Friday Music Series

The Friday Music Concert Series offers free performances each semester in McNeir Hall (New North Building) every Friday afternoon (12:30–1:45 pm) for the university community of students, staff, faculty, and neighbors in the city.

The concerts feature local, national, and international performers offering music from an array of genres, including jazz, classical, opera, country, folk, world, chamber, roots, and traditional, highlighting broad cultural diasporas of art.
The Series is designed as a cornerstone of the undergraduate music curriculum and its focus on American musical culture, connecting to courses concentrating on historical musicology, ethnomusicology, performance, and theory as well as the extensive traditions practiced, created, and innovated in the Metro area and beyond. Guests artists are also featured in the affiliated course “Live Music in Context” and in masterclasses for students enrolled in music ensembles as well as lectures provided to academic courses.

The Fall 2023 semester includes performances by David Kim (world-renowned violinist and concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra), acclaimed Brazilian guitarist Rogério Souza, the Alejandro Brittes Quartet from South America, contemporary composer and violinist Gregory TS Walker, and others.

Fall 2023

Soloist David Kim and the U.S. Army Band, Pershing’s Own

Violinist David Kim was named Concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1999. Born in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1963, he started playing the violin at the age of three, began studies with the famed pedagogue Dorothy DeLay at the age of eight, and later received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School.

Highlights of Mr. Kim’s 2023-24 season include multiple appearances as a soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra in the 8 Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla in Philadelphia, the Bach Double Violin Concerto at Longwood Gardens, PA, and the Tchaikovsky Concerto on tour in Chapel Hill, NC under the baton of Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Mr. Kim will also present masterclasses as well as engage in teaching/performance residencies at Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, and the Curtis Institute of Music.

Mr. Kim serves as Distinguished Artist at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Eastern University in suburban Philadelphia, the University of Rhode Island, and Dickinson College. Mr. Kim exclusively performs on and endorses Larsen Strings from Denmark.
Mr. Kim resides in a Philadelphia suburb with his wife Jane and daughters Natalie and Maggie. He is an avid golfer and outdoorsman.

The U.S. Army Strings, a premier ensemble of the U.S. Armed Forces, provide musical support for many of the country’s most notable events. Their mission is to serve as musical ambassadors for high-level military and government events at home and abroad, as well as in concert for public audiences.

Friday, September 8 at 12:30 p.m
Gonda Theater

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“Loop” / Carlos Simon

Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, “Winter” (L’inverno) from The Four Seasons /Antonio Vivaldi. Featured soloist, David Kim
I. Allegro non molto
II. Largo
III. Allegro

“Verano Porteño” (“Buenos Aires Summer”) from Las 4 Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) / Astor Piazzolla. Featured soloist, David Kim

String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D 810, “Death and the Maiden”/ Franz Schubert
I. Allegro

Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20 / Edward Elgar
I. Allegro piacevole
II. Larghetto
III. Allegretto

About the program:

G.U. Professor Simon’s frenetic and cyclic “Loop,” commissioned by the New York Philharmonic in 2020, evokes the composer’s feelings about the mandated stay-at-home order during the pandemic of COVID-19 in a musically “never-ending quarantine loop.”

Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” depicts the different seasons in a pastoral setting. Vivaldi’s served as inspiration for Piazzollas’s own expression of the “ Piazzolla wrote his pieces as tangos for cabaret band. Between 1996-98, Russian composer

Piazzolla’s pieces for solo violin and string orchestra, tipping his hat to Vivaldi by quoting motives from the original “Seasons.” Since Piazzolla and Vivaldi lived in different hemispheres, Desyatinikov cleverly added bits of Vivaldi’s Winter to Piazzolla’s Summer.

Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” string quartet is famous for its emotional intensity and passionate melodies. Schubert was battling syphilis at the time of writing the piece. Despite knowing his end was near, he continued to write tuneful, gemutlich music for which he was known. Four Seasons.” L. Desyatnikov rearranged Elgar’s Serenade for Strings in E minor is an early work by the composer and was completed for his wife on the occasion of their third wedding anniversary. It is the first work with which the composer professed himself happy, writing to a friend of the movements, “I like em’ (the first I ever did)”. The first movement is a pleasantly lilting “cradle song”; the second has a heartfelt, elegiac melody sung by the first violins; the third returns to the spirit of the opening.

For more information on David Kim, visit his website here
For more information on the U.S. Army Band, visit here

Enriqueta Somarriba

Spanish pianist Enriqueta Somarriba is specialized in Spanish and Latin American music, performing at Carnegie Hall, the Cervantes Institute, the State Theatre of NJ, the Auditorio Nacional de Música (Madrid), the Festival de Música y Danza de Granada, the Festival dels Horts, and dozens of US educational institutions, including Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and the Manhattan School of Music. At age 19, she performed as a soloist with the Andres Segovia Orchestra in the presence of Queen Sofia of Spain, and since then she has performed as a soloist in multiple venues in the US and Europe, especially focusing on new music by Spanish composers.

