Berklee World Strings

Monday / April 30, 2012 / 8:15 p.m.
First Church of Boston
66 Marlborough Street
United States

Berklee World Strings, directed by Eugene Friesen, will present “As Swam Two Birds,” an evening of new work for strings and improvising soloists in special tribute to the late and beloved Berklee professor John McGann (1959-2012). Admission is free, though donations will be accepted for a special memorial fund.

The concert will feature two acclaimed soloists, Bruce Molsky on guitar, fiddle, and vocals along and Darol Anger on fiddle. Molsky and Anger will be featured on three original arrangements, "Man of Constant Sorrow," "Richmond," and Billy Taylor's "Feel to Be Free."

The program will feature the premiere of a work by John McGann, "As Swam Two Birds," for strings, mandolin, and percussion. Two other pieces will be also heard for the first time: "African Violet" by Berklee composer Jimmy Kachulis and "Cryphon" by Bruce Thomas. Also on the program is Piazzolla's "Night Club 1960" in a new arrangement by BWS harpist Smadar Levy and "Fiddle Suite for String Orchestra," a multi-meter, rollicking concerto for strings utilizing fiddle techniques old and new by Berklee alumnus Andy Reiner.

Bruce Molsky stands today as the premier old-time fiddler in the world, the defining virtuoso of Appalachia's timeless folk music traditions. Molsky was born in the Bronx in 1955 and fell in love with old-time music as a teenager. He moved to Virginia in the '70s, learning directly from old masters like Tommy Jarrell and seeing how the music fit into people's lives. Calling him "the Rembrandt of Appalachian fiddle," Linda Ronstadt added, "There's an incredible power of history and tradition in his vocals."

Darol Anger has spent the last 30 years opening connections between violin styles of the world. Exceptional among modern fiddlers for his versatility and depth, Anger's style and rhythmic innovations have changed fiddling all over the globe. Anger's career began in 1975 with the legendary David Grisman Quintet, featuring guitarist Tony Rice. In 1985 Anger founded the Turtle Island String Quartet with composer/violinist David Balakrishnan. Turtle Island blazed a new frontier for the venerable string quartet form, teaching and performing their original music and swinging jazz arrangements all over the world.

Featured improvising soloists from the ensemble will include violinists Maria Kowalski, Eli Bishop, Tanner Johnson, and Caitlyn Offerman; violist Alex Gallefrom; cellist Eric Law; mandolinist Bryce Milano; and others.

The Berklee World Strings are devoted to the art of ensemble playing and the development of new music that features improvisation and the rhythmic capabilities of string instruments and players. Drawing from Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, rock, and classical styles, the ensemble presents original programs that include new compositions and arrangements from a wide variety of the world's music. The group features Berklee's finest string players from countries around the world and the U.S.