the University of Texas. Before moving to Auburn, Dr. Wood was an active performer, educator, and clinician in Central Texas. He performed with San Antonio-based BrassFX and the Austin City Brass as well as with the Austinbones trombone quartet. He performed and recorded with several pop, rock, and latin groups including Drew Smith and His Band.
Dr. Pifer is Lecturer in Piano at Auburn University, and has held positions at The Florida State University, Wittenberg University, and Miami University. During summer, he is faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan, and previously served as faculty at Orfeo Music Festival in Italy. Pifer performs throughout the United States and Europe and leads masterclasses and clinics at universities, music teacher associations, and international conferences.

After Hours

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On Thursday nights from 5 to 8 pm, the rotunda and cafe (and when the weather’s nice, the terrace) become Museum After Hours. It’s the perfect place for relaxing, watching the sunset, and listening to music. Hear original songs, jazz, classical, cultural, and sometimes adventurous music fill the pristine spaces at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University.

The house band is CULLARS IMPROVISATIONAL ROTATION. Made up of Dan Mackowski (guitars), Patrick McCurry (woodwinds), Jason DeBlanc (basses), and guests, Cullars is a jazz trio with a southern sensibility: thoughtful, ambient, and adventurous. Named after the oldest soil fertility study in the South, the group embraces its roots and promotes new growth through delicately rehearsed arrangements of standards, originals, hymns and improvisations.

Cafe service is available with food and drink by Ursula’s Catering, the fine art exhibitions are open and free to the public, and the gift shop is open.

Calendar for Museum After Hours Performances

JUNE 30 – The JANE DRAKE TRIO, led by jazz vocalist Jane Drake (on Facebook), is the house band at Eighth and Rail’s Tuesday-night jazz jam in Opelika. Jane started singing with the Auburn Knights Orchestra while a student at Auburn. For the next 15 years, she sang in venues throughout the southeast, from New Orleans to the Florida and Mississippi beaches. In 2006, she appeared on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s The Jazz Spot in conjunction with the release of her CD, “Brand New Woman.”

JULY 7  – Café is closed and the music will take a break.




Music continues every Thursday evening throughout the year unless otherwise advertised.

Museum After Hours presents: singer/songwriter Marie Robertson

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Audiences can hear Marie Robertson on June 23, as she will perform a free concert at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University as a part of the museum’s weekly series, “Museum After Hours.” Collars Improvisational Rotation will open for her from 5-6, and Robertson will play until 8.

The Museum Café is open from 5 to 8 pm on Thursdays. The music can sometimes be heard inside the café, or visitors can dine before or after the concerts. Admission to the fine art exhibitions is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners. A suggested donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, visit or call 334-844-1484.

Marie Robertson currently resides in her hometown Auburn, AL where she works diligently to stay active in Auburn’s music community.  She is an Applied Brass Instructor at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL and also teaches Middle School and High School brass lessons in the Auburn/Opelika area.  Robertson began pursuing her music career in Auburn and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Auburn University in 2009.  She then went on to pursue a Master of Music in Euphonium Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she spent three years immersing herself in the Boulder-Denver music scenes.

Robertson has dedicated many of her musical talents to her passion as a singer/songwriter and keyboard player.  She began studying classical piano as her first instrument when she was eight years old but it wasn’t until her early twenties that she began writing songs for piano and voice.  Since then, she has had the opportunity to collaborate, perform, and record with many groups in Denver, Atlanta, and Auburn, AL as a singer/songwriter, keyboardist, and trombone and euphonium player.  She has helped release two full-length albums and a number of EP’s and singles.  Robertson continues to collaborate with musicians throughout the Southeast and is also working towards her own solo career as a singer, songwriter and performer.

JCSM Presents a Live Tango with the Auburn Argentinian Tango Group

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As a part of the museum’s regular summer music series, “After Hours,” JCSM is proud to present a LIVE TANGO with the Auburn Argentinian Tango Group. New to the dance? Join us for instruction from 5 to 6 p.m. From 6 to 8 p.m., we tango! This program features the Tango Orchestra Club of Atlanta with Dr. Howard Goldstein and the Auburn Argentinian Tango Group.

Space is limited, and pre-registration is SOLD OUT. After 4:30 p.m. check-in, stand-by participants may be accommodated at 6:15 p.m. as space and time allows. Early-bird registration for future events like this one is available through museum membership.  The museum galleries, café and shop are open to the public during this event.    

JCSM and the Auburn Argentinian Tango Group thank Dr. John Stewart for helping to make this program possible. Museum admission is free. A five-dollar donation at the door is appreciated.

Members of the Tango Orchestra Club Atlanta pose for a group photograph.

