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Westminster student premieres new work at Damien Dixon Scholarship Master Class
originally published: 02/17/2018
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Westminster Choir College will host The Damien Dixon Memorial Scholarship Master Class with Professor Ingrid Clarfield on February 25 at 2:00pm in Bristol Chapel on the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton. Proceeds from the event will support the Damien Dixon Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to an undergraduate piano student at Westminster.
Created in memory of pianist Damien Dixon, who died in 2005 after a long struggle with cancer, the scholarship is awarded according to guidelines he suggested: that it go to a pianist “for whom the piano is more than just a major, a pianist who plays with imagination and personality and uses the piano to stir up the emotions of the listener." Throughout his short life, Dixon was heavily involved at Westminster. He studied piano with Professor Ingrid Clarfield, and he accompanied many Westminster students.
Last fall, Professor Clarfield reached out to current Westminster senior piano and composition major John Franek to commission a new piece in memory of Dixon, to be premiered at the annual master class. For Franek, the opportunity to write such a piece was “an absolute honor and pleasure.” Franek is a recipient of the Damien Dixon Memorial Scholarship, and he says he knew the general story of Dixon’s life, but not in great detail. After receiving the commission, he was eager to learn more about Dixon’s life and character.
Franek was able to gain this knowledge through reading Dixon’s extensive online blogs, as well as through conversations with his family. Dixon’s writing in particular helped Franek begin to understand his persona. Franek describes him as being “such a loving individual, and so funny too.” He notes how Dixon would refer to his cancer treatments as “chemo cocktails,” and his reference to the singers he accompanied as his “divas.” This insight was critical to Franek, who says, “It’s my job in this commission to integrate as much of Damien as I can.”
Franek’s composition is Piano Sonata No. 2 “Conquest,” after the title of Dixon’s final blog, which he titled D’s Conquest. The sonata’s movement titles all come from Dixon’s writing as well. Franek chose these snippets of writing to create a kind of found poetry, a style of poetry that extracts prewritten text and arranges it in a new way. Franek describes the title of the first movement, “And here I am,” as being a very genuine and sincere statement appearing in an otherwise lighthearted blog post. Franek sees this statement as representing a core element of Dixon’s character: that he was consistently there for others.
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In this composition as a whole, Franek tries to capture the essence of Damien Dixon from start to finish: his “simultaneity of playfulness, wisdom, and intelligence.” He hopes to convey in the sonata Dixon’s hopeful joy, appearing first in the beginning, and then returning in the final movement, when Franek will likely choose to quote one of Dixon’s own compositions. This will allow Franek to integrate, quite literally, a piece of Dixon into the composition.
To reserve a seat for the Damien Dixon Memorial Scholarship Master Class, call 609-896-5340 or order online.
State Theatre Presents Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet Tour
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Diana Krall live in concert as part of her Turn Up The Quiet World Tour on Friday, October 12 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $43-$153.50. This concert will feature songs from Diana Krall’s stunning new album, Turn Up The Quiet, out now on Verve Records as well as a mix of some fan favorites.
Kean Stage Presents The Manhattan Transfer
(UNION, NJ) -- Going strong after more than 45 years, Grammy Award winner The Manhattan Transfer, with tenor vocals from Kean University alumnus Alan Paul '71, will captivate Kean Stage audiences with their distinctive four-part harmonies at Enlow Recital Hall on Sunday, September 30 at 3:00pm.
3rd Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival returns to Jersey City on October 6. Presented by Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids, the festival includes acts from those labels and Little Dickman Records, Rhyme and Reason Records, and State Champion Records. The festival takes place at White Eagle Hall. Doors are at 4:00pm and the music starts at 4:30pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Bobby McFerrin To Kick Off the 125th Season Of Princeton University Concerts
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- On Friday, September 21, 2018 at 7:30pm, 10-time GRAMMY award-winning artist Bobby McFerrin launches Princeton University Concerts’ (“PUC”) 125th Anniversary Season in a special event performance at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. The concert will feature McFerrin alongside members of his a cappella group Gimme5 in a program titled “ Circlesongs ” -- an evening of spontaneous music-making through shared improvised sound, in a language growing out of tribal chant and sacred music.
The Dryden Ensemble Presents Bach Cantata Fest
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Dryden Ensemble will present a Bach Cantata Fest on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6587 Upper York Road, Solebury, Pennsylvania, and on Sunday, October 21 at 3:00pm at Miller Chapel, located on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, New Jersey. Tickets are $25 for general admission and free to students with an ID. They may be purchased at the door or online at www.drydenensemble.org.
“Here’s Lucie!” Lucie Arnaz LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center
Even though the weather outside Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center is cloudy with some light intermittent drizzle this Wednesday, September 12, 2018 afternoon, the venue’s stage is still shining brightly with talent thanks to a live performance by television, film, and stage actress/singer Lucie Arnaz!
Mike Aiken Talks About Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch At RVCC
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) -- Raritan Valley Community College presents Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22. The three-day event will feature a number of different musical shows by Mike Aiken, as well as other solo artists and groups.
Virtuoso Jazz Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
It’s a warm but lovely Aug. 23, 2018 evening here in Newton, NJ. After enjoying some hand-dipped Cliff’s ice cream from the window at Hayek Market, we march up Spring Street looking forward to hearing some world-class jazz at one of the Garden State’s favorite concert venues, The Newton Theatre.
An Interview with Bernie Williams
Four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist and composer Bernie Williams will perform with his All-Star Band at the Jersey Shore this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at The Grunin Center of the Arts in Toms River, NJ!
“Unleash the Love” The Beach Boys LIVE! at The Great Auditorium
So what were you doing at 8:18 pm on 8/18/18?
Well, we’re not sure what you were up to, but we know that on that hot August night, we were listening to “America’s Band” — The Beach Boys — and watching them “Unleash the Love” while performing their incredible catalog of hits at Ocean Grove NJ’s Great Auditorium!