Blair's highly regarded signature performance ensembles perform and record frequently, at Blair and around the U.S. and beyond, and have commissioned a number of new works from important modern composers, including, most recently, a commission from composer Michael Hersch that the Blair String Quartet debuted at New York's Carnegie Hall in spring 2012.
Blair String Quartet
Stephen Miahky and Cornelia Heard, violins; Christina McGann, viola; Felix Wang, cello
They have been praised for combining " technical expertise and emotional fire." The Washington Post calls them simply "a marvelous ensemble." Following a contemporary music concert at Rice University, the Houston Post stated, "The Blair String Quartet is a composer's dream."
Widely acclaimed in performances across the country, the Quartet has enhanced its national reputation through appearances at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, New York's 92nd Street Y and Merkin Concert Hall. In April 2012, the Blair String Quartet performed at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in New York City, which included a premiere of Michael Hersch's quartet Images from a Closed Ward, a work that was commissioned by the quartet.
Some of the group's residencies have been at the Aspen Music Festival, the Sedona Chamber Music Festival, and Dartmouth College, as well as appearances at the Colorado Music Festival, the Meadowmount School of Music, the Sewanee Music Festival, Music Mountain in Connecticut and the Maverick Concert Series in Woodstock, New York. They have been the Quartet-in-Residence for the Classical Fellowship Awards competition of the American Pianists Association, and the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.
The Blair String Quartet has performed widely on National Public Radio and was featured for a number of years on a public television series called Recital Hall. The ensemble's recordings have been praised internationally by such publications as Gramophone, Stereo Review, American Record Guide, and the BBC Music Magazine. They have recorded for labels including Warner Brothers and New World Records, and Naxos Records recently released their recording of the string quartets of Charles Ives, a recording that has been widely praised in reviews and was the selected CD Of The Month by Naxos.
Well known as interpreters of the standard repertoire, the Blair String Quartet has also championed music by contemporary American composers, including works written for them by George Tsontakis, Morton Subotnick, Ellsworth Milburn, Michael Alec Rose, Rodney Lister, and Michael Kurek. The ensemble has worked with many outstanding composers, including Elliott Carter, Alan Hovhaness, John Harbison, George Rochberg, Ezra Laderman, Leon Kirchner, Steven Mackey, Steven Stucky, Joan Tower, and Robert Sirota. The Quintet for Banjo and String Quartet, composed for them by Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck, has been featured nationally on the PBS series Lonesome Pine Special, and remains in their touring repertoire.
The Blair String Quartet has presented cycles of the complete quartets of Beethoven and Bartok. The group has appeared with many renowned artists, including pianists Leon Fleisher, Lee Luvisi, Rolf Gothoni, David Owen Norris, Christopher Taylor, and Frederic Chiu, clarinetist David Krakauer, violinists Robert Mann and Joseph Silverstein, violists Walter Trampler and Samuel Rhodes, cellist Norman Fischer; bassist Edgar Meyer; and virtuoso of the banjo, Bela Fleck. The Blair Quartet has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Southern Arts Federation, the Tennessee Arts Commission and Chamber Music America's C. Michael Paul Residency Program.
The Blair String Quartet is in residence at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. The members of the ensemble are Stephen Miahky and Cornelia Heard, violins, Christina McGann, viola, and Felix Wang, cello.
Carolyn Huebl, violin; Felix Wang, cello; Amy Dorfman, piano
Violinist Carolyn Huebl, cellist Felix Wang and pianist Amy Dorfman established the Blakemore Trio in 2002. Critically acclaimed for their performances as individuals, they have established a captivating and brilliant ensemble performing the great master works of the past and exciting works of today.
Their special affinity for contemporary music has inspired them to include the commission and performance of new works as part of their mission. The 2005-06 season included performances of Sound and Fury, written for the Blakemore Trio by Tennessee composer Paul Osterfield while a fellow at the Macdowell Colony in 2004. In April 2007, the trio premiered a work for piano trio and dance, commissioned in collaboration with the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville. This exciting work by Taiwanese composer Sheuh-Shuan Liu combines present and past elements of Chinese art and culture.
The Blakemore Trio was one of three Blair ensembles selected for participation in "The Blair Commissions: Music for the 21st Century," funded by a grant from the James Stephen Turner Family Charitable Foundation. This grant allowed the trio to commission composer Susan Botti for a set of three compositions: for violin and piano, piano trio, and piano trio with voice, which premiered in New York in 2009.
In Spring 2007, the trio received an award grant from the American Composers Forum Encore Program that subsidized performances of a trio by Chilean pianist/composer Alfonso Montecino.
Blair Brass Quintet
Jose Sibaja, trumpet; Jeff Bailey, trumpet; Leslie Norton, horn; Jeremy Wilson, trombone; Bethan Wiese, tuba
The Blair Brass Quintet, founded in 1995, has concertized throughout the Southeast and is very involved in exposing young people to their music through school concerts. Their repertoire ranges from traditional to contemporary. The members of the ensemble provide private instruction, coach chamber music, teach orchestral technique, and conduct brass seminars.
Blair Woodwind Quintet
Molly Barth, flute; Mariam Adam, clarinet; Jared Hauser, oboe; Leslie Norton, horn; Peter Kolkay, bassoon
Described as "refreshing, alive, and filled with the joy of making music," the Blair Woodwind Quintet, resident ensemble at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, was founded in 1971. Known for its extensive repertoire, the quintet has performed throughout the United States, released two recordings, and been broadcast on both radio and television. The Blair Woodwind Quintet was also recently featured as guest artist with the Berlin Philharmonic.
The quintet premiered Peter Schickele's A Year in the Catskills in 2009 and subsequently recorded the work on a critically acclaimed disc released by Naxos. In addition, the Blair Woodwind Quintet has premiered compositions by Augusta Read Thomas, David Sartor, Daniel Baldwin, Tom Benjamin, John Elmquist, Eloy Fominaya, Irving Kane, Michael Kurek, Sterling Lanier, Joe Laird, John Marvin, Jonathan Saunders, Gay Spears, and Dan Welcher.
The quintet's upcoming events include a recital at University of Memphis and a Naxos recording project featuring four seminal works of the wind quintet repertoire.
University ensembles range from large-scale orchestras and choral groups to intimate chamber ensembles, and every imaginable combination in between. Many of these groups are open by audition to the general university community, not just Blair majors.
Blair's precollege curriculum includes an extensive performance program for young instrumentalists and singers of every age and skill level.
Voice Majors and Pianists
Audition for MUSE 1020 (Vanderbilt University Singers). Audition sign-up sheets are located on the Choral Hall (CRH) doors upon arrival on campus.
Strings, Woodwinds, Brass and Harp
Audition for MUSE 1010 (Instrumental Ensembles). Audition sign-up sheets are located on the Instrumental Rehearsal Hall (IRH) doors upon arrival on campus.