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Turtle Island String Quartet will perform its pioneering jazz for hard-driving string quartet with Grammy Award-winning clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets cost $18 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

Turtle Island is comprised of Evan Price, violin; David Balakrishnan, violin and baritone violin; Danny Seidenberg, viola; and Mark Summer, cello.

The program is expected to include “You’ve Changed” by Carey/Fischer, arranged by David Balakrishnan; “Danzón” by D’Rivera, arranged by Summer; “Wapango” by D’Rivera, arranged by David Balakrishnan; “La Jicotea” by D’Rivera; “Maracatu” by Egberto Gismonti, arranged by Seidenberg; “Passarim” by A.C. Jobim, arranged by Caito Marcondes; and “A Night in Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie, arranged by Balakrishnan. The program is subject to change.

Turtle Island String Quartet made a residency presentation at Lafayette in February 2000, with a noon open rehearsal of a piece written for the group and for the Newman & Oltman Guitar duo by Dusan Bogdanovich. The concert will be the quartet’s Williams Center performance debut.

D’Rivera first performed at Lafayette in October 1992, as part of a Hispanic programming focus that also brought flamenco dancer Pilar Rioja to the Williams Center for the first time. He returned in September 1994 as guest soloist with the Mario Bauza

Afro-Cuban All-Stars Jazz Band, and his jazz quintet opened the Williams Center’s 1999-2000 jazz masters series.

Turtle Island String Quartet derives its name from creation mythology found in Native American folklore. Since its inception in 1986, the group has been a singular force in the creation of bold trends in chamber music for strings. Cellist nonpareil Yo-Yo Ma has proclaimed the group to be “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground — authentic and passionate — a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.” Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet aesthetic with 20th-century American popular styles, devising a performance practice that honors both.

The quartet’s birth was the result of Balakrishnan’s brainstorming explorations and compositional vision while writing his masters thesis at Antioch University West in 1983. The journey has taken Turtle Island through forays into folk and bluegrass styles, swing jazz, be-bop, classical Indian forms, funk and R&B, new age, rock and hip-hop, bossa nova and salsa — a repertoire consisting of hundreds of ingenious arrangements and originals. While losing none of the rhythmic force and groove structure that has always been the foundation of the group’s “American vernacular” style, Turtle Island also pays attention to its Euro-classical roots.

Another unique element of Turtle Island is its revival of venerable improvisational and compositional chamber traditions that have not been explored by string players for nearly 200 years. At the time of Haydn’s creation of the string quartet form, musicians were more akin to today’s saxophonists and keyboard masters of the jazz and pop world, i.e., improvisers, composers, and arrangers. Each Turtle Island member is accomplished in these areas of expertise as well as having extensive conservatory training.

Turtle Island members refine their skills through unusual “re-compositions” of works by old masters through the development of repertoire by some of today’s cutting-edge young composers, through performances and recordings with major symphonic ensembles, and through a determined educational commitment.

Born in Havana, Cuba, D’Rivera was a child prodigy who played the clarinet and saxophone and performed with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at a very early age. He founded the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna and Irakere, whose explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical, and traditional Cuban music had never been heard before. His numerous recordings have received rave reviews and hit the top of the jazz charts.

D’Rivera has toured throughout the world with his ensembles: Triangulo (devoted exclusively to chamber music), the Paquito D’Rivera Big Band, and the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet. D’Rivera’s appearances in classical venues include solo performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, The Royal Philharmonic, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, the Florida Philharmonic, St. Luke’s Orchestra, the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra, and the Simón Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra, among others. With the Cuban National Symphony, he premiered several works by Leo Brower, the foremost contemporary Cuban composer.

In 1991, D’Rivera received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Latin music, along with Dizzy Gillespie and Gato Barbieri, and in 1997 he received his second Grammy for Portraits of Cuba. In 2000 he won a third Grammy for Tropicana Nights, and was nominated in the classical category for Music of Two Worlds. His latest Grammy was awarded to the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet’s Live at the Blue Note. The National Symphony Orchestra has commissioned D’Rivera to compose a concerto for flutist Marina Piccinini, which premieres next month. Four more D’Rivera commissions will premiere this year: works for Turtle Island String Quartet and Ying String Quartet; a work to debut in August at Canada’s International Double Reed Congress 30th Anniversary; and “Jazz Fantasy for Piano and Violin,” commissioned by the Library of Congress and premiering in May.

D’Rivera is Artist-in-Residence at New Jersey Performing Arts Center and artistic director for jazz programming of the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, and sits on the boards of directors of Chamber Music International and Chamber Music America. For the past five years D’Rivera has been artistic director of the Festival International de Jazz en el Tambo, now in its sixth year in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Last year, D’Rivera’s Festival guests included such luminaries as McCoy Tyner, James Moody, and Chico Hamilton.

The collaboration of D’Rivera and Turtle Island was launched by a commissioning project funded by Chamber Music America.

The 2001-2002 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from members of Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts, and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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