Free cultural event series kicks off spring season

Tionna De Freitas, Features Editor


The Harry F. and Mary Ruth Jackson Lunch Hour Series has returned this semester. On Feb. 15 they held their first series of the spring semester and welcomed some widely prestige and acclaimed performers.

Janet Brown, Ryan Chase and Sar-Shalom Strong all put on great performances.

The American soprano, Janet Brown, received her undergraduate musical training at Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam and a graduate at Boston Conservatory and Syracuse University.

Brown has been admired by critics for her warm, clear voice and direct expression. Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe has called her “one of our most treasurable artists.” On the opera stage, she has performed roles with the Syracuse Opera Company, Oswego Opera Theatre, the American Repertory Theatre, the Boston Early Music Festival and PepsiCo Summerfare.

Born in 1987, Ryan Chase’s music has been described by the New York Times as a whirlwind of deftly explored contrasts of mood, from bombastic to introvert.” His music has been performed in venues ranging from different types of scenery and ensembles.  Ryan has shared the stage as a performer with artists including Clay Aiken, Blues Traveller and Questlove.

Chase has also received awards and honors for his music like fellowships from Tanglewood, Aspen, and Copland House. He also received from Harvard Fromm Commission, two consecutive BMI Awards (including the 2011 William Schuman Prize for Most Outstanding Entry), an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, and the Audience Choice Award from the 2012 American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, among others.

Sar-Shalom Strong is renowned as both a soloist and a collaborative pianist. For over three decades, he has had the honor of working with many international artists as well as the fine musicians who live and work in upstate New York. He has been, soloist with the Utica Symphony, Hamilton College Orchestra and Symphoria.

He frequently performs with many well-known music groups including the Society for New Music, where he has been involved in the premiere of many new works, as well as Civic Morning Musicals, The Skaneateles Festival, Utica College and many more. Strong has performed orchestral keyboard with mostly all orchestras in central New York, and is a founding member of the Jewell Piano Trio and the Southwick Trio. In 2012 he was a judge for the Humans in Space Youth Art and Music Competition funded by NASA.

The Lunch Hour Series was founded in 1979. Their goal is to provide a regularly scheduled program, consistent in quality, but also in time and location, to gain attendance by the local and college communities. The Lunch Hour Series also works with particular interest groups to bring to the college special programs.

The program contains four readings in the fall and four in the spring each year. The series offers poetry, fiction and drama readings by writers of particular promise: New York poets, regional writers, African-American, Asian-American, Italian-American and Jewish-American writers. In the past twenty years, the Lunch Hour Series has introduced Utica College and the Utica area to widely known and successful writers.

Stay tuned for the second series of the semester on March 29 where they will feature Danan Tsan, mezzo-soprano and Sar-Shalom Strong.

For more information contact David Moore at [email protected]