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Lark, Ethos will make waves tonight

Oct. 11, 2007
By Jennifer Krisch | Photos by Rachel O'Hara

The Lark Quartet and Ethos Percussion Group will make music history at Ohio University tonight when they present the world premiere of "Waves," specially commissioned by the university, the Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund and the Lark Quartet.

The ensembles' performance -- "Coming to America: Music Without Borders" --  begins at 7:30 p.m. in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are still available, and can be purchased at the door beginning at 6:30 p.m. The show is part of the university's Performing Arts Series.

Italian composer and cellist Giovanni Sollima, who composed "Waves," has said his inspiration for the composition was Emily Dickinson, from whom the names of each part were drawn: "Each Life Converges to Some Centre." "Are We Almost There?" and "5:30."

The relatively young ages of the composers and performers of the Ethos Percussion Group and The Lark Quartet, along with their diverse personal backgrounds, bring a unique style and energy to their music. Although classically trained, they have their roots in jazz, rock, pop and hip-hop, with added influences from their individual heritages.

The Lark has performed at many of the world's great cultural centers, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. Likewise, the Ethos Percussion Group's recent seasons have included concerts across the United States and United Kingdom.

Ohio University has a long-running affection for The Lark Quartet. The women of the Lark left an indelible mark on the School of Music and the Athens community during a three-year residency from 1995 to 1998, making it the first group to serve a long-term residency. The four members reached out to the community, performed with visiting artists, interacted with students and collaborated with faculty.

Gretchen Stephens, director of university events, said suggesting an original piece for the two groups seemed only natural.

"Our audiences have been enthralled with both groups, and putting together normally disparate types of ensembles began to become more acceptable in the music world," she said. "I suggested to the ensembles that they should consider having a piece written for all of them. They thought about it and came back and asked if we (the Ohio University Performing Arts Series) wanted to be the lead commissioner on the composition. Thus began the project."

Over the course of their 20-year history, the Lark has developed a strong educational outreach program, aimed at introducing students to chamber music and guiding them along a path to a musical future. This week's visit to Ohio University has been no exception. The women of the Lark coached students in a master level string class Wednesday, and percussion students worked with Ethos.

"The women from the Lark are very dynamic, fun and stylish women," said faculty member Marjorie Bagley, whose class worked with the Lark. "I hope the students get inspiration from them and realize they have a lot in common with them."

Certainly Bagley does. An accomplished violinist, Bagley has joined the Lark musical family as a guest artist of the newly formed Lark Chamber Artists, an outgrowth of the quartet's success. The LCA comprises accomplished musicians in string, piano, woodwind and percussion, and will offer programs ranging from solos, trios and quartets to small chamber ensembles. The customizable programs are designed to provide options for presenters, Bagley said.

"The Lark Chamber Artists is such a wonderful ensemble of great people and beautiful players," Bagley said. "I'm just thrilled to be a part of it."



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