Kandinsky Beat Down to headline ArtsFusion 2009

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 10, 2009 – Kandinsky Beat Down, a multicultural concert experience, headlines ArtsFusion on Tuesday, April 21 at 8 and 9:30 p.m. in the Squires Studio Theatre.

On stage for this eclectic and electric performance will be a classical chamber music trio, a human beat box artist, hip hop dancers, and four soloists performing new music by four composers writing in cross-genre styles.

This creative collaboration features the renowned Kandinsky Trio and beat box phenomenon, Shodekeh with guitarist Cyrus Pace, soprano Nancy McDuffie, trumpeter John Adler, and trombonist Jay Crone. Dancing throughout will be hip-hop artists, The Boogaloo Crew. The composers are John D’earth, James Miley, Dan Cavanagh, and Brian Coughlin.

The Kandinsky Trio, in residence at Roanoke College, is known in the world of classical chamber music for both their passionate performances of masterworks and their innovative ideas for re-defining the genre. The Trio performs throughout the country in prestigious venues like New York’s Miller Theater and Merkin Hall, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, the Interlochen Festival, and Cincinnati’s Arnoff Center.

In 2002, the group 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 Kandinsky Trio is one of only six piano trios ever to win the prestigious Chamber Music America Residency Award.

Shodekeh, a self-taught vocal percussionist, learned his art through hip-hop, but says he enthusiastically enjoys switching gears to perform unexpected genre like ballet with Towson University’s dance classes, musical interpretations of gallery exhibits at the American Visionary Art Museum, and jazz at the 60th and 61st Annual Conferences on World Affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Shodekeh is so passionate about his music that, according to an article by J. Bowers of the Baltimore City Paper, he says, “I try to take it anywhere and everywhere I can.”

The Boogaloo Crew is a group of professionally trained hip-hop dancers including William Robinson, Jacob Esocoff, and Vince Johnson. Robinson is a recent graduate of the University of the Arts with a bachelor’s of fine arts in modern dance performance and has performed at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Annenburg Theatre. Esocoff has also studied dance at the University of the Arts and has been involved with movement through Tae Kwon-Do since the age of six, achieving his black belt at 16.

Johnson, also known as Funky Van-Go, is a former company member of Rennie Harris Puremovement and Zen One Dance Collective. He holds three forms of martial arts world titles and has choreographed for Chuck Norris’s World Combat League, Disney Wide World of Sports, the Bercy Festival in France, and Le Souffle Du Vent, a French theatre show. Johnson holds a bachelor’s of fine arts in English and philosophy from Villanova University.

Guitarist Cyrus Pace played his first professional gig at fifteen, toured extensively with the Navy Band, and received his master’s degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He teaches and plays throughout Virginia and is guitarist for Le Hotclub de Biglick, which was named to the Virginia Commission for the Arts for 2009-10.

A native of Roanoke, Va., soprano Nancy McDuffie has been on vocal studies faculty at Virginia Tech for fifteen years and holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from the State University of New York at Fredonia. She says she enjoys a variety of musical styles and particularly excels at 20th century vocal works. In 2003, she premiered a commissioned set of songs by Jon Polifrone of poetry by contemporary singer and entertainer, Jewel.

John Adler, Virginia Tech assistant professor of trumpet/jazz studies holds a master’s in music performance from the University of Oregon. Adler is an active professional musician whose orchestral performances include the Eugene Symphony in Oregon, the Palm Beach Pops, the Miami Symphony, the Oregon Mozart Players, the Roanoke Symphony, and the Reno Philharmonic. He has performed with jazz greats Maria Schneider, John Hollenbeck, Conrad Herwig, and Bobby Shew, as well as playing lead trumpet in the Jaco Pastorius Big Band, the Denis Noday Big Band, the Reno Jazz Orchestra, and the Grammy Award Winning University of Miami Concert Jazz Band. Adler was named DownBeat magazine’s 2003 “Best Classical Instrumentalist.”

