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2008 Concerts

August Stay Tuned Performances

ClefWorks fans arrived at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to attend the Stay Tuned 2008 concerts on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24 and were treated to multi-sensory concert experiences and fun-filled receptions. Early arrivals could finally discover the identities of ClefWorks’ mystery performers — 100 customized ClefWorks metronomes ticking down to a single voice, accentuated by striking lighting designed by ASF’s Thomas Rodman. Patrons appreciated the beauty, warmth, and intimacy of the Octagon stage, a perfect setting for ClefWorks’ innovative and intentionally casual approach to chamber music. Through this newly-minted partnership, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival continued its tradition of encouraging great cultural offerings in the Montgomery area and ClefWorks reaffirmed its commitment to teaming up with other arts organizations.

The applause following the dying echo of the last metronomic “tock” was only heightened by the entrances of violinist Ben Sung, pianist Xak Bjerken, and horn player Todd Harris Sheldrick. The three musicians first tackled Johannes Brahms’ “Trio for piano, violin, and horn” (1865), a heartfelt and deeply emotional work commemorating and celebrating the composer’s mother’s life, and then presented modern composer Gyorgy Ligeti’s “Trio for violin, horn, and piano” (1982), a dramatic and, at times, unsettling piece that, coupled with Rodman’s lighting designs, more than once elicited gasps from the audience.

At the concerts, Elmore DeMott, ClefWorks Board President, welcomed guests and thanked Bravo Sponsor Sterling Bank and the other patrons who made the season possible. Deborah Moore, Chair of the ClefWorks Composition Competition, announced the 2008 winner, Scott Robbins of Spartanburg, SC, whose “Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano” (1999/2008) will be performed during ClefWorks’ Dream On season in January 2009. Stephen Poff, David Allred, and the LWT team created a short video of the announcement.

As an encore, the musicians surprised and amused both audiences by cramming together onto one piano bench to play a Bach chorale transcribed for one piano/six hands by Gyorgy Kurtag. This lighthearted tone continued after each performance, when concert-goers of all ages adjourned to the Patrons’ Lobby of the Carolyn Blount Theatre to dine on delightful dessert creations and raise a glass to the talented ClefWorks musicians.

Also celebrating the conclusion of the ClefWorks Stay Tuned season was Kimberly Baker, fresh from planning and successfully implementing the ClefWorks Outreach Concert, the exciting culmination of the Jubilee Community Center’s summer enrichment program. At the Outreach Concert, children and their parents got up-close and personal with the ClefWorks musicians, test-drove several instruments, and then enjoyed a reception featuring homemade goodies and custom-designed floral arrangements.

Education and Outreach January 2008

Beyond extraordinary performances, ClefWorks has taken an active role in bringing music to new places within Montgomery. The ClefWorks musicians hit early high notes in January and February with engaging performances at the Montgomery Cancer Center, Carver Elementary School, Booker T. Washington (BTW) High School and at the YMCA.

Returning ClefWorks musician and cancer survivor, Gabby Diaz (on violin) and Katerina Juraskova (on cello) chose to provide free concerts at the Montgomery Cancer Center. It was Gabby’s way of giving back to the staff that treat cancer patients, and it was Gabby and Katerina’s goal to brighten the days of patients in the cancer center that day. They accomplished that goal along with the help of Gabby’s father, Manuel Diaz who played viola, and that of her mother, Betty Anne Diaz, who played the piano.

Also at the beginning of 2008, four returning ClefWorks musicians reached more than 500 children between the ages 3 to 18 by providing nine free master classes and six performances at local schools. Ben Sung and fellow musicians Matt Dunlap (on guitar), Hrant Parsamian (on cello) and Jihye Chang (on piano) worked with groups of music students to provide immediate, hands-on instruction and constructive criticism. At BTW and Carver, the ClefWorks musicians visited individual classrooms where students performed and received feedback. Ben Sung and Hrant Parsamian went to strings classrooms, Jihye Chang worked with piano students and Matt Dunlap worked with young guitarists.

At these unique master classes both the student performers and their classmates learned how to listen for and recognize technical elements such as rhythm, pitch, tone and phrasing, in addition to more general matters of musical style and expression. At the YMCA, the ClefWorks musicians made quite a hit by giving very young children the chance to play child sized instruments, including a cello and violin!