Berklee World Strings

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Tuesday / May 3, 2011 / 8:15 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue
United States

Berklee World Strings directed by Eugene Friesen present an evening of new work for strings and improvising soloists.

The concert will include four world premieres: The Improvising Erhu by Chieh Wei Chiu and Eugene Friesen, Unit #407 by violin soloist and composer Echae Kang, Celta by Berklee faculty composer Bruce Thomas, and Coral by Berklee alumnus Andy Reiner.

Also on the program will be the East Coast premiere of Short Stories by UCLA faculty composer Mark Carlson, the United States premiere of Concertino for Arabic Violin featuring Layth Sidiq, and Blue Sky Basin, a contemporary bluegrass romp for strings by Andy Reiner.

Berklee student Chieh Wei Chiu, a native of Taipei, Taiwan, is a violinist in Berklee World Strings. After making it known that he plays erhu—a Chinese lap-held viola—Chiu was invited by BWS director Eugene Friesen to a jam session during which it became obvious that Chiu was more than a traditional erhu virtuoso. He could improvise melodies in a wide variety of harmonic and rhythmic settings, and he could play blues on the erhu! The transcriptions of Chiu and Friesen's initial improvisations, along with a beautiful pentatonic melody written by Chiu became the central themes and sections of The Improvising Erhu.

BWS concertmaster Echae Kang, from Seoul, Korea, has written a feature for her amazing virtuosic gypsy jazz violin playing and soloing. Unit 407 also features Sierra Hull on mandolin and Shin Sakaino on bass.

Concertino for Arabic Violin features violin soloist Layth Sidiq of Amman, Jordan. Sidiq plays traditional Arabic music on the violin, requiring unique aspects of tuning, ornamentation, and improvisation. The concertino was composed by Mohammed u. Sidiq, the student's father and a renowned composer and conductor in Jordan.

Berklee faculty pianist and composer Bruce Thomas has created a new work for BWS, Celta. As the title suggests, this rollicking new piece inspired by Thomas's Irish grandmother uses characteristics of Celtic music.

Coral by Andy Reiner, one of two Reiner pieces on the program, is a serene and elegant exploration of meter and melody.

Featured soloists from the ensemble will include Eli Bishop, Sierra Hull, Joshue Humphreys, Rika Ikeda, Echae Kang, Patrick M'Gonigle, Shin Sakaino, and Layth Sidiq.

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 United States.

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$10 general admission