Tango Orchestra Club Atlanta (TOCA) is an Atlanta-based community orchestra of professional and trained musicians who love tango. We perform authentic Argentine tango arrangements both para escuchar (concert tangos for listening) and para bailar (tango for dancing at a milonga). Our repertory includes classic tango, tango nuevo, and contemporary tango. Our Atlanta performances have included concerts at Emory University and the Latin-American Center as well as at numerous milongas. We have also performed at Auburn University, the University of Miami, and the University of California, Riverside. Our name pays tribute not only to the city of Atlanta, but also to a famous Buenos Aires football club as well as one of the first labels to record tangos. Our acronym, however, reflects what we like to do best, namely, PLAY!

Musician Bios

Music Director/Pianist Kristin Wendland (PhD, CUNY) is a senior lecturer in Music at Emory University in Atlanta where she teaches music theory classes; history and culture classes; Argentine tango courses; and arranges for, coaches, and mentors the students of the Emory Tango Ensemble. Her book “Tracing Tangueros: Argentine Tango Instrumental Music” (Oxford University Press) with coauthor Kacey Link appeared in March, 2016.

Violinist Howard Goldstein (DMA, Peabody) is a professor of music at Auburn University where he conducts the orchestra and teaches music history. He has been a member of the Columbus Symphony for over 20 years. He nurtured his love for tango by attending two College Music Society workshops in Buenos Aires organized by Dr. Wendland.

Mary McCoy (violin/viola) is a nationally board-certified orchestra director, specializing in elementary-level instruction, with a degree in Music Education from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Born in Buenos Aires, she was officially introduced to tango as music, dance and lifestyle in Atlanta in 2007.

Todd Markey (bass) has a wide range of musical skills, including performance in classical, jazz, and rock styles, as well as composition and music theory. He received a Masters degree in Music Performance in double bass from the University of North Texas in 1997 and taught at Valdosta State University from 2000 to 2004. He is the creator of the popular string education website, 

Vincent Aleandri (accordion) has been a professional accordionist since 1959, when he joined the Tamburitzans while attending Duquesne University. He served as musical director for the Pittsburgh Folk Festival from 1970 to 1982, and was a solo and featured musician at Walt Disney World from 1982 to 2006. He currently performs at numerous venues in the Atlanta area.

Cèsar Augusto (tenor) developed a passion for tango as a youth in Colombia. He studied voice at Truett McConnell College in Georgia and with Elizabeth Nohe Colson in Atlanta. After appearing in several opera workshops and master classes, he portrayed Juan Peron in the 2015 Serenbe Playhouse production of Evita.

A Little Lunch Music 5/19: Cellist Laura Usiskin Returns to Museum Series

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On May 19 from noon to 1:00 pm, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University will present “A Little Lunch Music”in the Grand Gallery by cellist Laura Usiskin with pianist Ting Li. Featured on the program will be music by Ludwig van Beethoven, William Price, and Astor Piazolla. The concert is being supported by Stephen and Leslie Swartz. The café menu is available online.

Usiskin lives, teaches and performs chamber music in Birmingham, and often travels to make music. She holds the principle cello position in Orchestra Iowa, and performs with Trio Arté based in New York. Until 2013, she led the Montgomery Music Project which she founded during her tenure as cello fellow with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.

Usiskin coordinates a music series at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Art. Performances occur a few times each year and serve to complement new AEIVA exhibitions.

Usiskin will perform with pianist Ting Li. Li was a Birmingham resident until recently, and now lives in Mississippi. Usiskin said she and Li started collaborating after Li reached out to her to get together and play informally.

Li’s biography mentions that she was the first Asian pianist to win the Music Teachers National Association southwest region piano competition. Among her other honors are having been part of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s collaborative piano program.

At opus 5, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 2, which will open Thursday’s concert, is very early in the composer’s output. Even as a Romantic Period piece, it is also early in the history of cello sonatas, said Usiskin. She said up to this point, the cello had not really been used a solo instrument, but served more of a bass function. Classical Period composers like Mozart and Haydn didn’t write cello sonatas, she said.

“I think there’s a boldness and intensity to a lot of Beethoven’s music,” said Usiskin. She said among other things, his sudden and surprising shifts in volume give a very dramatic quality to the music. “[It has] more charged, emotional content that is uniquely Beethoven,” she said.

Usiskin and Li will also perform “Sans Titre V,” composed in 2006 by William Price. Price is on the music faculty at UAB. Usiskin said the piece has themes that she hears as characters. “It kind of tells a story,” she added. She said it has a lyrical, singing character and a brutal character. “‘Brutal’ is actually written in the part,” she said.

It is a rarity to have music by Astor Piazzolla with just cello and piano, said Usiskin. She said he didn’t write a lot for cello. “Le Grand Tango” is the exception, and will close Thursday’s program. “Tangos have real intensity to them,” she said, adding that some might expect Tango to be lighthearted because it’s a dance. “This is pretty serious,” she said, adding, “Tangos are passionate.”

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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