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Skidmore College

Ensemble Connect in active residency

October 18, 2016

From allegro vivace to desolato, the always eclectic Ensemble Connect winds up its 19th fall residency at Skidmore with a public concert this Friday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. in the Zankel Music Center. Tickets (free for students of all ages) are here.  

Ensemble Connect is the new name of Ensemble ACJW, an acronym for a graduate fellowship program of "the Academy" linking Carnegie Hall with the Weill Music Institute and the Juilliard School. Fellowship participants not only perform as an ensemble but also learn and practice the art of public arts—working with schoolchildren, civic groups, and service agencies to foster an engagement with music throughout their communities.

ensemble connect
Ensemble members perform at Zankel in a previous residency.

With the Friday concert capping the ensemble's residency, the musicians are already active on and around campus. Today (Tue., Oct. 18) at 2:50 p.m. they offer a brief interactive performance in Gannett Auditorium, and Thu., Oct. 20, at 1:30 p.m. they perform Brahms chamber music in Scribner Library. Their evenings are largely devoted to Skidmore students and faculty, sharing insights through musicology discussions, performance coaching, and other interactions. The ensemble is also providing intimate, interactive performances and discussions at local schools, Saratoga Bridges, and the Wesley assisted-living community.

Friday’s concert will feature works from 2010 and 1824. Steampunk, by David Bruce, reflects the Steampunk design subculture that evokes a technologically advanced dystopia where electricity never existed and everything is steam-powered. The work includes one movement inspired by a spiraling celestial mechanism and another that "hints at strange ticking clocks," according to Bruce. And the final movement gradually builds speed, "as if powered by steam."

Next the ensemble performs Franz Schubert’s Octet in F Major (D. 803), for strings and winds. The composer, a great admirer of Beethoven, intended the piece to be something of a preparation for his own grand symphony on the majestic scale of Beethoven’s Ninth. When the octet premiered, Vienna's Theaterzeitung described it as "luminous, agreeable and interesting," though longer and more expansive than expected for a chamber-music piece.

Ensemble Connect's fall campus residencies have been supported by Skidmore alumna Beverly Sanders Payne ’59 and husband David, along with foundation grants. The ensemble returns for a spring residency in February.

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