The Guitar and Other Strings Series, held every July, features all styles of music — jazz, bluegrass, folk, Celtic, flamenco, classical and blues.
Begun in 1992, the series has presented nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in concerts and workshops. Artists who have performed on this series include Leo Kottke, Mark O’Connor, John Hartford, John Jackson, the Washington Guitar Quintet, Charlie Byrd, the Tony Rice Unit, the Del McCoury Band, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Pierre Bensusan and Stephen Bennett. The VCU Community Guitar Ensemble also performs annually on this series.
Alumnus/Prof. Taylor Barnett starts the summer off with a ten-day performance tour of Turkey sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, joining American and Turkish musicians in performances of traditional Turkish folk melodies, arranged to incorporate elements of American jazz improvisation. VCU Jazz Drum alumnus Emre Kartari wrote the grant that funded the trip. Sax alumnus Kevin Simpson was also a member of the ensemble.
Through a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, VCU musicians, are working with researchers and health care providers from across the university on an intervention for new or expectant mothers facing the hardships of parenting in challenging settings such as correctional facilities, group homes for teenagers and hospitals. Such settings often hinder mothers from bonding with their newborns. The Lullaby Project aims to increase the mother-child bond through language that is universal: music.
Doug Richards’ CD documenting his Great American Music Ensemble is released March 4. Says JazzTimes online in February: “The album – which delivers 15 cuts! – is a musical marvel in every regard…. In the shrewdest of ways, Richards shows he knows the fine line between creative experimentation and jejune jive (of which there’s none). The ensemble is admirably and swingingly up to the task. They cover the challenging material with flair and precision.” Almost every regular member of The Great American Music Ensemble on this disc has ties to VCU Jazz as an alumnus or former or current faculty member.
One thing that most highly successful athletes have in common: They watch themselves over and over again — and then just once more — to figure out why they aren’t performing the way they want…By incorporating the time-honored athletic ritual of “watching film,” violin professor Susanna Klein has students analyze video recordings of themselves performing as part of a more effective, real-world, student-centered learning model. The model has been adopted using the School of the Arts state-of-the-art motion capture lab at The Depot and supported by a grant from ALT Lab.