The Catholic University of America

Oct. 27, 2010

CUA Musicians to Perform at Carnegie Hall

  David Searle conducts the CUA Symphony Orchestra.

In New York City, if a person hops in a cab and asks the driver, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” the driver will reply, “Practice, practice,” remarks Michael Mermagen, assistant professor of cello at Catholic University.

After much practice, more than 20 faculty members and students of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will perform a three-day series of performances at Carnegie Hall from Monday, Nov. 1, through Wednesday, Nov. 3.

These events at Weill Recital Hall mark the first time in approximately 40 years that the school will perform in Carnegie Hall. Former professor Robert Ricks, who died this past summer, presented at Carnegie with the CUA Symphony Orchestra in the early 1970s. That performance “is now considered something of a legendary concert,” remarks Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the school of music.

The Carnegie concert series will occur just three weeks after Professor Murry Sidlin presented a sold-out performance of his concert-drama “Defiant Requiem” at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington. “The fact that these events occur so closely together is a remarkable achievement for the school of music,” Wagstaff says.

The Carnegie series, funded by the La Gesse Foundation, will feature performances by Jose Ramos Santana, piano instructor; the Rome Trio — professors Michael Mermagen, Jody Gatwood and Ivo Kaltchev; and a 19-piece chamber orchestra of students drawn from the CUA Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Searle, assistant professor and director of orchestral activities and conducting studies.

Cecilia de Medici, international patron of the arts and president of the La Gesse Foundation, asked CUA to present her annual series at Carnegie Hall after seeing a symphony concert last April, says Wagstaff. In addition, she has worked with Ramos Santana and had heard excellent reviews of the Rome Trio.

The series will open on Monday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. with a piano recital by Ramos Santana, an artist-in-residence with La Gesse. He is a well-known interpreter of the work of Isaac Albéniz — a late 19th-century Spanish, more specifically, Catalan, pianist and composer — whose works will be featured in the recital.

The Rome Trio will present selections by Shostakovich, Dvorák and Joseph Santo, assistant dean for academics and graduate studies, and adjunct assistant professor of theory at the music school.

“I feel that the honor and pride of a Carnegie Hall performance are the culmination of one’s preparation, research and pursuit of perfection in their art,” Mermagen adds. “This is a great moment for the faculty and students of the music school at The Catholic University of America to share their accomplishments with the New York audience in one of America’s premier performing venues.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m., Searle will conduct the 19-member chamber orchestra, performing works by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Robert Sirota, Alex Freeman and Aaron Copland.

“We are very grateful to Cecilia de Medici for her generosity and to other donors who have made this event possible,” says Wagstaff. “The fact that our students will be featured in one of the world’s great, historic centers for classical music is an honor that will be a highlight of their careers. I personally cannot wait to hear our faculty and students in this hallowed place.”

For more information, contact the music school at 202-319-5417.

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