200th birthday performance set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – First-class music performed by world-class musicians is the gift the Wofford College Chamber Music program continues to give to Spartanburg and the Upstate as it celebrates its fifth season and the 200th birthday of composer Felix Mendelssohn this year.
In honor of the German composer’s birthday, the Chamber Music Series will present the Mendelssohn Octet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, in Leonard Auditorium in Main Building. The performance, featuring guest violinist and concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra William Preucil, is free and open to the public.
The performance also will feature the Vega Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at Emory University; Miles Hoffman, violist and dean of the Petrie School of Music at Converse College; Charae Kreuger, cellist and guest cellist of the Atlanta Symphony; and Dr. Eun-Sun Lee, violinist, professor and director of the Chamber Players and the Chamber Music Series at Wofford.
“The Chamber Music Series – thriving in its fifth year – is unique at a college with no music majors or minors, but in keeping with the college’s commitment to excellence in all subjects and endeavors, the series features first-class music from first-class performers,” says Lee.
The program has hosted numerous nationally and internationally acclaimed performers and concertmasters. “The Juilliard School Graduates Reunion Concert” held recently, for example, featured Lee as well as David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Will Ransom, professor of piano at Emory University. “Of the top five symphony orchestras in the country – New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia – Wofford is playing host this year to two of the top violinists – William Preucil and David Kim,” Lee points out.
Other guest artists hosted on campus through the Chamber Music Series include the Grammy Award-winning cellist from The Eroica Trio, Sara Sant Ambrogio; Kyoko Hashimoto, pianist and professor at McGill University in Montreal; and the Vega Quartet. Wofford also has hosted a master class with Cho-Liang Lin, violinist and faculty member of The Juilliard School in New York City.
“The other amazing thing about the Chamber Music Series – besides the world-class performers – is that the concerts and master classes are absolutely free to the Spartanburg and Upstate community,” Lee says. “Hundreds of school children have enjoyed the performances, and everyone is welcome. Also, Leonard Auditorium has become known among these musicians as a viable and beautiful venue for chamber music.”
Wofford’s commitment to the music program and other elements of its fine arts program can be seen in its plans to renovate the former Baptist Collegiate Center on North Church Street into the new Montgomery Family Music Center, which will house the Chamber Players and Wofford’s other music ensembles.
Thursday’s performance of the Mendelssohn Octet will be cause for celebration, says Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap. “First of all, it’s the most brilliant example of musical precocity in the history of the world – neither Mozart nor Schubert created anything comparably good before the age of 16, Felix Mendelssohn’s age when he composed this work. Second, the groundbreaking verve of Mendelssohn’s approach to his ensemble demands a virtuosic group of musicians – and we’re going to have one on Thursday night convened from all over the country.
“Toss in the fact that we’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mendelssohn’s birth together with a dramatic expansion of our own strings program in recent years and the prospect of a new music facility at Wofford, and you’ve got a lot of reasons to attend,” Dunlap adds. “In addition, the music itself is so irresistibly engaging and accessible that, even if you don’t have a special interest in classical music, you’ll be missing enormous pleasure if you’re not there.”
William Preucil, a distinguished professor of violin, was named concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1995. Previously, he was first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet from 1989 to 1995. He was concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1989. He first studied violin with his mother, Doris Preucil, one of the first Suzuki Method teachers in the U.S. He attended the Interlochen Arts Academy at age 14 and earned his degree from Indiana University as a student of Josef Gingold. Among his numerous recordings, Preucil is featured on the New World Records release of Stephen Paulus’ Violin Concerto, dedicated to him, with the Atlanta Symphony. As a member of the Lanier Trio, Preucil recorded the complete Dvorak piano trios, named one of the top 10 records of 1993 by Time. In 2007-2008, Preucil recorded the revised Suzuki Violin Volumes 1-4. He was appointed to the Cleveland Institute of Music faculty in 1995.