Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ritz Ensemble Puts a Live Touch on Classical Music

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ritz Ensemble Puts a Live Touch on Classical Music

Article excerpt

Byline: Tanya Perez-Brennan, The Times-Union

Remember classical music -- you know, Mozart, Bach, all the old dead white guys our grandparents listened to?

My grandfather loved Mozart, and my stepfather was a classically trained trumpet player. I even played the violin for three years (although, if you were to give me one today, I wouldn't know what to do with it). So maybe I was lucky enough to have been exposed to classical music at a young age and to appreciate all those visits to the symphony.

But not all of us grew up listening to classical music. Today, it just can't compete with rock 'n' roll or hip-hop, especially when you're dealing with the under-30 demographic.

But what if there were a classical music ensemble that performed the works of living composers and then brought those composers to interact with the audience?

Enter the Ritz Chamber Players, the nation's only all-black ensemble, based here in Jacksonville. The group is releasing a debut CD, Ritz Chamber Players Live, on Jan. 17. They'll also open their third performing season that night at 8 p.m. at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

Terrance Patterson, artistic director and founder of the Ritz Chamber Music Society, said the CD is a strictly classical compilation of highlights from last year's performances. There is an array of vocal songs by black female composers and German music intermixed with a lot of different composers, both dead and living.

"It's a nice eclectic sampling," he said. "It's so varied, and it's so colorful."

Patterson said that every year the ensemble tries to perform the work of at least one living black composer, along with works by female composers. But some people tend to shy away if the name on the bill isn't one of the greats, he said.

"People are afraid if they see a new composer, and it's hard to break from that tradition," he said. …

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