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Duke University Arts


Sep 9, 2014

2014-15 Visiting Artists

Duke's 2014-15 Visiting Artist lineup includes a dance company that will explore tablao traditional dance of Spain, a theatrical group that immerses the audience in their interactive productions, and a residency that will bring together new music and rare footage about life in the North Carolina Piedmont in the early 40s.

The goal of the Visiting Artist Program is to support projects that will enrich the life of the university and broader community, augment the curricular efforts of a range of departments and programs, facilitate the interaction of artists and scholars, foster the reputation of Duke University as a place where the arts are vital and diverse, and contribute to the arts as a whole.

May 23, 2014

Sounding The Passion At Duke


Photo Credit: Pilar Timpane and Jennifer Simonton 2014
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By Amber Noel

On April 9-13, the Duke Divinity School, Chapel, and Department of Music hosted “Sounding the Passion: Encounters in poetry, theology, and music,” an occasion that began with a series of readings, talks, and panels and ended with the US premier of a new composition by renowned Scottish composer James MacMillan. MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion for choir and orchestra, co-commissioned by the Divinity School, has for the past four years been the principal focus of the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration in theology and the arts. The work had been given its world premier a month earlier, in Amsterdam. Its realization at Duke brought it full cycle, back to one of its places of origin, where its creators had an ample forum to contemplate and illuminate it. Dr. MacMillan’s visit, the St. Luke Passion premiere, and the week’s surrounding events were made possible in part by a Visiting Artist Grant from the Office for the Vice Provost for the Arts at Duke.

The new Passion was created in a deeply cooperative manner. Since spring 2012, a group of ten scholars and artists from the UK, Ireland, and the US have helped MacMillan shape this new account of Christ’s death, as told in the Gospel of Luke. MacMillan described it as “a very unusual way of working… [that] widened the conversation into something very fascinating.” All who were involved believe their collaborative, interdisciplinary mode of artistic creation is a promising model for future projects.

Micheal O’Siadhail reading

The events began on Wednesday evening with a reading by Irish poet and linguist Micheal O’Siadhail, a member of the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration. O’Siadhail’s gifts for both word and theater shone through as he shared poems that drew on 30 years of life, love, and work, interspersing them with stories, jokes, and performative reflections on language. The audience sat close to the stage in the dark, facing a lectern lit only with clip-on desk lamps. “It was beautiful. Everyone was transfixed. You could hear a pin drop,” said Duke alumna Christina Carnes Ananias.

The next day, many of the scholars and artists involved in the project—O’Siadhail, MacMillan, DITA Director Jeremy Begbie, St. Andrews Professor of Systematic Theology Alan Torrance, Divinity Dean Richard Hays, Duke Divinity Professor of Old Testament Ellen Davis, Cambridge Regius Professor of Divinity David Ford, and Duke Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Philosophy Ray Barfield—gathered for a panel discussion. After a brief lecture on the project’s origins from Jeremy Begbie, the panelists considered their collaborative process from the vantage point of their various academic and artistic disciplines. A lively discussion with the audience followed.

In a lecture later that evening, MacMillan placed his Passion in the context of modern classical composition and faith. The work of English Romantic composer Edward Elgar served as a dialogue partner. Cambridge theologian Sarah Coakley responded with acute commentary on the connection of MacMillan’s music to Scripture and Catholic tradition. After the presentations, MacMillan engaged in a broad-ranging dialog with Duke graduate and undergraduate students, local community members, and singers from the children’s choir. The evening ended with a live performance of MacMillan’s composition for piano and violin, Kiss on Wood.

The lecture hall was full for Friday’s first event, a panel discussion entitled “The Future of Theology.” Sarah Coakley, Alan Torrance, and David Ford each presented their vision for the contemporary theologian’s work. Torrance, who is also a violinist, set the tone for the afternoon’s dialog when he quipped, “It’s the most fun you can have without a fiddle.” The provocative, energetic presentations stimulated a vigorous conversation involving the panelists, students, faculty, and members of the broader community.

