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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Aurea Ensemble and choral groups offer concerts at URI, Nov. 6-7

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 22, 2010 -- The University of Rhode Island's Fine Arts Center will feature award-winning musicians the first weekend in November. On Saturday, Nov. 6, the URI Concert Choir and Lively Experiment, both directed by Mark Conley, will present a “Choral Collage” of varied works. On Sunday, Nov. 7, the Aurea Ensemble, in collaboration with baritone Rene de la Garza and award-winning pianist Judith Lynn Stillman, will perform their unique, multi-dimensional concert.

Both concerts will be held at 8 p.m. in the URI Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. General admission is $10, or $5 for students with ID, with tickets available at the box office starting 45 minutes before each concert.

Saturday, Nov. 6, URI Concert Choir and Lively Experiment and University Chorus

As part of the “Choral Collage” concert, the University Chorus, URI's 80-voice student and community ensemble directed by Andrew Howell, will sing a “preview” sampling from their upcoming November 23 concert, including movements from Eric Whitacre's Five Hebrew Love Songs, Maurice Durufle's Messe 'cum jubilo' and Gabriel Faure's Messe Basse.

Sunday, Nov. 7, the Aurea Ensemble

The Aurea Ensemble’s program, Being Music, is a new collaboration sparked by working with URI voice faculty artist Rene de la Garza. As the program evolved, they invited internationally acclaimed pianist Judith Lynn Stillman and violinist Katherine Winterstein to join the mix. Aurea's signature programs are defined by a thematic and emotional arc -- linking music and words in surprising ways. Consuelo Sherba says, “A line of a poem, a piece of music, the work of an individual artist or group of related artists, the desire to collaborate with a particular artist, all serve as possible points of departure, in designing the theme of a given program.” This new program will interweave readings, songs and chamber music, including works of Tennessee Williams, Verlaine, Pushkin, Heine, Robert Schumann, Rachmaninov, Loeffler and Paul Bowles.

Aurea was formed eight years ago by actor Nigel Gore, harmonica virtuoso Chris Turner, violinist Charles Sherba and violist Consuelo Sherba, “out of great mutual respect for each other's artistic work and a desire to collaborate with one another more deeply, melding their aesthetics into one unique art form,” as they describe it. Over the years, the group has performed to great acclaim for Firstworks Providence, The Chicago Humanities Festival, Shakespeare & Company, and for many other local and national festivals, colleges, and other venues.

Consuelo Sherba is artistic director of Aurea and principal violist of the Simon Sinfonietta. She also performs with the RI Philharmonic, the Buzzard’s Bay Music Festival, and has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, the Boston Chamber Music Society, and West Virginia Symphony. She and Charles Sherba both teach at Brown University and the RI Philharmonic Music School; she also teaches at Wheaton College, and he also teaches at the Cape Cod Conservatory. Charles Sherba is concertmaster of the RI Philharmonic, the Simon Sinfonietta, and the Boston Festival Orchestra. He has also performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Vermont Symphony, and was concertmaster of the West Virginia Symphony and the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.

Nigel Gore won the Eliot Norton Best Actor Award in 2010 for his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Boston Public Theater. He performs extensively at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA, and can be seen on Showtime as Thurston Twitchell in The Brotherhood. His film credits include Titus Andronicus in Titus Andronicus, Dean Rogers in Outside Providence, and Stuart in Leaving Scars.

Chris Turner was born into a musical family in London, England, and learned harmonica and recorder as a child. He works in a variety of idioms including Folk, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country, Early and Avant-garde music. While traveling extensively in Europe and Africa, he assimilated many different musical styles. He is a winner of the European Harmonica Championship, and has performed with the RI Philharmonic, the Ocean State Chamber Orchestra, and at Trinity Rep Theater.

Guest pianist Judith Lynn Stillman has won 18 national and international piano competitions. She began playing piano at age three, and entered Juilliard on scholarship at age 10, where she went on to receive Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. The youngest person ever admitted to Juilliard’s doctoral program, she received the Dethier Prize for Outstanding Pianist upon graduation. In 1997, she was awarded the first annual Claiborne Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, along with actor Jason Robards. She is currently Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Rhode Island College, where she has received two awards for outstanding teaching.

Baritone Rene de la Garza is in demand as a soloist for recitals, orchestral and choral music, in addition to teaching voice and directing the opera program at URI. He has sung with the Albany Symphony, the New Haven Symphony, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic; performed with numerous opera companies in Boston, New Jersey, Providence, Hartford, and at Trinity Repertory Theatre; and has appeared with the Chatham Chorale, the Chorus of Westerly, and many other choral groups around the Northeast. He has also appeared at The Newport Music Festival, The Kennedy Center and on concert series throughout New England. He has recorded on the New World Records label with the Boston Camerata.

Violinist Katherine Winterstein enjoys a wide range of musical endeavors, as a chamber musician, orchestral musician, soloist, and teacher. She is the concertmaster of the Vermont Symphony, the assistant concertmaster of the Portland Symphony, and she performs regularly with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont.

The URI Concert Hall is handicap-accessible, and parking is available in the lot behind the Fine Arts Center, off Bills Road. For more information, please contact the URI Department of Music, 874-2431, or visit the website: www.uri.edu/artsci/mus. For information on the Aurea Ensemble, visit www.AureaEnsemble.org.