Her performances have been recorded for Spanish National Radio, 89.1 WWFM radio, and MSR Classics. She was the featured soloist in the soundtrack of the Netflix film “Dancing on Glass” written by composer Ivan Palomares, which was nominated for the Goya Academy Awards. She holds degrees from Madrid Royal Conservatory (BM), Roosevelt University (MM), Manhattan School of Music (PS), and Rutgers University (DMA). She currently works as Director of Education at SpeakMusic Conservatory in NJ and as Artistic Director of the Música en el Sil concert series, which combines music and wine in a medieval monastery in Galicia, Spain.

Also in attendance- composers Mercedes Zavala and Benet Casablancas Domingo

Mercedes Zavala

Benet Casablancas Domingo

Mercedes Zavala (Madrid 1963) is a Spanish composer and teacher. She has also developed remarkable work in disseminating the music of historical composers. In the 90s she joined the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid as a full-time professor of harmony, actively participating as a pianist at the Grupo Secuencia, exploring the theatrical and sociological aspects of musical performance and improvisation, playing his own works for solo piano or chamber music in Spain, Vienna and the United States. In 1996, she traveled to Senegal to study certain aspects of African music, and in 1997 she graduated in Philosophy.
In the 2000s, she became involved in research on gender studies, collaborated with Radio Nacional de España, chaired the Asociación Mujeres en la Música for three years and joined the board of the Instituto de Investigaciones Feministas UCM in Madrid. She is currently professor of composition and 20th century music at the Teresa Berganza Professional Conservatory of Music in Madrid, having been responsible for the composition department for a decade.
Her projection as a composer is increasingly broad and established, being frequently called upon to participate in juries and composition workshops. She is currently preparing several projects including comissions and collaborations in Denmark, Italy, Spain, Australia and the United States, mainly. His works include chamber and orchestral music, educational works, occasional musical theater, and a persistent influence from literature, one of the sources from which his music draws deeply.

More on her work here

Benet Casablancas Domingo (Sabadell, Spain, 1956)
Widely regarded as one of the leading Spanish composers of his generation, Benet Casablancas studied in Barcelona and Vienna (Friedrich Cerha, Karl-Heinz Füssl), and he graduated in Philosophy in the University of Barcelona, winning a PhD in musicology. His music, firmly rooted in the great modernist tradition, is notable for its great individuality, structural complexity and extraordinary richness of textural detail. His wide-ranging oeuvre is marked by a quest for radical personal and aesthetic independence. Critics highlight his concern for balancing constructional rigour and expressive strength, lyricism, dramatic character and whimsical register. His works are performed regularly around Europe, Canada, US, Japan and Latin America for such orchestras and ensembles as London Philharmonic, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, BBC Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Seattle Chamber Players, Perspectives Ensemble, and maestros such as V. Jurowski, O. Knussen, V. Petrenko, A. Gil-Ordóñez and J. Pons. His works have been presented in the most prestigious halls: Berlin Philharmonie, London Barbican, including several Composers Portraits at the Miller Theater in New York and the Musikverein in Vienna. He has been teaching at the universities Pompeu Fabra and Alcalá de Henares and the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu (formerly Director: 2002-2014). He was appointed composer in residence by several orchestras and towns: Barcelona (2013-2015), Bremen (2016-17) and Madrid (2022-23), and he has been awarded the most prestigious composition prizes in Spain: City of Barcelona (1992), National Prize of the Generalitat of Catalonia (2007) and the National Music Prize granted by the Spanish Ministry of Culture (2013). He is the author of the books El Humor en la Música and Paisajes del Romanticismo Musical (Galaxia Gutenberg, 2014; 2020). In February 2019 his first opera, L’enigma di Lea, commissioned by the Gran Teatre del Liceu, was premiered with great success in Barcelona.

Friday, September 15 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

For more information on Enriqueta, visit her website here

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This event is sponsored by SGAE

Alejandro Brittes Quartet

Argentine accordionist Brittes has been described by University of Texas professor Mark Brill as one of the three principal accordionists of the important traditional South American chamamé musical genre, a 400-year-old musical expression declared as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO that was born of the encounter between native Guaraní cultures and the Baroque musical influences brought by Jesuits in the Mission period. Brittes´s musical career spans over 30 years; he has 100 original compositions and nine albums and he has performed in 10 nations in the Americas and Europe, collaborating with chamamé legends such as Raúl Barboza and Chango Spasiuk. He has published a book titled “The Origins of Chamamé”.