James MacMillan then joined Duke Music Professor Stephen Jaffe and a group of doctoral students for a composition workshop hosted by the Department of Music. Several students presented their new orchestral, electronic, and operatic pieces. The dialogue that followed centered on the particular blessings and struggles of contemporary composition.

On April 13—Palm Sunday—a large audience gathered under the soaring vaults of Duke Chapel to hear the US premier of MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion. Rodney Wynkoop conducted a full orchestra and the combined forces of Duke Chapel Choir, the Durham Children’s Choir and the Riverside High School Choir. MacMillan’s vision of the story of Christ’s betrayal and death began with a startling fortissimo “Maria!” and ended with a soft tensile hum from the children’s choir. After a standing ovation, audience members described the sweep of the music as “beautiful” and also “relentless.” They commented as well on the works' accessibility and on how deeply they were moved by it. How fitting that it was presented on a day that commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before his death.

It was a grand, successful culmination of the four-year collaborative effort. A new way of composing contemporary classical music had proved itself by producing a beautiful and meaningful way of hearing the life and death of Jesus, the work’s resonance deepened by knowledge and inspiration that crossed disciplines and institutions.

Read more about the St. Luke Passion on the Boosey & Hawkes website. Photos of events, audio, and video of lectures and poetry readings are available on DITA’s Flickr and iTunes pages.

May 19, 2014

Ciompi Quartet Presents 2014 Summer Chamber Music Series


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The Duke Department of Music, Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and Sarah P. Duke Garden are pleased to announce the third season of Ciompi Quartet Presents, a summer chamber music series in Duke Gardens. The series allows members of the Quartet, joined by distinguished guest artists, to share some of the finest chamber music the Triangle has to offer.

This year the series has been expanded from three to four concerts. The first two, presented by Jonathan Bagg, are a double-bill celebrating the release of his Elation CD. The programs feature works by two Duke faculty composers and one graduate composition student. Eric Pritchard, along with guest musicians renowned for their work in baroque performance practice, will present J. S. Bach's The Art of Fugue, completing a three-part cycle of Bach's music. Finally, Fred Raimi will present a distinctive pairing of master composers Beethoven and Fauré.

Subscriptions go on sale May 19, single tickets on June 9—see below for details.

Tuesday, July 1, 7:30pm, Elation I

Jonathan Bagg, viola, presents the first of two programs of works from his recent CD, Elation, including one written by award-winning Duke graduate composition alumnus David Kirkland Garner. The guest musicians are soprano Ilana Davidson, guitarist Oren Fader, harpist Stacey Shames, and flutist Laura Gilbert.


Heitor Villa Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5

Franz Schubert, “Arpeggione” Sonata

Albert Roussel, Deux Poemes du Ronsard

Ned Rorem, Romeo and Juliet

David Kirkland Garner, “Awake, Awake”

Thursday, July 3, 7:30pm, Elation II

Bagg returns with the same ensemble to perform more selections from Elation. The program including works by Duke faculty composers Scott Lindroth and Stephen Jaffe and a second work by Garner.


David Kirkland Garner, “Abandoned and Forgotten Places”

Stephen Jaffe, Offering

Scott Lindroth, YTTE

Claude Debussy, Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp

Tuesday, July 29, 7:30pm, The Art of Fugue


Eric Pritchard, violin, is joined by violinist Jennifer Curtis, violist Martha Perry, and cellist Stephanie Vial, artists renowned for their work in baroque performance practice, to conclude his three-year survey of the last great contrapuntal works by J. S. Bach.


J.S. Bach, The Art of Fugue

Tuesday, August 12, 7:30pm, 3 Works by 2 Composers Played by 4 Friends and 1 Couple

Fred Raimi, cello, teams up with violinist Jennifer Curtis, violist Kirsten Swanson and pianist Jane Hawkins for three splendid works.


