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'Revelation: From China to Spanish Harlem'

Bienen School’s spring festival welcomes artists from Spain, U.S., Ireland, China and Brazil

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Broadway star Nellie McKay, two Grammy-winning groups -- the Turtle Island Quartet and Spanish Harlem Orchestra -- Ireland’s trail-blazing Dublin Guitar Quartet and Chinese pipa prodigy Wu Man are among the world-renowned artists who will perform this spring on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

The international array of soloists and ensembles are part of the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music’s 10th annual Spring Festival, “Revelation: From China to Spanish Harlem.”

All seven of the festival’s March 30 through April 12 concerts will take place in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston Campus.

The festival will include an evening of dance and music performed by Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, one of the nation’s leading flamenco and Spanish dance companies, as well as night of harmonica music performed by a diverse group of Chicago-based virtuosos, including Howard Levy, Corky Siegel, Windy City Trio and James Conway.

This year’s festival will also celebrate the music of the Beatles with a special, one-night only performance that will feature the Chris Siebold All-Stars, harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy, pianist Anthony Molinaro and DanceWorks Chicago.

The media sponsor for the Bienen School’s 2014 Spring Festival is 90.9 FM WDCB.

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


Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana opens the festival at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30. Founded in 1983 by Carlota Santana, the group is one of the nation’s premiere flamenco companies, touring the globe from Colombia to Spain. In its latest tour, “The Soul of Flamenco,” the ensemble will explore the passion of Spanish dance, incorporating a new work by Angel Munoz into its high-powered repertoire. Tickets are $26 for the general public and $10 for students.

Turtle Island Quartet will be joined on stage by Nellie McKay for “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing,” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 31. The program will explore the music of Billie Holiday, Billy Strayhorn and the Weimar cabaret of the 1920s. It will feature McKay playing the ukulele and marimba and singing songs that will include such classics as “I Remember You,” “Mean to Me,” “I Cover the Waterfront” and “Alabama Song.” The Turtle Island Quartet has released more than a dozen albums, racking up two Grammy wins, and has performed with Paquito D’Rivera, the Assad brothers and pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Ramsey Lewis. Nellie McKay received a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of “The Threepenny Opera” with Alan Cumming. A multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, actor and composer, McKay has had her music performed on leading TV shows, including “Mad Men,” “NCIS” and ”Nurse Jackie,” and she recently contributed to the soundtrack for the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.” Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students.

The Dublin Guitar Quartet will perform inventive and approachable arrangements of modern masterpieces at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3. The Irish ensemble specializes in the works of minimalist composers and has received great acclaim for their effort to bring contemporary classical music to new audiences. Comprised of Brian Bolger, Pat Burnnock, David Creevy and Tomas O’Durcain, the quartet’s December 2013 release “The Dublin Guitar Quartet Plays Philip Glass” is available on the composer’s Orange Mountain Music label. The ensemble’s reputation has also led to collaborations with rock artists Redneck Manifesto and Owen Pallett (formerly known as Final Fantasy) as well as special engagements, including opening the inaugural Ireland Guitar Festival. The group’s concert will include arrangements of Glass’ String Quartet No. 4 “Buczak,” Arvo Part’s “Summa,” Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint,” Glass’ String Quartet No. 2 “Company,” Leo Brouwer’s “Cuban Landscape with Rain,” David Flynn’s “Chimurenga (Homage to Thomas Mapfumo),” Ligeti’s “Musica Ricerata” and the Redneck Manifesto’s “Soundscapes over Landscapes.” Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students.

Back by popular demand, the third iteration of “Harmonica Convergence” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4. This year’s celebration of the versatility and range of the harmonica will showcase a variety of musical styles ranging from blues and Brazilian to Celtic and beyond. The featured performers will include multiple Grammy-winning virtuoso Howard Levy, blues master Corky Siegel, the Windy City Trio (comprised of Bud Boblink, Ron Agnew and Bill Morris), James Conway, and Brazilian duo Pablo Fagundes with guitarist Marcus Moraes. Tickets are $18 for the general public and $10 for students.

The two-time Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra will perform authentic Latin jazz at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5. The 13-piece collective, now in its 10th year, has released four albums, including their two Grammy winners -- 2004’s “Across 100th Street” and 2010’s “Viva La Tradicion.” The ensemble has toured extensively, traveling across North, Central and South America and Europe. Founded by bandleader, pianist and producer Oscar Hernandez, the orchestra celebrates the soundtrack of 1960s-era Spanish Harlem, blending traditional Latin jazz with a hint of mid-20th-century American pop. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

Grammy-nominated pipa prodigy Wu Man will perform with percussionist Robert Schulz at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9. Wu Man was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year and is credited with giving new life to the 2,000-year-old pipa -- a four-stringed Chinese lute. She has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet and Silk Road Project both on stage and in the studio; has commissioned works from leading composers Tan Dun and Philip Glass; and performed as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Man has recorded for numerous labels, receiving a Grammy nomination each for her performance of Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto with the Silk Road Project and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as her performance of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with the Moscow Soloists. Grammy-nominated percussionist Robert Schulz is principal percussionist for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Boston Landmarks Orchestra. Man’s program will include traditional Chinese and contemporary works as well as the Chicago-area premiere of her own multimedia composition, “Ancient Dances,” performed with Schulz. Tickets are $22 for the general public and $10 for students with IDs.

The festival will conclude with “A Beatles Songbook,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12.

Harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy, the Chris Siebold All-Stars, pianist Anthony Molinaro, DanceWorks Chicago and the Northwestern Silver Hammers vocal ensemble will perform fresh arrangements and unique interpretations of classic and lesser-known Beatles songs. The program will also pay homage to the Beatles’ music hall influences. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students.

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