Wednesday, January 16, 2013

UNO's Musical Excursions Concert Series to Return in Fall

The University of New Orleans' award-winning Musical Excursions concert series will return after a one-year hiatus thanks to a $10,000 grant from two New Orleans family foundations. The grant, from the Harper Family Foundation and the Mitchiner-Gittinger Family Foundation, will revive a tradition of presenting first-class classical and world music that began in 1993. The series will resume during the fall 2013 semester.

"We are thankful and thrilled to receive such critical community support for the Musical Excursions series as it prepares to celebrate its 20th season," said Robin Williams, professor and chair of the UNO Department of Music.

Recent Musical Excursions artists include cellist Alisa Weilerstein, recipient of a MacArthur "genius grant", the Ariel String Quartet; the American Brass Quintet; several Van Cliburn International Piano Competition medalists and world music stars such as Brazilian guitarist Adair Assad and Indian sarode virtuoso Alam Khan.

In addition to the four featured performances each year, Musical Excursions offers several free Sunday matinees. These concerts feature local and regional artists, and are especially popular with seniors, parents and others who appreciate the afternoon show times.

In 2006 Musical Excursions expanded its mission to engage young audiences in New Orleans schools through an artist outreach effort. Each Musical Excursions performer or ensemble performs free master classes for UNO students and conducts an informational performance at an area school. An estimated 1,200 students have participated in the Musical Excursions outreach program thus far, including those from Ursuline Academy, the International School of Louisiana, Lusher Charter School, KIPP Believe College Prep, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Benjamin Franklin High School and Immaculate Conception School in Marrero.

In some cases, these are the students' first experiences hearing a live string quartet or touching a violin. In other instances, advanced students have the chance to play with international-level stars, or become acquainted with foreign musical traditions such as Brazilian or Indian.