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Home > Arts & History > Columbia Museum of Art > Dynamic Duo Cortona to Perform at CMA

Ensemble to perform works including Thomas Dempster’s Tribute to Leslie Pierce Friday, November 4 at noon.

In the latest iteration of the Baker and Baker concert series, the Columbia Museum of Art announces the performance of Duo Cortona on Friday, November 4, at noon. Founded by husband and wife team Ari Streisfeld and Rachel Calloway, Duo Cortona is a contemporary music ensemble dedicated to the creation of works for its unique instrumentation: violin and mezzo-soprano. The concert features the work of a wide range of composers including South Carolinian Thomas Dempster, whose composition, written especially for Duo Cortona, was inspired by the late Leslie Pierce, CMA director of adult programs, who passed away suddenly last year.

“I am excited to have my work be part of the Duo Cortona program at the Columbia Museum of Art, not only because of the fabulous performers involved, but because the CMA was my first entry point into the wider Columbia and Midlands arts and music scene, something I owe almost entirely to Leslie Pierce,” says Dempster. “Leslie had a gift for knowing who to connect and how for the sake of making art and making life better. My work is a tribute to her, a testament to her boundless energy, her constant motion, her desire to make art, to make community, to make the world more beautiful than it was, all the way to the end of her life, plowing through whatever obstacles or setbacks she encountered.”

Duo Cortona explores new sounds and possibilities for its intimate, expressive, and vital combination and creates opportunities for both established and emerging composers through commissions, competitions, educational workshops, university residencies, and major concert performances. Both musicians have recently joined the faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Music, Streisfeld as assistant professor of violin pedagogy and Calloway as adjunct instructor of voice.

At the CMA, Duo Cortona will present a diverse program featuring Dempster’s composition The Painter on Silk as well as Streisfeld’s own arrangements of ballades by medieval composer Guillaume de Machaut and New York-based composer Kamala Sankaram’s Kivalina, a stirring work about an Inuit culture suffering the effects of climate change. These works will be interspersed with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Along the Field, a moving cycle of songs set to poems by A.E. Housman.

“This program not only has a personal touch point for the museum as it honors the great spirit of Leslie Pierce,” says Joelle Ryan-Cook, CMA deputy director and director of external affairs, “but it truly is an exploration of a variety of art forms in that it incorporates visual themes, poetry, storytelling, and a fresh approach to medieval works. This is the kind of programming we have become known for at the CMA.”

Free with membership or admission.

For more information, visit columbiamuseum.org.

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