James Piano Quartet to perform Holliday, others at Sweet Briar

January 23, 2009 | Staff Writer

The James Piano Quartet, artists-in-residence at Sweet Briar, will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 in the College’s Memorial Chapel.

Members of the quartet are violinist Jana Ross, violist Joe Nigro and pianist Nick Ross, all Sweet Briar faculty members, and University of Tennessee professor and cellist Wesley Baldwin.

The program includes a quartet written for the group by Kent Holliday, professor of music at Virginia Tech. The three-movement work, “Udolpho,” is based on Ann Radcliffe’s gothic novel “The Mysteries of Udolpho,” published in 1794.

The work was commissioned by the Virginia Music Teachers’ Association as Holliday’s prize for winning its 2008 composition competition. The James Piano Quartet performed the piece at the association’s annual state convention in November.

“[‘Udolpho’] is wonderful,” pianist Nick Ross said. “It involves some very interesting sound effects using the insides of the piano and some limited acting by the performers.”

Also on the program is Arthur Honegger’s viola sonata, written in the early 1920s when he was at the “height of his powers and fame,” said Ross, who calls the work “remarkable and yet underperformed.” The quartet plans to record the sonata in the spring of 2009.

The third composer on the program is Johannes Brahms. The group will perform his “Piano Quartet in A Major.”

Admission is free and the public is welcome. For more information, please call (434) 227-4920 or e-mail nross@sbc.edu.

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