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Two years ago, Andrew Manze wowed the Williams Center for the Arts assoloist-conductor of Academy of Ancient Music. Unrivaled in interpreting virtuoso music for baroque violin, Manze will showcase a different repertory in a return engagement with period instrument ensemble The English Concert 8 p.m. tonight, centering on Pachelbel, J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and — his personal specialty — the electrifying fiddle fantasies of Franz Biber.

Tickets cost $22 for the public, $4 for faculty and staff, and are free for students. They can be obtained by calling the box office at (610) 330-5009.

Cellist Alison McGillivray will teach a master class for Lafayette string students in the Williams Center theater at 4:15 p.m. today.

Manze has been called “the first modern superstar of the baroque violin” by San Francisco Examiner. The Times of London states, “The English Concert and its new leader do indeed appear to be under a magic spellplaying with the kind of panache that makes your spirits sing.”

The English Concert includes Manze and Walter Reiter, violins; Ylvali Zilliacus, viola; McGillivray, cello; William Carter, theorbo; and David Gordon, harpsichord. Founded in 1973, the ensemble quickly earned a place among the world’s leading period instrument groups. With an exceptional combination of sheer enjoyment in music-making and technical brilliance both on concert platforms and in over 100 recordings—many of which still enjoy benchmark status—the orchestra became worldwide ambassadors for British performing arts.

The English Concert continues its successful concert series in London at various venues including Wigmore Hall. Manze’s first season was launched in July 2003 with a special appearance at the BBC Proms, which was followed up by a sold-out 2004 Prom. The English Concert performs regularly throughout Europe, Japan, Australia, and North and South America. This fall’s performances include dates in New York (Carnegie’s Zankel Hall), Los Angeles (Disney Hall), Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and La Jolla, Calif.

Manze is one of the most passionate and articulate advocates of early music. As a violinist he specializes in repertoire from 1610-1830. As a conductor, Manze is in great demand among period and modern-instrument orchestras around the world. He also teaches, edits, and writes about music, as well as broadcasting regularly on radio and television. He is a presenter of BBC radio’s Early Music Show.

Associate director of The Academy of Ancient Music from 1996-2003, Manze is artist-in-residence for Swedish Chamber Orchestra and guest conductor in symphonic repertoire and large-scale oratorios throughout Europe, the United States, and Australia. Future conducting engagements include visits to Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber, and Zurich Chamber Orchestras.

Manze’s recordings with The Academy of Ancient Music as a soloist and chamber musician have garnered many international prizes, including the Gramophone, Edison, and Cannes Classical Awards, the Premio Internazionale del Disco Antonio Vivaldi, and the Diapason. His long-standing collaboration with Richard Egarr has won great acclaim. Their discography includes sonatas by Rebel and Bach (awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik) and Pandolfi`s complete Violin Sonatas (Gramophone Award, 2000). Their complete Handel Violin Sonatas was nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award, and figured in the U.S. Billboard Chart. Their most recent recording was a two-disc set of the Rosary sonatas of Biber, released to great acclaim in 2004.

Manze is a fellow of Royal Academy of Music and a visiting professor at Royal College of Music, London, and has contributed to new editions of sonatas and concertos by Mozart and Bach published by Bärenreiter and Breitkopf and Härtel.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2005–2006 Performance Series is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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