McNally Smith prides itself on being one of the nation’s preeminent contemporary music colleges, though it’s been known to flex its classical muscles as well (e.g., the recent addition of guitar virtuoso Dr. Eva Beneke). Thus, the school is extremely excited to be hosting a free, open to the public conversation/Q&A with a group of critically acclaimed artists who are currently blurring the lines between classical and contemporary music to great effect.
In collaboration with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s (SPCO) brand new Liquid Music concert series and the Walker Art Center, McNally Smith will be welcoming composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, vocalist Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond, The Decemberists), and progressive chamber sextet yMusic to its downtown St. Paul campus on Wednesday, February 27 for an open conversation with students and the general public. Worden and yMusic will be performing Snider’s “rapturous” (New York Times) composition, Penelope, over two consecutive nights (February 26–27) at SPCO Center in the Historic Hamm Building.
Per Wikipedia: “Snider’s musical compositions frequently borrow from indie-rock and popular musical idioms as well as classical chamber music forms and instrumentation. These stylistic choices have urged critics to label her music as part of the burgeoning indie-classical movement, where she has been called “perhaps the most sophisticated” of voices within this genre.” Time Out New York describes Penelope as: “a potent melding of classical poise and alt-pop punch… the year’s most affecting creation”
Versatile vocalist Worden mixes elements of opera, cabaret, chamber music and rock, while the conservatory-trained/pop-savvy yMusic — whose members are some of NYC’s most in-demand accompanists, with credits ranging from performances with Bon Iver, the New York Philharmonic and Jay-Z — are “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music” (National Public Radio).
Hosted by McNally Smith’s Creative Industry Coordinator, Adam Levy (frontman for The Honeydogs), attendees of this exclusive, intimate conversation can expect plenty of enlightening commentary regarding these cutting-edge artists’ processes in crafting and performing such bold, genre-bending material.
SPCO’s Liquid Music — a new concert series that expands the world of classical music through innovative new projects, boundary-defying artists, and unique presentation formats — is co-sponsored by McNally Smith (as well as the Walker Art Center) so future engagements like this may be in the cards.
“I couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music program,” says McNally Smith President Harry Chalmiers. “It’s a brave move on their part to venture into this unknown territory, and we feel the spirit of the series aligns perfectly with our ethos here at the college. Forward-thinking collaboration like what we’re seeing with Snider, Worden and yMusic is such a great inspiration and a potent example of what can happen when artists break the rules.”
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