Press Releases Index

March 1, 2004
CONTACT: Jette Englund
Office of University Relations
(908) 737-3410

Kean University's Ars Vitalis Concert To Feature Excerpts of
Soon-to-be-Premiered "Elmer Gantry" by Robert Aldridge

UNION, N.J. – – Ars Vitalis: The New Jersey New Music Forum at Kean University will feature the music of five highly regarded New Jersey-area composers, Robert Aldridge, Lowell Liebermann, Gary Eskow, John Sichel and Ars Vitalis Artistic Director Matthew Halper. “The concert will introduce the audience to the allure, drama and impact of the art of contemporary music composition,” said Halper, an associate professor in Kean’s music department. The Ars Vitalis forum will be held on Wednesday, March 31, with a pre-concert discussion with the guest composers to begin at 7:15 p.m. and the concert at 8 p.m. in Wilkins Theatre, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J. Admission is free.

The program will feature Three Short Pieces for Guitar by Sichel; Winter on the River by Eskow; String Quartet by Halper; Sonata for Violin and Piano by Liebermann; and excerpts from the soon-to-be premiered opera Elmer Gantry by Aldridge.

Professor of Music at Montclair University, Aldridge, has written more than 60 works for orchestra, opera, music-theatre, dance and chamber ensembles. His music has been performed throughout the world. Aldridge has received fellowships and awards for his music from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Arts. His tone poem Leda and the Swan, a piece commissioned from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, was premiered in 2003 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Current projects include a Clarinet Concerto, jointly commissioned by the Orpheus and LA Chamber Orchestras.

Liebermann is one of today’s most widely performed and commissioned composers. Orchestras worldwide have championed his works, including The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the symphonies of Dallas, Baltimore and St. Louis. Among the artists who have performed his works are James Galway, Charles Dutoit, Kurt Masur, Joshua Bell, Paula Robison, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. His Piano Concerto No. 2 received a Grammy® nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. His opera based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray was commissioned and premiered by L’Opera de Monte-Carlo to great popular and critical acclaim.

Eskow has received much acclaim as a composer of popular, commercial and concert music. His art-song Midnight from his Winter on the River, written to the poems of Pulitzer Prize-winner William Meredith, won first prize in the Diana Barnhart American Song Competition of 2001. His chamber music has been featured on National Public Radio’s Around New York. A highly respected music journalist, he is a contributing editor at Mix magazine and writes columns for a number of other national periodicals, including The Hollywood Reporter, Videography and BMI Magazine.

Sichel’s Francesca da Bimini was premiered in 2003 by the National Symphony Orchestra, with Leonard Slatkin conducting. Other recent works include a piano trio, a sonata for piano, fourhands, and a number of songs. He is a 2003-2004 award recipient from ASCAP and is currently composer-in-residence with the New Philharmonic of New Jersey. That orchestra, conducted by Leon Hyman, has presented premieres of several of his works, most recently his Concerto Mystico II in March 2003 with piano soloist Lenore Davis.

Halper is a recent recipient of a NJSCA Individual Artist Fellowship. His orchestral tone-poem, Stalin’s Wake: Homage to Shostakovich, received a Whitaker Reading Prize from the American Composers Orchestra. Halper’s String Quartet was awarded the Walsum Prize and was premiered by principal members of the National Symphony. His Metamorphoses on Hatikvah for violin and piano was commissioned by and premiered at the 32nd annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches. Other works have been invited to be performed in many professional forums including conferences of the Society of Composers and College Music Society.

Invited performers will include Kean University affiliate artists and faculty members Christopher Kenniff, guitar; Sharon Roffman, violin; Allison Brewster Franzetti, piano; Katherine Harris, soprano; Ron Levy, piano; and guest artists Annaliesa Place, violin; Maurycy Banaszek, viola; Clancy Newman, cello; Jon Klibonoff, piano; Adriana Zabala, mezzo soprano; and Stephen Powell, baritone.

Halper is delighted to have assembled such a distinguished group of guest artists for the sixth consecutive year. “Ars Vitalis provides a unique opportunity for music lovers to hear the best New Jersey has to offer in contemporary music,” he said. “The caliber of our featured composers and performers is second to none.”

For more information, please call the Department of Music at (908) 737-4330, e-mail or visit the Web site