Ludwig van Beethoven, String Trio No. 3 in G Major, Op. 9 No. 1

Gabriel Fauré, Piano Quartet in c minor, Op. 16 and Cello Sonata No. 2 in g minor, Op. 117

Subscriptions are $65 and will be on sale from May 19 to July 1. Single tickets go on sale June 9: $20 General Public; $15 Students/Duke Employees; $10 Youth/Duke students. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling Duke University Box Office, 919-684-4444. All concerts begin at 7:30pm and will take place in Kirby Horton Hall in the Doris Duke Center at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708. Parking is free after 5pm in Duke Gardens Parking lots. Artists and program subject to change. No refunds or exchanges.

The series is presented by the

Duke Department of Music, Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and Sarah P. Duke Gardens.



The Ciompi Quartet was founded at Duke University in 1965 by the renowned Italian violinist Giorgio Ciompi.  All its members are professors at Duke and play a leading role in the cultural life of the university and community, in addition to traveling widely throughout the year for performances.

In a career that includes many hundreds of concerts and spans five continents, the Ciompi Quartet has developed a reputation for performances of real intelligence and musical sophistication, and for a warm, unified sound that is enhanced by each player’s strong individual voice. With a maturity and insight born of wide experience, the Ciompi Quartet projects the heart and soul of the music, in a repertoire that ranges from well-known masterpieces to works by today’s most communicative composers.


Jan 13, 2014

Spring 2014 Visiting Artists

This spring Duke's Visiting Artist Program includes a dance troupe from Brooklyn, a theater director from Duke (class of '98), music residencies featuring the premier of a new setting of St. Luke's Passion and three exceptional ensembles who will work with Duke composition students.

The goal of the Visiting Artist Program is to support projects that will enrich the life of the university and broader community, augment the curricular efforts of a range of departments and programs, facilitate the interaction of artists and scholars, foster the reputation of Duke University as a place where the arts are vital and diverse, and contribute to the arts as a whole.


March, 2014   •   Event Site
Performance on March 25 at the Motorco Music Hall

The New York based new-mu­sic sex­tet yMusic will make its final visit to Duke this spring to conclude its work with stu­dents in Duke's grad­u­ate com­po­si­tion pro­gram, re­hears­ing and recording their works in the newly ren­o­vated Bald­win Au­di­tor­i­um.




  Imani Winds & The Hilliard Ensemble

January, 2014
Performances on January 18 and 21.

Two other top-flight en­sem­bles will also work with Duke's stu­dent com­posers this year — Imani Winds, an en­er­get­ic A­mer­i­can wood­wind quin­tet and The Hil­liard En­sem­ble, a vocal quar­tet renowned for bring­ing the pristine blend of Renais­sance po­lyph­o­ny to mu­sic both new and old. Both groups will pre­pare and record new pieces com­posed by Duke Mu­sic De­part­ment grad­u­ate com­po­si­tion stu­dents, and Imani Winds will participate in a rehearsal with the Duke Wind Symphony, providing feedback to the student musicians.

These three residencies will provide Duke's up-and-coming composers with an exceptional opportunity for professional and musical development. Produced by Duke Performances in cooperation with Duke Music Department.



  Urban Bush Women

January-February, 2014   •   Event Site
Performances February 7 & 8

The two-week res­i­dency by the world-renowned, Brook­lyn-based con­tem­po­rary dance com­pany Urban Bush Women will cul­mi­nate in the world premiere of Walk­ing With 'Trane, a piece cre­ated by the com­pany's ar­tis­tic dir­ec­tor, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and in­spired by John Col­trane's mag­ni­fi­cent jazz suite, A Love Su­preme.

The com­pany will also be on hand to par­ti­ci­pate in "Dancing the African Diaspora — Theories of Black Performance," a sym­po­si­um or­gan­ized by SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology, the re­search group founded by Dance Pro­gram fac­ul­ty mem­ber Thomas DeFrantz. The three-day event starts on Feb­ru­ary 7.

