Student organizes senior concert to showcase work
BENNINGTON — Ever since Christopher Giannitti played the bass in a fellow student's senior concert as a second term freshman, he's been mentally organizing his own, and the show titled "MOWGLI" will debut on Wednesday.
Witness a collaboration of talented musicians, students, and faculty perform several pieces at Bennington College on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. The concert is part of a class requirement under Giannitti's studies, and to reveal what he's been studying during his career at the college.
Giannitti is a winter graduate and also a Bennington native.
"I've been learning the music I've been playing for years and over the past couple of months," Giannitti said. "The music [to be performed] spans from the classical era of 1700s until the current era and the original pieces are more modern. The rest go up until about 1963."
This concert is made possible with the help of Giannitti's professors at the college, as well as the Woolley Fund Grant Committee.
"It's not a holiday show per say, but it begins and follows an arch of prayer and offering," Giannitti said. "The first song I'm singing is kaddish, so one might think Hannukah, but it's not implicit."
Kaddish is a Jewish hymn of praise and the idea pertains to the magnification of God's name.
The following faculty will perform: Allen Shawn, Bruce Williamson, Hui Cox, Michael Wimberly, Nathaniel Parke, and composition intern Keane Southard. Local musicians to play consist of viola player Ariel Rudiakov, and violinist Joana Genova and Melanie Dexter.
Despite having a vision for years, Giannitti lucked out when it came time to actually put the show together because of connections he'd already made.
"I've been playing with the jazz quartet and we would meet once a week and play standard tunes. When the show came around, I said 'hey can you guys plan this?'" he said. "In order to fund the show, I had to apply for grants from different areas of the school. Scheduling rehearsals and getting everyone in the same room is the tricky part."
The concert set list incorporates the following: Maurice Ravel's Kaddisch for piano and baritone voice, John Coltrane's Resolution for jazz quartet, Samuel Barber's Dover Beach for baritone and string quartet, Mozart's Madamina, Il Catalogo e Questo (of Don Giovanni), arranged for baritone and piano, along with two original compositions – a string quartet – Rattle Dance, and a piece for jazz quintet titled Visarjana.
Giannitti selected Mozart because he performed an aria from Mozart's 1787 opera, "Don Giovanni" last year at the Don Juan Project.
"I chose two other pieces because I thought they were beautiful pieces of music and work well with my voice," he said. "The John Coltrane piece is special to me because it's from an incredible album called 'A Love Supreme.' There's also a couple compositions that I wrote, which I will pay or read by other players."
Ariel Rudiakov is a conductor from Indianapolis who has been the Artistic Director of the Manchester Music Festival (MMF) since November 2000. Rudiakov studied with Jessie Levine and chamber music with members of the Tokyo String Quartet while receiving a master's degree at Yale University. He's settled in Manchester and Yonkers, N.Y., with his violinist wife, Joana Genova and their children, according to the Manchester Music Festival faculty page.
Rudiakov's wife, Genova, holds multiple musical merits, beginning in Bulgaria, where she began playing at the age of six. Genova is a faculty artist at MMF while occupying positions as orchestral player, teacher and soloist. From her first solo debut at age 12, the violinist is a prizewinner of the National Competition in Bulgaria as well as the principal second violin of the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra, and she is a member of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Dexter is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Cornell University's business school, and plays with the Berkshire and Vermont Symphony Orchestras.
After graduation later this month, Giannitti plans to pursue the life of a freelance musician.
"I have a position singing in an opera that a faculty member has composed the music for and that's happening in NY alongside another graduating senior and other Bennington alumni and faculty," he said. "That's one project. Otherwise I'll be teaching lessons and reaching out to the community and booking gigs."
Catch Giannitti featured on the local radio station WBTAM on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
The concert is free and open to the public and will be held in the Deane Carriage Barn at Bennington College.
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