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Shanghai String Quartet
The Shanghai String Quartet, one of the world's foremost chamber ensembles, will perform Nov. 4 in the Gore Recital Hall.

Master Players Concert Series opens Oct. 1

Six concerts to feature world's top musicians, ensembles

“Unity in Variety” is the theme of the University of Delaware’s 2017-18 Master Players Concert Series, designed to celebrate the diversity of music around the planet. Under the guidance of Xiang Gao, who serves as producing artistic director, the Master Players series is now in its 14th year of bringing the world’s top musicians and ensembles to Delaware in its role as the University’s cultural ambassador.

The six-concert season includes three fall concerts and three spring concerts.

The series kicks off with “The Stars of Baltimore: Season Opening Gala” at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 1, in Gore Recital Hall. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is one of the world’s preeminent orchestras, and leading BSO musicians and superstars of the Baltimore classical musical scene will come to Delaware to perform solo and chamber works. Performers include principal clarinet Yao Guang Zhai, principal bassoon Fei Xie, principal trumpet Andrew Balio and principal horn Philip Munds. Sharing the stage will be Howard Watkins, renowned collaborative pianist, vocal coach and assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

“The Shanghai String Quartet: 35 Years of Our American Experience” takes the stage at the Gore Recital Hall at 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4. Renowned for its passionate musicality, impressive technique and multicultural innovations, the Shanghai Quartet has become one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles. Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983 and based in the U.S., the string quartet’s elegant style melds the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire, allowing it to traverse musical genres including traditional Chinese folk music, masterpieces of Western music and cutting-edge contemporary works. This concert will feature clips from the quartet’s upcoming documentary film interspersed with selected movements to tell the story of their experiences in America.

“Holiday Pops: Frank Sinatra’s Coming to Town” at 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9,. in Mitchell Hall. Bring the whole family along for the ride with this festive concert featuring a unique mix of performers, genres and styles. Be serenaded by Las Vegas singer Steve Lippia performing some of Sinatra’s biggest holiday hits. UD jazz faculty Tom Palmer directs UD’s Jazz Ensemble, and UD’s Faculty Jazz Ensemble and award-winning student a cappella ensembles Vocal Point and the Deltones will perform holiday favorites. Enjoy the acclaimed Omni Brass Quintet from Los Angeles and see the Master Players Ensemble-in-Residence 6-wire in their holiday glory. Tickets for children ages 5-14 are priced at $5, supported by a private gift.

The spring season opens withFranz Liszt: Poet, Prophet and Protector” at 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, in  Gore Recital Hall. Perhaps best known for his virtuosic piano works, Liszt’s reputation as “the world’s first rock star” fails to reflect the seriousness of his influence on the course of Western art music. As a leader of the New German School of composers, Liszt left behind a prolific and diverse body of work. He was also a close benefactor, teacher and friend of many of the most prominent composers and musicians of his time, including Frédéric Chopin, Richard Wagner and Robert Schumann. African-American virtuoso concert pianist Leon Bates, a former UD music faculty member, will take on this challenging program of works composed by Liszt and his associates to tell the story of Liszt’s life, work and influence. This concert celebrates Black History Month at UD and is hosted by Ralph Ferretti, professor of education at UD, and conceptualized by Ferretti and Master Players director Gao.

“A Scottish Showcase: The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland” comes to UD at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 18, in the Gore Recital Hall. Located in Glasgow, Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) is recognized as a world-leading conservatoire of music, drama, dance, production and film. In addition to being impressively ranked as one of the top three performing art institutions in the world, the school is also one of Scotland’s busiest performing art centers, with more than 500 performances each year. This concert is hosted by Delaware native and RCS principal Jeffrey Sharkey, who will bring some of the RCS most talented students and faculty from the United Kingdom, Scotland, and the U.S. to his home state for a variety showcase including classical music, musical theatre and drama. The presentation will culminate in a special performance of “Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda,” featuring students from the BA acting course alongside faculty from the School of Music, inspired by the deeply personal letters between Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“Xiang Gao and Friends: A Special Event and Season Finale” closes the season with a program full of “Unity in Variety” at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 28, in Mitchell Hall. Master Players founding director Gao curates a multi-genre concert with performing artists he personally invites from all over the world. In this season finale, Gao will perform virtuoso solo violin music as well as chamber and world music he will select and compose with creative elements and ideas. Themes of unity and cultural understanding will be central to this one-of-a-kind performance that celebrates global culture at the University of Delaware.


Five- and six-show subscriptions to the 2017-18 Master Players, as well as tickets to individual shows, are now on sale. Single ticket prices are $25 for adults; $20 for seniors, UD faculty, staff and alumni; $10 for students; and $5 for children ages 5 to 14 for the holiday concert only. Prices are discounted for subscriptions. Tickets can be purchased online (single tickets only), by phone at 302-831-2204 (from noon-5 p.m.,Monday-Friday, for subscriptions and single tickets), by order form (mail or fax), or in person at the REP Box Office.

Master Players Concert Series

The Master Players Concert Series (MPCS) serves as the cultural ambassador for the University of Delaware. Producing artistic director Xiang Gao, international artist and University of Delaware Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music, brings a rich and wide array of world-class musicians to the UD campus and to underserved local communities. The series’ hallmarks are its high artistic standards, the Delaware debuts of remarkable artists, and its diverse and distinctive programming. Master Players, in combination with the UD Resident Ensemble Players, a professional theatre company, is proud to offer a large variety of public performances in numerous University venues and throughout the region. Master Players is cosponsored by long-term collaborating unit, the UD Department of Music.

This program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. Other sponsors include Vita Nova restaurant at the University of Delaware and the Marriott’s Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware. For additional sponsors, visit the series website.

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