The Quartet is composed of: Alejandro Brittes (accordion), André Ely (7-stringed guitar), Charlise Bandeira (flute), and Carlos de Césaro (contrabass). The Quartet produces multilingual public performances, lecture demonstrations, masterclasses, and multi-day residencies with existing ensembles using arrangements of Brittes´s original compositions. For Fall 2023 North America touring, the Alejandro Brittes Quartet is supported by Ibermúsicas/Mid Atlantic Arts´ Iber Exchange program. The ensemble will be featured at venues such as: U.S. Library of Congress, George Mason University, The Trust Performing Arts Center, Levitt Pavilion Westport, among others.

This engagement of Alejandro Brittes Quartet is made possible in part through the Iber
Exchange program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the
Arts in collaboration with Ibermúsicas.

Friday, September 29 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

For more information about Alejandro Brittes Quartet, visit their website here

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Tiago do Bandolim, Choro, Samba, Jazz

Featuring Tiago do Bandolim: mandolin, Rogério Souza: 7-string guitar, Stephen Guerra: guitar, Gigi McLaughlin: percussion

Co-sponsored by the Department of Performing Arts, the History Department, and EducArte.

Whether you’re in Rio or NYC, if you’re hearing bossa nova, you might also hear musicians and fans arguing about which influenced them more: jazz or Brazilian music. While they may disagree on how much, they always agree on what: a reciprocal influence nurtured through the golden age of radio, a nascent recording industry, and musicians touring the Americas during the era of the Good Neighbor Policy (1933-1945). Choro-Samba-Jazz is a concert project of vibrant original arrangements of various eras of jazz-influenced Brazilian compositions. It begins with Brazil’s first cohort of the 1930s to 1950s—those choro-samba composers involved in and surrounding Brazil’s most successful big band, the Orquestra Tabajara, including its longtime director-saxophonist Severino Araújo, clarinetist K-Ximbinho, and plucked-string virtuoso Zé Menezes, all of whom set the stage musically for the global craze of bossa nova.

The program continues with works by bossa-nova era composers of both choro and bossa nova, including Tom Jobim, Luíz Bonfá, and Baden Powell, and closes with compositions by contemporary composers that have followed this line, including pianist Laércio de Freitas and guitarist-composer Rogério Souza. Tiago do Bandolim, a longtime member of Zé Paulo Becker’s group Choro-Jazz of Bar Semente, is one of the foremost representatives of this lineage among the younger generation of choro-samba players in Rio. His dazzling improvisations and impeccable performances reanimate this long history of creative cross influence between the US and Brazil.

Tiago do Bandolim is one of the great revelations on bandolim (mandolin) and violão tenor (tenor guitar) in modern Brazil. Influenced by two great icons of Brazilian bandolim, Ronaldo do Bandolim (Tiago’s father) and Jacob do Bandolim, Tiago has been rising to the top as part of a great generation of musicians created in the 2000s in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro—a generation that has mixed traditional choro with the more modern languages of MPB, Latin music, and jazz.

Tiago has participated in numerous samba and choro albums as well as DVDs Brasileirinho, a documentary about choro in Rio de Janeiro, “Histórias de um João de Barro” with Bia Bedran and “Geração Semente.” He has been performing in choro festivals alongside the biggest names of the genre and in presentations in Europe and the USA with the samba groups Unha de Gato, Pé de Moleque, and Semente Choro-Jazz. In 2017, he released his first solo album, “De Soslaio” featuring his many influences within choro. In 2018, he formed the big band Choro na Rua, which continues to play some of the most publicized shows in the home of choro, Rio de Janeiro.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Rogério Souza is one of the great representatives of the carioca language of the Brazilian guitar. He has always been involved in big events related to MPB and Brazilian Instrumental Music, mainly “Choro” and “Samba”. worked with great Brazilian musicians, including Baden Powell, Paulinho da Viola, Sivuca, Altamiro Carrilho, Paulo Moura, João Bosco, Ivan Lins, Guinga, Turibio Santos, Rafael Rabello, Ginga, Cristovão Bastos, the groups Nó em Pingo D’agua and Grupo Epoca de Ouro, among others. He has played in festivals, cultural spaces and music universities/schools in various corners of the world, such as Japan, China, and the USA, holding concerts and workshops every year at several universities in the USA: Oberlin, Berklee College of Music, Yale, University of Virginia, JMU, Georgetown, Columbia, Temple, University of Chicago, Notre Dame, SF University, University of California (LA), University of Texas (Valle del Rio Grande), and Northern Arizona University, among others.

