This is not your parents’ classical music series.
EPIC (Educational Partnerships Immersive Concerts), a concert series for small ensembles that began a year ago, is dedicated to the beautiful music of old and living composers – classics, such as Mozart and Beethoven, are performed alongside works of women and people of color. Performances are not straightforward affairs where you have to maintain a stiff upper lip, but shows ready to entertain the attendees, with visual and sound goodies, including interesting lighting and short films, such as interviews with the one of the composers. And spectators are free to ask questions of local, regional and national musicians between tracks, and can mingle with them during breaks.
The set is the brainchild of Sergei Vassiliev, who has been tinkering with the idea of creating a small classical music ensemble in Colorado Springs for quite some time, as there are few such offerings in the Pikes Peak area.
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“I was thinking, as a classical musician, what kind of concert would I like to go to? Said Vasiliev, principal clarinetist of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. “That’s our goal: to try and showcase everything great about small ensemble concerts. We do this by finding ways to make it fresh and always experimenting.
The new season of the concert series will begin on Friday at Almagre Venue with harpist Haley Rhodeside. She is the principal harp of the Orlando Philharmonic and Annapolis Symphony, and has also just performed in the upcoming television special “The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World”. She is no stranger to EPIC; she performed in one of the ensemble’s live concerts last year.
“What’s magical about her are her programming choices,” said Vassiliev. “Songs you wouldn’t associate with the harp – they’re cool, rock’n’roll. Many of his tracks are new music.
One of these pieces will be “Submerged”, for flute, viola and harp, by the Uruguayan-American composer Miguel del Aguila.
“He’s the next Shostakovich,” Vasiliev said. “It’s not the same kind of music, but he’s an incredible and lively composer.”
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Vassiliev will perform on Friday, with JJ Sechan, principal bassoon of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic; violist Shauna Smith, who performs with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic; and flautist Michael Williams, who performs with the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs. They will perform works by Astor Piazzolla, Florence Price, Bernard Andres, Robert Schumann and Angelica Negrón.
Vasilyev founded EPIC in March 2020 after winning a Peak Arts Prize of $ 7,500, a program created by the Pikes Peak Region Cultural Office to help fund local art projects. But then the pandemic struck and EPIC went rudderless for months. In August of last year, Vasilyev decided to go ahead with his mission: “Musicians are the emotional first responders. We have to do something, ”he said.
Their inaugural concert at the end of August was a distant and masked affair. It was a success and they then put on a few more live shows before the live shows were closed again in the fall due to the pandemic. So they pivoted and did live broadcasts over the winter, before ending the season with live broadcasts earlier this year.
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EPIC’s second season will feature five or six more shows, including a concert in October with violinist Ariel Horowitz, a recent Yale School of Music graduate who studied with Itzhak Perlman and Catherine Cho at the Juilliard School; and a concert in November with Boris Allakhverdyan, solo clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and his wife, pianist Alin Allakhverdyan.
“It is important to promote living composers, as well as women and people of color,” Vasiliev said. “There is so much great music out there, and if we don’t actively do it, we are missing out.”
Contact the author: 636-0270
Contact the author: 636-0270