Music Fills the Air at Kean University

Olga Orlovskaya, Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra (Photo courtesy of the artist)

UNION — Kean University, Union County’s leading institution of higher education and emergent regional cultural center will present an eclectic assortment of musical performances throughout the month of April.  An orchestral concert, a string recital, performances of works by noted Russian and Brazilian composers, new age piano and chamber music are all featured in the state of the art facilities on the university campuses.

The Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra will perform a concert on April 3 at 3:00 pm in the majestic Wilkins Theatre.  This renowned fifty piece ensemble plays the music of Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe on traditional eastern European folk instruments — the balalaika, domra, bayan and related folk wind and percussion instruments.

From Behind the Iron Curtain, sonatas and chamber music by Soviet composers will be presented on April 7 at 8:00 pm in Kean Hall, the university’s intimate concert theatre. Allison Brewster Franzetti on piano, Brennan Sweet on violin, Romie de Guise-Langois on clarinet and Susannah Chapman on cello perform works including those of Shostakovich and Prokofiev — two titans of Russian music — and Weinberg, a lesser-known but equally brilliant composer who fled to the Soviet Union to escape Nazism.

On April 9 at 8:00 pm, the Arco Ensemble premieres Concerto for Guitar and String Orchestra by Matthew Halper in the Gene and Shelley Enlow Recital Hall, Kean’s newly renovated acoustic performance venue.  David Diamond’s Rounds for String Orchestra and other inspiring American works will also be performed in this concert featuring soloist Christopher Kenniff.  The Arco Ensemble is lead by Stewart Robinson, the dynamic conductor of opera and contemporary music.

Two-time Grammy Award nominee Jim Brickman plays new age piano at Enlow Hall on April 16 at 8:00 pm.  Brickman has revolutionized the sound of solo piano with his pop-style instrumentals and star studded vocal collaborations. His romantic piano sound has made him the best selling solo piano artist of our time in this evening of dazzling solo piano, vibrant vocals plus warmth and humor.

Next in Kean Hall on April 17 at 3:00 pm is a concert of inspiringly beautiful works for soprano and guitar performed by the renowned Duo Cantiga. With Katherine Harris, soprano and Christopher Kenniff, guitar, Duo Cantiga explores a wealth of repertoire for voice and guitar by creating a new repertoire with the transcription of historical works and arranging music common to various folk idioms.

Martha Marchena, acclaimed as one of the most innovative and powerful pianists of today will present her solo concert, Celebrating Heitor Villa Lobos at Enlow Hall on April 20 at 8:00 pm.  A rising star of her generation, Marchena gained recognition early in her career for her command of the instrument and artistic insight. Villa-Lobos (1887 – 1959) is described as the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century Brazilian art music.

Both Marchena and Brickman will play their performances on Enlow Hall’s exclusive Fazioli F308 concert grand piano, renowned for its musical perfection and beautiful design, and individually handcrafted for Kean University.

On April 28 at 8:00 pm in Enlow Hall Ars Vitalis will perform the best of contemporary chamber music with works by Amanda Harberg, Ting Ho, Eric Sessler and 2010 Concert Artist composer-in-residence Samuel Zyman. With a performance roster that includes several premiere presentations, the evening provides the audience opportunity to meet the artists behind the music, including  Brennan Sweet, Joanna Frankel and Victoria Stewart on violins, Brett Deubner on viola, Susannah Chapman on cello, Anthony Scelba on double bass, Christopher Kenniff on guitar and Gabriela Martinez on piano.

Wilkins Theatre and Kean Hall are located on Kean University’s main campus at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union.  The Gene and Shelley Enlow Recital Hall is located on the east campus immediately across Morris Avenue at 215 North Avenue in Hillside.  Ticket prices for each performance vary, ranging from $25 to $40.  To purchase tickets call the Kean Stage box office at 1-908-737-7469 or buy on-line at  For further information visit the university website at or the Enlow Hall website at

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