Truly Top Caliber Artists Presented in the Broman Concert Series

January 8, 2008

Amazing vocal and instrumental performances on par with anything you might see in the music capitals of the world, Mary Baldwin University proudly presents the annual Broman Concert Series for the college community as well as audiences from around the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.

Named in memory of Professor of Music Carl W. Broman, chair of the college’s music department from 1935 to 1976, the annual music series invites artists to perform in a six-concert season. Three of the concerts are typically devoted to the top prize winners from Young Concert Artists Inc (YCA), most of whom are near in age to Mary Baldwin students and who perform at the college just before/after their New York City and Washington DC debuts.

The 2007-08 Broman Concert Series offered music lovers The Biava Quartet in October, a group now recognized as one of the most exciting young American quartets and winner of top prizes in world competitions. Due to their popularity, Mary Baldwin booked them three years ago and finally brought them to Staunton by special arrangement.

In November, audiences were moved by soprano Donna Ellen, leading soprano for Vienna Volksoper and in demand around the world. She passed on five performances ofDie Fledermausin South America to come to Staunton to perform at Mary Baldwin University.

Given the stature and star-power audiences have already experienced in the first half of the 2007 season, they will want to be certain to have tickets for what is yet to come. The series continues this month with harpist Julie Ann Smith January 14 and singer-storyteller and six-string harpist Benjamin Bagby on January 24.

The spring offerings continue to bode well with Bassist Daxun Zhang February 19 and Pianist Bejamin Moser April 2.

Prize-Winning Artists from Young Concert Artists Appear at Mary Baldwin
Young Concert Artists logoA very special aspect of the Broman Concert Series is that it brings artists-on-the-rise, often in the same age group as Mary Baldwin’s students, who have won top prizes through Young Concert Artists Inc, an organization founded in 1961 by then-piano student Susan Wadsworth. Having graduated from Vassar and she went on to Mannes College of Music and met musicians she thought extraordinary but with no outlet to showcase their talent. She began arranging concerts which evolved into Young Concert Artists and that has provided outlet and showcased hundreds of music artists including now world-famous violinist Pinchas Zukerman, pianists Murray Perahia, Emanuel Ax, and Ruth Laredo, and soprano Dawn Upshaw.

Professor of Music Robert Allen first connected with YCA in 1984 with the intent of bringing young artists to the college. He remembers the first YCA musician to perform here, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. She would grace the college’s stage two more times in trio with her musician sisters.

Allen began to attend the YCA auditions each year at the end of January in New York City about 10 years ago. He sees the artists performing and has the opportunity to book their appearance at Mary Baldwin University for a Broman Concert. Making the concerts at Mary Baldwin by YCA artists even more special, “I am not aware of any other school or series that brings in more than one YCA artist each season. That we present at least two and usually three, makes the college an important supporter of YCA and offers audiences unprecedented access to musicians of such caliber,” said Allen.

“Young Concert Artists has acquired a special status in the musical world, and deservedly so. Its auditions and concerts have brought to public attention a steady stream of remarkable musicians. It is extremely doubtful that any organization anywhere could have matched the YCA record for spotting great talent and helping it along,” saidThe New York Times.

Rising Star and Medalist: Harpist Julie Ann Smith at Mary Baldwin January 14
Harpist Julie Ann SmithNoted for being one of the youngest and most exciting harpists today, Julie Ann Smith will perform in concert at Mary Baldwin University this month. She performs nationally and internationally as a recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestras including National Symphony, New World Symphony, National Repertory, and many others.

A member of the faculty of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Smith gives master classes across the country and maintains a small harp studio to teach students of all ages. Her debut CD,The Rhapsodic Harpcontains a range of 20th century classical music that showcases the range and moods of her instrument.

Harpist Julie Ann Smith
Monday, January 14, 8 p.m.
Francis Auditorium in Pearce Science Center
Corner of Coalter and Frederick Streets
Mary Baldwin University

Call (540) 887-7294
Mary Baldwin students, Free
Adults, $12
Seniors, $7
Non-Mary Baldwin students, $5

Beowulf— Like You’ve Never Seen It Before — at Mary Baldwin January 24
Benjamin Bagby performing BeowulfOne should not use the word “never” when addressing a worldwide audience, but it may be safe in this instance, or at least, it is unlikely you will ever have seen/heard the mythical tale ofBeowulfperformed as will artist musician Benjamin Bagby on the Mary Baldwin stage January 24.

Bagby, a headliner at this summer’s Edinburgh Festival, is a singer, harpist, and director of Sequentia. His Web site encapsulates a fascinating biography thus: Benjamin Bagby is descended from a Germanic clan which emigrated from Jutland to northern England ca. 630, from where his branch of the family emigrated to the colony of Virginia almost a millennium later. Following 321 years of subsequent family wanderings, he was born on the shores of the Great Lakes, and 12 years later was captivated byBeowulf. Several years after moving back to Europe in 1974 he founded — together with the late Barbara Thornton — the ensemble for medieval music, Sequentia, which was based in Cologne, Germany, for 25 years. Both Bagby andSequentiaare now based in Paris.

Using an Anglo-Saxon, six-string harp and vocal artistry, Bagby will tell the tale ofBeowulfin Old English. It seems it will not be difficult for him to hold his audience rapt, if we are to believe what was said byThe New York Times: “Bagby comes as close to holding hundreds of people in a spell as ever a man has