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'Side by Side' Music Festival Explores Musical Connections

Todd Rundgren, ETHEL, Assad Brothers, Kurt Elling among guest artists

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Rock legend Todd Rundgren and the string quartet ETHEL, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera are among the renowned artists taking center stage at Northwestern University as part of “Side by Side: Exploring Musical Connections.” The University’s 2013 Spring Festival concert series begins April 2 and runs through April 13.

The seven-concert festival also will include a one-night celebration of traditional Irish, Latino, Jewish, Eastern European and African-American music.

The festival’s concerts and master classes will take place on the University’s Evanston campus at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive or Regenstein Recital Hall, 60 Arts Circle Drive, as noted. They are presented by the University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.  

The “Side by Side” festival is made possible in part by the generous support of Alex and Liz Rorke and the Oldberg Visiting Artist Fund.


April 2

• The highly-acclaimed post-classical string quartet ETHEL and rock icon Todd Rundgren will present “Tell Me Something Good” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. In the past three years, ETHEL has premiered more than 50 new works and collaborated with artists David Byrne, Bang on a Can and Scottish percussionist Colin Currie. Todd Rundgren, who began his career with the rock band Nazz in the 1960s, has progressed through cosmic and symphonic progressive rock into a high-tech one-man band, all the while producing his own records and music videos. He is best known for his songs “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw the Light” and “Bang the Drum All Day.” Rundgren and ETHEL will join forces in a 1970s-inspired program of solo performances and collaborations featuring Judd Greenstein’s “Octet 1979,” ETHEL ensemble member Ralph Farris’ arrangement of Arvo Part’s “Spiegel im Spiegel,” Lou Harrison’s “Quartet Set,” and the songs of Todd Rundgren. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students.

April 3

• Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra will celebrate the music of Cole Porter in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. One of the world’s foremost jazz vocalists, Elling has won the title of DownBeat magazine’s Male Vocalist of the Year for the past 13 years. He has recorded 10 albums and collaborated with jazz greats, including Dave Brubeck, Charlie Hunter and Al Jarreau. Under the direction of Jeff Lindberg, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra is one of the nation’s oldest jazz repertory orchestras. It has performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, a national celebration of the arts, for the last 23 years and released several albums. Its 2004 “George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” was named one of the top recordings of the decade by DownBeat. The Spektral Quartet will perform as part of the orchestra. Tickets are $26 for the general public and $10 for students.

April 6

Musicians from the Chicago area celebrate the diversity of the city in “Chicago Reflections,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Pastor Eric Thomas will direct the Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir. Accordionist Jimmy Keane, who was named “Male Musician of the Decade” by Live Ireland and Irish American News, will perform with Grammy-nominated fiddler Liz Carroll,recipient of Ireland’s Composer of the Year Award. The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band will perform works ranging from classic Jewish to modern fusion. Bayanist (chromatic button accordionist) Stanislav “Stas” Venglevski and mandolinist Misha Litvin will perform traditional Russian and Eastern European folk music. The Sones de Mexico Ensemble, known for their extensive repertoire of regional styles, will also perform. The program is presented in conjunction with One Book One Northwestern, the University’s community reading program. Tickets are $16 for the general public and $10 for students.

April 8

• Classical guitarist Jason Vieaux will coach Bienen School guitar students in a master class at 7 p.m. Monday, April 8, in Regenstein Recital Hall.

April 9

• Percussionist Colin Currie will coach Bienen School percussion students in a master class at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, in Regenstein Recital Hall.

• Guitarist Jason Vieaux and accordionist and bandoneon player Julien Labro will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Vieaux, the youngest winner of the Guitar Foundation of America International Competition, has toured across Europe and the United States, concertizing with more than 50 orchestras. He has been featured in every major guitar series in North America and recorded 10 albums. Vieaux is head of the guitar department at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. Labro, a native of France, is an internationally established accordionist who has won prizes at the Coupe Mondiale, Castelfidardo and Art Van Damme accordion competitions. He has collaborated with artists Joao Gilberto, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Anat Cohen, Cassandra Wilson, the Hot Club of Detroit and A Far Cry chamber orchestra. In this concert, the duo will perform Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango,” Albeniz’s “Sevilla” and “Asturias,” Pat Metheny’s “Antonia,” Leo Brouwer’s “Tres Danzas Concertantes” and selections from Gnatalli’s “Suite Retratos.” Tickets are $22 for the general public and $12 for students.

April 10

The Miro Quartet and percussionist Colin Currie will perform contemporary and classical music at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. One of America’s highest-profile chamber groups, the Miro Quartet was founded by Oberlin Conservatory of Music students and, within five years, won first prizes in several international competitions. The quartet regularly tours across North America, Asia and Europe, and has collaborated with musicians Joshua Bell and Pinchas Zukerman. Grammy Award-winning Scottish percussionist Colin Currie stands at the forefront of modern percussion music. He has commissioned works from composers Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, James MacMillan and Louis Andriessen. He is winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and is currently Artist-in-Residence at London’s Southbank Centre. The quintet will perform Schubert’s “Quartettsatz,” Steve Reich’s “Nagoya Marimbas,” Alexander Goehr’s “Since Brass nor Stone…,” Michael Torke’s “Mojave,” a new work by Heitor Pereira, Steve Martland’s “Starry Night” and Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students.

April 12

The Asphalt Orchestra, a 12-member street and marching band, will perform their indoor program “Unpack the Elephant” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Comprised of brass, percussion and winds, the ensemble is known for its innovative music with parade-worthy choreography by MacArthur Genius grant recipient Susan Marshall. The Asphalt Orchestra operates as part of the renowned Bang on a Can collective and premiered at the 2009 Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival in New York. This concert will feature music by ensemble members as well as Frank Zappa’s “Zomby Woof,” “Two Ships” by David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Annie Clarke (St. Vincent), the Laneville-Johnson Union Brass Band’s “Wild About My Daddy” and Bjork’s “Hyperballad.” Tickets are $18 for the general public and $10 for students.

April 13

Guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera will perform “Dances from the New World” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The two-time Latin Grammy Award-winning Assad brothers have collaborated with artists Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Dawn Upshaw. They have inspired commissions from Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley and Radames Gnattali, among others. Eleven-time Grammy and Latin Grammy Award-winner Paquito D’Rivera is known for his versatility, performing genres ranging from jazz to classical. He has released more than 30 solo albums and recorded with Yo-Yo Ma, Alex Brown, the Caribbean Jazz Project and the Turtle Island String Quartet. D’Rivera is also a noted composer who has been honored with the National Medal of the Arts and the Living Jazz Legend Award from the Kennedy Center. The trio’s performance will include Dilermando Reis’ “Dois Destinos,” Baden Powell de Aquino’s “Tempo Feliz,” Ernesto Lecuona’s “Conga de la Media Noche,” Copland’s “Hoe Down” from “Rodeo,” Ginastera’s “Malambo,” Piazzolla’s “Milonga per tre” and “Escualo,” and D’Rivera’s “Afro.” Tickets are $28 for the general public and $12 for students.  

Construction alert

Due to construction on the south end of campus, Arts Circle Drive is currently closed to traffic. Free parking is still available on weekends and after 4 p.m. weekdays in the two-level lakefront structure located on Campus Drive. After turning onto Campus Drive from Sheridan Road, enter the parking structure on the right by way of ramps leading to the upper and lower levels. For vehicles with handicap placards, reserved spaces are available on weekends and after 4 p.m. weekdays in the lot directly west of Louis Hall. For more construction and parking information, visit

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit To order tickets call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 467-4000 or visit For information regarding construction, visit

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