Other res­i­dency events will in­clude master classes, a work­shop for dance com­po­si­tion stu­dents, open re­hears­als, and vis­its to dance courses. Out­reach vis­its to local Durham pub­lic schools, Hillside and Riverside high schools, are planned as well, with Duke dance stu­dents shad­ow­ing com­pany mem­bers in or­der to learn their com­mu­ni­ty en­gage­ment techniques. The residency by Urban Bush Women is produced by Duke Performances in cooperation with Duke's Dance Program.


  Hoi Polloi

February-March, 2014   •   Event Site
Performances February 20-March 1 at Manbites Dog Theater

The three-week res­id­ency of the OBIE-win­ning theater com­pany Hoi Polloi will be a home­com­ing for its founder and artistic di­rec­tor, Alec Duffy, who is a 1998 Duke grad­u­ate. The res­id­ency cen­ters on the premiere of Re­pub­lic, a work that has emerged from Pla­to's fa­mous trea­tise over the course of a two-year col­lab­o­ra­tion between Duffy and Duke's De­part­ment of Theater Stud­ies.

The residency will feature class visits and masterclasses in acting and devised theater with Duffy and members of the company, joined at times by the playwright Noah Mease, who is adapting the piece into contemporary language. The company's public events will include open rehearsals and a public conversation exploring the themes of the play.  The residency by Hoi Polloi is produced by Duke Performances in cooperation with Duke’s Department of Theater Studies.



  James MacMillan

April 2014   •   Event Site
Performance on April 13

The spring residency by Scottish composer and conductor James MacMillan builds on his two-year collaboration with members of Duke's Divinity School and the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. The residency here is organized under the auspices of DITA (Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts), a Divinity School initiative that promotes the mutual enrichment of theology and the arts.

The highlight of the residency will be the April 13 premier in Duke Chapel of MacMillan's setting of the St. Luke Passion, performed by the combined forces of the Duke Chapel Choir, Durham Children's Choir, and Orchestra Pro Cantores, conducted by Rodney Wynkoop. The composer will participate in the final rehearsals, where he will discuss the work and its creation with the performers.

In addition to the main event, there will be a performance of MacMillan's Kiss on Wood, for cello and piano, as well as public lectures, panel discussions, and a composition masterclass.


The Visiting Artist Program of Duke University receives funding from The Duke Endowment. For more information contact the Office of the Vice Provost Office for the Arts, 919.684-0540.

Oct 31, 2013

The Gravity of Billy Childs' "Enlightened Souls"

The celebration of 50 Years of Black Students at Duke University culminated on October 4, 2013 with the premier of Billy Childs' composition "Enlightened Souls," a piece commissioned by Duke Performances. The celebratory mood was heightened by the setting — Baldwin Auditorium — which had reopened just 3 weeks earlier after its magnificent $15-million makeover.

The hall was packed and buzzing with anticipation when Aaron Greenwald, Executive Director of Duke Performances, stepped out to make his introductory remarks. Greenwald acknowledged several African American alumni from the first integrated class who were present in the audience, thanking them and the many black students who followed them for all they have brought to the university, for making Duke a better, richer place.

In the first half of the program, Childs presented works from his repertoire. He took the stage initially with a sextet — a standard jazz configuration of saxophone or flute, piano, bass, drums, and guitar with the highly unusual addition of a concert harp. After one selection, the sextet was joined by a quartet — specifically, the Ying Quartet, an acclaimed ensemble with a long, independent history. For the rest of the evening, Childs' music emerged as a seamless interplay of the sextet and the quartet.

Sep 11, 2013

Stephen Jaffe on Teaching in the 21st Century

Stephen Jaffe is the Mary and James H. Semans Professor of Music Composition at Duke University. His status as an acclaimed American composer was affirmed last year when he was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters. His music has been featured at the Nottingham, Tanglewood, and Oregon Bach Festivals, and it has been performed by major ensembles both in America and abroad. Three discs from Bridge Records are dedicated to his work, including a 2004 recording of his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra that won the Koussevitsky International Recording Award. And that just scratches the surface of a very rich career, as his web page and his publisher's attest.

