Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meet the University of South Carolina Soloists

A native of Texas, Dr. William Bates earned his BMus in Organ and Church Music and BA in Music Theory from Howard Payne College in Brownwood. He received his graduate training at Indiana University, where as a pupil of Oswald Ragatz he earned both the MMus and the DMus in organ performance. From 1969 to 1978 he served on the music faculty of The University of West Florida in Pensacola and since 1978 has taught at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he holds the position of Professor of Organ. William Bates has presented recitals and workshops for churches and AGO chapters throughout much of the United States. In addition, he has concertized in Europe, having played, among other venues, at King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England, and at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Bates has also been a featured lecturer-recitalist at a number of music conventions, including national meetings of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society. In addition, he has contributed articles and reviews to The American Organist, The Diapason, and The Journal of the American Liszt Society. Critics have been unanimous in their appraisal of Bates' performances: "Expert command of the organ ... executes difficult compositions flawlessly" (Pensacola, Florida); "It was a highlight in several years of performance programming! Such stunning musicianship" (Huntsville, Alabama); "A flawless performance" (Indianapolis, Indiana); "Bates demonstrated to a lively and enthusiastic audience that an organ recital can be an exhilarating as well as a musically rewarding experience" (Charlottesville, Virginia); "Dr. Bates' memorized performance received a standing ovation" (The Diapason); Played with a technical ability seldom heard" (Tampa, Florida); "Virtuosity, perfection, and artistry" (Washington, DC); "William Bates's recital of Liszt, Franck, Brahms and Reubke saw him thoroughly in his stylistic element giving his audience beautifully cohesive and virtuosic renditions" (The American Organist). Trained as both a performer and a scholar, William Bates is an organist with remarkable technique and musical insight. He is known for his articulate, stylistic, and musical performances of music from all periods of organ literature.

Constance Whitman Gee is viola professor at the University of South Carolina where she maintains an active viola studio, coordinates string chamber music and is Director of the Community Music School and Suzuki Strings program. She has performed extensively across the US and Europe as an orchestral and chamber musician and soloist. She lived and worked in Spain for several years as the Principal Violist with the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife. Gee has appeared as soloist with orchestras, including the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, the Charlottesville Symphony, and Piccolo Spoleto Festival among others. An avid supporter of New Music, she has collaborated with such composers as Luciano Berio, Luis Andriessen, Henry Brant, David Jaffe, and others. She has premiered several works written expressly for her; most recently Reginald Bain's “Tiling” for viola and piano. Upcoming projects include the recording of the works for viola by Henry Brant to be included in the collected works of the composer. Her recordings include the Sonata per viola I piano by Salvador Brotons, and Heaven and Earth: Chamber Music with Harp. A proponent of all things viola, she founded and served as president of the Virginia Viola Society and now serves as president of the South Carolina Viola Society. Her major teachers included Jesse Levine, Stuart Canin, James Dunham and Emanuel Zetlin. She holds degrees from the University of Maryland, the Yale School of Music and California Institute of the Arts.

Critics have hailed Clifford Leaman “an artist of the first order…intuitive, exciting, and enthralling." (Paul Wagner, The Saxophone Journal) Leaman reveals himself to be [an] artist of technical brilliance and emotional commitment." "The range of colors is impressive..." (Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide). Professor of saxophone at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Leaman received the Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in performance from the University of Michigan where he was a student of Donald Sinta. He served on the faculties of Furman University, Eastern Michigan University, and The University of Michigan prior to his appointment at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Leaman is in great demand as a soloist and clinician and has performed and taught throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain and China, where he was a featured guest artist for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Yantai International Winds Art Festival and the 2005 Xi’an International Arts Festival. He has performed as a concerto soloist at the XII World Saxophone Congress in Montreal, Canada, the North American Saxophone Alliance’s 2006 Biennial Conference in Iowa City, Iowa, the 2008 International Navy Band Symposium in Washington D.C. and will be featured in the XV World Saxophone Congress in July, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Leaman, in collaboration with pianist Derek Parsons, formed the Ambassador Duo in 1990; and they have released three critically acclaimed compact discs on the Equilibrium label. These recordings are entitled Brillance (EQ-21), Excursions (EQ-55), and Illuminations (EQ-77), which features, among others, three works that were written for the duo. He has also performed extensively with percussionist Scott Herring, giving concerts and master classes at many universities and saxophone conventions since 2005 when they formed the RoseWind Duo. Their debut compact disc recording, Release, (EQ-92) was released in 2008 and features works for alto saxophone and marimba. Dr. Leaman is also featured on a variety of recordings of solo and chamber works for Redwood Records, CRS, and the University of Arizona Recordings. An avid supporter of contemporary music, Dr. Leaman has commissioned and given the world premiere performances of numerous works, including concertos by Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, Leslie Bassett and Michael Colgrass. His recording of the Bassett with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra is available through Equilibrium Records (EQ-63). Dr. Leaman is an artist-clinician for Rico International and the Conn-Selmer Company, Inc. and performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones and Rico reeds.

Mr. Robert Pruzin is currently Associate Dean and Professor of Music at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches horn and is Director of Advisement and Student Teaching. Mr. Pruzin is the Principal Horn in the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra and the Augusta Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Mr. Pruzin is the Artist-in-Residence at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts. Mr. Pruzin is also the creator, producer, and artist performer of a program entitled, "Bring Mozart Alive!" Dressed as a court musician in the time of Mozart, Mr. Pruzin has performed for over ten thousand elementary school children throughout the Carolinas, educating future musical audiences about the work of this great composer. Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the State University of New York at Potsdam, Mr. Pruzin received his Masters of Music in Performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. with continued postgraduate work at the University of Maryland and Northwestern University. Mr. Pruzin was a member of the United States Marine Band, "The President's Own" in Washington, D.C. He has appeared as a guest soloist in the International Horn Society convention, at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, and numerous regional orchestras throughout the Southeast and he has received critical acclaim wherever he has performed.

Bass-baritone Jacob Will made his New York Philharmonic debut as soloist in the American Premiere of the Messa per Rossini, a performance televised live nationwide. An experienced concert artist, Mr. Will has appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vladamir Ashkenazy and with the Cabrillo Festival under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. He has sung with the San Francisco Symphony in the St. Matthew Passion, with the International Bach Festival of Schaffhausen, Switzerland in the St. John Passion, and with the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra in Frank Martin's Le mystère de la Nativité. He has also recorded Cherubini’s Messe solennelle under Helmuth Rilling and Zemlinsky’s Kleider Machen Leute under Ralf Weikert. Mr. Will has sung for many years with the Zürich Opera appearing in roles such as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Mustafa in L'Italiana in Algeri, and Colline in La Boheme. Other companies with which Mr. Will has appeared include the New York City Opera as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Vancouver Opera as Oroveso in Norma, the Bavarian State Opera as Samuel in Un Ballo in Maschera and the San Francisco Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni. A native of Hartsville, South Carolina, Mr. Will attended Furman University and graduated from the University of South Carolina and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He participated in the Merola and Adler Fellowship Programs of the San Francisco Opera and has been a prizewinner in various international singing competitions including the Munich Competition and the Queen Elizabeth Competition of Brussels.

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