Music from around the world slated Wednesday at Gobin

Monday, July 9, 2012
George Wolfe

The Greencastle Summer Music Festival continues at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church with a diverse program of saxophone and piano music inspired by flamenco guitar music, South Indian (Karnatic) music, shakuhachi (Japanese) flute and ragtime.

Ball State University music professors George Wolfe (saxophone) and James Helton (piano), joined by Wolfe's student Preston Duncan, are the performers.

Wolfe is also an educator and author who has served as director of Peace Studies at the Ball State Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. Copies of his 2011 book "The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence" will be available for sale and signing after the performance.

The festival presents free concerts (supported by donations from community members) every Wednesday through Aug. 15. Nearly 200 people packed the church for the July 4 concert, which included a variety of music, readings and an audience singalong.

The festival founder and director Eric Edberg says the purpose of the concerts is to give community members an opportunity to connect with each other in events that celebrate friends making music for friends, old and new.

"George Wolfe has been a musical and personal friend for many years now," Edberg says, "and this is his third or fourth appearance in the festival.

James Helton

"He's one of the most extraordinary musicians I know -- an amazing classical instrumentalist, expert in the music of other cultures, and a great improviser with whom I've performed many times. I'm really looking forward to sitting back and enjoying George and his friend and colleague James Helton make music together."

"Composers from around the world have written for the saxophone, making the saxophone a truly multicultural instrument," adds Wolfe. "I think the audience will really enjoy the wide variety of music in this program."

Saxophonist and peace educator/activist Wolfe, praised by critics for playing that is "brilliant and moving," has performed extensively throughout the U.S. and concertized in Europe, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Canada, India, Korea and Japan.

Wolfe also received the Ball State University Outstanding Creative Endeavor award for his CD "Lifting the Veil," and has appeared as a soloist with ensembles including the U.S. Navy Band, the Saskatoon Symphony, the Chautauqua Motet Choir, The Indianapolis Children's Choir and the Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force.

In addition to his concertizing and teaching, he frequently lectures on topics related to peace education and the role of the arts in the fight against social injustice. National conservative commentator David Horowitz has named him one of the "101 most dangerous academics in America."

Pianist Helton has been heard throughout the U.S. as recitalist, collaborator, and orchestra soloist. He has had the pleasure of working with Pulitzer Prize-winning composers George Crumb, William Bolcom, Lucas Foss and Joseph Schwantner in concerts broadcast over public radio and television. For New World Records, Helton collaborated with the Blair Woodwind Quintet on works by composer Michael Kurek.

Committed to inspiring creativity and artistry in both amateur and future professional musicians, he served on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Vanderbilt University before assuming his current position at Ball State, where he teaches piano and coordinated the accompanying program.

The festival will continue Wednesday, July 18 with classical/improvising/rock pianist John Kamfonas of New York.

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