New England Premiere of "Music at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello" on February 1 at Wesleyan University

New England Premiere of "Music at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello" on February 1 at Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Music Department present
Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
New England premiere on Friday, February 1 features
veterans of Broadway, chamber music, and hip hop;
plus a glass harmonica player, and a New England Fiddle Contest champion
Middletown, Conn.— The 38th annual Crowell Concert Series presented by Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Music Department continues with the New England premiere of "Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello" on Friday, February 1, 2013 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall located at 50 Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. The concert is also a part of the year-long campus and community-wide exploration “Music & Public Life.” (Please see below for more details about “Music & Public Life,”, the Crowell Concert Series, and the Performing Arts Series).
Curated by violinist Paul Woodiel, "Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello" features what might have been heard after-hours in the Charlottesville, Virginia home of the third U.S. president (the European concert music of Corelli, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart), as well as in the slaves’ quarters (African American and European American traditional musics). This concert features performances by singer, guitarist and banjo player Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Dennis James on glass harmonica, singer Jennifer Hope Wills, violinists Robert Mealy and Mazz Swift, cellist Katie Rietman, Christopher Layer on bagpipes and flutes, and Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce on harpsichord. (Please see below for more details about each of these artists).
There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:15pm in Crowell Concert Hall by Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce.
Tickets for the performances are $24 for the general public, $19 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, and non-Wesleyan students, and $6 for Wesleyan students. Tickets are currently available online at; and starting on Tuesday, January 15 by phone at (860) 685-3355 or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University,” and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges. Programs, artists and dates are subject to change without notice.
About Paul Woodiel
Leonard Bernstein described Paul Woodiel as "a first-class performer who combines spirituality with intellect". A busy New York-based purveyor of violin and fiddle music, his broad stylistic compass includes the dance fiddle traditions of America and the British Isles, ragtime and jazz, and the music of Charles Ives. Mr. Woodiel has presented recitals at the 92nd St. Y, Caramoor, Miller Theater, Yale University, and the New York Festival of Song at Carnegie Hall, and has appeared as soloist at festivals from Bard College to Moab, Utah. A veteran of dozens of Broadway orchestras, Mr. Woodiel served as concertmaster of Oprah Winfrey's "The Color Purple." Previous shows include "Ragtime" and "Caroline, or Change." A three-time New England Fiddle Contest champion in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut, he is a widely respected exponent of the fiddle traditions of New England. In this vein, he performs across the U.S. and abroad with the Scottish dance band Local Hero. Other engagements have included performances and recordings with Steve Reich, pianists Dick Hyman and Neely Bruce, Marin Alsop's Concordia, Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, American Composers Orchestra and the Grammy Awards Orchestra.

About Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton
Jerron Paxton was born into a Creole family in Los Angeles. While growing up in the South Central area, he learned banjo, guitar, harmonica, piano and several other instruments in their authentic pre-war American styles. His style includes elements of Blind Blake, Papa Charley Jackson, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Earl Scruggs, Willie "The Lion" Smith and Lonnie Johnson, recreating the sounds of pre-war music in America. Associations with mentor Brad Kay and friend Frank Fairfield have reinforced his love of the music on 78s and cylinders.
About Dennis James
Dennis James debuted as a performing glass musician in 1983. A conservatory-trained artist, Mr. James dedicated himself to the resurrection of the glass harmonica—Benjamin Franklin’s 18th-century musical invention—and has established the instrument as a significant component of today’s international music scene. Founder of the current international revival of glass music, Mr. James has transformed his collection of other previously neglected glass instruments into an intriguing and versatile performance resource. With a unique blend of adroit virtuosity, eclectic interests and clever humor, he has become the world’s foremost glass music performer. Born in Philadelphia in 1950, Mr. James began formal musical training at the age of seven. He attended Indiana University’s School of Music as a student of both concert and church organ performance, earning his Bachelors and Masters degrees. His New York debut organ recital was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1973 and his organ concerto debut was with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1982. Mr. James has since appeared with orchestras in 40 U.S. cities plus various ensembles throughout Canada and The Netherlands. A glass instrument authority, Mr. James presents illustrated lectures and solo recitals in addition to his guest appearances. He also founded several chamber ensembles, including the Musica Curiosa Trio, the Arcadian Players and the Franklin Consort to showcase his unusual instrument collection.
About Jennifer Hope Wills
For nearly four years Jennifer Hope Wills won audiences’ hearts as Christine in Broadway's longest running musical "The Phantom of the Opera."  Other Broadway credits include starring as Eileen in the critically acclaimed revival of "Wonderful Town" opposite Brooke Shields (revamped New Broadway Cast recording), "The Woman in White" and "Beauty and the Beast."  She also appeared as Della in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" with City Center's Encores! Regional credits include Marian in "The Music Man" at Riverside Theatre, Rose Vibert in "Aspects of Love" and Sharon in "Finian's Rainbow" (both at Walnut Street Theatre), Maria in "The Sound of Music" and Julie in "Carousel" (both at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera), Sandy in "Grease!" and "Camelot" (both at Paper Mill Playhouse), Eliza in "My Fair Lady" (The Gateway Playhouse), Lily in "The Secret Garden" (Virginia Musical Theatre) and Brooke/Vicki in "Noises Off!" (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre). Her voice can be heard as Liesel in the Salzburg Marionette Theatre’s version of "The Sound of Music" starring Christiane Noll. She has appeared in concert with the Houston and Asheville Symphonies, at Merkin Concert Hall, Town Hall and at the Mar-a-Lago Club with Howard McGillin for Donald Trump and guests. She holds an Master of Music degree from Indiana University where she appeared on the mainstage as Laurey in "Oklahoma!," Papagena in "The Magic Flute," Josephine in "H.M.S. Pinafore" and Gossip I in "The Ghosts of Versailles." For more information, please visit

