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WFU announces 2005-2006 Secrest Artists Series

By Pam Barrett
336.758.5237
April 18, 2005

Rick Benjamin's new version of Scott Joplin's folk opera "Treemonisha" will highlight the Wake Forest University's Secrest Artists Series 2005-2006 season.

"Treemonisha," one of five concerts in the series, will be performed Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Wait Chapel. The opera is about an African-American community's emergence from slavery. It follows the story of a young woman named Treemonisha who leads her townspeople to reject the local conjurers' superstitions in favor of hard work and learning.

Unlike earlier versions of the opera that used a large orchestra, Benjamin's reconstruction features the 12-piece Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, which is more characteristic of that era, and a costumed cast of 40. The performance includes a range of songs from arias to rousing ragtime choruses. Benjamin calls it an "amalgamation of the well-established American traditions of vaudeville, tab-show, melodrama and minstrelsy, all held together by Joplin's marvelous music."

The cello-piano duo David Finckel and Wu Han will open the Secrest season with a concert on Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall. Ranked among the most esteemed and influential classical musicians in the world today, the duo has been described by the Washington Post as having "spontaneity, vigor and seamless melody."

Finckel and Han's duo performances have taken them to some of the most prestigious venues and concert series across the United States, including San Francisco Performances, Stanford Lively Arts, New York's 92nd Street Y and Washington's Kennedy Center. Internationally, they have performed to unanimous acclaim in Mexico, Canada, the Far East, Scandinavia and continental Europe. They were recently named artistic directors of chamber music at Lincoln Center. In addition, they have launched Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival in Silicon Valley and started a classical recording label, ArtistLed.

On Nov. 15, the award-winning Ensemble Kaboul will perform a concert of traditional music from Afghanistan at 7:30 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall. The renowned Afghan singer Hossein Arman started Ensemble Kaboul to maintain the richness of his native land's culture after being forced into exile by the country's political situation. Today, he and his ensemble are joined by Ustad Farida Mahwash, who is called the "master" female singer of Afghanistan music. They will perform a multi-ethnic concert featuring music from Indian, Persian and Arabic traditions.

In celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday, the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg will perform Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Wait Chapel. The group was founded as the "Cathedral Music Association and Mozarteum" in 1841 by prominent Salzburg musicians and Mozart's widow. Today, they are known as the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg and regaled as the pre-eminent keeper of the flame of Mozart's legacy. The concert will feature Chief Conductor Ivor Bolton and piano soloist Stephen Hough.

Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, one of opera's rising stars, will conclude the Secrest Artists Series season with a concert on March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall. Bayrakdarian is known for her "sparkling" on-stage presence and her "bell-like" coloratura technique, which includes fast singing, high singing, trills and embellishments. During the 2003-2004 season, she gained critical acclaim for her roles as Susanna in "Le Nozze di Figaro" with the Chicago Lyric and Los Angeles Operas; Teresa in "Benvenuto Cellini" with the Metropolitan Opera; and Leila in "Les Pecheurs de Perles" with the San Diego Opera. Her voice is also featured on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack of the film "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Season tickets for the Secrest Artists Series are $100 and are available through the Theatre Box Office in Scales Fine Arts Center beginning in August 15. Tickets to individual performances range in price from $18 to $25 general admission and $13 to $18 for senior citizens and non-Wake Forest students. Tickets are $5 for children under 12. Group discounts are available. Pre-concert lectures are usually scheduled in conjunction with each event and begin 45 minutes before each concert.

For ticket information contact the Box Office at (336) 758-5295 or the Secrest Office at (336) 758-5757.


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