Grammys, guitars and grand concerts–URI’s Department of Music celebrates spring with diverse performances

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |
The Fifth Annual URI International Guitar Festival, returns this spring.
The Fifth Annual URI International Guitar Festival, returns this spring.

KINGSTON, R.I. — Feb. 17, 2020 –Grammy award-winning performers, the University of Rhode Island’s International Guitar Festival and a celebration of life through music are all part of the Department of Music’s spring season at the University of Rhode Island. Department faculty are calling this one of the most exciting lineups in many years.

Below are some of the featured performances for the season, but there are about 60 music performances during the spring semester, many of which are free and open to the public. The bigger shows charge admission. General admission is $12. It’s $7 for students and seniors (60 and older), and children 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets for concerts can be purchased here or one hour prior to the performance at the Box Office. Check out the full schedule.

Most events are held at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston, Rhode Island, unless specified otherwise.

Brian Lynch, a Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter, will perform as part of the University Artist Series, Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m.  Lynch, who will play with the University’s jazz faculty, has played in Eddie Palmierei’s Latin-Caribbean jazz band, jazz legend Art Blakey’s “Jazzmessengers,” and with pop/rock superstar Prince. The University Artist Series features performances from renowned musicians from around the world.

The Fifth Annual URI International Guitar Festival, in association with Pump House Music Works, will be held from Friday, April 3 to Sunday, April 5. The festival will feature renowned international musicians such as Joseph Williams III, Raphaelle Feuillatre (France), and Irish Brahms guitar virtuoso, Redmond O’Toole.

URI string ensemble in action during a past performance
URI string ensemble in action during a past performance

“Adam Levin, the artistic director of the festival, always brings in many renowned international artists and talents,” said Professor Mark Conley, chair of the Department of Music. “But this year he is expanding his range even more.”

For the first time on the East Coast, people will hear and watch the premiere of the powerful score to Alfred Hitchcock’s silent film, The Lodger, by Texas-based composer, Joseph Williams III. The guitar festival also features workshops and master classes taught by celebrated artists from South Africa, France, South Korea, Australia, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and across the United States.

The Department of Music also showcases its own musicians and local ones too.

“Symphony Orchestra I” will be an evening of exciting and contemplative orchestral music from standard and contemporary repertoires performed by URI music students and musicians from across the University and surrounding community. The performance is set for Saturday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m.

A URI jazz ensemble plays during a previous performance at the Fine Arts Center.
A URI jazz ensemble plays during a previous performance at the Fine Arts Center.

“This is an exciting concert because we have students who compete to get a chance to play a solo concerto with the orchestra,” said Conley, who is also director of choral activities “Two of our three concerto competition winners are performing during that concert. In addition, South Kingstown High School is bringing its orchestra to the concert.”

And thanks to a $148,721 grant from the Champlin Foundation, the concert will be streamed live online so folks who can’t make it to the Fine Arts Center will be able to enjoy the show.

“We were a recipient of The Champlin grant last year,” Conley said. “This enabled us to purchase state-of-the-art recording and live streaming equipment. We’re still experimenting with it this semester, but we are going to attempt to live stream that concert as well.”

The music department will also celebrate the 80th birthday of Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Gibb with guest artists and ensembles performing several of his compositions on Wednesday, March 29 from 3 to 4 p.m.

URI’s Concert Choir will present a 30-voice choir performance featuring classic and contemporary pieces Saturday, April 25 at 8 p.m.

“We’re going to be exploring various topics from early childhood through the age of the students- songs that are written experiences of growing up,” Conley said. “We’ll be starting from the children’s counting song from the Philippines and end with an idealistic piece from a text written by Langston Hughes appealing for unity in times of difficulty.”

The final event of this season is a contemporary arts festival called “New Music,” which will be held on Sunday, May 3. Conley added that this will feature a series of concerts throughout the day, which will celebrate the latest in musical thought among students and local composers.

“The most important thing is that I would want people to know that they are very welcome to attend any of our events here,” Conley said. “Be sure to check our schedule on a regular basis because we are an academic program and sometimes students have to reschedule things. Any event that we have listed on our events schedule is open to the public.”

Edhaya Thennarasu, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and Communications major, wrote this press release.