About Robert Mealy
One of America’s leading historical string players, Robert Mealy has been praised for his “imagination, taste, subtlety, and daring” (Boston Globe). The New Yorker called him “New York’s world-class early music violinist.” He has recorded over 50 albums, ranging from Hildegard of Bingen with Sequentia, to Renaissance consorts with the Boston Camerata, to Rameau operas with Les Arts Florissants. In New York he is a frequent leader and soloist with the New York Collegium, ARTEK (The Art of the Early Keyboard Music Ensemble), Early Music New York, and the Clarion Society. He also leads the distinguished Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra and has appeared as guest concertmaster and director with the Phoenix Symphony. A devoted chamber musician, he is a member of the medieval ensemble Fortune’s Wheel, the Renaissance violin band The King’s Noyse, and the seventeenth-century ensemble Spiritus Collective. A keen scholar as well as a performer, Mr. Mealy has been on the faculty of the Historical Performance graduate program at The Juilliard School since its inception, and became Director of the program in July 2012. He was recently appointed Adjunct Professor at Yale University, where he directs the Yale Collegium; in 2004 Mr. Mealy received Early Music America’s Binkley Award for outstanding teaching at Yale and Harvard, where he directed the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra for ten years. For more information, please visit

About Mazz Swift
Mazz Swift, a native New Yorker, began playing the violin at the age of seven. She studied privately for nine years with Elizabeth Small, Shirley Givens and Timothy Baker. Mazz graduated from the High School of the Performing Arts, during which time she made her solo public performance debut on the stage of New York's Alice Tully Hall, performing alongside members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She later attended The Juilliard School of Music, but left in the middle of her junior year in order to pursue a more organic approach to music making. She found herself living at Zendik Farm and while there, under the tutelage of Arol Wulf-Zendik, she developed into an improvisational musician. Mazz's diverse musical interests have led her in many directions: from classical music to rock to traditional folk music from around the world, with a special focus on Irish music, and most recently hip hop. Consequently, she has recorded and performed with a wide variety of artists including Perry Farrell, Moby, Vernon Reid and DJ Logic as The Yohimbe Brothers, Burnt Sugar and many artists from the Black Rock Coalition, Suphala, Kanye West, Common and Jay-Z. For more information, please visit
About Katie Rietman
Katie Rietman, currently living in New York City but originally from Amarillo, Texas, has performed as a baroque cellist on over 40 recordings, and numerous concerts and radio broadcasts with notable baroque and classical period instrument ensembles. Her performing career has taken her to nineteen countries, including Peru, Portugal, Italy, and Argentina. Her cello is 222 years old, and was made by William Forster in London.
About Christopher Layer
Christopher Layer, a gifted multi-instrumentalist, plays the Irish "Uilleann" pipes, simple-system wood flutes, pennywhistle, Scottish Highland bagpipes and Scottish small pipes, bassoon, electric and string basses. As one of the premier traditional musicians in the U.S., Christopher has sought to bring the music of the Uilleann pipes and Irish flute to ever widening audiences around the world. Traditional music was a staple in his family home in Indiana, and his classical skills where honed at The Hargreaves School of Music at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, and the prestigious Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington. For more information, please visit
About Neely Bruce
Neely Bruce, Professor of Music and American Studies at Wesleyan University, is a composer, conductor, pianist and scholar of American music. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa; he received his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His principal teachers were Ben Johnston, Hubert Kessler, J. F. Goossen, Lara Hoggard, Charles Hamm, Byrnell Figler, Roy McAllister, Soulima Stravinsky and Sophia Rosoff. He has been Visiting Professor and Artist In Residence at Middlebury College, Bucknell University, the University of Michigan, and at Brooklyn College. For more information, please visit
About “Music & Public Life”
Today, the private and public worlds of music often overlap and intersect in virtual networks, community musicking, and public policy. During the current academic year, Wesleyan University has been celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music in public at the local, national, and transnational levels through concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses, all designed to cross disciplines and engage the campus and Greater Middletown communities.
“Music & Public Life” events this spring include the following:

·        Several symposiums, including “The New Transnationalisms of Music” (March 1, 2013) featuring Beverly Diamond (St. John’s Memorial University, Newfoundland), Anne Rasmussen (The College of William & Mary), Aram Sinnreich (Rutgers University), Marc Perlman (Brown University) and Joshua Tucker (Brown University); “Time Stands Still: Notation in Musical Practice” (April 5-6, 2013) including the U.S premiere concert and residency by London-based choral group the Vocal Constructivists directed by Wesleyan Associate Professor of Music Jane Alden, composers Mark Applebaum, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Parsons, and Wesleyan Music Department faculty Anthony Braxton, Ronald Kuivila, and Paula Matthusen; and “Indonesian Performing Arts & Public Life” (April 25-27, 2013) including University of California Santa Cruz Professor of Theatre Arts Kathy Foley, Yale University Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology Sarah Weiss, and Wesleyan University Professor of Music Sumarsam, Artist in Residence I.M. Harjito, and Professor of Theater Ronald Jenkins.

·       “MiddletownRemix”, a collaborative, place-based sound project that enables people to develop and express the acoustic identity of Greater Middletown, culminating in the community-wide celebration "MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More" on May 11, 2013. The celebration will feature the world premiere of "MTRX" (2012), a composition for laptop orchestra by Jason Freeman of UrbanRemix.
“Music & Public Life” is supported by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New England Foundation for the Arts, and is co-sponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the American Studies Department, the Center for African American Studies, the Center for the Arts, the College of the Environment, Iguanas Ranas Restaurant, the Middletown House Concert Series, the Music Department’s George Jackson Fund, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of the Dean of the Arts and Humanities, the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, and the Wesleyan Writing Programs.
For more information about “Music & Public Life,” please visit

About the Crowell Concert Series
The Crowell Concert Series at the Center for the Arts features a wide array of world-class musicians. This season includes the upcoming performance by Hugh Masekela (April 19, 2013). Past artists that have performed as part of the Crowell Concert Series include Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Amelia Piano Trio, American Brass Quintet, AnDa Union, Anonymous 4, Ahmad Jamal, Balfa Toujours, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Bill Frisell Trio, Boston Chamber Music Society, Bulgarian Bebop, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Charles Lloyd Quartet, Cherish the Ladies, Claude Frank, Crooked Still, David Krakauer & Klezmer Madness, Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, Don Byron: Jungle Music for Postmoderns, Donald Berman: Celebrating Chopin’s 200th Birthday, Dünya, Eddie Palmieri, eighth blackbird, Eileen Ivers, Entrequatre, Ernest Dawkins, Eugenia Leon, Fernando Otero Quartet, FleytMuzik, FLUX Quartet, Henry Threadgill, Joshua Roman, Kronos Quartet, Le Vent du Nord, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Lionel Loueke Trio, Lionheart, Margaret Leng Tan, Maya Beiser & Anthony de Mare, Midori, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Near Eastern Music Ensemble, Omar Sosa, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Otis Taylor, Parthenia, Paul Brady, Pedro Carboné, Peter Serkin, Randy Weston, Regina Carter Quintet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, San Jose Taiko, sfSoundGroup, Shanghai Quartet, Stanley Cowell Quartet, The American Piano, The Assad Brothers, The Baltimore Consort, The Hilliard Ensemble, The Mystical Arts of Tibet: Drepung Loseling Monastery, Thomas Mapfumo/Blacks Unlimited, Tiempo Libre, Tokyo String Quartet, Toumani Diabate, Trio Globo, Turtle Island String Quartet with Stefon Harris, Voices of Afghanistan, and Zakir Hussain & L. Shankar.
About the Performing Arts Series
The Performing Arts Series at the Center for the Arts features a wide array of world-class musicians, cutting-edge choreography, and groundbreaking theater performances and discussions.  This season's upcoming performances include the New England premiere of the work "Mama Call" by Gallim Dance (February 8 & 9, 2013); the 14th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance (March 9, 2013); and Hugh Masekela (April 19, 2013) . For more information, please visit
Save 15% when you buy tickets to four or more Performing Arts Series events. Call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at (860) 685-3355 to take advantage of this discount.  
About the Music Department
The Wesleyan University Music Department provides a unique and pioneering environment for advanced exploration committed to the study, performance, and composition of music from a perspective that recognizes and engages the breadth and diversity of the world's musics and technologies. As an integral part of one of the nation's leading liberal arts institutions, the department has enjoyed an international reputation for innovation and excellence, attracting students from around the globe since the inception of its visionary program in World Music four decades ago.
Recent annual music festivals in partnership with the Center for the Arts have brought to campus a diverse array of artists, including Max Roach, Pete Seeger, Boukman Eksperyans (Haiti), and Boogsie Sharpe (Trinidad).
A recording studio, a computer and experimental music studio, the Center for the Arts media lab and digital video facility, the World Instrument Collection (which includes the David Tudor Collection of electronic musical instruments and instrumentation) and the Scores and Recordings Collection of Olin Library (which includes the World Music Archives) offer many learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
For more information about the Music Department, please visit