Jay Crone, associate professor and head of the Virginia Tech Department of Music, is in his fourteenth year as professor of low brass. Crone received degrees from the University of Southern California, Yale University, and California State University (CSU) at Fresno. In addition to his frequent performances with symphony orchestras and bands throughout the United States, Crone has appeared as a trombone and euphonium soloist with the Virginia Wind Symphony, CSU Fresno Wind Symphony, Virginia Tech Wind Ensemble, and the West Georgia State University Wind Ensemble.

John D'earth, composer, trumpet player, jazz musician and arranger, began playing music professionally at age fourteen and by sixteen, Downbeat magazine said, “The sixteen year-old D’earth sounds like a young Freddie Hubbard.” D’earth has appeared on over 40 recordings and film scores and has performed around the world. He has performed with or written music for such artists as Buddy Rich, Bruce Hornsby, Miles Davis/Quincy Jones, Mel Torme, and Lionel Hampton. He wrote the string arrangements for the Kronos String Quartet's appearance on Halloween and The Stone titles from the recent Dave Matthews Band CD, Before These Crowded Streets. D’earth teaches in the jazz program at the University of Virginia and performs regularly with his band, Thompson D'earth Band.

Composer and jazz pianist James Miley is Virginia Tech assistant professor of jazz studies. He earned his doctorate in musical arts in composition and jazz studies from the University of Oregon. Miley was awarded the prestigious International Association for Jazz Education's Gil Evans Fellowship in Jazz Composition in 2004 and was commissioned to write a new wind ensemble work for premiere by the James Logan Wind Symphony at the National Honor Band Concert at Carnegie Hall in May 2006. He has appeared as a guest composer/director/adjudicator at numerous festivals and universities, including the University of Oregon, California State University, Northridge, and the Reno, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin, and Monterey Jazz Festivals.

Pianist and composer Dan Cavanagh has garnered numerous awards for his compositions including a First Music Commission from the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band Classic and Finalist in the 2002 and 2005 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ Young Jazz Composers Competitions. His music has been performed at Lincoln Center, the Reno International Jazz Festival, and the 2006 International Jazz Composer’s Symposium. Cavanagh is an assistant professor of music and the assistant director of jazz studies at the University of Texas, Arlington.

Brian Coughlin has won acclaim throughout the United States as an ensemble director, a versatile double and electric bassist, and as a genre-defying composer. He has performed hundreds of concerts throughout the United States in venues ranging from classical music institutions such as the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, to jazz festivals such as the Saratoga Jazz Festival, to major rock clubs such as Toad’s Place in New Haven. Coughlin has written music for The Eugene Opera, The Berkshire Symphony, Basso Bongo, The Island Breeze Steel Drum Band, and the rock band Oneida. He is also the founder of the New York based ensemble Fireworks, which according to the The New Music Connoisseur is “[t]he hottest new classical band in New York.”

Tickets for Kandinsky Beat Down are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Advance tickets are available in person between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and in person at the University Unions and Student Activities Ticket Office located in the Squires Student Center or by calling (540) 231-5615. Tickets, if still available, will also be sold at the door one hour prior to performance time.

The Squires Studio Theatre is located in the Squires Student Center on College Avenue adjacent to downtown Blacksburg. Convenient free parking after 5 p.m. is available in the Squires and the nearby Shultz Hall parking lots.

Funding for the Kandinsky Beat Down concert has been made possible through the generosity of the Virginia Tech Bruce Carver Multicultural Arts Fund, the Virginia Tech Office for Equity and Inclusion, the Virginia Tech Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs, and a Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts and Cinema Commissioning Grant.

The concert is part of this year’s ArtsFusion, a celebration of the Arts on the Virginia Tech campus, in the Town of Blacksburg, and throughout Southwest Virginia. ArtsFusion is sponsored by the School of Performing Arts and Cinema.