Karen Ní Bhroin makes her UNCSA debut conducting student string ensembles in free, livestreamed concert on Oct. 10

New Associate Conductor Karen Ní Bhroin makes her UNCSA debut leading student string ensembles in a concert featuring the music of Belá Bartók, Edvard Grieg, Arcangelo Corelli, George Walker and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, livestreamed from the Stevens Center on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The concert is a highlight of a diverse schedule of free concerts and recitals to be livestreamed during the month of October by the School of Music.


One of Ireland’s leading young conductors, Ní Bhroin is also assistant conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony and director of the symphony’s youth orchestras program. Her professional conducting experience includes Akron (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Ireland.

Karen Ni Bhroin makes her UNCSA conducting debut on Oct. 10

Associate Conductor Karen Ní Bhroin Makes her UNCSA debut on Oct. 10

"I feel like I’ve won the musical lottery commencing my position with UNCSA School of Music,” Ní Bhroin said. “UNCSA is such a special place with world-class faculty who are a real family. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this community and I’m really looking forward to combining my education and conducting background into one. It’s the perfect recipe and I couldn’t have asked for a better team and students to work with.” 

For the Oct. 10 concert, Ní Bhroin will conduct student string ensembles including the Amadeus Players and the Bartók Ensemble. Also on the program: Graduate student Elena Rang will lead the Brandenburg Ensemble, with additional direction from faculty-artists Ida Bieler and Brooks Whitehouse.

These chamber ensembles consisting of violin, viola, cello and bass sections  were formed to provide performance opportunities for string players while safeguarding health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The small orchestras consist of violin, viola, cello, and bass sections.

“We redesigned our ensembles this summer to adopt COVID protocols for performers, and that allowed us to choose pieces that have been lacking in the repertoire all over the globe for a number of years,” Ní Bhroin said. “We have been given the gift to perform smaller works in chamber groups, offering students an opportunity to blossom as leaders, to delve into early repertoire and to add another layer and aspect to their education.”

Performing in concert is always about the music. There is also always a magical layer that the audience brings; it's inevitable. I've always found, thankfully, I forget about it and get lost in the music and performance.

Karen Ní Bhroin

“During this performance you will see everything from the baroque era right through to the last century,” Ní Bhroin said.

Ní Bhroin will conduct the Amadeus Players in Mozart’s Divertimento KV. 136 and Grieg’s “Holberg Suite.”

“Mozart Divertimenti are like miniature symphonies and are some of Mozart's early work,” Ní Bhroin said. “They offer real insight in what was to come in his later compositions.”

“Holberg Suite” is a five-movement work which was originally for piano. “In these five movements you'll hear a suite of different dances,” she said.

Ní Bhroin will conduct the Bartók Ensemble performing Bartók’s “Romanian Folk Dances” and Mozart’s Divertimento K. 128. Violinist Rang will lead the ensemble for Corelli’s Concerto Grosse No. 4 in D, and is a featured soloist, along with violinist Austen Speare and violoncellist Elijah White.

The Brandenburg Ensemble will perform “Lyric Suite” by internationally renowned 20th-century composer George Walker, the first African American composer to earn a Pulitzer Prize. “The beautiful work is his most well-known, and is dedicated to his grandmother,” Ní Bhroin said.

Ní Bhroin said performing without a live audience will be a learning experience for students and for her. “Performing in concert is always about the music. There is also always a magical layer that the audience brings; it's inevitable,” she said. “I've always found, thankfully, I forget about it and get lost in the music and performance. These students have adapted amazingly well to the restrictions. I'm privileged to share the stage and the experience with them.”

Additional offerings to be livestreamed in October include:

“Yes, also Beethoven” on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m., from Watson Hall
Continuing the celebrations honoring the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, faculty pianist Dmitri Vorobiev will perform "Eroica" Variations, Op. 35; Bagatelles, Op. 33; Rondo in C Major, Op. 51, No.1; and three smaller pieces that reveal a side of Beethoven that is not often seen or heard.

Chamber Winds on Friday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m., from the Stevens Center
Faculty-artist Mark A. Norman conducts the Chamber Winds Orchestra on stage at the Stevens Center, performing selections from Carl Orff’s "Carmina Burana," Alfred Reed’s Double Wind Quintet, and Richard Wagner’s "Funeral March from Götterdämmerung."

“It is remarkable the teamwork that has happened to get us back to making music together,” Norman said. “Students are learning the same protocols being used by professional musicians who perform with the world’s most renowned ensembles and orchestras. We are all finding ways to do what we love, for audiences who crave great music.”

Student wind and brass ensembles on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m., from Watson Hall
Details will be provided soon.

Guitar studio recital on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 7:30 p.m., from Watson Hall
Undergraduate, graduate and high school students of Joseph Pecoraro and Luke Payne will perform guitar solos in a livestreamed version of what is traditionally one of the most popular recitals of the year.

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September 23, 2020