Specializing in Brazilian choro, guitarist-composer Dr. Stephen Guerra performs at music clubs and concert halls, cultural centers, universities, and guitar societies around the United States and Brazil, and has appeared with Rogério Souza, Duo Violão, Tiago do Bandolim, and Regional de NY, among others. He’s published music albums, sheet music, and music articles, won creative grants and composer residency fellowships, has a popular YouTube channel, and teaches music at the University at Buffalo.

Friday, October 6 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

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Francesca Hurst

Dynamic and engaging, pianist Francesca Hurst delights audiences with a mix of classical and contemporary music. Listeners have described her playing as “moving and compelling” and “powerful yet sensitive”. Classically trained, she fell into the new music scene in 2013, when a last-minute gig with the Great Noise Ensemble turned into a decade-long engagement as their pianist. At ease with a wide range of repertoire, she makes sense of the music regardless of style and period, is passionate about communicating with audiences, and has a special interest in performing music by women.

During the pandemic, she created the 100-day online video series Daily Dose of Piano, which featured music from the Baroque to today, including 14 premieres. Francesca has appeared as a guest artist at festivals like the Atlantic Music Festival, the New Music Gathering, and the Bang on a Can Music Marathon. She has played in venues like the Kennedy Center and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and internationally in Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal, and France. She is on the Performing Artist Touring Roster of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and on the piano faculty at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Friday, October 20 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

For more information about Francesca, visit her website here

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Kaymar Arsani x Sunken Cages

Kamyar Arsani is an Iranian multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter based in Washington, DC. Through his solo work and numerous collaborations, Arsani creates music across an array of styles, ranging from classical Persian music to genre-defying electronic experimentation. Sunken Cages is the moniker of Indian-born drummer/electronic music producer Ravish Momin, originally an acoustic drummer/percussionist, who has worked with a wide array of musicians, from pop star Shakira to legendary Jazz musician Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre (of the AACM), in addition to leading his own innovative groups Tarana and Turning Jewels Into Water. Together, they create their own brand of digital folk music that draws on Sufi mysticism, traditional Persian Music, street rhythms from Mumbai, and contemporary electronic music at once.

Friday, October 27 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

For more information on Kaymar Arsani and Sunken Cages, visit the website here

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Gregory TS and Lori Walker

Since his Philadelphia Orchestra debut, praised by the American Record Guide as a performance of “precision and rapturous immediacy,” violinist, guitarist, and composer Gregory Walker has developed unique collaborations with Poland’s Sinfonia Varsovia and Filharmonia Sudecka, as well as the Detroit Symphony and the Colorado Symphony. He has been engaged at Norway’s Tromsø Cathedral Series, the Centro Mexicano para la Musica y las Artes Sonoras, the Genesis Concert Series in Beijing, the Harvard Club Concert Series, the NWEAMO Festival in Tokyo, and at the U.S. Library of Congress.

Pianist Lori Wolf Walker has been a frequent prizewinner in piano and violin competitions throughout the southwestern United States, earning a master’s degree in piano performance at the University of Colorado.

Friday, November 3 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

For more information about Gregory Walker, visit his website here

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Paul Bratcher Quartet

A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Paul Bratcher began playing piano at age 11. After high school, Paul continued his education at Messiah College, where he achieved a B.S. in Music Education.  During his time there he had opportunities to study and play with Tim Warfield, BruceBarth, and Cyrus Chestnut. He went on to pursue an M.M. in Jazz Studies from Michigan State University, where he studied under Reggie Thomas.  During his time there he played with such masters as Rodney Whitaker, Jeff Tain Watts, Etienne Charles, Randy Guilespie, Diego Rivera, Michael Dease, Wes ‘Warm Daddy’ Anderson, and Branford Marsalis. Bratcher has participated in three international tours on the continents of Africa, Canada, and South America.  He has recorded an album with young trumpeter Anthony Stanco and has toured all across the United States. He currently serves as Associate Chair of Piano at the Levine School of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Georgetown University.

Friday, November 10 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

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Modern Musick

Modern Musick, under the artistic leadership of music director John Moran and concertmaster Risa Browder, is a baroque chamber orchestra founded in Washington, DC in January 2002. Taking its name from an eighteenth-century primer The Modern Musick-Master or the Universal Musician, Modern Musick seeks, through the immediacy of live performance, to restore a sense of newness to the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. To this end, Modern Musick uses period instruments and historical performance practices as a starting point allowing the musicians the freedom to make new discoveries. Modo (Latin for “just now”), the root of the word “modern” is the perfect description for cutting-edge music making of the moment.

An ensemble-in-residence at Georgetown, Modern Musick has performed a series of collaborative concerts with the Music Program and the Jesuit Community, including Music for Advent and Holy Week.

Friday, November 17 at 12:30 p.m
McNeir Hall, New North Building

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Past Performances