Wolfe, Van Cleave, Edberg to play classical festival concert

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
George Wolfe

GREENCASTLE -- Ball State saxophone professor George Wolfe and percussionist Timothy Van Cleave will join cellist Eric Edberg in today's free Greencastle Summer Classical Music Festival concert at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of Gobin United Methodist Church. The program will include music by Bach, Massenet, Wiedoff-Frey, as well as improvisations by Wolfe and Edberg.

"This is the sixth concert I've done with George Wolfe," said Edberg, Professor of Music at DePauw and the festival's organizer. "We've performed at the University of Iowa, at Chautauqua, at the University of Dayton, here in Greencastle last summer, and at Ball State, where George is the saxophone professor."

Each musician will perform traditional composed pieces in addition to a number of improvisations and will discuss the pieces and the collaborative process with the audience.

Edberg, who teaches "free" improvisation at DePauw, explained, "The great thing about improvised music is that it is an experience of being totally in the moment; in many ways it gets to what is, for me, the essence of being human. Not many people know that improvisation was a part of what we now call 'classical music' for centuries; today we mostly associate it with jazz. Our improvisations are much more influenced by our classical backgrounds than specific jazz styles."

Saxophonist George Wolfe has performed extensively throughout the United States and has also concertized in Europe, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Canada, India, Korea and Japan. He has been heard on radio stations across the US and has appeared as a soloist with such ensembles as the United States Navy Band, the Saskatoon Symphony, the World Band at Disney World, the Chautauqua Motet Choir, The Indianapolis Children's Choir, and the Royal Band of the Belgian Air force.

Wolfe's teacher, Eugene Rousseau, describes him as "an artist of exceptional ability and great sensitivity." Critics have praised his playing as "brilliant and moving." His recordings have won praise from Steven Ellis of Fanfare Magazine and jazz great David Baker. Thomas Liley, writing in the Saxophone Symposium, said "Wolfe performs with beautiful tone, impeccable intonation, and assured technique in a wide range of stylistic contexts. He negotiates the wide range of dynamics and of register with exceptional ease." Critic John Lambert, writing in the Winston Salem Spectator, described Wolfe's performance as "a deeply satisfying and moving artistic experience."

Dr. Wolfe holds a performance certificate from Indiana University, where he studied with Rousseau and Daniel Deffayet. He is featured on eight volumes of the compact disk series America's Millennium Tribute to Adolphe Sax distributed by Arizona University Recordings. He has presented master classes at the Paris Conservatory, Indiana University, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and he has taught as an artist-in-residence at Arizona State University, Klagenfurt Conservatory (Austria), the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and at the University of San Jose in Costa Rica. He was also the recipient of an open fellowship award from the Eli Lilly Endowment to study Hindustani music in New Delhi, India and at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.

In 1997, Ball State University awarded Wolfe its Outstanding Creative Endeavor award for his CD "Lifting the Veil." Dr. Wolfe currently is professor of music at Ball State and performs each summer at Chautauqua Institution, where he has also taught a class on Christianity and the history of nonviolence in America. He frequently lectures on topics related to peace education and the role of the arts in the fight against social injustice.

As a result of his contribution to peace studies and his performance of protest music, Professor Wolfe has been recognized by national conservative commentator David Horowitz as one of the "101 most dangerous academics in America." George Ruckert, MIT world music professor and long-term disciple of sarode artist Ali Akbar Khan, has referred to George Wolfe as "a major musician of our time."

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