Music at the Museum & More
Art and music lovers were treated to a fresh and exciting new concert series at the Zimmerli Art Museum this past year. Music at the Museum, presented by the Mason Gross School of the Arts Extension Division and the Zimmerli Art Museum, featured hour-long concerts performed by members of the Extension Division’s outstanding music faculty in the museum’s elegant Lower Dodge Gallery. Admission was free.
Audience-friendly performances showcased diverse repertoire – often selected with the museum’s current collection in mind – introduced by the performers. At the conclusion of concerts, audience members were invited to join brief guided tours of the Zimmerli’s galleries.
Reviews were ecstatic. Following the opening concert of the series, Something for Everyone! Piano trios by Haydn, Beethoven, Dvorak, Shostakovich, and Brahms, one patron wrote: “The commentary was accessible, informative and educational without being an overbearing turn off – SO, SO SMART!! – particularly when you’re trying to attract younger kids or new attendees to the world of the arts.”
Attracting new audiences of all ages to the arts is exactly what Music at the Museum was intended to do. According to Zimmerli’s Interim Director, Marti Mayo, “The Zimmerli and the Extension Division share a common desire to reach new and diverse audiences by providing interdisciplinary arts experiences accessible to all ages.” Extension Division Director, Christopher Kenniff, notes that “….across all eras, the arts developed and flourished side-by-side. Offering today’s audience the opportunity to enjoy great music and great art together makes sense.”
Performers – all members of the Extension Division’s teaching artist faculty – are established concert artists in their own right. Included on this series were multiple Grammy nominees, members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, competition winners, and distinguished Mason Gross alumni. Reviews noted playing that “dazzled with shimmers of virtuosity” and “… exudes confidence and passion….Applause was long and enthusiastic, and after the concert a long line of audience members waited to share their excitement with the performers.”
Performances aside, the most remarkable aspect of the new series might just be the audience. Not your typical Sunday afternoon classical music affair, concerts attracted families with small children, members of the Rutgers community, museum patrons and music lovers who overflowed the considerable available seating.
Concert reviewer Edgar Girtain, covering Flute & Piano Magic: works by Mozart, Prokofiev, Chopin, Liszt and Bizet for New Brunswick Patch on November 9, 2014 observed “The hall was a bustle, filled to capacity with an audience representing a wide range of ages. It’s always wonderful to see young people at concerts.”
Fortunately, overflow audience were able to enjoy performances from the Upper Dodge Gallery walkways and from nearby galleries. For patrons not attending the concerts, performances remained audible throughout much of the museum adding a certain ambience to their experience.
In addition to the faculty concert series, the two organizations have collaborated to bring Mason Gross Collegiate Jazz Ensembles (the Afro Cuban Jazz Ensemble led by Professor Bill O’Connell and the Rutgers Jazz Trombones led by Professor Conrad Herwig) to perform during the Zimmerli’s popular Art After Hours events, and to present Extension Division end-of-semester student showcases. In each case, developing musicians had the opportunity to create and perform for new audiences in the Zimmerli’s elegant galleries.
Musical events are one part of a broader, ongoing collaboration between the Extension Division and the Zimmerli intended to bring living artists back in the museum, reach new audiences and provide ‘interdisciplinary’ arts experiences for all ages.
Next stages of collaboration include plans to combine and co-present precollege and adult visual arts classes geared toward members of the community, children and adults. “In many respects, the Zimmerli’s and the Extension Division’s educational missions overlap one another. It didn’t take long for us to find areas in which we will be more effective working together” shares Kenniff.
Stay tuned for more concerning this growing partnership and, of course, season two of Music in the Museum!
Music at the Museum, 2014/15 Concert Series:
- October 19, 2014 – “Something for Everyone” featuring Allison Brewster Franzetti, Piano; Brennan Sweet, Violin; Mira Kang, Cello. Works by Haydn, Beethoven, Dvorak, Shostakovich, and Brahms. View concert program.
- November 9, 2014 – “Flute and Piano Magic” – Amy Tu, Flute; Yevgeny Morozov, Piano. Works by Mozart, Prokofiev, Chopin, Liszt and Bizet. View concert program.
- February 15, 2015 “Art of the Guitar”- Kevin Hildebrandt, Guitar; Michael Donahue, Guitar; Leighann Narum, Guitar. Works by Coltrane, Herzog, Albeniz, J.S. Bach, Dyens, Pujol, Milan and Tarrega. View concert program.
- March 15, 2015 – “Piano Plus” – Zoe Browder Doll, Piano; Allison Brewster Franzetti, Piano; Karen Dalley, Piano; Jing Yang, Piano; Pamela Stein, Soprano. Works by Mozart, and Crumb. View concert program.
- April 12, 2015 – “Afternoon of Opera and Art Song” – Daniel Mumm, cello; Jenne Carey, Soprano; Vincent Granna, Baritone; Kelly Lin, Piano Accompanist; Christopher Kenniff, Guitar. View concert program.