DAVENPORT — Two weeks after she dazzled audiences in Bettendorf with soprano Lily Arbisser, St. Ambrose University pianist Marian Lee will take part in another special concert on Saturday, Sept. 14, to kick off the 50th anniversary of Galvin Fine Arts Center at SAU.
Lee will perform with virtuoso violinist Xiang Gao and erhu extraordinaire Cathy Yang (together are 6-wire, after the total number of strings on their instruments) at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Galvin, on Gaines Street, north of Locust.
“I'm friends with the violinist; we've played concerts together,” Lee said recently of performing while she was an adjunct instructor at the University of Delaware. “He's a phenomenal violinist, originally from China. When he started teaching at Delaware, we created a concert series and brought in really famous artists. He's very savvy."
Of the duo, Lee said: “They are both jaw-dropping, phenomenal virtuosos on their respective instruments with a ton of charisma to boot — audiences love them. It's a good mix of Chinese music and Western classical music favorites.” The concert highlight will be the "Butterfly Lovers" concerto, a Chinese “Romeo & Juliet”-style story, told with pictures and story projected.
“The audience can follow the story while the music is being played,” she said. “It's a kid-friendly concert — it does have the visual part of it, which makes it more fun. The music they picked is very flashy and accessible. They are playing a few Chinese pieces as well. They're very accessible and will show their virtuosity and charisma.”
6-wire is inspired by the historical connection between the erhu, the Chinese two-stringed violin, and the 4-stringed violin — both essential leading instruments in the East and West. The Delaware-based 6-wire, which often performs with piano, is a “pioneering American ensemble that mixes traditional romanticism and virtuosity with new chamber music,” according to its biography. “The three virtuosi celebrate diversity in performance, weave stories and context into their concerts, and transform how live instrumental music is experienced.”
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Yang — who bows the long strings of the erhu (traditionally tuned a fifth apart) — is “a gorgeous player,” Lee said. “What this woman does on her instrument with two strings, it's phenomenal. They really tear it up.”
6-wire's mission is to promote cultural exchange while attracting new chamber music audiences and supporters with new repertoire and sounds from around the world.
6-wire has commissioned several works by leading contemporary composers for major events around the world. The pair made their Carnegie Hall debut in February 2019, when they performed a new work for 6-wire and the University of Delaware Chorale written by Jennifer Barker.
Lee made her Carnegie Hall debut (also at the smaller Weill Recital Hall) as the 1995 winner of the Artists International Award. She received a bachelor of music and a master's in music in piano performance from The Julliard School; was awarded the coveted Fulbright Grant to study at the Moscow Conservatory and earned her doctoral degree at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.
Tickets to the Sept. 14 concert are $20 general admission; $15 faculty, staff, alumni, and senior citizens; $10 for children and free for SAU students.
Upcoming events in the 2019-2020 Galvin Fine Arts season are the musical “Big Fish” (Oct. 4-6); a new adaptation of the children's classic “The Little Prince,” by Davenport's Aaron Randolph III (Dec. 7); Chicago Dance Crash (Jan. 25); Mexico Beyond Mariachi (Feb. 22); and the play “Dancing at Lughnasa” (April 17-19).