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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Department of Music Announces Spring 2016 Performance Series Season

In addition to professional artist series, student ensemble concerts will be offered.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music News Release, 1-8-2016

Mankato, Minn. – The Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series announces its spring schedule of visiting artist concert events. In addition to the professional artist series, the Department of Music will offer 15 student ensemble concerts over the course of the spring semester.

The Performance Series offers contemporary and ethnically diverse music featuring nationally and internationally recognized artists. The Series also offers instruction through master classes, clinics and workshops benefitting the university community, Mankato area residents and K-12 students.

Spring semester Performance Series concert and artist highlights include:

Sunday, January 24: Andrea Lyn has shared the stage with The Marshall Tucker Band, Gene Watson, and Ronnie Dunn. In 2014 Lyn was a featured artist on the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand. String player Dick Kimmel was inducted into America's Traditional Country and Bluegrass Hall of Fame, the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, and the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was nominated as Bluegrass Entertainer of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of the Bluegrass Music of America.

Sunday, Jan. 31: Maud Hixson is a singer of classic jazz and popular songs of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. She made her Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis) debut in 2010, performed at the New York Cabaret Convention in 2011 at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, and in 2012 appeared in concert with composer and pianist Richard Rodney Bennett as part of the Midtown Jazz Series in New York. Rick Carlson taught himself to play the piano by studying the vast works of Count Basie and Duke Ellington while absorbing their technique. He is a sought-after accompanist and has served as pianist and musical director for various local concert series.

Thursday, Feb. 4: In 2008, Scottie Miller was inducted in to the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame for his contributions to blues music and heritage. He has also been the touring keyboardist for three-time Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster since 2008. He is featured on her Blues Music Award winning CD/DVD Live At Antones. The Scottie Miller Band features sterling silver vocals, passionate and hope-filled lyrics, a funky rhythm section featuring a massive wall of drums and bass, surrounded by powerful electric guitar work.

Tuesday, Feb. 9: The Barley Jacks sing original vocals and play jaw-dropping instrumentals. They are masters of the fiddle, guitar, bass and percussion who meld their divergent backgrounds of blues and bluegrass, classical and Celtic, R & B and bebop to inspire each other and create something entirely new. Their two CD recordings "Either Side of Night" and "The Lighthouse" have been met with great praise.

Sunday, Feb. 14: Amy Lavere is an American singer, songwriter, and upright bass player based in Memphis, Tennessee. Her music combines a blend of classic country, gypsy jazz, and southern soul. She has released three albums on Memphis label Archer Records. Austin, Texas, native Will Sexton has earned plenty of respect from the Austin music community for his guitar work, his singing, songwriting and production.

Thursday, Feb. 18: New Orleans’ best-kept secret, Jon Cleary (pictured top right), arrived in New Orleans at seventeen and got his first piano job subbing for the now legendary pianist James Booker at the Maple Leaf Bar. He further honed his skills when drafted as a sideman for the likes of Johnny Adams, Earl King and Snooks Eaglin and found himself playing long, late night gigs in the clubs of New Orleans and the road shacks of country towns in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. He is acknowledged as a leading practitioner of New Orleans style piano. He has been a sideman for the likes of Taj Mahal, Dr. John, John Scofield and had a long association with Bonnie Raitt who described him as 'the ninth wonder of the world.'

Sunday, Feb. 21: Douglas Ashcraft has performed to acclaim in recitals and concerts throughout the United States and in Europe. A winner of prizes in many competitions, Ashcraft is an active chamber musician and has performed in recitals at Carnegie Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Jacqueline Du Pre Hall at Oxford University in England. David Viscoli has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central America, and Asia. He has also performed at major universities and music academies in North America. Viscoli has competed in national and international piano competition and has won numerous awards. He is currently a professor of piano and distinguished faculty scholar at Minnesota State Mankato.

Saturday, March 19: Davina (pictured in middle left photo) and the Vagabonds have created a stir on the national music scene with their high-energy live shows, musicianship, sharp-dressed professionalism, and Sowers’ commanding stage presence. This rollicking quintet is held together by Sowers’ keyboard playing, with acoustic bass, drums, and a spicy trumpet and trombone horn section. The group’s sound and emphasis on acoustic instruments is novel to both blues and jazz worlds with influences ranging from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits. The Vagabonds have appeared at festivals in Thunder Bay, Ontario; Sighisoara, Romania; Sierre, Switzerland; Kemi, Finland; the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the 2013 and 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival, Vache de Blues in France, and North Sea Jazz Festival.

Sunday, April 10: Eliza Gilkyson (pictured bottom right) is a two-time Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter who is one of the most respected musicians in Folk, Roots and Americana circles. Her songs have been covered by Joan Baez, Bob Geldof, Tom Rush and Rosanne Cash and have appeared in films, PBS specials and on prime-time TV. A member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, she has won countless Folk Alliance and Austin Music awards, including 2014’s Songwriter of the Year. In 2014, she received a Grammy-nomination for her Red House Records release, The Nocturne Diaries, a restless contemplative work inspired by the converging forces of her highest hopes and darkest fears.

In addition to Performance Series events, the Department of Music will offer a number of student ensemble concerts, including the Concert Choir, David Dickau, conductor; University Chorale, Michael Atwood, conductor; Concert Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, Amy Roisum-Foley, conductor; University Orchestra, Joseph Rodgers, conductor; the University Percussion Ensemble, Michael Thursby, director; A Musical Revue: Rock, Pop, and Opera directed by Stephanie Thorpe, and Nick Wayne; and the Jazz Mavericks Big Band and Contemporary Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles, Douglas Snapp, director.

Online ticketing will be available Tuesday, January 12. For more information, visit or call the Performance Series office, 507-389-5549.

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