Kennesaw State Festival of New Music

Kennesaw State Festival of New Music Slated for February 17-21

Festival features three concerts, lectures, seminars and master classes

Spring brings new growth, and the students at Kennesaw State University School of Music are ready to blossom at the Kennesaw State Festival of New Music Feb. 17-21.

Three nights of concerts at KSU’s Bailey Performance Center will highlight the talents of composers and musicians creating new music in today’s world with a special focus on female artists. Chinese composer   Chen Yi is the featured guest composer for this year’s Festival of New Music.

Born and raised in Guangzhou, China, Chen began studying piano at age three, but the onset of the Cultural Revolution almost ended her studies. She was forced to practice the piano with a blanket stuffed inside to dampen the sound and play her violin with a mute. When she was 15, she was sent to perform compulsory labor in the country, and she learned to appreciate Chinese folk culture. She later returned to Guangzhou as the concertmaster for the Beijing Opera Troup orchestra.

Chen’s compositions will be featured on Wednesday, Feb. 19th, with KSU’s   Symphony Orchestra performing a duo of her pieces, including Symphony No. 3 and the world premiere of Chinese Rap for Violin and Orchestra, commissioned as a celebration of KSU faculty violinist,  Helen Kim. Also performing will be the  Men’s Ensemble and   Chamber Singers presenting a selection of new works, including several of Chen’s Chinese folk songs.  KSU’s Wind Ensemble will close the evening with selections including Chen’s Tu and the Georgia premiere of a Marimba Concerto by Christopher Theofanidis featuring KSU Director of Percussion Studies, John Lawless.

Another great artist and composer in the new music landscape,  Maria Schneider, will lend her compositions to the   KSU Jazz Ensemble for their performance on Thursday, Feb. 20th. Schneider is widely considered one of the most important figures in jazz music today, having earned vast critical acclaim and multiple GRAMMY® awards for her groundbreaking compositions, which blend sounds to form a musical tapestry unique among big-band jazz vocabulary. The Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of KSU Director of Jazz Studies Sam Skelton, will perform her works that were originally performed by the genre-bending  Maria Schneider Orchestra.

The week culminates on Friday, Feb. 21st with pianist  Simone Dinnerstein and singer-songwriter  Tift Merritt joining forces to perform a unique collaboration uniting the folk/Americana and classical worlds from their recent release, Night. Dinnerstein and Merritt explore the common terrain between their two worlds and uncover new musical landscapes as the featured guest performers closing out the 2014 Festival.

In addition to the concert performances, the festival’s visiting artists will offer a myriad of seminars and master classes, all of which are free of charge and many open to the public.  Notable among these are a lecture by Chen Yi on Cultural/Educational exchange programs, a panel discussion on Creative Women in Music and Art featuring Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt, and a Skype conversation with composer Maria Schneider.  A full schedule of these events is available   online.

All concerts will be held in Morgan Hall at the Bailey Performance Center and will begin at 8 p.m. For more information and the full schedule of festival events, including lectures, seminars, master classes, panel discussions, and more with KSFNM featured artists and composers, please visit Tickets are available online at, by phone at 770-423-6650 or at the door.