MSU College of Music presents 14th annual chamber music festival

Cello Plus offers seven complete concerts in five days March 17-23

The MSU College of Music presents its 14th annual Cello Plus Chamber Music Festival on March 17, 19, 20, 21 and 23. The festival, which will feature the music of Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Schumann, Brahms, and three world premieres by Vache Sharafyan,* will include two days celebrating the music of Johann Sebastian Bach on March 20 and on March 21, including Bach and Forth, a crossover concert featuring works by Bach and many different styles.

More than 16 faculty artists and guest artists will perform during the five-day festival along with 50 student musicians. This year marks the 14th year of the Cello Plus series. All seven of the concerts will be held in the recently renovated Fairchild Theatre in MSU’s Auditorium. Cello Plus is part of the Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series. Suren Bagratuni is the artistic director.

Download festival program here.

The concert information is as follows:

Day 1:
Monday, March 17 • 7:30 p.m. Russian Gems

Program includes Alexander Glazunov’s String Quintet Op. 39 in A major and Peter Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio Op. 50 in A minor, and features faculty artists Suren Bagratuni, cello; Dmitri Berlinsky, violin; Yuri Gandelsman, viola; and Minsoo Sohn, piano; and guest artist Marta Bagratuni, cello; and student I-Pei Lin, violin. The concert is generously sponsored by Martin Fuchs; Jerry Schuur and Elaine Karle. 

Day 2:
Wednesday, March 19 • 7:30 p.m. A Composer and His Music (Vache Sharafyan)

Program includes four world premieres by Sharafyan – Breath of Cello; Trio for Saxophone, Cello, and Piano; Cello Concerto No. 2 – as well as Sharafyan’s newly written piano piece, Goat-rite, performed by the composer himself. This concert features faculty artists Suren Bagratuni, cello; James Forger, saxophone, and Deborah Moriarty, piano; and guest artists Sharafyan, piano; Marta Bagratuni, cello and voice; and professor emeritus Leon Gregorian, conducting the festival ensemble. The concert is generously sponsored by Greg and Pam Zbasnik. 

*Armenian composer Sharafyan composes for major arts organizations, including the Silk Road Project (official composer since 2001) and Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra.

Day 3:
Thursday, March 20 • 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m., Bach Plus Day 1

Program for the free 5 p.m. concert includes the Cantata No. 130; Suite in C major, BWV 1009: Trio Sonata and Canon Perpetuus; and Suite in C minor, BWV 1011. Featured performers include faculty artists Suren Bagratuni, cello; Michael Callahan, harpsichord; Yuri Gandelsman, viola; Richard Sherman, flute; and Walter Verdehr, violin. The State Singers will aslo perform, directed by David Rayl.

Program for the 7:30 p.m. concert includes Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 by Bach; Couperin's Duo for Two Cellos; Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin; and Bach's Prelude and Fugue in G Sharp minor, and features faculty artists Suren Bagratuni, cello; Yuri Gandelsman, viola; Michael Callahan, harpsichord; and Ralph Votapek, piano; and guest artist Marta Bagratuni, cello. The concerts are generously sponsored by Joanne and Bill Church.

Day 4:
Friday, March 21 • 5 p.m., 8 p.m., Bach Plus Day 2

Program for the free 5 p.m. concert includes Suite for cello solo in G major by Bach; Concerto fin G major for viola, strings, and cembalo by Telemann; Concerto in G minor for two cellos, strings, and continuo by Vivaldi; and Vivaldi's Concerto in B flat for violin cello, strings, and continuo. Performers include faculty artists Suren Bagratuni, cello; Kevin Bartig, harpsichord; Michael Callahan, harpsichord; and guests Ruggero Allifranchini, violin; Marta Bagratuni, cello; and Randolph Kelly, viola. With festival ensemble. 

Program for the 8 p.m. concert, Bach and Forth, includes a one-man performance by well-known pianist Stephen Prutsman – a crossover program including works by Bach and many different genres (classical, rock, country, traditional, and gospel). Prutsman's innovative Bach and Forth program has garnered rave reviews. Read one from The New York Times hereThe concerts are generously sponsored by Joanne and Bill Church; April Clobes and Glen Brough.

Day 5:
Sunday, March 23 • 3 p.m., Chamber Music Favorites

Featured performers include faculty artist Suren Bagratuni, cello; and guest artists Ruggero Allifranchini violin; Randolph Kelly, viola; and Stephen Prutsman, piano.

Program includes Piano Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 47, by Robert Schumann, and Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 60 by Johannes Brahms. The concert is generously sponsored by Larry Snyder and Wendy Champness.

Tickets for each concert are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens, $5 for students and those under 18, and can be purchased at the door 30 minutes before each performance, or online at For more information about tickets, call (517) 353-5340.

Admission is free to all concertgoers for the two performances at 5 p.m. on March 20 and March 21.

Bios of the artists are available online here.


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