2013 Chicago Dancing Festival Adds Zing to Its Performances with Live Music Ensembles

Bryant Park Quartet Lar Lubovitch - Transparent Things; Photo by Ximena BrunetteThere’s nothing like live music to add that extra zing to a dance performance. This year, for the first time, the 2013 Chicago Dancing Festival included musicians from New York, Spain, Venezuela, and Chicago at several performances. Here’s the lowdown on the ensembles.

Le Train Bleu accompanied Lar Lubovitch’s Dance Company for Tuesday, August 21’s Crisis Variations. The ensemble, originally formed by conductor and flutist Ransom Wilson, features some of the most brilliant and expressive young musicians from New York City. Tuesday night’s musicians included conductor Ransom Wilson, violinist Tina Watstein, flautist Christopher Matthews, saxophonist Carrie Koffman, double bassist Brian Ellingsen, and keyboardist James Johnston. In the past, the group has collaborated with Lar Lubovitch at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, recorded their first album for the Cantaloupe label, and joined forces with Opera Moderne for Viktor Ullman’s opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis.

The Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater was accompanied by Paco Fonta and Javier Saume Mazzei for the dance Ensueños de mi Caribe on Wednesday, August 21 and Friday, August 23. Fonta is an internationally renowned Flamenco guitarist, singer, and composer originally from Jaen, Spain. He began his professional career performing in tablaos and festivals in the Andalucian region of Spain. He came to Miami in 1986 with his wife Celia, a well-known Flamenco dancer, to open the famous Cacharrito’s Place tablao in Miami. Currently, he produces his own show to sellout crowds at the Casa Panza Restaurant. Mr. Fonta has worked with Flamenco dance companies in the United States and abroad including Miami’s Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, Fort Lauderdale’s Bailes Ferrer, and Venezuela’s Carman Garza Flamenco Ballet. You can also hear his work on album’s by Latin artists including Gloria Estefan’s hit record Cuts Both Ways and David Beisbal’s Bulerias.

Percussionist Javier Saume Mazzei originally hails from Caracas, Venezuela. He has performed with artists including Rhonda Richmond, Cassandra Wilson, and the the Symphony Orchestra “Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles de Venezuela”. He has also performed in concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and at Carnegie Hall. He currently records and performs with the Sones de Mexico Ensemble, the only group in NARAS history to be nominated for the Latin Grammy and Grammy in the same year.

On Friday, August 23, the Bryant Park Quartet (BPQ) joined the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company for Transparent Things. Based in New York City, the group includes violinists Anna Elashvili and Ben Russell; violist Nathan Schram, and cellist Tomoko Fujita. BPQ’s “rEvolving Ear” concert series pairs contemporary music with historical masterpieces as well as the quartet’s original arrangements of genres ranging from bluegrass to art songs. They have established residencies in California, Iowa, Maryland, and Vermont. The quartet also has the distinction of being the first Ensemble-in-Residence at Stony Brook University Community Music Programs.

Cellist Barbara Haffner and pianist Mongo Buriad accompanied the Joffrey Ballet’s Victoria Jaiani in The Dying Swan on Wednesday, August 21 and Friday, August 23. Ms. Haffner is assistant principal cellist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as principal cellist with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra and Music of the Baroque. She has had solo repertoire written for her by several composers including Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Wernick. Mongo Buriad is a pianist who regularly accompanies the Joffrey Ballet.

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