Roanoke College’s Kandinsky Trio will kick off its 17th season with a gala concert at the Jefferson Center Shaftman Performance Hall Thursday, October 7 at 8 p.m. The guest artist for the celebrated piano trio’s 1000th performance will be the legendary folk singer and Oscar-nominated actor Theodore Bikel. Tickets at $35 and $25 ($10 for RC students) can be ordered by calling the Jefferson Center at (540) 345-2550 or online at www.jeffcenter.org. Also available through the Olin Box Office, Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. at (540) 375-2333, is the Kandinsky Trio’s season ticket, which includes four events — October 7, December 4, January 29, 2005 and April 16, 2005 — for $65.
The event, “Tapestry,” featuring stories, yarns and musical traditions, will be an international collage of performances of classical music and the ethnic folk music that inspired them. The music will draw upon Irish, Scottish, African-American, Spanish, Yiddish and Eastern European Gypsy traditions. Also featured will be true stories from native lands come home to Roanoke, connecting our local community to cultures around the globe.
Assisted by the Roanoke College Preparatory Division Children’s Choir, under the direction of Kim Davidson, Bikel and the Kandinsky Trio will perform their own arrangements of such traditional numbers as MacPherson’s Lament, Follow the Drinking Gourd, Dve Gitar, Az Der Rebe Zingt and Die Moorsoldaten. The Kandinsky Trio also will perform compositions by Brahms, Granados, Bloch, Vaughn Williams and Hailstork.
Bikel’s career has been illuminated by superior stage and screen portrayals. In London he won acclaim playing the Russian Colonel in Ustinov’s The Love of Four Colonels and on Broadway his roster of memorable performances includes Tonight In Samarkand, The Rope Dancers, The Lark and the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music in which he created the role of Baron von Trapp. Nationally, he starred in a number of other plays, including tours of Zorba and Fiddler on the Roof.
Among Bikel’s most well-known screen roles are the Southern Sheriff in The Defiant Ones, for which he received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor, The African Queen, The Little Kidnappers, My Fair Lady, The Blue Angel, The Enemy Below, The Little Ark, The Dog of Flanders, I Want to Live, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, See You in the Morning, Shattered, Crisis in the Kremlin, Benefit of the Doubt and Shadow Conspiracy.
Bikel, who has starred in virtually every top dramatic show on television in the United States as well as in Canada and England, has repeatedly been nominated for Emmy awards and received an Emmy in 1988 for his portrayal of Harris Newmark, one of the early immigrant pioneers of the West Coast.
One of the world’s best-known folk singers and a founder in 1961 of the Newport Folk Festival, the multi-faceted entertainer maintains an active concert schedule throughout the United States and abroad, performing alone or with symphony orchestras. Bikel has recorded 16 albums for Elektra Records, an album of contemporary songs for Reprise Records entitled A New Day and cast albums of The Sound of Music and The King and I.
Founded in 1987 under the direction of Kim Davidson, the Roanoke College Preparatory Division Children’s Choir has grown from one group of 23 children ages eight to 10 to a program of four choirs comprised of over 220 children, ages eight to 18. Chosen through auditions, these talented singers are from throughout the Roanoke Valley and surrounding communities.
The choir performs at concerts and at special events throughout the Roanoke Valley and beyond. In addition to the annual community concerts at Christmas and in the spring, the choir has participated in joint concerts with visiting children's choirs, and the United States Army Band. The choir has traveled to sing in festivals, competitions and special events such as the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C., the North American Children's Chorale at Carnegie Hall and the Unisong International Choral Festival in Ottawa, Canada. The Concert Choir’s Chicago and Midwest Concert tour was a highlight of 2003 and in 2004 they performed in the National Youth Choir at Carnegie Hall, honored with the designation of Featured Choir and gave a solo performance.
Now in its 17th season, the Kandinsky Trio has performed world-wide in more than 175 cities. The Kandinsky Trio also has been heard at such venues as the Interlochen Festival, the Concert Society at Maryland, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center, and the Center for the Arts at Penn State. Its recordings are aired regularly on Boston’s WGBH, Chicago’s WFMT, and the Maine, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin and Minnesota Public Radio Networks. Live performances have been broadcast on the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, numerous times on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and WNYC’s Around New York. In 2002, the trio was in residence at the European/American Masterclasses at the Hindemith Center in Blonay, Switzerland and continues its annual residency at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Fla.
The trio’s newest CD, In Foreign Lands (Brioso), released in 2003, was selected by WNED (Buffalo and Toronto) as one of the CDs of the year, and London’s Music and Vision dubbed it “one of the year’s best chamber music recordings.” Described as “spirited and persuasive,” by American Record Guide, and “virtuosity, with spine-tingling precision,” by the Cincinnati Enquirer, the trio draws in new audiences with both its passionate performances of masterworks and innovative ideas in re-defining chamber music.
The Kandinsky Trio is one of only six piano trios ever to win the prestigious Chamber Music America Residency Award. In 1999, the Kandinsky Trio was honored to be chosen by Senator Charles Robb as the representative of the Commonwealth of Virginia at the Kennedy Center’s “State Days” series. In addition, the ensemble has received awards from the Theodore Presser and Carpenter foundations to extend its artistry and visionary residency ideas to under-served communities.
The Kandinsky Trio regularly collaborates, both at home and on tour, with such artists as bassist James VanDemark, violinist/violist Ida Kavafian, cellist Steven Doane, soprano Dawn Upshaw, composer Gunther Schuller, storyteller Connie Regan-Blake and jazz legend Larry Coryell. Its innovative projects have included Mike Reid’s Tales of Appalachia for Trio and storyteller, commissioned for the trio by nine presenting organizations and performed in more than 100 concert series, and John D’earth’s Natural Bridge, for Trio, jazz bass and guitar with jazz great Kurt Rosenwinkel.