The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

Duke-UNC grant creates harmony in collaboratives

The Chapel Hill Contemporary Music Ensemble is joining forces with the Duke New Music Ensemble thanks to the prestigious Kenan-Biddle Partnership Grant.

The grant awards $5,000 to student-initiated projects that stimulate collaborative arts programs between Duke University and UNC.

“This grant’s a really cool thing because it allows us to work with the Duke New Music Ensemble,” said Edmond Harrison, philanthropy director of the CHCME, who also is a staff writer for The Daily Tar Heel. “It’s really rare to even find one ensemble who plays contemporary music, and we hope to bring that music to audiences at Chapel Hill and Durham.”

Harrison, who also wrote the grant proposal, outlined a series of three concerts for fall 2014 in which the two ensemble groups will perform original student-composed music together.

“I approached (CHCME Executive Director) Richard Drehoff with the idea of finding someone from Duke and collaborating,” Harrison said. “It was a hurdle, but once we worked it all out, everything else went pretty smoothly.”

Drehoff, a UNC alumnus who graduated in 2012, created CHCME in December of his last year. Since then, he’s acted as the ensemble’s head and maintained an active role in facilitating events.

“We don’t get a chance to interact with Duke composers very often, so this gives us the opportunity to collaborate in a way we haven’t before,” Drehoff said. “It’ll be neat to bring in audiences from both groups and see how they interpret it.”

The CHCME focuses on performing pieces written within roughly the last decade in the hopes of exposing what’s going on in the world of music today. The Duke New Music Ensemble has similar goals in mind, and its members seem to share the same enthusiasm about the prospect of collaboration.

“This grant means we now have resources allowing us to plan concerts together and ideally perform for both Durham and Chapel Hill,” said Jamie Keesecker, a Duke graduate student and head of the Duke ensemble.

“We’ll have the ability to bring new music to a wider audience in a way neither ensemble could do individually.”

Keesecker has been a member of the Duke ensemble for five years, and said he is excited for the exposure this concert series will bring to both groups.

The dates and locations of the concert series are not yet solidified, but they will most likely be performed near the UNC and Duke campuses during the fall of 2014. Until then, both ensembles plan to keep spreading their passion for contemporary music.

“I think it’s the role of musicians or artists of any kind to constantly challenge their audience,” Harrison said.

“Introducing audiences to new kinds of music and art can impact them on an emotional level that classical pieces of art or music just might not.”

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