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   Date: 9/30/09 Bookmark and Share

Concert to Begin Celebration of 100 Years of Music

Avanti Wind Quintet

The Avanti Wind Quintet, a local group, and pianist Judith Gordon, assistant professor of music, will perform works by Smith composers in the year’s first Music in the Noon Hour concert on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 12:30 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage.

The concert will kick off a yearlong series of concerts, lectures, and other special events to honor the many composers, theorists, scholars, and performers who have taught and performed at Smith in the last century, as well as alumnae who have gone on to distinguished careers in music.

View a schedule of celebratory events.

Judith Gordon

The Avanti Quintet will perform the 1955 Wind Quintet No. 1 by Professor Emeritus Alvin Etler. Gordon will play "Prelude & Caprice" from Suite for Piano by Donald Wheelock, professor of music at Smith. She will also perform “Capricious” from Nostalgic Watzes by Ross Lee Finney. The concert is free and open to the public.

Alvin Derald Etler (1913 - 1973) was an American composer and oboist. He is known for his harmonically and texturally complex compositional style, taking inspiration from the works of Bartók and Copland as well as the dissonant and accented styles of jazz. He taught at Yale, Cornell, the University of Illinois and at Smith College until his death. His distinguished compositional career earned him two Guggenheim Fellowships among other honors.

Composer Ross Lee Finney (1906-1997) studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and in Vienna with Alban Berg. Following a year at Harvard in 1928, he joined the faculty of Smith College where he began a series of scholarly publications of baroque works. He also founded the Valley Press, publishing works by American composers. A prolific artist, Finney received the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for his First String Quartet. Other awards included two Guggenheim fellowships, the Boston Symphony Award, the Brandeis Medal, and election to both the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The music of Donald Wheelock (b.1940), the Irwin and Pauline Alper Glass Professor of Music at Smith College, is familiar to most frequenters of new concert music in the Valley and includes many chamber works, including five string quartets and eleven song cycles. His orchestral music includes pieces composed for local student orchestras: Three Pieces for Orchestra (1971) for the Amherst-Mount Holyoke Chamber Orchestra; Diversions (1976) for the Smith College Orchestra; and After-Images (1989) for the Five College Orchestra. After-Images also received several performances by the New England Philharmonic under the direction of Jeffrey Rink. His song, “Fury,” commissioned by the late William Parker, is the first song on the AIDS Quilt Songbook (harmonia mundi).

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