Smile Politely

Jupiter Quartet brings the big Gunns

On October 20, Krannert Center patrons will be treated to a truly unique paring of University of Illinois faculty music talent when Nathan and Julie Gunn team up with the Jupiter Quartet for an evening of song for accompanied string quartet. This exceptional line-up of University of Illinois School of Music faculty talent will feature contemporary composers like Mark Adamo and legendary artists like Samuel Barber.

    Nathan Gunn is one of the classical world’s great baritones, and this South Bend native is a University of Illinois alum and Professor of Voice at the University of Illinois.  As Director of Lyric Theatre Studies and Associate Professor of Music, wife and accompanist, Julie Jordan Gunn, often adds the voice of the piano to Nathan’s performances. She will be behind the keyboard on October 20 as well, but with her will be our string quartet in residence, the Jupiter Quartet.
     If such possible combinations of musical talent seem a bit unusual, consider such classic works as Barber’s Dover Beach, or the Jupiter Quartet’s new CD. Rootsongs, is a wonderful collection of American themed works for string quartet. Starting with Anton Dvorak’s. OP. 96, the “American” quartet and ending with Dan Visconti’s Ramshackle Songs from 2009, over a hundred years of music for string quartet from American roots are performed here. But, it is the third work on this CD that is the key to what your might expect in the Foellinger Great Hall on October 20.
     Stephen Andrew Taylor’s Four Spirituals for Soprano and String Quartet  from 2014, is a glorious blending of classical music arrangement and traditional African-American spirituals. Soprano Ollie Watts Davies adds just the right resonance to blend our country’s cultural past with the brilliance of a modern composer. 
     First violinist Nelson Lee of the Jupiter Quartet has the best preview of this extraordinary October 20 concert—“We think it has a really nice mix of music from different periods and styles.” Check out the details at—, or call the Krannert box office for ticket details at—333-6280. Starting time is 7:30 PM.
   Coda:   The Jupiter Quartet had the extraordinary fortune of recording legendary American composer Gunther Schuller’s final work. The CD has yet to be released, but first violinist Nelson Lee was kind enough to provide our readers with an update.  “We actually just took photos for the Schuller album. Should be coming out soon!”

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