Though his works are performed by prestigious ensembles from around the world, Jaffe finds great pleasure in writing for children and for the local community, and recently composed a piece for the Durham Symphony and KidZNotes, a local organization that brings music education to underserved children in the community. More on that below.

The beginning of Stephen Jaffe's Still Life with Blue, played by the Durham Symphony. To hear more of Jaffe's work, see Volumes One, Two, or Three of the recordings issued by Bridge Records.

Jaffe is also a dedicated teacher and a generous mentor. Now beginning his 33rd year as a professor at Duke, he sees himself as "a link in the chain" of musical tradition. He is a link, most directly, to his own teachers, including George Rochberg, Richard Wernick, and one of the most original and indelible compositional voices in American music, George Crumb. But the chain stretches back many generations — much further, in fact, than any idea of "American Music."

The deep and essential attachment to centuries of history makes classical music a slow-moving thing, but the world is moving quickly around it, with profound effects on its place in the broader musical and cultural landscape. When I sat down recently to talk with Jaffe in his office, change was on my mind — in particular, how much of it there has been since I started music school in the 1980s, when a great deal of musical and professional energy was still spent negotiating fault lines from the early 20th century.

When I brought this up, Jaffe agreed there has been a sea change. But it is still, he said, "our privilege" to introduce students to the musical scores at the heart of the classical tradition, and those scores are as persuasive as ever. You can begin to understand his effectiveness and appeal as a teacher from his answer, from the way he presents himself as a guide and as a model and from his faith in the innate curiosity and musicality of those who come to him as students.

From that beginning, our conversation turned to more practical matters — the graduate composition program's evolving approach to performances of its students' music — and then to his recent project with the Durham Symphony. What follows is an edited transcript.

-Robert Zimmerman

Everything has changed but students are still the same

Is it fair to say that today's composition students live in a much different musical and professional world than we did when we were in school?

As Virginia Woolf reported amusingly about the early 20th century, somewhere around 2008, it became the 21st century. I'll bet if you asked 10 contemporary composers and artists, they’d reply that something big did change. I don't think we quite know what it was. Obviously it has to do with technology, with the artist and her audience, and with the really global world.

My students now bring in their pieces on their phones, some of them, and they're pretty amazing.

You mean just the audio, or do they have the score on there, too?

Well, it might be that, too. "Oh, you want the score? Well, sure, we'll get the score."

We get to work with sensational students at Duke. It's really gratifying to see them develop and then go out and do music. But even the ones that finished around 2000, 2002 have witnessed immense sea changes. The sea changes come from the more tenuous links to the classical musical tradition (or for that matter to jazz traditions or other traditions that require depth of exposure.) Classical music, growing up in America today, is a genre, among hip-hop, Motown, and Indie rock.

Aug 18, 2013

A Grand Re-Opening for a Grand Old Hall


Baldwin Auditorium, before and after (photos: Jon Gardiner, top; York Wilson, bottom)
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Duke University's Baldwin Auditorium was built nearly a century ago. It originally served as a chapel and as the Women's College Auditorium. The past few generations of Duke students, though, have known it mostly as a music venue. It has been both re­hear­sal and con­cert hall for the Wind Ensemble, the Symphony Orchestra, and other large student groups. The Opera Workshop has mounted shows there and a long string of dis­tin­guished guest art­ists have ap­peared there with the Duke Jazz Ensemble. Composers in the grad­u­ate pro­gram have pre­miered new works there. Four times a year, the Duke University String School fills the stage with a much younger crowd, par­ents in tow. And it's been the scene of re­cit­als and master­classes by mu­si­cians from near and far.

There was just one problem. Baldwin Auditorium was a mediocre place to make music. The old room, with its boomy acoustic and well-worn gentility, was still, at heart, the ceremonial gathering-place for an ambitious small-town college, vintage 1930. It was perfect for a convocation but not so good for a concert. Students and ensemble directors learned to live with it and even pulled off some wonderful performances there, but they did so only in spite of the hall's shortcomings.

