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ECCO's Jan. 22 concert to feature faculty, students, alumni

RELEASED: Jan. 20, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra's annual free Family Concert, slated for 2 p.m. Jan. 22, will feature the world premiere of a piece by Dr. Michael Cunningham, professor emeritus of music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. UW-Eau Claire alumni and current students will also play prominent roles in the program.

The concert will be performed in the Eau Claire Memorial High School auditorium, 2225 Keith Street. Cunningham's "The Real Alice (in Wonderland)" will be the final piece on the program. He drew on stories of visits that Charles Dodgson (better known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll) made to the family home of Alice Liddell in 19th-century England. Cunningham hypothesized that young Alice shared a number of imaginary situations with Dodgson and that these eventually became the basis for "Alice in Wonderland."

Emma Cruciani, an eighth-grade student at South Middle School and a veteran of many local theater productions, will narrate the piece. Cruciani's mother, Lori, is a lecturer in the UW-Eau Claire department of music and theatre arts. Ivar Lunde Jr., ECCO's music director and also a professor emeritus of music at UW-Eau Claire, noted that the orchestra premiered another Cunningham piece — "My Name is Pinocchio" — at the 2010 Family Concert.

"The chamber orchestra is delighted to present the first performance of another Michael Cunningham composition this year," he said, adding that this piece is likely to intrigue children and adults alike, since it tells a tale, through music and narration, which is widely known by both audiences.

For Gunther Schuller's "Journey Into Jazz," which opens the program, Keith Thompson, ECCO's principal trumpet player and a UW-Eau Claire alumnus, will be featured, as well as three students from the UW-Eau Claire jazz program: junior Adelyn Strei, Eau Claire, on alto saxophone; senior Brian Handeland, Minneapolis, Minn., on tenor saxophone; and sophomore Cody Christian, Franklin, on bass; Senior James Sonnentag, Middleton, rounds out the quartet. Sonnentag is ECCO's regular percussionist. The narrator will be Jerry Way, a UW-Eau Claire alumnus and accomplished composer, musician and music educator from Chippewa Falls.

The Family Concert is the third Eau Claire program of ECCO's 13th season. It will be conducted again this year by Dan Julson, a UW-Eau Claire alumnus and ECCO's second chair trumpet player in other concerts. Following the concert, ECCO musicians will present an "instrument petting zoo," allowing children in the audience to take a close look at the various instruments.

The chamber orchestra is featured on Community Television's analog channel 96 and digital channel 993 or digital tuner channel 98-3 Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. The current program previews the Jan. 22 Family Concert and features Cunningham and Lunde, along with previews of Emma Cruciani's narration. The CTV program is hosted by Tom Barland.

For more information, call Ivar Lunde Jr. at 715-838-8890 or visit the ECCO website.

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RD/DW

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