Ensemble ACJW returns to campus

Posted by Gia Vaccarezza

Ensemble ACJW is back to grace the stage at the Arthur Zankel Music Center for the second time this year. The ensemble is comprised of 14 promising, young woodwind, brass and string musicians.

The members were selected and assembled by the Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, the Julliard School and the Weill Music Institute. The group is a popular and regularly welcomed guest on campus and in Saratoga, and the group's service projects extend to students and town residents alike.

Artist-in-residence Michael Emery described the group as "professional and engaging, dedicated to creating music at the highest possible level and sharing it and its greater message with as many people as it can reach."

Last semester, two ACJW alumni played at the dedication of the Arthur Zankel Music Center, joined by Emanuel Ax, Emery and Filene Scholar Hanna Tonegawa '11.

As usual, the ensemble will be having many informal performances, "informances," around campus: in residence halls, Murray-Aikins Dining Hall and the Lucy Scribner Library. These miniperformances preview movements of the pieces the group will play on Feb. 4 on the main stage at Zankel.

Along with these performances, Ensemble ACJW will be working alongside music students. Members of the group will also host various sight-reading sessions and private lessons.

The college's string ensemble has worked closely with the musicians in the past. Students have benefited greatly from the private lessons offered as part of the service requirement of the trip.

The group will also perform student compositions on Saturday, Feb. 5, allowing student composers to hear their pieces played live, some for the first time. David Bruce, residency composer for the ACJW, will also be in attendance to give students feedback on their work.

During their weeklong stay, the ensemble will also give free student lessons and visit Saratoga Bridges and St. Clement's Elementary School. These visits usually include a music lesson based on the presentations that they have given to inner-city students in New York City.

Friday's show will be the premier performance of David Bruce's "Steampunk," a 22-minute octet featuring oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and bass.

Along with "Steampunk," the players will also perform Beethoven's Septet in E-flat Major and Janacek's sextet, "Mládí." This line-up will be performed again at Carnegie Hall on Feb. 7.

Students have responded exceedingly well to the visits. "The group is amazing. The members are willing to work with us as well as hang out and just play music," Jessica Taffett '12 said.

Others found the player's outreach efforts inspiring, "It's really great to work first-hand with all these experienced players. It gives us an idea of what we could be doing in a few years," Jane Esterquest '13 said.

The full concert will be performed at Zankel on Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. At 7 p.m. there will be a pre-concert discussion moderated by professor Thomas Denny that will feature composer Bruce and some of the performers.

Concert tickets can be reserved through the box office or online at http://skidmore.showclix.com.

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