Building the new inner wall in Baldwin AuditoriumThe beginning of the new inner wall (photo: Ray Walker)

See more photos and press coverage.

After two years of construction and an investment of $15 million, the days of just getting by are over, and Baldwin Auditorium will soon reopen as a world-class concert venue. From the out­side, the beau­ti­ful old Georgian struc­ture looks much the same (though many improvements have been made on the ground). Inside, though, the per­for­mance space has been trans­formed and its amen­i­ties thoroughly modernized.

In order to address the fundamental acoustical flaws of the original space, which was too square and had too many large, flat expanses of hard plaster and glass, inner walls have been built along the auditorium sides, made from a patch­work of panels set back at varying depths. Curved surfaces in natural wood are a con­spic­u­ous new feature, along the front of the bal­cony, behind the stage, and, most dramatically, above it, in an acoustical canopy that flares out into the hall. The big changes are complemented by countless smaller ones that fine tune the diffusion of sound. To top it off, a system of movable drapes has been added so the hall can be adjusted for different ensembles.

The goal of the overhaul was not just to create an exceptional hall, it was to create an exceptional hall for acoustic music. We now have exactly that — a space that conveys to every seat in the house the richness of a string quartet pianissimo or a big band going full-bore.

Apr 24, 2013

Ciompi Quartet Presents 2013 Summer Chamber Music Series in Duke Gardens


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The Duke University Department of Music, Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and Sarah P. Duke Gardens are pleased to announce the Ciompi Quartet Presents 2013 Summer Chamber Music Series in Duke Gardens, curated and presented by members of the Ciompi Quartet.

Each concert will feature a member of the Ciompi Quartet joined by guest artists.  Ciompi Quartet Presents is an opportunity for members of the Ciompi to create a musical dialogue with the audience where they express their creative drive through performance and in conversation.  Both new and celebrated chamber masterworks are explored musically to establish a deeper relationship between the composers, guest artists, and the audience.

Ciompi Quartet Presents 2013 Summer Chamber Music Series will take place on three Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm in Kirby Horton Hall at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.  The dates are May 28, July 2, and August 13. Series subscription packages for all three concerts go are available for $50.  Single tickets $20; Duke employees & Students $15. Duke students & Youth $10; Group Discounts are also available. Purchase tickets at:  duke university box office, 919-684-4444 or

Apr 22, 2013

Film and Music Collaborations Concert with Wet Ink Ensemble


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On April 30 the series Encounters: with the music of our time presents the Wet Ink Ensemble and guests in concert. The event will feature film and music collaborations between Duke graduate student composers—Vladimir Smirnoff, David K. Garner, D. Edward Davis, Tim Hambourger, and Jamie Keesecker—and film/media artists Marika Borgeson, Lisa McCarty, Peter Lisignoli, Jolene Mock, and Annabelle Manning.  There will also be new works by Duke graduate student composers Bryan Christian and Jamie Keesecker.  The event is part of the 2011-13 Wet Ink residency sponsored by the Department of Music and a Visiting Artists grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts.

Founded in 1998, Wet Ink has presented over 80 concerts featuring a wide range of artists, both established and emerging. Their repertoire ranges from scores of rigorous notational complexity to indeterminate and improvisational music, from the American experimental tradition to the contemporary European avant-garde, and from acoustic to amplified to electronic works and works for homemade instruments.

For more information contact Elizabeth Thompson in the Music Department.

Sponsored by Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, Master of Fine Arts in Experimental & Documentary Arts (MFAEDA) and Art, Art History & Visual Studies.







Apr 3, 2013

Robert Ward (1917-2013)


Prof. Ward with Duke graduate student Amy Scurria, March 2012.
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The Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts joins with the Duke Music Department and the arts community in expressing our sadness at the passing of Professor Emeritus, Robert Ward.  A prolific composer, Robert Ward is perhaps best known for his operatic setting of The Crucible, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962.  Over a long and distinguished life, his support of Duke, and especially the arts, will not be forgotten.

Duke Music Department and the News and Observer have more about his life and contributions to the music world and the arts community.


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