Rome, Ga. — The Balkan Quartet, an Atlanta-based string ensemble, will join Shorter University music faculty members in a dynamic performance at Brookes Chapel on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The unique musical collaboration will feature Shorter faculty members Deborah Popham, soprano; John Reams, clarinet; and Rebekah Jordan-Miller, piano, for an evening that will highlight both contemporary and classical works by composers such as Aleksandar Gajic, Dmitri Shostakovich and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Serbian violinists Sinisa Cirie and Mirna Ogrizovic; violinist Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi, of Croatia; and Bulgarian cellist Martin Gueorguiev first began working together as section leaders of the Gwinnett Ballet Orchestra. From there, they formed the Balkan Quartet with a focus on involving and inspiring composers to create new music that would use an indigenous Balkan language, reviving the region’s folk heritage on an artistic level.
“It is always a great opportunity to collaborate with talented colleagues, and the Balkan Quartet is a top-notch ensemble,” said Dr. Deborah Popham, assistant professor of music. “They have played concerts at Shorter a few times in the past and have always performed exciting music. It is a blessing to be able to perform with them and have them on our campus.”
The Balkan Quartet has performed throughout the southeastern United States, and in 2009 the ensemble was invited to represent the Serbian Embassy during Passport to D.C., a global celebration in Washington, D.C.
Having this group of established chamber and solo musicians perform on the campus of Shorter University brings an opportunity for the audience to get to know a historic piece of musical history, according to Dr. John Reams, assistant professor of music.
“The string quartet is one of the most important ensembles in the history of music,” Dr. Reams said. “Many composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven found some of their greatest inspiration when writing for this group of instruments. It is a treat to have the Balkan Quartet with us and an honor for me to have the opportunity to perform with them.”
The performance is also designed to support live music, he said, noting that as a clarinetist, it is a rare honor to perform alongside an ensemble such as the Balkan Quartet.
“I believe one of the most important things we can do is support live music,” he said. “Everything from going to the Atlanta Symphony to hearing the Balkan Quartet at Shorter is so valuable not only to the audience, but to the musicians, the music business, and culture as a whole. We are continuing a great tradition of music and performance that has spanned centuries. We should give ourselves the opportunity to hear how relevant this music can be to all ages at any time.”
The performance is free and open to all ages, though Dr. Popham noted the work of Shostakovich can be dark.
“The poetry was written around the turn of the 20th century and was set to music in 1967 in Soviet Russia,” she said. “There are themes of suffering and death, and the cycle depicts the hardships of living. But this is a great opportunity to hear chamber music being performed — and some unique pieces of music. Chamber music is not performed as often these days, and this is a chance to hear some new pieces, and it is free!”